CBS: Trump-Killing Play Simply ‘Echoing the Political Environment in Which It’s Produced’

CBS This Morning on Tuesday broke with NBC and actually covered a shocking New York play in which a Donald Trump look-alike is stabbed to death. Yet, journalist Jamie Wax offered a one-sided take, only citing those who praised the blood-soaked adaption of the Shakespeare play. He dismissed, “What's remarkable about Julius Caesar is that it seems to always echo the political environment in which it's produced.” 

Delta Airlines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of the production. Wax whined that “corporate sponsorship is essential” to the Public Theater in New York City. The journalist breezily related, “It features a President Trump look-alike who is stabbed to death on stage, a modern take on Shakespeare's classic play.” 

Except for a brief mention of Eric Trump thanking Delta and Bank of America, the guests in the story saw criticizing the play as an attack on free speech: 

MATTHEW BELLONI (Hollywood Reporter):  The danger here is once you start pulling funding or giving funding based on the content of a particular piece of art, you're getting into a value judgment. 

...

BELLONI: If a play like Julius Caesar can essentially be punished for what some have said is an offensive production, what else could happen here? 

NBC’s Today has ignored the story, showing no interest in the assassination overtones. On Good Morning America, Tuesday, the subject only came up because guest Newt Gingrich brought it up. MRC President Brent Bozell condemned journalists who celebrate the play, wondering, “Where is the shame?” 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria called the play “brilliant” and a “masterpiece.” 

A transcript is below: 

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CBS This Morning 
6/13/17
7:36:33 to 7:39:44
3 minutes and 11 seconds 

CHARLIE ROSE: The theater company behind New York's famous Shakespeare in the Park is playing defense after major sponsors pulled out of its new production of Julius Caesar. The Public Theater’s play features a President Trump look-alike in the title role. He's shown being stabbed to death on stage. Delta Airlines decided to end its partnership. Bank of America pulled its sponsorship of the production. Jamie Wax is in New York’s Central Park near the theater where Julius Caesar officially opened last night. Jamie, good morning. 

JAMIE WAX:  Good morning. Yes. Every summer all 1800 seats in this theater are filled by a non-paying audience and corporate sponsorship is essential to keeping that deal going. The theater company standing by its interpretation of the play and artistic director says the production in no way advocates violence towards anyone. For more than 400 years William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar has and about lightning rod. This years adaptation by a New York City theater company is no different. It features a President Trump look-alike who is stabbed to death on stage a modern take on Shakespeare’s classic play. Artistic director of the play Oskar Eustis addressed last night's opening night crowd. 

OSKAR EUSTIS (Public Theater Artistic Director): Like drama democracy depends on the conflict of different point of views. Nobody owns the truth. We all own the culture.  

WAX: Bank of America backed out of its sponsorship because “the Public theater chose Julius Caesar in such a way to provoke and offend.” Delta Airlines severed its relationship, too, saying, “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”

MATTHEW BELLONI (Hollywood Reporter):  The danger here is once you start pulling funding or giving funding based on the content of a particular piece of art, you're getting into a value judgment. 

WAX: On Twitter the President's son, Eric Trump, thanked the companies for their decision, calling it the right thing to do. 

BELLONI: If a play like Julius Caesar can essentially be punished for what some have said is an offensive production, what else could happen here? 

WAX: When Shakespeare premiered the play around 1599, it was seen as a provocative take on unease at the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign.  Orson Welles prevented the play in 1930 with reference to Hitler and Mussolini. 

AL PACINO: Blood and destruction! 

BELLONI: In 1988, the Public Theater produced Julius Caesar with Al Pacino as Mark Anthony and Martin Sheen as Brutus. Despite the current controversy there's plenty ever interest at the box office. 

GEORGE RODMAN (Audience member): It doesn't advocate violence against Trump or anything like that. It’s a classic play that they updated in a way that has more meaning to us if the characters dressed like Trump. 

WAX: Interestingly, In 2012 Delta Airlines gave financial backing to a production in Minneapolis of Julius Caesar, which seemed to reference then-President Obama. But that production didn't get anything near this type of attention. What's remarkable about Julius Caesar is that it seems to always echo the political environment in which it's produced. Gayle? 

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