Media Buzz

The Meryl Streep performance: Why Hollywood hates Trump playing the presidential role

'MediaBuzz' host Howard Kurtz weighs in on Meryl Streep 'hijacking' the Golden Globes to deliver a political speech against Donald Trump

 

I strongly disagree with Donald Trump: I think Meryl Streep is the finest actress of her generation.

I also wish she hadn’t used her Golden Globes platform to become the latest Hollywood type to bash Donald Trump.

Whether it’s the cast of “Hamilton” or a celeb video urging obstruction of the new president or now the woman receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award, these performers are playing to their base. They seem to willfully reject the fact that we just had a hard-fought election and their preferred candidate lost.

More fundamentally, whether it’s actors or singers or NFL quarterbacks, I think the country is growing weary of political diatribes being injected into entertainment events. They have every right to speak out, of course, but to do it before a mass audience tuning in for an awards show feels a little bit like hijacking the event.

And, of course, if the president-elect responds, he’s depicted as a bully in liberal quarters. The banner headline in yesterday’s Huffington Post: “TRUMP LASHES OUT AT MERYL: ‘HILLARY LOVER.’”

Doesn’t “lash out” suggest you’re striking the first blow?

Now Streep was undeniably a Hillary Clinton supporter; she introduced her at the Democratic convention. And she’s hardly some empty-headed teenage pop idol. So she began with a defense of Hollywood, saying it was composed of people from across the country, like her home state of New Jersey.

Then came the not-naming-him-but-everyone-knows-who-I-mean part:

“There was one performance this year that stunned me,” she said. “It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.”

Streep was referring, obviously, to the accusation that Trump mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has limited use of his arms, after Kovaleski said an article he wrote after 9/11 did not support the claim that thousands of Muslims had celebrated on New Jersey rooftops. Trump denied that he was making fun of the reporter’s disability as he did a jerking-around imitation of him; it was not his finest hour.

Streep revived the 2015 episode to paint a dark portrait of Trump:  “And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, ’cause it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”

Trump, not one to let such attacks pass, tweeted that Streep is “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood” and “a Hillary flunky who lost big.” In a late-night phone call with a New York Times reporter, Trump said he wasn’t surprised at being chastised by “liberal movie people,” adding: “I was never mocking anyone. I was calling into question a reporter who had gotten nervous because he had changed his story.”

Streep also had a message for the media: “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage.”

Now I fully endorse the first part, about the press holding politicians accountable. The second part--"every outrage"--is obviously a partisan slam that assumes there will be endless outrages.

I’d offer a brief reminder that Trump hasn’t even taken office yet. Are we looking at four years in which most of the entertainment community—and part of the media—will entrench themselves in an anti-Trump opposition camp?

Imagine the Golden Globes of 2009, if, say, Phil Robertson of someone from "Duck Dynasty" had used the occasion to rip Barack Obama. Wouldn't there be howls of media outrage about how inappropriate that was? Yet I haven't seen much of that in the press when it comes to Streep.

I guess the notion of giving a new president a chance, whether you supported him or not, is hopelessly quaint. I didn’t like it any better when some conservatives dug into immediate opposition against Obama and vowed to “take our country back,” as if he hadn’t been properly elected in 2008.

The Streep story has gone viral, deflecting attention from the spate of Trump nominees getting their confirmation hearings this week. Mitch McConnell has been noting that the Republicans cooperated in confirming seven Obama nominees as he took office, but conveniently forgetting his demand that they first had to submit their financial disclosures, which he has now dropped.

Meryl Streep knows how to give a great performance. It’s too bad she was only playing to half her audience, the part that voted against Trump.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.