Before Twitter, businessman and television personality-cum President Donald J. Trump reached out to the public through intermediaries in the media. In June of 1991 he pretended to be a publicity agent named John Miller to phone to a reporter from People magazine. He confirmed a New York Post story that he had broken up with his girlfriend Marla Maples for the model Carla Bruni.
“Her name is Carla Bruni Fredesh. I don’t know how to spell the last name. She dropped Mick Jagger for Donald. And that’s where it stands.”
“Important, beautiful women call him all the time,” Miller/Trump continued, “When he makes the decision, then that will be a very lucky woman.
It doesn’t matter to him if Marla talks; he truly doesn’t care. It was never an engagement ring. This was [about] giving Tiffany some business and getting Ivana, uh, getting Marla. something that would be nice. The biggest misconception was that Donald left [his first wife Ivana] for Marla. He didn’t. He leaves for himself.”
“John Miller” concluded with an account of Trump’s recent meeting with the actress Kim Basinger.
“She wanted to come up and discuss a real-estate transaction. And you know, she wanted to go out with him. That was the reason she came up. Competitively, it’s tough. It was for Marla, and it will be for Carla.”
The People reporter Sue Carswell played the tape to Marla Maples, who confirmed the voice was Trump’s. “My friends and family have been praying for me for a long time,” she said, “And this may be the answer to their prayers.” Carla Bruni denied everything. “He’s obviously a lunatic. It’s so untrue and I’m deeply embarrassed by it all.”
The whole incident (a personal favourite) dangles the intriguing present-day prospect that a few egg-faced avatars are doing 45’s dirty work on Twitter. John Miller aeternum!
On July 16, 1988, the hockey player Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky married the actor Janet Jones in Edmonton. Wayne Gretzky was the Canadian Princess Diana, and this was Canada’s very own royal wedding. Crowds waited outside St. Joseph’s Basilica, sunbathing on lawn chairs and climbing on a phone booth outside Mac’s Convenience Store.
“Hundreds of guests arrived, decorated with glamour,” the national broadcaster reported over footage of Gordie Howe and Alan Thicke entering the church.
“They’re celebrities,” said an onlooker, “And it’s kinda special, something to always remember.”
Less than two months later, Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings and fans were burning effigies of the Oilers’ owner.
Donald Rumsfeld’s White House memos are his gift to the world. Freely available on his website rumsfeld.com, he also publishes them to nurse four-decade-old office grievances in his books. If you accidentally happened to steal Donald Rumsefeld’s parking spot at the Piggly Wiggly believe me, he remembers–he took note of your licence plate number and he’s waiting, like a smiling mamba coiled up in the corner, for the perfect moment to reveal your transgression.
The memos are often one long stream-of-consciousness Ginsbergian howl, like this beauty from 1974. The new President Gerald Ford had just pardoned Richard Nixon, and Nixon’s Chief of Staff Alexander Haig objected to Ford’s ex-press secretary Jerry terHorst (who had resigned because of the pardon) telling The New York Times:
“Nixon’s preoccupation with Watergate had magnified Haig’s authority in the White House and the executive branch of government. For most of the final Nixon year, as Haig himself would agree, he was the acting President of the United States.”
Haig himself didn’t agree. “This is going to get dirty,” he ranted to his successor, “And I’ll blow the place wide open if I have to and it’ll be a goddamn bloody mess and no more of these second-rate people around the President are going to challenge my integrity and devotion to my country.”
“MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT
October 9, 1974
11: 00 a. m. to 12:00 Noon
I said I didn’t want to get in the subject with him but I did feel that he should know that I received a phone call on 10/4/74 from Haig on the pardon and that Haig had said that it was going to get dirty and I will blow the place wide open if I have to and it’ll be a goddamn bloody mess and no more of these second rate people around the President are going to challenge my integrity and devotion to my country and I’ve got Nixon, Garment, Buzzhardt, Ziegler and others with me and I’ve got verbatim records and I’ll do it… I stopped Haig and said, Look, I’ve taken enough and that he was very friendly to me. I said I didn’t want to get in to the subject and that I thought the President ought to be aware of it. A. Because Haig obviously called me so I would tell the President about it, B. Because I felt the President ought to be aware of Haig’s comment that he has ‘verbatim records.’ The President started to discuss it with me and I said, look, Mr. President, I don’t need to get into it– I simply wanted you to be aware of that message.”
When the Center Held: Gerald Ford and the Rescue of the American Presidency, Donald Rumsfeld, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2018.
François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande served as the President of France from 2012 to 2017. Mocked as ‘the Penguin’ in a song by his predecessor’s wife Carla Bruni, in 2014 his ex-girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler exacted the ultimate revenge when she published Thank You for this Moment, a blistering account of their relationship and his affair with the actress Julie Gayet. “He’s not Cary Grant,” Trierweiler told the Telegraph during her book tour. Sparring no excruciating details, Trierweiler recalled her ex-boyfriend’s burning ambition to become le Président de la République. Reading Trierweiler’s book generates the same sense of secondhand embarrassment for the participants as watching the 1980s film St. Elmo’s Fire. A boogeda boogeda boogeda ha ha ha!
“It was not a subject we had previously discussed. I knew it was his goal and that was how we would sometimes broach it, with that euphemism, ‘the goal.’ We never spelled it out, we had never spoken the words ‘presidential election.’ He veiled his ambition in modesty. We had only broken the taboo once, as he drove us past the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in my car. ‘Look, we’re driving past home’ he said as we passed the Élysée Palace. It certainly came as a surprise, and I roared with laughter. He had always known how to make me laugh. No subject was too serious to joke about, including himself– he was a genius at self-deprecation.
That November morning was altogether different: there as not a hint of sarcasm in his eyes. He was serious and he asked me for the first time what I thought: ‘After what happened in 2002 and 2007, you cannot afford to get it wrong. If Ségolène Royal’s defeat has taught us anything it is that you have only one question to ask yourself. Either you think that you are the best and you for for it, or you don’t and you let somebody else stand.’ He did not hesitate for one second before answering: ‘I am the best.'”