Media critic

New York Times reporters Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman extracted a typically vacuous remark from President Trump in a Thursday interview:

“I lost massive amounts of money doing this job,” he said. “This is not the money. This one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don’t need money. This is one of the great losers of all time. But they’ll say that somebody from some country stayed at a hotel. And I’ll say, ‘Yeah.’ But I lose, I mean, the numbers are incredible.”

Even so, the president loves his job, he told the Times. No surprise there, considering that Trump craves attention and a rapt audience as much as, if not more than, money. There’s always a gaggle of reporters ready to interview him; an arena of supporters ready to cheer his media taunts; a foreign trip to make him feel indispensable.

And what a luxury it is to move into public service at such a high level and whine about the sacrifices involved in such a transition. It brought back memories of David Carr, the late media columnist for the Times, who died nearly four years ago, and thoughts of what Carr might have said to the president.

The Erik Wemple Blog worked under Carr at the Washington City Paper, first as an editor and later covering D.C. politics. We reported a story about Jim Graham, the late Ward 1 council member who’d previously served as executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Though Graham had promised voters he’d be a full-time council member, he signed a hush-hush contract — with compensation of up to $70,000 per year — with the clinic to do fundraising.

After we busted Graham for the arrangement, he bagged it. “I am so excited about my duties here and so involved in so many issues that I don’t have the time to be a private consultant," he said in February 1999. "This is just another way I want to dedicate myself to this elected position, so I think that’s good news.”

Less high-minded was the complaint that Graham unspooled in a furious phone call with Carr. He did the same thing as Trump. His previous gig, said Graham, paid him so much more than his salary on the D.C. Council, which is why he tried to port a bit of the old job to his new job.

After listening to this line of argument, Carr fired back, “Then quit!”

Read more:

Erik Wemple: David Carr, friend of journalism

Greg Sargent: In remarkable exchange, Trump offers startling view of role of free press

Eugene Robinson: The scariest thing about Trump’s tweets