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The Donald’s Private Dick

Did Trump put a gumshoe on a Times reporter’s trail?

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In a peculiar act of media criticism, Donald Trump is telling people that he hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Times reporter Timothy L. O’Brien, according to a source in Trump’s office. The author’s Trump Nation, which argues that the developer is more P. T. Barnum than Bill Gates, hit stores in late October to much complaining by its subject. Trump is “the best publicist I could have ever hoped for,” says O’Brien, who expresses doubt that he’s being tailed and suggests that Trump, whom he covered for fifteen years, has manufactured the P.I. story to intimidate him. “He can dig all he wants—he’s not going to find anything,” O’Brien says with a laugh. Trump, asked flat-out whether the story is true, responds thus: “He’ll find out soon enough if I hired a private investigator.” He also calls O’Brien “a stone-cold loser” and notes that “the whole beauty of this thing is that his book is a resounding failure.” Warner Books estimates that it’s sold about 4,000 copies so far (BookScan recorded 2,200 in the first month). O’Brien says, “If I’m such a terrible writer and my book is so bad, why is Donald so obsessed with it?”

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