The Tale of Trump’s Restaurant Stiffing
The tale was told in bold type as black as the stain intended to be left on former President Donald Trump’s image.
“Surprise: Trump Reportedly Stiffed a Restaurant Full of His Supporters He’d Promised to Buy Lunch,” the Vanity Fair headline screamed in its reporting on Trump’s pit stop at Versailles, a popular Cuban restaurant in Miami, after his arraignment Tuesday on charges of mishandling classified information.
Vanity Fair writer Bess Levin spun the core of a report to say that Trump was a liar and cheap to boot. This incident, Levin said, brought those two threads together for all the world to see.
But maybe not.
Eventually, Newsweek tried to put the facts together and wrote in conclusion: “There is no evidence that the restaurant or anyone else at Versailles was short-changed by the former president, as some of the social media posts suggest.”
It all began with a report in the Miami New Times, flirting with the edge of the line where fact and fancy blur in reporting
Sniping at him as “glad-handing,” the report said Trump called out, “Food for everyone!”
“It turns out no one got anything. Not even a cafecito to-go,” the report said.
“A knowledgeable source assures New Times that Donald Trump’s stop at Versailles totaled about ten minutes, leaving no time for anyone to eat anything, much less place an order,” the report said.
But social media, fed with a large dose of innuendo, wanted its facts with a tinge of bitterness for Trump.
“Donald Trump STIFFED Miami restaurant where he did a publicity stunt after arrest and arraignment. He announced he was paying for everyone’s food — then he left without paying for ANYTHING. Standard Trump. Fake generosity. Fake wealth. Fake everything. It’s all a con,” one Twitter poster wrote.
Then Newsweek entered the fray, citing video that showed as Trump spoke, “the eatery was packed with security, press, and supporters and did not seem to have (or be serving) any customers.”
“Later in the footage, the cameraman moves through the restaurant’s kitchen, which didn’t show any food preparation or cooking. It was only shortly after this that Trump left, stopping by for about 10 minutes,” the report said.
Miami New Times writer Laine Doss, when called to account by Newsweek, said the exaggerated claims on other media sites did not reflect what she wrote.
“I never wrote that he didn’t pay. I wrote that there was no food. That’s all I wrote,” Doss said. “No food was ordered, he left within 10 minutes and never got a chance to order, and nobody ate because there was no ordering. So there was no ordering, and so no paying, and no bill, and he was only there for 10 minutes.”
All that led Newsweek to conclude: “It appears that no order was made and the restaurant may not have been in a position to honor requests at the time, given the number of people in the venue.”
Business Insider, which carried the original tale, eventually added a note saying that a Trump representative said Trump had “offered to buy food” but his supporters “followed him outside” as he left “and did not place orders themselves.”
The representative said the campaign’s advance team paid for any meals that were ordered.
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