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Did Donald Trump really leave a voicemail complaining about dropping on Forbes’ rich list?

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Realistically, Donald Trump did not leave the mysterious message that reportedly appeared on Forbes’ voicemail after the president fell 92 spots on its annual rich list. The magazine pegged the reality-TV star as $600 million poorer this year than he was last year, thanks in large part to the tough New York real estate market but also the costly “running a presidential campaign” hobby he picked up in 2015. After releasing the list, Forbes’ Trump reporter posted a transcript of the mysterious phone call the magazine received:


Here’s Paul F. Tompkins doing a dramatic reading of the whole thing:

Very intelligent! More many than ever! Very handsome and high IQ! All the hallmarks are there, but moreover, the motive and the track history. It would be perfectly believable that the president’s fragile ego, which is built on notions of sexual and financial virility and reinforced exclusively through his own media coverage, would push him to adopt one of his manyspokesmanalter egos in order to complain about the magazine’s determination of his wealth. It barely tests the tensile strength of our perception of him that he would do something so cartoonish and transparent.

No, the problem isn’t the story, but the language itself. While there’s some awkward diction, the president’s sentences are never this clear or singular of focus; his anger comes out in braided threads of personal attacks, rather than just telling the publication to shove itself up its own ass. It’s an almost endearingly earnest impression of Trumpian language by someone lacking his particular skill for extemporaneous self-promotion—although, to be fair, “the highest IQs than any racist or anybody in this country” does hit the mark surprisingly close.


And anyway, Trump’s too busy insulting the families of fallen soldiers for hijinks like this.

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Clayton Purdom

Clayton Purdom is a writer and editor based in Columbus, Ohio.