We've documented how Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has been one of the chief promoters of Donald Trump's presidential aspirations. Kessler's flattering treatment of Trump and his family appears to be part of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two -- Kessler has detailed a weekend spent at Trump's Palm Beach estate. But Kessler has had a problem nailing down exactly what step Trump will take next and where he got it.
A Newsmax column by Kessler, with the timestamp of 9:51 a.m. on April 13, asserted that Trump "plans to say" on the May 15 season finale of his show The Celebrity Apprentice that "he will be holding a press conference in the next few days. At that press conference in the Trump Tower in New York, Trump will be announcing his candidacy for the presidency."
That column disappeared a few hours later. Then, a column with a 7:45 p.m. timestamp appeared, slightly altering Kessler's claim to read that "Trump will be announcing whether he will run for the presidency." This version changed the date of the Celebrity Apprentice finale to May 22 and altered the headline to pronounce the claim an "exclusive":
Even though that column remained live as of this writing, a new Kessler column appeared, with the timestamp of 9:24 a.m. on April 14. This version deleted "Exclusive" from the headline and more extensively edited Kessler's claim about the Trump Tower press conference: "Although Trump refuses to confirm what he will announce, sources close to the real estate titan tell me that at that press conference Trump will be announcing his candidacy for the presidency."
The sourcing is new; Kessler had previously asserted it without stating where it came from.
Kessler's claim that Trump would announce something on The Celebrity Apprentice finale remained constant throughout all three versions, but statements from Trump and his camp -- as opposed to the anonymous sources Kessler is citing -- have been less than definitive. Mediaite reported that Trump said on a radio show that he's not actually allowed to announce such a thing on The Celebrity Apprentice, and he doesn't know from where rumors to the contrary came. Meanwhile, Trump aide Michael Cohen told Bloomberg that Trump "may" announce something.
To recap: It took Kessler three tries to nail down his claim, and there are still questions about what Trump will do. It looks like there's no love lost; Trump is still tight enough with Newsmax to invoke its meaningless opt-in poll promoting his presidential prospects in an interview with Time magazine (which Newsmax is promoting in turn under the headline "Trump: Newsmax Poll Proves I'm Legit for 2012").
(Cross-posted at Media Matters.)