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Donald Trump Tricks National Media Into Covering His New Hotel

He was supposed to clarify his birtherism. He praised his new hotel instead.
Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Standing in front of rows of retired generals and Medal of Honor recipients, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged about the new hotel his company built inside the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Nice hotel,” Trump said after walking into the hotel’s “Presidential” ballroom. “I think when the hotel opens officially it will be one of the great hotels in the world.”

The room was filled with his supporters and hundreds of reporters from all over the world, who came under the assumption that Trump would, at long last, clarify his long-held belief that President Obama is a foreign national. (A wealth of documentation shows that the president was born in Hawaii.)

Instead, Trump only praised his hotel, then turned the microphone over to a long string of retired military brass who slathered patriotic aphorisms on the businessman, who received five draft deferments in the 1960s.

Reporters in the room vented their frustrations on Twitter. “Why are we here,” wrote BuzzFeed News’s Rosie Gray; “Is there a gong I can hit to end this?” the Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs asked; “I’m hungry,” Politico’s Jake Sherman wrote.

It took US cable news channels more than 20 minutes to cut away from the hotel plug-turned-flag-waving-exercise. Meanwhile, a producer for CTV, Canada’s top-rated network, showed off his channel’s more compelling coverage: tips for dressing up your pets for Halloween.

When Trump returned to the microphone, he finally addressed the birther issue. “Hillary Clinton started the birther controversy in 2008,” he claimed. (She did not.) “I finished it. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.” Trump smirked, walked away from the lectern, and left furious reporters to yell questions at him about why he lied, all while Trump’s very nicely appointed hotel ballroom got its long, lingering gazes from the cameras.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.