Dean Obeidallah says Bill O'Reilly is wrong when he suggests that entertainment execs are pressuring celebrities not to take part
Problem for Trump's inaugural is that his campaign trafficked in hate, Obeidallah writes
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Donald Trump wants yuge celebrities to perform at his presidential inaugural events next month. In fact, Trump’s former campaign manager and now adviser Kellyanne Conway even made a plea on national TV a few weeks ago, asking Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars to call her to be part of the festivities. This week it was announced that the Radio City Rockettes will perform (though there are reports some are reluctant).
As of now, none of the big name A-list celebrities are biting. And that’s a great thing.
Celebrities shouldn’t lend their fame to normalize or validate Trump’s history of racism, bigotry and sexism. And by being a part of his inauguration they would be doing just that.
They would be saying it’s OK Trump demonized Latinos, Muslims and immigrants. They would be telling us they are cool with his sexist remarks and mocking of a disabled reporter. And that they are not disgusted by Trump bragging in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape about his sexually assaulting women and then publicly shaming the victims of his alleged sexual misconduct who had the courage to come forward.
But for some on the right, like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, these celebrities aren’t saying no to Trump’s inauguration because they are personally repulsed by Trump’s history of hate. Rather, as O’Reilly claimed on his show Wednesday night, the real reason celebrities aren’t signing on to the Trump inaugural festivities is because “some very powerful entertainment people in America do not want the Trump inauguration to be a star-studded event.”
O’Reilly even alleged that “veiled threats” have been made and that performers are “scared that they will lose work if they show up.”
To O’Reilly, this is just another example of how progressives refuse to accept a Republican president. But O’Reilly is dead wrong.
This is neither a Democratic versus Republican nor conservative versus liberal issue. It’s specific to Trump. He’s not a mainstream Republican who some on the left have policy disagreements with on key issues. Rather, Trump is unique – he’s a person whose campaign trafficked in hate.
In fact, when Republican George W. Bush was inaugurated president in 2001, he didn’t have a problem securing stars to be a part of his inaugural event. Rather, a bevy of A-list stars were a part of his inaugural festivities, including Destiny’s Child – which at the time included Beyoncé – as well as other big names of the day, including Ricky Martin, Jessica Simpson and country stars like Clint Black and Lyle Lovett.
True, President Obama had bigger names at his 2009 inaugural events, such as U2, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder, but Bush’s list was still impressive.
And in 2005, Bush’s second inaugural attracted a racially diverse list of well-known celebrities, including Gloria Estefan, Kelsey Grammer and 2003 “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard.
The difference between Bush and Trump is clear: Bush didn’t run a campaign that demonized minorities and women. Trump did.
And O’Reilly’s claim that “powerful entertainment people” are preventing celebrities from being a part of the Trump festivities is like so much of what Fox News broadcasts in prime time: fact-free. O’Reilly offered zero evidence to support his claim that some nefarious groups of Hollywood executives are threatening celebrities to stay away from Trump’s inauguration.
If conservatives truly were being blacklisted by “powerful entertainment people” then why do we see Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight, Vince Vaughn, Gary Sinise, and a long list of other outspoken conservatives working successfully in Hollywood. It’s also interesting that none of these people were at the Republican National Convention this year, instead we saw only the likes of Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr.
And from a business point of view, keep in mind Trump received almost 63 million votes, that’s a lot of people to sell your wares to if you saddle up to Team Trump. Yet, still many celebrities are saying no to Trump despite the potential economic upside.
Just so it’s clear, I’m not nor is anyone to my knowledge calling for celebrities to boycott Trump’s inaugural events. It should be a decision based on the conscience of each individual.
But to those stars who say no to Trump, many Americans commend you for refusing to be a part of festivities to honor a man who utilized hate to elevate himself to the highest office in the land.