The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist takes aim at his longtime bête noire, “a modern P.T. Barnum selling tickets to a modern variation of the Feejee Mermaid.”
If you follow the news at all, you’ll know that a number of allegations have recently been raised against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump—e.g., he played the field outside marriage, refused to pay suppliers and workers for jobs contracted for and completed, lied about his wealth, etc. It’s due in good measure to veteran investigative reporter Johnston (The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind, 2012, etc.) that these charges have seen the light of day. Here, without undue breathlessness and certainly without any coyness, he elaborates on those newsworthy sound bites: Trump’s father was arrested at a KKK rally and later accused of profiteering from tax dollars intended to benefit World War II veterans; Trump avoided military service because of a bone spur in his foot, though which foot he cannot recall; Trump is the least generous philanthropist in his tax bracket—and, of course, we don’t know what bracket that might be given his refusal to release those records—but loudly proclaims that he gives away millions. That none of this is shocking news is because Johnston has already done significant work getting these reports out. What is more useful in this account is his connecting dots and establishing patterns, one of which is that Trump has been planning for more than 30 years to run for the presidency, only now pulling together sufficient support to do so. All of this, of course, tempts legal action; as Johnston notes, “Trump spent two years suing author Tim O’Brien and his publisher for writing that his net worth was probably not in the billions, but rather the hundreds of millions. After a court dismissed the case, Trump made it clear that he merely wanted to harass O’Brien, not necessarily win damages.”
Voters ready to pull the trigger one way or another probably won’t be swayed by these revelations, but they are highly damning indeed.