Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his election-year coverage of the Trump Foundation and the president’s efforts to hand off control of his empire to his children while he serves.

His recent stories have included “7 questions about Trump’s use of undocumented workers at his golf courses,” “Trump to stay at Doonbeg, his money-losing course threatened by climate change,” “A wealthy Iraqi sheik who urges a hard-line U.S. approach to Iran spent 26 nights at Trump’s D.C. hotel,” and “When Trump visits his clubs, government agencies and Republicans pay to be where he is.”

So it was little surprise that it was Fahrenthold’s byline on a story Tuesday headlined, “Strip club to host golf tournament at Trump resort in South Florida.” And it was even less surprising that Fahrenthold stuck to the Trump-bashing angle and seemed not to notice a more troubling aspect of the story.

He wrote that Trump’s golf resort in Doral, Fla., will play host to a tournament Saturday “put on by a Miami-area strip club, which will allow golfers to pay for a dancer to serve as their ‘caddy girl’ while they play at the president’s club.”

He noted in the third paragraph that the Trump “name and family crest are displayed prominently in the strip club’s advertising materials, which offer golfers the ‘caddy girl of your choice.’”

The marketing director for the strip club is quoted as saying the women will be clothed in pink miniskirts and a “’sexy white polo’” on the course and that the girls were being trained on how to advise players on golf shots. They will drive carts, Fahrenthold wrote, rather than carry bags as caddies on the pro tours do.

He devoted a significant portion of the story trying to make the point that the Trump organization has stooped to holding such events because of financial reasons.

“Doral is better known for a different kind of golf tournament, a long-running PGA Tour event that was last played there in 2016,” Fahrenthold wrote. “It is one of the jewels of Trump’s hotel empire – a legendary 57-year-old golf resort that Trump bought for $150 million in 2012.

“After Trump entered politics, however, the club lost the famous tournament, and its revenue began to decline, according to documents that Trump’s company provided to Miami-Dade County in a tax dispute.”

He quoted a “tax consultant for Trump’s company” as saying the club is “severely underperforming” and that “there is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

What Fahrenthold seems to miss – although he captured elements of it – is the concept itself. Entry fees are $450 for a single player, $1,800 for a foursome and $1,000 more for VIP upgrades and play-and-stay at the resort.

The charity that purports to benefit from the event is known as the Miami All-Stars, which he describes as a “basketball-themed charity.” Its materials include logos for the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA.

But the charity serves only 40 kids and is not registered with the state of Florida. The operator of the charity says he is not even all that comfortable with being associated with a strip club. “’It doesn’t jive with what we do, you know,’” Fahrenthold quotes the operator as saying before pointing out he “dislikes Trump because of the conditions in which his administration is detaining migrant children. ‘He’s contrary to everything we believe.’”

Not too contrary to take the money. “None of my kids are going to participating in your event,” he is quoted as saying. “But if we can get some help, you know, for our programs starting now … it would be OK.”

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