Donald Trump Blasts Chicago Tribune's 'Third-Rate Architectural Critic' Attacking His New Skyscraper

UPDATE [06/16]: Monday's Today offered a correction on Trump's claim that Blair Kamin had been "fired" from the Chicago Tribune. At the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, news anchor Natalie Morales explained: "Well, in fact, that critic, Pulitzer Prize winner Blair Kamin, has been with the Chicago Tribune for more than twenty years and also spent the 2013 academic year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard." See a transcript of the June 16 news brief below.

On Friday, NBC's Today and CBS This Morning touted Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin hurling insults at Donald Trump's newest skyscraper in the Windy City, condemning the "brashness" and "egotistical overstatement" of the billionaire's decision to place his name on the building, even calling it a "wart" on the city skyline and comparing it to "Godzilla." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]  

Reacting to the melodramatic declarations during a live phone interview on Today, Trump slammed Kamin: "This was started by a third-rate architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune, who I thought got fired. He was gone for a long period of time. Most people thought he got fired. All of a sudden he re-emerges, and to get a little publicity, he started this campaign."

During a taped report on This Morning, Trump dismissed him: "If it weren't me, they'd be saying, 'Isn't that wonderful?' But because it's me, they, you know, get some publicity, free publicity. Like this critic, nobody ever heard of him."

Both morning shows played up a "feud" between Trump and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who like Kamin, attacked the Trump signage for being "architecturally tasteless."

At the top of Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "Tasteful or tacky? The bitter feud between Donald Trump and the mayor of Chicago over this giant sign." During the later report, the headline on screen hyped: "Trump vs. The Mayor of Chicago; Clash Over Trump's Giant New Sign."

On This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose announced: "The Chicago Tribune says Donald Trump is branding the city's famous skyline, but many people, including the mayor, don't care for the makeover....the sign that critics are calling an eyesore." Like NBC, the headline on screen read: "Mayor vs. Mogul; Rahm & The Donald Clash Over Towering Chicago Sign."

In a full report on Today, just prior to Lauer's interview with Trump, correspondent John Yang teed up Kamin's criticism: "...the Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer Prize winning architectural critic, is leading the charge against the sign." A sound bite followed of Kamin contemptuously remarking: "It's the lack of subtlety, the brashness, the egotistical overstatement, all the things that we expected of Trump are coming to roost."

Correspondent Dean Reynolds similarly invited Kamin to comment on the topic: "You've called this sign a wart." Kamin replied: "Yes, a wart is putting it politely, I think." Moments later, Reynolds again set up the critic: "Kamin and other critics say inserting Las Vegas-style signage in the middle of stately old skyscrapers is jarring to the eye and vexing to the sensibilities." Kamin ranted: "It's a showcase of greatest hits in architecture and Trump did a pretty good job with his building fitting in, but now the other shoe has dropped. Godzilla is here and the Trump sign is on the building."


UPDATE [06/16]: Here is a transcript of a June 16 news brief on Today correcting Trump's claim that Kamin had been "fired" from the Tribune:

8:04 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: We do have a clarification on something you may have heard here on Friday after a repot on the controversial Trump sign on Donald Trump's new Chicago building.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Sign Dispute; Critic Slammed By Trump Was Not "Fired"]

During a live interview Trump said of the controversy, quote, "this was started by a third-rate architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune who I thought got fired. He was gone for a long period of time."

Well, in fact, that critic, Pulitzer Prize winner Blair Kamin, has been with the Chicago Tribune for more than twenty years and also spent the 2013 academic year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

Here is a full transcript of Lauer's June 13 interview with Trump on Today:

7:34 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Batten down the hatches, Donald Trump is with us now by phone. Donald, good morning.

DONALD TRUMP: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Donald Trump Speaks Out; Takes On Chicago Mayor Over New Sign]

LAUER: So, we conducted a little survey here, Donald. I'll give you the results of that in just a second. Have you and Mayor Emanuel spoken directly about this issue?

TRUMP: No, we haven't, but this is fully approved. Everybody knew about it. His administration knew about it. The previous administration approved it. And this has been approved for a long period of time.

LAUER: You know, there are other buildings you have around the country that you've got your name on. I was in Las Vegas recently, you've got a building just adjacent to the Strip there, big Trump name up top of that. Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, you've got your name down low by Fifth Avenue, but not up high. What are the rules? I mean, how do you decide when you do this and when you don't?

TRUMP: Well, I look at the building, it's very important architecturally to me. This has turned out to be a great piece of architecture. A great thing for Chicago. I do great buildings. And if I like the building, if I like what's going on, if it's the right and appropriate thing, and if it enhances the building, I will do that.

The brand is very hot with – probably the hottest brand there is, we're building all over the world, and cities love the brand. And frankly, I will tell you that we're getting tweets and letters and phone calls, everybody loves it. We have people that just love it. I don't know what poll you took, but we are getting calls by the literally hundreds and thousands, including tweets on Twitter, that people just love it, Matt.

LAUER: Alright, well, here's the results right here, Donald. Fine by me, 56% of people on our survey say it's fine. In poor taste, 44%. So you're winning our little battle here.

TRUMP: Well, that's really great. I mean, this is done by – this was started by a third-rate architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune, who I thought got fired. He was gone for a long period of time. Most people thought he got fired. All of a sudden he re-emerges, and to get a little publicity, he started this campaign. The fact is – and I really was – I'm impressed by your poll, because the fact is that people love it. And it's a very high-level sign. It's done in the highest level of taste. Done by one of the great sign designers. So, you know, so far, so good.

LAUER: Would you want to live next – never mind. That's not a good question. Never mind, I don't know where I was going with that.

[LAUGHTER]

TRUMP: I think I might have liked that question.

LAUER: Donald, thanks for joining us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Matt.

LAUER: Alright, nice talking to you.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's get a check of the weather.

NATALIE MORALES: I think it looks good. I think it's fine.

GUTHRIE: Alright, well. Donald Trump, by the way, master of the superlative.

LAUER: Exactly.

GUTHRIE: "It's the greatest, it's the best."

MORALES: "My brand, stronger than any brand."

LAUER: And he waited until the end to tee off on that architect.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC