Donald Trump

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Wild voicemail berates reporter over Trump’s drop in ‘Richest Americans’ list

"This message is for anyone in concern."


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 18, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 1:59 pm CDT

Donald Trump has long claimed a larger fortune than the one attributed to him by Forbes, and he has long held a grudge against the magazine for refusing to value his personal brand as highly as he does. This week, Forbes dropped him from number 156 to number 248 on its list of richest Americans, noting that his net worth had dropped by $600 million in the past year. For their trouble, Forbes received one extremely pissed-off voicemail.

Dan Alexander, Forbes’ “Trump reporter,” posted the text of the voicemail on Twitter Wednesday morning, and its phrasing and cadence struck readers as distinctly Trumpian.

Phrases like “fake news” and “very intelligent, very handsome,” and “Donald Trump has more money than he ever had” certainly seem cribbed from Trump-speak, and Trump’s been known to act as his own publicist, “John Barron.” Could this have been him? Or perhaps one of his children, who the voicemail makes a special point of praising?

Much to the disappointment of everyone who wanted to imagine Trump fuming into a magazine’s voicemail account, Alexander soon revealed that the caller probably wasn’t the president.

Just a fan, then? An admirer who has adopted Trump’s distinctive phrasing? Or maybe a jokester mocking Trump’s runaway ego? The non-sequitur mention of racism—”the highest IQ than any racist or anybody in this country”—in an otherwise glowing bit of praise for Trump does make it read like a joke, or like someone who was so worked up that they stopped making sense. Either way, this is a very entertaining voicemail.

It stands to reason that Trump would be angry about his Forbes ranking. He’s been concerned with it for years, and has tried to influence it by providing information to Forbes himself. One sticking point has always been the value of the “Trump” name itself: Trump believes it to be worth much more than Forbes does.

“Every year, Trump shares a lot of information with us that helps us get to the figures we publish. But he also consistently pushes for a higher net worth—especially when it comes to the value of his personal brand,” a 2015 Forbes article revealed.

But if he let his feelings show this time around, he didn’t do it in a particular voicemail to the Forbes front desk.

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*First Published: Oct 18, 2017, 12:26 pm CDT