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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: “Numerous” Mistakes in the Trump Book?

Donald Trump news, Trump news, Trump latest news, Latest Trump news, Trump book, Fire and Fury, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Steve Bannon, US news, USA News today

Donald Trump © Andrew Cline

January 08, 2018 12:35 EDT

Are Donald Trump’s days too numerous to be numbered?

Michael Wolff’s provocative book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, details the first chaotic and mind-bogglingly inept six months of the Trump administration. In response, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has complained that “there are numerous mistakes, but I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page, talking about a book that’s complete fantasy.”

In most people’s logic, “complete fantasy” is nothing but fiction. In terms of reality it is nothing but mistakes. But Sanders tells us in the entire book there are “numerous” errors and cites a single one — concerning Trump’s knowledge of John Boehner — that is in any way substantial, without actually proving it’s an error. Instead she appeals to her audience’s impression of its likelihood. She also points to “the ages of employees.” Many parents don’t even remember their children’s ages!

In any case, those examples indeed show that there were “numerous” errors.

Here is today’s 3D definition:


A synonym for “too many.” Literally, at least two of something, though probably a few more. Whatever the actual number, numerous serves to alarm the person being addressed.

Contextual note

According to Business Insider, the Republican National Committee (RNC) “argued that Wolff often appeared to embellish details.” Literary critics and historians will of course point out that this is true of even the most respectable biographies and books on historical events and people. Embellishment is the price of making books readable. There are of course degrees, but the RNC hasn’t bothered to qualify the embellishments as “numerous.”

Business Insider does cite a number of critics who are circumspect about Wolff’s level of credibility, but it concludes that “some evidence has emerged that could vindicate some of his claims.” “Some” — used twice in this sentence — is certainly cautious and probably accurate. And unlike numerous, it doesn’t seek to create unjustified alarm.

Historical note

The near totality of US media outside of right-wing outlets have been exposing the nefarious deeds and shady character of Trump ever since the Republican primaries two years ago. This is the first book to do so. The reaction of both the Trump administration, attempting to ban the book, and the public, avid for anecdotes from the book, demonstrates the prestige that printed books still have in relation to digital media. If a text is in print and sold as a physical object in shops, it has credibility that no other media can equal. Coincidentally in the first week of January, simultaneously to the release of Fire and Fury, The New York Times reviews a book by Martin Puchner which “asserts not merely the importance of literature but its all-importance.” The title of the book is, The Written World, the Power of stories to Shape People, History, Civilization.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Andrew Cline /

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