The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) National Board met via Zoom videoconference on Saturday. A resolution was passed that preemptively denies the acceptance of any potential re-admission applications by a former member, Donald Trump. Trump resigned from the entertainment industry union Thursday.
The union and Trump feuded last week over the union’s instigation of disciplinary charges against Trump as a result of the Capitol Hill riot on January 6. Union leadership wanted to send a strong message of disapproval of Trump’s actions that day and disguised it as objections to how Trump treated the union’s journalist members. The riot after the Trump rally is being used as an excuse to call out Trump’s verbal scorn toward the press. His attitude toward the press was consistent throughout his term in office but apparently, it took a riot for the union to decide to discipline him.
On Trump’s final day in office, the SAG-AFTRA board voted “overwhelmingly” to convene a hearing of the union’s Disciplinary Committee last week to address expelling Trump from its membership. Charges were brought forward by national executive director David White at the request of president Gabrielle Carteris. You’ve likely never heard of President Carteris unless you were a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210 back in the day. That is Carteris in the headline photo. The charges cited the riot on Capitol Hill and Trump’s involvement “in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.”
The charges request expulsion from membership. Lesser penalties might include reprimand, censure, fines or suspension from the rights and privileges of membership.
“Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred – democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press,” said Carteris. “There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.”
Adding that the guild has a responsibility to protect its members, White said, “The unfortunate truth is, this individual’s words and actions over the past four years have presented actual harm to our broadcast journalist members. The board’s resolution addresses this effort to undermine freedom of the press and reaffirms the principles on which our democratic society rests, and which we must all work to protect and preserve.”
In other words, the union leadership was so upset over the riot on January 6 that they waited until January 20 to vote to call a meeting of the Disciplinary Committee. And then a vote on whether or not to expel Trump from the union was not to take place until last week. Talk about a slow response to such a serious day on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Trump responded as you might have guessed he would. Essentially Trump said, You can’t fire me, I quit. He resigned from the union and did so in a scorching way. “Who cares?” He told them that the union has never done anything for him anyway.
“I write to you today regarding the so-called Disciplinary Committee hearing aimed at revoking my union membership. Who cares!” Trump wrote in a signed letter to union president Gabrielle Carteris — who played Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills, 90210” for a decade.
The former reality TV star-turned-commander-in-chief then rattled off his own film and TV credits while taking a swipe at Carteris.
“While I’m not familiar with your work, I’m very proud of my work on movies such as Home Alone 2, Zoolander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and television shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and of course, one of the most successful shows in television history, The Apprentice – to name just a few!” he wrote.
Trump then panned SAG-AFTRA for having a “dismal record as a union.”
“Your organization has done little for its members, and nothing for me – besides collecting dues and promoting dangerous un-American policies and ideas – as evident by your massive unemployment rates and lawsuits from celebrated actors, who even recorded a video asking, ‘Why isn’t the union fighting for me?’” he wrote.
He concluded the missive, “As such, this letter is to inform you of my immediate resignation from SAG-AFTRA. You have done nothing for me.”
The response to Trump’s letter of resignation was two words from Carteris – “Thank you.” So, it would be logical to assume that was the end of the feud, right? Nope. Just like the Congressional effort to make sure Trump never runs for office again via an impeachment trial, the union’s national board voted on a resolution Saturday to deny future membership from Trump. Carteris denies the resolution is just symbolic.
“Preventing Donald Trump from ever rejoining SAG-AFTRA is more than a symbolic step,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “It is a resounding statement that threatening or inciting harm against fellow members will not be tolerated. An attack against one is an attack against all.”
Here’s the thing – Trump was a member of the union for decades. He paid dues like the other members and was one of them for all those years until he ran for president as a Republican. They all knew who he was and how he spoke yet it only mattered to them when he entered a political campaign of his own. And, it took four years for the union to decide that Trump was a threat to the safety of their members who are journalists. Carteris is gaslighting us by saying it’s not just a symbolic effort to take Trump to task now for his behavior. He’s the same person he has always been.
The resolution is a wordy way of saying Orange Man bad. It ends with a determination that he not be reinstated as a member.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Board exercises its discretion pursuant to Article III(A)(2) of the Constitution, as follows:
The National Board hereby finds that the well-documented actions by Donald J. Trump to undermine the peaceful transition of power in the United States, and to undermine the delivery of truthful information to the public by attacking journalists is anathema to the values embodied by SAG-AFTRA and to the members of SAG-AFTRA; and
The National Board hereby finds that any future re-admission to membership of Donald J. Trump would not be in the best interests of the union; and
The National Board hereby directs that any future application for admission to membership in SAG-AFTRA by Donald J. Trump shall be denied.
Broadcast journalists were among the five members who abstained.
The union sure looks feckless. In 2019 it passed a resolution in support of a free press, something that is constitutionally guaranteed in this country. They did so to take a veiled swipe at Trump. They didn’t have the cojones then to name Trump in the resolution. I don’t think Trump cares much about this but I won’t be surprised if he denies the board their ability to have the last word. Maybe he can borrow Melania’s jacket with the words on the back of it that were meant to be her message to the press over its coverage of her – “I really don’t care, do you?”
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) June 21, 2018