Dick Cavett: 5 Questions the Media Should Be Asking Trump
A week following NBC's publicly criticized presidential forum, the three-time Emmy winner and host of his own talk show for nearly four decades suggests his own hard-hitting asks for the Republican presidential candidate.
One hears people complain that our media reporters and interviewers keep letting Trump off the hook. By that I mean, letting him fail to answer the question and instead of insisting he answer what was asked, allowing him to spew some of his trade-mark, semi-grammatical gobbledygook unchallenged. And then the "questioner" moves on to another question, without insisting on accuracy or some basic, easily verifiable factuality.
It reminds me of a time when a Nixon defender on my old show answered a question with such an impenetrable fog of an answer that I heard myself say, "Do you think, now, that perhaps you could come up with an answer at least remotely related to the question I asked?" I felt slightly guilty about the applause that followed that, but not painfully.
Who would have dreamed that one day a man running for president of the United States of America would deserve such a remark? Maybe more pointed wording is what is needed. Do questioners pussyfoot and fail to follow up for fear of losing their main ratings-getter for future appearances? (Hint: the answer is yes.)
Here are some random thoughts somebody might wish to use to confront the Donald:
1. When did it occur to you that you have what it takes to be POTUS? Before or after you were caught as a child throwing rocks at an infant in a playpen over a fence?
2. Why not take this opportunity to address once and for all how your bitter denunciations of trade agreements that take jobs from Americans by sending their business abroad are antithetical to your having your steaks and ties and other novelties manufactured in a variety of foreign countries, creating jobs for foreigners instead of Americans?
3. You once said that you like kids but don't want to raise them: You prefer to give the mother (or mothers) the money and let them do the, um, dirty work. Do you see the mammoth chore of kid-raising, then, as what's quaintly known as "women's work"?
4. Does it bother you that some say that down deep, Trump is aware of how unqualified he is for The Big Job and keeps trying to blow it? That the only reasons he really might want to be president would be to get two buildings constructed in Russia with his name on them and to wield executive-office pull over the plaintiffs in the Trump University lawsuit? How else can we explain insults to Gold Star parents of a dead hero, the shut-the-baby up incident, the "Punch 'em in the face" admonitions to his most lowbrow set of followers? The list lengthens.
5. Would it be more convincing — your claim to know "more about ISIS than the generals" — if you were to, in a burst of patriotism and generosity, share with those benighted generals two or three items of your expertise? If only for, say, the good of the country?
Let's close by playing a little game, Donald. I'll time you. Just for fun, see if you can talk for a full minute without using the words, "fantastic," "unbelievable," "believe me," or "amazing." Go!
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.