Even if Trump masqueraded as his own publicist, it probably doesn't matter

Even if it is true that Trump posed as his own publicist under the name of John Miller in the 1990s – which it probably is – it also probably won't make a difference to American voters. 

Mary Altaffer/AP
In this May 3, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in New York. Trump is now his party's presumptive nominee, but in many ways, he's breaking the Republican mold. On a handful of issues, from trade to national defense, Trump has the potential to run to the left of likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. And on others, from taxes to social security, he sounds an awful lot like a Democrat.

It seems the man known as America's Id has an alter ego.

The Washington Post published a transcript Friday from 1991 between a reporter at People magazine and Donald Trump’s publicist, John Miller. The recording has sparked controversy because Mr. Miller sounds identical to Mr. Trump himself, by the sound of his voice, the cadence of his speech, his unwavering praise of the business mogul. 

“He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially,” Miller tells the interviewer, regarding Trump’s recent break-up with his first wife, Ivana. “And he’s really been working hard and doing well. And probably, as you know, there’s a real estate depression in the United States and he’s probably doing as well as anybody there is…But I’ve never seen somebody so immune to – he actually thrived on the bad press initially.”

Several reporters from the 1970s through the 1990s also claim to have spoken to a publicist by the name of John Miller – and they also recall Miller as sounding precisely as Trump himself. In come cases, reporters claim Trump also posed as his own publicist by the name of John Barron. (‘Barron’ also happens to be the name of Trump’s son with third wife Melania, born in 2006).     

“Well, I’m sort of handling PR because he gets so much of it,” John Miller tells the interviewer. And as for John Miller’s career before becoming Trump’s assistant: “I worked for a couple of different firms, and I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes.” 

In Saturday Night Live’s opening sketch this week, Donald Trump (played by former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond) talks on the phone to a reporter, posing as his publicist “Joey Pepperoni.” Throughout the night, SNL rips on Trump’s unlikely explanation that a voice that sounds identical to his own, is actually not him.

“No I am not Donald Trump in disguise,” says Hammond-as-Trump. “This is just what classy people sound like, ok?”

Later in the show’s segment of Weekend Update, hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost played a segment of the Washington Post’s recording.

“Trump is denying that it’s him. Let’s listen to the tape,” says Mr. Jost before playing a excerpt of a voice bragging about Trump’s recent financial success post-divorce. “C’mon. That’s Trump.”

Trump has denied being the man behind the voice on that recording, but he has admitted to having used that ploy with reporters on other occasions.

“You know, if only there was a way for Trump to prove that John Miller is an actual person,” said Mr. Che in the SNL skit. “Oh, I know! How about you show us John Miller’s birth certificate. Don’t you got a guy that can do that?” 

Reports by the Washington Post and sketches by Saturday Night Live may have brought Trump’s fake publicist charades back into the spotlight, but accusations against John Miller boil down to the same question poised by other Trump controversies: Will voters care?

“I get that this stuff is interesting, but it doesn’t move the dial one notch,” says Republican National Committee leader Reince Priebus on Fox News Sunday in reference to the released recordings. Because when it comes down to it, voters care about having “a more efficient government,” says Priebus. 

Priebus might have a point. When it comes to Trump, voters don’t seem to care about the lack of an endorsement by House Speaker and Republican leader Paul Ryan, nor the millions of dollars Trump has raised in campaign funds after having promised to self-fund his campaign, nor in the viability of Trump’s policy proposals, which the Wall Street Journal suggests could actually raise the national debt

So, if this recent revelation follows the pattern of Trump’s other demonstrably false assertions on the campaign trail, it is unlikely that the existence, or nonexistence, of a publicist 25 years ago will change many minds.

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