In a wide-ranging interview on this morning's AM Joy, filmmaker Rob Reiner discussed how it's possible that an "insane person" Donald Trump could win a Presidential election. Reiner's latest movie is about Lyndon Johnson.
JOY ANN REID: Actor and director Rob Reiner knows a thing or two about the workings of fame and he made the case in may that celebrity culture explained in part the rise of Donald Trump. One of the many public figures voicing opposition to Donald Trump and his cabinet picks, thank you for agreeing to be on the show. I know you're on California time. You have been speaking my inner thoughts on Twitter and everything. You have a new obsession of mine, on a film called "LBJ" and his journey to become a big political figure and to the White House. I wonder what you think about LBJ and all the accomplishments of the Great Society you have a huge big lash against the civil rights stuff and ending housing discrimination by law, that puts conservatives in power for a generation. This same thing seems to have happened to Barack Obama. Is that sound theory in your mind?
ROB REINER: It is. I think what we've seen is the civil rights movement was kind of submerged for a long time. You had the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Loving Versus Virginia [decision] in 1967. Things seemed to be moving in a good direction. You had African-Americans taking positions of prominence in the media and movies and television. Then you have the election of the first African-American President. It seemed like we were on a gliding path towards civility and inclusion and all of those things. And then you see the election of Donald Trump, the first, you know, supported by the KKK, and it's like, you know, we've never left the '60s, or for that matter, the Civil War! All those racist feelings have been kind of submerged, and then Donald Trump, with a megaphone, starting with the birther issue, gave voice to all these racist feelings and we've seen it bubble to the surface. Interesting you mention LBJ because we had a screening recently in Washington, DC for members of Congress, Senators and House of Representatives and Lynda Johnson, Lynda Bird, the daughter was there, and the expression of acceptance and the eruption after the screening was over, people standing and cheering, it took on a different meaning than when we first started screening the picture before the election. It was like a completely different experience. People are saying we're back to where we started from. These are the same issues. Seems like we're fighting the last battle of the Civil War.
REID: And morph of Nixon meets George Wallace with a celebrity thrown in comes in after. It is amazing how cyclical history can be. You talked and played a sound bite when you were on "morning joe" in a may that Trump's celebrity allowed him to bypass rules normally in place for a political figure. I have to read a couple other things you said. The President-elect pays $25 million for defrauding people of their life savings but use an e-mail server illegally, that's a story. Donald Trump embraces the white supremacy. Shuts out the media. We're about to inaugurate a pathological racist misogynist with and -- Russia -- do you think they were stymied by the volume he was putting out or his celebrity?
REINER: I think it's both. You look during the primary battle, he got free media. He could call into "Morning Joe" anytime he wanted. They chatted away, like he wasn't a serious candidate, a celebrity, good for ratings. I will never forget what Les Moonves said, a friend of mine, Donald Trump is bad for the country but good for CBS. That, to me, is -- CBS -- that to me is very very cynical. We used to have an independent free press. I'm making a film now called Shock and Awe all about the importance of a free and independent press -- if we're going to have a healthy democracy. It seems like that's gone by the boards ever since media became a profit center -- news became a profit center, all these journalistic precepts are out the window. It's very very scary. We're about to give him a free pass again. He is going to break -- you had a guest on earlier, who said basically he will break the emoluments clause and run afoul of the US Constitution. What will happen? Will we let that go?
REID: A lot of people are worried there won't be much push back and after a while people throw up their hands. You also talked a lot about a lot of people do who have a love for shows like "Seinfeld," the Steve Bannon thing stick is in the craw of so many people of Jewish and color. He's there without comment knowing he came from this White Nationalist website and ran it. You talk about the fact it disgusts you and makes you sick, Trump's chief strategist is making money off "Seinfeld" and bought into it back in the day and used the money to fund a number of his pet projects, truly awful things like "Clinton Cash." Isn't it ironic in a way "Seinfeld" helps fund attacks on Hillary Clinton and then becomes the FBI investigation and then becomes the Comey letter? Your thoughts.
REINER: My thoughts are we remain in "Alice in Wonderland." it's just crazy. My wife, Michelle Reiner, Michelle Singer at the time, she took the photograph of Donald Trump that's on the cover of "The Art of the Deal." she, along with [ghostwriter Tony] Schwartz, is like, we're repenting, somehow we supported this guy, you know, not knowing we were doing this. It's mind-boggling.
REID: Do you think, Rob, is Hollywood going to eventually participate in the normalization of this? There will be the Kennedy Center Honors and all the things that normally happen and White House Correspondent's Dinner where people are asked to treat him as a fellow celebrity. Will Hollywood end up giving up to that in the end?
REINER: Boy, I hope not. I'm hoping we never make it to the first Kennedy Center Honors and once he breaks that emoluments clause, which is self-dealing and conflict of interest, hopefully, the Republicans in the House will have the guts to say these are impeachable offenses and he doesn't make it to that first Kennedy Center Honors.
REID: We shall see. ...