Over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that Donald Trump, in spite of all evidence, had claimed over the summer to a Republican Senator — and then again recently to an adviser — that the tape produced by the NBC show Access Hollywood was potentially fake. Many took it as a sign that Trump may be suffering from dementia or possibly setting himself up for an insanity defense at some point in the future.
I don’t think it’s anything quite so clever.
I think Trump’s problem is quite literally that he says whatever serves him best in exactly the moment that he says it. That means that if he puts in a book that he believes in gun control, it helps him sell books. Then if he says gun control is out of the question, it helps him get votes from his red-meat base and money from the NRA. If he supports abortion rights, he looks good to the majority of Americans who believe in a woman’s bodily autonomy. If he turns around and denies he ever said any such thing, he can secure the support of evangelicals.
So when the infamous video of Trump and host Billy Bush on a bus in 2005 having a disgusting conversation about exploiting women came to light just weeks before the election, Trump knew that the only way to retain his “moral majority” voters was to acknowledge it, apologize, and if possible, dismiss it as the behavior of “boys being boys” (even if he was nearly 60 when the tape was recorded).
Now that there has been a paradigm shift in women’s ability to come forward with their painful stories of just the kind of treatment that’s described in the tape between Trump and Bush, it has become inconvenient once more for Trump to cop to any of that behavior himself. Trump knows that if he goes back to denying the veracity of the tape, his followers will believe him, or at least for long enough to redirect their attention.
Access Hollywood is having none of that.
At the top of the Monday broadcast, host Natalie Morales made sure that everyone knows the truth:
We wanted to clear something up that has been reported across the media landscape. Let us make this perfectly clear — the tape is very real. Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker-room talk.’ He said every one of those words.”
I mean, there really wasn’t any doubt among those who aren’t actively trying to excuse Trump’s ongoing garbage behavior. We all know what we saw with our own two eyes. For anyone who’s having a hard time recalling exactly how that all went down, though, there’s always the video of the interview Melania Trump did with Anderson Cooper, where she describes Donald apologizing to her for his words — they were newlyweds at the time, after all. Or you could refresh your memory with the interview Billy Bush did with Robin Roberts, in which he talks about everything that was said and how it destroyed his career, much of his hopes and dreams, and nearly his relationship with his family.
But you don’t need any of that. Just go ahead and share this article that very conveniently contains it all with that family member who’s having trouble remembering Trump repeating the phrase “locker room talk” until America wanted to vomit.
Here’s the video you came to see:
TRUMP: The “Access Hollywood” tape might be fake
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: What you talkin’ ’bout Willis? pic.twitter.com/EOFtO26czr
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 28, 2017
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images