What do you suppose would happen if an author known for making up and embellishing stories, quotes and admitting that he can’t say for sure if what he wrote in his latest best-selling attack book on Donald Trump’s White House told a comedy show on HBO that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the president are having an affair?
Would an interview that incendiary and prima facie libelous be aired?
Would the media advance the rumor by asking Haley about it?
Would the media, after realizing there is no evidence to support the charge, denounce the rumor-mongering author and question all he had previously reported in his book?
And what about Bill Maher and HBO? Do they have any responsibility at all for airing such a defamatory and salacious interview with no evidence to support the accusation?
Yes, but only if Nikki Haley files a very expensive lawsuit. That’s essentially her only legal recourse. And the standard in First Amendment juris prudence is extremely high for public figures to get a fair hearing on the facts.
Let’s face it. Bill Maher is not a responsible person. HBO makes a fortune in soft-core porn exploitation programming and raunchy “comedy” like Maher’s obscene show.
However, neither Maher nor HBO should be covered by constitutional protections of the free press – any more than pornography does.
And neither should the press jump on reckless, slanderous and vicious anti-woman chatter on a so-called entertainment program by treating them like news leads. That’s when fake news goes beyond reckless disregard for the truth to deliberate marketing of hateful smears for fame and fortune.
Haley was forced to tell news outlets that she found the remarks by low-life author Michael Wolff “highly offensive” and “disgusting.” It was Wolff who told Maher that he was “absolutely sure” Trump is having an affair – just not sure enough to write about it in his book, which he already has publicly said might have other errors. Wolff went on to say that discriminating readers would be able to determine the president’s paramour by giving his book a close reading: “Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’re gonna say, ‘Bingo.'”
Wolff writes, “The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”
Even that is “absolutely not true,” says Haley.
“I have literally been on Air Force One once, and there were several people in the room when I was there,” she told Politico. “He says that I’ve been talking a lot with the president in the Oval about my political future. I’ve never talked once to the president about my future, and I am never alone with him. So the idea that these things come out, that’s a problem. But it goes to a bigger issue that we need to always be conscious of: At every point in my life, I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not.”
It is worth noting that Wolff did not respond to Politico for a request for comment.
That should have been a signal to Politico that he was not willing to face any journalistic questioning about his strategic lie for profit.
I’ve been a journalist my entire adult life – 43 years to be exact. I never wanted to do anything else. I loved the ideals of the free press – a truly unique American institution. But, I have to tell you, when I seek s–tholes like Maher and Wolff manipulating actual news agencies to report their vicious on-air gossip, it makes me sick to my stomach.
I’d like to see Haley bring the whole gang down.