Whenever I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself for having sundry druncles and Trumpy uncles (Venn diagram not a perfect circle, but close) mulching up the family tree, I pity folks like Mary Trump instead. The daughter of Fred Jr., Mary has a much worse uncle than any of us: the beast himself.
According to The Daily Beast (which has lived up to its name for three years and change), Mary Trump was The New York Times’ secret source for its explosive 2018 story that confirmed suspicions that the Trumps are multi-generational tax cheats. That story didn’t get nearly enough traction with the public, IMO. I don’t remember exactly what brand of fuckery was afoot in October 2018 when the story broke, but like the innumerable other Trump scandals that would have brought down any normal president, the Trumps’ theft of hundreds of millions of dollars just went by the boards like a common tan suit.
Anyhoo, Mary Trump is writing a tell-all that is scheduled to come out in August, right before the Republican National Convention and Virus Swap Meet.
From The Daily Beast:
As she is set to outline in her book, Mary was a primary source for the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, supplying Fred Trump Sr.’s tax returns and other highly confidential family financial documentation to the paper.
Details of the book are being closely guarded by its publisher, Simon & Schuster, but The Daily Beast has learned that Mary plans to include conversations with Trump’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, that contain intimate and damning thoughts about her brother, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Huh. The book’s revelations, no matter how sordid, are unlikely to make a dent in public perceptions of Trump. What could it possibly reveal about Trump’s low character that isn’t already known? He cheats. He lies. He steals. He abuses power. He has done these things all his life, and he is doing them now. It is known.
For my money, the most amusing teaser in The Daily Beast’s account of the forthcoming book confirmed the deservedly low reputation (in these parts) of the so-called “paper of record.” When The Times published the Trump tax scam article, many of us lamented that the paper hadn’t ferreted out those long-ago facts when it might have made a difference, i.e., before the 2016 election, instead of manufacturing “shadows” and “clouds” over the Clinton Foundation.
But it was still a genuinely important story and of a piece with the excellent investigative reporting that The Times’ defenders cite to justify their ongoing subscriptions. However, as our own Kay occasionally notes, The Times’ Beltway reporting is often a double-dipping scheme in which reporters get paid for covering campaigns for the paper while burnishing a brand to monetize on the side through book and television deals (see Chozick, Amy).
The Beast refers to earlier reporting I’d missed that identifies a Times starfucker who was far more aggressive than average: David Barstow.
In June of 2019, The Daily Beast reported how The New York Times Trump tax team imploded when four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner David Barstow went rogue, aggressively pursuing a source of their groundbreaking investigation to ghostwrite their book and secure a six-figure payday—a move explicitly forbidden by the Times’ ethics rules.
That story detailed how Barstow went behind his colleagues’ backs and pursued the source—who was not his source to begin with—even after his editors told him not to do the book.
Barstow even went so far as to make a surprise visit to the source’s residence after they ceased communications with him, staying at least three hours, and ringing the front and back doorbells multiple times as the person hid in their home.
“The source was freaked out. The source felt invaded. They ended up hiding until he left the residence,” a person with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast at the time, adding that the source considered calling the police.
While Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet backed Barstow over his questionable ethical decisions and Barstow claimed he acted appropriately, he soon left the paper to take up a position leading the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s investigative reporting program.
The source who hid from Barstow was Mary Trump. And of course Baquet backed Barstow. Excusing shoddy, unethical practices that undermine American journalism far beyond the boroughs and sometimes have cataclysmic effects on the country is what he does. The Daily Beast concludes:
“My aunt and uncles should be ashamed of themselves,” Mary Trump said about Donald Trump and his siblings in that rare 2000 interview, which provides a preview of the tone of her book. “I’m sure they are not.”
So are we all, Mary. They have no shame, at least of the common human variety. Neither does The Times, which is garbage. It is known.