There will be no signing session afterwards. Room microphones will not be set up for questions from the audience. And when the author enters, a security guard walks in front of her and one behind her. A public interview with journalist Maggie Haberman on Friday at the Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington is very different from the usual book promotions. That is not her, but her subject: former President Donald Trump. His supporters have little liking for journalists who pay serious attention to their idol. Her book Confidence Man , which appeared last week, was immediately positively compared to other so-called ‘tell all’ books about Trump’s presidency in the first reviews. Haberman, 48, was not so much looking for new revelations from the White House – for which she praises the other journalists: “When I read their books, I kicked myself and thought: why don’t I have that?” She wasn’t looking for ‘takes’ (news items), she says, she was looking for an answer to the question ‘why?’ Why does Trump do what he does? Where does his behavior come from? There is the desire to interpret Trump psychologically, but that is not my job Maggie Haberman Journalist The key lies in New York in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Haberman, who grew up in the same neighborhood, Queens, as where the Trumps come from. At the time, the city was ruled by corruption and inefficiency, which had everything to do with the business environment in which Trump (76) emerged, she says. “The patterns of that time of not paying, getting out of your contracts, pitting people against each other and seeking the attention of the media, has solidified, as it were, in Trump for decades. He brought it to Washington when he became president and has largely contaminated politics with it.” Boulevard Leaf As a journalist for the New York Post , Haberman wrote about the businessman Trump long before he became president. She tells how he also toyed with the idea of running in 2011, “and more seriously than most people thought at the time.” She wrote seriously about it and when he did not participate, she felt used to strengthen his profile. She looks back with some regret at her time reporting on Trump’s claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and thus should not have become president—a lie Trump popularized in far-right circles. “We did our job,” Haberman says. “We said it wasn’t right, but in the meantime we helped spread his lie.” Trump’s dealings with the media and of the media with Trump is a subject that the interviewer in the packed bookstore, CNN journalist Kaitlan Collins, elaborates on. “I have never met anyone who receives media attention like Trump. Stories that would disgust other people pleased him.” She tells of a headline on the front page of the New York Post in 1990: “Best Sex Ever.” That is what the lover of the married Trump would have told the newspaper. In the first place, it wasn’t from her, but from a friend, and even she hadn’t said it that way. The mistress found the headline very unpleasant. “But Trump loved it, kind of a testament to his virility,” Haberman said. Copies of the book “Confidence Man” about Donald Trump, by The New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, are in a bookstore in Manhattan. Photo Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFPO Moderately successful entrepreneur In those years, journalists walked out on Trump. The media contributed “story after story” to the edifice he erected for himself. For example, he appeared to run a successful business empire, when in reality he was a moderately successful entrepreneur, who once said in court that he made “mental projections” of the value of his golf courses and casinos. “Most journalists assumed what he said was true, they didn’t know how to prove otherwise and he always had a good quote for them.” The working method of newspapers encourages optical illusion, Haberman says. “We use that good quote and leave out the contradictions that he also says. Trump lives from one brief span of time to another, and the media news cycle is just as patchy.” During Trump’s 2015 and 2016 presidential campaign, media broadcasting his election rallies was often criticized. “But you could maintain that your voters are doing a greater service by broadcasting everything without editing, then they can make their own judgment.” She cites a term from Trump’s ‘autobiography’ The Art of the Deal : ‘the true exaggeration’. That immediately raises the question of how the three interviews Haberman had with Trump for this book went. How difficult is it to interrupt the verbiage for a question and have it answered? Haberman compliments Collins who, she says, once showed how to ask Trump the perfect question. He had claimed in one context or another that he had “absolute power” as president. “That is not true. Who told you that?” was the question from Collins – with the second part especially drawing his full attention. Man without context Before the conversation, the audience was allowed to write questions on cards. Collins reads: how difficult is it for a journalist not to psychologize when you report on such a man? Haberman just explained why Twitter was such a perfect medium for Trump. “On Twitter everything is flattened and equalized and Trump is a man without context.” She makes a distinction between analyzing someone and laying them on the sofa. The difference between Trump and presidents like Clinton and Obama, who have also been subjected to analysis all the time, is that Trump’s behavior “is simply outside the normal framework of people who live in Washington and have dealt with presidents.” A former White House aide told others he could never have imagined that someone like Trump would exist “and I quote: outside of prison or an insane asylum.” Yes, Haberman says, “there is a desire to interpret Trump psychologically, but that’s not my job.” Finally comes the question everyone is asking: Will Trump run for president again in 2024? In their third interview, in September 2021, Trump kept talking about 2020 and how Biden stole that election from him. Haberman interrupted him and said: I have a few questions about 2024. “He said, ‘2024?’ As if he meant, why on earth would we want to talk about that?” But that has changed in the meantime, she thinks now. “In 2016, he didn’t want to be president at all, just to know if he could win. And he had fun in the campaign. Now he doesn’t feel like campaigning at all, but he does want to be president again.”