Election 2016

Desperate, Trump Offers Ambassadorships to Anyone Who Can Bring Famous Musicians to His Inauguration

Someone should just teach Scott Baio and Stephen Baldwin to dance and sing.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC

Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports that the Trump team is finding it impossible to get famous musicians to play his inauguration. According to the Wrap, inaugural committee members have offered high-profile stars up to seven figures to appear at the event, but established popular artists are reportedly unwilling to risk their names and reputations by being associated with this presidency. Now the Wrap reports that the Trump team—which is so big on quid pro quo it’s notable even in the super corrupt world of politics—is using ambassadorships in an attempt to lure A-list entertainers. The outlet reports that two talent bookers say they were offered “plush diplomatic posts in exchange for locking in singers.”

Here’s how things went down, per the Wrap’s sources, both of whom turned down the offers. One anonymous talent manager says Trump’s team told him he would receive “access to the administration” if he convinced a top star to put on a show at Trump’s coronation.

“They said they were in the process of ‘figuring out posts, ambassadorships and commissions’ if that was of any interest,” he told the Wrap.

Another booker says he was also offered an ambassadorship, but found the whole situation icky and quickly put the kibosh on things.

“Never in a million years have I heard something so crazy,” he reportedly told the Wrap, saying he “almost dropped the phone.”

A few days ago, Kanye West made a very public and endlessly covered entrance at Trump Towers. E! News later reported Kanye was invited to discuss becoming an "ambassador of sorts," or possibly taking on an "entrepreneurial leadership role." (Kanye later tweeted he met with Trump to disucss "multicultural" issues, which is too ludicrious an idea to even entertain, considering the parties involved.) That conversation may or may not have taken place, but it should be apparent by now that Trump's press team recognizes the value of optics above all else. Trump got a megastar rapper to come to his gilded perch for a photo op and to confound public conversations about his failure to secure talent. (Kanye got free press and the proximity to white wealth that's been his focus for years.) Obviously, Kanye’s appearance also has another benefit for Trump: it serves as a distraction from myriad other controversies, such as Russia's alleged cyberespionage efforts to help Trump win the election.

Not performing for Trump isn’t just for big stars, though! A bunch of Washington D.C. high school marching bands that have participated in parades for both Barack Obama and George W. Bush are sitting out this year’s event. A local NBC affiliate reports that “a D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman said she was not aware of any band in the district that had applied to participate in President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural parade Jan. 20.”

Likewise, Howard University’s band, which appeared at Obama’s 2009 inauguration parade, won’t be taking part this year. Director John Newson told NBC4 “the band had too few members and was facing budgetary constraints." But he also suggested there was probably an unspoken reason so many bands have conflicts preventing their involvement this year.

"I think everybody knows why and no one wants to say and lose their job," Newson said.  

John Legend, one of the A-list stars who definitely won’t be appearing at the inauguration, told the BBC he wasn’t shocked by the lack of enthusiasm fellow entertainers have for playing a Trump-associated bill. He suspects it’s probably because Trump ran a disgusting, immoral and violent campaign fueled by racism and xenophobia.

"Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate," Legend said. "We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that's preaching division and hate and bigotry, it's unlikely he'll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him."

Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s inauguration committee spokesperson, told the Wrap that actually, “first-class entertainers are eager to participate in the inaugural events.” Those chart-topping names have not yet been released, but probably will be in coming days. Probably.  

In the meantime, the team has announced that Jackie Evancho, a runner-up from the fifth season of "America's Got Talent," will sing the national anthem on Trump's big day. 

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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