The London Review of Books had to issue a correction on Friday after an op-ed by long-time Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal used hoax campaign ads attributed to Frederick Trump in his work.
“A Short History of the Trump Family” initially referenced two fake videos titled “Dope Man” and “Real New Yorkers,” which cast President Trump’s father as a racist. The so-called test commercials feature a drug-addled black man wandering the streets of New York City, and an idyllic — but white — Big Apple. The article spread on social-media platforms and was retweeted by The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler.
“I tweeted a link to these fake ads yesterday, having read about them in @LRB. Mea culpa and apologies all around,” the newspaper’s Fact Checker tweeted Friday. “Attention, @LRB, you need to update and correct an article.”
The op-ed said the following before it was edited Friday afternoon.
“In 1969, Fred Trump plotted to run for mayor of New York against John Lindsay, a silk-stocking liberal Republican. The reason was simple: in the wake of a New York State Investigations Commission inquiry that uncovered Fred’s overbilling scams, the Lindsay administration had deprived him of a development deal at Coney Island. He made two test television commercials. One of them, called ‘Dope Man’, featured a drug-addled black youth wandering the streets. ‘With four more years of John Lindsay,’ the narrator intoned, ‘he will be coming to your neighbourhood soon.’ The ad flashed to the anxious faces of two well-dressed white women. ‘Vote for Fred Trump. He’s for us.’ The other commercial, ‘Real New Yorkers’, showed scenes of ‘real’ people from across the city, all of them white. Fred Trump, the narrator said, ‘is a real New Yorker too’. In the end he didn’t run, but his campaign themes were bequeathed to his son.”
LRB ran a correction when it was revealed that each video was uploaded to YouTube in 2016 by a group called “Historical Paroxysm.”
“A paragraph referring to Fred Trump’s campaign for mayor of New York, although it accurately reflected Trump’s racial attitudes and his hostility towards Mayor John Lindsay, has been removed because the campaign ads referred to appear to be clever fakes,” the publication wrote.
The Washington Post also ran a story on Friday titled “No, Donald Trump’s father didn’t create racist ads for a mayoral bid,” which further clarified the matter.
“There is no mention of any ads from Trump in a search of news reports at Nexis.com, and they didn’t appear on Twitter before October of last year,” the newspaper wrote. “It also seems unlikely that high-quality television advertisements would have been produced for a mayoral bid that otherwise went nowhere — if it ever existed. […] The footage of the black drug dealer, which is available on at least one stock-footage site, is from a short film called ‘A Day in the Death of Donny B.’ from 1969.”
Historical Paroxysm’s YouTube and Vimeo accounts removed the videos after being contacted by Politico on Friday.
Mr. Blumenthal declined to speak on the record when contacted by the website.