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By Thomas Phippen
New York Times bestselling author Mark Halperin said the election of President Donald Trump has “convulsed the country” more than any event since World War II, including the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Outside of the Civil War, World War II, and including 9/11, this may be the most cataclysmic event the country has ever seen,” Halperin said on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday, appearing with collaborator John Heilemann.
“I don’t want to minimize the loss of life in 9/11, and in the wars,” Halperin said. “Obviously that is beyond anything that has happened. But if you think of how this has convulsed the country — More than half of the country that voted against him and is upset about his being president — it’s self inflicted.”
Halperin commented on the divide between how Trump supporters and others in the country view the new administration. “I’ve traveled a lot since [Trump] got elected and there are people who are hopeful, and optimistic, and really think this is the kind of change we need. And there are adults who say to me, ‘This is the worst thing that’s happened to me in my life.’”
“Every new administration is chaotic,” Halperin said, when Colbert asked if the administration has more policy-oriented work happening below the fervor of news headlines.
“It’s not as chaotic as it seems, but make no mistake, at the top of this pyramid is Donald Trump. And he throughout his career has thrived on chaos and a management style that is unorthodox.”
Halperin and Heilemann host the Showtime series “The Circus,” which followed the 2016 election and has been renewed for a second season which will start March 19.
Heilmann noted that while the show could have been renewed under a Hillary Clinton presidency, the Trump administration offers something new and interesting. “It is the case in journalism that novelty is a compelling thing. And everything that’s happening every day, every hour, every minute in Washington right now is new,” Heilmann said.
“Certain late-night shows that are focusing on the Trump administration have been doing quite well in the ratings, I read,” Halperin said. Colbert’s show, which has covered the daily foibles of the Trump White House, is currently beating other late-night shows in the ratings, including the “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.
Halperin and Heilmann, who co-wrote the 2010 book “Game Change” on the 2008 election, will write another book on the most recent election. HBO has already optioned the rights to turn that book into a miniseries, Poynter reports.