The public relations organizer of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign launch in 2015 has reportedly admitted that he paid actors to cheer the new candidate.
According to Business Insider, the throng of pretend fans hailed the would-be president as he descended a Trump Tower escalator to make his announcement. The smiling and waving crowd resembled a scene right out of Trump’s “Apprentice” TV reality show.
“The reality is we hired 50 people, some of whom were part-time actors I found out later on,” David Schwartz of public relations firm Gotham Government Relations & Communication told the financial news website.
But Schwartz, who said his firm was hired to organize the event, emphasized that the pretenders were a small portion of the people on scene for the event.
“That event was really our brainchild: The most famous escalator ride in the history of politics was that one,” Schwartz said. “Bottom line is, we had thousands of people there and then the press accused us of hiring thousands of actors. Based on the fee that I got, that would not have been a good business decision on anyone’s part.”
Schwartz’s company posted a video of the orchestrated event on YouTube (above) following Trump’s announcement six years ago. Creators of “The Apprentice” later mocked the promotional escalator ride, which was cribbed from the program.
Producer Bill Pruitt called the portrayal of Trump and his business in “The Apprentice” a scam.
“That was an entertainment,” Pruitt explained on “The Confidence Man,” a documentary about Trump in the Netflix “Dirty Money” series.
“Most of us knew he was a fake,” program editor Jonathan Braun told The New Yorker in 2019. “He had just gone through I don’t know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king.”
Schwartz’s revelation was part of Insider’s oral history of the rise of Trump, which can be read here.