Since the release of Mary Trump’s tell-all “memoir,” a whole slew of allegations has been repeated unquestionably by the media and on social media. One such allegation is that Trump paid a proxy to take the SAT exam for him, helping him earn admission into the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.
The media has reported widely on the allegation.
Mary Trump identified the proxy as Joe Shapiro in her book. “To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker to take his SATs for him,” she explained in her book. “That was much easier to pull on in the days before photo IDs and computerized records. Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.”
The problem is the widow of Joe Shapiro, Pam Shriver, says it’s impossible.
“My late husband Joe Shapiro passed away 21 years ago. He was a man of great integrity, honesty; he was a hard worker. He was literally the smartest person I ever met. He went to University of Pennsyvlania, member of the class of 1968. It was while he was at University of Pennsylvania where he met Donald Trump. They became friends; they loved the sport of golf. They shared the same hometown of New York City; they shared the same campus. They stayed in a little bit of touch through the years,” she explained. “But obviously Joe’s not here to defend himself and say what happened, but I just want to recollect what he told me about where he met Mr. Trump. And I want to thank all of Joe’s close friends and his sister Beth for our talks in the past 24 hours about what an upstanding, outstanding man Joe Shapiro was.”
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) July 8, 2020
Mary Trump tried to defend her bogus claim during her interview with George Stephanopoulos by claiming it was some other Joe Shapiro.
“You do have one potentially explosive allegation in the book. At least one. And you write that– when the president was trying to transfer from Fordham to Penn, he had someone else, a man named Joe Shapiro, take his SATs?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Yes,” Mary Trump replied.
“This was 1964. How do you know that?”
“I’ve been told this by people in my family,” she explained. “I am absolutely confident that it’s true. I’m happy to finally be able to speak about it. I also know that it was not the Joe Shapiro people have been focusing on, who just happened to be at UPenn when Donald was and who happened to be born in New York along, I’m guessing, with many, many, many other Joe Shapiros at around that time. But I stand by it, absolutely.”
But, according to Raw Story, the Joe Shapiro who allegedly took Trump’s SATs for him, was, in fact, the Joe Shapiro who died 21 years ago, and whom Trump didn’t meet until after he started at UPenn. Other outlets have similarly profiled the late Joe Shapiro as the subject of Mary Trump’s allegation. It’s been over two weeks since Joe Shapiro’s widow debunked Mary Trump’s most explosive claim, yet no other Joe Shapiro has come forward nor has another otherwise been identified.
Mary Trump nevertheless insists her claim is true, even though she can’t prove it. Mary herself doesn’t even know if the “real” Joe Shapiro is even alive.
Despite the obvious falsity of this allegation, many still repeat it as if it were true. For the media, when it comes to Trump, or frankly, any Republican, it’s the seriousness of the charge that matters above anything else, not the veracity, that merits wall-to-wall coverage.
If journalism today had standards, this allegation would have never gotten the attention it did because it fell apart so quickly. If publishing had any standards, Mary’s book would have never seen the light of day.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis