Attention, media: The Donald is lying to you

How Donald Trump hustles the media about his political plans, over and over and over again

Published November 18, 2010 7:51PM (EST)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

It looks like the season of empty presidential campaign threats, which was kicked off by Newt Gingrich, is getting into full swing.

Businessman/self-promoter Donald Trump is all over the news today for his repeated claims in new interviews that he is mulling a presidential bid in 2012. 

"For the first time in my life, I'm actually thinking about it [running for president]," he told Fox News.

Which is true, if by "first" he means "third."

What most of the stories today are missing is the crucial context that Trump has a long history of garnering free publicity by floating his own name as a potential presidential (or gubernatorial) candidate, before inevitably not following through. Let's go to the tape:

  • 1999: Trump launches what the Times later calls a "brief and flamboyant exploration" of a presidential run on the Reform Party ticket, using the opportunity to garner endless media coverage and sell a new book, "The America We Deserve." The head of the Reform Party denounces Trump as a media-hungry "hustler."
  • 2005: New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno announces that he has spoken to Trump about running for governor, a revelation that prompts intense media coverage. Trump's office conspicuously declines to issue a denial. A few days later, Trump says he won't run for governor, prompting more headlines.
  • 2006: In an interview with the New York Post, Trump hints that he is mulling a 2008 presidential run. While he declines to answer the Post's queries directly one way or another, he leaves the door open. And the Post story adds that "a political figure close to Trump told The Post, 'Donald is definitely interested in running for president in 2008, possibly as an independent candidate.'"
  • 2010: Trump announces that he is thinking about running for president "for the first time in my life."

Trump, who has never run for any public office, has cannily announced that he will not make his final decision until June, so get ready for seven more months of credulous coverage.

By Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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