Legend has it that Donald Trump used to pose as his own PR person back in the 1980s and '90s and phone reporters to talk about how great Trump was. Now a former reporter for Forbes magazine is offering up a taped phone conversation he had with "John Barron" in 1984, and Jonathan Greenberg writes that he is now sure "Barron" was actually Trump. You can listen for yourself via the Washington Post op-ed. At the time, Greenberg was a young reporter working on the magazine's then-new "Forbes 400" ranking of rich Americans. The magazine had pegged Trump's wealth at $200 million in the 1983 list, and "Barron" was calling to complain that Trump should be much higher in the next ranking.
Greenberg writes that he was skeptical at the time, and he was proud of himself and his magazine for resisting Trump's efforts to inflate his worth beyond $200 million. "The joke was on me," he writes. Greenberg now maintains that even the $200 million figure was a stretch. "Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all," he writes. "In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million." Greenberg details what he calls Trump's deception about his real estate operation. "The tactic landed him a place he hadn’t earned on the Forbes list—and led to future accolades, press coverage and deals," he writes. "It eventually paved a path toward the presidency." Click for the full op-ed, plus the recording.