Although Donald Trump’s presidency is well-known for its antipathy toward the press, one of the main targets for Trump’s ire was Spy magazine, which was published from 1986 to 1998. Spy’s editors, Kurt Anderson and Graydon Carter, set an editorial policy for its many articles on Donald Trump and his New York social life that referred to the real estate magnate as the “casino operator from Queens.” That got under Trump’s skin because he believed he had become a member of Manhattan’s royal elite and did not deserve to be connected to “working class” Queens. When Spy wasn’t dishing on Trump by describing him as a shady casino owner from Queens, it referred to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian,” further setting off the short-tempered egotist.
In 1990, Trump, who considered himself to be some sort of real estate project savior, offered to take over construction on the behind-schedule and over-budgeted New York convention center that was designed by famed architect I. M. Pei. Spy pointed out that it was not enough to have Trump’s name emblazoned in large metal letters emblazoned on every building that Trump built or bought in Manhattan. To complete the convention center, Trump demanded that it not be named for the late Senator Jacob K. Javits, but for Donald J. Trump. Trump’s offer and demand were rejected.
Spy not only dogged Trump in New York, but published letters to the editor from some distraught readers of the magazine in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Trump casinos dominated in the seaside resort. Without Spy’s intrepid readers, we would not have learned that when Trump bought Resorts International in 1987, he promised to build some low-cost housing in the blighted off-boardwalk downtown area. This offer is particularly germane today in light of Trump declaring that suburban neighborhoods are being threatened by an influx of urban dwellers moving into low-cost subsidized housing. A year after making his offer, Trump sold the mobbed-up Resorts International to Merv Griffin. Trump was asked about his yet un-built housing units, he replied that they were now “Merv’s problem.”
Trump, channeling then-Vice President Dan Quayle, also said that, “If there is one word to describe Atlantic City, it’s Big Business. Or two words: Big Business.” In 1989, Trump tried to have one of his three plain white concrete casino parking garages in Atlantic City declared a “work of art.” Trump obviously doesn’t know what a work of art is. When wealthy New Yorkers pleaded with him to allow them to save the art deco sculptured limestone bas-relief and nickle grid work at the entrance of the Bonwit Teller department store building on Fifth Avenue, which was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the Trump Tower, the casino owner from Queens ordered the building razed, facade and all. Trump took delight in destroying the artwork because it caused pain to those he considered to be Manhattan’s elite, a group he was desperately trying to join. Trump is currently taking similar comfort in causing grief in declaring he wants his sculpture to deface the four other (and legitimate) presidents on Mount Rushmore. The names “Trump” and “art” don’t belong in the same sentence.
Trump also peppered Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Expressway that connected it with Philadelphia with gaudy billboards announcing, “YOU’RE LOOKING VERY TRUMP TODAY.”
Trump also had Atlantic City streets blocked off for his “Tour de Trump,” making it impossible for people to attend Mother’s Day Mass due to some churches being inaccessible. As with other magazines and newspapers that wrote items critical of Trump, Spy received its fair share of threatening letters from one of Trump’s attorneys threatening a lawsuit if there wasn’t a retraction and apology. In January 2015, after the terrorist massacre of staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine’s office in Paris, Trump responded by calling Charlie Hebdo and Spy, “rag magazines,” even though Spy had ceased publication seventeen years prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
In the February 1990 issue of Spy, there is an interesting item about Trump trying to drive up his celebrity rating. This could be important in light of the rise of far-right Trump supporters, “Q” or “Qanon,” who believe Trump is quietly leading some powerful secret force aimed at ridding the world of satanist child torturers and pedophiles who clandestinely operate out of pizza parlors. It is known that Trump is a bad liar when it comes to his use of pseudonyms like John Barron, John Baron, John Miller, and David Dennison. His overuse of the names is what led to his being connected with the aliases. The same may hold true for the current “Q” enigma.
In February 1990, Spy cited Trump trying to increase his celebrity rating prior to his launching of a television game show, for which he would be the host. This was 14 years before “The Apprentice” featuring Trump first aired on NBC. Trump, who has always been fixated on ratings, discovered that his celebrity favorability rating was 16 and unpopularity score was a 40, which is lopsided for a prospective game show host. In contrast, Dick Clark had a 26:21 favorable to unfavorable ratio. Pat Sajak’s and Alex Trebek’s favorability ratings were also markedly higher than were Trump’s. Trump was irritated by his celebrity rating that showed him to be almost universally despised by the game show-viewing public. And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, “for the rest of the story.” The celebrity rating for Trump that got his panties in a twist was known as his “Q Score.”
It appears that Qanon has fallen for just another con job orchestrated by Donald John Barron Miller Dennison Trump. But, hey, it’s America and people have a right to be stupid.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).