On January 16, 2013, Deadspin published an exposé of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend. The next morning, reality TV personality Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations. Fourteen minutes later, Deadspin tweeted back “Go fuck yourself.” This is the story of that tweet, as told by those who lived it.
Barry Petchesky, Deadspin staffer: He forgot Jack Dickey! Also he was an asshole in general.
Jack Dickey, former Deadspin staffer: I admired Trump’s knowledge of the inner workings in that he recognized that Scocca was our “best guy.”
Tom Scocca, former Deadspin staffer: One of the oddities at the time was that Trump had name-checked me at all, when I wasn’t one of the bylines on the piece. But now I realize that I had gone on TV, because no one else was willing or available, and Trump gets all of his information from TV.
Dickey: I will say something Trumpian: I was doing so much press that morning, the ratings were so huge, that I didn’t even notice he declined to credit me. I am glad people stuck up for me—some of the initial replies were along the lines of “You forgot Jack Dickey,” etc.
Dom Cosentino, former Deadspin staffer: Five minutes after the Deadspin tweet was sent, Ley did a post about Trump’s initial tweet, just to remind Trump he had forgotten about Dickey. That’s the kind of great hustle that always distinguished Deadspin from other sports and culture blogs.
Tom Ley, Deadspin staffer: All I remember is someone dropping it in Campfire, and everyone being like, “We should say something really mean back.”
Scocca: I’ve made so many good and bad decisions that other people get credited or blamed for. But this is the one thing that people think I did that I had nothing to do with.
Petchesky: I suggested “Go fuck yourself.” It seemed to the point and accurately summed up our reaction. Scocca wanted something slightly different. Something about clowns?
Scocca: I don’t recall having any input at all!
Dickey: Scocca wanted us to write “Get fucked, you clown.”
Scocca: That sounds like me!
Petchesky: I went a little rogue and hopped on the official Deadspin Twitter account and tweeted out “Go fuck yourself.” I thought shorter was better. I’m glad we didn’t take time to workshop it, our response was and should have been from the gut.
Tommy Craggs, former Deadspin staffer: All in all I think I would’ve preferred “Get fucked.”
Cosentino: I was heading into the office and had just gotten off the train when it happened. I glanced at my phone, chuckled a bit, and stopped to buy a coffee. But I’ll never forget how I stood there on Prince Street and chuckled for a bit.
Tim Burke, Deadspin staffer: I was pretty much inundated with media inquiries minutes after we published the Te’o story, and I spent almost the whole afternoon and evening doing radio or TV interviews. I never saw the Trump tweet or our reply to it, and only found out about them when Tampa Bay Times writer Greg Auman mentioned it while we talked somewhere around midnight. I went another two years, at least, before learning who really sent the reply in the first place.
Craggs: I’m embarrassed to recall that I momentarily thought “Dammit, Barry,” mostly because I was super-conscious of not coming off like we were spiking the football. I went from “Dammit, Barry” to “Fuck yeah, Barry” in maybe two seconds.
Ley: Trump had just started doing his thing on Twitter, and I think he was still in that “LOL this guy is a lovable dummy on the internet!” phase.
Craggs: We were just given a rare opportunity to say something to his face.
Burke: I try not to think about that tweet very much. The idea of Donald Trump thinking about me or even being aware I exist is very unsettling to me.
Craggs: I am exceedingly proud of that tweet, and proud of Barry for having tweeted that tweet in our name.
Petchesky: The Te’o story was the grand slam and this was the bat flip. So of course Trump got huffy.
Craggs: There were nasty voicemails left on the general tips line, I believe. From Trump’s lawyer, I think?
Petchesky: If Trump actually had any money maybe he would have helped Peter Thiel out with the lawsuits.
Scocca: Our response to Trump then stands as the correct and valid response to Trump, which is basically, Get this guy outta here. He worked so hard to establish that he’s a dickhead and a buffoon, it’s insulting for him to presume he’s welcome. That’s the mystery of this political campaign, that he feels like he can stand up there and tell people, “I am your voice,” like he’s doing them some honor. You? You’re a brass-plated dipshit. Who the hell wants you on their side?
Cosentino: It remains the most cogent piece of political analysis Deadspin ever published.
Scocca: Oh my God, is Trump our fault? Wait, no, he was always a dick.
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