Book fury hits Trump where it hurts most -- his image

Nothing means more to Donald Trump than his image.He got rich by selling his name, plastering it on buildings,...

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 3:10 PM
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 3:10 PM

Nothing means more to Donald Trump than his image.

He got rich by selling his name, plastering it on buildings, hotels, casinos and golf resorts, and he transferred his tough guy "You're fired" persona to politics, building a personality cult as an ultimate winner and tough-talking President.

When a presidency is anchored so fundamentally on an image, any deterioration of that image can be especially perilous

For Trump, the mockery is likely to be especially painful

The President senses good angles when on camera, and he's obsessed with polls, the size of his crowds and the flattery dished out by foreign leaders.

But as Washington consumes a sensational West Wing expos- by journalist Michael Wolff, Trump is being forced to watch as his prized image is ripped to shreds.

When a presidency is anchored so fundamentally on an image, as it is with Trump, rather than a long history of political achievement or ideological consistency, any deterioration of that image can be especially perilous. For Trump, who may be more conscious of how he is perceived than any politician in history, the mockery is likely to be especially painful.

Wolff, in some cases using on-the-record quotes, sketches an image far removed from the one constructed by Trump.

It's a picture of a President who knows little of policy details and cares less and appears not to perceive the vast responsibilities of his role.

Sometimes, this version of Trump appears fragile and out of control, prone to emotional and impulsive reactions, and seems lonely in the White House. Wolff also claims Trump never really wanted the job of President at all.

Some of Wolff's reporting has been corroborated. But several errors have been identified. Former campaign CEO and White House adviser Steve Bannon, who is widely quoted and is now estranged from Trump as a result, has not denied comments attributed to him, however.

The storm unleashed by the book, "Fire and Fury," is a political nightmare for the White House.

But even as it raged, Trump was, as always, conscious of how his image is playing.

After details of the book leaked Wednesday, he released a statement saying Bannon "had very little to do with our historic victory" in 2016, characteristically claiming that his success is always his work alone.

Then on Thursday, in a brief appearance before the cameras, Trump showed he had already noticed Bannon's flattery on Breitbart radio, in his only comment so far on the book: "He called me a great man last night," the President said.

Sources told CNN on Wednesday that Trump was especially aggravated by Bannon's assault on his family. There is a particularly cutting assessment of the President's daughter Ivanka Trump in the book.

"She was a nonevent on the campaign. She became a White House staffer and that's when people suddenly realized she's dumb as a brick. A little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding actually how the world works and what politics is and what it means -- nothing," Bannon was quoted as saying by Wolff.

No father would stand for such talk about his daughter. But for Trump, his family is especially important, because it's an extension of himself, and his brand.

"He doesn't like attacks on the image of the Trump family, on the integrity of his children," Trump biographer and CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio said. "At the end of the day, he's really concerned about his image, himself and how he is being portrayed."

A delayed response

Trump's image is under siege, and "Fire and Fury" seems certain to widen the perception between the version of himself that the President wants America to see and the one that emerges from behind-the-scenes reports.

After a slow start Wednesday, when the White House seemed almost as staggered as the rest of Washington about Bannon's betrayal, Trump aides and friends sprang to his defense in a belated damage control effort.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blasted the book as "tabloid gossip," and pointedly pushed back at suggestions by Wolff that Trump did not want to win the election in 2016.

"If you guys know anything, you know that Donald Trump is a winner and he's not going to do something for the purpose of not coming out on top and not coming out as a winner," she said. "That's one of the most ridiculous things."

Trump's lawyers fired off cease and desist letters to Bannon and to Wolff's publisher. Trump friends Anthony Scaramucci and Christopher Ruddy toured cable news television studios to defend the President.

The publisher, for its part, responded by moving up the release date to Friday.

But any day when the White House has to rebut questions about the President's mental stability is hardly a good one.

And the Trump team's attempt to discredit Wolff faces another complication: the fact that his book broadly tends to corroborate many themes that have arisen in existing news reports about Trump's personality.

In October, for instance, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee raised questions about Trump's temperament by describing his White House as an "adult day care center."

Last April, Axios quoted senior administration officials as saying there was a need to keep "smart, sane people around Trump to fight his worst impulses."

And questions about Trump's focus and struggle to master policy details have been around as long as his presidency.

After the initial failure of an Obamacare repeal effort last March, a senior congressional source told CNN that "staff was for details, Trump was for closing," adding that when it came to the intricacies of the bill, the President "didn't know, didn't care or both."

Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide to Trump, is quoted in "Fire and Fury" as saying he was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate -- and got only as far as the Fourth Amendment "before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head."

Nunberg, appearing on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Thursday, did not deny the anecdote but suggested nuance was missing from Wolff's account, saying as that as a candidate who was also running a business, Trump had "a ton of things to do."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320107

Reported Deaths: 7378
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22291269
Hinds20741421
Harrison18444317
Rankin13917282
Jackson13731249
Madison10270224
Lee10060176
Jones8473167
Forrest7834153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636088
Lafayette6314121
Washington5426137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4161136
Union415877
Neshoba4064180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387087
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3372111
Alcorn327473
Scott320374
Yazoo314371
Adams308386
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298984
Simpson298589
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272274
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248963
Tishomingo232268
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 66°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast over the next few days. This will at least keep our area dry for our Wednesday and maybe a little room for a few showers on our Thursday, however nothing major.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather