Donald Trump is the Kardashian for the political world, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd observed on Thursday, comparing the Republican candidate to the reality TV family along with other monsters like Beowulf’s invincible Grendel.
“He reminds me of a Kardashian,” Dowd said. “I have never seen a political candidate who is so able to generate news and attention every minute of every hour of every day.”
Speaking at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Washington D.C.’s W Hotel Thursday, she called the GOP front-runner “egregious” for how he “brought a level of vulgarity” to politics, and likened him to the demon Grendel, impenetrable to any threat except that of classical hero Beowulf.
But “that’s how politics is right now,” Dowd, the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, said, adding: “Nobody knows anything.”
Speaking on a panel led by TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman, Dowd acknowledged that this year’s presidential race has upended conventions, making it impossible to predict what will happen next.
And she said the nature of media has diluted the impact of columnists like herself. “It tickles me to turn on the TV and see all the pundits talking and talking, and none of us knows anything,” she said.
Dowd became a columnist on The New York Times Op-Ed page in 1995. She is author of two New York Times bestsellers, “Bushworld” and “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide,” and has covered seven presidential campaigns. She served as the Times’ White House correspondent, and wrote “On Washington,” a column for The New York Times Magazine.
Elisabeth Bumiller, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that the media circus around Trump has stunted the power of investigative reporting. “You feel like you can do all the fact checks we want, we can do all the investigative pieces of Trump University…it doesn’t seem to make a dent,” she said.
Bumiller echoed Dowd’s befuddlement at how divisions in this country have given rise to voters’ flocking to candidates for defiant attitudes they represent without regard to the issues they stand for.
“It’s incredible to us here, how people can say ‘I can’t decide between Trump and Bernie Sanders.’ I can’t get my head around that,” she said. “They’re completely far [apart], on every issue.”
As Washington bureau chief, Bumiller oversees the Times’ coverage of the nation’s political capital. Previously, she was the newspaper’s Pentagon correspondent from 2008 to early 2013 and its White House correspondent from 2001 to 2006, also writing a weekly column, White House Letter, about the people and behind-the-scenes events of the presidency.
After expanding the Power Women Breakfast franchise to New York and San Francisco last year, TheWrap’s breakfast Thursday inaugurated the series in DC, bringing together influential women of entertainment, media, technology, politics and brands in key cities to network and connect.
Joining the hosts on stage were presenters Adrienne Elrod, director of strategic communications and surrogates for the Hillary for America Campaign; commissioner Julie Brill of the Federal Trade Commission; commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission; and CreativeFuture CEO Ruth Vitale.
The event was sponsored by Box, Okta, Personal Care Products Council, CreativeFuture, Discovery Communications and National Geographic Channels.
Watch video of Bumiller sharing her memories of Nancy Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II below.