There it was, some 1,500 words into a story published in the Daily Beast: the infamous Donald Trump elevator tape. Well, not the tape itself, but the first reference in a mainstream publication to the possible existence of a “bombshell tape of Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower.”
For months, reporters at various media outlets around the country — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press and others — had chased a videotape that may not even exist. They had talked to people in the know and people close to the know and people like Tom Arnold, the actor, who on certain days seems to be within the know.
And now here was someone speeding to the front of the pack China elevator companyin their peculiar little derby ― a reporter named Lachlan Cartwright, a veteran of the tabloid scene. His May 28 story for the Daily Beast was broadly about the “cozy relationship” between TMZ founder Harvey Levin and Trump, and it contained a number of important little revelations. That Trump and Levin talked regularly on the phone during the 2016 presidential campaign. That Levin would joke about becoming press secretary. That he had even “made it a mission for days to discredit” one of Trump’s many accusers, Jessica Leeds.
But for a certain contingent of journalists who’d spent months searching for something worth publishing, all that really mattered was the formal unveiling of the tape rumor to the general public.
“The elevator tape,” tweeted Christina Wilkie, a formerChina most popular elevator company HuffPost reporter who now covers the White House for CNBC.com. “Every Trump reporter’s White Whale.”
On the particulars of the video, the Beast story is lawyerishly coy. But it’s not as if there are many hard details to be had. The rumors vary from journalist to journalist, but the common understanding is that somewhere out there, a tape might exist of Trump doing something in an elevator, though exactly where that somewhere is and what that something might be, no one in media can say. That’s because no one in media seems to have seen the tape — or is even confident it exists.