The Trump Files: Donald Attacks a Reporter Who Questioned His Claim to Own the Empire State Building

Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on October 17, 2016.

If there’s one thing Donald Trump really doesn’t like, it’s being called out. British journalist Selina Scott found that out the hard way when she challenged his false claim that he wholly owned the Empire State Building.

In 1995, Scott interviewed Trump for a British television documentary. Scott and her producer, Ted Brocklebank, used the song “It Ain’t Necessarily So” in the background of the film to highlight how Trump’s claims “‘didn’t stand up,'” Brocklebank told journalist Michael D’Antonio in his book The Truth About Trump.  

One of those claims occurred during a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Scott wrote in the Daily Mail early this year that Trump boasted that he was the sole owner of the Empire State Building, a declaration that Scott immediately challenged. He later said he owned 80 percent of the building, then admitted to owning just 50 percent of it. Scott reported Trump’s false claims in her film.

Trump wasn’t happy, and he took his revenge on Scott, sending her letters calling her “‘very sleazy,’ ‘unattractive,’ ‘obnoxious,’ and ‘boring,'” D’Antonio writes.

The mogul continued:

Selina, you have little talent and, from what I have seen, even fewer viewers. You are no longer ‘hot’; perhaps that is the curse of dishonesty. You would, obviously, go to any lengths to try to restore your faded image, but guess what—the public is aware and apparently much brighter than you. They aren’t tuning in! I hope you are able to solve your problems before it is too late.

Scott also wrote in the Daily Mail that Trump’s insults continued for years. In just one example, Scott said he sent her a clip of a story about his net worth with the message, “‘Selina you are a major loser.'”

In 2009, the 14-year feud with Scott took another turn. When Trump wanted to build his Scottish golf course in Aberdeen, members of the local council who were deciding whether to allow Trump to build on protected land received a copy of the mogul’s 1995 interview with Scott, according to the Guardian. When Trump found out that the council had seen the video, he lashed out at Scott, who said she wasn’t involved in the film’s distribution to the council. He called her a “third-class journalist” and said her interview with him was “‘a boring story then and she has since faded into obscurity where she belongs.'”

Scott didn’t hesitate in fighting back. In a prescient comment in light of recent revelations, Scott told the BBC last year, “I knew he was an unreconstructed misogynist.”

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate