A Time Magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It’s fake. – Washington Post

 In U.S.
(Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

This article has been updated.

The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least five of President Trump’s clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” the big headline said. Above the Time nameplate, there was another headline in all caps: “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”

This cover — dated March 1, 2009 — looks like an impressive memento from Trump’s pre-presidential career. To club members eating lunch, or golfers waiting for a pro-shop purchase, it seemed to be a signal that Trump had always been a man who mattered. Even when he was just a reality TV star, Trump was the kind of star who got a cover story in Time.

But that wasn’t true.

The Time cover is a fake.

There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time magazine. And there was no issue at all in 2009 that had Trump on the cover.

In fact, the cover on display at Trump’s clubs, observed recently by a reporter visiting one of the properties, contains several small but telling mistakes. Its red border is skinnier than that of a genuine Time cover, and, unlike the real thing, there is no thin white border next to the red. The Trump cover’s secondary headlines are stacked on the right side — on a real Time cover, they would go across the top.

And it has two exclamation points. Time headlines don’t yell.

“I can confirm that this is not a real TIME cover,” Kerri Chyka, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., wrote in an email to The Washington Post.


The real Time cover, left, and the fake Donald Trump cover. (Left: Time. Right: Angel Valentin for The Washington Post)

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Time said that the magazine had asked the Trump Organization to remove the phony cover from the walls where it was on display.

So how did Trump — who spent an entire campaign and much of his presidency accusing the mainstream media of producing “fake news” — wind up decorating his properties with a literal piece of phony journalism?

The Trump Organization did not respond to questions this week about who made the cover and why it was displayed at Trump clubs. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether Trump had known that the cover wasn’t real.

“We couldn’t comment on the decor at Trump Golf clubs one way or another,” Sanders wrote in an email.

The cover seems to fit a broader pattern for Trump, who has often boasted of his appearances on Time’s cover and adorned his Trump Tower office with images of himself from magazines and newspapers. Trump has made claims about himself — about his charitable giving, his business success, even the size of the crowd at his inauguration that are not supported by the facts.

In this case, Trump’s golf clubs might seem like places where he wouldn’t need to stretch the truth. Reality is flattering enough. The clubs are monuments to Trump’s success — they bear his name and are filled with his images. But, still, his staff added an extra trophy that was phony.

It is not clear who created this fake Time cover — or why.

Its date might be a clue: March 1, 2009, was the season debut of Trump’s show “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But a transcript of that show offers no answers. In that episode, various B-list celebrities competed to sell cupcakes, and Trump fired comedian Andrew Dice Clay for poor performance. Nobody mentioned Time magazine.

While it’s not difficult to mock up a fake cover using graphic-design software, whoever made this one sought out real Time headlines, to add to the fake.

There are secondary headlines on the Trump cover that tout stories on President Barack Obama, climate change and the financial crisis. Two of those are taken from a real March 2, 2009, issue of Time, which featured actress Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump.

Another possible clue to the fake cover’s origins: The fake bar code on the bottom right. An identical bar code shows up online in a graphic-design tutorial posted in 2010, in which a Peruvian designer laid out how to make a fake Time cover — complete with this bar code, for extra realism. The graphic designer did not immediately respond to questions from The Post.

The Post found that the fake cover had been hung in at least four of Trump’s 17 golf clubs.


The clubhouse at the Trump National Doral Golf Club outside Miami. (Angel Valentin for The Washington Post)

At Trump’s resort in Doral, Fla., outside Miami, the fake image hangs in two prominent spots.

In the pro shop, it shares a wall with 11 other framed magazine pages — all of them highlighting Trump, another member of the Trump family or a Trump golf course.

Among the covers with Trump’s face on them, the Time cover looks like one of the most impressive. The others are old — such as a 1984 cover of GQ — or from less-prominent titles, such as Fairways + Greens magazine and TV Guide Canada. Those two publications are out of print.

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