The encomiums for Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, continue to roll in. In a front-page article for Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Jonathan Mahler assessed, “Cutting a starkly different image from Mr. Trump’s more combative and impulsive public supporters, like Chris Christie or Sarah Palin, not to mention the candidate himself, Ms. Trump, 34, radiates disciplined poise and practiced reserve.” Politico Magazine last year proclaimed: “Ivanka Trump is her father’s most influential adviser, his most powerful surrogate—and his total opposite.” Meaning she tells the truth and brings people together.
Those same qualities drew the interest of CNN. Around 2007, then-CNN U.S. President Jonathan Klein approached Trump about possibly working for CNN. “I just wanted to meet her because she is so poised and intelligent and even back then was steeped in the family business and that was a pretty unique combination,” said Klein in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog. At that time, Trump was in her mid-20s and had attended Georgetown University for two years before graduating summa cum laude from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She entered the family business not long thereafter: “My goal was always to work in real estate at the Trump Organization,” she said. “I grew up walking around construction sites and playing on the floor of my father’s office, watching him engage in business and have always loved it.”
CNN coverage at the time, recalls Klein, needed voices with expertise in business. “It’s hard to find people under 50 who have the kind of experience that Ivanka already had at that time, let alone the ability to communicate as persuasively and authentically as she does,” said Klein, who now works as co-founder and chief executive of TAPP media, a subscription video platform based in New York and Los Angeles. “I brought a few colleagues along in the process to make sure I wasn’t crazy and the universal opinion was that Ivanka would have been terrific.”
Though Klein recalls a few conversations with Trump, the talks never did reach the “concrete” stage, he said. As they were contemplating doing business with Trump, the exciting 2008 presidential election enveloped the network, and the historic financial meltdown also preoccupied the executives. So Ivanka Trump plowed ahead with her “brand,” which is to say doing deals for her father and managing her fashion line.
Efforts to fetch a comment from Ivanka Trump were unsuccessful.
The discussions between Klein and Ivanka Trump add a bit more anecdotage to one of the ironies of Donald Trump’s rise in the 2016 race: While his rhetoric horrifies the world of New York media, he and his family have very close ties to this cosmopolitan set. “[Donald] Trump was a pal, a get, and ratings gold. Trump was just playing a part. Trump was part of their scene,” wrote New York times columnist Ross Douthat about the connection.