Rowanne Brewer Lane, the former model prominently quoted in the New York Times’ story, “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private,” says the paper got her account wrong. Not factually so much as tonally: She didn’t find Donald’s behavior to be demeaning.
Despite its suggestive headline, the Times report wasn’t exactly groundbreaking. Many of the serious allegations, culled from interviews with more than 50 women, have been reported before. Others, while rude—Trump telling an overweight female employee, “You like your candy,”—don’t justify the story running on the front page of the New York Times.
So what’s the point? That Donald Trump is a man who treats women as second-class citizens is already clear—what’s unclear is who cares. Not Trump supporters, RNC chair Reince Preibus resignedly admitted today.
And not, apparently, at least one of the women featured in the story.
Brewer Lane, who briefly dated Trump as a 26-year-old after meeting him at a modeling job at Mar-a-Lago, told the Times he asked her to change into a swimsuit within minutes of meeting her.
Donald was having a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. There were about 50 models and 30 men. There were girls in the pools, splashing around. For some reason Donald seemed a little smitten with me. He just started talking to me and nobody else.
He suddenly took me by the hand, and he started to show me around the mansion. He asked me if I had a swimsuit with me. I said no. I hadn’t intended to swim. He took me into a room and opened drawers and asked me to put on a swimsuit.
“The 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Ms. Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters,” the article concludes.
This morning Brewer Lane responded to the report on Fox & Friends, where she accused the Times of lying about its true intentions, which she believes were to write a hit piece on Trump. Lane also said that although the facts were correctly reported, she did not find Trump’s behavior to be demeaning.
“I came from a shoot like I said, and I started talking with Donald and chatting with him over the course of the first maybe 20 minutes I was there, and we seemed to get along in conversation nicely, and it just very normally and naturally evolved into a conversation. We started walking around the mansion. He started showing me the architecture. We were having a very nice conversation, and we got into a certain part of it and he asked me if I had a swimsuit,” Lane told Fox & Friends this morning. “I said I didn’t. I had not really planned on swimming. He asked me if I wanted one. I said OK, sure. And I change into one, and the part where I went back out to the pool party and he made a comment now that’s a stunning Trump girl right there, I was actually flattered by. I didn’t feel like it was a demeaning situation or comment at all, and that’s what I told the Times, and they spun it completely differently.”
“He was never — he never made me feel like I was being demeaned in any way. He never offended me in any way. He was very gracious. I saw him around all types of people, all types of women. He was very kind, thoughtful, generous, you know. He was a gentleman,” she concluded.
Which, I think, is the real issue here. Because Trump’s behavior is objectively demeaning—he treats women differently than he treats men. He treats women as sexual objects, whose worth is directly tied to their appearance. Even his own daughter is not immune from these observations. That this particular woman took his behavior as a compliment does not negate how offensive it is. That he surrounds himself with women who are unlikely to object to his behavior, women over whom he holds power, be it financial or otherwise, does not negate how offensive it is.
Still, Brewer Lane felt compelled to defend Trump against her own depiction. Trump, in return, promoted her interview with two tweets, which he has since deleted.
He misspelled her name in both.