A conversation with Trump’s most notorious Twitter troll

Danny Zuker accepts an award at the Final Draft Screenwriters Choice Awards.
Image: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

If the pages of future history books must inevitably address the Trump Twitter Wars, social media feuds such as the Hamilton Affair, the New York Times Crusades, and the Battle of Baldwin will undoubtedly feature heavily.

However, the Zukeronic Wars of 2013 might just warrant their own chapter.

The prolific sparring between Danny Zuker a writer and executive producer for Modern Family and Donald Trump over the course of several months in 2013 may indeed be one of the President-elect's most infamous online disputes.

Zuker has remained a scathing critic of Trump throughout his campaign and following his election. When Mashable caught up with the comedy writer via Skype, he was holed up in a hotel room somewhere in Los Angeles to finish work on a script (Zuker explained that when he has a due-date approaching, he prefers to not have anyone around except room service and a mini bar.)

Over the course of our conversation, we garnered some of his post-election thoughts and found out how it feels to be Twitter enemy No. 1 of the future president of the United States of America (spoiler: he doesn't give a f*ck)...

The war

When asked about the origins of his online quarrel with the soon-to-be president, Zuker launches into the narrative, but prefaces, "I cant even say became president without feeling a sick come up in my throat but since he did, it hasnt been funny."

He explains that typically he would not engage public figures on Twitter, with the exception of "monsters who tweet lies." At the time, he says, Trump "was just a run of the mill monster. Everybody knew he was a piece of crap, and it was a joke."

One evening, Zuker noticed that Trump had tweeted about The Apprentice, claiming that it had been the number one show of the night "an easily checkable fact." As it happened, Trump's reality television show had actually finished fourth in its time slot that evening.

When Zuker pointed this out in his characteristically droll style, the business mogul "went ballistic thats the thing he didnt like to be called on. He didnt like to be called on his success."

Image: TWITTER / DONALD TRUMP / DANNY ZUKER / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

I was very lauded for it at the time by comedy people, and I have to say I felt incredibly guilty about that because it wasnt hard," Zuker admits. "It was sort of like dunking on a toddler. He was so not good at it.

"It was sort of like dunking on a toddler."

The Twitter feuding carried on for several months and even switched over to email at one point. Zuker describes an exchange in which Trump sent him a picture of a magazine article that introduced him as "Danny Zuker, writer, producer, comedian, Trump-slayer."

Trump had gone over the epithet with a yellow highlighter and drawn in an arrow along with the word 'congratulations' and signed the message "Best, Donald Trump."

"I emailed him back and said, 'this is baffling, but thanks?' Then I said, 'P.S. Its not a shtick I genuinely dont like you.'

"He didnt respond, but later he tweeted me, 'if you met me, youd like me.'"

Image: TWITTER / DONALD TRUMP / DANNY ZUKER / MASHABLE COMPOSITE

On women

When the conversation turns to Trump's misogynistic comments on women, the comedy writer presents a long-held personal theory about the president-elect.

Zuker suggests that Trump has the personality of a man consistently rejected by women, and consequently they are the "only group of people he genuinely dislikes the misogyny is real." He elaborates further:

"I think he has a remarkably and this is not a joke I think he has a remarkably small penis, and Im going to tell you exactly why. Because first of all, if it was even remotely average, we would have seen it by now. That guy, thats the kind of guy who is definitely sending dick pics. If he can even find that perfect angle where it looks bigger I dont have any experience with this but if he did, he would send it and he hasnt. So, its tiny."

The role of media

We move on to Zuker's thoughts on the role that the press played in Trump's successful bid for the presidency. Its funny, we agree on hating the press, me and Trump," he says, "but just in a different way.

Speaking about mainstream media sources, he claims "they made his xenophobia and his quite frankly fascistic policies seem a valid other-point-of-view instead of calling it out for what it was."

"The guy whos screaming about email scandals and the Clinton foundation, and this is not a defense of Clinton, but what the press should have been saying is wait, this is like Charles Manson complaining that this movie is too violent," he says. "Its left me with a bad taste."

He does hold certain outlets in high esteem, however, praising coverage by The New York Times and The Washington Post, and when asked about his favorite Trump Twitter shutdown, he cites this tweet from the sports news website Deadspin:

"It was so elegant. Its not artful, but that was just an amazing, amazing rejection of him."

"No-one really in America can take your free speech away," he concludes, "but you can give it up."

Image: twitter / Donald Trump / Danny Zuker/ mashable composite

Moving forward

"It would be the easiest thing in the world to just write 'fuck you Donald Trump' actually I might just do that but these are scary times."

When he speaks about the role of shows like Modern Family, Zuker admonished "comedy people [that] talk about what they do as important," further adding that "satire has a limited effect."

"If someone is that thin-skinned, theyre also so susceptible to compliments."

However, he mentions a caveat in Trump's case: "He is so easily baited into showing who he really is, it feels like if you can, its almost patriotic to do it."

"I dont want to make this easier for him," he explains, "I hope people really pile on and shine a light on how incompetent and uncurious the man is, but secondly, the people who have figured out how to manipulate him."

Citing Trump's relationship with men like Steve Bannon and Vladimir Putin, he warns "if someone is that thin-skinned, theyre also so susceptible to compliments."

Because of his platform, Zuker does feel a degree of personal responsibility to continue speaking out.

When he won, I cant tell you how many thousands of people I dont know would write to me on various social media and ask me, what do we do? Talk me off the ledge.'

"I did feel because I have a megaphone that I had to tell them its going to be okay we can do it.

BONUS: So Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump walked into a charity dinner

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/11/danny-zuker-trump/