David Cay Johnston will talk about his newest book Jan. 28 at FLCC
On Election Day 2016, when Donald Trump won the Electoral College — but not the popular vote — Brighton author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston began thinking about writing his latest book.
It wasn't long after he had written “The Making of Donald Trump,” but Johnston doubted his fellow journalists would do a good enough job letting the American people know what the man he met in the 1980s could do to the country and protections against individuals.
While he acknowledges news coverage has been better than he expected, his new book, “It's Even Worse Then You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America,” delves into those issues with chapter titles — many sarcastic — like “Kleptocracy Rising,” “Forgetting the Forgotten Man,” “Washington Apprentice” (a reference to Trump's reality show “Celebrity Apprentice”) and “Polluters' Paradise.”
Johnston, a former New York Times reporter, will talk about his books and extensive history covering Trump when he comes to Finger Lakes Community College Jan. 28 as the third and final speaker in the 2017-18 George M. Ewing Canandaigua Forum series.
Johnston said he immediately realized when Trump announced his campaign on June 16, 2015 — while descending an escalator in Trump Tower in New York City and declaring to "make America great again" — that the real estate mogul and reality TV star could actually win, beating out a slate of what he considered weak Republican candidates, at times referred to as “the clown car.”
Johnston said he tried to get fellow journalists to investigate Trump, but they were more intrigued with his unorthodox candidacy and did not do what is called “scrubbing candidates” — taking a thorough look at their backgrounds and records.
“Trump said he was going to drain the swamp,” Johnston said during a telephone interview between TV and radio appearances in Manhattan. “Instead, he has stocked it with swamp monsters. This book, which I started seriously working on in January and finished in September, documents how he forgot the promises he made to the 'forgotten man.' It took him 24 hours to forget the forgotten man.”
Johnston said Trump ran against Goldman Sachs, a multinational finance company, but then appointed six people with ties to Goldman Sachs to key positions in his administration. He said the first tax-cut proposal put forth last year read like a shopping list for Goldman Sachs clients, the follow-up read like an extended list and the one that passed throws crumbs at ordinary people while cutting taxes nearly in half on more than 500 businesses while making the rich richer.
Johnston said it's not possible for Trump's claim to be true that he and his family would pay more taxes under the massive reform bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“Donald Trump has been a grifter and a con artist his whole life,” Johnston said. “This is not a man who reads policy papers and understands nuances in the global three-dimensional chess game of diplomacy. He's a bully, con artist and a grifter.”
Among the worst things he believes Trump and his administration are doing to hurt America is actively looking for ways to ease restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons, something he said Trump promised he would do — “the kind that take out a block, not the whole city,” Johnston said.
He called Trump “the best friend China ever had,” noting the East Asian country is promoting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trading zone comprised of 15 Pacific Rim countries and India, but not the United States.
“Chinese diplomats are winning,” he said. “China sees itself as the country of the future and their diplomats are going around saying, 'America is in decline. Look who is in the White House.' Hardly any Americans know this is going on.”
Another issue Johnston believes is important is the rollback of a rule put in place under President Barack Obama to require sleep apnea tests of train conductors, bus drivers and truck drivers.
“They killed that rule on the grounds it's too costly,” he said. “We've had horrific accidents with people dying. That means every time you're going down the highway, you and your family are at risk of being killed.”
Johnston, who has been making numerous public appearances talking about his book, has also spent a lot of time lecturing around the world, speaking with people from all walks of life on every continent but Antarctica.
He said every where he goes, he is asked the same question: “What happened to America? How did this crazy person get to be president? My answer is we made a mistake and eventually it will be corrected one way or another.”
Copies of Johnston's new book, just released Tuesday, will be available for purchase the day of the FLCC event, beginning at 3 p.m. when he will be on hand to sign them and chat with forum attendees.
The 4 p.m. event will be moderated in the style of a TV talk show by Evan Dawson, author and host of the WXXI radio show “Connections.” Audience members will have a chance to ask questions.
If you go
WHAT: George M. Ewing Canandaigua Forum, featuring author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston speaking about his new book “Trump: Day 365. What Just Happened?!?”
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m., with book-signing at 3 p.m. (Johnston's latest book, released Tuesday, will be available for purchase.)
WHERE: Finger Lakes Community College main campus, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Hopewell
DETAILS: Tickets are $25 each or free at the door with a current student ID. They may be ordered by phone at 585-430-8382 or online at gmeforum.org.