Shut Up and Sing: Hillary Clinton Roasts Trump at the Grammys

So, this happened at last night’s Grammy Awards telecast:

The people’s champ appeared on “Music’s Biggest Night” during a pre-taped sketch that had host James Corden holding spoken-word auditions for Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s bestselling book (novel?) about the chaotic Trump administration.

There was Cher discussing Trump’s Just for Men-style “combover”; Snoop Dogg reading a passage on Trump’s inauguration, assuring the audience he was not in attendance; Cardi B hilariously going over how Trump goes to bed “with a cheeseburger,” adding, “I can’t believe this! This is how he really lives his life?!” And then, last but not least, Corden brought on Trump’s Democratic opponent, Clinton.

“He had a longtime fear of being poisoned—one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s: Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made,” read the would-be commander in chief.

She then turned to Corden and said, “The Grammy’s in the bag?”

As Corden noted, the bit received perhaps the biggest cheer of the night—unsurprising, given how the Grammys were held in the heart of Manhattan at Madison Square Garden, a borough that voted overwhelmingly in favor of Clinton despite Trump calling it home.

While I’m not a fan of either of the major 2016 candidates, my preference for Clinton over Trump was clear. And that’s only grown since the election. Still, it’s not only unseemly for the losing candidate to continue taking shots at the winner (albeit not as much as the winner continuing to take shots at the loser) but it seems incredibly self-defeating for the Grammys to consciously alienate half the country by organizing a political stunt that has nothing to do with music. It’s hardly a shock that Cher and Snoop Dogg–indeed, the vast majority of the entertainment industry—hold Trump in disdain. But, surely, there’s enough for the music industry to celebrate to make it through an awards show without this sort of nonsense?

UPDATE: There are certainly times when these sort of events can’t escape being political. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks comes to mind. Or even the post-Weinstein/#MeToo moment at this year’s Academy Awards. In those instances, it would be weird not to acknowledge the elephant in the room. But there’s no obvious tie between Trump, Wolff, and the music industry.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jay L. Gischer says:

    It is unseemly.

    There is a giant catalog of unseemly things that we have experienced over the last 2 years, only a few of which are attributable to Clinton, or the music industry. Seemliness doesn’t seem to carry much water these days. Unseemliness gets you elected president, it would appear.

    And this is the strange genius of Trump. He does so much that is unseemly, that we end up holding him to a different standard than everyone else just out of exhaustion.

    The music industry has always been very political, though. Once Blood, Sweat and Tears agreed to go to the Soviet Union on behalf of the Nixon Administration, they got shunned by the rest of the business.




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  2. Tony W says:

    despite Trump calling it home.

    More likely because of Trump calling it home.




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  3. Franklin says:

    Maybe it would have played better if was actually funny? In any way?




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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L. Gischer: Oh, there’s no doubt that the era of Trump makes this sort of thing more tempting. But it also begs for a respite.

    @Franklin: That would help, too.




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  5. Gustopher says:

    Given how polarized the country is, I don’t understand why anyone who produces a product would want to get themselves entangled with politics.

    But, until the chants to “Lock Her Up” are gone, I think Clinton does the country a service by remaining visible and publicly tweaking the would be fascist in chief. It’s not unseemly at all.




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  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    It was unseemly that the swift boaters would lie about John Kerry too, and he refused to engage with them. Look what happened because of that “respite”.
    Nonsense…as long as Republicans continue to use Clinton to try to distract from everything wrong with Trump…then Clinton does us a service by poking the bear.
    Just don’t run again, lady.




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  7. Kylopod says:

    It’s important to keep in mind that this was light-hearted and humorous. It’s not the equivalent of, say, Michael Moore’s 2004 Oscar acceptance speech that was just an extended diatribe against President Bush. Under any previous president, this sketch would barely have been seen as a political attack at all, because most previous presidents had a sense of humor. Remember how Dubya had a group of advisors called “the Department of Strategery,” in reference to an SNL skit making fun of his malapropisms? The problem is that Trump is so maniacally thin-skinned that it’s taken as a given that he’d hate this skit. Nikki Haley’s complaints about politicizing the Grammys are an indication of how much the president‘s defenders expect everyone to bow to his level of childish narcissism.




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  8. michilines says:

    Did you complain about the CMA Awards in 2013? No? Okay then.




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  9. Hal_10000 says:

    My main beef is that they choose to amplify Wolff when it seems that parts of his book are … dubious at best and he’s now been running around insinuating that Nikke Haley is sleeping with Trump.




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  10. TM01 says:

    Yup.

    She sure showed him.

    Too bad no one actually saw it.

    Grammy ratings are down 20% from 2017. I wonder why….




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  11. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I was a Bush voter who excoriated the Swift Boat attacks at the time. But I’m not sure what that has to do with political stunts at an awards show.

    @Kylopod: Trump’s being thin-skinned is both true and beside the point. The Grammys aren’t “Saturday Night Live.”

    @michilines: It turns out that, while I’ve written quite a few posts about country music over the years, I’ve literally never mentioned the CMA Awards. But politicizing non-political entertainment events has been a longstanding pet peeve of mine, which I’ve commented on many times over the years.

    @TM01: While I doubt anticipation of this skit had anything to do with the decline in the show’s ratings (although, I must confess, I didn’t even realize the show was on last night before reading about this stunt this morning), I can’t imagine its becoming overtly political will broaden its appeal.




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  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I’m not sure what that has to do with political stunts at an awards show.

    It has to do with not sitting idly by while you are being dragged thru the mud. You act like this comes out of nowhere, and Trumplican’s haven’t been pillorying Clinton on a near daily basis since the election. By one count Denture Don has tweeted about Clinton 75 times since his small inauguration. That’s more than once a week. She should ignore it? BS.




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  13. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I’m not saying she should ignore it, but stooping to his level does her no favors. Especially at this stage.




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  14. MarkedMan says:

    James, I agree with you about overly politicizing everything. Trump is a pig and the Roy Moore Republicans are big fat easy shots but they are 100% of the moment. A rewards show, of all things, should place the ceremony and the awards themselves with an eye towards the long term view.

    That said, I think Clinton was wise to take advantage of this and any other opportunity to show that a real American will not be intimidated by the Budding-Fourth-World-Dictator and Trash Can in chief, and the traitorous Fox News Republicans who seek to intimidate political opposition by threatening to order the FBI and Justice Department to manufacture phony charges. Like (hey what a coincidence) they do in Donnie Boy’s idol Putin’s Russia.




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  15. edmondo says:

    Well, if you want to make sure Hillary doesn’t show up at the Grammy’s next year, just hold them in Wisconsin.




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  16. MarkedMan says:

    @edmondo: Cheap shot… but funny. Points for speed, too.




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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    By one count Denture Don has

    Actually, this brings up something I’ve been wondering about. A few weeks back when Trump was obviously slurring his words, the “Denture Don” thing started up. The most cynical said it was a sign of dementia or stroke, but for those of us who have relatives with dentures, we thought we recognized the tell tale slippage that comes with ill fitting dental work. But Dr. Ronny says that Trump doesn’t wear partials or dentures. So what caused the slurring?




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  18. DrDaveT says:

    it seems incredibly self-defeating for the Grammys to consciously alienate half the country

    Two thoughts on that:

    1. The half of the country that voted for Trump mostly watches the CMAs, not the Grammys.
    2. If the artists and labels involved would prefer not to have the custom of Trump voters, isn’t that the kind of principles-before-profits patriotism that we’re supposed to admire and encourage?




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  19. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    stooping to his level

    That’s the point of the Swift Boat analogy…you have to get down and fight them in the mud because, as John Kerry proved, if you try to stay above the fray you will lose. My biggest problem with the Dems is that they don’t have a collective spine and don’t know how to put up a fight. (wath them fold on DACA) Maybe Clinton’s appearance wasn’t brilliant…but it was an attempt…and judging by the WH reaction…she tagged them good.




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  20. michael reynolds says:

    I had a bigger problem with the Grammys: the music. I am so sick of over-produced, homogenized, inoffensive music, tedious ballads sung by people who don’t write the songs or play an instrument, but dress well. Show me a single track highlighted last night that for originality and musicianship can touch A Day In The Life which the Beatles wrote and performed 51 years ago. Lady Gaga, who is a real musician, tried to lead pop into more adventurous territory a few years ago, but fell victim to hubris and a dull music business.

    It’s not that great music isn’t being created, here are still great punk, ska, rock and roll, R&B bands out there being steadily ignored in favor of straight-to-Vegas manufactured music. And that’s not even getting into the on-going diss of hip-hop. Can we not spare a moment to acknowledge that with hip-hop, black musicians once again (gospel, jazz, R&B, blues, rock) stabbed an epi-pen into music? You know what the Grammy’s is without ‘black’ music? It’s the Country Music Awards.

    Music hasn’t sucked this hard since disco.

    As for politicization, in the good old days those feelings would have been in the music. They talk politics because they don’t have the daring or originality to put it down in lyrics. Where are this generation’s Dylan, Baez, Country Joe or Fogerty?

    No one will remember the speeches, but. . .

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag
    Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
    And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no

    . . . still works 49 years on.




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  21. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As for politicization, in the good old days those feelings would have been in the music. They talk politics because they don’t have the daring or originality to put it down in lyrics.

    A really good point.




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  22. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But Dr. Ronny says that Trump doesn’t wear partials or dentures. So what caused the slurring?

    Did the Dr. look or did he take Trump’s word for it?




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  23. pylon says:
  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    My main beef is that they choose to amplify Wolff when it seems that parts of his book are … dubious at best

    God forbid opposition to Trump should be anything less than perfect and pristine.




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  25. al-Ameda says:

    Democrats are held to higher standard than Republicans.

    Remember Michelle Obama’s ‘When they go low, we go high’ admonition and exhortation? Yeah, well, Republicans have shown us that there are no negative consequences for Republicans who engage in this kind of cheesy ‘politicking.’

    I would advise Democrats who want to apologize for this, to not do anything of the kind. In fact, if Republicans want Democrats to apologize and/or distance themselves from it – tell Republicans to ‘eat it’ or ‘bite me.’ Why should Republicans have all the fun? The majority of the people ticked off by this are conservative FoxNews viewers who wet the bed every time Sean Hannity tells them that we’re still not sure that Hillary didn’t have Seth Rich killed.




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  26. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t know if the grammy’s used to recognize artists who protested or not. But I do know that the Grammy’s have never recognized anything but the most popular stuff out there, at least in the major awards. Years ago, a lot of my favorite artistst could fill sports stadiums (My god, the Dead at Silver Stadium in Rochester, NY) but even back in the day some of the best performers had to go to music towns to even fill a significant bar (one of the best concerts I ever saw was Stanley Clark at a dinner bar). But there also are a lot of really, really good performers out there now. For some reason I’ve been big into Canadian Independent music for the past ten years or so (although the streaming agreements has killed the podcast that introduced me to so much). Here’s a few things just for comparisons:

    A really unusual take on the Afghan war, but not a protest song. It’s a song I play over and over.

    And here’s a great rap song that is not just more of the “I am so amazing and cool and am the baddest and…cred!… hood!”It starts out as a paean to the difficulties of staying in shape and then goes on from there

    And here is a great voice from the 70’s protest movement, but doing a very up to date protest song about other issues – Buffy Saint Marie God, the woman can still control a crowd and kick ass.

    I could go on and on. I just made a playlist of all the songs I individually purchased on iTunes over the past 5 years. Most of them are less than ten years old and they are all fantastic.




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  27. MarkedMan says:

    Looks like three links are too many. Can someone rescue my “greatest hits” post from the mod queue? Thanks




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  28. michael reynolds says:

    @pylon:
    Thanks!

    I am slightly clued in by having two kids, one who is straight-up Top Ten, and the other who likes the sorts of things enjoyed by people in the artsier regions of the country.

    My own tastes are regrettably undeveloped: two guitars, a bass and drums, and play till your fingers bleed and the audience strokes out from the sheer pressure wave from the amps. But I am basically a fourteen year-old boy.




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  29. Hal_10000 says:

    @gVOR08:

    There are literally thousands of people out there doing great work exposing Trump’s corruption, idiocy and incompetence. There is no reason to throw in with Wolff’s absurd sensationalism.




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  30. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    It’s important to keep in mind that this was light-hearted and humorous. It’s not the equivalent of, say, Michael Moore’s 2004 Oscar acceptance speech that was just an extended diatribe against President Bush.

    Moore was speaking for himself.

    A skit produced by the show runners speaks for the entire awards show, and to some extent, for the industry itself.




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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000:

    My main beef is that they choose to amplify Wolff when it seems that parts of his book are … dubious at best

    On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being complete falsehoods, and 10 being the Daily Press Briefing, where would you put this book?

    12? 50? 214?

    The Wolff book seems like the perfect expose of the post-truth Presidency.




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  32. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “he’s now been running around insinuating that Nikke Haley is sleeping with Trump.”

    I thought this was a misreading, and he’s really running around insinuating that Hope Hicks is sleeping with Trump. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Haley’s outrage was a deliberate attempt to turn people’s attention away from Hicks.




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  33. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: And let’s not forget about all those annoying kids on your lawn!




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  34. Jay L. Gischer says:

    @James Joyner If your point is “I want a respite”? Yeah, me too.

    I thought Hillary Clinton would make a good president, but I’ve never thought of her as an interesting entertainer. I’ve never watched the Grammys, let alone this year. This could just be a sophisticated form of clickbait.

    Today we found out that Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe has “stepped down” abruptly. That also seems “unseemly”. Which of these is a distraction, and which is important? I can’t say for sure, but I know which way I lean. I’m seriously trying to figure out just what action will have me out on the street in protest, or whether it’s ok to just wait until November.

    I’m sorry if this is OT, but I just want you to know that if you want to write a post about how this McCabe situation is all ok and nothing to worry about it, I will read it and take it seriously, because of the respect I have for you. I need more people like you in my life – people who maybe have a different point of view, but also a strong sense of integrity and commitment to the political/democratic process.

    To me, it looks like we’re headed for a full-blown crisis and I really have no clue about who can be counted upon to act in the interests of the republic. But maybe that’s just my filter bubble? Am I being trolled? McCabe was going to retire in a few months anyway? What the …?




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  35. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You know what the Grammy’s is without ‘black’ music? It’s the Country Music Awards.

    Well, that was sure cold, Mr. Reynolds! (not that I disagree…)




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  36. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As for politicization, in the good old days those feelings would have been in the music. They talk politics because they don’t have the daring or originality to put it down in lyrics. Where are this generation’s Dylan, Baez, Country Joe or Fogerty?

    This is a problem that’s existed for years. Back in the 2000s there was a proliferation of anti-Bush anthems by various artists, but let’s face it: most of it was heavy-handed, self-righteous crap. There was nothing on the level of the great protest music of the Vietnam era. One time as I was listening to college radio this fabulous song came on that I thought was a critique of the Bush Administration. Then I looked it up. It was Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” which came out in 1988. (Why did I think it was an attack on Dubya? Look at the first two verses, and you might get a sense of how I reached that conclusion. The station played a lot of indie music with an “F.U., Mr. Bush” theme, and I guess I was kind of hearing in the lyrics what I expected to hear.) I’m not sure of the reason for the disparity in quality between the older and newer politically oriented songs. I do remain a strong RATM fan, though they broke up in 2000, right at the cusp of the Bush era. And the fact is that it’s hard for me to even imagine great music coming out of our collective horror at Trump, even if there were still artists of the caliber of the ’60s.




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  37. pylon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Most of that stuff is admittedly not my taste either, but I am force fed by a 19 year old playing rap music (much of it protest rap) at high volume.

    More mainstream but politically relevant: Beyonce (and not just Formation – much earlier stuff about Katrina, state power, etc). Green Day, of course. Kendrick Lamar.




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  38. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:This thread is probably dead, but FWIW, if you ever find yourself in the DC/Baltimore/Annapolis area, I’ll be happy to invite you over for a couple of scotches and some introduction to music that doesn’t come form both of our teenage years.




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  39. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You know what the Grammy’s is without ‘black’ music? It’s the Country Music Awards

    The CMAs without blues, jazz, and other delta music is… I’m not quite sure, maybe early bluegrass and folk music




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  40. Kylopod says:

    @Grewgills:

    The CMAs without blues, jazz, and other delta music is… I’m not quite sure, maybe early bluegrass and folk music

    That’s an interesting point, but it really drives home the point that what we call “country music” was a genre that emerged essentially as a “white” genre, even though it drew from many of the same influences as blues and jazz. There have been a few black artists associated with the genre (the most notable is probably Charley Pride), but it has long been the “whitest” musical genre in the US, whiter than even metal or punk. Many classic country artists acknowledged their debt to black musicians, but generally if you were a musician and you were black, your music wasn’t going to be labeled as country. Ray Charles’ country-western album was seen as more of a novelty, and Darius Rucker will forever be remembered as the lead for Hootie & the Blowfish. (There does seem to be a pattern of rock musicians in the ’90s later moving into country after their rock career flags, but that’s a different topic…)

    There’s a long history in the US of musical genres being used as a form of racial coding. The term “rhythm and blues,” which emerged in the early ’50s, replaced the term “race music.” And just as “country” and “blues” were seen as two sides of the racial divide for music that emerged from more or less the same influences and a common cultural milieu, “rock” and “R&B” came to have a similar dynamic. Despite the centrality of black music to the creation of rock ‘n roll and early iconic stars such as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, “rock” came to be thought of as primarily a white genre–though not quite to the degree of country.




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