Now that Sean Spicer has been given the boot, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will take over as White House press secretary under President Donald Trump. Her first day on the job was unsurprisingly bizarre.
Before Sanders began her first on-camera briefing on Wednesday, she announced that subsequent briefings will begin with the dramatic reading of a fan letter or email aimed at the president. She did not make clear whether this propaganda prelude was meant to shame reporters for being too mean to the president, or to bolster Trump’s fragile ego. Possibly it’s both.
Sanders’ first letter allegedly came from a 9-year-old boy named Dylan, who wanted Trump to know that he was his favorite president and that his friends call him Pickle. After reading the letter to a crowd of confused political reporters, Sanders tweeted out a copy of Pickle-Dylan’s words. Critics on Twitter were quick to point out that the letter doesn’t have a fold in it. Many also posited (some only as a joke) that Pickle-Dylan might not be real.
Weirdly enough, 9-year-old Dylan-Pickle seems to understand that Trump’s approval rating is low — he comforts him with “I don’t now why people dont like you” (sic) and apparently includes a photo of himself, so the president can say hello if they ever run into to each other. Perhaps Pickle-Dylan frequents golf clubs as often as Trump does, in which case a chance meeting is actually likely.
To make things weirder, the many people on Twitter wondering aloud if Pickle is an actual person pointed to Trump’s documented history of bragging about himself under fake names. In 1991, People reporter Sue Carswell contacted Trump’s real estate company hoping to interview a developer. She received a quick call back from a man who said his name was John Miller, but who turned out to be Trump himself, speaking about his actions in the third person and even going as far to make up a personality for “Miller.” “I’m new here,” he told Carswell over the phone, trying to side-step why Miller-the-fake-publicist didn’t know much about the company’s inner workings.
Trump-as-Miller also assured Carswell that Trump would be wonderful to his new girlfriend, model Marla Maples, though he added that famous women called the Trump office to ask him out all the time. “Actresses,” he said, “just call to see if they can go out with him and things.”
But the most perfect comedic moment in the transcript of the conversation between Carswell and Trump-pretending-to-be-Miller happened when Trump slipped into talking about himself in the first person, and then hurriedly tried to correct his mistake. When Carswell asked about model Carla Bruni, Trump answered, “I think it’s somebody that — you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful …” before switching back into third person again.
Years later, The Washington Post asked Trump if he had ever employed a publicist named John Miller while 44 minutes into an interview, and he promptly hung up on them. When the reporters called back, Trump’s secretary said he was suddenly busy and couldn’t speak with them.
Trump also made a habit of calling reporters under the names “John Barron” or “John Baron,” telling them he was a Trump spokesperson so he could speak excitedly about his own business plans. In 1980, The New York Times cited the fictional John Baron as vice-president of the Trump organization. Trump called himself “the Baron” when leaving messages on Maples’ voicemail, and in 2004, he commissioned a TV series about his life (which The Washington Post dramatized) and requested the protagonist be named “Barron.” It should also be noted that Trump’s son with First Lady Melania Trump is named Barron.
So, considering our president’s embarrassing habit of inventing his own adoring fans, is it possible that Dylan “Pickle” Not-Trump is another figment of Trump’s imagination? Certainly. It’s worth noting that The Washington Post broke the story regarding “John Miller” and “John Baron/Barron” in 2016, and it didn’t hurt Trump’s campaign for the White House. Why should inventing a fan letter be any different?