Sam Nunberg is the former employee to Donald Trump who resigned over the explosive BuzzFeed profile written by McKay Coppins. The story suggested Trump to be fake in his political aspirations and an ostentatious blowhard who may or may not have the greatest relationship with his third wife, Melania. It shows that Trump blew off the couple’s actual anniversary and instead took off to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach with Coppins and other male employees. During the trip, he told Coppins, in a voice described as “lowered” by the writer, “There are a lot of good-looking women here.”
To a reader, this conjures up a variety of scenarios — one being, was Trump trying to entice Coppins to enjoy the scenery or enjoy the scenery? Trump also made what may or may not be a sarcastic comment about Coppins’ wife, which he noticed on the reporter’s cell phone. From the story: “I was just looking down and saying, ‘Wow, that’s a good-looking woman!’”
All in all, the story portrays Trump to be a man who is addicted to his own media attention. Trump’s camp didn’t enjoy that and naturally went to the media to blast holes in the profile. They went to TheWrap Friday to declare that Mr. Trump is “totally unfazed” by the story while insisting that it is pure shit. Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to insult Coppins: “A dishonest slob of a reporter, who doesn’t understand my sarcasm when talking about him or his wife, wrote a foolish & boring Trump ‘hit.’” He later added, “How come discredited reporter [McKay Coppins] refused to write that the events in New Hampshire, Buffalo and N.Y. were all record breakers!”
Coppins stands by his story and went on MSNBC’s “Disrupt” with Karen Finney Sunday afternoon to discuss it.
“I think this one really struck a nerve,” Coppins told MSNBC. “We just heard actually he fired one of his aides over this story. So obviously it really got to him. I set out to write a kind of probing portrait of this man. What I found was a man who was deeply insecure, worried about his status in the world and how others treated him and what they thought of him. It’s no surprise to me that he is so upset about a profile that treats him skeptically. But, I mean, obviously he has crossed a few lines in Trumpian fashion, dragging my wife into it. I guess that goes with the territory.”
Coppins continued pontificating about Trump, saying, “There must have been a change at some point in his career where he became more like this. … He wasn’t always this thin-skinned. Over the course of his career he has become more and more obsessed with his fame and celebrity and particularly his political celebrity. Us political reporters know that he desperately tries to get our attention all the time in a way that seems almost unpleasant and small for him. It’s obviously something he cares very much about.”
Finney remarked, “I would think he’d have a thicker skin.”
Coppins conceded that he’d eat his words if Trump actually does run for something. “The only thing he really has to do to refute this whole story and the whole premise is to run for governor or run for president. Right?”
The Mirror caught up with Nunberg Sunday night to find out if he has any regrets over the way he handled the story with Coppins, and what he might do differently next time. As a spontaneous aside apart from these questions, Nunberg said, “I would suggest that other public figures, whether they are Republican or Democrat, will be reticent to expose themselves to the biased reportings of BuzzFeed. I do expect BuzzFeed to continue to be the Internet’s greatest repository of cat videos and the best place to go in the entire world wide web to take a test to determine your sexual orientation.”
1. Looking back what would you have done differently in terms of vetting BuzzFeed and McKay Coppins?
I would not have done anything differently. My previous dealings with McKay Coppins, which were many, were professional, and I expected a balanced and fair piece.
2. From a PR perspective, are you kicking yourself?
In retrospect, I recognize it was an error to give Mr. Coppins access. I found it disturbing that he did not produce the piece for over four weeks after the trip, and it is my belief that the piece underwent a major rewrite by Ben Smith, who was of course not present for any part of the trip.
3. What did you envision the story would be as opposed to what it was?
I certainly did not expect a pro-Trump puff piece but any objective analysis of Mr. Trump’s trip to New Hampshire would acknowledge that his speech was covered positively by AP, CNN, Reuters, Fox and more importantly WMUR, the Union Leader and Concord Monitor. I continue to question why McKay Coppins would claim he was the only national reporter present.
4. Going forward, how will you treat reporters who wish to write on your clients? Is there something you’ll do differently?
The vast majority of reporters I deal with are honest, straight forward and professional. Mr. Coppin’s piece is rife with simply [sic] errors which reveal his bias and animus towards Mr. Trump.
5. What was your perception of reporters before this story? What is it now?
If Donald Trump was a liberal billionaire, then Ben Smith and his little crew at BuzzFeed would be kissing his ass. I found it curious that liberal billionaire George Soros is embroiled in a messy domestic dispute with a skanky ex-girlfriend and BuzzFeed has failed to report anything on the subject.
6. BuzzFeed LOL cat videos aside, how do you think this story will affect the way people perceive Trump?
A voter who supports Mr. Trump is not a likely reader of BuzzFeed. With his wealth, Donald Trump could easily ignore the great public issues of the day and simply busy himself continuing to make billions and starring in a reality TV show which continues to have top ratings. Instead he chooses to speak out for conservative values and therefore earns the enmity of liberal elitists.