The celebrated filmmaker discusses the election of Donald Trump, the alt-right, and Trump son-in-law—and key advisor—Jared Kushner’s bizarre apathy towards anti-Semitism. “>
In June of last year, then Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump received his firstand one of his onlyendorsements from a publication. It came courtesy of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist website. The Daily Stormers stated goal, according to founder Andrew Anglin, is to ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated. In the wake of Trumps shock victory, Anglin urged his readers to troll mourning pro-Clinton liberals into committing suicide.
As if that werent enough, Trump also received endorsements from the American Nazi Party, whose chairman felt a Trump victory would present a real opportunity for the white nationalist movement, as well as the Crusader, otherwise known as the official newspaper of the KKK. And over the course of the campaign, both Trump and his eldest son, Donald Jr., shared anti-Semitic memes that originated on neo-Nazi message boards, while Don Jr. and Eric Trump gave interviews to white nationalist-affiliated outlets.
The Trump camps seeming embrace of the white nationalist movement, and their utter refusal to condemn any and all anti-Semitism spread in Trumps name, is particularly puzzling when you consider the fact that Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushner, who Trump advisers have called his real campaign manager, is an Orthodox Jew. Its even more baffling when you take into account how Trumps own daughter, Ivanka, converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry him.
Were pretty observant, more than some, less than others, Ivanka toldVogue last year. Its been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but Im also a very traditional person, and I think thats an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.
This conundrum baffles Rob Reiner, the celebrated filmmaker behind the movies This Is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, and many more.
I dont understand Jared Kushner at all. What is he doing? Hes turning his back on his religion and his heritage just so he can make money? I dont get it. I just cant wrap my mind around it, Reiner, who is Jewish, tells The Daily Beast.
The whole time while all those anti-Semitic memes were being passed on throughout the campaign, [Trump] certainly must have known, and his sons Eric and Don Jr. must have known they were retweeting things from anti-Semitic websites, he adds. Even if you want to cut them all the slack in the world, they have never to this day said, This is absolutely unacceptable and abhorrent that we are being supported by these groups of people. Theyve never said it! So theyre completely comfortable with the idea that anti-Semitic and racist groups are supporting them.
Reiner, a longtime Democrat, has a strange connection to Team Trump. He is the co-founder of Castle Rock Entertainment, a production company that produced many of Reiners films and developed a number of TV shows. Castle Rock was founded in 1987, and in 1989, they struck a deal with Westinghouse Electric to inject $48 million of equity into the company in exchange for a 15 percent ownership stake. Then, in the early 90s, Ted Turner wanted to buy Castle Rock, so Westinghouse hired the boutique investment bank Bannon & Co. to broker the deal for their cut of the company. In lieu of a fee, Bannon & Co. accepted a portion of Castle Rockincluding profit participation in five shows, one of which was a then struggling sitcom called Seinfeld. When the show sold into syndication, Bannon & Co.including its founder, Steve Bannonhit the jackpot.
Bannon, who is a racist, would later achieve notoriety first as an absolutely terrible documentary filmmaker, then as the chief executive of the alt-right website Breitbart, and finally as Trumps campaign manager turned chief strategistmaking him the Karl Rove of the Trump administration. The KKK and American Nazi party celebrated the news. Reiner felt ill.
If you read the stuff thats posted on Breitbart, its more than a dog whistle to white supremacistsits a dog bullhorn, Reiner says of the racist and sexist site. They print all this crap on there, then Trump takes this idea on and rides it all the way to the presidency.
Reiner had been fairly visible this election season, touting Hillary on the HBO program Real Time with Bill Maher and embarrassing the hosts of MSNBCs Morning Joe for toadying to Trump. The filmmaker is angry with the media for the way they balanced Trumps endless array of transgressions with Hillarys emails.
You look at the media and the way it covered things and think, what is going on here? How are we giving this man whos a pathological liar, a misogynist, a racist, and a fraudhow are we letting him have a free pass and were holding her up to emails like theres some sort of goddamn false equivalency? he exclaims.
And Trumps appearance on Jimmy Fallon was disgraceful. Jimmy Fallon messing up his hair was absolutely disgraceful, adds Reiner. This man is a racist misogynist who should be called out at every turn. Hes not a nice guy. Theres no regular guy here. And if you dont call him out, youre basically giving him a free pass.
Nobody has seemed more stunned by the election results than President-elect Trump, who was so convinced he was going to lose he didnt have any transition plan in place (by comparison, Mitt Romney had hundreds of pages of federal policy transitions written outas well as an entire transition websiteback in 2012). Like many Americans, Reiner isnt sure why Trump fought so hard for a job he doesnt even seem to want.
Trump knows how to promote himself and I think thats done out of a sheer desperation for wanting to be liked, says Reiner. It seems to me like this guys got a big hole in his heart and hes doing whatever he can to try to fill it. I dont think even the presidency is going to do that for him, and I think thats what hes going to discover.