Bill Moyers
August 3, 2012
Anthony Baxter on Donald Trump’s Callous Capitalism

BILL MOYERS: Everyone knows that journalism is in crisis. So as newspapers fade and broadcast news is more and more recycled sound bites, high decibel shouting, and celebrity trivia, the responsibility for telling the truth about power increasingly falls on the shoulders of inquisitive and courageous filmmakers-- independent filmmakers who answer only to their craft and conscience. Which is why I wanted to tell you about a documentary that’s starting to appear in American movie theaters.

REPORTER #1: Donald Trump has arrived in Scotland to talk about his plans for what he claims will be the world’s greatest golf course.

REPORTER #2: While Donald Trump swept into the northeast on his usual wave of publicity. His private jet touched down at Aberdeen…

BILL MOYERS: It’s the work of a journalist who has traveled all over the world reporting the news but found the story of a lifetime in his own backyard, the ancient beaches of northeast Scotland.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Bullying ordinary people…

BILL MOYERS: Anthony Baxter is his name, and by my lights, he’s a hero. Against the odds, he stood up to a bully who was bulldozing the land and livelihoods of other people. If you want to get a look at what London’s Sunday Times called “the unacceptable face of capitalism,” see this film.

It’s entitled “You’ve Been Trumped.” As in Donald Trump. Self-styled real estate tycoon, TV host and on-again, off-again presidential candidate.

We Americans are used to his inflated ego, his bombast and bravado, but when Trump swept into Scotland and announced his intention to build the most lavish, greatest golf course and resort in the world, many politicians and business leaders began dancing a highland fling in greedy anticipation of Trump’s promises and his fabled Midas touch—his past bankruptcy filings to the contrary.

Environmental scientists warned that the sandy dunes across which Trump intended to extend his empire are a vital, but delicate ecosystem as unique as the Amazon rainforest. Once the 4,000 year-old dunes are violated, chances are they’re gone forever.

REPORTER #3: Multi-million pound golf resort in Aberdeenshire is rejected.

BILL MOYERS: Local authorities turned down Trump’s grandiose proposal but were overruled by the national Scottish government, which bought Trump’s propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

REPORTER #4: The Scottish government have called in the controversial planning application…Donald Trump’s plans for a one billion pound golf development in Aberdeenshire will go ahead.

BILL MOYERS: Officials took him at his word when Trump said the project would result in an estimated 6,000 new jobs. So far, fewer than 200 have been created. And as The Donald began digging, some of the locals refused to sell him their land, much to his annoyance. They failed to take his customary “You’re fired!” as an order. And that’s how the filmmaker and journalist Anthony Baxter became part of this story.

Anthony Baxter, welcome.


BILL MOYERS: How did you come upon this story?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well I live very near to it. I live in a town called Montrose which is about 40 miles south. And when I heard about this story, I was very struck by the fact that the local newspapers were just reporting that this was going to be a fantastic economic benefit for the area. But nobody seemed to be investigating the very real environmental impact this development was going to have. And that struck me as really worrying because the real questions were primarily about the environmental impact, but also about the local people, you know, ordinary people whose homes were threatened where, as you call it here, eminent domain. They were threatened with compulsory purchase as we call it in Britain.

BILL MOYERS: In other words, they could be forced to leave their homes if the council agrees to the developer's plans.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Exactly. He wanted to buy their property so that you didn't see their houses. He wanted to build over them. And he made a great thing about saying, "I'm going to build the greatest golf course in the world." But, of course, you know, if you have houses in the footprint of the golf course it's difficult to see how it can be the greatest golf course in the world. So he wanted to get rid of those houses. Those people didn't want to sell to him. They lived there all their lives. They had no intention of moving. They had become, in a way, guardians of that environment. They're people who care very deeply about those natural dunes, those unique sand dunes and that wild open space.

BILL MOYERS: Tell me about Michael Forbes. He's one of them, and he becomes a true character in your film. Who is he?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well Michael Forbes is a fisherman/farmer who has a farm in the footprint of the golf course, if you like. So really what Donald Trump wanted to do was buy that property.

BILL MOYERS: Trump actually tells the press in your film that Michael Forbes is not a respected man, I'm quoting directly. "Not someone Scotland can be proud of."

DONALD TRUMP: His property is terribly maintained. It's slum-like, it's disgusting. He's got stuff thrown all over the place. He lives like a pig. And I did say that. And I'm an honest guy. And I speak honestly, and I think that's why some people like me and some people probably don't like me. But I think he'd do himself a great service if he fixed up his property. And I'm not talking money. It's not a question of money, it’s a question of a little manual labor.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, when I heard that I, like everybody else in Scotland, assumed Michael Forbes lived in this shack on the beach and was being, just not allowing development to progress. And so I thought that. Because that was the picture that was painted in the media. So I drove up and I couldn't believe it. When I got to Michael Forbes' farm and I spoke to him and his wife Sheila and Molly, his mother, and they were the most lovely people. The farm is like any other working farm in Scotland. There was no-- Mr. Trump had said, "I can't build my hotel because people looking out of the hotel will look into this pigsty and they'll see this slum." But the fact is, is that the farm was nothing different from any other working farm.

BILL MOYERS: It looks like a farm in Oklahoma where I was born.


DONALD TRUMP: Get it done, and don't spend a lot.

ANNOUNCER: It's all on “Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf.”

DONALD TRUMP: Sarah, I want to get rid of that house.

SARAH MALONE: It's going to create a bit of a stir.

DONALD TRUMP: Who cares? Who cares? You know what? Who cares? It's our property. We can do whatever we want. We're trying to build the greatest course in the world, this house is ugly.

There are some houses, quite far away from the course, but nevertheless they are in view. But we are berming some of the area so that you don't see the houses. I don't want to see the houses. And nobody has a problem with it. I guess maybe the people who live in the houses have…

ANTHONY BAXTER: He wanted to buy the other property as David Milne and Susan Monro who are featured in the film.

BILL MOYERS: And later on in the film you show how the Trump Organization piles the sand up into barriers the golfers would not be able to see her house.

SUSAN MUNRO: I got out of my bed this morning, the whole house shaking. Things falling off Findlay's shelf. But this is getting bigger by the day. It's incredibly high now.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Did you ask the builders what they were doing with it?

SUSAN MUNRO: Findlay did.

ANTHONY BAXTER: What did they say?

SUSAN MUNRO: Mr Trump's instructions.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Mr. Trump's instructions?


ANTHONY BAXTER: To put all this earth here?

SUSAN MUNRO: Yeah, to block our view, to harass us. Obviously. There's no bank on the plans. Anything like that. Oh, I don't know what to do.

WALTER FORBES: I don't know what it's for. I don't even know what the mound of earth is for. It's harassment for David Milne up here. They pushed the earth off the field to block off his view or whatever. Why did they do it there? They had a whole field they could have put the earth in.

DAVID MILNE: It’s rather meaningless. Took them maybe a week, 10 days to actually construct. So there's quite a lot of work involved. There's a lot of time involved. There's a lot of effort involved. For no real purpose.

BILL MOYERS: You've got several scenes in here of Donald Trump opposing a wind farm that could be built right off the coast where his golf course is going. What's that all about?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, Donald Trump has already made it clear in an interview with the BBC that he doesn't believe in manmade climate change. So it seems extraordinary in one sense that, you know, he's protesting about this wind farm purely because of the view and he's worried it's going to dent the profits of his golf course.

REPORTER #5: Mr. Trump also reiterated his concern about a proposal to build an offshore wind farm close to his site.

DONALD TRUMP: When I look out on the 18th hole of Trump International Golf Links to be honest with you, I want to see the ocean. I don't want to see windmills.

ANTHONY BAXTER: He was recently in Edinburgh at the Scottish parliament. He was called to speak about the Scottish government's green energy policy because of his opposition to this wind farm which is proposed off the coast which you'll hardly see anyway, because it's so far off the coast. And he was there in Scottish parliament and he was asked, "What evidence do you have against this?" And he said, "I am the evidence.”

MALE VOICE #1: Where is the clinical evidence?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, I am the evidence. I think I'm more of an expert, I-- you know what, I think I'm a lot more of an expert than the people that you'd like me to hire. When you say, "Where is the expert and where is the evidence," I'm the evidence.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Anthony Baxter, Director of “You’ve Been Trumped.” Mr. Trump, you say wind farms are destroying Scotland's environment. Yet, according to every credible environmental organization in Scotland, that is what you have done. Are we not seeing here an example of the one percent bullying ordinary people and destroying our planet?

DONALD TRUMP: I haven't seen your documentary, but I hear it failed miserably.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Mr. Trump, the film has actually won ten awards. And one of the international—

DONALD TRUMP: Who gave the awards?

ANTHONY BAXTER: All over the world, and in the United States and one of the juries that gave us an award said that, "We hope this film holds the Scottish government and Mr. Trump to account for one of the worst environmental crimes in recent UK history." Your golf course.

DONALD TRUMP: What’s the next question?

MALE VOICE #2: Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out!

MALE VOICE #3: He's a fine example of one percent of the population controlling 99 percent of the, the power and influence.

BILL MOYERS: Is it your custom to become a protagonist in your films?

ANTHONY BAXTER: No, it's not. I had never—I didn't set out to be in this film in the first place. I wanted to record more of what was happening to the environment and to local people. To document it. Because nobody seemed to be trying to get to the truth. And, to me, that's the whole point of being a documentarian. Trying to get to the truth of the story. And so I didn't intend to be in the film. It was only, you know, when I was arrested and put in jail whilst making the film that I became part of the story.

The clip you've just seen isn't in the film itself. It was recorded recently at the Scottish parliament where Mr. Trump, was, as you said, giving evidence, as if no other evidence is required. He also said in that clip that 93 percent of people are in favor of his golf course project. Now, the BBC did an investigation into that supposed survey. It had never been done. And as an example of the kind of thing Mr. Trump does with the media, he says something and states it as if it is fact. But it is not.

BILL MOYERS: How did you come to get arrested?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, we had discovered that the water had been cut off by the Trump contractors to several of the residents, including an 86 year-old woman, the mother of Michael Forbes, the farmer. They'd been without water for nearly a week. And the reason that they were without water is because the contractors had stopped the flow of water from the well that served their homes. And we were flabbergasted by this. And so we went to try and interview one of the Trump officials, a man who was looking after the whole development. And we interviewed him and he told us that they were going to be trying to repair this water. There didn't seem to be any kind of urgency in the way the Trump organization was dealing with this. We then went to the homes of one of the other residents, Susan Monroe, and it was on her property that the police then swooped down and arrested us both, me and my producer Richard.

POLICE OFFICER: Who's in charge between the two of you gentlemen?

RICHARD PHINNEY: We're just here as individuals. What are you here for?

POLICE OFFICER: That's no problem. Could I take a note of your name please.


POLICE OFFICER: Because there's been an alleged Breach of the Peace up at the Menie Estate this morning. And as such, we are making inquiries. So, could I have your name please?

RICHARD PHINNEY: My name is Richard Phinney

POLICE OFFICER: And yourself sir, could I have your name please?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah, I'm Anthony Baxter.

SUSAN MUNRO: And then he just became more hostile and more hostile and lunged at you, gave you no explanation.

POLICE OFFICER: What we need to do now--

ANTHONY BAXTER: No, you do not.

POLICE OFFICER: You are being detained under Section 14 of the Criminal Procedures Scotland Act, 1995, do not …

SUSAN MUNRO: What’s he done?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Richard, can you grab that?

POLICE OFFICER #2: Let go of the camera. Let go of the camera before it gets damaged sir.

SUSAN MUNRO: And the next thing I know you're wrestling over the bonnet of Findlay's van, this policeman attacking you, trying to pull the camera off you, still not giving you any reason why, what you've done. I think it was totally out of order.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Don't do that to me!

SUSAN MUNRO: Then slammed the handcuffs on, and I saw your wrist was grazed and everything. And that was totally out of order. That's disgraceful.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Will you loosen those cuffs please. Will you loosen those cuffs please!

SUSAN MUNRO: This is a very sad state of affairs.

ANTHONY BAXTER: They are hurting my arms.


SUSAN MUNRO: Sir, if you'd stop shouting.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Look, will you stop doing that to me!

BILL MOYERS: Who is that?


BILL MOYERS: You'd been traveling the world for 15, 20 years. Have you ever been arrested in your work before?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, you know, when we went to film in Afghanistan with my colleague Richard, who made this film with me, you know, one of the things you have to do as a journalist going to Afghanistan is what's called a hostile environments course where you learn to know how to react if you're arrested or thrown into jail in Afghanistan. And I had never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be on the Scottish soil covering a story, you know, about Donald Trump where we're arrested and thrown into separate cells in an Aberdeen police station. We're stripped of all our possessions. We have our photos taken. We have our DNA taken. We're then led from the cells to be charged with a criminal offense. But to suddenly find ourselves in an Aberdeen police prison cell was a very shocking thing. I think it just felt to me as the National Union of Journalists said afterwards in Britain, that this was, set a very, very dangerous precedent for freedom of press and freedom of information in the media in the UK. And I agree that that was the case. And, that to me is the whole point of journalism. Trying to hold people in power to account and giving ordinary people a voice. And you know, the Trump Organization recently put out a statement calling all those people featured in the film “a national embarrassment for Scotland.” But I’ve been really struck by the fact that people who have seen the film see these people as inspirational. People who have a great deal of dedication to the cause here. They become natural, unlikely environmentalists to a certain extent. They’re caring for the environment. They’re people we should be incredibly proud of, people who stand up against intimidation, against bullying, and say, “Look, we’re not prepared to allow you to tell us how to live our lives.”

BILL MOYERS: Well, he does get away with it. Not only does he take on the local people but he becomes a hero to the elites there. He even receives an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen University.

REPORTER #6: American billionaire Donald Trump defied his critics to pick up an honorary degree from Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University. He's pledged to build the world's greatest golf course on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.

REPORTER #7: Today Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University recognized US tycoon Donald Trump's ability to make money. Now a doctorate of business administration…

BILL MOYERS: How did that come about that he got an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen University when he's become such a fount of controversy with the people out there who are opposing him violating their space?

ANTHONY BAXTER: It's baffling. It's absolutely baffling. I don't understand it. It was Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen who decided to give Mr. Trump an honorary degree, a doctorate, honoring his ability to make money. Whereas what we have here is one of our wilderness areas being destroyed by Mr. Trump. And that fact seems to be lost on the business people in Aberdeen who have welcomed him with open arms. And I just do not understand it.

BILL MOYERS: After the ceremony at Aberdeen. There's a press conference and you ask Donald Trump a question.

DONALD TRUMP: Hello everybody.

REPORTER #8: Is the course in schedule?

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, the course is in perfect schedule. In fact, if anything, it's ahead of schedule. And I am very happy to report that everything we've done, I think it's even coming out better than we had anticipated in our wildest dreams. It's going to be really spectacular. There doesn't seem to be people against the job. The only one I see is this gentleman right here who I've never seen before until yesterday when he started screaming. Question. Real journalists. I want real journalists.

BILL MOYERS: He says he wants a real journalist. Now, just briefly, tell me about your experience.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah, well I started in radio as a news reader and reporter and then an editor at ITN in London and then worked as a producer for the BBC and a reporter for the BBC and then made documentaries for BBC Radio Four, one of the networks in the UK.

BILL MOYERS: So how did you feel when in the presence of all those celebrities and your peers he says, "I want to talk to a real journalist"?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, it was bizarre because I think at the end of the day what he was really saying was, "I want to have questions from journalists that allow me to say just how wonderful this is. What I really want is to be asked a question such as, 'Is this turning out better than you'd hoped, Mr. Trump?'" And he says, "It's turned out better than we could have possibly dreamt of." And that's the kind of question that Mr. Trump likes. He doesn't like questions from journalists which are difficult to answer.

BILL MOYERS: He did get his golf course. He drove the first ball early this summer when it opened.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, it seems to me there's one rule for the superrich and one rule for everybody else. It seems to me that the Donald Trump is the ultimate one percenter if you like. And the 99 percent of people in the world are tired and fed up of having money and power riding roughshod over their lives and our planet. And our planet, I don't think, can afford these kinds of decisions being made. I think that seeing the golf balls roll for the first time the other day and the golfers on the course, my feeling is, is that it may be too late to save these particular dunes but we should be saying in Scotland, and elsewhere in to world where we've shown the film where people have said, "We've got our own Donald Trump-style development happening here. We've got our own David and Goliath situation where local people are battling money and power trying to stop influence from that dominating our community." We've got to say never again do we allow this to happen. I think we've got to stand up, just as the local people did in the film, stood up against Donald Trump, stood up against a tycoon and stood up against money and power.

BILL MOYERS: And lost.

ANTHONY BAXTER: And they lost. In a sense, in this case, they lost the dunes that they valued so greatly. But they've also won in some ways. I think they've won a battle to say, "We're staying where we are. We're not moving. We're going to stay here and you can't bully us out of our homes."

BILL MOYERS: There is a sadness running through your film. A sense of disconsolation, even melancholy, that something is slipping away. Something is being taken away that you can't bring back. Am I reading that wrongly?

ANTHONY BAXTER: No, I think that's true. And I think there is-- all over the world people are so concerned about this. Whether it's banks, money laundering, for drugs cartels or fixing interest rates or Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers and the way they've been behaving in Britain. And I think that, in a sense, the sadness I have felt in doing this film is the loss of something so precious, you know. Something that money can't buy. The Amazon rain forest of Scotland was these dunes we're told by the scientists. And I prefer to believe them. And they were very, very valuable. Not in a monetary sense. And I think when we lose those kind of non-money things, the things that are so valuable to our children or to future generations to enjoy, we can't turn back the clock and it's a real sense of loss.

BILL MOYERS: And your film is resonating in many countries around the world.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah. I mean, I think the fact that we've been asked to screen the film in countries around the world shows just how much people are concerned about these things that the film focuses on. In Croatia, for example, we did a screening in the UNESCO protected town of Dubrovnik where a developer is trying to build a golf course resort overlooking the town. And the story was such a carbon copy, if you like, of what's happened in Scotland. And we were asked to show the film to show the local people what the future could hold in store for them if they allow this development to go ahead. So, you know, whether it's in Michigan, whether it's in Croatia, whether it's, you know, in Romania where we've shown the film, people have said, "We know how this feels. We identify with the fears and the views put forward by those local people so eloquently in the film." And I think that, you know, that is why the film resonates because, you know, coming so closely as well after the Occupy movement here in New York only a short time ago where the, you know, this message of the one percent, you know, bulldozing through the lives of the 99 percent in a way the film is the film of the Occupy generation to a degree because it resonates in that way. It is an example of ordinary people being bullied and harassed and having their lives overridden by a tycoon.

BILL MOYERS: How did you finance this film?

ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, I remortgaged the house to make it after finding doors closed all over the place to try to get funding to do it. And everybody told me if it was-- if they were interested in the story they said, "Oh you’d better have a good lawyer if you're going to take on Donald Trump." It was almost as if the bullying has reached through into the media where people don't want the hassle of dealing with somebody like Donald Trump. They fear that they're going to be sued. And I think that, as journalists, if we stop making films or following stories just because of the threat of somebody like Donald Trump not being very happy by what we do, then we may as well give up.

BILL MOYERS: Is your house still mortgaged?

ANTHONY BAXTER: It is, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: Anthony Baxter, it's a remarkable, revealing and very moving and important film and I hope many, many people see it. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us.

ANTHONY BAXTER: Oh, thank you very much, Bill.

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