'Get Me Roger Stone' Profiles the Man Who Created President Trump

'Get Me Roger Stone' Profiles the Man Who Created President Trump

On Wednesday morning, as President Trump digested the reports on morning television about his firing of the FBI director James Comey, he fired off a handful of tweets critiquing the news about his own administration. Trump belittled Comey, whom he asserted had lost the confidence of “almost everyone in Washington.” He lambasted Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, whom he accused of devising “one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history.” Then, the president took umbrage at CNN for asking whether the firing of Comey was a payback mission orchestrated by Roger Stone, “a 64-year-old close friend of Donald Trump and central figure in the FBI investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.”

“The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false - Fake News,” the President tweeted. “Have not spoken to Roger in a long time - had nothing to do with my decision.”

So the new documentary Get Me Roger Stone, set to be released on Netflix on Friday, is certainly timely, as Stone once again enters the spotlight. On the face of it, the documentary by Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro, and Morgan Pehme profiles Stone and his 40-year career as a strategist. With his dandyish chalkstripe suits, his aggressively manicured hairstyles, and his Nixon tattoo, Stone, as The New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin memorably puts it in the film, is the “sinister Forrest Gump of American politics” who just happens to show up in the background every time there’s a constitutional crisis or a major scandal.

Stone, at the age of 19, was the youngest person to testify to the Watergate grand jury, as an employee of the Committee to Re-elect the President. He was, he says, behind the Brooks Brothers riot during the 2000 election. And, in perhaps the most influential act of his career, he persuaded Donald Trump to get into politics. “[Stone] always likes to take on somebody that at least has a good chance of winning,” the president says in an on-camera interview, showcasing his characteristic flair for self-aggrandizing compliments.

But the film, which follows Stone through his fluctuating role on the Trump campaign, is also an incisive portrait of how Stone’s brand of dirty tricks—in which the only motivating factor in politics is to win—came to dominate the current state of disarray. Stone, as he’s wont to do, cheerfully takes credit for all manner of shifts in the last four decades of U.S. elections, from the birth of PACs and superPACs to the rising influence of lobbyists to the dominance of anger and fear in the media. You may find yourself wondering, as the Fox host Tucker Carlson does at one point, whether all of these developments can actually be traced back to Stone, or whether he’s just the most dastardly self-promoter in history. But Get Me Roger Stone is a thorough and entertaining primer into how American politics got so ugly, not to mention a crucial window into the mentality of the unorthodox 45th president.

Now in his 60s, sporting bow-ties, suspenders, and an overbearing air of insouciance, Stone resembles no one so much as a senior Pee-wee Herman. He stokes the caricature of the mustache-twirling plutocrat, being interviewed in an opulent dining room next to a three-olive martini, where he expounds on “Stone’s Rules,” one-sentence aphorisms like, “It’s better to be infamous than never to be famous at all,” and “One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civil political action.” Extremely charismatic and unabashedly outspoken, he’s a documentarian’s dream. And this before the film even gets to unpacking Stone’s involvement in the rise of Trump, or his embrace of the alt-right.

The Stone mystique is carefully curated. Stone recalls early on how, at a mock election at his elementary school, he took a liking to John F. Kennedy because he had “better hair” than Nixon, and he persuaded his classmates to vote for JFK by assuring them Nixon planned to introduce school on Saturdays. “For the first time ever, I understood the value of misinformation,” Stone says, with a glint in his eye. That the story is too good to be true only further emphasizes his point.

 

Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/05/get-me-roger-stone-donald-trump-netflix/526296/

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