Since he announced his candidacy for president, Donald Trump’s old interviews and media appearances have been dug out of every conceivable archive. Some of the clips caused him great embarrassment, if not political consequences – the most amazing thing about Trump’s boast of using his celebrity status to force himself on women is that it didn’t cost him the election, or even a majority of white female votes.
Interviews with Howard Stern have yielded a trove of Trump’s sub-ape sexual impulses, but one clip that went largely unnoticed is perhaps even more revealing of who Trump is. In 2005 Trump visited Stern and praised then-Stern sideman Artie Lange for his performance at Trump’s Friars Club roast, saying, “Artie did a great job at my roast. He was the single best person… I’m telling you… he was the funniest out of 50.”
When Stern asks to hear some of the material, Lange recalls one joke in which Trump takes daughter Ivanka for a drive through Atlantic City and tells her, “Someday, honey, your name will be at the top of all these buildings. That’s if you marry a guy named Borgata.”
As everyone laughs, Trump makes it a point to remind them all that his Atlantic City properties are actually doing great. They weren’t. His venture in Atlantic City is an epic tale of rip-offs and shady maneuverings during which Trump filed bankruptcy four times and cost stock and bond holders $1.5 billion. According to The New York Times, “In reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing.”
Within seconds of the barb Trump changes his mind completely about Lange. “What did I bring you up for?” he says, then, turning to Stern, “You know, I was trying to be nice to him. The truth is he was terrible. He was terrible. He did a lousy job. And I tried to be nice to him. And this is what happens, you get hit. This is like Dan Rather all over again. Loser. So now I don’t talk to Artie anymore. Forget him.”
This kind of behavior is displayed daily on Trump’s Twitter feed. Anyone who likes Trump is terrific, tremendous; anyone who doesn’t is an enemy and a loser. Or, as he recently tweeted, “Any negative polls are fake news.” But the visibly wounded Trump doesn’t just go on the defensive. He practically turns the interview, as so many Stern guests do, into a therapy session.
“You know what I hate?” Trump says over Stern’s attempts to change the subject. “I hate being nice to somebody, and then they come back at you… because I’m a loyal person. So I’m nice to the guy, I’m trying to – he made a fool of himself at my roast. I’m trying to tell everybody what a good job he did. And this schmuck comes out and gives me this stuff… Artie, go to hell.”
“You’re really mad at Artie?” Howard asks.
“It’s not that I’m mad. I’m a loyal person. I was nice to this guy. And he comes and hits me.”
“It was a joke!”
“I don’t care. I don’t take jokes… let him say it at the roast. He doesn’t have to say it here.”
Trump begins to use his famous, wide-stretched hand motions – by now an obvious tell that he is lying and trying to inflate himself – as he continues to defend his business in Atlantic City. Stern, Lange and Robin Quivers do all they can to calm Trump down, including kissing his ass. Quivers asks, “Who’s lasted longer than you?”
“Nobody’s lasted longer,” Trump says. “Nobody.”
Tempers go down when Lange, at Stern’s request, tells Trump he’s doing fantastic. Trump thanks him and says, “Artie, I needed that,” and the smile on his face appears genuine.
Everything about the exchange highlights the dangers of this raging, reality-denying id who is now our president. Glowing praise turns on a dime into scathing condemnation. Appeals to loyalty, Trump’s ego in need of urgent repair – all of it matches the horror stories leaking out of Trump’s White House about how childish, image-obsessed, and resistant to reason Trump is.
For someone as erratic with policy positions as Trump seems to be, he is remarkably consistent as a person. And he’s consistently terrible. When Comedy Central roasted Trump in 2011, he made ridiculous demands and forbade any jokes that questioned his wealth. As reporter Daniel Libit put it, “Even a man incapable of self-deprecation is willing to volunteer for a public humiliation ― as long as it’s public enough.” Now this sensitive, reactionary, attention-seeking little tyrant can order drone strikes and launch nuclear weapons.