Donald Trump’s war on the media has been a hallmark of his presidential campaign, with Trump often attacking specific outlets and reporters who he feels have been unfair to him. Three decades ago, however, Trump talked up his thick skin and said negative press didn’t get to him anymore.
In a 1989 appearance on the The Morton Downey Jr. Show obtained by CNN’s KFile, Trump was asked if he minded the criticism he received in the press.
“I think I used to resent it, I’m not sure I do anymore,” Trump said. “Somehow, over a period of time, you become harder to this. You also realize it means less. It’s yesterday’s news. They take a shot at you in the newspaper, some reporter doesn’t like something for his own personal reason, so they take a shot. I find now—10 years ago I used to say ‘boy how could they do that, it’s wrong, it’s unfair,’ I find now that it really doesn’t matter.”
Trump has been critical of the media’s coverage of his campaign through the entire election cycle, particularly in the last week, when eight women accused Trump of sexual harassment. He has tweeted out that the media “may poison the minds of the American voter” and routinely says news outlets lie about his campaign to hurt him.
Downey’s talk show, which ran from 1987 to 1989, was famously combative, and his populist tone and anti-political correctness diatribes are often echoed by the Trump campaign today.
Trump appeared on tape, not live in studio. The topic of the episode is one he often talks about in 2016: free trade. The only difference between now and the late 1980s is that today Mexico and China earn the scorn of Trump, while then it was Japan.
“It’s a huge problem, and it’s a problem that’s going to get worse,” Trump said in 1989 on America’s trade imbalance with Japan. “And they’re laughing at us.”
On the campaign trail today Trump frequently says China, Mexico, and other nations are “laughing at us.”
While Trump has been criticized for his inconsistent political views, his position on trade appears has been remarkably the same for decades. His solution to the problems associated with free trade in the late 80s are also consistent with his proposals today.
“There’s no other choice, you tax the hell out of them. Every time they sell a car in this country, every time they sell a VCR in this country,” Trump said in 1989.
In the same interview he proposed a 20% tax on goods made in Japan; In a January interview with The New York Times he proposed an even stricter measure, a 45% tariff on Chinese exports to America.
As recently as September, Trump threatened Ford with a 35% tax on cars made in Mexico.