The Trump Files: Donald Attacks a Reporter Who Questioned His Claim to Own the Empire State Building

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This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on October 17, 2016.

If there’s one thing Donald Trump really doesn’t like, it’s being called out. British journalist Selina Scott found that out the hard way when she challenged his false claim that he wholly owned the Empire State Building.

In 1995, Scott interviewed Trump for a British television documentary. Scott and her producer, Ted Brocklebank, used the song “It Ain’t Necessarily So” in the background of the film to highlight how Trump’s claims “‘didn’t stand up,'” Brocklebank told journalist Michael D’Antonio in his book The Truth About Trump.  

One of those claims occurred during a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Scott wrote in the Daily Mail early this year that Trump boasted that he was the sole owner of the Empire State Building, a declaration that Scott immediately challenged. He later said he owned 80 percent of the building, then admitted to owning just 50 percent of it. Scott reported Trump’s false claims in her film.

Trump wasn’t happy, and he took his revenge on Scott, sending her letters calling her “‘very sleazy,’ ‘unattractive,’ ‘obnoxious,’ and ‘boring,'” D’Antonio writes.

The mogul continued:

Selina, you have little talent and, from what I have seen, even fewer viewers. You are no longer ‘hot’; perhaps that is the curse of dishonesty. You would, obviously, go to any lengths to try to restore your faded image, but guess what—the public is aware and apparently much brighter than you. They aren’t tuning in! I hope you are able to solve your problems before it is too late.

Scott also wrote in the Daily Mail that Trump’s insults continued for years. In just one example, Scott said he sent her a clip of a story about his net worth with the message, “‘Selina you are a major loser.'”

In 2009, the 14-year feud with Scott took another turn. When Trump wanted to build his Scottish golf course in Aberdeen, members of the local council who were deciding whether to allow Trump to build on protected land received a copy of the mogul’s 1995 interview with Scott, according to the Guardian. When Trump found out that the council had seen the video, he lashed out at Scott, who said she wasn’t involved in the film’s distribution to the council. He called her a “third-class journalist” and said her interview with him was “‘a boring story then and she has since faded into obscurity where she belongs.'”

Scott didn’t hesitate in fighting back. In a prescient comment in light of recent revelations, Scott told the BBC last year, “I knew he was an unreconstructed misogynist.”

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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