President Donald Trump last year accused the entertainment industry of bias against conservatives, but music and television executive Scooter Braun says he objects to Trump’s divisive rhetoric more than his policies.
Braun, the Los Angeles-based manager of pop stars Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, told Yahoo Finance that he doesn’t disagree with all of Trump’s decisions but that Trump tarnishes even effective actions with incendiary and divisive language.
“I don't think, like many people in Los Angeles, everything he says is awful,” says Braun, the chairman of entertainment holding company Ithaca Holdings. “I don't think everything the man does has to be the worst thing of all time.”
“The problem is even when he does something good, he finds a way to ruin it with his rhetoric,” Braun adds, in a newly released interview, taped on May 20.
“He has a job not only as a leader, but as a figurehead for our morality,” says Braun. “I think that's where he's disappointed me the most.”
In recent months, Trump has repeatedly referred to the novel coronavirus as the “Kung Flu,” a racist reference to the pandemic’s origins in Wuhan, China. In late May, Twitter drew attention when it warned users that an incendiary tweet from Trump about racial justice protests in Minneapolis had “glorified violence.”
Last August, Trump turned his attacks on the entertainment industry, calling Hollywood “really terrible” and “racist.” He elaborated with criticism of “the movies they’re putting out,” but did not specify a particular film.
At at a town hall event in March, Trump defended his rhetoric as necessary for his political success. “When they hit us, we have to hit back,” he said.
Braun said Trump’s inflammatory language polarizes the U.S. and prevents political consensus.
“He finds a way to separate us and divide us,” Braun says.
Braun made the remarks in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
While critical of Trump, Braun acknowledged the dysfunctional political discourse extends beyond the White House.
“I just think it's more than Donald Trump,” he says. “I think the entire climate on both sides is very frustrating for me.”
“I don't think you should be yelling at the same people you claim to protect,” he adds. “That goes for both sides.
The public wants political leaders who respect the its concerns and foster constructive dialogue about how to address important issues, Braun said.
“I think people are desperately, desperately at this point, looking for real leadership and hoping that that leadership makes them feel valued and allows them to have a conversation with their neighbor,” he says.