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Trump in 1993. Photo: Newshub via AP

Trump has been playing the media like a fiddle for more than 30 years. I was reminded of that fact this week while reading Harry Hurt's 1993 book, "Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump."

Hurt recounts how Trump used the New York tabloids to counter a string of high-profile reports that his real net worth was far below what he claimed and that — far from riding a wave of success — his financial empire was crumbling under mounting debts.

This passage is as revealing as it is amusing:

Donald responds with a desperate disinformation campaign... [He] orders his public relations network to plant rumors in the tabloid press that he is sitting on a multibillion-dollar treasure trove of cash. New York Post columnist Cindy Adams is the first — but by no means the last — to take the bait.

"Everyone's heard tales about how poor D.T. is leveraged out, how even his Taj is up for grabs because he needs money. Bullbleep," Adams writes in her column of May 22 [1990]. Alluding to [a] Forbes cover story without mentioning it by name, she declares that Donald is hardly down to his last half billion dollars. "How these august respectable financial journals overlooked certain hidden pockets in Donald's wallet, I haven't the foggiest... This guy is sitting on 4 billion. Cash. Billion with a 'b.'"

Postscript, per Hurt: "There is, of course, a good reason why rumors of Donald's $4 billion cash hoard have not made the front pages of the financial journals. The rumors are not true. There is also a good reason why Donald feels it is so important to spread such rumors. He needs people to believe that they are true in order to stave off a run on his empire."

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.

4 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.