Anthony Bourdain’s suicide last month sent millions of the television host’s fans into tailspins of mourning. Much of the grief centered on how Bourdain’s voice — edgy and compassionate, candid and bighearted — had been permanently and suddenly silenced.
But now one of Bourdain’s final interviews has been released — a brief reappearance of the honest voice that made him beloved both on the screen and page. On Sunday, the online magazine Popula published a long, wide-ranging discussion between the CNN star and journalist Maria Bustillos. The conversation, which happened in February, darts around from Bourdain’s thoughts on usual topics such as travel and local customs to his relationship with girlfriend Asia Argento and the #MeToo movement.
Bourdain also tackled the current political state, unleashing his thoughts not only on President Trump and his supporters but on President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton’s “gropey, grabby, disgusting” behavior surrounding the Monica Lewinsky scandal, particularly looking at the case from the hindsight of the #MeToo movement. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to Bourdain, were guilty of discrediting the president’s accusers.
“I would never under any circumstances vote for Bill Clinton today,” he told Bustillos. “But I think impeaching the guy over Lewinsky was ridiculous. Particularly given today. It was the shaming, discrediting, undermining the women that made both of them unsuitable for any future endeavors. I don’t think they should’ve pulled him from office.”
He continued: “But the way they efficiently dismantled, destroyed and shamelessly discredited these women for speaking their truth . . . is unforgivable.”
Trump was similarly doused with Bourdain’s famous bile.
“I think Trump’s going down for the money. Collusion is tricky to prove, it’s the money,” he said. “And once they get too close, in my view he will declare victory, congratulate himself on the fantastic job he’s done and resign, saying the job is too small for him. Just what he did in Atlantic City! I got mine, big success for me, and leave behind a shambles.”
For Trump supporters, however, Bourdain expressed the same empathy that made his televised travels so appealing. He acknowledged spending 10 days recently filming in West Virginia.
“I like them. I liked the Trump voters. They say grace every meal. Coal is gone,” he said. “And anybody who cannot understand how important even the promise of a slight increase in the number of coal jobs is, how important that is to their cellular tissue, their self-image, everything.”
Trump voters, Bourdain argued, understand the man they pulled the lever for isn’t out for them. The attraction, Bourdain told Bustillos, was that Trump was someone who would upend a system that had historically treated them so poorly.
“They’re not foolish,” he said. “They recognize an anarchist. They recognize somebody who is likely to pull down the whole rotten temple that they despise so deeply that they will repeatedly shoot themselves in both feet for the pleasure.”
Obama — who spent time with Bourdain in Vietnam for an episode of his show — also was discussed. “See, I found Obama very unconvincing in public, much of the time,” Bourdain said. “I was always wanting a little more passion.”
Bourdain added that in person, Obama was “gracious, graceful, real, funny . . . no sense of calculation.”
He added: “I believe he may not have been the greatest president in history, but he’s one of the . . . nicest, good, one of the best people we ever had.”