The Art of The Truth: Trump’s biographer Tony Schwartz sets the record straight on the GOP nominee he calls “a black hole.”

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By Peter Lance July 21st, 2016. I’ve known Tony Schwartz  for more than 30 years. A former editor/reporter for The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Magazine and Esquire, he’s authored a number of distinguished business books and written or co-authored authoritative pieces for The Harvard Business Review.

He’s also been haunted for decades over what became his most successful work: “The Art of The Deal, his astonishingly popular 1987 biography of Donald Trump that sold more than a million copies and spent 48 weeks on The NYT best-seller list. It’s the book that created the persona of platinum deal maker and business seer that the GOP nominee has used to put himself within striking distance of The White House. 

Ever since June 16th, 2015 when Trump rode down the escalator at his eponymous Tower to announce his candidacy delivering the infamous “Mexico sends… people… bringing drugs… bringing crime. They’re rapists” speech I wondered when Tony would come forth and out him.

Back in the early 90′s when Tony and I worked on several projects together he talked about how writing “Deal,” had been the biggest regret of his career. He was so troubled by it that he devoted multiple years to researching and writing a book that focused on the power of the human brain entitled “What Really Matters: Searching For Wisdom in America.”

But during that time, through the 90′s and into the new millennium, Trump remained little more than a blowhard who lived to see his name on skyscrapers. A threat to few, except maybe those who did business with him.

Sure, in the early days of the 2016 campaign with 16 other candidates in the race, the odds of The Donald emerging from the pack seemed slim to none. But with each primary victory, as he knocked out his adversaries one by one, Tony had to feel increasingly troubled staying silent about the real truth of this man.

I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but last weekend, I actually said to myself, “If Tony is every going to blow the whistle, the time is now.” And sure enough, he came clean to Jane Mayer in an extraordinary piece published Monday in The New Yorker, titled, “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter tells all.”

In the piece Tony, who knows Trump better than anyone outside of his family, offers a chilling inside look at the man he calls “a sociopath.”

Worse, he admits that the book Trump has touted throughout his campaign as his “Bible,” was largely a work of “fiction,”

In fact he tells Mayer that he, himself, was deceived when it came to Trump’s skill as a businessman.

While he was writing the book says Tony, “the greatest percentage of Trump’s assists was in casinos and he made it sound like each casino was more successful than the last.” But Schwartz only came to realize later that “every one of them was failing.”

Speaking of how Trump abandoned Roy Cohn, the vicious Joseph McCarthy advisor, who was one of his early mentors, Tony says, “Donald pisses ice water. He’d like people when they were helpful, and turn on them when they weren’t. It wasn’t personal. He’s a transactional man — it was all about what you could do for him.”

CREATING A MONSTER

Underscoring Tony’s massive regret for writing the book, Mayer quotes Ed Kosner, Schwartz’s former editor at New York Magazine, who says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”

The New Yorker piece was a powerful platform for Tony to set the record straight. But few, go eyeball to eyeball with Donald Trump without risking blowback and sure enough it came quickly.

After word of the Mayer interview hit on Monday Tony got a “cease and desist” letter from Trump’s attorneys demanding that he disgorge all royalties earned from the book. It went so far as to baselessly insist that he didn’t write it.

So Tony responded last night during an appearance on MSNBC.

In an interview with Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson the Pulitzer Prize-winning former assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, with whom Tony studied journalism at The University of Michigan, Schwartz delivered the single most blistering attack on Donald Trump of the 2016 campaign.

When asked if he had “an animus,” toward the candidate, Tony said, “He’s tough to have a personal animus toward because ‘There’s no there, there.’ There’s no heart. There’s no soul. There’s just a man trying to transactionally do what he thinks will aggrandize him… My big quarrel with him is about his character and I couldn’t care less about his character if he wasn’t running for President.”

He went on to say, “I’ve always see him as a black hole. As someone who cannot fill himself with a sense of value from anything that comes internally.

“He constantly, throughout his life, way before I met him… has tried to fill up that hole that apparently exists inside him by getting more and more money, more and more praise and more and more attention. As he said today ‘All publicity is good publicity.’ That is simply crazy.”

Tony finished with what should have been a stark warning to the members of Trump’s base:

“The scariest thing to me about Donald Trump is that his supporters, the really rabid ones… don’t understand that he doesn’t care about them. He has no interest in them except so far as they vote for him. He will no more take care of them then the people who went through Trump University… They’re looking for somebody to come along and be their savior. Donald Trump has no intention of being anyone’s savior but his own.”

I was driving last night on the West Coast when I heard that interview. It was so compelling that I pulled over so I could focus on every word. When it was over I understood for the first time why Tony had kept his powder dry until now. Like the man he profiled in the book he has a great sense of timing.

But he didn’t have to come forward.

He could have stayed silent. He could have pocketed the royalties from “Deal,” which have exponentially increased during the campaign. Instead, he’s announced that he’s giving his 2016 profits to a series of charities.

Skilled writer that he is, Tony could have drafted an op ed piece or run an ad in the NYT as a Bay Area tech CEO did on Monday. But as he demonstrated last night on MSNBC Tony Schwartz has a powerful and articulate voice when it comes to expressing the truth and I hope we’ll hear more from him as the campaign enters the final 100 days.

Knowing Tony to be the dogged reporter he was during the first years of his career, I doubt that he’ll stay on the sidelines now. He isn’t the kind of man to be intimidated by a lawsuit and the fact that Trump felt compelled to threaten him should only steel his resolve.

He may have created a Frankenstein, but he’s too much of a man of conscience to see that monster move into The Oval Office with access to the nuclear launch codes.

Some profiles in courage come late in life. Bravo Tony, for yours.

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