VARIETY: Trump’s Trickster Roger Stone Explains Donald’s Playbook for Winning and Losing
By Steven Gaydos
The audience for veteran conservative operative Roger Stone’s speech at the Annandale Country Club in Pasadena, Calif., couldn’t have been more perfect if there’d been a casting call for “older well-heeled WASPs who hate the Clintons.”
For nearly 45 minutes after his presentation had wrapped earlier this month, the finely dressed, traditionally coiffed ladies and gentlemen of the Pasadena chapter of the Republican fund-raising Lincoln Club stood in line to buy Stone’s latest vitriol-fueled, barn-burning books, “Jeb! And the Bush Crime Family,” “The Clintons’ War on Women,” and “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.”
As the reader can deduce from the titles, Stone’s approach to political discourse ranges from bomb-throwing to flame-throwing and it managed to get him tossed off his CNN guest commentator gig this year for tweets that the word “intemperate” doesn’t begin to approximate. After he described CNN political commentator Ana Navarro as an “entitled diva bitch,” former CNN analyst Roland Martin as a “racist moron,” and both Navarro and Martin as “quota hires,” CNN gave Stone the hook.
On this balmy day at the country club, Stone appears at peace with his fate as eternal outsider. In fact, Stone’s contention is that we’ve all become outsiders.
“We are living in the age of Stone,” says the dapper gray-haired Stone, whose journey from a Dick Nixon “Dirty Trickster,” as Jeffrey Toobin described him in a lacerating New Yorker profile, to Donald Trump’s man in the trenches, does roughly mirror the trajectory of the American right. “This year,” in Stone’s view, “more than any year I’ve seen, and I’ve been at this for decades, it’s the time of the insiders versus outsiders. Trump and Sanders have more in common than Sanders and Hillary.”
To bolster his “outsider” bona fides, Stone notes proudly, “I’m banned at CNN and MSNBC but I have a great alternative with Alex Jones ‘Info Wars.’”
Alt-right provocateur Jones most recently made headlines during the Republican National Convention this summer when he and Stone mixed it up in a pushing, shoving and spitting match with Cenk Uygur and his “Young Turks” news broadcast team.
According to Stone, this time the provocation was coming from the left. “It was a set-up,” says Stone. “I may be a badass but I don’t have bad manners. We walked into the set-up and that’s why you can see me trying to move away from it. They wound up spitting on Alex and that’s the kind of thing that always happens when the left can’t win the war of ideas.”
The outcome of the November election may be in question, but there’s little doubt that neither a Trump victory or failure will in any modify his behavior nor soften his take-no-prisoners political antics. As to whether or not Trump has a game plan should America have its first female president, Stone explains “that’s not Donald Trump. He lives ad hoc. Also, he’s not planning on losing.”
Despite conjecture in the press that come November Trump may launch his own version of Fox News, Stone adds, “I don’t think there’s a cut-and-dried plan for Trump to pull together a media company with Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes. And Steve Bannon understands new media. He’s been brought in for that and for the big play. The Mexico trip was planned by Paul Manafort but Bannon was behind the Louisiana storm visit and I guarantee there’s another big play coming.”
And should Hollywood be rocked by a Trump victory, Stone smiles at the prospect, but demurs at any public role in a Trump Administration.
“I have no interest in going back into government” says Stone. “I did my government service for the Nixon Administration and I found that punching in at nine and rushing out at five did not suit me. “And,” Stone adds, stating the obvious to anyone who knows his bio, “I assume I would not be confirmable.”
If Stone has no future as a government insider, he seems to have turned his “outsider” status into a nice cottage industry. His non-fiction tome “The Clintons’ War Against Women” came out in paperback last week and he’s got a new radio show, “Stone Cold Truth,” which just started this month on the Genesis Radio Network.
Also, Stone is excited about taking his anti-liberal diatribes to the Comic-Con crowd. There’s a graphic novel derived from his LBJ killed Kennedy tome due from his longtime publisher Skyhorse in November, 2017, timed to the anniversary of JFK’s death. And Stone says he’s pondering an adaptation of his “Clintons’ War on Women” screed into a film.
For a fellow who seems capable of doing and saying just about anything for his conservative beliefs, Stone also seems positively low-key about the results of the November election. Asked for a prediction he muses, “I believe Trump will win because despite all the odds against him, he’s not running against Joan of Arc. Hillary’s still living in the days when you could mau-mau the three networks into doing your bidding and that was enough to win, but those days are gone.”
He holds up his smartphone and notes, “THIS is where 50% of Americans get their news. The establishment loves to laugh at Alex Jones, but he’s getting bigger numbers than Anderson Cooper.”
And with that, he heads out into the sunny Pasadena day, but not without one last thought: “There is ONE thing I really want to make happen!” says Stone. “I want to play myself in a cameo in a film or TV show. I was all lined up for ’30 Rock’ and they dropped me for James Carville!”