“Too Much and Never Enough”: Did Mary Trump Defame The Dead In Her Tell-All Book?


I would love to see another challenge to this common law rule, but it comes at the risk of an effort to sanction the filing as challenging established law. However, this is the creation of the courts and, while it could be changed by legislation, it should be reconsidered by the courts as inimical to the values underlying defamation law.  The doctrine actually encourages the use of the dead to sensational depictions and allegations because they are treated as a “free pass” for possible litigation. The common defamation of the dead shows how the lack of a meaningful sanctions can fuel harmful conduct.

The problem is that the allegation of fraudulent conduct involved two people and one is very much alive: President Trump.  He could conceivable sue over this allegation. The standard for defamation for public figures and officials in the United States is the product of a decision decades ago in New York Times v. Sullivan. He would have to prove that his niece had “actual malice” where she had actual knowledge of the falsity of a statement or showed reckless disregard whether it was true or false.  The failure to confirm these facts of when the two men first met would be a compelling claim despite the high burden created by the Supreme Court.

This is why the story is so important for reforming this rule.  If President Trump were to sue, Shriver could join in the action and separately challenge the common law rule.  We could then finally have a substantive debate over the rule that you cannot defame the dead.

The problem is that, under the current rule, there is “never too much” when it comes to defaming the dead and there is “never enough” effort to confirm such facts without the deterrence of defamation lawsuits.

118 thoughts on ““Too Much and Never Enough”: Did Mary Trump Defame The Dead In Her Tell-All Book?”

  1. This may not have been flagged for fact checking because it did not matter if it was true or not.

    If we have learned anything from the the Democratic feelings party, their truth does not rely on facts; especially when it involves President Trump.

  2. “There has been exhaustive coverage over the latest tell-all book targeting President Donald Trump. Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” slams her uncle for a series of horrible acts and a lifetime of deceit. However, one allegation has drawn much attention and raises a related issue repeatedly discussed on this blog: Trump allegedly used a friend as a surrogate to take his college entrance test in order to secure a place at the elite Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The problem is that this allegation appears to be untrue if the widow of the named individual is telling the truth. That raises the issue of “defaming the dead” and a common law doctrine that I have spent many years criticizing as unfair and harmful”

    Seriously, does anyone actually doubt this??? And to be more accurate Turley, this isn’t just the latest “tell all” book, it’s the first of the family to go in with a memoir on Trump. The first to get around the NDA hell he’s set up for everyone else. Let’s hope this is just the first. We’re looking at you now, Tiffany.

    1. JBL, you bet there is. What is the motivation for this book anyway? Money? And for whom? Internal family squabbles also attach to the Biden family.
      Actually, do you even know a family these days that does NOT have squabbles which range the gamut from

      sibling jealously, to parental condemnation (by the kids) at spending so damn much money on a white college

      education and then to attack the parents with name calling that is so vitriol that would start a campfire!

      1. Proving my point there, Delmaracer. Families can get ugly and the Trump’s are quite ugly. Proof of the veracity of the book is in the family effort to squash it.

      2. In fact, I’m guessing the odds just exponentially grew of Trump dropping out of the race with the tax return question turning against him today.

        1. Which could actually make things tougher for the Dems in the fall possibly. Trump is going in the wrong direction and being set up for a Mitch and Lindsey bail after Labor Day if his polls are in the toilet as much as they are now.

        2. I’m predicting the discovery of a mouse infestation in the IRS warehouse. The tax returns will have been eaten. Sad. 🐀🐀🐀🐀🐀🐀

    2. He’d have taken the college boards in 1962 or 1963. If Shapiro was not a high-school chum of Trump’s, he wouldn’t have been available to sit for exams for him.

      Now, the 1964 Yearbook of Great Neck South High School has been digitized and is available on Ancestry.com. At image 152 on the digitized copy we see a photograph and an entry for

      Joseph Shapiro – Joe
      BAA 2, 3, 4; Calliope 3, 4;
      HiY 3, 4; Intram 2, 3, 4;
      French C. 4; Great Books C.
      3.; Southerner 3; Var Foot-
      ball 4; Var. Swimming 2, 3
      4; JV Soccer 2; Vista 2, 3, 4;
      Nat. Hon. Soc.

      He didn’t know Trump from high school. You’ll just have to join Enigma and imagine some other connection.

  3. I have an idea that might help shed light on this dilemma: how about Trump agrees to release the transcripts of his grades and his SAT scores? His high school and Fordham U. scores could be compared to his SAT score to determine the likelihood that someone with low high school and Fordham U. grades could get an SAT score high enough to overcome low grades and thereby earn entry into Wharton, and that’s what it would have taken. When you have low grades, the only way past this track record to get into a prestigious school (other than having your parents purchase your admission, which isn’t out of the question) is to prove you are more talented than what your grades reflect. Of course, Trump already threatened all of his alma maters with litigation if they didn’t take extraordinary measures to secure his records. Do you wonder why? I think I know. Schulte says the “discovery would be delightful”. Well, Paulie, discovery is a two-way street. Litigation would certainly open up those transcripts and SAT scores.

    As to Pam Shriver, how long was she married to Shaprio? Did she even know him back in high school and a couple of years thereafter? Even if she did know him, how could she know whether he knew Trump back then? Both Mary Trump and Pam Shriver have only second-hand information, but Mary’s is more credible, because Trump has always been a cheater and liar his entire life. What’s really unfair now is that Mary is under a gag order, so she can’t discuss how she knows about this, but Shriver can trash her and call her a liar all she wants.

    1. Natacha – Mary Trump called her husband a cheat. She should just roll over and take it? Are you sure you are a lawyer?

      1. Exactly. Now let’s get the Biden Delaware papers released to the public who paid for them! Where are the Biden papers? Make them public Joe Biden, WE the taxpayers paid for them!

        1. Anonymous – The Daily Caller and Judicial Watch have sued to get access to the Biden papers. Make sure you donate to them!

      2. TIN: did Obama claim to have graduated first in his class, like Trump did? If not, why should he release his transcripts? No, I don’t wonder why the transcripts weren’t released: he did graduate, and he did obtain a law license.

    2. The day before my SAT, I sat down with a SAT book for 4 hours, in a park, and I read some math and English stuff.

      Increased my score 200 points. Hahaha.

      And that is after my parents had me take an SAT that accounted in 9th grade with my 11th grade brother and all the other 11th graders.

      Talk about wanting to shove the last, youngest, and only daughter out of the house ASAP. Get out!!! So mom and dad can travel, you selfish child. /sarc

      Anyway, the 2nd time I took the SAT exam, I had no tutor (only the middle child, and favorite special boy, had a tutor), no studying, that was 11th grade, and I jumped my score 200 points in a mere 4 hours of studying at a park. Lol.

      Exams are a JOKE.

      Who cares what DJT scored or didn’t score, does it matter now.

      Rich ppl crying over spilled milk, have nothing else better to do or worry about in life. “IM SO OUTRAGE,” GIVE ME A BLANK WORD BREAK.

      1. My oldest brother took the SAT, no studying, no tutor, and scored a 1490 out of 1600, first try.

        But then he failed out (almost, all Cs ans Ds) his senior year of high school, bc he was “bored” and “angry.” Bored in class, angry at our dad.

        That ruined his GPA and chances of getting into good school, but as long as he pissed our dad off, he was a happy camper.

        I think in the Narcissistic Family dynamic, they call it Self Sabotage, causing havoc and chaos was more important than getting into college.

        Too bad he is Schizophrenia and Bipolar now, he would done well.

        Was telling us all in 2005-2006 about how in the future we would all be using our phones as payment systems and how you would go into a store and grab items and walk out without seeing a cash register.

        And we all, the family, thought he was crazy.

        But in 2020, suprise surprise, people are paying with their phones.

        1. I also have a friend who ended up at Berkeley Law, this isn’t the SAT, but another good example.


          He thought he might want to go to law school, went to a Barnes & Nobles, sat there and tried an LSAT, and only missed 2 questions, no studying required.

          So, he said, sure, and signed up for an LSAT, he only missed 1 question.

          Went to Berkeley Law, ended up middle of the road, mostly because he did not want to study.

          Ended up at a big law firm, worked there for 5 years, hated it, and now teaches LSAT as a private tutor.


          1. Oh yeah, i should be more clear. He ended up at Berkeley and not say Yale or Harvard or Stanford bc …

            He failed out of his undergraduate college, San Diego State University (SDSU), mostly by not showing up to final exams, bc he was starting his own business.

            Well, the business failed, and he eventually went back to SDSU and finished his undergraduate coursework, BUT all the Fs were still on his record,

            Hence, Berkeley and not Harvard Lae.

            1. Law*

              But my rambling rant here, is to say it doesn’t matter. SAT / ACT / LSAT / GMAT

              It is all a bunch of crappola. It is not a for fact predicate as to how successful or not successful one may be.

              For all I care, DJT could have bombed his SATs, or Aced his SATs, he got through Wharton, right? He didn’t bomb out? He was bottom of the barrel, lowest ranked in his class? Who cares!

              Big whoopty doo.

              Did he have someone else take it for him? Maybe, maybe not.

              But again. Who cares!

              If no one can prove or disprove it now, its like why even bring it up.

              Obviously, the neice brought it up in her book. And it hit mainstream media.

              Let the poor gal, or should i say rich gal, make a Buck $$$ in her life off her Uncles presidency. Good for her.

              Defamation, meh, ::shrugs::

              Is there any actual malice, bc DJT is a public figure, if it is false, then there would be need to be malice present.

              I highly doubt she did it to be malicious against her Uncle.

              Malicious against the dead guy, nope, bc they’re dead, and they can’t be injured if they’re dead. Maybe the relative, like you are suggesting the wife, but idk, it seems a bit much to allow all the RELATIVES to sue for monetary damages. That would open up quite the worm hole.

  4. Good Grief. Tabloid Journalism at its finest. This Prof JT, is way beneath his stature – but apparently not for the Moderator.
    This a book (in case ur interested) about the dead, the living(marginally) is hardly in keeping with the overall theme of this blog site. But Sr. Moderator, if your interested in additional books to review, how about the soon to be released by Simon and Shyster “Biden Does China”?

  5. This does seem a common law rule that needs correction. If entirely eliminated would it put historians at risk when they are working with incomplete information? Sullivan, as Honest says below, is another decision in need of correction.

    1. Young– it also presents an interesting damages question, especially with historians. None of the traditional measures would seem to fit and in the defamation cases I’ve handled, unless it is per se defamatory, I’ve had to present some evidence to show that there was, in fact, damage to a person’s reputation. The longer the defamed deceased person has been dead, the more difficult that burden will be. That type of problem has been dealt with for engineers and architects and some others by means of a “statute of repose” which creates an arbitrary cut-off date (usually ten years) after which there is no liability. I don’t know if this is common in other jurisdictions.

      1. Honest– The issue of calculating or proving damages in such a case would likely require careful study. I have no intuition how that might go. There are special situations that don’t quite fall into the category of defaming a dead person and that would maybe be if the estate is essentially a continuing business concern. I think some performers have made more dead than alive. Could defaming the deceased be converted to a tort against a concern marketing a product? I don’t know, but it seems possible. Fun when the professor raises issues like this to toy with.

  6. I used to know a guy at university who worked part time in the micro-fiche department of the library. He sat at a desk and probably worked 1% of the time. During his remaining moments he researched train stations for a future hobby of writing books on the subject and researched and wrote papers for students. A C+ cost a bottle of Jonnie Walker Red. A B cost a bottle of single malt, and so on. His clients were not known to him before the transaction for the most part. It was word of mouth. He reduced expenses and developed his alcoholism at the same time. He stayed on in the Library, having obtained a degree in the subject, retired, and writes books on obscure train stations that used to exist. A bottle of scotch for a paper or ?$ for a high SAT score, not unlikely. Add the crookedest guy to ever come along, and Mary is probably more credible than Shapiro’s widow, god rest his soul and reputation. Whether or not it is true to the degree of this particular person, it is certainly true as regards Trump. The man’s a walking pustule.

  7. “Tell-all” is a funny word for a book that appears to founded on a lie.

    This is what bugs me so much about “the resistance.” There is so much, so very much, you can criticize Trump for truthfully, but they always go for the lies instead.

    1. Again, who would you believe, Trump, a lie in perpetuity, or a widow who did not know the deceased at the time of the fraud and when alive and her husband, would more than likely never confess to having done it? We have on the one side, Trump who is a serial bankrupt and liar, a man with no conscience, a man who orchestrates fraud so well that he can tie most accusations up in court, but not all; Trump has been found guilty several times. However, along with going bankrupt six times and boasting of having made money doing so, while those that didn’t make money and got screwed by this walking pustule are quickly forgotten, as they are the losers. On the one hand there is that which can be proven, instance by instance, and there is that which because of his history is almost impossible for an alert person to absolve, even without proof. Then there is all that which is denied and tied up in court: taxes, grades, etc. Add to that the times that Trump is exposed as a liar, fraud, idiot, etc and he shrugs it off as a joke or fake news. Mary seems plausible.

  8. The allegation proves that Mary Trump, who is a modern day witch doctor, is nothing but a mud-slinger who is using her uncle’s notoriety to make money. The family, including her brother, has distanced themselves from her more than they already were. She’s nothing but a greedy Democrat who hates her family because her father was a drunk who drank himself to death and she blames it on the family instead of him.

      1. Mr. Issac, if I may in the words of the
        Great Gordon Gekko: “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

  9. OK fellow posters here’s my point of view as an average American these are my choices: Russia, Russia, Russia- John Bolton Book – Mary Trump Book and this morning a ruling on the Presidents tax OR Joe Biden, Hard Left socialism, ANTIFA-BLM, More Dem failed cities, back to higher tax, back to Obama years on steroids. I’ll stick with the guy who’s in office now.

    Isn’t this what it’s all about?

  10. Note one thing that Mary Trump has not done is build a proper career. She has a PsyD. never cadged a state license, so she put out a shingle as a ‘life coach’. Her family life is quite truncated: divorced, one child.

  11. In Texas, the libel part of defamation is defined by statute as it was at common law:

    “A libel is a defamation expressed in written or other graphic form that tends to blacken the memory of the dead or that tends to injure a living person’s reputation and thereby expose the person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or financial injury or to impeach any person’s honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or to publish the natural defects of anyone and thereby expose the person to public hatred, ridicule, or financial injury.”

    Clearly, the definition recognizes that statements that “blacken the memory of the dead” are libelous but the common law and Texas law are equally clear that there is no private cause of action that could be brought in the name of the deceased person. I do not know why the common law rule developed as it did, especially since much more so then than now reputation was paramount. Compare the common law rule with this famous quote:

    “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.” Iago in Othello, Act 3, Scene 3.

    I agree with the Professor that this archaic rule in libel law needs to be re-examined; however, I also think that a re-examination of New York Times v. Sullivan is long overdue.

    1. Hold your horses guys. Do you seriously want courts to be jammed up with BS cases about whether some dead people were lied about or not?
      I mean understand right now they are already governed by statutes of limitations; but the effect of this doctrine may extinguish cases sooner.

      Lying about the dead is as American as apple pie. Look at all these ‘peaceful protests” for example. What gonna do, sue them all for slander?

      The touchstone is damages. The damages must be to something owned by a person. The ownership of a person’s reputation dies with them is the whole point; nobody “owns” a reputation for an individual. Not even an estate..

      The common law rule applied to other things too. For example “Wrongful Death” was a statutory exception to this general rule. see, “choses in action”

      each state could modify the rule if it liked by statute. So for example you could say, defamation case could be maintained by an estate authority for a few years post death. However, I think it would be a tough sell– anywhere besides California, which might very well love the idea.

      PS agree NYT v Sullivan should be over turned

      1. Mr. Kurtz– I agree that the whole concept a claim of damages for defaming the dead is at odds with both common and statutory law, at least in Texas. But Young raises an interesting point using entertainers as an example. Assume that after Elvis’ death, someone wrote a book falsely accusing him of child molestation. If that did serious economic damage to the value of his estate, should there be a “survival” type cause of action that could be brought in his name much like the survival cause of action that could be maintained by his estate for defamation that occurred while he was living? Or, would his estate have an independent action in damages for the defamation of the deceased Elvis because of the provable economic damage done to property they now own. Maybe there is such a cause of action already.

          1. Mr. Kurtz– I have never read that particular journal but I was listening to a recording of Elvis’ Hawaii concert two nights ago I suspect that is why he popped into my mind. When I thought of Elvis, I also was thinking of Michael Jackson and wondering if his income suffered when he was credibly accused of child molestation. That would have been an interesting source of data to build a damages model, if in fact he lost money.

  12. If you’re first name’s Mary you’re never to blame…
    Just lie like a hog and play the game!
    Like Red, Fred, friggin f so dead…
    And Larry, Larry who is too hairy .
    That’s the only ruler no that is contrary.

  13. Shriver wasn’t around Shapiro until much later in his life than the alleged SAT incident. How does she really know? Then again, one could make the same argument against Ms Trump.

    It is entertaining to watch the wing nutz in the comments section flip out with anything counter to their fascist causes.

    The anger, JT’s pearl clutching, the sound of cumulative blood pressures rising, and the crunchy sounds of collective chewing of the Geritol™️(to deal with such stress).

    It’s the end of the world!

    1. It’s not that difficult to ascertain if Shapiro ever attended Fordham or the New York Military Academy.

  14. I think that there has to be some limit as to defamation of deceased people. It strikes me as being quite wrong on an almost primal level, if that makes sense.

    Additionally, I’ve no plan to read Mary Trump’s book, but it’s timing as well as its armchair psychological analysis of Donald Trump and exposure of supposed family secrets is opportunistic and parasitic. It doesn’t matter to me whether whatever she claims truly happened or not. Unless one has been extremely lucky, there isn’t one family who doesn’t have at least one Black sheep in it or troublemaker who cries for attention and steps all over others in the family to get their way or create conflict. Whether that Black sheep or troublemaker is Donald or Mary or both, I treat any family member’s airing of dirty laundry with great distrust. And many times, whatever happened in the past, people have changed, even the Black sheep. And if they haven’t changed, then that Black sheep usually has been ostracized from the family to protect the victims anyway.

  15. New York Times v. Sullivan was a crooked little deal between the appellate judiciary and the press. Time to blow it up.

  16. So, Turley says, that Shriver says, that her dead husband said he never met Trump until college so it’s all a lie. If I’m counting right that’s triple-hearsay. Bring that to court. Of course if his financial records are released, maybe they can combine the case with the alleged family tax fraud that forced his sister’s retirement from the Federal bench. General question, are all President’s above the law or do you just want it to apply to this one?

    1. If Joe Shapiro did not grow up in Trump’s neighborhood in Queens, attend any of his primary schools or high schools, or attend Fordham, why would you expect Trump to have known him?

      1. You are assuming quite a bit but there are any number of ways they could have known each other. They shared a love of golf, could have been in the same family or financial circles, or his “reputation for being smart” could have led Trump to him in his time of need. I can’t prove that it’s true but Turley can’t state with certainty that it is a lie as he has based on the information available. It’s interesting that Pam Shriver notes she was approached by a reporter with this claim years ago which suggests this story has been around for some time. If just one photo of Trump and Shapiro pops up before their time together in college, that won’t be proof either but it will shoot down many of the reasons some claim it’s a lie. I look at the character of the man, a habitual and chronic liar. Is he capable of paying someone else to take a test for him? Cheating a relative out of an inheritance? Defrauding the government? Yes to all of that.

        1. IOW, you haven’t a clue. Over 7 million people live in Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk County, by the way.

          The Shapiros actually lived in Great Neck, NY ca. 1962, and their son likely attended the local high school there.

          1. Others will do the investigating we can be certain. If you didn’t know anyone that didn’t go to your high school I feel sad for you. Any claim he couldn’t have known him is at this point ridiculous.

            1. You keep misrepresenting what other people say. Why would you expect the two to have known each prior to attending Penn? A proper default assumption is that they didn’t, unless you could come up with a venue where they would have likely met. The point isn’t that obscure. In any case, he’d already been at Fordham for two years before he applied for the transfer, so what would he be doing taking college boards? He’d have taken college boards in 1962 or 1963.

                1. Again, that’s your imagination at work. Show me where it’s likely they were acquainted. You’re making the assertion.

                  1. I didn’t make the assertion, Mary Trump did. I did say that Turley’s assertion she’s lying is based on triple-hearsay. I don’t claim to know the truth (unlike Turley), I am open to possibilities.

              1. Absurd XII makes a good point. Trump would have taken the SAT in his senior year of high school, prior to enrolling at Fordham. He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Fordham, and then transferred to the undergraduate program at Penn for his last two years. I also transferred from one univ to another after two years. I never repeated the SAT, and I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.

      2. He doesn’t expect Trump to have known Shapiro. He really doesn’t care whether it’s true or not. So long as someone, anyone, is willing to trash Trump, he’s on board with it. He calls himself an ‘enigma,’ but he’s really not. Just some shallow, predictable TDS’r.

        1. Joseph Shapiro was the son of Abraham L. Shapiro (b. 1915, d. 1996), also an attorney. The family was evidently sufficiently well to do to have traveled abroad in 1962. The house they lived in in Great Neck, LI is now appraised at $1.2 million. Abraham Shapiro’s father and his father-in-law were general laborers, having immigrated from different parts of the Hapsburg monarchy.

    2. From the NYTimes discussion of the book it seems that Mary Trump is a bit off-balance and bitter over decisions her father made possibly because of a deep seated dislike of her father and her mother. That seems to be a logical explanation for the book. When facts are added that can neither be proven or disproven then one has to seriously question the author.

      Enigma, you seem to first determine who you like and who you dislike. Then you create your narrative. That is why you likened Tom Sowell to a Nazi when it was you who pushed Nazi type ideas that Tom Sowell rejects. When faced with Sowell’s entire statement you disappeared because his statement discredited what you had to say. To you that doesn’t make a difference because you decided in advance who you would call a bad person and to you evidence of the contrary doesn’t matter.

      None the less I provided the site of a video as well where Tom Sowell talks about schools and charter schools. His book documents his positions and what he is looking for is the most important thing to benefit blacks, education. He has a lot of good infomation on that topic. I encourage you to listen to that video.

      1. From the NYTimes discussion of the book it seems that Mary Trump is a bit off-balance and bitter over decisions her father made possibly because of a deep seated dislike of her father and her mother.

        I think you mean decisions her grandfather made. (If I understand correctly, the estate was not distributed per stirpes. There was a distribution to the surviving children and a distribution to the grandchildren-to-date. Mary Trump and her brother appeared to have been put out that their cousins would at some future date receive distributions from their parents, distributions denied them because nothing was left their line in the distributions Fred Trump left to his children).

  17. It would be great to see this go to court. Pam Shriver should sue on behalf of the estate of her late husband. The discovery would be delightful. 🙂

  18. Mary Trump is a bitter person, understand she was upset at the Family about her inheritance. Seems, from what I hear about the book, its a lot of BS/made up/ anything to strike back at Trump and the family. Simon and Schuster seems to have rush the book, anti Trump publisher, part of forces against Trump. Supposedly this book was in great demand?? but it appears to be another anti Trump book that has hype from the Media and anti Trump crowd. No one cares. Mary Trump is bitter and should be sued, if possible.

    1. It certainly doesn’t say much for her character that she would trash her own family to make a few bucks. I guess it’s easier for her than going out and earning her way in life. Not much different than those young women who marry some rich old geezer. Selling yourself because you’re too lazy to work. Disgusting, any way you look at it.

    2. She’s a loser, biased, bitter, obviously.
      and the book is not credible in many of its allegations
      overall it is a “who cares” story and not much more

      the campaign should focus on getting Joe Biden into a live debate.

      How’s that going?

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