This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 23, 2016.
Donald Trump knows that a mere insult sometimes isn’t enough for a journalist he doesn’t like. So when CBS’ Connie Chung savaged Trump in an April 1990 interview on her show, Face to Face With Connie Chung, Donald concocted his Trumpiest revenge plot.
“You might just consider our next story to be a unique artifact of the ’80s, The Donald before the fall,” Chung said in the introduction. “It’s a conversation with Donald Trump literally just hours, we believe, before he told his wife, Ivana, that their marriage was over…What did Donald Trump know as he bravely strutted through our interview?”
Whatever he knew, Chung was clearly prepared to deflate the tycoon at what seemed like the height of his power. She spent much of the interview mocking Trump’s pretension about his buildings (“They aren’t that great. Come on.”), his claims that he didn’t like publicity, his constant talk of having renovated a skating rink in Central Park, and other Trump foibles.
CBS re-aired the interview that August, and Trump ripped Chung during an interview on the Joan Rivers Show a month after the rebroadcast. “This woman has less talent than anybody I know of,” he said. He called her a “disaster” and said she interviewed “like a little child.” Then he described his big revenge move.
“She sent me roses afterward, and I won’t tell you what I did with the roses,” Trump coyly told Rivers. When she prompted him for the big reveal, he caved. “I cut ’em up and sent ’em back,” Trump said. “I sent her back the stems. Actually, I did.”
Actually, Chung said, he didn’t. The Toronto Star reported that Chung was still “waiting for the stems” when it contacted her for comment.