Trump’s use of phrase “telly-telly” could be his undoing

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Apprentice, is one of the women who recently accused Donald Trump of kissing and groping her without her consent.

And while Trump denies all the accusations from the various women, Zervos’ use of the word “telly-telly” could be Trump’s undoing. It’s such an odd phrase, that if we can prove Trump uses it, it would add significantly to Zervos’ credibility.

In her press conference explaining her allegations, Zervos said the following:

At a Beverly Hills hotel, Trump’s security guard led her to a bungalow where he was staying. When she was inside, Zervos claimed, Trump greeted her with an open-mouthed, aggressive kiss while grabbing her shoulder to hold her in, and put his hand on her breast. Several times, she claims, she pushed him away and indicated he should stop.

When Zervos resisted Trump’s advances, she claimed, he tried to lead her toward the bedroom of the bungalow. “Let’s lay down and watch some telly-telly,” she claims he said. When she said, “C’mon man, get real,” she claims he replied, “Get real,” and thrust his genitals at her.

The word “telly-telly,” to mean television, bothered me. I’d not heard it before. Could this phrase help prove that Zervos was telling the truth in having had an intimate conversation with Trump?

First, I had to nail down the word’s origin. And I found it. Telly-telly appears to be short for “telly-telly bunkum box,” a phrase created by author Roald Dahl (author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) for his 1982 children’s book, “The BFG.” Dahl, like Trump, used the word to mean “television.”

Here’s the excerpt from Dahl’s book:

‘So what will happen to me now?’ Sophie asked.

‘If you do go back, you will be telling the world,’ said the BFG, ‘most likely on the telly-telly bunkum box and the radio squeaker. So you will just have to be staying here with me for the rest of your life.’

‘Oh no!’ cried Sophie.

Then I did the math. 1982 is 34 years ago.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka is 34 years old.

Is it possible that Donald Trump read “The BFG” to his daughter Ivanka, and thus the phrase “telly-telly” has always stuck with him as an endearing way to refer to TV?

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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17 Responses to “Trump’s use of phrase “telly-telly” could be his undoing”

  1. D. Pennington says:

    How stupid. Summer could have had the same book when she was a child.

  2. HandsomeMrToad says:

    :”What’s on the telly?”

    –“Looks like a penguin!”

    –Monty Python

  3. HandsomeMrToad says:

    Roald Dahl was not someone you would want to allow near your kids. He was a compulsively self-centered sex-addict, boned everyone, including (allegedly) Eleanor Roosevelt.

    Read his grown-up books some time: My Uncle Oswald and Switch Bitch.

    Reminds me of someone……

  4. emjayay says:

    Well, yeah. Just pointing out that Dahl didn’t invent his term out of whole cloth.

  5. machias says:

    The problem with your argument is just what you said “Telly” is UK talk BUT he said “Telly-telly”-I am guessing his wife (wives) has heard him use that double term to his children.

  6. Mary says:

    I thought that was peculiar also. Something either his children or wives heard him say.

  7. jamesnimmo says:

    We make the mistake to assume that T-rump would take the time to read to his child or to listen to someone else read to the child. Was he involved with his children, HRC complement from the Sunday debate notwithstanding?

  8. emjayay says:

    Probably everyone already knows that “telly” is Britspeak for the TV, so Dahl was just expanding on that usage.

  9. BeccaM says:

    As I remarked to John via twitter earlier, it was damned telling how Ms. Zervos recounted a financial advice part of the talk she had with Donald. In it, she said the topic of her mortgage came up. She said she was in good standing with her bank, having no trouble keeping up with the payments.

    For some reason, Donald thought it was good advice to tell her to default on it, effective immediately. Tell the bank she was done paying and they were free to come try to take it away from her. That defaulting was a sound business decision and it’d make her debt the bank’s problem. How this was what he did all the time.

    Donald has no idea that’s not how credit works in the real world for people who don’t owe a bank $10m or more. That if you do that, default on a mortgage despite obviously being able to pay it, basically your credit scores turn to shit and good luck getting a mortgage again for the next decade. Same with credit cards, car loans or anything else.

    Even more than the ‘telly-telly’ thing, which might be legit, Donald’s boneheaded ‘financial advice’ sounds incredibly like Trump.

  10. BeccaM says:

    Diaper, for sure. But don’t forget, Donald appears to have begun ‘grooming’ his daughter from a very early age.

  11. David Counter says:

    …besides, the words are too long

  12. Clusterpuck says:


  13. Quilla says:

    Somebody read the book to him because, you know, he never reads anything.

  14. Fireblazes says:

    The “I am Pepe'” behind her is a nice touch.

  15. Fireblazes says:

    She had a Nanny to do that. I found her picture… to do that.

  16. Fireblazes says:

    Probably just thought he was being cute, to seduce the woman.

  17. tractarian says:

    Are you f’ing kidding here?

    Donald Trump had never changed a diaper, and he has never read a book to his child.

    That I can tell you.

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