The publishing industry seems to think tell-alls about former President Donald Trump’s administration — all painting him as a uniquely disgraceful, pitiable dunce — are great business.
And who knows? Maybe behind the disappointing sales many of these tomes seem to generate and the fact that all of the juicy parts usually show up in the media well before the volume is released, there’s some kind of business model in which anything that purports to tell How Bad it Really Was™ inside 1600 Pennsylvania during the Trump years makes money no matter how many units it shifts.
At least “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” comes with a big name attached to it: Author Maggie Haberman has won the Pulitzer Price and was one of the mainstream media’s most prominent print chroniclers of the Trump White House via her work with The New York Times.
That said, it seems one of the book’s major revelations (which isn’t quite a revelation, but we’ll get to that in a moment) isn’t being received quite the way that Haberman would have wanted it.
In “Confidence Man,” according to an Axios report Monday, Haberman wrote that in October of 2020, the then-president had planned a surprise exit from Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after being treated there for COVID-19: He would come out in his regular attire before revealing a Superman shirt.
“He came up with a plan he told associates was inspired by the singer James Brown, whom he loved watching toss off his cape while onstage, but it was in line with his love of professional wrestling as well,” Haberman wrote, according to Axios.
“[H]e would be wheeled out of Walter Reed in a chair and, once outdoors, he would dramatically stand up, then open his button-down dress shirt to reveal [a] Superman logo beneath it. (Trump was so serious about it that he called the campaign headquarters to instruct an aide, Max Miller, to procure the Superman shirts; Miller was sent to a Virginia big-box store.)”
The plan, however, was abandoned.
Now, this shocking bulletin, unfortunately, isn’t necessarily new. In fact, it was reported in October of 2020 — by, uh, Maggie Haberman in The New York Times, in a story co-authored by Times staffer Annie Karnie.
“In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations,” the report stated.
“But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt.”
I guess if you’re going to duplicate someone’s work, it might as well be your own. Nevertheless, the rest of the mainstream media has jumped on this as if fresh meat had been tossed to them by another Trump-chronicler:
Former President Donald Trump wanted to be wheeled out of the hospital before standing up and opening his button-down shirt to reveal the Superman logo underneath, according to an upcoming book.https://t.co/K3f3z5fqW1
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 4, 2022
The implication, of course, is that Trump wasn’t taking his COVID diagnosis seriously enough. The thing is, the response section blew up with commenters who thought this was an awesome idea:
This would have made him so much cooler, thank you for telling me this based information
— Residen(T) FDR Hater (@trabreee) October 4, 2022
Damn! It would have been a spectacle https://t.co/o5YxvOixEN
— J (@fnkey) October 4, 2022
— I ❤️ Winning 🇺🇸 #UltraMAGA 1776 🇺🇸 (@PatriotMarie70) October 4, 2022
I’ve long thought he is Superman!
— Miss You Rush Limbaugh (@TryThinking99) October 4, 2022
Not only that, but — as one user noted — that “stunt” would have occurred after plenty of other accomplishments, most of which probably aren’t chronicled with relish in Haberman’s book:
Abraham Accords, talked to little rocket man and he stopped firing missiles towards Japan The world was a safer place. But if this is all you got, go for it. Maybe he was Superman.
— NanaNanaMoFana (@NanaNana_FoFana) October 4, 2022
Someone might want to inform this Twitter user about Haberman’s anti-Trump bias, however:
That would have been awesome! I assume this is a pro Trump book.
— Vincent Higgins (@VinnySHiggins) October 4, 2022
Mind you, the Superman anecdote is what’s drawing the most attention from the mainstream media, but it’s hardly the only thing. From a USA Today report about Haberman’s book: “In the book, she also reported that, when Trump saw congressional staffers of color at the White House, he assumed they were waiters at a January 2017 reception.
“CNN also obtained a copy of ‘Confidence Man,’ and the network reported that Haberman wrote in the book that Trump almost fired his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Both served as senior White House aides during his administration,” the report added.
“Confidence Man,” which was released Tuesday, comes with a $22.40 hardcover price tag on Amazon.com. If you have that kind of money to spend to read about those things being elaborated on in greater detail (if questionable authenticity), by all means, go for it.
However, before you click “Buy Now,” ask yourself this: Do you really want to read a book by a New York Times scold so humorless she found out the president wanted to open his shirt reveal a Superman outfit when leaving the hospital after beating COVID, then thought this was a bad thing?
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