Donald Trump: A history of hand-scrawled rage

The note he sent to Salon's Justin Elliott today is tame compared to some of his greatest hits

By Justin Spees

Published April 22, 2011 7:49PM (EDT)

Donald Trump attends the South Florida Tea Party's third annual tax day rally Saturday, April 16, 2011 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Fla.  Sounding increasingly like a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly told a raucous tea party crowd Saturday he has the qualities needed in the White House and the conservative ideals necessary to seal the Republican nomination should he decide to run. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Gary Coronado)  MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES (AP)
Donald Trump attends the South Florida Tea Party's third annual tax day rally Saturday, April 16, 2011 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Fla. Sounding increasingly like a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly told a raucous tea party crowd Saturday he has the qualities needed in the White House and the conservative ideals necessary to seal the Republican nomination should he decide to run. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Gary Coronado) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; NO SALES (AP)

Jerry Seinfeld this week pulled out of a scheduled appearance at a benefit event organized by Donald Trump's son, Eric. The elder Trump responded by sending Seinfeld a letter that contained some .... choice words:

"I agreed to do, and did, your failed show, 'The Marriage Ref,' even though I thought it was absolutely terrible . . . Despite its poor ratings, I didn't cancel on you like you canceled on my son and St. Jude. I only wish I did."

This, of course, comes on the heels of two other angry and highly-publicized letters from The Donald to writers that, in his view, wronged him with their words. (One was to the New York Times' Gail Collins and another to Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner). It isn't a new habit, either.  Trump actually has a lengthy history of using colorful hand-scrawled notes (which often reort to juvenile name-calling) to express his pique with members of the media. We've rounded up a collection of some of his best public letters of condemnation.

January 1988 to March 1989 - The Spy magazine saga

Spy  contacts Trump about doing a story on his new wife, Ivana. Trump agrees to participate, on the condition that the magazine sticks straight to the facts, and threatens litigation for any perceived libel. What follows is the exhausting process, documented by the magazine, that culminates in Trump sending a letter to Alvin Schragis, father of an investor in Spy, denying he that he ever agreed to help with the story, and assuming (incorrectly) that Schragis is in any way connected to it:

Now I hear through the grapevine that you are doing an extremely inaccurate and dishonest story on Ivana and that the story is being written because I have said no to SPY Magazine going on the Shuttle flights.

September 11, 2005 - Letter to the New York Times Book Review

After the Times' reviews a new collection of essays from Mark Singer, Trump writes in to take shots at the New Yorker writer, who had produced a profile of him years earlier:

Most writers want to be successful. Some writers even want to be good writers. I've read John Updike, I've read Orhan Pamuk, I've read Philip Roth. When Mark Singer enters their league, maybe I'll read one of his books. But it will be a long time — he was not born with great writing ability. Until then, maybe he should concentrate on finding his own "lonely component" and then try to develop himself into a worldclass writer, as futile as that may be, instead of having to write about remarkable people who are clearly outside of his realm.

February 21, 2006 - Letter to Martha Stewart

Trump pens an open letter to Stewart criticizing her and gloating in the failure of her own "Apprentice"-style reality show:

It's about time you started taking responsibility for your failed version of The Apprentice. Your performance was terrible in that the show lacked mood, temperament and just about everything else a show needs for success. I knew it would fail as soon as I first saw it – and your low ratings bore me out.

Between your daughter, with her one word statements, your letter writing and, most importantly, your totally unconvincing demeanor, it never had a chance – much as your daytime show is not exactly setting records.

January 9, 2007 - Letter to Rosie O'Donnell

After Rosie O'Donnell criticizes Trump on "The View," Trump sends her a letter telling her that he and Barbara Walters both dislike her.

After your maniacal and foolish rant against me two weeks ago, Barbara called me from her vacation (I did not call her) in order to apologize for your behavior. She had heard that I was going to retaliate against you and tried to talk me out of it. She very much wanted me to go on the show as soon as she got back so that she could "patch things up" (I said no). To be exact, she said that "working with her is like living in hell" and, more pointedly, "Donald, never get into the mud with pigs" and, "don't worry, she won't be here for long."

December 13, 2007 - Letter to Davan Maharaj

Trump sends a letter to the business editor of the Los Anegeles Times criticizing reporter David Lazarus for asserting that Trump has amassed his fortune from reality television rather than real estate:

I am worth many billions of dollars, am building large scale developments all over the world, am considered by many to be, by far, the hottest name in real estate, and I have to read an article by a third-rate reporter in your newspaper that my "primary claim to fame" is hosting The Apprentice.


When your reporter called me two weeks ago to ask questions about Trump University, a very successful though very small part of my business holdings, this reporter sounded like a real "wise-guy". Unfortunately, there are too many such people in the otherwise wonderful profession of journalism. With people like this working for the Los Angeles Times, I now see why it is a newspaper in a tailspin -- both from an advertising and circulatory standpoint. Try getting rid of your "bad apples" like this and I bet you will do a lot better -- and by the way in last season's Apprentice the Los Angeles Times was all too anxious to partake in one of its episodes.

September 2009 - Letter to Mike Tollin

In 2009, ESPN commissions filmmaker Mike Tollin to create a documentary on the rise and fall of the United States Football League. Tollin's finished product posits that Trump, as the owner of the New Jersey Generals, torpedoed the league by demanding it move from the spring to the fall to compete directly with the NFL. Trump responds by scribbling a reply in pen on a copy of a letter originally sent him by Tollin:


A third rate documentary — and extremely dishonest (as you know) —

Best wishes

Donald Trump

P.S. You are a loser

January 2010 - Letter to the city of Palm Beach, Florida

Trump organizes an Andrea Bocelli benefit concert at Mar-a-Lago, his golf club in Palm Beach, but the city demands he cap the attendance at 700. Trump had argued with Palm Beach before -- in 2006, he filed a lawsuit when he was fined for hanging an oversize American flag over his club in violation of zoning codes. This time, Trump sends a letter to Mayor Jack McDonald and the Town Council expressing his anger:

I'm giving the money to charity. Instead of saying "great going," they send me a nasty letter telling me I have to live up to the declaration-of-use agreement.


I am reprimanded and threatened by people that have no business running a town — the same people, in fact, that demanded I rip down the American flag, and lost!

December 1, 2010 - Letter to Donna Shalala

After a 7-5 football season, University of Miami president Shalala fires head coach Randy Shannon. Trump, who had apparently pushed for the school to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach instead of Shannon back in 2006, uses the opportunity to gloat:

Donna – You made a big mistake when you did not take my advice and hire Mike Leach of Texas Tech – look what happened to them since he left – (they knew he was leaving) – Hire Coach Leach and you will be #1 – And you can now get him for the right price. Best wishes, Donald.

April 13, 2011 - Letter to Bill Cosby

Frustrated with Trump's decision to embrace birtherism, Cosby tells "Today's" Meredith Vieira on Today that he needs to run for president or shut up. Trump responds thusly:

The other day on The Today Show, right after I was interviewed by Meredith Vieira, a terrific person and reporter, I happened to watch Bill Cosby who was on at the end of the show. While I have never been a fan of Cosby’s, I had always assumed he liked or respected me because every time I met him–the last time at the David Letterman show where I preceded him as a guest–he was always so nice, saying “let’s get together”–asking me out to dinner, and being polite to the point of offering to buy me a suit because he has a “great tailor.”

In any event, as I watched the show, the subject of Donald Trump came up. I was surprised to hear him blabber, somewhat incoherently “you run or shut up.” The hatred was pouring out of his eyes when he said this. As I am sure he must know I cannot run until this season of Celebrity Apprentice ends. I know that he has taken a lot of heat over the years in that he seems to be talking down to the people he’s talking to and purportedly trying to help.


Justin Spees

Justin Spees is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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