If Donald Trump isn’t careful, he’s going to get some serious hand cramps in the coming days.
Trump has a long and storied history of writing letters — often by hand — to journalists that he believes don’t take him seriously. Now that the reality-TV personality and real-estate magnate has announced he’s running for president, he may have his work cut out for him.
The Washington Post, for example, highlighted the rambling quality of speech, raised questions about whether he’s really worth as much money as he claims, and published an opinion column with the surely non-judgmental headline, “Donald Trump’s Festival of Narcissism.” The New York Daily News’s front page screamed “Clown Runs For Prez” and Time Magazine featured an infographic on how to have hair like The Donald.
Trump historically has not taken kindly to such slights. In 1997, the New Yorker’s Mark Singer wrote a profile of Trump that later became part of Singer’s 2005 book “Character Studies.” The publishing of that book lead to a delightful back and forth between Singer and his profile subject. It goes as follows:
Trump publishes a letter to the New York Times in which he calls Singer a “loser.”
Singer sends Trump a letter thanking him for the added publicity for the book, and sends him a check for $37.82 as a gesture of gratitude.
Trump writes a response in all-caps and sends it back to Singer: ”MARK—YOU ARE A TOTAL LOSER—AND YOUR BOOK (AND YOUR WRITINGS) SUCK! BEST WISHES DONALD P.S. AND I HEAR IT IS SELLING BADLY.”
It probably wasn’t the first reader feedback he’d ever sent, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Trump has a knack for getting press. In his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” he wrote: “From a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks.”
But if he knows this on a logical level, it appears that, emotionally, he’s not great at dealing with the “drawbacks.”
When MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin wrote last year about a Republican cattle call in New Hampshire, the only mention of Trump was that he spoke. Trump printed up a copy of the story and annotated that passage — “And got the biggest response (by far) + standing ovation” — before sending it to Sarlin.
The next year at the same event in New Hampshire, I was the only member of the press to attend a breakfast where Trump spoke. He noticed.
“At CPAC I had a crowd that was bigger than anybody,” he told the gathering. “And nobody writes that. So it’s a little bit of an uphill battle with the press.” With that, Trump trained his eyes on me and pointed a meaty finger in my direction.
“I know this guy’s going to be fair because he’s a good guy,” he continued, drawing laughs from the crowd. “He seems like a nice guy, looks like a highly intellectual guy.” After the publication of my story, detailing the GOP candidates least likely to become president, I got a call from his office saying Trump didn’t like the story. Sadly, though, no note to pin on my wall.
There’s even a joke floating around political Twitter that one of the reasons that Trump has decided to run for president is to prove Buzzfeed writer McKay Coppins wrong. In a definitive profile of Trump as a pseudo-politician called “36 Hours on the Fake Campaign Trail With Donald Trump” Coppins wrote that no one believes Trump will actually take the plunge and run for office.
At the end of the story Trump asks Coppins if the story about him is going to be good. Coppins responds: “I think you’ll like it.” He was wrong.
‘A dishonest slob of a reporter, who doesn’t understand my sarcasm when talking about him or his wife, wrote a foolish & boring Trump “hit,”” Trump tweeted right around the time he fired the staffer who suggested he cooperate for the profile.
(Writer’s note: Mr. Trump, if you’re reading this, you can reach me at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071)