News & Politics

Robert De Niro and Stephen Colbert Agree: Trump Is a Mob Boss

Robert De Niro and Stephen Colbert Agree: Trump Is a Mob Boss
Robert De Niro introduces a performance by Bruce Springsteen at the 72nd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)

Last night Robert De Niro was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote that new Netflix movie about hitmen or whatever. And because it’s 2019 and this is the entertainment industry we’re talking about, they had to take a few minutes to commiserate with each other about how tough it is to endure life in Trump’s America.


Colbert: Let’s talk about the president for just a second.

De Niro: Who?

C: And before I ask any questions, just keep in mind, this is a family show. It’s CBS, okay? This isn’t CNN over here.

D: [Pantomimes making a series of “f” sounds]

C: You’ve played a lot of gangsters throughout the years. A lot of people who have prosecuted actual mob bosses say Trump runs things like it’s the mob. How do you think you actually defeat a mobster?

D: Well… he’s like the Teflon Don. And Giuliani, of all people, the way I understand it, he used the RICO act to go after gangster families. And so it’s unusual that he now is representing this gangster First Family, if you will. So, the whole situation is beyond understanding.

C: It is, yeah. And kinda heartbreaking too, when you see people otherwise who have been heroes fall.

D: Yeah, to me it’s more than heartbreaking. It’s a really, really serious situation we’re in. I don’t want to bring people down.

C: No, yeah, I think they came pre-down.


D: It’s like a pall around certain things. It’s like living in an abusive household. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, what crazy thing is going to happen next. What’s gonna make you say, “What the hell’s going on?”

C: Because only one angry person gets to say what is real. What the truth is.

D: Exactly. And the truth is not from him, that’s for sure.

Then the two weary, beleaguered freedom-fighters were chauffeured home to their mansions.

Y’know, I’m old enough to remember when criticizing the president of the United States like this was widely considered racist.

De Niro and Colbert are entitled to their opinion, of course. This is the United States of America, and we have the right to criticize our leaders. Which undercuts their whole argument. If Trump were actually the mob boss they claim he is, would he really let them get away with talking about him like this on national TV? The worst retaliation they can expect from this fearsome “mob boss” is… a mean tweet.

On the other hand, what happens if you make trouble for the Clinton family? Let’s ask Jeffrey Epstein.


With all apologies to Trump fans, I don’t like the guy either. The difference is that I’m not under the delusion that he’s a mob boss, or a dictator, or whatever. He’s just a jerk. Nothing is going to happen to you if you criticize him.


These two men, and the studio audience cheering them on, don’t really think Trump is a mob boss. They just hate him and they’re frustrated that they can’t do anything about it, so they encourage each other to say sillier and sillier things. It’s just one-upmanship: “Oh, you think he’s an A-hole? Well, I think he’s a mob boss!” It’s harmless enough. They’re not convincing anybody who isn’t already convinced, and they’re not hurting anybody who isn’t already hurt. It just makes them feel like they’re doing something constructive and important.

Because that’s what it’s all about: their feelings.

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