Scott Timberg, a "staff writer for Salon, focusing on culture," is utterly baffled that Donald Trump could be interviewed by Stephen Colbert (video below) and not be "demolished."He shouldn't be.
Trump "has a nice sense of humor about himself" and "has become bulletproof," laments Timberg, who realizes the candidate
made this clear last night when he called in to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” This should have allowed Colbert – one of the nation’s finest political satirists and the sharpest interviewer on late night – to skewer Trump hard. He set the bit up looking like he’d get the best of Trump, with an orange Trump wig on his bat phone.
Colbert is an excellent political satirist, which he demonstrates each night on The Late Show- as he did on "The Colbert Report"- when he does his stand-up (or, rather, his sit-down). However, as an interviewer, he is poor, and not unintentionally. On Comedy Central, Colbert did interviews strictly for laughs while presenting a facade of gravitas. Now on CBS, he plays the interviews mostly for laughs. As on "The Colbert Report,", he does "set the bit up" in such a way that he can be expected to skewer the interviewee, but backs off before he has a chance to offend his subject. the commercial success which comes with ratings is key.
Timberg notes: “'I’ve got a suggestion,'” Colbert offers. 'Why don’t you have a swear jar? Every time you say a bad word, you put a billion dollars in it.” The crowd goes wild. Trump sheepishly agrees. “I’m gonna do that, I like that.' But he’s not defeated. He seems, oddly, like a good sport.'" That shouldn't be surprising, given that every guest on TCR learned what each one on The Late Show is learning: one needs only to be "a good sport" when interviewed by Stephen Colbert to look good.
When the two discuss politics, Trump mentions that he would, if he were president, push for a new Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia even if it was an election year — and then contradicts himself by saying that President Obama should wait for the next president to do it. (Colbert doesn’t call him on it the fact that this makes no sense, either.) Alright, sounds good!
Of course he didn't call the guest on a contradiction, though occasionally he will do so. However, Donald Trump may (although won't) become the next President. Additionally, he has a habit of condemning or viciously ridiculing people he doesn't like. John Ellis Bush still is looking for his manhood and Megyn Kelly still is searching for her self-respect- or would be if she had any to find.
The Salonist adds
The audience had its laugh and Colbert got some good lines across. But the strange thing is that Trump won the exchange. He was mocked, laughed at, and booed by the audience. “You’re not making any friends here, Donald,” Colbert said as the crowd groaned. He may not have convinced the liberals and progressives gathered in the studio. But for a lot of people watching on television, this came across as just riffing. For them, this was just fun. For Trump it certainly seemed to be.
Just as Kanye West and Taylor Swift manipulate their public presences, alliances and feuds, Trump appears to know exactly what he’s doing, too. He’s spinning us all – even Colbert.
There is nothing strange about Trump winning the exchange. Nor is there anything unusual about spinning the extraordinarily smart Colbert. It's the way he wants it, and it occurs continually. It's the way he rolls and it's commercially successful. His synchophantic audience eats it up while clueless it is being played.
Concluding, Timberg remarks
What’s dangerous is that Trump can get in and out of an interview with someone as sharp as Colbert without being demolished. Colbert fans came out of this thinking their guy won, but Trump fans have every reason to think the same thing.
It’s not quite charm, but something more unusual, and more pernicious. If he’s elected, could Trump become the real Teflon president? Let’s hope we don’t find out.
What's really dangerous is that the more consistently right-wing Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also "could get in and out of an interview with someone as sharp as Colbert without being demolished." Smile a lot; laugh a little; be charming throughout, the sort of thing jsut begging to be pulled off by shallow Marco. It's not a complicated formula and it works every time with Colbert. And it will keep working as long as media members like Scott Timberg don't recognize their idol's own formula.