Editors defend reporter’s claim Trump sexually assaulted her
WASHINGTON: In early 2006, Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People magazine, co-wrote an account of Donald Trump’s marriage to his third wife, Melania. “There’s my baby!” the story quotes Trump as saying while he rushes toward his then-pregnant wife. “Then he corrects himself. ‘I mean ... there are my babies!’”
The story doesn’t mention what Stoynoff alleged on Wednesday night in a first-person account posted by the magazine: that in the course of interviewing Trump for the story at his Florida estate, he pinned her against a wall and forced himself on her. “We walked into a room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us,” she wrote. “I turned around and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
The decade-long lag in reporting the alleged incident gave Trump an opening on Thursday to impeach Stoynoff ’s story. “Why didn’t the writer of the 12-year-old (sic) arti- cle in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story,” he tweeted. “Because it did not happen.”
Stoynoff and People say it did, and the long delay in reporting it reflected the conflicting emotions that assault victims often experience.
“It was disorienting for her,” said JD Heyman, People’s deputy editor, on Thursday. “She felt a great deal of worry and distress about it. Then she felt angry.”
The anger, he said, was triggered by Trump’s denial during the presidential debate on Sunday that he had ever assaulted a woman. At least four women, including Stoynoff, have come forward since then with stories about Trump groping or kissing them against their will.
Stoynoff, who wasn’t available for comment, didn’t confide in her editors at the time, Heyman said. “No one in any position to publish the article had any idea about it.”
Instead, Stoynoff went ahead and contributed to a story portraying Trump and his wife as a happy expectant couple on their first wedding anniversary. Heyman said of Stoynoff ’s decision not to inform her editors: “I think she felt conflicted at the time. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to make a fuss, and she was frightened... She was a reporter trying to do her job.”
Heyman said Stoynoff told editors about her experience with Trump only after the Access Hollywood recording of Trump emerged last week. They encouraged her to write about what happened, he said, but left the decision up to her.
After Sunday’s debate, she was ready, he said.
Trump pushed back against the allegations, calling them politically motived “smears” at a rally in Florida. He specifically denied the People story and instructed his supporters to “look at her” – meaning Stoynoff – and decide whether they found her account credible.
Heyman denied Trump’s suggestion there was co-ordination among the New York Times, People and the Palm Beach Post, all of which published stories on Wednesday alleging abuse by Trump.
“We were totally unaware of the New York Times story,” Heyman said.
In a statement, People’s editor in chief, Jess Cagle, wrote: “We are grateful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story. To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimise her again.” – Washington Post
People gather for a protest by the National Organisation of Women against statements about women made by Donald Trump.