A recent Newsweek article claims Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump tried to have their sister Tiffany removed from President Donald Trump‘s will. It’s an incredible accusation, one based on an old Howard Stern interview and picked up by multiple prominent news outlets, but it’s inaccurate to say the least.
Newsweek obtained exclusive access to 15 hours of Howard Stern interviews with Trump that predate his political rise. Stern himself had chosen not to release the interviews, claiming it would be a “betrayal” of Trump, who he considers a friend, but some of the audio has since been made public.
Stern’s interviews with Trump have made waves before. During the campaign, an old Howard Stern clip revealed Trump’s contradictory comments over the Iraq War.
Newsweek‘s recent article came from a conversation Trump had with Stern in December 2005. Towards the end of the interview, co-host Robin Quivers ask Trump, “Do your older children get nervous every time you have another child?”
“I have a friend who is also like a very rich guy, OK?” Trump responds. “And he said how his children hate the new children coming along and everything else; I said, ‘Yeah, because every time you have a child, it’s 20 percent less to the people.’ I don’t wanna use my children so I’m using his children as an example, but the fact is, every time you have a child it’s 15, 20, 25 percent less [inaudible] so you know, maybe they’re not thrilled. But I think they’re very happy.”
(Trump has been occasionally accused of making up people whose personas are thinly veiled references to himself to make the point he wants to get across, so it’s possible he is talking about himself and his kids here.)
Stern then pipes in saying, “There was a rumor Donald Jr. and Ivanka tried to bump off the other child.”
“Tiffany?!” Quivers interjects.
“Is there any truth to that?” Stern asks.
“Tiffany is great,” Trump says. “I have a great child in Tiffany. I have great children.”
“And Tiffany’s taken out a hit on Melania’s new baby?” asks Stern. “Any truth to that?”
“Well,” Tump answers. “It does cut up the pie as you keep producing.”
“Tell me the truth though…” Stern says, pivoting to another topic.
“Yes,” says Trump
“Are you still making love to Melania during her pregnancy?” Stern asks.
Trump says that yes, as of a few days ago, he’d had sex with his pregnant wife.
The entire exchange takes less than a minute and occurs between the 29:43 and 30:40 mark in the track below.
Although Quivers seems to be implying that Don Jr. and Ivanka might be worried about their inheritance, a will is never specifically mentioned. And while Trump often hides behind the “I was joking” defense, it seems that, in this case, Stern and Quivers, whose whole job is to make people laugh, do in fact appear to be joking.
On Monday, Newsweek ran with the headline, “Ivanka Trump and Donald Jr. tried to ‘bump’ Tiffany out of her inheritance, according to newly released recordings.” There were a number of problem with the initial article. To begin with, it inaccurately attributed Quivers’ initial question to Stern.
“‘Do your older children get nervous every time you have another child?’ Stern asked, referring the children’s inheritance,” wrote reporter
Later Silva again misattributed one of Quivers’ quotes, stating that Trump was the one who exclaimed “Tiffany?!”
Trump immediately responded with “Tiffany?”
Is there any truth to that? [Inaudible] Tiffany?” Stern asked. Trump said he had great children and evaded the question until Stern asked again: “Tell me the truth, though.”
“Yes,” Trump said
Silva also drew the conclusion that Trump’s “Yes” here is meant to signify, “Yes, my children have been conspiring against each other,” not “Yes, I will tell you the truth.” This isn’t necessarily an illogical conclusion, but given the context of the conversation, the latter interpretation seems to make more sense, especially when you listen to the audio.
It’s also odd that when Stern says, “There was a rumor Donald Jr. and Ivanka tried to bump off the other child.” This is taken to mean removing her from the will. “Bump off” is more typically used to mean “murder,” and while that would remove her from the will, that’s not the way Newsweek framed it, saying the two were “embroiled in a battle to take away inheritance money from their sister.” A battle like that is never mentioned. But it’s especially clear when, just a few seconds later, Stern asks, “And Tiffany’s taken out a hit on Melania’s new baby? Any truth to that?” (At the time Melania was pregnant with Barron Trump.)
The Daily Dot reached out to Newsweek via email regarding these issues, and although the publication did not directly respond, the original article has been updated to correctly attribute Quivers’ quotes, and the reference to Trump’s somewhat ambiguous “Yes” has been removed.
The original story, however, was picked up by several other outlets such as Esquire and People. All of them used the same incorrect quotes and drew the same conclusions. People on Twitter were happy to share an article that seemingly confirmed the feelings they already had about the Trump family.
*pretends to act shocked* https://t.co/I9fRYHH9sQ— corey kindberg (@coreykindberg) September 26, 2017
Ivanka: A true champion for women who are not her sister. https://t.co/gno2yAUGGu— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) September 26, 2017
Newsweek has released at least two other articles based on the Stern interviews. One is from a 1999 conversation where Stern asks about Trump being assassinated if he chose Oprah Winfrey as his running mate and another from 2004 where Stern asks if Trump ever “felt up” Melania Trump in public.
In the latter, Stern asks, “Have you ever felt her up in public.” Trump chuckles at this, and Newsweek interprets that chuckle as “Yeah.” Perhaps that is what he says, but it’s hard to tell for sure. He certainly seems to tone his laugh in a dismissive fashion. Newsweek also interprets Sterns next response as, “Yeah, as I know,” although it sounds more like, “He has, I know it.” And Newsweek completely leaves out Trump saying he’s “mentally” felt her up, which would imply he’s denying that he groped Melina in public.
It seems unclear, or at least not clear enough to warrant the headline, “Trump says he groped Melina in public.”
There’s plenty of damning audio to be found in these interviews. The misogynistic, narcissistic aspects of Trump are on full display throughout. There’s no need to exaggerate the content of conversations that originally aired on shock radio.
But Newsweek‘s framing of the Trump’s comments, in his own words, is fake news.