Documentarian Ken Burns scorches Trump’s Republican Party: 'They’ve now abandoned all admirable mandates — and replaced them with xenophobic rants’

Documentarian Ken Burns scorches Trump’s Republican Party: 'They’ve now abandoned all admirable mandates — and replaced them with xenophobic rants’
Ken Burns image by Peabody Awards, Wikipedia

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns says he’d need 25 years of distance before tackling an examination of President Donald Trump.


The filmmaker has produced instant classics on the Civil War, National Parks and the Vietnam War, as well as his latest epic, “Country Music,” but he has never seen anything in U.S. history quite like the hatred unleashed by this president, reported The Daily Beast.

“This action is not unprecedented, but having this action come from the presidency is unprecedented,” Burns told the website in a wide-ranging interview. “This is a Republican Party founded in 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, which had one purpose, which was the abolition of slavery. They achieved that with their second candidate, which was Abraham Lincoln, and they’ve been running away from that mandate ever since.”

He said the GOP’s degradation that has persisted through 150 years has been completed under Trump.

“They’ve now abandoned all the other admirable mandates, like fiscal responsibility, conservatism, a level playing field for everyone,” Burns said, “and instead replaced it with this populist, xenophobic rant.”

He blames Trump’s election, in large part, on social media, which Burns said has allowed foreign adversaries to interfere in U.S. politics and gave Trump a political platform.

“If the Russians can influence our election with 278 million Facebook ads, how is that good?” he said. “How is that ‘social?’ Social is communication between people; not lies fostered on them. It’s not social. I don’t do any of that shit! Why would you? Get off social media. Lose your Facebook. Stop Twitter. Don’t do any of that stuff anymore.”

“What does it do? Nothing!” Burns continued. “We have a president only because he’s good at Twitter, who is a megalomaniac. Get off it! Why listen? Why pay attention? I read a couple of newspapers, only in the hard copy, and I watch some broadcast news. That’s it.”

“I don’t need to do it!” he added. “It sucks! It’s like stepping in dogsh*t!”

Even if social media promotes the worst instincts in human behavior, Burns said the Trump era offers opportunities for hope.

“There will always be idiot bigots, and there will always be heroic people trying to stand up to them,” he said.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.