ABC, NBC and CBS spent over two hours covering Michael Wolff’s anti-Trump book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” from Jan. 3-9 while neglecting a variety of other news over the same period.
The morning and evening news programs on the three networks spent 140 minutes discussing the book and its fallout, while only devoting six minutes to the Dow Jones cracking 25,000 for the first time ever, according to the Media Research Center.
The FBI also re-opened the investigation into the Clinton Foundation scandal during the time period, but viewers who rely on ABC, NBC or CBS for their coverage may have missed it. Only 11 minutes were spent on the Clinton story combined between the three networks.
From tales of Trump regularly eating cheeseburgers in bed to a claim that he didn’t even want to win the election in the first place, details of the book have been questioned by pundits on both sides of the political spectrum – but it didn’t keep major networks from giving it a ton of publicity.
CBS was the biggest culprit, spending 49 minutes on the Wolff book, while ABC spent 46 minutes and NBC was fixated on the book for 44 minutes, according to MRC.
Wolff has developed a reputation as someone capable of exaggerating the truth, but he also is a world-class writer who managed to obtain unprecedented access to the Trump White House. The result is a product that is too juicy for the mainstream media to ignore, even if some of it may be fictitious. Trump said Wednesday he wants to toughen the country’s libel laws.
Last week, Trump and his legal team mobilized against “Fire and Fury” as it became clear that not everything was factual. In a letter to Wolff and the book’s publisher, Trump’s lawyers demanded the halting of the book's publication and "a full and complete retraction and apology."
Instead of stopping publication, the release date of the book was actually moved up.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders slammed Wolff’s book last week, calling it “tabloid gossip” laced with “false and fraudulent claims.” The book also led to the president’s fallout with former adviser Steve Bannon, who was quoted speaking negatively of members of the president’s family. Bannon has since backtracked.
“The book is mistake after mistake after mistake,” Sanders said at the White House press briefing Thursday. “I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page correcting [the book].”
One passage of the controversial book was quickly debunked, as Wolff alleged that Trump didn’t know who former House Speaker John Boehner was when he was suggested as a chief of staff candidate.
“Who’s that?” Trump replied, according to Wolff.
Twitter sleuths quickly pointed out that Trump had tweeted about Boehner several times over the years in addition to name-dropping him on the campaign trail. Trump and Boehner even played golf together in 2013.