Deception & Misdirection

The Miss Universe hoax, or ‘No good deed goes un-Clintoned’

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

“Clinton Shaming Trump for His Alleged ‘Miss Piggy’ Comment Was Maybe Her Best Moment,” proclaimed the online magazine Slate.

After accusing Donald Trump of attacking women—of saying, for example, that “women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men”—Hillary Clinton, in Monday night’s debate, brought up “a woman in a beauty contest.”

CLINTON: He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name—

TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?

CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.

TRUMP: Where did you find this?

CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet—

TRUMP: Oh, really?

CLINTON: —she’s going to vote this November.

TRUMP: OK, good. Let me just tell you—


MODERATOR LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, could we just take 10 seconds and then we ask the final question—

Coming near the end, 96.3 percent of the way through the event, the “Miss Piggy”/”Miss Housekeeping” accusation—he didn’t even use her real name!—won the debate for Clinton. That it did so for Clinton is appropriate, since it was based on a claim that is utterly unsubstantiated and is almost certainly a lie.

If it was, in fact, a fabrication, its status as fake made it particularly effective. As experts on deception know well, true accusations are easy to prepare for, because the guilty person knows what’s coming. False accusations, on the other hand, catch the victim unprepared and vulnerable.

The background: Actress/model Alicia Machado became Miss Universe in May 1996. Asked what she would do to celebrate her victory, she said, in Spanish, “Eat! Eat! Eat!” Over the ensuing months, Machado gained a large amount of weight—a major problem, given that part of her job was to promote products associated with a healthy lifestyle, including swimsuits and breakfast cereal for dieters.

More than five months into her reign, and more than two months after pageant officials reportedly threatened to fire her, Donald Trump bought a share of the beauty pageant organization that included the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants. According to the news accounts that appeared at the time, Trump hired a trainer, gave her access to a gymnasium he owned, and helped her get into better physical condition so that she could keep her job.

The Trump purchase was announced at the end of October 1996 and finalized in November. (The ultimate deal, in which Trump partnered with CBS, was announced in January.) Stories about her weight gain and the possible loss of her job had appeared in the news media the previous August: “Those extra kilos could cost Miss Universe her crown,” declared Agence France Presse (the French press agency) on August 19, 1996. “Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado, the reigning Miss Universe, has been told to go on a crash diet or risk losing her crown, according to Venezuelan beauty contest officials,” reported the Newark Star-Ledger, August 20. The Miami Herald, August 21, headlined: “LOSE THE POUNDS OR THE CROWN?” The Scottish Daily Record reported on August 23 that “Miss Universe Alicia Machado gives her defiant verdict on the order to diet or lose her beauty crown. The gutsy 18-year-old from Venezuela has been told to shed 27lb in a fortnight but was snapped wolfing a hot dog in LA … with relish.”

“Alicia Machado and her waistline were the talk of the town in Las Cruces, New Mexico, this week,” noted Canada’s Globe and Mail on August 24, 1996. “The dusty resort city on the Rio Grande was awash with young beauties, but all eyes were on the reigning Miss Universe in the wake of rumours that she would be stripped of her title if she didn’t shed 27 pounds.”

“Earlier this week, Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the reigning symbol of interplanetary beauty, became the object of furor over whether she was expanding just a little too much for this galaxy,” wrote Louis Kiernan in the Chicago Tribune, August 25. (Kiernan was writing sarcastically, defending Machado.)

Remember: This happened months before Trump bought a share of the Miss Universe pageant.


This week, in the debate, Clinton repeated the new charge by Machado that Trump, 20 years ago, called her “Miss Piggy” (an insult based on her weight gain) and “Miss Housekeeping” (an anti-Latina slur). There are a number of problems with Machado’s “Miss Piggy”/”Miss Housekeeping” claim, including the fact that it appears to have been made publicly for the first time less than five months ago. “Miss Piggy” and ”Miss Housekeeping” were recent additions to a story that Machado has been telling all along without those details.

Last year, Machado announced that she would be writing a book exposing Trump’s alleged racism and sexism. Yet, even then, she failed to mention the “Miss Piggy”/”Miss Housekeeping” insults that are now central to Machado and Clinton’s version of the story.

As far as can be determined from news accounts, Machado, who was Miss Venezuela when she won the Miss Universe crown in May 1996, made the Piggy/Housekeeping claim for the first time in May 2016, at a press conference organized by the left-wing organization People for the American Way. At that event, she was joined in her attack on Trump by a group that included Dolores Huerta, a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton and of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

In June, Machado joined Huerta to announce the creation of a voter registration/turnout effort to benefit the Clinton campaign. The effort is run by People for the American Way and CASA in Action (a sister group to CASA de Maryland, which was profiled by the Capital Research Center at ). PfAW and CASA de Maryland were both funded by radical billionaire George Soros. (For more on PfAW and Huerta, see the endnote.)


Makin’ stuff up

Significantly, Machado has embellished her story in a number of ways. In a video created by the Clinton campaign, she now claims, apparently for the first time (in public, at least), that she was not fully compensated for her work as Miss Universe, and she strongly implies that her eating disorders originated in her encounter with Trump. Earlier, she claimed that her disorders began long before her interaction with Trump.

Another recently added charge against Trump came during a press conference of sorts. The Clinton campaign brought Machado together with the news media, with Machado speaking in Spanish—a language problem for most of the reporters, about which they were not warned. During that encounter with the media, she added the charge that Trump was “violent.”

Her remarks in the Clinton video are likewise in Spanish. This is a transcript of the captions provided by the Clinton campaign.

I was the first Miss Universe after Trump bought the pageant. He was overwhelming. I was very scared of him. He’d yell at me all the time. He’d tell me, “You look ugly,” or, “You look fat.” Sometimes he’d “play” with me and say: “Hello, Miss Piggy,” “Hello, Miss Housekeeping.” As Miss Universe, I participated in more ad campaigns than most. In a year, I earned the company a lot of money. By contract, I should’ve earned 10% on all the commercials and word I did. I was never paid.

[Video of Trump saying: “She weighed 118 pounds or 117 pounds and she went up to 160 or 170. So this is somebody who likes to eat.”]

It was very humiliating. I felt really bad, like a lab rat. It had turned into a circus, the joke of “The Miss Fat Universe.” A joke that caused me a lot of pain. Long after, I was sick with eating disorders. I wouldn’t eat, and I would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man had said so. This is a man who doesn’t realize the damage he causes. He bears many grudges, and harbors a deep racism, and he is convinced that there are lesser human beings than him. But now I’m strong. I am an American citizen, and I’m going to vote. That’s why I dare to speak about all this. I think Donald Trump definitely lacks the ability, experience, preparation, and human qualities, to be president of the United States.

Note that, in her current version of the story, she was in Trump’s presence frequently, often enough that he could abuse her “all the time.” It’s a mystery why she would have been around Trump often, given that the Miss Universe pageant was only one of many Trump business endeavors and he was, by all accounts, an extremely busy businessman.

That’s an important point, because, when she was questioned about specifics of the Piggy/Housekeeping charge by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, Machado was vague about the time and place, but noted that the insults happened “all the time,” at “the office,” and at various “events.”

Machado was interviewed by Kelly on September 27. Kelly said that people in the Trump campaign “seem to be denying the specific charges Hillary leveled which are the language of Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping. Was anybody there to witness when he said those things to you?” Machado:

Well, first I want to say thank you to giving it to me this space and to share my—the story with Mr. Trump. This happened 20 years ago. And you know, I don’t need to share this story if I don’t believe that person is not the right person than being a president or trying to be a president. This happened 20 years ago. In that moment, he was not the person that you can see now.

Maybe he was more just business guy. And I was a little girl, too. I was 18 years old. And you know, the only thing I want to do is to share my story. I think in this moment just for my community. I’m a Latina. I’m from Venezuela and from Venezuela and Cuba. And you know, I need to share my story. I think I can open a few eyes. I can maybe change a few minds. You know, I don’t think this person is the right person that can be a president.

That, obviously, did not answer the question. In a segment of the interview that Kelly broadcast the following night, there was this exchange:

KELLY: Was there anybody around when he allegedly called you Miss Piggy or in particular Miss Housekeeping which doesn’t have a connotation about weight, it speaks to racism, if it was said?

MACHADO: Well, he did it all the time. He did it all the time. He did it on the office or in some events. And of course, it was maybe, where maybe people from the company in a few occasions was alone between him and me. [sic]

Machado’s language that time almost duplicated her answer to Anderson Cooper on September 27, according to the CNN transcript:

COOPER: Take me back. In what circumstance did he — because the Trump campaign is denying that he called you “Miss Piggy” or “Miss Housekeeping.” You’re saying, point-blank, he said that to your face?

MACHADO: Yes, all the time. And I share a lot of time with him in the office, in the events. Maybe now, maybe now he remember me.

“All the time,” at the office and at events—that’s as specific as Machado got. No witnesses to the exchanges have come forward, although, given the stakes in the presidential campaign, it would not be surprising if witnesses, real or fake, suddenly turned up.

What really happened 20 years ago?


Trump to the rescue—yes, really

Over time, Machado’s weight problems affected her work, which included serving as an icon of fitness and health. The Mercury News wire service reported on January 28:

Special K boxes featuring Miss Universe Alicia Machado will be discontinued in her native Venezuela because of controversy surrounding her weight, Kellogg’s announced yesterday in Caracas.

The cereal boxes show the beauty sitting on an inflatable globe above the slogan “nothing to hide.” The 5-foot-10 Machado, 19, whose reign runs until May, was 118 pounds when she won the title last spring. In September she admitted to an 11-pound gain, but now reports say she’s bulked up to 170 pounds. Special K buyers in Venezuela who stocked up on the product in hopes of keeping trim figures are now demanding their money back.

There’s talk that Machado has an eating disorder, and Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe pageant, said recently, “You could call her an eating machine.” But Trump’s opposed to taking away her crown: “She’d be destroyed if they take it away.” He also noted that her appearance on the next pageant would probably snare high TV ratings because of interest in seeing her new self.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported later that “In her home country, Venezuelans . . .  began to return packets of Special K, adorned as they were with pictures of their beauty queen.” The Montreal Gazette noted that Machado, upon winning her title, “celebrated with an eating binge. . . . [Special K] aims at the health-and-weight-conscious crowd, and poor Alicia is no longer seen as much of a role model for such people.”

Beth J. Harpaz of the Associated Press wrote on January 28:

Miss Universe hit the gym Tuesday, trying to control her expanding dimensions before the Big Binge turns her career into a black hole.

Since winning the crown in May, 20-year-old Alicia Machado of Venezuela has clearly added a little padding to her well-rounded curves. “I was in other countries with other foods,” Miss Machado explained.

Now, with the support of Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss Universe pageant with CBS, she’s shedding the pounds for all the world to see.

While the weight might have threatened her crown, it didn’t hurt her name recognition. “Famous publicity! Before I had 15 pounds more, nobody knows. Now I am Miss Universe and everybody knows,” she said in broken but enthusiastic English.

With 50 photographers crowding around her in a tiny gym, she lifted a 10-pound weight, skipped rope and pedaled a bike – all while laughing, smiling, waving and, between every stretch, readjusting her silky mane of streaked honey-colored hair.

Her new trainer, Edward Jackowitz, wouldn’t say what her weight is now or what it was at its worst. He said the 5-foot-7 beauty weighed 119 pounds when she won. He said that she’s already lost seven pounds, with 15 to go.

“She likes to eat – like all of us,” Trump said. “And there was a huge amount of pressure when she won the contest.”

Was she now in danger of losing the crown? “There were people in the pageant industry who thought there should be a termination,” Trump said. “The weight was unacceptable to a lot of people. It was not unacceptable to me.”

But he decided that putting her publicly on a healthy diet with workouts “could serve as an example” for others.

Despite Trump’s excessive bluntness in calling Machado an “eating machine,” he received praise from those opposed to what we now call fat-shaming. On January 28, a cosmetics company put out a press release applauding Trump for his support.

Larry Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the Freeman Cosmetic Corp., applauded Donald Trump for not forcing the current 1996 Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, to relinquish her title in light of the recent controversy surrounding her weight gain.

In a society in which 95 percent of the population does not emulate the stereotypical “Super Model,” it could be psychologically devastating for women to be judged primarily on their physical appearance.

“When women and men in our society put constraints on the way we ‘should’ look, it becomes difficult to remember that it is who we are inside that is important,” said Freeman. “Too often we are judged completely on our physical appearance, and it is time to stop this superficial, detrimental behavior.

“We need to teach our children that they are important for who they are, not for what they look like, how tall they are, or the color of their hair.”

“Some people involved in the pageant would like to have seen Alicia lose her crown,” said Trump, owner of Trump Pageants, L.P. “However, I thought it was unfair to judge her solely on her weight. Alicia is, and always will be, Miss Universe.”

Freeman believes so strongly in the philosophy of “Beauty is Inside” that he has built his entire company on this approach. Determined to spread this message, Freeman Cosmetics has never used professional “Super Models” as spokespeople, and the company has supported such foundations as the Tournament of Roses Scholarship Fund, which awards women based solely on merit.

On January 29, CNN weighed in, with a story by Jeanne Moos:

MOOS (voice-over): When she was named Miss Universe, no one could accuse Alicia Machado of being the size of the Universe. But as her universe expanded so did she.

MACHADO (in gym): Be careful.

TRUMP: But some people when they have pressure eat too much, like me, but like Alicia.

MOOS (voice-over): Since she won the title nine months ago, the former Miss Venezuela went from a 118 pounds to, well the number keeps growing like the size of the fish that got away.


TRUMP: Do you want to bill us a 170 pounds.

MOOS: But she is hardly a blimp.


MOOS (voice-over): Edward Jackowski is the fitness trainer whose goal is to get Alicia’s weight down. Though at five foot seven, a hundred and forty nine pounds, you might not think she looks overweight.

MOOS: You’re not fat.

MACHADO: Who says?.

MOOS (on camera): In Venezuela? This is considered fat?

MACHADO: No, no I don’t know.

MOOS (on camera): Is this considered fat in Venezuela? They just like their women skinny?

MACHADO (on camera): Yes. Very anorexic.

MOOS (voice-over): Why there are even rumors Alicia might be forced to give up her Miss Universe crown, though it’s co-owner of rights to the pageant Donald Trump says he would never have let that happen.

TRUMP: We had a choice of termination or do this, and we wanted to do this.

MOOS (voice-over): Do this, meaning get her weight down to about a 130 pounds. So there she was pedaling and jumping rope in front of a pack of photographers and reporters, who could themselves use a little training.

[Melee as news photographers bump into each other] ORGANIZER 1: Can we all just back up? Everybody’s going to get— [knocks into photographer]

ORGANIZER 2: You be careful.

ORGANIZER 1: Everybody stay back. Don’t start moving up.

TRUMP: A lot of you folks have weight problems, I hate to tell you.

MOOS: In her role as Miss Universe, Alicia had a deal with Kellogg’s to appear on boxes of “Special K” in Venezuela.

MACHADO: I don’t eat Kellogg’s, and for this maybe I gain weight.

MOOS: As her weight grew, so did reports that Kellogg had canceled the deal, or even modified Alicia’s body on the box. But a spokesman for the cereal maker says the contract simply expired in December and that they were real pleased with the promotion.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They say she has an hour glass figure.

MOOS: Actually Alicia’s trainer classifies figures four ways.

JACKOWSKI: We need a spoon.

MOOS: Well, what is everyone so far?

JACKOWSKI: Hour glass, ruler, cone, ruler on the end.

MOOS: So who’s the spoon? A spoon is big on the bottom. Miss Universe can thank her stars she’s merely a slightly enlarged hour glass rather than a big spoon. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

Frequently, the news media ridiculed Machado. Peter Ruehl, the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, February 2: “When she started looking like a poster girl for the Ukraine Tourism Commission, there was some talk she might lose her title, because the last thing the Miss Universe people wanted was the winner getting mixed up with Marlon Brando in people’s minds. . . . In this case, we have Donald Trump paying all this dough for the personal trainer, plus the publicity, just to counter the fact that ol’ Alicia’s been packing in the Big Macs like a trash compactor.”

In Newsweek, the national newsmagazine that was then a sister publication to the Washington Post, Jean Seligmann and Mark Starr, writing with Susan Miller, described the situation (February 10 issue, on newsstands February 3):

Before she became Miss Universe last May, Alicia Machado whittled her 5-foot-9 frame down to 118 pounds. When she relaxed, her expanded curves (she may have hit 165 pounds) turned off some pageant officials, who thought the Venezuelan beauty should forfeit her crown. But Donald Trump, who co-owns the pageant with CBS, said that “would be unfair to her and to people with a weight problem.” Bouncing and stretching to get back in shape at a New York gym last week, Machado, 20, was piqued. “I am not a piggy,” she told NEWSWEEK. “I don’t eat five cakes in one day. I eat normal.” What does she weigh now? Her just deserts: a plateful of promo offers for diet foods.

In the Lexis-Nexis database of 17,000 news sources, that’s the earliest that Machado is quoted using the word “piggy.” At a press conference in June 1997, she mentioned being called “Miss Piggy,” but made no connection to Trump. Over the years, she would use the terms “piggy” and “cow” repeatedly to complain about the insults thrown at her—but never, until 2016, in connection with Trump.

The Associated Press, February 16, 1997: “TRUMP TO THE RESCUE. [photo caption] Miss Universe Alicia Machado checks out the exercise equipment Saturday at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club with Dr. Ginger Southall, personal trainer at the Palm Beach, Fla., club. Machado, who has been criticized for gaining weight recently, will be working out at Trump’s club for the next few weeks.”

Andrew Metz, Cox News Service, February 19:

Most of us battle our bulges in sweaty anonymity. But when the world’s most conspicuous dealmaker sets out to help the most beautiful woman in the universe slim down, nothing less than the galaxy is at stake.

So, there was Donald Trump, in pale yellow pants, white golf shirt and white running shoes, presenting a curvaceous Miss Universe, simply enviable in black spandex and gold-rimmed sunglasses. “There are a lot of people out there who have similar problems, including some of us,” Trump said at a poolside kickoff for the “wellness” program he is sponsoring for Venezuelan beauty Alicia Machado. “For people who have a weight problem, she serves as a tremendous example.”

After becoming Miss Universe last May when she weighed 118 pounds, the 5-foot-9 Machado relaxed a regimen of diet pills, strict exercise and no eating after noon. She quickly topped the scales at 170 pounds. Now, with the 1997 pageant scheduled for May 16 in North Miami Beach, Machado and Trump — the pageant’s new owner — decided a diet is in order.

“It is obviously not healthy to be overweight,” Trump said, adding that his office has been “besieged” with calls about Machado’s weight.

“I am no cow or something like that,” said Machado, 20, now 158 pounds.

No one seemed to question the Draconian measures to achieve her slender physique.

But Machado’s larger proportions caused an international flap.

“Around the world Miss Universe is looked at as an icon. They expect her to be perfect,” said Maureen Reidy, president of the pageant. “Basically, she starved herself before she won.”

Machado’s 1,200-calorie, 29-grams-of-fat-a-day program — which began with laps in Trump’s oxygenated, Mediterranean-tiled pool at 8 a.m. on Saturday — will be a physical, mental and spiritual renewal, her trainer and doctor said. This includes food prepared by a world-class chef, yoga, t’ai chi, shiatsu massage, and movement five hours a day.

Machado hopes the effort — about 20 pounds in three months — will inspire women with eating disorders to get healthy. And pageant officials say that “99 per cent of women in this country can relate to her.”

Whatever Trump’s intentions, it is true that Machado resented the fact that news people were allowed to cover her arrival at Trump’s gym and her workout. The Associated Press, April 19: “When I get to New York thinking they [pageant organizers] were going to help me, I find myself in a gym with 80 photographers all taking pictures and watching the little pig exercise. That’s not fun for anyone.” She criticized Trump: “He said, This is a perfect opportunity for us to make some publicity for the pageant. Let’s take advantage of this fatty.” Later, she described the photo op as being “in bad taste.”

Ultimately, things worked out for the best, she said later. Bart Jones, Associated Press, June 19, 1997:

Aside from the pain of getting called “Miss Piggy,” a 24-pound weight gain during her reign was great for her career, Venezuela’s former Miss Universe insists.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Alicia Machado told a news conference Wednesday. “It gave me international publicity.”

Machado, 20, looking fit and making her first visit home since ending her reign a month ago, said she’s gotten offers to act in movies and on television in the United States and Latin America.

Even while saying that the controversy helped her career, she expressed resentment over the 80 photographers at the workout publicity stunt months earlier.

Trump’s own account of the Machado incident, in his October 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, is consistent with contemporaneous news accounts. He wrote that, by the time of his first pageant, he was looking forward to the selection of a new Miss Universe to replace Machado.

The pageant in Miami Beach, my first as owner, was a huge success. From my position offstage, I was able to glance up to the greenroom [the waiting room for people appearing on the program] occasionally. I could just see Alicia Machado, the current Miss Universe, sitting there plumply. God, what problems I had with this woman. First, she wins. Second, she gains fifty pounds. Third, I urged the committee not to fire her. Fourth, I go to the gym with her in a show of support. Final act: She trashes me in the Washington Post—after I stood by her the entire time. What’s wrong with this picture? Anyway, the best part about the evening was the knowledge that next year she would no longer be Miss Universe.

What’s maddening is that I supported her. Even in Palm Beach, where I haven’t always gotten the greatest press, Shannon Donnelly, society columnist for the Palm Beach Daily News, wrote, “Here’s a new one for the Donald: Protector-Advocate for large women. His acquisition from ITT [previous owner of the pageant] has put Alicia Machado under the Trump Aegis. The Donald, bless his heart, doesn’t want to fire her because ‘it would be a terrible message to send.’ He is instead bringing her to the spa at Mar-a-Lago where she can work out in earnest, eat sensibly and generally decompress.” That sounds pretty gentlike to me.

Trump’s efforts to help Machado made it possible for her to go on to a successful career as an actress and model, rather than be a laughing stock forever branded as “the fat Miss Universe.” Those efforts were consistent with Trump’s history of providing support in such cases. As conservative commentator Kayleigh McEnany noted on CNN, “Miss USA Tara Conner who was threaten [sic] to remove her title for being caught with drugs and Donald Trump fought to keep her in that place. He likewise fought to keep Alicia Machado in her place when the Miss USA [and Miss Universe] board wanted to remove her. That is well-documented as well. He likewise, when Miss Wisconsin had an insurable disease, wrote her a handwritten letter and took care of her and her Mexican-American son. He has a well-documented history of taking care of these women, fighting for them to stay in their place.”

His efforts to help Alicia Machado led, two decades later, to his being attacked as a fat-shamer unfit for the presidency.


Trump made her sick?

A major part of Machado’s attack on Trump is that his boorishness toward her is the cause of her eating disorders. That’s what she says now. “Long after [the humiliation by Trump], I was sick with eating disorders. I wouldn’t eat, and I would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man had said so. This is a man who doesn’t realize the damage he causes,” she said in the Clinton campaign video.

But she used to claim otherwise.

As she neared the end of her time as Miss Universe, Machado opened up about her struggle with eating disorders. Lydia Martin, Knight-Ridder News Service, May 12, 1997:

She’s skinny again, though not quite as skinny as when she won her title. But back then, she was just beginning her fight back from what she describes as the beauty-pageant plague.

“I was anorexic and bulimic – but almost all of us are,” Machado says. “When I was preparing for Miss Universe, it was an obsession for me to not gain weight. By the time I won, I was actually recovering. But the year leading to it, I didn’t eat at all. And whatever I ate, I threw up. I weighed 116 pounds when I won. I was skeletal.”

According to American Medical Association charts, Machado was 9 pounds below a healthy weight when she won. In fact, at the time she reportedly became so heavy, she actually was within the healthy range.

By February, Newsweek and People magazines were saying she had swelled to more than 160 pounds. “That’s ridiculous,” Machado says. “I gained 19 pounds. And now most of it is off again.”

Not that she has stopped being obsessive about her looks. She may be the picture of pulchritude at a size 6, but “if I’m going to have an acting career, I need to be a 4 because cameras make you look fatter than you are.”

Again: She said that “the year leading up” to the pageant, she “didn’t eat at all,” and “whatever I ate, I threw up. I was skeletal.” The quote also appeared in the Washington Post.

Carol Sarler in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, May 17, 1997:

When she was 17 there was a pageant in her home town -she entered. Although nervous, she enjoyed it and her father was very proud when she won. Local celebrity followed, then Miss Venezuela. . . .

Then, faced with Miss Universe the following year, she had come to realise that where appearances are everything, appearances are hard work. There were six hours a day of exercising and two hours of dance. There were hair and make-up classes and diction classes to help with speaking into a microphone.

Most of all, there was the dieting. She was not, and is not by any standards, fat. But she wanted to win. “The directors of the pageants seem to favour anorexics and we women, in order to lose weight in a hurry, we will take pills and starve ourselves and use creams, we’ll do anything and I did all of that,” she said. “I was so obsessed with being thin that I used to throw up every day.”

After the debate this week, Megyn Kelly interviewed Machado gingerly for her Fox News program, asking about the apparent discrepancy.

KELLY: You said as a result of what he said to you, you developed an eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia. But you had said publicly at the time that you suffered from both of those eating disorders prior to the Miss Universe contest and really you know have come into—

MACHADO: No, no, never, never prior the Miss Universe pageant. I never had any problem before Miss Universe.

KELLY: Well this is from the Washington Post.

MACHADO: Sorry, that have not—

KELLY: Let me just tell you what I’m referring to and then you respond. The Washington Post from May 16, 1997 reported this quote from you, “I was anorexic and bulimic, but almost all of us are. When I was preparing for Miss Universe it was an obsession for me to not gain weight. By the time I won, I was actually recovering, but the year leading to it I didn’t eat at all. And whatever I ate I threw up. I weighed 116 pounds when I won. I was skeletal.” So, it sounds like without diminishing anything that you went through after Trump, it does sound like you had an eating disorder prior to his comments and prior to winning. No?

MACHADO: No. I’m sorry but that was not true. Maybe in that moment, the company, Miss Universe and a specific— this person, they manipulate a lot of information about me. I’m here because I know this person and he’s not a good person. That is the point. The point is no more abuse for us. No more abuse for the girls.


Lie-enablers in the media

In a manner that we have, unfortunately, come to expect, the news media worked to spread the story of “Miss Piggy,” “Miss Housekeeping,” and Trump-induced anorexia. Trump, we were told, had effectively admitted the charges against him.

The Express, a tabloid newspaper in the U.K., invited readers to “Meet the stunning Playboy model beauty queen Donald Trump called Miss Piggy.” The U.K.’s Independent headlined a story “Miss Universe winner who Donald Trump called ‘Miss Piggy’ trolls Republican candidate.”

“He called her Miss Piggy, he called her Miss Housekeeping, wait until what former Ms. Universe Alicia Machado says about Donald Trump,” said CNN’s Don Lemon. Then, returning from a commercial break: “Hillary Clinton taking Donald Trump to task during the debate, for things he said about the former Ms. Universe Alicia Machado.” Note the absence of any doubt about Clinton’s charge.

Similarly, Gregory Krieg of CNN suggested falsely that Trump had, in effect, confessed. “On Tuesday, Trump even added to the list [of supposed insults of women], calling into Fox News and explaining why he’d alternately described former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Miss Housekeeping.’”

CNN’s John Berman, the morning after the debate, declared that “Donald Trump hasn’t denied he said these things, Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping.”

Astonishingly, CNN turned the burden of proof back on Trump, stating that his claim, despite being backed up by virtually all contemporaneous news reports, was “without evidence.” Here’s the headline on a story: “Trump, without evidence, claims that he ‘saved’ Miss Universe’s job.”

The U.K.’s Daily Record ran the headline “Donald Trump defends Miss Piggy taunt at Miss Universe after he shamed her for gaining weight; The US Presidential hopeful keeps digging a hole for himself as former beauty queen reveals how Trump’s actions led her to develop an eating disorder.” As noted above, Machado previously claimed that her eating disorder came prior to the Miss Universe pageant, prior to the controversy over her weight, and prior to her ever meeting Donald Trump. And Trump did not “defend” the “Miss Piggy taunt” that he denies making and, almost certainly, never made.

Even Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia of record, joined in the lies, declaring in its Spanish-language version of Machado’s biography that “The reign of Machado was controversial for a scandal caused by billionaire Donald Trump . . . ”

Meanwhile, the media somehow managed to miss the news stories raising doubts about her credibility that appeared for years in the Latin American press. For example, after her boyfriend was accused of murdering a rival, a judge in the case said she called him and threatened him, noting that she was a “personal friend” of Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera. It was Caldera who pardoned future dictator Hugo Chavez and his fellow plotters in a 1992 coup attempt, making it possible for Chavez to rise to power. (

In The Federalist ( ), Mollie Hemingway noted:

. . . Hillary Clinton’s kill shot [in the debate] was to say that Machado had become a U.S. citizen recently and would be voting for her. A less compliant media might have noted or emphasized that the Mexican attorney general’s office said Machado was romantically involved and had a daughter with a notorious drug lord, Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez, also known as “El Indio.” Or that a Venezuelan judge said Machado threatened “to ruin my career as a judge and … kill me,” after he indicted her then-boyfriend for murder. Or that the Associated Press reported allegations that she drove the getaway car, even though there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

But these angles run counter to another media/Clinton campaign theme of discrediting the idea that immigrants to this country, under our current policies, are anything other than perfect people. (You may see a second version of it this week in how the media emphasize or downplay the immigration status, voting habits, and murder spree-ness, of this guy [Cascade Mall shooter Arcan Cetin].)

Yes, CNN did ask Machado if she threatened to kill a judge. She replied, oddly, “What matters is my self-esteem.”

Particularly amusing is the treatment of Machado’s career in risqué media.

In 2005, Machado appeared on a Mexican reality-TV show called La Granja VIP (The VIP Farm), a show like The Real World and Big Brother. She had sex with a cast member on camera, leading her fiancé to break off their engagement. She also appeared topless in two issues of the Mexican edition of Playboy.

Interestingly, when some critics called her a “porn star,” the left-leaning “fact check” website Snopes declared that the accusation was “MOSTLY FALSE” because, while it’s true that “Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado made an allegedly risqué appearance on a TV reality show and was pictured topless in Playboy magazine,” she’s not a porn star because “Alicia Machado has not starred in a series of pornographic films.”

The Snopes article gives Trump no such benefit of the doubt, implying that he tacitly admitted the Piggy/Housekeeping charge: “Despite suggesting during the debate that he had said no such thing, Trump defended his 1996 remarks about Machado the following day.” The Snopes writer seems unaware that, while Trump publicly made negative comments about Machado’s performance, he never said he called her “Miss Piggy” or “Miss Housekeeping.”

Thus do false stories get spread about Donald Trump—how he refused to renounce David Duke, how he called on the Russians to hack Americans, how his “birther” charge was racist, how people at some of his rallies gave the Nazi salute, how he threatened Hillary by urging Secret Service agents not to protect her, and on and on. One lie (or awfully convenient misunderstanding) after another.

Of course, as far as the Clinton campaign and most of the news media are concerned, it’s all in a good cause.


 Dr. Steven J. Allen (J.D., Ph.D.) is vice president and chief investigative officer of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.



ENDNOTE regarding Machado’s sponsors mentioned above, People for the American Way and Dolores Huerta.

PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: PfAW is largely a creation of the Hollywood Left, part of an industry that regularly, day in and day out, judges women and gives them jobs based on their looks. The organization was founded by famed TV producer Norman Lear. Its board includes Alec Baldwin, an actor known for his piggish behavior, including calling his 11-year-old daughter “a rude, thoughtless little pig,” joking on a late-night show about killing Republican congressmen and their wives and children, getting thrown off a plane for refusing to stop playing the cellphone game “Words with Friends,” and referring to a reporter as a “goat-footed, wheezy, old queen.” Another reporter alleged that Baldwin called her a “coon,” but, of course, as a Hollywood leftist, Baldwin is given the benefit of the doubt regarding the racial epithet. Another PfAW board member is Seth MacFarlane, the “Family Guy” creator who once received an Emmy nomination for a song mocking Sarah Palin’s son Trig, who has Down syndrome. In 2014, PfAW bragged that it got two hosts of a home-renovation TV show fired for their religious beliefs.

DOLORES HUERTA: Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) with Cesar Chavez, who had been trained by radical activist Saul Alinsky, founder of the “community organizer” movement. Alinsky, a personal friend of Hillary Rodham (later Clinton), famously taught leftists how to smear their opponents, such as when he sent people in Ku Klux Klan outfits to a speech by then-UN Ambassador George Bush, seemingly to provide support for Bush.

In 1972, Huerta participated, with the treasonous actress Jane Fonda, in “The Ring Around Congress,” a protest of the U.S. role in the Vietnam War that was a project of the Communist-dominated Women Strike for Peace. She was a speaker at a conference in Chicago at which supporters of former Communist Party vice presidential candidate Angela Davis formed the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression.  Later, she was active in the Democratic Socialists of America and, in 1993, received the Eugene Debs Award, named for the founder of the Socialist Party of America.  In the mid-90s, she worked to defeat California’s Proposition 209, which would have banned state-sponsored racial discrimination.

A supporter of the movement known as La Raza (“The Race”), a Latino counterpart to white supremacy, Huerta said in a 2006 speech at Tucson High Magnet School in Arizona that “Republicans hate Latinos.” In that speech, she praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who, she said, used wealth “for the people.” Three months earlier, Huerta had been part of a delegation that met with the strongman for six hours. She told students in Tucson:

You know, I was in Venezuela recently with the president, Hugo Chavez, and he is putting up cooperative factories for the people, so that they can have work. And the people there elect their own representatives. They are making shoes for the schoolchildren, uniforms for the schoolchildren, backpacks and t-shirts. They have a cooperative farm where the people grow their own food. The military comes in to build houses for the people, and you know what? Right there, by the factory, they have a medical clinic and a dental clinic, free, free for the people. They can go to the doctor. They get their dentist and medical [care], free of charge. . . . Why can’t we do that here in the United States?

(Today, as a result of the policies Huerta supported, Venezuela’s economy has collapsed. Venezuelans visiting the U.S. are returning with goods that are in extremely short supply back home, like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, beans, and aspirin. The mayor of the Chacao municipality in Caracas reported recently that  people were hunting “cats, dogs, and pigeons” for food. The military is guarding food supplies, while the poor are being drafted to work on government farms.)

In a 2008 speech, Huerta brushed aside concerns about illegal immigration into the U.S., pointing out that “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.” Besides, she said, “It’s really too late. If 47 million [Latinos] have one baby each, it’s already won.”

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Huerta formally placed Hillary Clinton’s name in nomination for president. In 2011, President Obama awarded her the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.


(photo credit: Helga Esteb /

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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