But the former model, whose initial meeting with Trump is described by the Times as a "debasing face-to-face encounter," doesn't fit neatly into a tale of Trumpian chauvinism, either. Just a few months ago, she gushed to "Inside Edition" about the "wonderful time" she had as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's girlfriend in the early 1990s.
Before speaking to the Times, Brewer Lane was already on the record this election as a Trump defender — an ex who remembers him as "funny" and a "gentleman." So it wasn't surprising to see her push back — in live interviews on Fox News and CNN — against her inclusion in an unflattering portrayal of the candidate. And it was even less surprising to see Trump seize on Brewer Lane's protestations in an attempt to discredit the Times's entire, six-week reporting project.
Indeed, if there is a woman who encapsulates Trump's complicated relationships with women, it might be Brewer Lane.
The Times's story opens on the scene of a 1990 pool party at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where Brewer Lane was one of about 50 models in attendance. The first sentence is an attention-grabber.
Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.
Is the sentence true or false?
"False," Brewer Lane said on "Fox & Friends." She continued — and then appeared to contradict herself.
If anybody would ask me, "How did you meet Donald Trump?," you are going to get the story of how I was at a pool party at Mar-a-Lago with my agency ... and I didn't have a swimsuit. I started talking with Donald and chatting with him over the course of the first maybe 20 minutes I was there, and we seemed to get along in conversation nicely. ... We were having a very nice conversation, and we got into a certain part of it, and he asked me if I had a swimsuit. I said I didn't. I had not really planned on swimming. He asked me if I wanted one. I said, "Okay, sure." And I changed into one.
Brewer Lane's retelling actually does match the facts of the Times's blunter summary. She had just met Trump; he asked if she wanted to change out of her clothes and into a bikini.
Brewer Lane raised another objection on CNN a few hours later.
Some [TV] anchors are starting to use the language of the Times. They're starting to say, "paraded her out there." And that's ugly; that's negative to me. He didn't parade me anywhere.
"Parade" actually isn't the language of the Times. The word doesn't appear anywhere in the story. Brewer Lane appears to be referring to this passage about her return to the party with Trump, after she had changed into a swimsuit.
Mr. Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla."He brought me out to the pool and said, 'That is a stunning Trump girl, isn't it?' " Ms. Brewer Lane said.
Brewer Lane emphasized in both television appearances Monday that she was flattered by the "Trump girl" remark — a sentiment she feels was not effectively conveyed by the Times. Yet reporters Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey wrote later in the article that "her introduction to Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago was the start of a whirlwind romance — a heady blur of helicopter rides and high-end hotel rooms and flashing cameras."
At minimum, it's clear from a complete reading of the story that Brewer Lane wasn't terribly offended by Trump, since she went on to date him.
In a statement, the Times said, "Ms. Brewer Lane was quoted fairly, accurately and at length. The story provides context for the reader, including that the swimsuit scene was the 'start of a whirlwind romance' between Ms. Brewer Lane and Mr. Trump."
Barbaro, appearing on CNN alongside Twohey, said "none of the facts are in dispute."
He's right. But the interpretation of the facts certainly is. Many people would surely view Trump's behavior that night 26 years ago as inappropriate — or at the very least, rather forward. He chatted up a model for 20 minutes, invited her to put on the spare bikini he just happened to have lying around and then — while still technically married — introduced her to other guests as a "stunning Trump girl," as if she were somehow Trump's. It's not much of a stretch to call this sequence of events a "debasing face-to-face encounter," as the Times did.
But Brewer Lane says she found the whole thing charming. Now she's telling the world that the Times misquoted her, and Trump is saying the whole article is a lie.
Even if Brewer Lane's grievances did necessitate a correction, they wouldn't invalidate the premise of an entire 5,000-word story based on interviews with more than 50 women. But the reaction from her — and from Trump and his supporters — once again illustrates the challenge of scrutinizing his record. Anyone who wants to deny Trump's sexism need only embrace what Brewer Lane said Monday, ignore everything else, and go on believing that the mainstream media are printing lies aimed at taking down the man who would Make America Great Again.