Donald Trump’s most famous book, the perennial best-seller, The Art of the Deal, was written and crafted not just by the mogul-turned-presidential nominee but by Tony Schwartz. Now the writer is coming out, not only to say that he believes a Trump presidency could be dangerous and bad, but that he wrote a book of fame and fortune that was largely woven from falsehoods and euphemisms.
Just what responsibility does a writer in such a position have--- to his boss, to readers, and the greater public?
Certainly, when writing such a book, bias replaces any specter of being fair and balanced. I don’t know of any ghost writer or co-author who was paid to say unflattering truths of the book’s subject. But how far does one go here? Does the co-author not only ignore relevant and truthful facts/stories but also embellishes or willingly writes without fact-checking or third-party confirmation for fear that an ugly truth would be discovered?
Once you make a deal with the devil for your writing soul, where do you draw the line of what you will do or not do when it comes to completing this book? At what point does your moral compass just get shut down?
The book industry produces a lot of books. Traditional publishers alone average the release of 1,000 new books every single day of the year -- including holidays, weekends and bad-weather days. Some of those books, especially when it involves someone important or famous, are written not by the name on the cover, but by a ghost writer. Some books acknowledge the featured author’s name in huge letters and then in tiny print it attaches the term “with so and so.” It doesn’t say “and so and so” because the two people are neither equal in stature nor in the role they played in actually writing the book.
However, the writer behind the scenes has certain, competing obligations, including these:
· To be accurate
· To be truthful
· To adhere to the wishes of the subject of the book
· To make the idea and experience of the subject sound better than the writer may think them to be
But the writer has another obligation, and that is to make a choice: Do you want to make money and give full editorial control to someone you may not even like or believe in, or do you want to write a book that may be accurate but less exciting and not so commercial, thus limiting your earning power?
Now, decades after the book made him and Trump millions of dollars, and after creating a giant monster that now has its eyes gazing at the White House, Schwartz feels compelled to speak up. Can we trust him now if we can’t trust his writings? Is he to be applauded for speaking up today or condemned for participating in a fraud back then?
“I put lipstick on a pig.” Schwartz told The New Yorker. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”
Should the publisher of the book cease its publication now that the co-author says it was not an accurate reflection of Trump? Should bookstores drop it, not because of politics, but because they would not want to sell a book its own author disavows?
Schwartz should know the real Trump. He spent a year and a half with him to piece together their book. He says Trump lacks focus, as if he was afflicted with ADHD and that Trump has a tenuous commitment to the truth at best. He said: “Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true or sort of true, or at least aught to be true.”
You can’t take back what’s been put out there. That book will continue to be sold and bought, but wouldn’t it be appropriate for the book to come with a warning label what indicates the co-author has disavowed his own work. Don’t people have the right to know that such a book has been confirmed to contain inaccuracies?
I would like to say that consumers aren’t dumb, especially book buyers, but they are gullible. They buy a book like Trump's because they want to buy into his myth and then to feel inspired by such a story to create a wealthy lifestyle of their own. Maybe these greedy readers get what they deserve --empty words and fake stories from a false prophet.
Trump was born into money. He grew that starter sum of millions into billions because he is a cold, calculating, rude, little bastard. His companies have gone bankrupt numerous times. Anyone can make money if they don’t have to pay back obligations that they never really planned on paying. He’s not a dummy. He’s shrewd, but he’s also a manipulative huckster or sells not a product or service but a brand and an image. He sells you confidence and imagery. He tells you what you feel, what you want to hear. But if the country buys into his get-rich-quick-scheme, we’re doomed.
Let’s heed Schwartz’ remorse and stand warned.
Let’s heed Schwartz’ remorse and stand warned.
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