As the world watched Donald Trump give his first interview as president to ABC, it may have seemed like the perfect moment for the channel to promote its new Kiefer Sutherland series Designated Survivor.
Unfortunately for the network, the promo came off as a tone-deaf plug to many viewers, some of whom took to social media to complain. In the brief preview, a fictional president is potentially shot at his inauguration, followed by the words “the bullet that shocked the nation.” Given Trump’s controversy-laden ascension to the presidency, some found it to be an odd moment to float the idea of a designated survivor.
Purely coincidental, right? https://t.co/m46baQIJUv
— Lionel (@LionelMedia) January 26, 2017
ABC probably should have reconsidered running that “Designated Survivor” promo during the Trump interview.
— Brian Lowry (@blowryontv) January 26, 2017
ABC airing a promo for a March 8 episode of “Designated Survivor,” where the POTUS is shot, during Trump’s live interview is the last straw.
— BillB (@Bill_Bing) January 26, 2017
— Paul Sidikman (@PSidikman) January 26, 2017
Others, however, defended the network, saying that they had likely set up the promo for Designated Survivor weeks before the interview had been confirmed.
— BPSNightmare #NoOn2 (@BPSNightmare) January 26, 2017
Other media have also annoyed Trump supporters by commenting on how Designated Survivor has once again put Kiefer in a “well-timed” position with a starring role in a topical program. Sutherland is perhaps best known for 24, a show about terrorism prevention that premiered just two months after 9/11. Deadline published an article a few days after the election arguing that the actor’s character, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman, shared similarities to Trump as “a political outsider with no military background who has never held an elected position.”
“With 24 and Designated Survivor, the parallels to real life were unintentional, yet the timing of both Sutherland-starring shows is pretty remarkable.”
Like most Hollywood stars, Kiefer is no fan of Donald Trump himself. He has compared him to George Wallace, a former Alabama governor and unsuccessful presidential candidate who ran as both as a Democrat and later as an independent. While Wallace later recanted his racist positions against African-Americans, he was a vocal proponent of segregation during his campaign, using campaign signs that threatened that “blacks vowed to take over America.” Sutherland, who was born in London to Canadian parents but lives in the U.S., told the Daily Beast that he feared that the same rhetoric was being used in the 2016 elections.
“Wallace managed to garner [9 million] Republican votes spewing kind of similar rhetoric to that of Donald Trump… In my lifetime I have watched things… move backwards which is unfortunate. The ease with which racist comments fly on the Internet, and how they’re accepted—it’s a crime in this country… that those people aren’t summarily dismissed from being able to use the Internet.”
It’s not the first time that TV has stirred up controversy for mentioning the designated survivor scenario this year. CNN detailed what would take place if Trump was assassinated during his inauguration, which irked some viewers so much that they marked the video as inappropriate for inciting terrorism. AOL reported that one commenter called the report “distasteful and even treasonable.”
Do you think ABC crossed a line by airing the Designated Survivor promo for the new Kiefer Sutherland show during Donald Trump’s interview?
[Featured Image by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images]