In a heated interview Saturday morning, author Michael Wolff accused a CNN anchor of “doing the work of the White House” to discredit his explosive tell-all book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
Host Michael Smerconish pressed Wolff on how he gained access to top administration officials and how he asked for an interview with President Trump.
“You’re doing the work of the White House to discredit this book. The White House wants to discredit this book,” Wolff said.
Smerconish said he was trying to determine the accuracy of Wolff’s book as he read emails from Wolff’s “paper trail.”
“‘What I’m really after is not so much a policy position interview with the president but an opportunity to humanize him,'” Smerconish said, appearing to cite a Wolff email. “‘I think you know that I like him, and I believe I can show him in a way that might actually change perceptions of him.'”
Wolff accused White House communications director Hope Hicks of feeding Smerconish emails Wolff sent. He called the White House “totally incompetent” in its “concerted attack” on the book.
Wolff defended his approach to gaining access. “That’s exactly what I had in mind to do. It was, ‘Open you kimono. Let me see. I’m willing to write any story here.'” He also said he might have succeeded in changing perceptions, the ultimate goal of his writing.
However, Smerconish appeared to take issue with some of Wolff’s phrasing and approach in asking for an interview.
“When I write emails seeking interviews, my word choice is to say, ‘I will treat the individual with dignity and respect.’ I never go so far as to say, ‘Let me humanize. You know I like the person.'”
Wolff ended the verbal spar with a simple message: “Read my book. That’s all I have. That is my final word.”