Update: 5:45 p.m.
“Hold for Mr. Trump.”
It was Monday morning, April 18, 1988. I was the financial correspondent in New York City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, working out of a one-woman bureau at 80 Wall Street. That day, I had a business story about a developer-car dealer from Rochester, N.Y., who was a minor character in a drama playing out between Trump and entertainer Merv Griffin over the ownership of Resorts International.
Trump controlled the casino company through a special class of stock and wanted to buy out other investors for $15 a share.
The week Trump made his offer, the Rochester developer, Dale Scutti, was in Atlantic City. He had sinus problems and took long walks on the Boardwalk. Scutti made his millions in car dealerships, at one time owning 14 across the country. Eyeing the Resorts casino and unfinished Taj Mahal, he concluded that the company was worth a lot more than what Trump was offering. Back home, he started buying Resorts stock and through Wall Street channels in mergers, brought the situation to the attention of Griffin.
Griffin, the mega-millionaire Hollywood producer behind Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, wanted to get into gaming. He surprised Trump by making a counter-offer of $35 a share for Resorts, and quickly upped the ante by a buck.
The situation got ugly and after a month of fighting, the moguls made a deal: Trump would get the unfinished Taj Mahal, Griffin would get everything else, and investors would get $36 a share.
My story that morning made the point that if it wasn’t for this unknown investor from upstate New York, shareholders might not be earning more than twice what Trump originally offered. Scutti had told me he thought Trump was trying to scare shareholders into accepting his offer with threats of bankruptcy and warnings that he was the only one capable of completing the over-budget Taj Mahal project.
In the article, I wrote that Trump could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said the man’s comments were “categorically untrue.”
The story ran below the fold in the business news section with the headline: How a Curious Visitor Beat Trump at the Casino Game.
And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.
There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.
The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.
I had shit for brains.
I worked for a shitty newspaper.
What sort of shit did I write.
Before I could reply, he hung up.
Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”
Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”
Craig, a calm Iowan, asked Trump what was wrong with the story. He explained that The Inquirer would run a correction if the paper had made an error.
Trump snapped that he didn’t read the story.
“No one reads the story,” the 41-year-old blustered. “I read the headline and I didn’t like it.”
Craig suggested that he read the story, then call him back if there were any problems.
He did not hear back from Trump.
Update: Through his campaign Donald Trump denied using the c-word when talking about Lin. Senior Advisor David Urban provided this statement: “This accusation is categorically false. I find it incredibly coincidental that this person’s crystal clear recollection of one sentence, one word, spoken nearly thirty years ago just happens to coincide with Mr. Trump’s surge in Pennsylvania. This is nothing more than an avowed liberal reporter who is trying to exploit Mr. Trump’s reputation as click-bait for her tabloid stories.”
Jennifer Lin spent 31 years as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, including stints in the paper’s bureaus in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. Her book, Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family, will be released on March 17.