Hey Donald Trump: Let me offer you a little advice. When you as President publicly mock a comedian, you will lose every time. First, the comedian will always be funnier. And two, as President of the United States you are supposed to focused on real issues – like the economy, fighting ISIS, etc. – not ranting at a comedian because his jokes got under your famously thin skin.
You would think Trump would know this – but apparently not. So there was Trump this week during an interview with Time Magazine going off on Stephen Colbert, attacking the late night host with a passion he has still not used to denounce Vladimir Putin.
Trump first declared that Colbert was “a no-talent guy” adding, “There’s nothing funny about what he says.” Then Trump, without a hint of irony, complained about Colbert’s use of language, calling it “filthy,” adding, “you have kids watching.” (Not sure what kids are up watching Colbert at 11:30 p.m. EST, but if they stay up that late, I’m sure they can take some harsh Trump jokes.) Apparently the anti-politically correct Trump wants Colbert to be PC with his jokes.
But Trump wasn’t done. He remarked that Colbert “was dying. By the way they were going to take him off television, then he started attacking me and he started doing better.” Well, Trump is partially correct here. Colbert’s ratings weren’t great last year – he even trailed Jimmy Kimmel at times. Flash forward and Colbert is now number one in overall viewers and that is in large part to Colbert crushing Trump on a nightly basis.
In response to Trump’s attack, Colbert employed comedic jujutsu. The comedian didn’t defend himself against Trump’s words or whine like Trump often does. Instead he welcomed Trump’s barbs.
He started with the words, “The President of the United States has personally come after me and my show. And there’s only one thing to say.” Colbert’s face then lit up as he ecstatically cackled: “Yeah!!!” The studio audience immediately burst into cheers, cheering: “Stephen! Stephen!”
The comedian, with a true sense of joy, added, “Mr. Trump. There’s a lot you don’t understand. But I never thought one of those things would be show business.” Continuing, “Don’t you know I’ve been trying for a year to get you to say my name?! And you were very restrained. Admirably restrained.”
Colbert then went in for the kill: “But now you did it! I won!” Colbert triumphantly declared: “Please, oh please! Don’t make me trend on Twitter again!”
And come Friday the headlines blared that Colbert had responded to Trump using comedy to effectively decimate the President. How could’ve Trump thought there would’ve been any other result? You can’t out-snark a professional comedian. It’s like going into a used car dealership and trying to out negotiate the salesman. It can’t be done. Haggling is what they do, every day, ten times a day. You haggle once or twice a year at best.
But Colbert’s best point – and the worst for Trump- is that attacks by Trump should no longer be feared, but welcomed to those in the public eye. When Trump attacks you it raises your visibility, helps you get ratings, sell books, etc.
For example, when Trump went after Congressman John Lewis in January, the result was Lewis’s memoir skyrocketing in sales on Amazon.com. Trump has attacked SNL numerous times via Twitter. What has been the impact? Well, SNL is seeing its best ratings in nearly 25 years. And in December when Trump took to Twitter to slam Vanity Fair and its editor Graydon Carter, the magazine saw a record spike in new subscriptions.
The bottom line is that Trump has slammed so many from fellow Republicans to the Pope (remember that!) to the media to comedians, his tweets no longer have a sting. In fact it truly seems they help those he attacks.
That’s why I’m begging Trump to slam me on Twitter. I even drafted a sample tweet for Trump he can simply copy and paste to make it easier:
.@Deanofcomedy is a no talent loser. Don’t listen to his new @SIRIUSXM radio show premiering this Monday 6PMET! #TheDeanObeidallahShow
If only Trump would do that, my first show on SiriusXM Progress channel this Monday would be guaranteed massive media coverage and bring in a big number of listeners.
Regardless of whether Trump gets it, the days of being worried about a Trump Twitter attack are gone. And perhaps when more Republicans in Congress get what Colbert and the rest of us understand, they will no longer fear standing up to Trump before he further undermines our nation.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.