‘Art of the Deal’ ghostwriter: Journalists should fear for their safety if Trump wins second term

The most dire warnings about what Donald Trump is capable of during a second term come from people who know him well—like his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, his niece, psychologist Mary Trump. And if Donald Trump returns to the White House, ghostwriter Tony Schwartz says he’s ready to leave the country because he fears for his safety.

The ghostwriter of Trump: The Art of the Deal has said that co-authoring the 1987 bestseller with the real estate developer is the greatest regret of his life. Schwartz met dozens of times with Trump for one-on-one interviews in order to write the book.

So it’s worth taking Schwartz seriously when he talks about  the dangers of a second Trump term.

“I see him as immensely dangerous because he will be so much freer to pursue his personal agenda if he’s re-elected—and there is no question about what that agenda is now, which is to be an authoritarian leader to have  complete control … to deport people and to create detention camps,” Schwartz said in an interview Wednesday evening with MSNBC host Ari Melber. “And I really believe that though I’m not #1 or #10 enemy on his list, I’m somewhere in there.”

“And I actually have made the decision, I’ve shared with my friends, that if Trump’s reelected, I’m leaving. I’m leaving the United States. Why? Because I don’t feel safe. And anybody who doesn’t believe that they are less safe … is living a fantasy. Trump is going to do what he says he’s going to do.”

Schwartz then delivered a chilling message to his host and other journalists when asked if Trump would use the government against writers, dissidents, and other political opposition.

“There is absolutely no question he would,” Schwartz said.

Addressing Melber, he added: “And somebody like you is also at risk, I would say. Anybody in the media who’s talked about him in any way that he finds the slightest bit offensive, and he finds all of MSNBC offensive, is at risk. … This is something that the people who love and support Donald Trump don’t recognize—that they are as vulnerable as everyone else. Because Trump … has only one person that he’s interested in—himself.”


That’s a clear message to journalists engaging in bothsiderism who treat the November election as a horse race, repeating the same mistakes made in 2016 with Hillary Clinton’s emails by overhyping President Joe Biden’s slightest gaffes.  

It’s worth remembering what Trump tweeted this about the press in April 2019.

The press is doing everything within their power to fight the magnificence of the phrase, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! They can’t stand the fact that this Administration has done more than virtually any other Administration in its first 2yrs. They are truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!

In April 2020, the Committee to Protect Journalists website published a story called “The Trump Administration and the Media.” 

On Twitter, Trump attacked the news media in nearly 1,900 tweets, from when he announced his candidacy for president in 2015 until the end of 2019, according to a database maintained by Stephanie Sugars of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Trump’s most frequently tweeted phrases to describe the news media and journalists were “fake news,” “enemy of the people,” “dishonest,” and “corrupt.”

More than 600 of Trump’s tweets targeted specific news organizations, led by The New York Times, CNN, NBC and MSNBC, Fox News and The Washington Post. He called the Times, among other slurs, “fake,” “phony,” “nasty,” “disgraced,” “dumb,” “clueless,” “stupid,” “sad,” “failing,” and “dying.” He characterized the Post as “fake,” “crazy,” “dishonest,” “phony,” and “disgraced.” In July 2017, Trump posted on Twitter a 28-second video in which he is portrayed as wrestling and punching a figure whose head has been replaced by the logo for CNN.

Four hundred of Trump’s tweets referred to more than 100 individual journalists at 30 news organizations.

In October 2023, Schwartz told a panel at The New Republic’s “Stop Trump Summit” that he considers the royalties he’s received from The Art of the Deal to be “blood money.” He said that since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, he has donated several hundred thousand dollars from the book’s proceeds to causes he believes that Trump “would despise,” including environmentalism, immigration advocacy, and other progressive causes.

“I still feel like I’m doing penance,” he said, “I knew while I was doing that book that it was a mistake to do it. I knew who he was. He was not a different person than he is now.”

In a 2019 interview with CBS News, Schwartz said he knew Trump was “a bad guy” when he did the book.

“Trump is not only willing to lie, but he doesn’t get bothered by it, doesn’t feel guilty about it, isn’t preoccupied by it,” Schwartz told chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on the CBS’s “The Takeout” podcast. “There’s an emptiness inside Trump. There’s an absence of a soul. There’s an absence of a heart.”

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