Trump’s private club became Grauman’s Chinese theater for a Hollywood-hating audience. A few weeks before D’Souza’s debut, a slew of Trump allies, friends, and conservative personalities traveled to the Palm Beach estate to screen a documentary, “Rigged,” in the 2020 election. The film, starring Trump himself, is produced by David Posey, president of the group Citizens United Province. Soon after, Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, screened his own documentary, “Culture Killers: The Awakening War,” on the side of the Trump Club’s cultural pool.
Mar-a-Lago has become such a destination for MAGA-world premieres that those who attend such events scoff at the idea that there could be another place to choose from.
Conservative activist Charlie Kirk, one of the main characters in the documentary D’Souza, said.
The transformation of Palm Beach Club into a Maja movie destination is another way Trump has managed to keep himself at the center of modern conservatism. Barack Obama may have joined Netflix to help produce documentaries about climate change and the planet. Trump convinces documentary filmmakers to cover up his electoral grip and come to him.
It’s not just movies. Almost every night in Mar-a-Lago, there’s a new event—a fundraiser, a book party, or a socialite—that usually features Trump descending a staircase, or through large double doors, to be met by cheers.
Constant review of events earns the president’s club some money. Although the cost of a movie premiere there is unclear, the Trump Organization has not responded to a question about the cost of these special events.
On a larger level, it also highlights how Trumpism itself is the fusion of politics and culture. Whereas Trump once promoted steaks, wine and neckties as status symbols, now he’s touting social media platforms, comic books, documentaries and streaming services as demonstrations of one’s own — for lack of a better term — MAGA-ness. And nothing proves it quite like being there, in the flesh, at Mar-a-Lago.
“I think a lot of people on the right felt they had to keep their voices and opinions quiet, and Trump let them know that they weren’t alone and that they had someone to support them,” said Sean Spicer, Trump’s first press secretary. The Newsmax host, who was invited to the event but was unable to attend in person.
At the 2000 Mules premiere, there was a sea of famous faces: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ge) chats with former Trump attorney Gina Ellis, carrying a handbag with an American flag on it. Conservative commentator Dan Bongeno met with Devin Nunes, CEO of Truth Social. A few feet away, excited guests surrounded Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenage icon turned conservative who was acquitted for the murder of two men during the 2020 protests, including former 60 Minutes reporter turned ousted Fox News contributor Lara Logan.
And on the sidelines, Mike Lindell, founder of MyPillow and champion of some of the most outlandish election fraud theories, gave a moving interview to a conservative media outlet.
Several other important figures present were called by the House committee investigating Jan. 6, including former Trump adviser-turned-cannon conspiracy hero Michael Flynn, former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who smiled to pick up Selfies with fans. .
They took food from a small buffet of steamed appetizers and drank their drinks. Once a blonde guest yelled, “She was in a movie!” As a woman who walked the red carpet. It was actually a real-life actress, Kristi Swanson, who is best known for starring in the 1992 movie “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and has since spoken out about the anti-conservative bias in Hollywood.
Another star of the ’90s, Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules on TV, landed a major spot on the show behind the faces of the D’Souza documentary, Dennis Prager and Sebastian Gorka.
Guests mingled before Trump was ushered from one of the chandeliers, where he posed for pictures with the dignitaries, to the next. When he finally entered the room, they opened their necks and grabbed their phones to take pictures. Lee Greenwood’s “I’m proud to be an American” voice spread over the speakers.
Inside the club’s largest ballroom, where golden chairs were lined up in neat rows for the parade, Trump spoke to the crowd, ticking a list of false allegations about the election, blasting his former vice president, blasting President Joe Biden, and shocking his voice. Thoughts on the recent culture war battles. At one point, Trump called the New York Times, after hearing that a reporter was in the room and pointed to a taut, empty set of seats where no journalist had been seated. Guests sat in trance, eating popcorn in theater-style red and white boxes.
Trump seems to love the movie, and has played a major role in promoting it in pronouncements, interviews, and MAGA rallies. Her dubious claims have become a major point of discussion among those on the right who continue to claim that the elections were not lost but were “stolen”.
The documentary is based on mobile phone geolocation data, which was purchased by the Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote. D’Souza claims the data shows thousands of mules coordinated in states Trump lost in 2020, such as Georgia, Arizona and Michigan, to drop thousands of legitimate ballots in a practice called “ballot harvesting.” In the end, I concluded that Trump lost because of these operations.
But there is no indication that the geolocation data was in fact tracking the people dropping the ballot papers. The film did not provide any tangible evidence that anyone was paid or orchestrated the ballot-collection plan. It is not entirely clear if all the ballot papers belong to Biden, among the many other allegations that have been verified. The film itself was criticized by conservative audiences as well, sparking friction between de Souza and Fox News, with the former accusing the latter of trying to silence his work.
But in Mar-a-Lago, the audience seemed completely convinced of the content of the film. Standing in the Mar-a-Lago breeze while the guests waited for their arrival home, D’Souza seemed happy to respond.
“Usually in my previous films, people would stand up and applaud at the end. But in this film I think the reaction is more sober, it’s an emotionally different tone, and the documentary really aims to shed light on something, not solve problems.”
Eventually, the crowd at Trump Club disappeared into the warm spring breeze off the coast of Palm Beach. They were in high spirits, excited by the movie but rested from their evening among the MAGA group.
“When you’ve been to Mar-a-Lago more than once, you know it’s kind of like being at home,” explained Rob Smith, a black, gay, conservative influencer who came to see the movie. “It’s a place where the people involved in this movement feel comfortable being themselves. And I think that’s what’s most about it… being around a lot of like-minded people, it’s electric.”