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Aug. 30, 2016, 11:02 a.m.
Reporting & Production

The Donald, documented: The Washington Post open-sources much of its Trump reporting

“It is meant as a resource for other journalists and a trove to explore for our many readers fascinated by original documents.”

The Washington Post recently published a new biography of Donald Trump, for which the Republican nominee sat for more than 20 hours of interviews. (Still, Trump didn’t care for it much.)

Now, in a welcome show of journalistic openness, the Post has published the raw materials that made up its reporting, including transcripts of those 20 hours with the Donald, for others to read — including other journalists.

The Post is making public today a sizable portion of the raw reporting used in the development of “Trump Revealed,” a biography of the Republican presidential nominee published August 23 by Scribner. Drawn from the work of more than two dozen Post journalists, the archive contains 397 documents, comprising thousands of pages of interview transcripts, court filings, financial reports, immigration records and other material. Interviews conducted off the record were removed, as was other material The Post did not have the right to publish. The archive is searchable and navigable in a number of ways. It is meant as a resource for other journalists and a trove to explore for our many readers fascinated by original documents.

Interested in Trump’s ill-fated ownership of a USFL team? Here’s an interview with New Jersey Generals broadcaster (and 1990s ESPN icon) Charley Steiner. (“He knew no more or no less [about football] than the average fan. And that is the long and the short of it.”)

Curious what it was like to cover Trump in the 1980s? Here’s an interview with former New York magazine (and Esquire and Newsweek) editor Ed Kosner. (“We had an architectural critic named Carter Wiseman, W-I-S-E-M-A-N, who’s very, very good and he wrote something negative maybe about Trump Tower or something else, and Trump wrote a letter about how he was a loser in a corduroy suit and that kind of stuff.”)

Wanna know what a joint Bob Woodward/Robert Costa interview with Trump would be like? Here you go. (“So [a famous athlete] calls me up about a month ago, right after I beat Rubio. And I beat him by 20 points. That was a big beating. Don’t forget, he was the face of the Republican party. He was the future of the Republican party. So [he] called me up. And he said, “Hey Donald, could you do us all a favor? We love you. Don’t kill everybody. Because you may need them on the way back.”)

Perhaps the richest mine of information is the trove of financial documents, court transcripts, and real estate records the Post assembled from across Trump’s career. Unfortunately, there’s no cross-document search, but all of the PDFs I looked at were individually searchable.

Journalistic transparency is almost always a good thing — especially in the context of an extraordinarily contested race in which the media has been a frequent piñata, for reasons good and bad. (The Post has, at various times in this campaign, been both banned from covering Trump campaign events as press and given almost unthinkable candidate access for a book.) Like a data journalism project that releases its code on GitHub, or a documents-based investigation that puts its work on DocumentCloud, this effort by the Post is a move in the right direction.

Within hours of posting, reporters were already finding new (or at least new-to-them) details:

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Aug. 30, 2016, 11:02 a.m.
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