Sometime in April, Donald Trump offers tickets for a highly anticipated boxing match — a gift worth $3,000 — to Wall Street Journal reporter Neil Barsky and his family. Barsky is the Trump reporter at the paper, and Trump has had an issue with him for a year.
Barsky wants to decline the offer, but his editor encourages him to take it. Maybe the gift is a bribe, but a few weeks later, Barsky writes another negative piece about Trump’s finances. Trump retaliates.
A spokesman for Trump calls a friend at the New York Post and says, “How would you like to destroy the career of a Wall Street Journal reporter?” He goes on to tell the reporter that Barsky “extorted” Trump for the tickets and other favors and threatened to give Trump bad press unless the favors continued.
The Post publishes the story. When Barsky’s coverage of Trump continues to detail his declining finances, Trump informs his bosses of the conflict of interest. Barsky is moved to a different beat in June.
The businessman had removed one of his most accomplished chroniclers, someone who had carefully, over years, developed the skills to understand the mogul’s universe and undermine his public image. Trump has a “magical, superhuman ability to rewrite his own history,” Barsky said in his first interview about Trump in years. “He is the best salesman of his own myth that anyone has ever seen; the myth was that he was a winner.”The Washington Post
Barsky has been covering Donald Trump since 1985. The same year that he’s removed from Trump coverage, Barsky wins the Gerald Loeb Award for Deadline and/or Beat Writing for “Coverage of the Collapse of Donald Trump’s Financial Empire.”
In August 2016, Barsky says Trump was a “walking disaster as a businessman for much of his life.”
The boxing match was between Evander Holyfield and George Foreman in Atlantic City on April 19, 1991.
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Photo: AP Photo/Richard Drew