Something you may have picked up on over the last few years is that Donald Trump is a colossal prick. Whether it was claiming that COVID-19 “affects virtually nobody” the same day the U.S. death toll reached 200,000 or calling dead soldiers “suckers” and “losers,” the man spent the bulk of his time in office proving that he literally has no low. You may also know that, prior to becoming president, Trump had a reputation for being a sleazebag in business, reportedly stiffing hundreds of contractors, running a scam university, and, according to the New York attorney general, misstating the value of his assets (a claim the Trump Organization has previously denied, dubbing the allegations “politically motivated”) for more than a decade. So it wasn’t entirely surprising, though uniquely f–ked up nevertheless, to learn that he apparently screwed over his own White House photographer for his own financial gain.
The New York Times reports that as Trump’s first (and hopefully last!) term drew to a close, Shealah Craighead, his chief White House photographer, told the president‘s aides that she had plans to publish a book of the most significant images she had captured. As the Times notes, this would not have come as a surprise, given that every White House photographer since Ronald Reagan has done so, with George W. Bush and Barack Obama even writing forewords. Trump being Trump, though, i.e. a person who has never done anything in his life without asking “what’s in it for me” first, couldn’t just let Craighead do her book and make a little money off of her hard work.
Instead, his aides initially asked her “for a cut” of her book advance, in exchange for writing a foreword and helping with promotion, despite a lifetime of telling people how rich he is. Then, thinking better of it, they asked her to “hold off” on her project so that Trump could publish his own book first, using her photos, despite, per the Times, his habit of “say[ing] insulting things about Ms. Craighead” and telling White House guests “that he questioned her skills as a photographer.” That book, titled Our Journey Together, came out in December and includes exactly zero photo credits. The only time Craighead’s name is mentioned is in the acknowledgments. Trump wrote all of the captions for the tome, bon mots that include, under a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “She was screaming and shaking like a leaf, she’s f***ing crazy, hence the name ‘Crazy Nancy.’” And, of the late John McCain, whom Trump has long been in a one-sided feud with despite the guy being dead: “Asking for a job for his wife and I am smiling but I didn’t like him even a little bit.” According to Trump’s publisher—a company that, naturally, was cofounded by Donald Trump Jr.—the book has sold 300,000 copies which, at $75 a pop for the unsigned version, would put sales at at least $20 million. On top of his advance, the ex-president will presumably be taking a cut of the book sales.
Craighead declined to publicly share her feeling with the Times, saying that it was important for her to remain neutral to do her job. But others were happy to weigh in on what a giant a-hole the last president is. “It’s a slap in the face,” Eric Draper, the chief White House photographer under George W. Bush, told the Times. “I would be disappointed if I were in her shoes.” Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the paper, “Shea’s a very talented photographer and this was really all of her hard work. I just keep thinking: What a shame that he is actually now profiting off of it. But then again, this is the guy who is hawking caps and all kinds of stuff right now to raise money for himself.”
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, did not dispute that Craighead had discussed doing her own book with an aide, or that it had been suggested that Trump receive a cut of her advance. In an unintentionally hilarious statement, he claimed Trump decided to do his own book first because of his longtime love of photo selection, saying: “President Trump has always had an eye for beautiful and engaging curation, which came alive through the pages of his book.”
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Cramer went on to add that Trump asking Putin to help him take down Biden is “nothing compared to what the current president is doing,” in case it wasn’t clear these people’s brains are completely scrambled