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Photo Credit: Etta Recke / Office of Communications


In a television segment dedicated to “roasting” President Donald Trump, Kevin Kruse, a history professor at the University, concluded his so-called roast on an oddly complimentary note, telling the president that he was “a hell of a guy.” Kruse then corrected himself, saying, “I read that wrong. Cheers, President Trump. You’re going to hell, guy.”

The special segment in which Kruse was featured was part of a recent episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS, in which historians and professors from a number of institutions participated in a roast of the president.

According to Kruse, the segment came as a response to the fact that a historian, Ron Chernow, was chosen to speak at the White House correspondents dinner, breaking the tradition of giving the keynote to a comedian.

“Samantha Bee decided she’d round up some historians for her own ‘Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner’ this week,” Kruse wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “Her staff invited eight historians — including Eric Foner, one of the most prominent figures in our field — to take part in a pre-taped roast of the president.”

Kruse joined the University in 2000. He studies the political and social history of 20th-century America. Kruse has particular interests in segregation, the civil rights movement, the rise of religious nationalism, and the making of modern conservatism.

Kruse and his fellow historians filmed the segment a few weeks prior to the show’s airing on Saturday, April 27. Kruse’s segment ultimately did not air on TBS due to time constraints, but remains available online.

“Apparently, our segment got cut due to time constraints, but no worries, historians are used to hard edits,” Kruse wrote on Twitter.

The roast featured historians’ satirical commentary on Trump’s administration, general character, and temperament.

“President Trump and I actually have a lot in common,” Kruse said on the segment. “I wrote a book about white flight, and he’s its mascot.”

This is not the first time Kruse has criticized the president and his supporters in a public forum. Kruse is among a number of professors and academics, known as #twitterhistorians, who say their goal is to respond immediately to false representations of historical fact. On Twitter, Kruse has responded to prominent figures ranging from political commentator Dinesh D’Souza to rapper Kanye West.

Some of Kruse’s Twitter commentary has reached beyond the strictly historical, such as a lengthy thread comparing various officials of the Trump administration to James Bond villains

Kruse concluded that while the segment was outside of the work he and other historians normally perform, he had fun doing it.

“Reagan popularized ending speeches with ‘God Bless America,’” Kruse said in the segment. “Trump’s speeches have popularized God responding, ‘Nah, I’m good.’”

The segment concludes with Angus Johnston, professor of American student activism at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York, saying that Trump does not need a historian to roast him. All of the historians immediately add in unison, “History will do that.”

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