- - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ABERDEEN, Scotland — He has called his American media critics “disgusting” and “dishonest,” but across the Atlantic, Donald Trump has had no problem getting his views across in the press, thanks to a small local newspaper in the Scottish Highlands.

Eschewing more illustrious British outlets, the billionaire developer and Republican front-runner made his debut as a columnist Monday in The Press and Journal of this fishing and oil city on the North Sea coastline, where Mr. Trump has invested in a slew of luxury golf properties.

The paper usually features news about the local farming community and restaurant reviews — and now boasts the latest musings of The Donald. So far, his efforts are playing to mixed reviews among locals.

The paper claims that Mr. Trump’s contribution will be a regular and exclusive column on the race for the White House, splashing the Republican maverick’s face against the backdrop of the Stars and Stripes. In his maiden column, Mr. Trump argues that his experience of building luxury golf developments in Scotland and his fights against local residents and environmentalists have helped gird him for the race for the White House.

“When I first arrived on the scene in Aberdeen, the people of Scotland were testing me to see how serious I was — just like the citizens of the United States have done about my race for the White House,” he wrote Monday. The rookie pundit also confidently claimed that “Scotland has already been won, and so will the United States.”

The tycoon spent several years building what he claimed to be “the greatest golf course in the world” on the stunning windswept beaches of Aberdeenshire’s east coast. But he ran up against local conservationists and fishermen in a David versus Goliath battle that divided the community.

Winning the White House won’t be easy, Mr. Trump said, but “Scotland wasn’t easy either!

“There’s a stubborn streak in me that I inherited, and I am grateful for that. That’s what produces winners,” he writes.

But Mr. Trump’s claims to have “won” Scotland have provoked ire among the local population here. Within hours of publication of the piece, a petition was started to have the paper’s new star columnist silenced.

“It would anger me more if there was any element of truth to it,” said Hamish Gibson, a student at the city’s ancient university and creator of a movement to tell the former “Apprentice” boss he had been fired.

“Most people reading the article would not believe it,” he said. “It isn’t just inaccurate but offensive to people in the Northeast. The idea he has in any way ‘won’ in Scotland is preposterous.”

Travel ban

Mr. Trump has provoked outrage among many across Britain with hard-line anti-immigration rhetoric and comments on women and Muslims during the Republican primary campaign. The British Parliament last year even briefly debated a petition that would have banned Mr. Trump from travel to the United Kingdom, ironically under legislation designed to stop Muslim imams who espoused religious hatred from entering.

The proposal to ban Mr. Trump was ultimately defeated.

The left-leaning Scottish government, meanwhile, publicly fell out with Mr. Trump last year despite the jobs and subsidiary development his investments had created.

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond denounced Mr. Trump as a “three-time loser” amid a nasty legal battle over Mr. Trump’s campaign to block energy-generating wind turbines off the coast of his golf resort properties. The current first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has rescinded Mr. Trump’s title as a “global ambassador” for the country.

Despite the uproar, The Press and Journal and its sister publications have consistently backed Mr. Trump.

The paper is edited by Damian Bates, whose wife, Sarah Malone, is executive vice president for Mr. Trump’s Scottish operations. In the past, the Aberdeen paper has reported on events including Mr. Trump’s plane landing at the city airport and branded a local councilman opposed to Mr. Trump’s developments a “traitor.”

The ties between the U.S. billionaire and the local media have long been questioned by Anthony Baxter, a New York-based filmmaker who has made two documentaries critical of Mr. Trump’s local operations. He first attracted the wrath of Mr. Trump when he began filming “You’ve Been Trumped,” about the impact of the luxury resort on the local community in 2010. Mr. Baxter was even arrested by local police at the request of the Trump organization when trying to film construction workers at the exclusive facility.

“The coverage of The Press and Journal was why I wanted to make the film — they were failing to do journalism,” Mr. Baxter said. “One article they published was a five-star review for the Trump golf course with a double-page spread, with no byline. I saw it in the newspaper and was dumbstruck by it. You have to question the paper’s constant coverage of Trump.”

Mr. Bates was unavailable to speak to The Washington Times when asked about the decision to give Mr. Trump a column, but The Press and Journal issued a statement defending the decision.

“Donald Trump joins a number of well-known names who have written for The Press and Journal. Recent political figures have also included [British Prime Minister] David Cameron and Alex Salmond. It is the newspaper’s policy to carry opinion pieces from all political angles,” the newspaper said.

“With Donald Trump’s connections to the Northeast and to the community which The Press and Journal serves, the editorial team thought that the content would be of interest to its readers,” the newspaper added.

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