Offering a possible explanation for why Donald Trump believes the whole of media is just “fake news,” The Washington Post reports that at least four of Trump’s golf clubs have framed copies of Time Magazine with his face on the cover—all of them fake. Trump, himself a tacky carnival midway prize that America has been forced to lug from one nauseating thrill ride to the next, appears to have had this amusement park staple mocked up solely for the purpose of bolstering his own ego, then had it hung in the giant, lavish golf courses where his own name already appears on everything. It is a pathetic additional glimpse into Trump that is petty, embarrassing, and galling in its arrogance, a familiar mélange of emotions that Trump might as well slap his name on also.
Devoting thousands of words to its every inept detail, one of the sole joys that remains in the beleaguered Fourth Estate, the Post explains that the cover in question is purportedly from March 1, 2009, a day when no Time issue was published. Also cluing you in that it’s a fake: the red border is skinnier than the standard cover, with no secondary white border; the secondary headlines appear on the side instead of on top; the subheds, some of them borrowed from an actual March 2, 2009 cover with Kate Winslet, contain uncharacteristic exclamation points.
Also, it’s a Time cover about how “The Apprentice is a television smash!” backed up by the assertion that “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS … EVEN TV!” All told, it’s only an “AEROSMITH HIRES TRUMP AS NEW LEAD SINGER” away from being the saddest thing ever, a grubby little monument to Trump’s fathomless pride that somehow hasn’t been satiated by the 14 times he’s actually appeared on Time’s cover, or the gold-plated halls of narcissism where he hangs these, or the fact that the entire world is now in thrall to his every two-bit whim.
Redundantly, The Post’s David Fahrenthold also contacted Time Inc. spokesperson Kerri Chyka, who was forced to type the words “I can confirm that this is not a real TIME cover” in an email. Elsewhere, former Time TV critic James Poniewozik confirmed that he did not, in fact, call The Apprentice—whose spin-off The Celebrity Apprentice did premiere its eighth season on March 1, 2009—a “smash,” neither in terms of its ratings nor its creative rejuvenation. Indeed, as Time reminds, that “smash” episode kicked off with celebrities like Joan and Melissa Rivers, Tom Green, and Dennis Rodman all competing to sell cupcakes, it ended with Trump firing Andrew Dice Clay largely for calling him “Donny Trump,” and good lord, this man is deciding the fate of the world now according to the exact same value system.
Fahrenthold has also pointed out that the barcode actually comes from “software that lets you be a karaoke DJ,” as apt a metaphor for the Trump presidency as any.
At Trump’s Virginia golf course, the fake Time cover reportedly hangs in the club’s dining room where the Post reports that Trump dined in June with Peyton Manning and Sen. Bob Corker, sitting in a chair that faced it so that he could bask in his false accomplishments while surrounded by sycophants and wearing a hat with his own empty slogan emblazoned across it. Within that same club, the Post reminds that there is also a marker, as first reported by The New York Times, proclaiming that it was the site of a Civil War battle that had turned the Potomac River into a “River of Blood”—a battle that never happened, and a detail that sounds like something a 13-year-old Webelos might invent to impress a bunch of Cub Scouts. And yet it is commemorated with a very real plaque by a man so desperate to inflate his own historical importance that he literally just makes up massacres.
The Time cover apparently even traveled across the Atlantic to Trump’s Turnberry club in Scotland, where an employee gave this endearingly Scottish quote: “We used to have a Time Magazine cover up—aye, it was there for ages and ages, as long as I’ve been here. I know the one you’re on about. But they came and took it down a while back.” Presumably Trump’s cover then faded back into the Highland mists, doomed to reappear for one day only, every 100 years, until Trump finally finds someone who loves him.
Anyway, as depressing as this story is, it provides the glimmer of hope that this whole thing could be over right now if someone just awards Trump a “History’s Greatest President” certificate so he can go home.
UPDATE: According to an update on the original Washington Post story, Time has now contacted the Trump Organization and asked that it “remove the phony cover from the walls where it was on display.” At this point, it’s unclear if he intends to ignore the request or simply replace the covers with something similarly pathetic.