I have been watching the recent Donald Trump events with a combination of astonishment, dismay and (I try) amusement. The relationship between Trump and the truth has, of course, been much discussed lately. But to Trump watchers, this is his standard procedure: If you say something with enough certainty, it does not matter if it is true or not. Just maintain your level of certainty, treat everyone else as wrong and keep moving.
This, of course, includes entertainment matters as well as financial and political ones. In 2004, Trump was part of a press conference I attended to promote the second season of "The Apprentice," which had been a significant hit for NBC. But significant was not enough for Trump.
"You know, we finished [the first season] as the number-one show on television," he said. And, he added: "number one in the demographics."
Neither claim was true, and a reporter -- I think it was my colleague Ed Bark -- questioned Trump.
"You keep saying that 'The Apprentice' was the number-one show on TV, and I'm just curious, what demographic was that?" the reporter asked. "Because I thought 'American Idol" finished the season as --"
"No, the demographics," Trump interrupted. "What is it? 18-49."
The reporter objected: " 'American Idol' finished number-one in 18-49."
"I don't think so," Trump said, then to someone else. "I think he's wrong." Then, back to the reporter: "I think you're wrong --"
Now, fairness compels me to note that Trump then asked, "NBC, will you help me out here?" which could be seen as an attempt by Trump to get it right -- that his steely refusal to acknowledge error these days had not yet hardened. But it could also have been Trump wanting someone at NBC to declare that he was right. After all, he had tried several times to back the reporter down.
In any case, NBC actually called "The Apprentice" the number-one NEW show of 2003-04 season. ("American Idol" had premiered in the summer of 2002.) Which is quite a bit different from what Trump claimed -- because, in the end, his claim sounded better than the truth.
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