‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ Producer On The Rise Of Trump And The Most Politically Astute Celebs
LOS ANGELES — Scott Carter says Donald Trump’s political success is a revelatory event akin to the aftermaths of the Rodney King beating and the OJ Simpson verdict.
The longtime executive producer of HBO’s “Real Time w/ Bill Maher” explained why in the latest episode of “The Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast, where he also discussed the most politically astute celebrities that appear on “Real Time,” the state of the Republican and Democratic parties, a legendary Christopher Hitchens tale and much, much more.
- The making of the Bill Maher show (5:25)
- His thoughts on Trump’s rise (8:07)
- How many “Billy Bush” type tapes are out there? (20:21)
- The smartest celebrities who have appeared on the show (40:09)
- A terrific Christopher Hitchens story (44:15)
- Could a conservative comedian get a late night show? (52:00)
- On his play “Discord” (57:39)
- The best career advice Scott’s received (1:05:15)
- How he impacted Adam Sandler (1:08:27)
- On his influences (1:11:25)
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“I’ve been appalled by it,” Carter said of the spectacle that is the 2016 election. “And I feel like Trump, in my mind, is not dissimilar to Rodney King and OJ Simpson in that when they burst upon the public consciousness, in the way in which they’ve now been defined in our minds, they revealed a tremendous amount of support or fissures in our society that maybe many people thought weren’t there anymore. I think a lot of people before Rodney King or before the OJ verdict thought that racism was pretty well solved in America. It was a problem that was in the rear view mirror and then I think when both of those incidents came up, I think a lot of people realized we haven’t made as many advancements on the issues of race we thought we had.”
“Same thing with Trump I think showing America that a lot of people have a lot of angry and are angry at both political parties,” he argued.
Does that mean Carter believes Trump’s success in the GOP primary was largely due to appeals to racism?
“I don’t know if it’s specifically racism for many,” he said. “I think it is specifically racism for some. I resist calling people racist because you can never know what’s inside someone’s heart.”
“What I prefer to do is say, ‘well look at these actions,'” he went on. “So, for instance, Trump’s father was barring black people from renting from him, I would say look at that action. I would say if Trump’s foray into the world of politics really was the first with the Central Park Five, that the five men that were accused and wound up serving terms though later being proved innocent, and he’s still on the page that they’re guilty. Even though someone hasn’t confessed to that crime and even though they have been proved innocent, and many of them have served more than ten years.”
“The fact that he began his foray into politics with birtherism,” he continued. “You may not be racist but you may see an advantage in selling a product to people who are.”
Carter sees festering conflicts within both the Republican and Democratic parties set to explode no matter who wins the presidential election.
“I was thinking this morning, where does George Will or Mary Matalin, people who have now resigned from the Republican Party, where do they go for the next four years?” he asked. “Where are they four years from now, or people like them? …Where do those people go and how much natural support is there for that kind of a Republican anymore? I don’t know that there is. I’m not sure that there is.”
As for the Democratic Party, Carter says the progressive left won’t treat a President Hillary Clinton with kid gloves.
“We just had Bernie Sanders on our show,” Carter explained, “and he now carries with him a published copy of the Democratic platform and so when he talks, he will hold it up and he will say, ‘this is what Hillary Clinton has agreed to, so this that we fought for’ — and he will brandish it in front of him — ‘this is which we fought for, she has agreed to.'”
“So I can’t help but think that if she’s elected, she’s going to have very strong people on the left — Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others — holding her feet to the fire that we want this very progressive agenda passed,” he went on.
Carter interacts with dozens of politicos and politically-minded celebrities every year as the top producer of “Real Time.” So who does he think is the most politically astute celebrity in Hollywood?
“Although we’ve had some disagreements obviously in our last appearance, Ben Affleck is one of the most learned people,” Carter said. “Kerry Washington is somebody who knows a tremendous amount. …So Kerry can do panel, Ben Affleck can do panel, Seth McFarland can do panel, Rob Reiner can do panel and I know I’m forgetting some people but it’s not that big of a list.”
When asked who is the most overrated person in Washington, Carter didn’t name a specific person but instead described the type of person he finds most problematic.
“That general type to me is the very complacent journalist for whom keeping the relationship going with the interviewee is more important than getting the truth of the interview,” he said.
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