Just in time for the most romantic month of the year, rumors have surfaced alleging that former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is currently having an affair with Donald Trump. The main perpetrator behind the rumor is "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff, whose recent interview circuit has led him to hint at a current affair with a woman specifically mentioned in the book.
The reasoning behind the conclusion that the woman is in fact Nikki Haley comes from the apparent impossibility that she somehow went from being Trump’s enemy before the election to his vanguard representative in the United Nations.
It is obvious to anyone involved that the allegations are mere fantasy, but they do represent the unique position of being so-called “fake news” from the left. The story was run by CNN, Politico and a myriad of other news sources. Although most covering the story regard it as false, the fact that they published it at all points negatively to the state of media in the United States and gives Trump more ammunition to criticize legitimate stories about him.
Fake news as a concept seems to be tied to the Trumpian right, either from Russian bots, right-wing radio hosts or even the President himself. It is unfortunate that the American center-left media are choosing to roll with pigs and make themselves muddy. No better example of this can be found than Hilary Clinton’s reading of "Fire and Fury" at the Grammys, which was immediately denounced by Haley and Trump.
Another interesting element to this story is how it portrays women in politics. Even a powerful and respected woman like Nikki Haley is not above being sexualized in a grand conspiracy with the president, which I think comes from both our perception of how women attain positions of power as well as the injection of celebrity into politics. Let your skin crawl as you imagine a Trump affair with a male member of his cabinet, maybe with Jeff Sessions or Sean Spicer.
The rise of Donald Trump has undoubtedly changed the media landscape in the United States, and the way this story was published is definitely complicit in the shift. To think that a president would have an affair with his United Nations ambassador would be unthinkable even two years ago, and now it is being discussed as a possibility. I think if large media corporations want to survive they will have to return to their roots of honesty and avoid printing gossip.