Wednesday, 24 August 2016

How to Fool All of the People, All of the Time by John Connolly Review

In his reprinted article from April 1991 for the now-defunct Spy magazine, How to Fool All of the People, All of the Time, John Connolly eviscerates Donald Trump’s public image, revealing the con-man lurking behind the visage of success. And it’s an entertaining read! 

These days on the campaign trail, Trump is fond of criticising the media despite them being a large factor for his success, then and now. Back in the ‘80s, Trump would throw out brazen lies about his wealth that magazines like Fortune, Forbes, and Businessweek would irresponsibly print without checking the facts. These lies played a role in Trump acquiring sizeable loans from banks.

Connolly systematically breaks down the quoted figures against the actual and the differences are quite stark. He can’t confirm it but Trump’s claims as a billionaire certainly seem suspect - even his wealth in the hundreds of millions seems questionable given one instance where he once had to scramble to raise $31 million. He also highlights Trump’s series of bad business deals after coasting on his only two successes, Trump Tower and the Grand Hyatt, early in his career, both of which were driven by business partners who refused to work with him afterwards. 

There are links to organised crime, shady partnerships with the likes of Bear Stearns that hint of stock market fraud, and more examples of Trump’s dumb business decisions, opting for higher interest rates and overpaying for properties, all of which play against his image of a savvy business guru. Connolly’s attention to detail in the figures are a necessary part of the piece but is the only aspect that gets a little tiring to read after a while - otherwise, it’s a very compelling article. 

Though 25 years old, Connolly’s 1991 portrait of Trump syncs up with the one we’ve seen in countless news pieces from the last year: a man willing to say anything with no qualms about deception, who looks and sounds like a shyster. How to Fool All of the People, All of the Time is an important, thoroughly-researched article that unfortunately won’t be read by his supporters who really should see the unvarnished, duplicitous and selfish twit behind the public illusion.

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