Against the backdrop of October 2016 reports Donald Trump had made lewd comments about women, the Daily Beast published an item reporting that the GOP presidential candidate had once described a former Celebrity Apprentice contestant, actor Marlee Matlin (who is deaf), as “retarded” during her stint on his show:
Just in case you thought Donald Trump was insufficiently awful: He repeatedly called a deaf actress “retarded,” three sources tell The Daily Beast … Trump …also apparently had a habit of insulting, mimicking, and demeaning as mentally handicapped his star female contestant — all because she was deaf.
In 2011, Matlin, who is still the only deaf actor or actress to win an Academy Award for best actress, appeared on Trump’s NBC reality-TV series … according to three longtime staffers who worked on Matlin’s season of Celebrity Apprentice, Trump would regularly disrespect the actress and would even treat her as if she were mentally disabled … Sometimes the insults would be behind her back; other times they would be right in front of her.
“[Trump] would often equate that she was mentally retarded,” said one source, who described how kind Matlin and her interpreter Jack Jason were … A person familiar with [Trump’s handwritten production] notes who helped clean up after tapings said that on one of the pieces of paper, Trump wrote: “Marlee, is she retarded?? … [Trump] would make fun of her voice … Like, to make it seem like she was mentally not there? [It] sounded like he got a real kick out of it. It was really upsetting.”
The corroboration for this was noted as coming from three former Apprentice staffers who are precluded from identifying themselves or saying more due to non-disclosure agreements:
Due to extensive non-disclosure agreements signed by members involved with the production, every one of the sources asked to be quoted anonymously for fear of legal retribution.
Back in September 2015, Matlin was quoted in the New York Post as saying Trump had treated her with “respect” during her time on his TV show:
She’s had other helpers along the way, including her “Celebrity Apprentice” boss, Donald Trump, at whose 2011 Comedy Central roast she made a number of penis jokes.
“He treated me with respect and humor and was always looking after me,” she says. But is she ready for President Trump?
“I don’t follow his politics,” she says. “Anyone can run for president!” What about his hair? “Who cares! It’s hair!”
Matlin responded to the Daily Beast’s report by condemning the word in question without affirming or denying whether Donald Trump had used it to refer to her:
My response to recent media reports – Marlee. pic.twitter.com/Mkrbh47dUO
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) October 14, 2016