Mark Singer, writer for The New Yorker and author, recently spoke at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History about his most recent work, “Trump and Me”. Mark is a longtime friend of Dr. Charles Kimball, renowned scholar of religion and my Comparative Religions professor, and made a stop in Norman on his way through his native Oklahoma.
Though the title of Mark’s lecture (“Somebody’s Lying”) probably tips his hand on his stance regarding POTUS No. 45, I’ll attempt to keep my political leanings out of my synopsis. Here’s a run-down of what we covered:
Mark met Donald Trump in the fall of 1996. This was before the talk of externally-funded walls and “Little Marcos” and Russian meddling. The Trump of 1996 was a man of business; a “performance artist”, as Mark bills him. According to Mark, no matter what Trump is discussing, he’s giving you a sales pitch. Mark set to work on compiling the information he needed to craft his biography.
The two men took a drive to one of Trump’s in-construction golf courses in ’97, and Mark attempted to get to know the man behind the business dealings. Donald Trump sleeps approximately four hours a night, rising each morning at 5:30 a.m. to shower, shave and read the paper. Interestingly, when Mark posed the question, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?” Trump was at a loss for words. Mark believes that Trump conducts himself as a persona, not a real person. Because of this, he’s unable to “peg” himself–Trump is unsure of who he really is when the world isn’t watching.
Mark also threw out some staggering numbers in regards to Trump’s penchant for “alternative facts”. The Trump administration has frequently been defined by easily-refuted statements. In fact, The Washington Post once calculated that, as of Jan. 10, Donald Trump was uttering an average of 5.5 falsehoods every day. Mark believes this to be a manifestation of Trump’s tendency to rattle off statements until he “makes the sale”. He’s more worried about getting what he wants than how he accomplishes his goals.
Mark’s advice to the press? “Ignore the shiny object.” As a journalist himself, he warns that Trump is distracting the media from their true purpose.