Over the weekend, the Boston Globe ran a fake story imagining Donald Trump as supreme leader of the United States. On Tuesday, the New York Observer ran a real one.
After months of explaining away its ties to Trump, the weekly paper — owned by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner — formally endorsed the mogul-turned-candidate in a post written by the editorial board. The piece painted Trump as a heady mix of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, a job creator who has built not only "great skyscrapers and gem-like skating rinks" but also "brands."
But first, the elephant in the room: "Donald Trump is the father-in-law of the Observer’s publisher," the endorsement began. "That is not a reason to endorse him. Giving millions of disillusioned Americans a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity is."
What followed went a bit beyond the usual complimentary prose contained in a newspaper endorsement.
"The legacy of Donald Trump’s 30 years of leadership is everywhere — not only in the tall buildings that bear his name, but in the kitchens of the thousands of families supported by the jobs he’s created," the editorial read.
The endorsement rattled off most of Trump's own talking points, with a similar tone of impatience: the media is out to get him, his poll numbers will make your head spin, and he wants to move America in "a different, more promising direction," i.e. the direction of Greatness (Again).
The piece makes no mention of the myriad positions Trump has taken, including his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and ban Muslims from coming into the country. Also unmentioned is the candidate’s outwardly hostile attitude toward the media. (His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was recently charged with simple battery of a journalist.)
The Observer went to bat for Trump on his multiple aborted businesses, arguing that, if you think about it, the mogul's failures just prove how successful he really is.
"Critics, particularly in the media, are quick to point out Mr. Trump’s less successful ventures: Trump University, Atlantic City casinos, Trump Airlines and branded products such as vodka and steaks," the editorial wrote. "Having tried (and sometimes failed) at our own entrepreneurial ventures, we are far more inclined to put these ventures into perspective. As Robert Kennedy said, 'Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.'"
Yes: Trump is a man of Kennedyesque stature, but that's not all. With Trump, you get a presidential two-fer. "We are reminded of another presidential candidate who was derided for being 'just an actor' and for proposing a vision for a stronger America," the Observer wrote. "Today, many people forget what propelled Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980."
The rest of the piece leaned into the Reagan angle, hard: "Reagan asked Americans: Are you better off than you were four years ago? Today, Donald Trump is asking a similar question."
"In 1980 Ronald Reagan said, 'The time is now for strong leadership,' and by 1984 was able to declare, 'It is morning again in America,'" the endorsement concluded. "Today, Donald Trump says it is time to make America great again. We agree."
Last year, International Business Times attempted to ask Observer editor Ken Kurson about the paper's approach to covering the 2016 election given its connection to Trump himself.
“Your greasy trolling for Trump clicks by asking other journalists to comment on how the Observer does or does not cover Trump is exactly the reason I'm reluctant to cover Trump more than necessary,” Kurson replied.
Kurson accused IBT of inventing quotes (we did not) and ended up writing an entire article attacking IBT for attempting to dig up "dirt" on the relationship.
As it happens, over the last few weeks, it came out that not only did Kurson's boss Kushner help draft Trump's speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but Kurson himself proofread the speech. Kurson did not respond for comment at the time and these facts remain undisclosed anywhere on the Observer's website, though after the Huffington Post reported on the speechwriting issue, the paper announced it was "re-visiting" its policy on Trump and imposing a ban on any further collaboration.
At the time, Kurson dismissed the critics. "It’s a complicated world, and I don’t intend to let the 11 people who have appointed themselves the journalist police tell me, at age 47, how to behave or to whom I’m allowed to speak.”
With the Observer's formal endorsement of its publisher's father-in-law, the world just became a little less complicated.