Robert Reich threw out an idea to his nearly 1.7 million Facebook followers this week that has a lot of people asking: How do we make this happen?
In a Facebook post on Sunday, the former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton noted the dearth of celebrities and musicians willing to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. Many supported Hillary Clinton.
So Reich is championing the idea that celebrities host an event of their own on Inauguration Day to give the official event, starring Trump, a run for the ratings.
“Someone just suggested to me a televised ‘freedom concert’ to air at the same time as the inauguration — with huge celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay Z, Madonna, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, and so on,” Reich wrote. “Alec Baldwin MC’s the event, playing Trump as he does on SNL.
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“Presto. The Trump inauguration loses all the TV ratings. Basically, no one watches it.”
Conservative commentators quickly mocked the idea as a sour-grapes scheme.
“Count Robert Reich among those who are up for taking their denial to the next level with this inauguration day alternative,” Doug Powers wrote on the website of conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.
“A cavalcade of liberal celebrities sure did the trick the last time, so why not try it again! The concert would of course be held in a venue known as The Bubble.”
Make that a fundraising bubble.
Reich also suggested that such a concert could raise money for a variety of progressive causes, including “the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, NAACP, Common Cause, CAIR, IRAP, SPLC, Environmental Defense Fund, Human Rights Campaign Fund, MoveOn, Economic Policy Institute, Inequality Media, and GLAD.”
His post inspired a Change.org petition that, as of Wednesday morning, had attracted nearly 44,000 signatures and dozens of supporters on Twitter.
The petition embellishes Reich’s idea by suggesting other participants: the cast of Broadway smash hit “Hamilton,” the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Harlem Gospel Choir.
If just those groups participated, that would outnumber the musicians known to have signed up so far for the Trump festivities.
Even marching bands in Washington, D.C., that traditionally participate in the inaugural parade aren’t signing up this time around.
Jackie Evancho, an “America’s Got Talent” runner-up, was tapped last week to sing the National Anthem, following in the footsteps of Beyoncé, who sang the anthem at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.
Andrea Bocelli was a rumored performer, but news came Tuesday that he will not participate. The reasons are unclear, though The New York Post reported he backed off because of the backlash on social media.
But Thomas J. Barrack Jr., chairman of the inauguration committee, denied that, saying that Bocelli had offered to perform if his friend, Trump, needed him.
“Donald said: ‘You don’t need to. We’re not in that kind of a framework. Thanks very much for the offer. You’re my friend. You are always welcome at the White House,’” Barrack told CNBC.
Since the Evancho announcement last week there have been no others concerning inauguration entertainment.