Bill Pruitt, a former producer of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” is blaming reality television for the election of Donald Trump.
The Emmy-award winning producer told Vanity Fair in an email published Wednesday that “The Apprentice,” formerly hosted by Mr. Trump, was “a scam put forth to the public in exchange for ratings.”
“There’s a larger issue at hand: non-fiction or ‘reality’ television has obviously become a huge force in shaping the minds of the populace. The Apprentice contributed to that,” Mr. Pruitt, who produced the show for its first two seasons, wrote in the email.
“We were ‘entertaining,’ and the story about Donald Trump and his stature fell into some bizarre public record as ‘truth,’ ” he continued. “This is nothing new, and the impact it’s having on the history of the world is best depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Network, a satire.
“So it’s more than just about lewd, lascivious behavior, and narcissism on set,” Mr. Pruitt wrote. “It’s about a complex global system that uses the media to construct its allies and to sway the populace to move like lemmings toward the ballot box. We are masterful storytellers and we did our job well. What’s shocking to me is how quickly and decisively the world bought it.
“Did we think this clown, this buffoon with the funny hair, would ever become a world leader?” he asked. “Not once. Ever. Would he and his bombastic nature dominate in prime-time TV? We hoped so. Now that the lines of fiction and reality have blurred to the horrifying extent that they have, those involved in the media must have their day of reckoning. People are buying our crap. Make it entertaining, yes. But make it real. Give them the truth or pay the consequences.”
Mr. Pruitt infamously tweeted in October that there existed “far worse” footage of Mr. Trump making offensive comments on the set of “The Apprentice,” after a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording revealed the future president making lewd comments about women. Mr. Pruitt described his comment as his “Tweet Throat” moment, a reference to Watergate’s Deep Throat.
“My ‘Tweet Throat’ moment when I suggested to the news media that someone unlock the recorded behavior found on The Apprentice tapes helped summon a bevy of stories about ‘what really went on’ behind the scenes of that series,” he told Vanity Fair. “That story’s been told. What hasn’t been told (as much) is how complicit the media and social-media outlets have been in getting us to where we are now.”
Mr. Pruitt’s comments come less than a week after actor and comedian Tom Arnold claimed to be in possession of the outtakes from “The Apprentice,” in which Mr. Trump allegedly used racist and crude language. Mr. Arnold said he didn’t leak the video before the election because the people who edited it together meant it to be a funny joke and are now “scared to death” of the repercussions. He said the video would not have made a difference in the election anyway, given that so many of Mr. Trump’s supporters admire his brashness.
Mr. Pruitt said it’s too late to leak the video now that Mr. Trump has won the presidency.
“What we all thought or heard or saw behind the scenes is pointless,” he told Vanity Fair. “He got elected and what’s done is done.”