The Making of Donald Trump
How the media has laundered his reputation for fifty years
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In January, 1973, Donald J. Trump made his first appearance in the New York Times, in a story which falsely claimed the 26-year-old developer had graduated first in his class at Wharton. In December, 1973, the Times reported on a lawsuit that Trump was facing over discrimination against Black tenants. This was five decades ago, and already the media was yo-yo-ing between fawning profiles packed with falsehoods, and hard-boiled investigations into dirty business dealings.
The news this week of Trump’s latest indictment came as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. And over his career in New York real estate, no-one paid closer attention than Wayne Barrett, the Village Voice investigative reporter who made the case — article by article, year by year, decade by decade — that Donald John Trump belonged behind bars. The notion of his nemesis in the Oval Office was so noxious a reality for Barrett to abide that he passed away — literally the day before Trump’s inauguration in 2016. If no one else could have predicted how bad things would get, Barrett sure did.
It’s amazing, in reading through old coverage of this rise to infamy, how every time a writer like Barrett would expose some sort of corporate or personal malfeasance, another reporter would publish a puff piece. You can see some of that in this week’s collection of archival material, covering the would be titan’s first decade on the scene in New York. Over the next few weeks, we’ll examining the limited successes and abundant failures of Trump’s pre-White House career, and how the media’s coverage enabled his rise. Knowing where things would lead, it makes for a horrifying read.
A Builder Looks Back — and Moves Forward
By Alden Whitman
New York Times, January 28, 1973
The big change in Mr. Trump's operations in recent years is the advent of his son, Donald. Born in 1946, Donald is the second youngest of five children — three boys and two girls — and the only one of them to display an interest in real estate.
Donald, who was graduated first in his class from the Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, joined his father about five years ago. He has what his father calls “drive.” He also possesses, in his father's judgment, business acumen. “Donald is the smartest person I know,” he remarked admiringly. “Everything he touches turns to gold.”
Realty Company Asks $100‐Million ‘Bias’ Damages
By Barbara Campbell
New York Times, December 13, 1973
A $100‐million damage suit was filed yesterday against the Federal Government by the Trump Management Corporation on the ground that “irresponsible and baseless” charges had been made against the realty Company.
Last October the Government filed a suit charging the company, which owns 16,000 apartment units in the city, with discriminating against blacks.
Donald Trump, president of the corporation, said that, in addition, a move was being made in Eastern District Court for dismissal of the Government's suit.
“I have never, nor has anyone in our organization ever, to the best of my knowledge, discriminated or shown bias in renting our apartments,” Mr. Trump said in a news conference at the New York Hilton Hotel. A number of local actions have been brought against the company, he has said, but “we've won them all.”
Donald Trump, 29-yr-old pres of Trump Orgn, comments on LS housing
By Alan S. Oser
New York Times, December 10, 1975
“At 29, it isn't so much to wait a couple of years,” Donald J. Trump said the other day. He is president of the Trump Organization, owners and managers of more than 22,000 apartments, including Trump Village in Brooklyn. What he is waiting for most ardently is a revival of housing across the country under a Democratic administration in Washington after 1976.
“If the Democrats get in there will be $20‐billion in housing programs,” he said, “and there will be enough for the country. If the Republicans get in there will be a drought for years.”
Donald Trump, Real Estate Promoter, Builds Image as He Buys Buildings
By Judy Klemesrud
New York Times, November 1, 1976
He is tall, lean and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford. He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth “more than $200 million.”
Flair. It's one of Donald J. Trump's favorite words, and both he, his friends and his enemies use it when describing his way of life as well as his business style as New York's No. 1 real estate promoter of the middle 1970's.
“If a man has flair,” the energetic, outspoken Mr. Trump said the other day, “and is smart and somewhat conservative and has a taste for what people want, he's bound to be successful in New York.”
How a Young Donald Trump Forced His Way From Avenue Z to Manhattan
by Wayne Barrett
Village Voice, January 15, 1979
Trump’s problem is not so much what he’s done, but how he’s done it. I decided at the start that I wanted to profile him by describing his deals — not his lifestyle or his personality. After getting to know him, I realized that his deals are his life. He once told me: “I won’t make a deal just to make a profit. It has to have flair.” Another Manhattan developer said it differently: “Trump won’t do a deal unless there’s something extra — a kind of moral larceny — in it. He’s not satisfied with a profit. He has to take something more. Otherwise, there’s no thrill.”
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