'You're Hired!': Donald Trump paid actors to attend presidential launch, says Hollywood Reporter

Donald Trump, the real estate mogul who entered the 2016 GOP presidential fray this week, reportedly paid to populate his formal announcement event.

Richard Drew/AP
Developer Donald Trump gestures as he announces that he seek the Republican nomination for president, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Donald Trump, who called himself “the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” apparently started hiring early. 

Mr. Trump – the real estate mogul who launched his bid to occupy the White House in 2016 – paid actors $50 each to beef up attendance at his campaign announcement Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to reports, Trump's team sent an e-mail to a casting agency asking for performers "to wear T-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement."

For the record, a Trump campaign manager has denied these reports, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Mr. Trump draws record crowds at almost every venue at which he is a featured speaker. The crowds are large, often record-setting and enthusiastic, often with standing ovations."

But The Hollywood Reporter has obtained the e-mail and another source has identified paid background actors in Instagram photos from Trump's announcement.

Like the zany Mark Sanford Appalachian Trail/Argentinian Affair of 2009 and the Great Rod Blagojevich Senate Seat Auction of 2008, we can't make this stuff up.

The unraveling of the Great Trumpian Hiring Campaign began when Media Matters for America VP and anti-Trump activist Angelo Carusone noticed something strange at Trump's pumped up event.

"Something just felt off about it to me. But, I couldn’t quite place it. Was it the staging? The crowd?" he wrote on the site Medium. "My initial thought was, ‘I bet Trump is paying some of those people to be there.’


Carusone noticed a photo on Instagram of a Trump supporter who also happened to be a paid actor he had seen in other social media posts, Domenico Del Giacco. The girl next to Del Giacco? Also a paid actress, Courtney Kloz.

The Hollywood Reporter investigated and obtained an e-mail sent by the New York-based Extra Mile Casting agency, calling on performers to join the campaign launch.

“We are looking to cast people for the event to wear T-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement,” the June 12 e-mail said. “We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and that is inclusive of this school of thought."

Trump's approach, while not traditional, is not, in fact, new.

As The Hollywood Reporter explained, "In politics, "astroturfing" is when people are hired to attend a rally or event in order to lend the appearance of grassroots support. They are typically contracted out to political consulting firms, much like Gotham GR."

If Trump was practicing "astroturfing," it's certainly not illegal but it does convey a lack of authenticity – and reinforces the idea of politics as theater. Or in Trump's case, part carefully orchestrated event and part improv. 

"The announcement was an event unlike any the GOP has seen, The Christian Science Monitor reported, via Politico: "a full-on production, complete with gossip reporters, a Broadway soundtrack, and people waving signs that read, “Donald, we need YOU!!!”"

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.