The man who coined the term “truthful hyperbole” has terrible buyer’s remorse and is breaking his silence in a tell-all story to the New Yorker Magazine. Author Tony Schwartz had a front row seat to history thirty years ago, but instead of writing a factual book about it, he was paid handsomely by Donald Trump to ghostwrite “The Art of the Deal.” Schwartz wrote the 1987 bestseller which launched the Trump brand, and produced the schticky talking points pushed by the manic real estate development branding swindler to this day.
Now Trump’s ghostwriter, the man who literally created ‘the art of the deal’ is now “terrified of a Trump presidency,” and told ABC News this morning that, “My two-year-old grandson has a longer attention span than Donald Trump.”
“He is so insecure, he’s easily provoked, he’s not nearly as smart as people might imagine he is,” Schwartz explained to George Stephanopolous, his opinion as someone who has spent more time with Donald Trump than anyone outside of his family, “and in the face of somebody like Putin, provoking him cleverly, because Putin’s a heck of a lot smarter than Donald Trump, I do worry that with the nuclear codes he would end civilization as we know it.”
Tony Schwartz published a story in the New Yorker Magazine 32 years ago about Trump’s scummy real estate operations performing illegal evictions in New York City. He thought the story would turn Trump off or that he was a good sport, but what he learned over time was this: Donald Trump doesn’t care about anything but attention. Unfortunately, Schwartz used his writing talents, and the $250,000 advance (equivalent to $540,000 in today’s dollars) plus promise of 50% of the royalties, to vault the young Donald Trump from being just another trust fund baby then, to becoming this year’s Republican trust fund baby Presidential candidate.
Schwartz noted that most ghostauthors of the time got much smaller compensation packages, and that Trump hadn’t even negotiated a great deal with him. Nonetheless, he worked for 18 months to write the book, discovered that Donald Trump can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes, and then gave up and just shadowed him for a year, eavesdropping on phone calls. Tony Schwartz shared this and more for the first time this week:
In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.” The first line of the book is an example. “I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”
Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ” As for the idea that making deals is a form of poetry, Schwartz says, “He was incapable of saying something like that—it wouldn’t even be in his vocabulary.” He saw Trump as driven not by a pure love of dealmaking but by an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity.” Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, “He’s a living black hole!”
The “Art of the Deal” was in fact written by Tony Schwartz, and according to the New Yorker Magazine reporters contacted the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump genuinely, unbelievably believes after all of these years that he in fact wrote the book. Tony Schwartz put it best at the end.
“This is a man who has more sociopathic tendencies than any candidate in my adult life that I’ve observed. So yeah, I regret writing the book.”
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.