Rob Reiner feels like he is an authority on journalism and how news anchors at MSNBC should handle Donald Trump. According to him, people like Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezenski should do a better job of handling or grilling Trump. And since he has paid his dues in Hollywood as a famous actor and director, as well as a Democrat fund-raiser, they should pay attention.
Reiner is a big and tall man, and certainly filled the Morning Joe studio.
“If anybody not famous were saying the things that Donald Trump says, he’d be a lunatic standing on a soapbox in the park and you’d walk by,” Reiner says.
The things that he says, mean something, Reiner says.
Reiner thinks he can force people to answer questions because he is a member of the powerful Hollywood elite. He thinks he can do a better job than Scarborough or Brzezenski. Reiner is supposed to tell them how to do their job, and they are supposed to like it. Why? Because they are good Democrats. If it helps Hillary get elected, it's worth giving them a lashing.
Reiner is a director who commands respect, at least in Los Angeles. He also played Meathead, Archie Bunker’s son, who was a long-haired hippie. Archie Bunker is what liberals in Hollywood think of Republicans in general: they are intolerant of Muslims, blacks and others. Archie Bunker was supposed to represent the intolerance of Republicans in the ‘60s, when it was actually the Democrats who were the intolerant racist ones in the ‘60s. It was the Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was the Democrats who filibustered the legislation, making it difficult for Republicans to pass the bill, which was eventually signed by LBJ.
These facts don’t fit into Reiner’s view of reality, however. An example of this is the temporary ban on Muslims proposed by Trump. Reiner mischaracterizes this as a permanent ban. For Reiner, Bernie Sanders has raised some important issues, but should not distract Hillary from running her campaign - or becoming president.
In Reiner’s liberal world, Hillary is the most qualified person who has “ever run for office.”
But he won’t admit that the system of choosing delegates is rigged, as Bernie Sanders and his followers well know.
“Hillary is the person who came out of this somehow,” he says, as though he is not aware of the unfairness of the process.
Reiner was involved in the effort to overturn Proposition 8, the law that outlawed same sex marriage in California. It was a statewide referendum that passed in the state. Though it was approved by a majority of Californians, somehow a group sued to overturn the law, and won.
He uses his clout to produce a film about his son’s experience with addiction. You get the idea of how accepted he is when he gets to promote his film, while at the same time bashing Trump.
Is there a conservative actor, director or producer who would be able to do this?
Then Reiner explains the news business to both hosts, as they sit and cringe.
"When 60 Minutes became a hit in the late 60’s, networks realized that there was a profit center in news programs," he says.
Reiner puts down Scarborough and Brzezenski; he says Morning Joe is news - but it’s not hard news. So they are not as important as something like 60 Minutes. They need to be more abrasive, like Chris Matthews.
“We have to hold those people accountable,” Reiner says, quoting Bob Woodward.
“The worlds that have been flung out from his mouth are insane,” he says.
Then he repeats his lunatic on a soapbox analogy about Trump.
“At the end of it you say, ‘Clearly, you have no interest in answering these questions,” he says.
Scarborough makes a joke, but Reiner does not laugh. He's not amused. Because he decides when Scarborough can be funny. But that’s not how it works. People are supposed to be nice to each other. They are supposed to be civil. Reiner knows that Trump is a more attractive candidate than Hillary, and wants to prod journalists to somehow tip the scales so that she is as attractive as Trump. Makes up for what Hillary lacks by being more aggressive, more like him, like Reiner.
How do you explain the popularity of Trump?
“There are a lot of people who are racist,” Reiner says.
“Oh my God,” Scarborough says. “Did you just say that?”
“Well, that’s true,” he defends his comment.
“There is racism in this country that has been submerged for a long, long time,” he says.
For Reiner, people who go to Trump rallies have Swastika tattoos, are members of the Klu Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation. They are also white supremacists.
“There is a strain of racism there,” he says.
Scarborough attempts some pushback, but his co-host does not know what to say, because she is in a state of shock. She can't believe Reiner is saying what he is saying. How can anybody be this insulting?
Is it really possible for someone from Hollywood to be this abrasive and still expect people to be tolerant of them? Or even like them? For all of the disagreement among news people, most are still able to be nice to each other. But what we get from Reiner is that being nice is not really necessary. The end justifies the means. Reiner does not have to be nice to Republicans, so neither should they. That's the message.
But the real message Reiner is selling is that you can act like Archie Bunker, you can act annoying and brutish, so long as you align your thinking with Hollywood liberals. And isn't that what we see at all of the Trump rallies, people who oppose Trump yelling insults, starting fights, being intolerant?
What he is preaching clearly does not fit what Trump or his followers believe or how they act. During the course of Trump's Celebrity Apprentice stint on NBC, he has had people from all walks of life on his program, all the while encouraging them to give incredibles amounts of money to charities of their choosing. A number of his supporters, men and women, are black as well.
One of the messages behind All in the Family was humor. You had to laugh at Archie Bunker. But there was also a good share of how not to act, what not to do. Don't be like Archie Bunker. It's strange that Reiner, with all his years in Hollywood, in many ways resembles Archie Bunker. You would think it would be the opposite. You would think that he would not want to act like the character he played opposite to for years on the popular situation comedy. Sadly, that's not the case.
© 2016 Larry Ingram