Donald Trump’s ghostwriter says that he now deeply regrets writing the best-selling book The Art of the Deal three decades ago. Tony Schwartz is so disturbed by the notion that The Donald might win the upcoming presidential election that he told The New Yorker that a Trump presidency could trigger the end of the world.
“I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
Schwartz explains that Donald Trump evinces “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance” as well as a very-short attention span.
“It’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then… If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time.”
Tony Schwartz is a lifelong liberal who says he understood that he was making a Faustian bargain when he accepted Si Newhouse’s offer to write the Trump biography. At the time, Newhouse owned the Random House publishing company, and Schwartz was an enthusiastic young New York magazine writer with a pregnant wife and a hefty mortgage. He’d previously written a New York article about Donald Trump and a book deal was already in the works.
Counting Tom Wolfe, David Halberstam, and John McPhee among his non-fiction literary heroes, Schwartz considered ghostwriting to be hack work. He figured that doing so, especially for the likes of Donald Trump, might besmirch his career as a real journalist. Still, he needed the money to support his growing family, and he named his price.
Schwartz asked for half of Trump’s $500,000 dollar book advance and half of all future royalties. He was surprised when Trump agreed to the uncommon terms without any negotiation. Three decades later, Schwartz fiercely regrets his decision to pen the Queens-born reality TV star and presumptive Republican presidential candidate’s memoir.
“It was a huge windfall, but I knew I was selling out. Literally, the term was invented to describe what I did.”
The 1985 New York magazine piece Schwartz wrote about Donald Trump was not flattering. Titled “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” the scathing article described Trump as a “ham-fisted thug” who used unsavory tactics in his effort to evict tenants from a rent-controlled apartment building he’d purchased on Central Park South. Schwartz described Donald Trump not as the brilliant real estate baron he supposes himself to be, but rather as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.”
Trump, however, loved the article, so much so that he had the magazine cover framed and hung it on his office wall. He even sent a thank you letter to Tony Schwartz on gold-embossed stationery. Schwartz told The New Yorker he was “shocked” at Trump’s response to the article.
“Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote. Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover.”
Earlier today, Tony Schwartz told ABC News that if he’d had any inkling 30 years ago that Trump would someday run for the highest political position in the United States, he would not have written the book. Schwartz told The New Yorker that if he had to write The Art of the Deal over again, he would call it The Sociopath.
Tony Schwartz says that his worries about a Donald Trump presidency have nothing to do with ideology. In fact, Schwartz says he doubts that Trump even has one. What he worries about more than anything is Donald Trump’s personality, which he calls “self-centered and pathologically impulsive.”
“You know, it’s a terrifying thing. I haven’t slept a night through since Donald Trump announced for president because I believe he is so insecure, so easily provoked, and not nearly as smart as people might imagine he is. I do worry that with the nuclear codes, he would end civilization as we know it.”