When history books are written about Donald Trump’s presidency, will Jim Dowd be considered a major turning point in his path towards the Oval Office?
As it appears, now that Donald Trump has been elected and will be inaugurated on January 20, the one person missing from Trump’s big picture is NBC’s Jim Dowd.
Known best from NBC’s The Apprentice, Jim Dowd gave a telling interview on June 29, 2016, with Frontline, a few months before Donald Trump was elected. Despite their codependent relationship, Jim Dowd is no longer around in the moments that it seems Donald Trump needs him the most — such as dealing with the fallout from his bad tweeting habits.
Unfortunately, although Donald Trump could really use a public relations whiz like Jim Dowd to help him launch into the presidency with good footing, Jim Dowd died on September 18, 2016.
According to the interview transcribed by PBS, Jim Dowd described his relationship with Donald Trump as being very political from the beginning. Jim Dowd was working as NBC’s eastern division public relations director, and he was asked to run publicity for Donald Trump in 2003 for the new show The Apprentice.
Looking back at 2004 in the year 2016, Jim Dowd stated that he was helping Trump to be introduced to America and it was “the beginning of [a] potential political career.”
Jim Dowd also noted in his first meeting with Donald Trump that he liked him right away, thought he was very genuine, and was a “great conversationalist.” By the beginning of Season 5 of The Apprentice, Jim Dowd had left NBC to start his own firm, and he took Donald Trump with him as a client.
Whether working with Trump as a client or as a director at NBC, Jim Dowd admitted that Trump had only brief experience with PR before 2003 and did not have a contract with any PR firms. However, with The Apprentice, Trump got Jim Dowd’s advice for free, and Dowd’s wisdom paved some of Trump’s first steps toward winning the presidency.
Nevertheless, in 2004, Jim Dowd explained that Donald Trump was initially thinking of The Apprentice as a good chance for future revenue through ads for the show.
While he may not have initially worked toward being a political candidate, one of Donald Trump’s very first steps with The Apprentice in 2003 was to take a 25-city tour of America for the casting call. Jim Dowd noted that Trump made a similar tour when campaigning for president in 2016.
Jim Dowd also talked about important changes that Donald Trump made to make himself more “theatrical” on The Apprentice, and stated the final analysis in 2016.
“He wants to hit the lowest possible denominator when it comes to the statements that he’s making. He doesn’t want to just hit a single or a light serve. He wants to smash it, and he wants to get the most inflammatory possible point of view, which will get the most headlines, there’s no question about that.”
Over time, remaining a part of The Apprentice helped Donald Trump win over mid-America, according to Jim Dowd. In fact, Donald Trump started to feel that he might be winning over America to the point that he started to consider running for president at the end of 2005.
At a New Year’s Eve 2005 event, Donald Trump directly asked Jim Dowd to be his White House Press Secretary if he ran for president. Jim Dowd agreed, and he stated that he knew Donald Trump was absolutely serious about the idea of the presidency.
In 2016, Jim Dowd definitively agreed that he helped Donald Trump get elected through his work with Trump via The Apprentice. Jim Dowd said The Apprentice “transformed Donald Trump into this persona, this figure,” and that this new transition “completely redeemed” his public image.
Without The Apprentice, Jim Dowd speculated that the old Donald Trump would not have changed in ways that were “so substantial and so deep seated” that would have led him to consider running for president.
When Trump did decide to run for president in 2015, Jim Dowd reached out to him and was selected by Trump as a key supporter. When Donald Trump officially announced at Trump Tower that he was running for office on June 16, 2015, Jim Dowd was in the crowd.
Perhaps feeling a premonition, it was on June 16, 2015, that Jim Dowd said in an interview that he felt something he could not quite explain that he called “intangible.”
Jim Dowd went on to state that the Trump press conference contained an air that was “something I couldn’t put my finger on that [seemed to imply] ‘wow, this is history’… It’s hard to explain. But there was a magic in the area, I would definitely say.”
Sadly, Jim Dowd never got a chance to see his premonitions about Donald Trump winning the presidency come to fruition. According to PR Week, Jim Dowd died at age 42 on September 18, 2016 — less than two months before Donald Trump won the elections. No cause of death has been listed online for Jim Dowd, and his obituary states he died “unexpectedly.”
Had he survived, there is a chance that Jim Dowd would be in the headlines as one of Donald Trump’s White House Press Secretary nominees. There is also a chance that Jim Dowd would have been an essential part of Trump’s White House transition team.
While Donald Trump seems to be in dire need of a good PR agency as his inauguration nears, Jim Dowd did have some parting advice for the media before he died.
Namely, Jim Dowd says Trump understands that the media are thirsty for anything related to Trump. Adding to this, Jim Dowd stated the following.
“Donald Trump is constantly complaining that media aren’t treating him fairly, that they’re liars, you name it, he’s said it. But I don’t truly believe that. I’m sort of surprised that he’s saying those things because the media are his second family.”
Jim Dowd also had critical information about Donald Trump’s personality and how to “deal with” him. For example, Jim Dowd said he worked with Trump for years as the person that convinced him to do things — including taking calls from the media seriously. The trick, Jim Dowd said, was to avoid talking to him when he is annoyed and pretend you are on The Apprentice.
To explain what it means to interact with Donald Trump as if you are on The Apprentice, Jim Dowd stated the following.
“[Y]ou’re going to get two minutes, maybe less, to convince him of this because his attention span is notoriously short and very sweet. So, you’ve got to know, okay, what are the three points that you need to make about this particular opportunity that will convince him, ‘Wow, I have to do this. This is something I must do.’… And then [if he hates your idea] what I learned is you go back to him and then the second time usually is fine and he’ll end up doing it.”
Unfortunately, while it is clear that James Moran Dowd AKA Jim Dowd was an important part of a turning point in Donald Trump’s path to the presidency, there are few details about Jim Dowd online.
For example, outside of Jim Dowd’s obituary and his lengthy interview with Frontline, he is only mentioned in a handful of articles online that revolve around Donald Trump.
Interestingly, both of the quotes from Jim Dowd on Donald Trump’s behalf defended the less-than-savory and anti-feminist aspects of Trump’s personality.
For example, Ad Week noted around July 28, 2015, that Jim Dowd was a “consummate PR professional with a fondness for JFK conspiracy theories,” and said that Dowd’s responses “to his colorful client’s missteps are fairly epic.”
In particular, when Trump said to Playboy in 2006 that he would “probably date” his own daughter, Jim Dowd stated the following.
“[Trump was] absolutely joking…He was making fun of himself for his tendency to date younger women. It’s a sense of humor that people don’t see [from him] all the time.”
When Trump was accused of being a sexist in late 2016, Associated Press quoted Jim Dowd stating the following about Donald Trump making lewd comments about women behind-the-scenes of The Apprentice.
“Was he complementing the women? Of course. Was he behind closed doors with just the guys rating the women, who were the hotter ones on the show? Yes, he certainly was prone to that.”
[Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]