The Mirror

Fluffing up Trump: How BuzzFeed landed the profile that earned them an enemy

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
Font Size:

Hindsight is 20-20. But in some instances, like this one, it would’ve been tough for any flack to foresee the PR disaster of a profile that would emerge by allowing a reporter to trail Donald Trump from the bowels of New Hampshire to the glitz of Palm Beach. The Daily Caller‘s Mirror Blog has obtained the January pitch email from BuzzFeed‘s McKay Coppins, who wrote the profile on Trump that angered the billionaire so much that he took to Twitter and called him a “dishonest slob” of a reporter.

As you can see in the pitch below, Coppins fluffed up Trump’s feathers and pressed all the buttons that were sure to make the real estate mogul and his camp delight in allowing the profile — the attention, it’ll go viral, the bragging that their politics section gets more traffic than Politico‘s and the promise that it’ll show that Trump is considered to be a “major player” and “ahead of the curve” in terms of his grasp on new media. Or “Tump” as Coppins called him in the pitch letter.

The pitch was made to the now infamous Sam Nunberg, the ever-loyal Trump employee who resigned in the wake of the lengthy profile. Nunberg interacted with Coppins approximately 25 times on a variety of stories before the profile came up.

The Mirror has removed the exact email addresses of Coppins and Nunberg for privacy purposes.


Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2014 21:28:32 -0500

Subject: Re: Hey we need to talk…

From: McKay Coppins

To: Sam Nunberg

trump3A brief summary of my pitch for why he should give me the access:

BuzzFeed attracted 130 million readers last month, making it one of the biggest sites on the web. Our politics section alone does double the traffic of Politico.

I’ve already done big profiles of all the major 2016 GOP players, including substantial sit-down interviews with Rand Paul and Scott Walker, and features on Ryan, Rubio, Cruz, etc. In each case, the stories have gone viral in the political world and beyond, and many have generated sustained conversation online and on TV. If Tump gives me access, my piece is likely to get more attention than it would in most magazines and newspapers. It would also show that he’s ahead of the curve and understands the new media landscape.

Let me know if you need anything else. We should definitely make this happen.




I sought comment from Coppins, asking if he considers Trump to be a “major 2016 GOP player” as his pitch states in contrast to the story he wrote, “36 Hours on the Fake Donald Trump trail.” Also asked was if Coppins has any regrets about the way in which he pitched Trump’s people for the profile. Coppins replied, “This is the standard pitch I make when proposing access for profiles — it’s about BuzzFeed, and my experience as a reporter, not Trump. I was upfront with Trump and his team that this wasn’t going to be a puff piece, and as I wrote in the story, I confronted Trump directly with my skepticism during our interview. If he wants to prove me wrong, I suggest that he actually run for president.”