Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann today say so long to With All Due Respect, the election-cycle series they have hosted for Bloomberg the past two years and more. The final edition of the series, also seen on MSNBC, will feature Jeff Daniels and other celebrity Friends Of Show, some serious political voices, and a retrospective of the program’s run.
When it launched in October of 2014 — about eight months before Donald Trump announced his candidacy — WADR was envisioned as a show that covered politics in a sophisticated non-partisan way. WADR would distinguish itself from the endless election blather on cable news by examining the intersection of politics with business, entertainment and culture. When the real estate developer turned entertainer tossed his hat into the ring in summer of ’15 and started winning GOP primaries, the politics-entertainment intersection became the only way to cover this election cycle.
MSNBC began same-day repeats of the Bloomberg telecasts in January this year, extending that network’s relationship with the political pundits, goosing the liberal network’s booking of GOP candidates, and delivering the NBC News network one of its highest rated programs. The show expanded to one hour each night. That same month, WADR also got cast as a show within a show, when Halperin and Heilemann teamed with political strategist Mark McKinnon on The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth on Showtime.
Last month, Bloomberg announced WADR, a show that will be remembered for its Zamboni ride with Trump, and its ESPN-esque bells and whistles and rat-a-tat pacing, would end its daily telecasts today. Bloomberg will shift its focus to the impact of politics on the business and financial world, the operation explained. But, well before Election Day, Halperin said, they already felt that sustaining a daily show was not something they wanted to continue to do. “It’s not for everyone,” he said of the time suck.
Meanwhile, Showtime chief David Nevins keeps sending love letters to Halperin and Heilemann, every time he does a Circus victory-lap interview, telling reporters how much he wants the relationship to continue and boasting how that program’s November 12 finale became the highest rated non-scripted program in Showtime history and Must See TV on the political circuit.
Quick to repay the compliment, the savvy self promoters were nonetheless coy as to future plans, saying they are weighing options.
Both men recall the moment when, appearing on Showtime’s live Stephen Colbert-hosted election night special, they broke it to the late-night comic and his audience that Trump appeared unstoppable.
“It was one of the marquee moments of the evening on television,” Halperin said of the moment they told Colbert that Clinton could not recover from some of the evening’s defeats, and that if Trump took Wisconsin and Michigan, as now seemed likely, he would be our next POTUS. Colbert looked gobsmacked, his audience gasped, then fell comedy-killingly quiet.
“Surreal,” Heilemann said, describing the night.