*I don’t actually know that’s just the title formula Forbes uses.
Perhaps you watched John Oliver last night? He asked two very good questions about the couple no one but former Awl technician and Texan anthropologist Dusty Matthews has ever referred to as “Jarvanka”: 1) who really IS Jared Kushner, and 2) what does Jared Kushner even sound like?
Oliver meant like vocally what does his voice sound like, which is not as far off from Gilbert Gottfried as you might think (that clip is worth watching if you want to hear how Jared really feels about the mythical, barbaric lands of Breukelen where there are no razors or fresh water), BUT it is a great question more generally, as in, how does Jared come off when he gives quotes to the media? And the answer is nobody knows, because he never does it, especially not in a world where Donald Trump is his boss. Except there was that one time, last December, where Forbes put him on the cover and boldly proclaimed he clinched the election for Trump by “Moneyballing” the electoral college.
Kushner almost never speaks publicly — his chats with FORBES mark the first time he has talked about the Trump campaign or his role in it — but interviews with him and a dozen people around him and the Trump camp lead to an inescapable fact: The quiet, enigmatic young mogul delivered the presidency to the most fame-hungry, bombastic candidate in American history.
Henry Kissinger, Peter Thiel, and Eric Schmidt all gave pretty fawning quotes for this story. For his part, Peter Thiel said, “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.” First of all, the CEO was Steve Bannon, which would make the COO, oh, I don’t know, gin? And second of all, we all know how Kissinger really feels (hint: he doesn’t) about Jared. Third, the only quote worth two grains of salt in this whole profile disproves the entire thesis of the cover story:
“I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley, some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff,” Kushner says. “They gave me their subcontractors.”
Anyway the rest of it is boring and might as well not have quotes from Jared because it’s barely clear the author was even with him in person and there are no physical details about Jared the person, like, where have the dimple-producing face weight and pallor-covering tan gone? Indeed, why Forbes? Because Jared Kushner is a business, man, and Associate Editor Steven Bertoni’s beat at Forbes is basically “startup bros.” You know who else is a startup bro? Literally a startup of a younger brother, Josh Kushner, whom Bertoni breathlessly calls “one of Manhattan’s most connected people,” which seems like a personal affront to the president himself.
Bertoni has profiled babyface Josh not once but twice—first, when he was 26, the classic age at which venture capitalists are their most babyfaced and model-datingest and now at 31 after he invented Obamacare, I mean Oscar the health-insurance startup.
The latest baby Kush profile by Bertoni was accompanied by a cover photo of Josh in his signature sweater (which we are to take as a symbol of his chill and approachability) and the deadly coverline, The Other Brother.
Inevitably writing about the brothers Kush in the course of the same piece becomes confusing, because the author weaves in and out of calling both Josh and Jared by their shared last name only.
As we approach 100 days into the Trump administration, Kushner’s situation has arguably worsened.
To be fair I think it’s worsened for both of them! But here Bertoni means Josh. Arguably.
While Jared Kushner, at 36, has become one of the most influential people in the world, he was given every break that got him there. He was handed the keys to the family business by his father, Charles, who then went to prison for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering. And he was handed the keys to a presidential campaign by his father-in-law, where he developed the data operation that ultimately delivered Trump the White House.
Jared was also given admission to Harvard by no one that definitely didn’t not have anything to do with Charles Kushner’s $2.5 million dollar donation in 1998 to the very poor school that definitely needed more money. But wait! The setup here is like a perfect alley-oop “caught” on Vine where the ball just happens to go out of the frame at the right time:
As heirs to billion-dollar fortunes go, Josh is the self-made man, abdicating a comfy seat at the family real estate firm to create something independent and new.
Did you get that? Josh Kushner is self made. He made himself all by himself without any of his friends from Manhattan or Harvard College or the Spee or Harvard Business School or New Jersey or Thrive Capital or Karlie Kloss or Charles Kushner or any of his smart friends he hired to work at Oscar:
Also, is it fair to say he abdicated the family throne, or is it fairer to say that perhaps it is not the most PR-friendly thing to follow in your father’s muddy footsteps? Plus, I mean look at that face. That face is so good at raising hundreds of millions of dollars that was actually confused by the Forbes art department as the Oscar logo:
All of this is to say essentially that it’s as though the Kushner brothers never really spoke to the press in the first place, and these are more like press releases. We all know that the people who strategically avoid the press are both smarter and dumber than the rest of us. They know there is nothing to be gained from speaking on the record, but they do not realize that we’re going to figure them out anyway. Damned if you only talk to Forbes and they write nice things about you. What would you ask Jared Kushner, if you had the chance?