Donald Trump, Russia, Publisher discussed on Monocle 24: The Big Interview


That he was. He really did want to say the Siberian cranes wasn't just. Hang gliding with them for show and that he sympathized with my publisher for firing for not sending a reporter but he had overreacted and he wanted to set things straight and so my agenda was to draw him out a little bit about this showy gestures of his which was really fun and to tell him that the publisher had not merely overreacted but violated the law. Russia has this great press law and this goes back to the topic of how well-designed institutions can be. Russia is a really great press law that was written in nineteen, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety one that makes it illegal for the publisher to interfere in editorial operations but you know who cares anyway when we got to that topic conversation was very civil up until that point when we got to that topic, he said Okay I know what you're going to say thank you for coming in. Stood up, shook my hand and I was out of there. Let's talk. Then about trump you right early on in two thousand, sixteen, the New York review of books you'll rules for surviving autocracy. How well do you think that is held up when measured against three and a half years now if DONALD TRUMP Well he's has held up unfortunately extremely well. You know that that piece was not a blueprint for politically resisting autocracy. It was very much a piece about psychic an intellectual survival, which is what I felt was in a position to do the the the pieces are very funny history which has that like most people. I know I went to election watching party on November eighth and the party just kind of went sour and and everybody tried to slink away without saying goodbye to the hosts, and as I was biking home, I started getting phone calls and text messages from various acquaintances asking, what do we do now which I thought was really ridiculous because why would you ask me what we do now I was living in exile and clearly it like whatever I did not have not worked out that well for me. But as long bike ride and I kept thinking. Is there anything that actually that I have learnt? Right there's something that goes into this kind of letter from the future that I can send to my friends and I thought well, I have learned something about. Living in this kind of mushy reality and it was very clear I've been from the trump campaign. As you know American presidential campaigns are obscenely long so we had had ample opportunity to observe them. It was very clear that that's the period we're entering. And I also knew what it was like to really tried to resist something that you understand. Logically, you don't want to believe is happening, which is what we experienced in Russia with Putin for especially in the first few years. And I would experience with trump you write about this in the book in particular, how the media have responded to him. This almost desperate attempt to try to find something normal about what he's doing those sort of moments where he managed to get through some mindset peace without committing any great obvious howler indiscretion and all of the subways rewarded with aditorial saying he has become president at last excellent the and look I feel it in my soul I. Like I have there have been times when I watched trump's speech and thought okay okay that that was you know. Like that didn't I didn't have a feeling of bring shame at observing this for every second of that spectacle credit where it's Ju-. So, and I think and I I, want to make very clear right? I think that the. I really take the New York Times and some other media to task in the book but I think that the problem is real. It's not like there's like a great solution that the Times has just refusing to utilize in covering trump I think covering trump is in itself is essential to me. This is another point you make the the idea that as you say trump is is actually kind of a trap for journalists. Absolutely because here we have a president who lies all the time who not only lies but rob's executive speech of meaning, which is an extraordinary thing to think about it. So for example, he says. Let's inject ourselves with disinfectant and within hours poisoned centers around the country are inundated with calls from people who are either considering injecting themselves with disinfectant or have already injected themselves with disinfectant. So his speech because he has the biggest microphone or. Academic Speak Executive Speech Act Has Real life consequences that are immediate and tangible, and then the next morning he always kidding that meant nothing. And so how do you deal was something that on the face of it is nonsensical and he says means nothing when it actually has real life consequences. empirically means something. And that's a trap that we're constantly. Where view got to though on what strikes be one of the eternal questions about trump and there is a chapter in your book where you talk about, why would somebody even lie about the weather which he famously did or had people do for him about his inauguration? Do you get the sense now that trump does this deliberately with malice aforethought or is he just a genuine simpleton who just says things that pop into his head? Well, again I think both can be sort of true I mean, I don't think he is a mastermind of evil I think you know he doesn't have enough brain to mastermind of anything right? But then he is a very intuitive performer and that is that is a genuine talent. He performs the kind of. That he imagines himself having, right. And an integral part of that power is the power to say whatever he wants whenever he wants to. The power to force you to engage with his absurd statements because he has the power, right? It's the powerline it's self enforcing. And it is incredibly effective. Is Is there an element in which then you see the trajectory of Russia over the lost thirty years as a warning to the united. States now that this is what can happen absolutely, and obviously Russia is a has a very different history wrote a book about how it is very much shaped by sister Talibanism that will sort of my argument, but I, think that's one way of telling the story. In other way of telling the story is to hear where people who had a chance to live in a very different society and to invent a society, a new who had this opportunity that arises. From crisis and collapse. And who decided to hand that opportunity over two? Very uninteresting, uneducated curious man who promised Moustache Aclu transport them to an imaginary past. And in the United States, we have something very similar and we have an Talk sees do proceed by what I think module has laid.

Coming up next