National Press Club

NPC in History: Trump's first 'appearance' at the Club

May 13, 2018 | By Gil Klein | gilbert.klein@me.com

Bill Garner's cartoon in the Washington Times amid the controversy over the renaming of the National Press Club library in 1990.

Bill Garner's cartoon in the Washington Times amid the controversy over the renaming of the National Press Club library in 1990.

This is the second of a series provided by Club historian Gil Klein.

Dig down anywhere in your National Press Club’s 110-year history and you will find some kind of significant event in the history of the world, the nation, Washington and the Club itself. Many of these events were caught in illustrations that tell the stories.

In the early 1980s, when the National Press Building was rebuilt down to the girders, many of the Club’s rooms were given new names in honor of legendary journalists. Chief among them was the library, which was named after H.L. Mencken, the acerbic Baltimore Sun columnist known as “the sage of Baltimore,” even though he was famous nationwide.

However, in 1990, the Club's Board of Governors was approached by Eric Friedheim, the publisher of Travel Agent Magazine, who offered $1 million for the library if the Club named it after him. A million dollars was real money back then, and the board voted to accept it.

That caused a bit of a brouhaha among some journalists who revered Mencken. It led to the cartoon below by Bill Garner that appeared in the Washington Times.

While certainly the Club had never been offered any money from Trump, the cartoon shows that even 28 years ago he was well known for putting his name on things. And given the course of events in the last couple of years, this cartoon is a noteworthy in its own right.