Matt Taibbi appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers to discuss the rise of Donald Trump, the focus of his new book, Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus. “On the one hand, it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to this country,” Taibbi said of Trump’s victory. “On the other hand, it’s potentially the end of civilization.”
Taibbi suggested that the new President’s campaign irrevocably changed how future candidates run for office. “Trump’s brilliant innovation is to realize that the campaign trail story is just a big reality show,” Taibbi told his host. “It was a sucky boring reality show, and he turned it into an engrossing, impossible-to-miss reality show. I think what’s going to happen in the future is that politicians are going to try to run their campaigns like Trump did – try to stay in the news not just every day, but every second, every minute.”
In Taibbi’s view, once politicians embrace this approach, the media has little choice but to follow suit. “Financially they’re dependent also on hits and eyeballs and ratings,” he explained. “It’s very difficult to not make [the campaign] into a circus and a show. Any politician who does that the press is probably going to follow.”
Not all candidates are capable of pulling this off, though. Taibbi remembered Ted Cruz’s amusing attempt to gain additional attention on the campaign trail by doing impressions of characters from the classic film The Princess Bride. “No one has [Trump’s] total lack of self awareness,” Taibbi said.
Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus hit shelves earlier this month.