A feature-length documentary detailing the extraordinary tactics employed by Donald Trump during the planning and construction of his course design project in Aberdeenshire, Scotland survived a late challenge by the billionaire’s legal team to air last night on BBC 2, one of the network’s flagship television stations.
Titled “You’ve Been Trumped”, the film drew an audience of 1.1m (40% above the Sunday night average) and succeeded in provoking a wave of anti-Trump sentiment on social media.
Coverage in this morning’s broadsheets wasn’t much kinder. The Guardian carried a scathing (and gleefully vulgar) dismissal of the tycoon, while the Telegraph’s Neil Midgeley – the lone voice of dissent, it seems – incurred the wrath of readers on suggesting something perversely admirable could be found in Trump’s determination to steamroll protest (often more literally than you would expect).
Filmed without the cooperation of either Trump or his Scottish delegates, director Anthony Baxter opted to tell the story from the perspective of Balmedie residents, whose campaign to overturn parliamentary approval of the billion-pound Trump International Golf Links (against, it’s worth noting, the recommendations of the Scottish Environmental Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and the World Wildlife Fund) lasted several tumultuous years.
In addition to raising serious questions about the integrity of Scotland’s legislative process, the documentary suggests a number of local protestors fell victim to a concerted campaign of “egotistical intimidation,” one pointedly ignored by both the police and local elected representatives.
Some spoke of huge mounds of soil massed outside their houses – so high as to block sunlight – others the disconnection of their houses from the local water supply. The film also contains footage of Trump disparaging opponents, even going so far as to brand one farmer’s property “slum-like”.
Though Trump has completed the first of two planned courses at Balmedie, the construction of a second and the massive residential complex included in the initial plans has stalled, either as a result of the reality TV star’s declining enthusiasm or, as he claims, the Scottish parliament’s decision to forge ahead with the construction of an offshore wind farm.
Beyond dispute, however, is the fact that few of the 6,000 jobs promised to the local economy have materialised.
Dignified statesman that he is, Trump reached out to Baxter in advance of last night’s screening… to deliver a final, utterly gratuitous knee to the groin.
Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links, has released a statement threatening the BBC with legal action over its decision to broadcast the documentary:
“We are appalled at the BBC’s decision to broadcast the highly biased and manipulative so-called documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’. We totally denounce the BBC for further abandoning its own editorial integrity by blatantly refusing us a right of reply at the end of the broadcast last night.
“It just goes to show that recent criticism of the BBC’s lack of sound editorial judgement to be correct. It is not a documentary – it is a piece of propaganda that is wildly inaccurate, defamatory and deliberately misleading…
“We have taken legal advice, and are determined not to let this matter end here.”