My Misunderstood Uncle Donald (And PR Lessons I Learned From Our Relationship)

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Arthur Solomon

The truth will come out later this year in a book about Donald Trump. I’ve already been contacted by the author, none other than Bob Woodward. So in an attempt to get ahead of the story, I’ll admit it now: I am Donald Trump’s nephew. And unlike my cousin Mary, I only have fond memories of my still on-going relationship with him. 

Prior to his being elected president, I was a frequent guest at family functions and often vacationed at one of his resorts, free of charge. But in an attempt to spare me from becoming a target of anti-Trump socialists and the Fake News lying media, he suggested that we remain socially distant during and after his presidency and communicate through zoom. And we do so frequently.  (Me wearing my Trump autographed MAGA hat; he wearing a “It was stolen from me,” shirt, autographed by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro  and Vladimir Putin.)

During my lengthy conversations with him, yes, he can remember my name several minutes after our conversations begin, sometime, he has told me the true meaning behind some comments.

During our conversation a day before he left the White House, he poured his heart out to me, saying how people misunderstand him. 

There were many things he did or said that people didn’t understand he told me, but there were ones that still rankle him the most: 

“When I said drinking disinfectants might kill the coronavirus, I did it to help the workers at plants that manufacture Lysol,  Clorox and Purell from being laid off, figuring it would increase enough sales so they could keep their jobs.” 

“And when I criticized football players for kneeling, people took it the wrong way. Everyone knows that cleanliness is next to godliness and I didn’t want them to dirty their uniforms.”

“And those kids in the cages? That was just to show children how animals in a zoo must feel, hoping it would make them more concerned about preventing the destruction of wildlife.” 

“I was surprised when I got criticized for saying I don’t trust our intelligence services. I said that on purpose to confuse our enemies. You know, a bit of psychological warfare.”

“People fault me for not wearing a mask. but why would I want to hide my big, beautiful, powerful, perfectly-shaped  face from my three best friends – Vladimir, Kim Jong-un or Xi Jinping, or from my adoring wife, Marla, or is it Ivana or Melania?”

“Hold on a minute Arthur,” he said. “Jared has a message for me.”

“What did you say, Jared? I can’t believe that Kim and Xi refused to take my phone calls after the election results showed me losing. Dirty Communists. Put in a call to Recep Tayyip Erdogen and Benito. What Mussolini is dead? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I would have sent Barr or Rudy to the funeral. They’d feel at home with that crowd. Oh, I’m still Putin’s favorite president? Then see if you can get me an invite for next year’s Victory Day Parade in Russia and a discounted airfare for booking so far in advance.” 

“Sorry for the interruption, Tom,” he said to me before continuing.

“When I asked him why he didn’t explain the reasoning behind those comments, he said, “As a stable genius, I find it hard to communicate with ordinary people. That’s why I have sometime sought the relationship with women other than my wives. It’s not that they’re geniuses, but they don’t continually say they don’t understand how my brain works or correct me as long as I write a check if I forget who I’m talking to, unlike my wives when I call Ivana, Marla, or Marla, Melania or Stormy.”

“Can you believe I lost the election to that guy Millard Fillmore or whatever his name is? I can’t. After all, I passed that test that proved I could tell the difference between an elephant and a
donkey,” my uncle continued.

“Can you hold for a minute, Seymour? My press secretary Sean has something to tell me. Sorry, Bob, have to go now, it’s time for my former cabinet members to connect with me and to tell me how great I am. Never mind, we can continue talking. Sarah just told me that  because I was cheatingly defeated by whatever his name is, the only persons willing to praise me are the divorcé and criminal defense lawyers, who should be sent to prison for life because of how they cheated me out of millions. Let’s talk again next Thursday. And Anthony, give my best to your twin brother Arthur.”

“What? You say you have no twin brother and I was calling you different names all the time. I did that on purpose to test your memory. You aced it, Bill. Stable geniuses with great memories must run in the family.”

Knowing his love of sports and NFL players, I told him that April 1 will be the season opening game for the New York Mets and I predicted that the team will win the World Series and invited him to attend the game with me. He declined, saying, “I’m meeting with a publisher on April 1 about a memoir I’m writing titled, “Faking Fake News.”

Before we hung up I asked how he felt being the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. “I’m one of those any publicity is good publicity guys, and now I’m insured of not being considered just another insignificant president,” he replied.

“By the way, next week I’m going on national television to admit that I lied when I said the election was rigged against me and urge all my supporters to unite behind President Maurice Biden, that’s his name, isn’t it, because in this time of crisis what’s good for America is more important than what’s good for me.”

Before he hung up, Uncle Donald asked me what I thought of Gov. Cuomo’s reaction to being accused of sexual harassment by female staffers, adding, “at least I wasn’t accused by people who worked for me.” 

I told him that the situation was terribly handled and it shows the importance of a good response to a PR crisis. “Here’s what I would have advised Gov. Cuomo to say,” I said “ about the sexual harassment allegations against him: I was preparing to introduce legislation about sexual harassment in the work place and was taking a survey to see what comments  women found most distasteful. Because I have so many hot women on my staff, I decided to begin the research here. We now know which comments women find most offensive and that will be the basis of new legislation.”

“That’s Trump family thinking,” Uncle Donald replied. “Don Jr. Eric or Rudy couldn’t have done it any better. I’m going to appoint you to handle the public relations for all my Atlantic City casino properties.”

Before I could remind him that he no longer has any, he said, “Gotta go now. Forget that stuff of my saying I was lying about the election. I’ve been told that a new recalculation of votes in Georgia shows that I won by a landslide and Biden’s on the other phone to congratulate me on my reelection. How’d you like to be my new press secretary? 

“Stay in touch,” he said. “I think of you as a brother more than a nephew.”

Just as well that Uncle Donald cut the conversation short. My cousins Harry and Meghan were waiting on one line and my aunt the Queen on another. They wanted to know if I could recommend a PR crisis person, saying they wanted to get ahead of the story. 

Instead of explaining that it’s too late to get ahead of the story, I gave them the contact information for Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham and Kayleigh McEnany, all former Trump White House press secretaries. “I don’t know if they can help lessen the negative press coverage but you can be assured that it will be covered only in the world’s most prestigious news outlets,” I said. 

And if you don’t believe any of the above, you haven’t been April Fooled.

No Fooling Lessons  

There are four important PR lessons embedded in this article: 

  • When investigative reporters are researching a major PR crisis, the truth will invariably come out, and
  • When doing research for a speech, press release or program never rely on one source, and
  • The old, tired PR crisis strategy of “getting ahead of the story,” is useless; it doesn’t prevent the media from doing its job, and
  • When an employer says, “You’re like family to me,” it doesn’t mean that he treats his family well. Remember what happened to Fredo in “The Godfather.”

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.