Over the course of a decade beginning in the mid-1980s, Donald Trump publicly presented himself as a highly successful entrepreneur even as he claimed business losses exceeding $1 billion, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. “Over all,” the newspaper explained, “Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.”
The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business.
New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception.
Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter who penned The Art of the Deal, has already apologized for falsely portraying the huckster from Queens as “a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business,” telling The New Yorker, “I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”