Donald Trump is a bully: Does America really want him as prez?

Sonia Chopra
Sonia ChopraDec 01, 2015 | 13:08

Donald Trump is a bully: Does America really want him as prez?

Full disclosure: For the past 15 years, I have been a correspondent for the New York Times.

During this time, I have worked with reporters, who I have to say, are probably the best in the business.

They report with passion, with integrity, with dignity and with clarity.

Whenever, I report to NYT reporters, they are respectful and professional. I connect with them on Facebook and I read all that they share.


Scrolling through my posts this past week, I learnt how Presidential hopeful Donald Trump mocked an exceptionally talented and credible NYT reporter Serge Kovaleski, who also happens to be have a disability. Then Trump did something much worse: he lied about it.

The whole incident began when Trump was challenged by the media on his recent claim that he had witnessed thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on September 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center collapsed.

His accusation has persisted as a hateful rumour for the past 14 years now but the "claim" was effectively debunked and dismissed by the numerous law enforcement officials in New Jersey then.

Defending Trump's stance, his supporters referred to an article co-written by Kovaleski, who was at the time working for the Washington Post, and works for NYT.

Questioned on his story, Kovaleski told CNN:"We did a lot of shoe leather reporting in and around New Jersey and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story. Much of that has, indeed faded from memory… I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember."


Kovaleski is an excellent journalist with stellar articles and commands the respect of hundreds of journalists and we all believe him.

But because Kovaleski was implicitly denying Trump's "claim," the Republican candidate became enraged and in retaliation, at a rally in South Carolina, he began flailing in arms, in imitation of Kovaleski.

We all got the distinct, clear impression that Trump was deliberately mocking and lampooning our colleague's disability. Kovaleski has a chronic condition called arthrogryosis, which limits the movement of his arm.

If you see the picture with this article, you can clearly see how similarity in the way both men are positioning their arms.


"Now, the poor guy - you've got to see this guy, ah, I don't know what I said! I don't remember!" Trump said, telling the crowd as he jerked his arms in front of his body.

And this latest Trump circus has dominated the national news for the better part of the week.

The New York Times [sic] released a statement refuting Trump's claims against Kovaleski and saying, rightfully so, that they find his "behavior outrageous".


Then to make things worse, Trump came out and said he didn't know about the reporter's condition and he had never met him.

Kovaleski spoke out, again correcting Trump by revealing that the two had spent time together in the 1980s and the 1990s when Kovaleski worked for the Daily News. Many journalists back this up.

Trump has refused to apologise.

Journalists took to social media to condemn Trump for his inappropriate behaviour. I did too.

A sampling of the comments: "Donald Trump can always go lower," said Jeffrey Goldberg, correspondent, The Atlantic.

Dan Frosch, Wall Street Journal reporter tweeted: 

Steven Greenhouse, political reporter for NYT tweeted:

"Trump mocks the physical appearance of a reporter who suffers from a congenital disease," said Suzy Khimm, senior editor, New Republic.

Kovaleski himself spoke out, saying: "The sad part about it is, it didn't in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record."

Personally, I have never had the opportunity to work for Kovaleski but I have read every single article of his and each is exceptional for its skilful writing and thorough reporting. I had never been aware of his disability because no one ever referred to it. He was not identified by his disability.

I am not sharing the comments from my Facebook to protect the privacy of those who have been vocal in their scathing criticism of Trump, just as I have been.

The bottom line is that everyone is standing for Kovaleski, his equals and lesser known journalists like me.

That part is handled but the bigger question remains: Is Trump, the brash bully billionaire the right person to receive the Republican nomination? Or to become the next president of the United States?

The party has not commented on Trump's latest, what is the right word for it? Ugliness? Does this mean they are complicit with his hate-filled politics?

This is a candidate who has always delighted in inflaming and exploiting people's fears. His campaign has consisted of him lashing out at the current administration with his consistent cry of "We are led by very stupid people."

And then it gathered momentum in the polls when he painted "Mexican immigrants as rapists."

Trump continued to keep people interested in his campaign with shocking statements. True or not, it has never mattered. He retweeted lies about how many white people were murdered by black people leading the Washington Post to do this piece

Voting for Trump, it seems to me, would be voting against all the groups he has gone after: women, minorities and now people with disabilities.

It's time for Americans to decide if this politics of hate, ugliness and bullying is what is appropriate for this country.

PS: Two rival Republican candidates have spoken out against Trump. Jeb Bush did not address the Kovaleski issue but talked of Trump's calls for a national database to track Muslims. He told CBS "Face the Nation" that Trump is "uninformed" but "Smart. He's playing you guys like a fiddle, the press, by saying outrageous things and garnering attention. That's his strategy, is to dominate the news."

Hours ago, governor John Kasich of Ohio released an ad entitled "Is he worthy? In which he asked if Trump was too heartless to run for president in view of his comments on Kovaleski. The ad ends with Trump convulsing on stage followed by pictures of former presidents like Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Eisenhower and Reagan. It then pointedly asks the voters if Trump in their league and is therefore worthy? 

Last updated: December 01, 2015 | 19:44
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