Michael Wolff has a habit of surreptitiously offering meta-commentary on his own untidy life via his Newser columns. Today's headline: "Here's Why I Like Silvio Berlusconi." At this point we have to assume he's just fucking with us.
Well, Michael, maybe you like Silvio Berlusconi because, as you point out, he spends his time frolicking with topless women half his age and getting a divorce? Is there anything going on in your life that could cause you to relate to that?
No, the reason Wolff likes Berlusconi is that he lives a life without consequences:
He's been indicted a vast number of times, always escaping through some form of banana republic or slapstick jurisprudence, and doing it with almost no pretense that he's not doing it. Getting away with it has become part of his charm. [Emphasis ours.]
Speaking of consequences: When we got an e-mail last night with a link to Wolff's new column in the July issue of Vanity Fair, we were excited—for once!—to read it. We'd been awaiting what we'd heard would be a lengthy confessional examination of Wolff's affair with a 28-year-old Vanity Fair intern named Victoria Floethe, the subsequent dissolution of his marriage, and the gossip machinery that kicked into gear to publicize the mess. We knew it was coming because Wolff had come by the office to interview our boss Nick Denton for the story—way back in March. It sounded like a nifty idea.
But sadly no. Wolff instead has chosen to write about the Obama press shop, which he finds "brilliant and successful and certainly calculated." But it has a sinister side: With the mainstream newspapers dying before their eyes and the upstart—and partisan—digital media hungry for any old handout, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and his co-horts are "in greater control of the media than any administration before them." That does sound bad, but we wonder if Wolff's column might have come out a little sunnier had he not been forced to write this humbling paragraph:
Even though I've been invited to the White House for a talk with Gibbs, there's an abrupt cancellation when, after some chitchat with Burton, it becomes clear that my interest is in process rather than, per se, message. And then a kind of sudden vaporization-no Gibbs, according to Marissa Hopkins, his assistant, "for the foreseeable future."
That's right—the savvy bastards were on to him. What sort of manipulative power-mongers are these, who don't want to talk about process and insist on substance?
We e-mailed Wolff to ask him when the good-sounding column will come out. He replied, "Right now, Obama administration [sic] seems more pressing than my personal life—an evergreen if there ever was one." That sounded to us like it got killed. But no, he says: "Yet to be written. Will keep you posted." Please do, Michael.