CHICAGO — Donald Trump made the TV rounds Friday morning, defending the new sign on his River North skyscraper, telling "The Today Show" that "everybody loves it" and "CBS This Morning" that "Chicago has other problems they should be worried about."
"Everybody loves it. We have people who just love it," Trump told NBC's Matt Lauer. "We're getting phone calls literally by the hundreds and thousands. Including tweets on Twitter."
Trump also appeared on CBS Friday morning saying: "I just think that Chicago has other problems that they should be worried about, not a sign."
Trump appeared on the morning shows a day after a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office that the mayor "believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign." Other Chicagoans have also questioned the sign's taste.
Trump said there was no controversy and that the issue was started by Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin who criticized the sign.
"This is started by a third-rate architectural critic by the Chicago Tribune, who I thought was fired," Trump said Friday morning, echoing comments he made on Twitter about Kamin.
Dopey @chicagotribune critic fails to mention the ugly Sun Times sign.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2014
In a story Thursday, Kamin mentioned the sign above the old Chicago Sun-Times building, which used to be on the site. Kamin reported that Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) had tweeted about the old sign, but that update has since been deleted.
"He's a first-rate twister of facts. I wasn't fired," Kamin said. "I wasn't fired. I was on a journalism fellowship at Harvard."
Kamin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his criticism in 1999, participated in the Nieman Foundation for Journalism fellowship in 2012-13.
"The sign is a poke in the eye to all of the gracefully understated buildings around it. It's an affront to them and the Chicago riverfront," said Kamin who noted that he sees it daily on his way to work. "Everybody knows it's Trump's building. He didn't need a sign."
On Friday, the mayor said the sign was a blight on the skyline.
"The sign scars our architectural history," he said at an unrelated newsconference in Bronzeville.
He said he wanted to make sure similar signs aren't approved again.
"I want to make sure in the future we have the planning department to ensure the city beautiful architecture is displayed," he said. "We are city in the garden and I want to preserve that."
Trump said he hadn't talked with the mayor's office about the sign, but also suggested that there was no need to, as the sign was a long time coming.
"This is fully approved. Everybody knew about it," Trump said. "His [Emanuel's] administration knew about it. The previous administration approved it."
Opened in 2009, the 96-story Trump Tower was designed by architect Adrian Smith.
"Just for the record, I had nothing to do with this sign!" Smith wrote to Kamin about the sign.
Trump said he was impressed with Smith's work, and he thought the sign enhanced its design.
"This has turned out to be a great piece of architecture. A great thing for Chicago," Trump said. "I do great buildings, and if I like the building, if I like what's going on, if it's the right and appropriate thing, and if it enhances the building, I will do that.
"It's a very high-level sign," Trump added, "in the very highest level of taste."
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