Last month I launched 1100 Pennsylvania, a newsletter reporting on the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. and President Trump’s other businesses. Here’s the newsletter’s FAQ/manifesto.
Why “1100 Pennsylvania”?
The hotel’s address is 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW. It didn’t seem likely that the Trump Organization would enter into a licensing deal to allow me to use its name in this publication’s title (although it’s made questionable choices in that area before), so I had to be creative.
Why does one hotel merit its own newsletter?
The president’s D.C. hotel is the focus of three groundbreaking lawsuits about the U.S. Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses. It’s a popular spot for GOP politicians and like-minded groups to hold fundraisers and other events. Real and would-be powerbrokers drink nightly at its bar, as do D.C. lobbyists and out-of-towners (sometimes representing foreign powers) hoping to influence government policy—or just catch a glimpse of their favorite politician or Fox News personality. All in a building leased from the U.S. government. And the U.S. president owns 77 percent of the hotel and can still profit from it.
It’s a big deal in traditional media the first time something happens at the Trump Hotel D.C.—like the RNC hosting an event, a foreign embassy throwing a gala to celebrate the home country, or Trump headlining a fundraiser for himself—and it gets major coverage. Yet when those kind of events happen again and again and again, they don’t draw as much attention. It’s those subsequent occurrences, however, that show the trends of what’s happening at the U.S. president’s hotel. Meanwhile lower-profile sightings—like administration officials frequenting their boss’s bar, state politicians enjoying a nice steak dinner, and lobbyists holding functions—largely happen unreported. They matter too.
Hence 1100 Pennsylvania.
When does 1100 Pennsylvania come out?
Most weekday mornings. I’ve been reporting on the hotel for more than two years, so I’m confident there will be enough new content each day to merit a new issue. But if there isn’t, I’m not going to force it. Conversely, if a big Trump hotel-related story breaks five minutes after I press send, expect a second issue that day.
How much does a subscription cost?
It’s free! Although it’d be awesome if you paid! The reporting is time consuming and being a freelance journalist is my sole occupation.
and select the $5 a month or $50 a year option. If you’d like to provide more support, please let me know and I’ll be happy to arrange a way for you to do so (relax, it won’t involve bank accounts in Cyprus).
So why is the newsletter free then?
I think the information I’m reporting on is important and should be available to as wide an audience as possible.
But why pay for something I can get for free?
To support independent journalism that’s reporting on an important topic at a depth not done elsewhere.
It’s an approach similar to what finances NPR, Pro Publica, and The Guardian. Sorry though, no free totes (you probably have enough of those anyway). So, please
Who are you anyway?
I started reporting on the Trump Hotel D.C. for Fox News right before it opened. Shortly thereafter I pitched my editor at Condé Nast Traveler a feature on the hotel that would go beyond just looking at it from a travel perspective, but also report out its legal and ethical issues from the vantage point of a weekend stay there. At 5,500 or so words, “Inside the World’s Most Controversial Hotel” provides an-depth look at what’s up with the hotel.
I’ve continued to research social-media posts, campaign-finance reports, and legal filings, as well as making FOIA requests and monitoring other sources to report on what’s happening there. Originally I started sharing most of my findings on Twitter and publishing the juicier scoops on The Daily Beast or Fast Company.
A daily newsletter though feels like the best way to tell the story of the president’s hotel.
It’s a big deal in traditional media the first time something happens at the Trump Hotel D.C.—like the RNC hosting an event, a foreign embassy throwing a gala to celebrate the home country, or Trump headlining a fundraiser for himself—and it gets major coverage. But when those events happen again and again and again, they don’t get as much coverage. Old news.
But what’s seems more consequential, newsworthy, and relevant is that these events and sightings at the Trump Hotel D.C. keep happening. The administration officials frequenting their boss’s bar, the state politicians enjoying a nice steak dinner, and the lobbyists holding functions are not outliers—they are not one-time events. It’s the subsequent visits, all the small datapoints that show the trends and potential conflicts.
Do you live at the Trump Hotel?
Would that it were. It’s nice and would make this job easier.
I go there every few weeks. A $15 tempranillo at the lobby’s Benjamin Bar gives me an affordable license to linger (the $15 wine served on a crystal spoon goes down too quickly). Usually though it’s just a quick swing through the lobby looking for notables.
I’ve had more success spotting guests and events via the internet and tips from guests than being there in person though. The hotel doesn’t post a sign of what groups are meeting where in its lobby—if you work for the hotel and are reading this though, much appreciated if you started doing so.
What happens to this newsletter if the hotel closes or when Trump leaves office?
1100 Pennsylvania is also the address of the University of Colorado’s Kappa Sigma fraternity house, so I’ll report on its doings. Or start digging into another newsworthy subject.