New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was interviewed by Rick Berke, executive director, STAT news, in front of an engaged crowd on our Center Stage today.
She recalled her first conversation with Trump long before he espoused any Presidential aims which was about, coincidentally enough, Russia. She spoke to him just before he met with Mikhail Gorbachev about a potential development deal, and Trump was hesitant and expressed doubt that Gorbachev and his team could be trusted. She saw him again shortly after he returned from his trip and he was effusive about the Russians and their trustworthiness, saying he now planned to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
As Maureen put it, that was when realized that one compliment is all it takes to change Trump’s policy.
When Rick asked if she ever expected him to become president Maureen responded, “Absolutely not.” But she did acknowledge the limitations of big data, and said she wasn’t surprised that data science failed to signal the election upset. In her opinion, Hillary Clinton relied upon “the awfulness of Trump” to get elected but failed to develop a truly inspirational message in her own right.
Despite likening Trump to a “little kid who shakes his head when he doesn’t want to eat his broccoli,” Maureen said he actually worries her less than “rule followers” like Dick Cheney or Mike Pence. Because Cheney was working within accepted norms, according to Maureen, he was able to do some “pretty terrible things that took years to come out.” Trump, by comparison, dashes off a Tweet to which people can instantly respond and mobilize against.
Maureen and Rick touched on the media industry, with Maureen admitting that “it’s a scary time to be a journalist.” He also asked for her thoughts on Boston and she called the city “her tribe,” saying she always feels at home from the second she lands at the airport. Based on the crowd’s reaction, it’s safe to say the feeling is mutual.