Trump may be a 'clown,' but he was right about the media: Rolling Stone journalist

Donald Trump struck a chord when he seized on Americans' distaste for political journalists during last year's U.S. presidential election campaign, says the author of Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.

Matt Taibbi, author of Insane Clown President, talks to The National's Wendy Mesley about the rise of Trump

Matt Taibbi on Trump, mainstream media and America

6 years ago
Duration 13:18
Journalist Matt Taibbi, who covered Donald Trump's election campaign, reflects on the unforeseen rise of the president-elect and the future of America

U.S. political journalist Matt Taibbi is very clear about the fact that he doesn't like Donald Trump.

Still, the Rolling Stone columnist says the president-elect got more than a few things right during an election campaign that brought to the forefront America's struggles with racism, class divide and economic stagnation.

Taibbi, author of Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus, which hits shelves Jan. 17, sat down with The National's Wendy Mesley to talk about the billionaire New Yorker's unexpected rise to power in an increasingly polarized United States.

One of Trump's gambles that really paid off, according to Taibbi, was painting a target on the back of the U.S. political media. 

"The media and politicians had spent so much time with each other that they lost touch with regular people, and Trump capitalized on that. He made us in the media villains, representative of this out of touch, ivory tower political culture," he said. 

"I think there's some fairness to it, as much as I dislike Donald Trump, he hit a note, several notes, in this campaign that were true, and that was one of them."

He's not a deep thinker and his instincts for fixing everything are purely authoritarian.- Matt Taibbi, author and journalist 

Another one, he says, is Washington corruption. Taibbi believes Trump was correct to say that both Democrats and Republicans have become more beholden to their political donors than to their constituents, and his vow to "drain the swamp" struck a chord.

But he doesn't think Americans should hold their breath for their incoming president to fix any of the issues at the heart of his campaign rhetoric. 

"Even though his diagnoses on some things in some cases are accurate, it's his solutions that are the problem,"  Taibbi said. "He's not a deep thinker and his instincts for fixing everything are purely authoritarian."

Draining the swamp, he said, has become "a joke," as the president-elect keeps appointing people connected to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs to his White House administration, including incoming Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

Meanwhile, he said, scolding companies who move jobs across the border is not a long-term solution to unemployment, nor will building a border wall fix the immigration system. 

"These are childlike ideas, but they're successful because the public craves simple solutions to things," Taibbi said. "They want to see change next year and Trump promised them that, even though he probably really can't deliver."

You can also catch Wendy's interview with Matt Taibbi on The National tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.