Barry Diller, the founder and chairman of IAC Interactive, knows show biz and New York real estate—and he is not impressed with the New York real estate mogul and superlative showman currently topping national politics polls.
“All he is is a huckster,” Diller said of Donald Trump. “Somebody who learned long ago in real estate that if you can make a big name for yourself, it can get you an extra dollar.” In addition to questioning the Republican front-runner’s motivation for running, Diller attacked Trump for appealing to the nation’s worser angels. “He’s a self-promoting huckster who found a vein,” Diller continued. “A vein of meanness and nastiness.”
Speaking with Erik Schatzker at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit, Diller vowed to pick up stakes if Trump becomes President Barack Obama’s successor. “If Donald Trump doesn’t fall, I’ll either move out of the country or join the resistance,” he said. But Diller expressed his certainty that a Trump presidency will never happen. He said he’d put his money on it.
Over the years, the media mogul has indeed put major money on political causes, most of them Democratic. According to records on file at the Federal Election Commission, he has contributed to former Senator (and current Democratic presidential front-runner) Hillary Clinton, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Vice President Joseph Biden, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, and Sean Eldridge, a gay rights activist who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year. Before the 2008 presidential race, Diller gave to Barack Obama . . . and to Obama’s Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona. Diller spoke in defense of his favorite Republican today, as he analyzed the environment that’s feeding Trump’s unexpected political rise.
“I just think it’s a phenomenon of reality television as politics. I think that that is how it started, reality television as you all know is based on conflict. Nobody wants to watch reality television of two housewives sitting in a room taking about where they’re going to go get their hair done. It’s all about conflict. Donald Trump, all he is is about conflict, and all that he is is negative conflict. The idea that anybody gets away with saying John McCain is not a hero because I like people who don’t get caught…” Exasperated, he could hardly finish the phrase. The reference was to Trump’s controversial dismissal of McCain’s record as a prisoner during the Vietnam War.
Asked to take account of his popularity, Diller would credit him with nothing.
“Zero,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with American anger at the elites. He has no communication strategy—except to be what he has always been, a nasty mean person criticizing people and doing, you know, silly kind of showman stuff. Where did he get a national reputation? From ‘The Apprentice.’ What did he do on ‘The Apprentice?’ He fired people.”