The interviews, which the New York Times reported spanned more than five hours and constitute the last extensive biographical interviews Trump gave before his presidential bid, were conducted by Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer and Pulitzer Prize winner. Unhappy with Trump’s campaign, according to the Times, D’Antonio gave transcripts of the tapes to the Clinton campaign, and he went to the newspaper when the campaign didn't act on them.
The quotes and audio clips published Monday, though occasionally lacking context, paint a picture of Trump’s worldview in the run-up to the start of his presidential campaign in June 2015.
If there is an overarching theme to Trump’s comments to D’Antonio, it’s his faith in fame and reputation as signs of success.
Trump brags about his presence in the media (“Well, most people aren’t in print, though. Don’t forget. How many people are in print?”) and of the manifestations of that fame when he walks into a star-struck room.
“I think what would unnerve me is if it didn’t happen, he recalled to D’Antonio about being on Barbara Walters' “10 Most Fascinating People” list, twice.
He considered those who lose fame, like Arsenio Hall, who Trump called “dead as dog meat,” as not worth his time.
“For the most part,” Trump said in a separate exchange, “you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”
The flip side, of course, is the Republican nominee’s inability to confront his own short-comings.
“I never had a failure,” Mr. Trump told D’Antonio, “because I always turned a failure into a success.”
Asked by the Times about the interviews, Trump called the recordings “Pretty old and pretty boring stuff. Hope people enjoy it.”