Donald Trump being so quickly written off by many critics when he first announced his 2016 presidential campaign was the first clue to Lorne Michaels that the billionaire businessman would likely be around for a while.
Talking with the New York Times Magazine for a piece published Tuesday, the creator of Saturday Night Live said the situation reminded him of when Ronald Reagan announced his bid for the White House.
“Whenever anybody is that quickly dismissed, you know the critics probably aren’t right,” Michaels told the magazine. “I remember in ’79, ’80, Democrats said, ‘You know, Reagan’s an actor.’ Like voters don’t know that. There’s a smugness to that attitude that causes the voting public to go, ‘We’re smarter than that.'”
Trump, who has been ahead in the polls essentially since entering the race last year, is not always couth, and that is an asset, said Michaels.
“Donald’s giving voice to what polite society has sort of sat on for a while, things that are felt but that no one is articulating. There is something happening there, or it wouldn’t be resonating,” he told the magazine.
Since throwing his hat into the race, Trump has hosted SNL, a somewhat controversial move for two reasons: First, it ruffled feathers of other GOP candidates who wanted their fair share of free airtime, as is mandated in FCC regulations. Second, the show and NBC were criticized by Latino groups for allowing Trump onstage, a rage that stemmed from comments he made early on in his campaign concerning undocumented immigrants from Mexico being criminals.
Michaels said he did not understand the “platform” argument.
“I don’t go along with the idea that the American people can’t make up their own minds, and that if you expose them to these things, they will just be swept along. I mean, we have another year of this. Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said, according to the magazine.
As for how far Trump will go in his White House bid, Michaels said he had “no idea.”
Added Michaels: “He could end up being the moderate. People are always looking for [the show] to be on the side of [Hillary] Clinton, and that’s not what we do. If Trump is ascendant, then we will be discussing that.”