At least four of President Trump’s golf courses have displayed a knockoff Time magazine cover, purportedly from 2009, that hails his “Apprentice” reality TV show as a “smash,” according to The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold.

Of all the things to lie about, this would seem to rank among the most unnecessary. After all, Trump has appeared on 14 real Time covers. Why not just hang up one of those?

A fake Time magazine cover hangs on the a wall at the Trump National Doral Miami golf shop. (Angel Valentin for The Washington Post)

The way I see it, there is a simple answer and a slightly more complicated answer.

The simple answer is that 13 of Trump’s real covers have been published in the past two years, since he entered politics. His other cover is from 1989.

So, Trump was at least 20 years into a 26-year drought when the phony cover was created. (The origin story of the fake remains a mystery, for now.) Perhaps he was looking for something more current to adorn his club walls.

Trump’s golf courses could have replaced the bogus cover with one of the real ones in the past two years, but take a look at the options:

Here’s the more complicated answer:

Notice that among the real Time covers, many portray Trump in an unflattering light, and even the positive ones are pretty restrained. Trump, a loyal Page Six reader who has suggested that the National Enquirer deserved a Pulitzer, prefers a more effusive, tabloidy style.

Thus the fake cover bears headlines that would never grace a real issue of Time:

Donald Trump: The “Apprentice” is a television smash!


As Fahrenthold put it, “Time headlines don’t yell.”

No matter how many times he appears on actual Time covers, Trump will never receive the kind of over-the-top praise that was printed on the fake. Reality can’t match Trump’s fantasy, which probably explains the knockoff’s place on his club's walls.