This morning The Village Voice, one of my news sites which sends a rundown of some stories that might interest me, scored in a major way with an article about how they covered Donald Trump in the late 1970’s. I post a very small segment but encourage a longer reader with the above link.
Donald Trump has pushed each deal to the limit, taking from it whatever he can get, turning political connections into private profits at public expense
But Barrett’s reporting paints a picture of Trump’s background that’s somewhat at odds with the one he paints for himself. Far from that of a self-made billionaire, the image of Trump that emerges from Barrett’s reporting is that of a scion of a wealthy family who got ahead, in large part, thanks to family connections — many of them political. Far from an independent capitalist, Barrett showed, Trump was a businessman who relied heavily on government largesse. “This is a guy whose wealth has been created by political connections,” Barrett says today. And at the time the story was published, even Trump’s political connections came secondhand, through his father. The idea that Trump is a business-world antidote to the world of political entanglement, as he often implies, is “ludicrous,” as Barrett puts it.
The articles described how then-mayor Beame and others at the top of the political establishment bent over backward for Trump to help him develop a property owned by the Penn Central Transportation Company into what was to be a multimillion-dollar convention center. Through hefty tax incentives and guaranteed loans, the city offered the young developer a chance to leverage public risk for his own private profit — without putting up a dollar of his own.
Over the course of Barrett’s reporting, Trump tried to influence the process in various creative ways. He threatened to sue Barrett, of course. But Trump also apparently tried to bribe him, subtly hinting that he could get Barrett a nice apartment in midtown and move him and his wife out of the Brownsville home where they lived. As if they’d somehow arrived there by accident.