Donald Trump: NYT reporter Serge Kovaleski ‘should stop using his disability …

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump denies mocking reporter’s disability, demands apology.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump said he couldn’t have been making fun of a reporter’s disability because he doesn’t know the man. Serge Kovaleski of The New York Times says he has met Trump repeatedly, interviewing him in his office and talking to him at news conferences, when he worked for the New York Daily News in the late 1980s. “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” he said in a Times story about the Republican presidential candidate’s behavior at a rally in South Carolina last week.WASHINGTON: Donald Trump is denying he mocked a reporter with a disability in a South Carolina speech, despite appearing to imitate mannerisms of the “poor guy” and make fun of him.Q: Did Donald Trump tell People magazine in 1998 that if he ever ran for president, he’d do it as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country” and that he “could lie and they’d still eat it up”?

A statement posted on his Twitter account Thursday said Trump doesn’t know the reporter personally or what he looks like and was only mocking his journalism. Trump had cited a 2001 Washington Post article by Kovaleski as proof of his claim, but the reporter — who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects his movement — said he had no memory of allegations of thousands of people celebrating. “If Mr.

Early one evening in January 2014, I sat in a darkened den with walnut-paneled walls and baroque furniture, trying desperately to get Donald Trump to stop telling me about his Barack Obama conspiracy theories. “And to this day,” my billionaire host bellowed, “we haven’t seen those records!” Our interview had started out fine, but now Trump kept veering off on long, excited tangents about forged birth certificates and presidential coverups. On stage, Trump berated Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for his recent recollection of an article he wrote a few days after the attacks, which Trump has been citing to defend his claim. “Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! No matter what questions I asked, I couldn’t get him off the subject. “We have seen a book of [Obama’s] as a young man that said he was from Kenya, okay?” Trump said, connecting the dots for me like a crazy uncle who has cornered his nephew at Thanksgiving dinner. “The publisher of the book said at first, ‘Well, that’s what he told us.’ But then they said, ‘No, that was a typographical error.’ . . . Trump’s assertions about Muslims celebrating in 2001 have been fact-checked and discredited by law enforcement and government officials who were in New Jersey in the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks. Likewise, Rubio, who can communicate compassion and optimism, would stand a much better chance in the so-called “establishment” lane than Jeb Bush.

But aside from the fact that Cruz has a better chance of beating Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, I’m constantly hearing from Republicans who believe he is more cunning and “flexible” than he is an ideologue. Douglas Thomas of Freeport, N.Y., among others, who saw it in his Facebook feed, along with a message from someone who said, “I just fact-checked this. For attention, Trump had turned to the conservative fringes, where his torch-juggling act was still cheered at grass-roots gatherings and his musings about impeachment still went viral in far-right corners of the Web. He also denied remembering Kovaleski at all — “despite having one of the all-time great memories.” “Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago — if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did,” Trump said. “He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.” Kovaleski said in an interview this week that he’s sure Trump remembers him — and his disability.

This is an actual quote by Trump.” And a public relations representative with People told us that the magazine couldn’t find anything like that quote in its archives, either. Instead, the idea is that Cruz might follow Nixon’s path — which was to be an ambitious young conservative in a hurry, who then transformed into a savvy centrist in order to win the White House and govern.

Trump’s dominance in this year’s presidential primary race has often been described as a mysterious natural phenomenon: the Donald riding a wild, unpredictable tsunami of conservative populist anger that just now happens to be crashing down on the Republican establishment. But in fact, Trump spent years methodically building and buying support for himself in a vast, right-wing counter-establishment — one that exists entirely outside the old party infrastructure and is quickly becoming just as powerful. Running against Helen Gahagan Douglas, the anti-Communist Nixon once even famously declared she was “Pink right down to her underwear.” As Ross Douthat recently noted, “Nixon knew how to channel an angry, ‘who’s looking out for me?’ populism without letting himself be imprisoned by its excesses.” Sound familiar?

When no one was watching, he was assuming command of this Fringe Establishment, building an army of activists and avatars that he would eventually deploy in his scorched-earth assault on the GOP’s old guard, on his rivals in the primary field — and, as an early test case in the winter of 2014, on me. Yes, I am considering a run for president. … Unlike candidates from the two major parties, my candidacy would not represent an exercise in career advancement. There is a real sense that Cruz, having rounded up the support of grassroots conservatives who might propel him to the GOP nomination, could later pivot — and run as a “kinder, gentler” Cruz. There were the John Birch Society newsletters of the 1970s and ’80s; the AM talk-radio shows of the ’90s; the world-government chat rooms and e-mail chain letters around the turn of the millennium; and the vibrant, frenzied blogosphere of amateur muckrakers of the mid-2000s. (Anyone wondering whether the phenomenon is ideologically exclusive need look no further than George W.

The fringe has swelled with new Web sites, radio stations, confabs, causes, pressure groups, celebrities and profit-making businesses noisily pitching themselves to the tea party. An entire right-wing media ecosystem has sprung up, where journalist-warriors flood social media with rumors of sharia law coming to suburbia and hype a fast-approaching “race war” in America targeting whites. In 2013, for example, a fierce conservative backlash organized by lobbying groups and right-wing media torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill, in part with a campaign of misinformation, and sent its Republican champion, Sen. Right-wing support transformed an icon of African American achievement, Ben Carson, into a leading presidential candidate whose stump routine has included Nazi analogies and suggestions that Muslims are unfit for the presidency.

I don’t even think it would be that tough. … I’m not looking to get more votes than any other independent candidate in history, I’d want to win. Several days into the shutdown, a Cruz aide told me with jarring candor that the senator had stuck to the “defund” rallying cry because “a more complicated message” wouldn’t “make for a good hashtag.”) When the dust settled, Obamacare was still fully funded and GOP officials were panicking — but Cruz was a newly minted conservative superstar, and the organizations that backed him had raised millions of dollars. Skirmishes between the Grand Old Party and far-right populists are as old as lever-operated voting machines, and the old guard usually comes out on top. And I don’t think anybody’s hitting the chord, not the chord that I want hear, and not the chord that other people want to hear, and I’ve seen it.

Trump, a masterful marketer, has taken care since then to make his right-wing cheering section look huge and wholly organic, habitually retweeting typo-laden messages of support from sycophantic egg accounts. But again, we could find nothing in the online People magazine archives that suggests Trump ever was quoted as saying the quote used in the Facebook meme, either in 1998 or any other year.

On Nov. 23, we wrote about a grossly inaccurate graphic that Trump retweeted that claimed, among other things, that most whites are killed by blacks (which isn’t true). Trump maintained that the graphic came from “sources that are very credible” and added, “Am I gonna check every statistic?” That, in a nutshell, is how false memes — like the one we’ve written about here — get passed around the Web. When some organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference opposed inviting Trump back to speak in 2014, arguing that he was “not a serious movement leader,” the billionaire invited Al Cardenas, then the chief organizer of the high-profile event, to his Mar-a-Lago club and estate in Florida and wrote the group a $50,000 check. FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.

When the conference came, he had a plum speaking slot. (Cardenas confirmed the donation to me but denied that the money bought Trump a spot in the lineup. “He’s entertaining,” he said.) Trump also worked to win over Breitbart, a crusading right-wing Web site that wields tremendous influence within a certain hyper-aggrieved class of conservative activists. (Its unofficial mission statement: #WAR.) Trump turned the site into a source of loyal coverage by showering it with access and possibly more. Based in Philadelphia, Factcheck monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Employees there have privately complained to me that management is turning the outlet into a Donald Trump fan site, with some even speculating that the billionaire has an undisclosed financial interest in the company that explains the fawning coverage.

Breitbart, which is privately held, doesn’t make the sources of its financial backing public, and the company’s chairman, Steve Bannon, denies that it has any financial relationship with Trump. Schedules were rearranged, flight plans rerouted, and before I had time to think it through, I was wrapped in a gold-plated seat belt in Trump’s 757 as we soared toward Palm Beach, Fla., home to Mar-a-Lago, the billionaire’s sprawling beachside compound. But Trump added a nice touch by sending me an addendum to the $850 bill BuzzFeed had already paid for my stay at Mar-a-Lago, claiming that he neglected to tack on the cost of the flight: $10,000.

First, a Buffalo-based public relations pro with ties to Trump named Michael Caputo began circulating an e-mail to Republican press secretaries, accusing me of being a “partisan flibbertigibbet” and warning that I was not to be trusted. Then Trump went to Breitbart, which began publishing stories about me, including a 2,100-word alternate-reality version of our trip to Mar-a-Lago: “Exclusive — Trump: ‘Scumbag’ BuzzFeed blogger ogled women while he ate bison at my resort.” In one particularly colorful passage, a hostess at Trump’s club identified as “Bianka Pop” recounted my efforts to seduce her. “He was looking at me like I was yummy . . . [like he wanted] a cup of me or something,” she said. In another story, Palin (whom I had never met) joined Trump’s crusade, telling Breitbart: “This nervous geek isn’t fit to tie the Donald’s wing tips. A notorious right-wing blogger and opposition researcher popped up in my Gchat with a brief, cryptic note reporting that someone had tried to enlist him for a “project” in which I was the target.

He had turned down the offer, he said, but he knew there were “others.” The goal was to dig into my personal life until they unearthed something scandalous enough to “finish” me. When I asked a Republican source to intervene on my behalf, the organizer resisted. “Did you see that stuff on Breitbart about him?” he asked, referring to the site’s less-than-accurate portrait of me as a nefarious left-wing hack.

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