Failing Upward: The Donald Trump Story: A new book zeroes in on Trump's lifelong knack for being a fraud.

AuthorSexton, Jared Yates

Over the course of his career, he lost unbelievable amounts of money, and his corporation declared bankruptcy multiple times as his mishandling of buildings, casinos, hotels, resorts, and airlines revealed a stunning ineptitude. In fact, at times Trump lost more money than any other taxpayer in America, setting an inglorious standard for personal futility.

Trump did have one talent, which was his understanding of how American media operated and fed off the myth of wealth and meritocracy. Beginning early in his career, he worked harder to promote himself as a success in newspapers, magazines, and television than he did to prosper in business.

Pushed forward by a system of privilege and perception, Trump continued to fail upward. The media's portrayal of him as the epitome of American success netted him numerous cameos in popular culture that kept his fictional persona aloft until he landed a starring role on the reality television show The Apprentice.

The brainchild of producer Mark Burnett, who created the neoliberalism-in-action, dog-eat-dog contest Survivor, The Apprentice portrayed Trump and his failed business as the television embodiment of high-stakes corporate intrigue, a program only possible in the postmodern, hyper-capitalist era. Over its run, Trump was seen as a presidential figure who picked the winners from the losers.

Even in this, Trump's persona was a fraud, as he regularly made inexplicable choices and forced hurried post-production efforts to "assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump's shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense," as The New Yorker put it. As the new myth was being authored, members of The Apprentice's production team noted that Trump presided over a "crumbling empire" marked with "chipped furniture" and a tarnished finish they were entrusted with giving an artificial luster.

That facade held considerable clout though, as the neoliberal system maintained that anyone of wealth and power surely must have earned it if the idea of a meritocracy were to be believed. In this sense, Trump's character of a wildly successful, golden-touched tycoon became a reality because he was continually presented as such in mass media, lending him credibility and expertise when he was neither credible nor an expert.

Trump's personal obsession with the media paid unbelievable dividends. Speaking as a candidate in 2016 to Republican voters in the primaries, he destroyed any distance between himself and the propaganda...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT