The headline alone would send a shudder down the spine of most elected officials: "'Apprentice' cast and crew say Trump was lewd and sexist."
That's the top of a story from the Associated Press posted Monday morning that details Trump's often-inappropriate behavior toward women who both appeared and worked on his hit TV show "The Apprentice." The AP talked to 20(!) former contestants or crew members on the show including 12(!) who spoke on the record to the news organization. That's remarkable. And what's as remarkable is that they all told a very similar story about Trump: While on the set of the show, he would openly discuss women's looks and whether he would sleep with them.
One example: "Former producer Katherine Walker said Trump frequently talked about women's bodies during the five seasons she worked with him and said he speculated about which female contestant would be 'a tiger in bed.'" The story is filled with stuff like that, which Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks dismissed, uniformly, as "outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims."
For any normal political candidate, a story like this one would be an absolute cataclysm. Almost two dozen former employees and contestants speaking out about behavior that the average voter would deem deeply inappropriate in a workplace environment? It would be enough to push some candidates out of a race entirely. For others, it would be a deep wound from which they might not be able to recover.
For Trump, it's just another Monday.
This is the remarkable thing about Trump. Story after story — and TV ad after TV ad — that would have destroyed other candidates and other campaigns just wind up falling by the wayside with him. That's not to say they don't do damage; I believe they do. Or, rather, the collective weight of so many negative stories — bad debate, attacks on Miss Universe's weight, taxes and that's just this week! — eventually pile up on Trump.
But it's still amazing that no one story, not even one as objectively bad for Trump as this AP one, can kill him. I've long held that the best way to understand how Trump seems to weather stories that no candidate should be able to weather is best explained by C. Montgomery Burns, the tycoon on "The Simpsons."
In one episode, Mr. Burns goes to the doctor for a checkup. He finds out he is terribly ill but somehow remarkably healthy.
"All of your diseases are in perfect balance," explains the doctor. Burns has what is called "Three Stooges Syndrome"; all of his diseases are trying to push through the door of his body but, in the process, blocking each other out so that no one can get through.
That's Trump when it comes to bad press. There are SO many bad stories about him that they all sort of block the other ones out. So a story that would kill the normal candidacy doesn't have that same effect on Trump.
Of course, there's another lesson in that Simpsons clip above for Trump. Mr. Burns quickly concludes he is indestructible, ignoring the doctor's warning that "even the slightest breeze" could upend the perfect balance of his many diseases and send him spiraling downward. For Trump, the debate may have disrupted his own delicate balance. Or the Miss Universe story. Or the tax return story. Or his wild speech in Pennsylvania on Saturday. Or this "Apprentice" story.
Or, as always with Trump, maybe not.