October 4, 2016

David Cay Johnston moves the needle on Trump


David Cay Johnston is reputed to resemble this man, but without the glasses.

David Cay Johnston is reputed to resemble this man, but without the glasses.

America is a country with 1,500 locations of Sunglass Hut, a store where people stand under mall lighting, trying on different sets of eyewear and imagining how they’d look wearing them to the beach. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that we’re also having a hard time deciding on a new face for the Oval Office.

At Melville House, we’ve contributed to the electoral conversation in a way that few others could have: we found a Pulitzer Prize-winning tax journalist who’s known Donald Trump for three decades, and published what has since become the book of record on the candidate.

The immediate response was gratifying: David Cay Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump spent the first four weeks after its release on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It was praised by the likes of Michiko Kakutani (“useful, vigorously reported… a searing indictment”), Lawrence O’Donnell (“this year’s must read Trump book”), and USA Today (“the best of investigative reporting”). And now, we know that the Hillary Clinton campaign have had their eyes on it, too.

Want proof? Here’s an ad Clinton released this weekend, shortly after the New York Times broke the news that Trump reported a brain-melting $916 million one-year loss on his 1995 income tax filings.

And hey, who’s that at 0:17, raising a particularly pertinent question? David Cay Johnston appears in Clinton’s ad to ask: “How do you lose $915 million in a rising real estate market if you’re the great real estate genius?”

It’s just the latest of many increasingly prominent public appreciations of Johnston’s book. You may also have seen its cameo as a source of “meticulously researched” information in this clip from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee:

For that matter, you may have spotted Johnston as an in-demand guest on any number of news and talk shows. The quote that appeared in the Clinton ad was pulled from a longer appearance Johnston made Sunday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joy. He was the lead story yesterday on NPR’s Marketplace, and appeared last night on MSNBC’s The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. And earlier this week, C-SPAN aired footage of a recent appearance Johnston made before an absolutely packed house at DC’s Politics and Prose bookstore. Today, he’s got a busy schedule that includes appearances on Democracy Now!, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and more. The list goes on.

Johnston, of course, is our guy: we published his book because we believe in it, and in him, and we’re happy to see him getting some well-deserved attention. But there’s more to it than that. Five weeks from today, Americans will flood to the polls and decide who will next occupy the single most powerful position in the world. It’s increasingly clear that The Making of Donald Trump, and the author who wrote it, are playing an invaluable role in our national conversation. In an election where so profoundly much is at stake, it’s an honor to have published the book that, more than any other, is injecting vital facts and irreplaceable expert analysis into the body politic.

It’s been a long campaign season, but the end is finally in sight. This isn’t the time to grow weary. Stay awake, America, and keep it together. If you have friends or family still making up their minds, we have a resource they may find helpful. Remember to breathe. We’ll see you at the polls.