The Committee to Protect Journalists is based in New York but the bulk of its work is usually in tyrannical and oppressive regimes in backward parts of the world– Russia, Bangladesh, Mexico, Iran, Nigeria, Ethiopia, China, Pakistan… But not this week. If you've been listening to Trump's increasingly violent tirades against the media at his hate rallies filled with deplorables, you may have noticed he's riling up his low IQ fascist-embracing supporters. This week armed SWAT teams have had to escort journalists from Trump rallies to their cars. Cameramen have been attacked by out-of-control Trumpist mobs, riled up by their fuehrer. It's especially distrurbing that several police unions have endorsed Trump. Yesterday the Committee to Protect Journalists issued an unprecedented statement on their worries regarding Freedom of the Press under a Trump presidency:
Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.
Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ's board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ's ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.
Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.
He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze” in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an “impertinent” question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.
Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Univision, and the Des Moines Register.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” In September, Trump tweeted, “My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”
While some have suggested that these statements are rhetorical, we take Trump at his word. His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.
A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious. Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.
When MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked him in December if his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin was at all tempered by the country's history of critical journalists being murdered, his response was: “He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country… Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too.”
Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.
For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now. This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.
“We take Trump at his word,” is an odd concept since almost nothing passes out of his lips that isn't a bold lie. His threats– against minorities, his opponents, the media, women, and democracy itself– is the exception. It's instructive to read the transcript unearthed yesterday of an ABC Primetime Live show that was never broadcast. The Hollywood Reporter published a report of the 1994 interview of Trump and one of his former wives, Marla Maples at Mar-a-Largo by Nancy Collins. Collins wrote that, according to his high-school classmates at the strict New York Military Academy, Trump’s view of women, “was pure Playboy. 'His model of behavior toward women,' one told me, 'was Hugh Hefner.' The key to Trump’s personality, explained another friend, lies in his fear of public embarrassment. 'Donald dreads humiliation and shame' one source told me during my reporting for the Primetime segment. 'If he feels that, he lashes out.'”
Let’s talk about women. Your feelings toward them seem conflicted, even chauvinistic, confusing since you adore and respect your mother so much.
I have great relationships with women, my mother, Ivana, Marla, my female executives are better than the men: tougher, smarter.
So why in 1992 did you tell a writer for New York magazine, Marie Brenner, that ‘You have to treat women like shit”– ultimately pouring a bottle of wine down her back?
I didn’t say that. The woman’s a liar, extremely unattractive, lots of problems because of her looks.
That statement is exactly why women think you’re a chauvinist pig.
They’re right– and not. People say, “How can you say such a thing?” but there’s a truth in it, in a modified form. Psychologists will tell you that some women want to be treated with respect, others differently. I tell friends who treat their wives magnificently, get treated like crap in return, “Be rougher and you’ll see a different relationship.’ Unfortunately, with people in general, you get more with vinegar than honey.
Not with smart women. How did such a proponent of marriage get labeled a womanizer?
I’d love to reframe that, never liked it. It’s been perpetrated by the press probably because when I was single I had women friends on the good-looking side. But again, I think marriage is a great institution, doesn’t always work, but I believe in it.
So what happened to your marriage with Ivana?
A great misconception is I left Ivana for Marla. Marla had nothing to do with it, but leaving my wife for another woman makes a better headline. Our marriage hadn’t been working for three or four years.
Did you try to save it?
Unfortunately, I just let it meander. I’m much more indecisive in my personal life than everything else I do. I should’ve confronted the situation, sat down with Ivana, told her, “Let’s work it out or not. Do something.” We didn’t even see a marriage counselor, but I determined that marriage was over.
Ivana had not. She was shattered finding out about Marla, wanted you back, even getting a facelift, wept telling Liz Smith you no longer wanted her sexually– all of which was played in worldwide media.
It was wild and wooly. Marla hated it, went into hiding and people started wearing “Where’s Marla” t-shirts. She finally talked to ABC– a freebie when we’d been offered millions.
With your money you actually wanted to be paid? No shame!
Why not? You’re embarrassed for a day in the papers but have a million bucks in your pocket.
Back to your marriage with Ivana. What do you think went wrong?
My incredible success could have been a part of the problem. Everything I touched turned to gold. I’m in my thirties and my whole thing is going through the roof. Our life was so big, so perfect, it put tremendous strain on our marriage. I thought, “I don’t have time for the marriage.” I don’t blame Ivana, she’s beautiful, a great mother– I just started getting bored. Everything was just too … easy. Maybe Ivana and I once had passion, maybe something, but it was really too much too soon.
It was like the Twilight Zone episode where a man dies and someone says, “You can have any wish you want.” [He says], “I want to win everything, never lose.” He goes into business, every deal works; he plays golf, wins every time. Everything was perfect. So he tells the man, “I want something else to happen. This can’t be heaven.” And he says, “It’s not. It’s Hell.”
Was there a precipitating event?
We had a great relationship for several years … I was 100 percent faithful, loved Ivana … then I asked her to take over Trump Castle. Putting your wife to work is a very dangerous thing– the single biggest reason my marriage stopped being good, my fault more than hers. I thought, “Ivana’s a great homemaker, mother, but I’ll give her something really exciting to do”– like raising kids wasn’t the most important job in the world. “Why don’t you run Trump Castle?” She knew nothing about casinos but she’d been with me. If you’re smart, you’re smart. She jumped at it, did a nice job, but I can hire someone to do that.
I don’t want to sound like a chauvinist, but when I come home at night and dinner’s not ready I go through the roof. But I got handed casino numbers. After 12 hours dealing with my companies, I didn’t want to talk business. I can instantaneously shut it off, my survival mechanism. But she’d be yelling into the phone with the casino; I didn’t want my wife shouting like that. Ivana had a great softness that disappeared. She became an executive, not a wife.
Presumably actress Marla Maples had that softness? In 1985 you literally met at church– Marble Collegiate on Fifth Avenue– fell in love and you moved her into an apartment. This went on for a couple years. Two women at your beck and call.
Not bad. Beautiful wife, beautiful girlfriend, everything beautiful. Life was a bowl of cherries.
… I’m sure you loved two women fighting over you. Once you were free, it took the birth of your daughter, Ariana– and two months after that– until you finally married Marla.
I don’t believe in having babies out of wedlock, neither does she. We were both surprised.
Were you using birth control?
We broke up and Marla stopped the pill, still off the day we got back together, nice knowing she wasn’t on it while we weren’t. Two months later Marla came home and said, “Guess what? I’m pregnant”– not her intention. Lo and behold a gorgeous baby girl, all happened beautifully.
Wouldn’t that have been the moment to marry the mother of your impending child, instead of waiting until two months after Ariana was born? Why didn’t you?
Indecision. I wanted to be sure it was the right thing for me.
You seem to call all the shots in a relationship: when, if you’ll marry, or divorce, whether your wife will work, or not– which Marla wants to do.
I don’t see it that way. I’m a great starmaker, which I’ve done with Ivana and Marla. I liked that. But once they are a star, the fun is over for me. It’s the creation process, like creating a building. It’s sad.
Hardly encouraging for the women in your life.
It’s complicated, I change from moment to moment. I’m not saying anybody gets a joy ride in this deal. But it could be a lot worse. I’m a very good husband.
Once the bride signs the pre-nup. Marla didn’t want to.
It’s a lousy concept– “When you get divorced, this is what you’ll get”– but a modern-day necessity. Marla doesn’t want to sign but she has to from my standpoint. I understand, a pre-nup feels like you’re giving up on the marriage before it starts.
But my businesses are big and complex. If things don’t work out, should a woman you happened to marry lay claim to Trump Tower? I don’t want to go through five years of turmoil and lawyers' fees.
Marla reportedly asked for $25 million, you negotiated her down to a million which looks a little …
Not so bad. You get married, doesn’t work out, you get a million bucks. I’m not the worst guy to be married to. I think a million dollars is a lot of money.
No, you don’t.
No, I don’t actually.
Especially for the mother of your child, loyal for six years, you’ve got the dough, give her the 25 mil.
I look at everything like a deal. I built this empire myself, nobody did it for me. If someone married somebody who built something this large, should she end up like the Queen of Sheba? If our marriage doesn’t work out, I don’t want to go through five years of lawyers, legal fees. If I give more, I want to make the decision, not some court saying, “You agreed to pay X– and will.” Ivana challenged our pre-nup for three years, ending up with the original settlement.
What’s your relationship with Ivana now?
Once the litigation stopped … we’re very friendly. We’ll always love each other, share three wonderful children.
Speaking of whom, how did your children deal with this emotional chaos?
It was a very, very tough period for them. They understood that things weren’t so great on the home front. But going to school every day, seeing your parent’s pictures on the front of every newspaper in the world, your schoolmates being gruesome in some cases. But Ivana and I did a good job. They didn’t read newspapers, weren’t allowed to watch TV, unless someone was with them. I learned how strong my children are, they came out magnificently, doing great in school, loved by both parents.
Still, there’ll be scars…
They’re so well-adjusted. Properly handled, you don’t have scars. (Right, Sigmund Freud?)
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis