“Choice” Moments: Trump’s Alter Ego

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October 20, 2016

In 1980, Donald Trump faced a media firestorm when he ordered the demolition of two valuable art deco sculptures that were delaying the construction of Trump Tower. Over the next few days, reporters tried to reach Trump for comment, but they instead heard from “John Barron,” an alter ego that Trump would sometimes use when he spoke with journalists.

“I don’t think Donald was necessarily evasive with the press when he used his alter ego John Barron,” says Barbara Res, a former vice president of the Trump Organization. “I think it gave him the opportunity to say things that he couldn’t say as Donald Trump.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, Trump would use such alter egos whenever he was under intense press scrutiny, including once in 1991 when a reporter from People magazine captured him going by the name “John Miller” on tape.

“Trump’s Alter Ego” was drawn from FRONTLINE’s reporting for The Choice 2016, filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team’s dual biography of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Since 1988, The Choice has brought viewers in-depth, interwoven biographies of the two major-party U.S. presidential candidates. You can watch an encore presentation on Tues., Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on PBS, or stream the film anytime on the FRONTLINE website.


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