Freedom of speech is a great advocacy tool for all politicians, but even the best at exercising it can suffer consequences of its power. It seems like every day there is another best-selling book designed to feed off White House intrigue and trash President Trump. From Michael Wolff’s bizarre account in “Fire and Fury” to Bob Woodward’s one-sided “Fear: Trump in the White House,” sensational narratives leave readers wondering if these authors can be taken seriously or if their blind hatred of Trump should force their work to be featured in the fiction section.
A media blitz gives anti-Trump authors and their agenda more exposure. Often, the accusations bait the White House into issuing a rebuttal tweet or statement — further breathing life into a news cycle that continues to feed off the controversy. The resulting discussions never resolve anything or present anything new. Yet, Trump continues to inspire the political media in a new and huge way (for years now) as explained by Cliff Sims in his new book, “Team of Vipers.”
A steady stream of former Trump staff members, White House journalists, and other “insiders” have come up with so much information (complimentary and attacking) in volume after volume, that all of it simply cannot be true. As we have seen with the famous dossier, and hundreds of news stories, many supposed inside accounts, while entertaining, are simply false — or so distorted that knowing what parts are credible is impossible.
There are some who want to believe the worst about their political enemies — no matter how ridiculous the claims — creating a lucrative market to sell books. And with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for more negative information about President Trump, anyone with a keyboard can turn a few moments with President Trump into their own money-making machine. Conversely, supporters are eager to consume information that reassures their political alliances too.
Those who share their experiences by writing books should be applauded for using their talents and experiences to earn a living. I have been told that the pay for journalists and for political staff is notoriously low. Maybe that’s why candidates are always asking for money!
Regardless of the point of view presented (or the agenda behind it), these authors and journalists, supporters and haters alike, have every right to share their experiences, opinions, and activism. Free Speech is a beautiful thing. The more opinions, information, and experiences that make it into the marketplace of ideas assist us all in determining what we want to believe about the inner workings of our government — and the personalities of the players.
That’s why I was surprised to see President Trump and his campaign’s reaction to “Team of Vipers,” authored by former White House communications staffer Cliff Sims.
As we have seen with other books, a sharp presidential tweet was issued to question the legitimacy of the book as soon as the tour began. Trump called Sims a “gofer” and a “mess.” While the tweet wasn’t surprising, the Trump campaign also initiated legal action (which will surely boost book sales and media attention).
Some facts can be easily proven. Some accusations can be easily refuted. It is up to us to determine what we want to believe and what can be chalked up to score settling and dirty politics.
While the truth is often stranger than fiction, I thought Cliff Sims was able to cut through a lot of this clutter and offer an account that was thoughtful and, more importantly, believable. Sure, some may be embarrassed at the leaking allegations, or by the amount of time spent watching the news, but there is no real damage done – and perhaps it may even improve any less-than-desirable behavior that may (or may not) have been taking place. And the juicy part about Gen. Kelly just has to be true! (Sims wrote that Kelly called his position “the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had.”)
Sims explained his thoughtful account in the beginning of his book:
As for the most recent Trump biographies — some written by sycophants, others by haters, and even those by famous journalists: Each offers a glimpse of the real Donald Trump — the genius, the impulsive risk taker, the hothead, the insurrectionist, the hypocrite — because he can be all of these things. But none tells the full story.
Exactly. None can tell the whole story. That is why the diversity of information and ideas is so valuable. It allows consumer to make a choice based on the information they know and believe to be true.
In full disclosure, I was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters — and remain one today. I have been an acquaintance of Cliff Sims for a long time too. Trump made a huge mistake by letting the wannabes push Cliff out. Cliff clearly has the rare skills Trump needs that the others don’t have.
My support for President Trump is unwavering. Simultaneously, my respect for Cliff Sims is strong. So, if I am asked if someone should vote for Trump or read Sims book, my answer will be the same. Gofer it!
Shaun McCutcheon is the successful plaintiff in the 2014 Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. FEC and an Alabama-based electrical engineer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.