Jan 22, 2018

Howard Kurtz book to offer another look at White House "disorder"

Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images

Just as the outrage sparked by Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" begins to die down, another new book on the disfunction surrounding the West Wing, this one by Fox News host Howard Kurtz, is set to hit shelves.

Why it matters: Excerpts from Kurtz's book, obtained by the Washington Post, reveal a White House "riven by chaos, with aides scrambling to respond to the president’s impulses and writing policy to fit his tweets," writes the Post's Ashley Parker. Kurtz says some of Trump's aides go so far as to call his behavior "Defiance Disorder.”

The juiciest bits from “Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth,” detailed by Parker:

  • Trump, who was supposed to meet with his then-chief of staff Reince Priebus in July to discuss different options regarding transgender individuals serving in the military, unexpectedly preempted any talks and "sent his entire administration scrambling" by announcing his policy decision on Twitter.
  • On a Saturday morning in March, White House aides found themselves waking up "confused and 'blindsided' to find that Trump had — without any evidence — accused former president Barack Obama on Twitter of wiretapping him during the campaign ... 'Nobody in the White House quite knew what to do.'"
  • "Kurtz also recounts an Oval Office meeting in which Bannon blamed Ivanka for a leak — and Trump supported him over his daughter: ‘Baby, I think Steve’s right here,’ Trump told her.” A White House official denied the account to the Post.
  • When Bannon left the White House, he told Trump he planned to bring down Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "'Trump said that was fine, that Bannon should go ahead,' Kurtz writes."
  • "'The president himself leaked to reporters as well, his aides believed,' writes Kurtz. 'And sometimes it was inadvertent: Trump would talk to so many friends and acquaintances that key information would quickly reach journalists.'”

What's next: The book is set for release on Jan. 29. 

Go deeper

Tech can't remember what to do in a down market

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wall Street's two-day-old coronavirus crash is a wakeup alarm for Silicon Valley.

The big picture: Tech has been booming for so long the industry barely remembers what a down market feels like — and most companies are ill-prepared for one.

Brace yourself for a coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Public-health officials’ warnings about the coronavirus are sounding increasingly urgent, with one top CDC official asking the public yesterday "to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad."

Reality check: Other administration officials, including President Trump himself, were more subdued in their assessments. But underneath those tonal differences, the reality of the coronavirus is the same: It spreads quickly, and has already spread to many countries, making it likely to start spreading here, too.

Go deeperArrow56 mins ago - Health

Exclusive: Pro-Trump group plans post-Super Tuesday blitz on Democrats

Democratic presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in South Carolina. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is preparing to unleash a series of targeted, swing-state attacks on the Democrats most likely to face President Trump after Super Tuesday, people familiar with the group's plans tell me in an exclusive preview of its strategy.

The state of play: The group has been tracking favorable/unfavorable ratings in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania for 2020 candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg — under the theory that if Trump wins each of these six states he would win re-election.