Barstow: Trump’s career built on ‘self-aggrandizing’ lies
David Barstow sums up how Donald Trump has built a career on lies and deception.
There was the time Donald J. Trump told Larry King that he had been paid more than $1 million to give a speech about his business acumen when in fact he was paid $400,000. Or the time he sought a bank loan claiming a net worth of $3.5 billion in 2004, four times as much as what the bank found when it checked his math. Or the time he boasted that membership to Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., cost $300,000 when the actual initiation fee was $200,000. Or the time he bragged on CNBC about his new Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas, claiming, “We have 1,282 units, and they sold out in less than a week.” As Mr. Trump knew, more than 300 units had not been sold.
Confronted in a court case about this last untruth, Mr. Trump was anything but chagrined. “I’m talking to a television station,” he said. “We do want to put the best spin on the property.”
…a survey of Mr. Trump’s four decades of wheeling and dealing also reveals an equally operatic record of dissembling and deception, some of it unabashedly confirmed by Mr. Trump himself, who nearly 30 years ago first extolled the business advantages of “truthful hyperbole.” Indeed, based on the mountain of court records churned out over the span of Mr. Trump’s career, it is hard to find a project he touched that did not produce allegations of broken promises, blatant lies or outright fraud…
Mr. Trump’s business record may help explain why various fact-checkers have barely been able to keep pace with his false claims on the campaign trail. PolitiFact has labeled 34 of Mr. Trump’s assertions “Pants on Fire” lies. As of July 1, The Washington Post had fact-checked 46 statements by Mr. Trump. It gave 70 percent of them its worst rating, four Pinocchios — a record so abysmal that the newspaper recently compiled a video of what it called “Donald Trump’s most outrageous four-Pinocchio claims.”
The taxonomy of Mr. Trump’s business deceptions has been the subject of legal and journalistic scrutiny for decades. A Fortune magazine article from 2000 memorably described Mr. Trump’s “astonishing ability to prevaricate” this way: “But when Trump says he owns 10 percent of the Plaza Hotel, understand that what he actually means is that he has the right to 10 percent of the profit if it’s ever sold. When he says he’s building a ‘90-story building’ next to the U.N., he means a 72-story building that has extra-high ceilings. And when he says his casino company is the ‘largest employer in the state of New Jersey,’ he actually means to say it is the eighth largest.”