Fact Check

Did Fred Trump Run a Campaign Advertisement Called 'Dope Man' in 1969?

A video purportedly showing a 1969 mayoral campaign ad for Fred Trump called "Dope Man" was created as a spoof in 2016.

Published Feb 10, 2017

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Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, ran a mayoral campaign advertisement called 'Dope Man' in 1969.

On 11 October 2016, a video purportedly showing a 1969 campaign spot called "Dope Man" promoting Fred Trump, father of President Donald Trump, for election as mayor of New York City was posted to the "Historical Paroxysm" channel on YouTube, described as "A test ad for Fred Trump's aborted mayoral campaign against John Lindsay."

Athough Historical Paroxysm has since deleted their video, another version was uploaded to YouTube:

However, this was not a real advertisement (proposed or actual) for a Fred Trump mayoral campaign.

The primary clue that this video is fabricated comes from its source, the "Historical Paroxysm" YouTube channel, which states in its about section that the video shares "found footage from alternate realities." However, the footage was taken from actual reality, where it was created (sans the fake Fred Trump voice over) for an anti-drug short film titled Day in the Death of Donny B:

Snippets from A Day in the Death of Donny B were also used in the music video for Tom Waits' song "Way Down in the Hole":

We found no record of Fred Trump's hinting at undertaking a mayoral campaign in 1969. While he may have had an interest in the outcome of the race, claims that he created a campaign advertisement called "Dope Man" before dropping out of the race come from an alternative reality.

The ad gained greater prominence when it was referenced in an essay by Sidney Blumenthal published by the London Review of Books. The section mentioning the ad was eventually removed, and a disclaimer addressing it was added at the bottom of the article:

A paragraph referring to Fred Trump’s campaign for mayor of New York, although it accurately reflected Trump’s racial attitudes and his hostility towards Mayor John Lindsay, has been removed because the campaign ads referred to appear to be clever fakes.


Blumenthal, Sydney.   "A Short History of the Trump Family."     London Review Of Books.   16 February 2017.

Daly, Michael.   "How Donald’s Dad Fred Trump Tried to Kill Coney Island."     The Daily Beast.   26 March 2016.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.