Donald Trump’s reputation as a businessman rests in part on his 1987 memoir, The Art of the Deal. It turns out that not only did Donald Trump not write the book, it is questionable if he has even read it. The Trump character in the book is the fictional creation of ghostwriter Tony Schwartz, whom Donald Trump contracted to write the book. Mr. Schwarz is listed as the secondary author on the book’s cover, but in reality he was the only author, and he claims that the image of Donald Trump that he created in the book is pure fiction.
I first heard of Tony Schwartz and his story of writing “Trump’s book” in an interview with him on National Public Radio. He kept quiet about the fact that he was the book’s real author until Donald Trump declared himself to be a candidate for president. Tony Schwartz relates that he was watching a video of Donald Trump’s declaration when he heard Donald Trump say the words, “We need a leader that wrote Art of the Deal.” Mr. Schwartz is convinced that Donald Trump had become convinced that he and not Tony Schwartz had written the book.
Beginning in 1985, Tony Schwartz spent 18 months with Donald Trump, going where he did including spending weekends in Trump’s Manhattan apartment and Florida estate. In the NPR interview, he stated “I helped to paint Trump as a vastly more appealing human being than he actually is. And I have no pride about that. … I did it for the money. It’s certainly weighed on me over the years.”
He added, “One of the chief things I’m concerned about is the limits of his attention span, which are as severe as any person I think I’ve ever met. No matter what question I asked, he would become impatient with it pretty quickly, and literally, from the very first time I sat down to start interviewing him, after about 10 or 15 minutes, he said, ‘You know, I don’t really wanna talk about this stuff, I’m not interested in it, I mean it’s over, it’s the past, I’m done with it, what else have you got?'”
In a New Yorker article Schwartz expresses remorse about his contribution to creating a false public image of Donald Trump. “I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “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.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” He said if he were writing the book today, he would write it quite differently and entitle it The Sociopath.
In an interview with BBC radio, Mr. Schwartz says he is “terrified” of Donald Trump’s becoming president. (sorry no link; I’m listening to the interview on the radio as I write, and I don’t think the interview has been posted online yet). He said that Donald Trump is only interested in one thing–winning and having everyone else lose. Once he wins, he loses interest in the matter and passes on to a new conflict.
Tony Schwartz said that as far as the book is concerned, Donald Trump was only interested in the publicity and otherwise did not care what Mr. Schwartz wrote, so Schwartz painted a fawning verbal portrait of Donald Trump as a tough guy. He admits that he had pangs of conscience about writing the book but finally agreed to do it for the money. He demanded half of the advance and half of the book’s royalties. Donald Trump agreed to the terms.
After the article about Mr. Schwartz’s deal with Donald Trump appeared in the New Yorker, Mr. Schwartz received a cease-and-detest letter from one of Mr. Trump’s attorneys for revealing that the book is full of falsehoods and demanding that Mr. Schwartz relinquish his share of the book’s royalties. The New York Times obtained a copy of the letter, which insisted that Mr. Schwartz send “a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump” and make “written assurances that you will not generate or disseminate any misleading or inaccurate information or make any baseless accusations with respect to Mr. Trump.”
Tony Schwartz said in the BBC interview that he has not kept any royalties from the book since Donald Trump announced his presidential run but instead has donated them to a variety of charitable institutions including one that aids the very immigrants that Donald Trump so disparages. In a sense, he is atoning for his share of the blame for helping Donald Trump achieve the position he enjoys today.
On a personal note, I once received a threatening letter from the lawyer of a psychopathic former neighbor, who also hired a private investigator to investigate me and five other persons. Fortunately, the psychopath that I and my friends and neighbors had to deal with was not as rich as Donald Trump, her harassment crossed the limits of the law, and cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale both opened criminal investigations against her. By the time they had assembled enough information to file criminal charges, she had escaped to Nicaragua, a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States. I am writing a book about her. In my research, I have learned that such bizarre behavior is typical of psychopaths.
I also wrote a novel about a psychopathic car dealer who in my novel actually is elected president of the United States. I patterned the character partly on Donald Trump, partly on an ex-governor of Arizona named Evan Mecham, and partly on Maricopa County Arizona’s psychopathic sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is also facing the possibility of having criminal charges filed against him. For more information, click on the cover image of Running for President in the left sidebar of this blog.