Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, proved that even the smartest people can get into trouble on Twitter when he imagined a meeting between him and #Donald Trump. He recently tweeted, "When I meet President Trump, I may first grab his crotch — to get his attention — then discuss #Science with him.” The attempt at humor was an apparent reference to things that Trump said that were recorded during the infamous Hollywood Access tape that almost cost him the election. Tyson likely cost himself any chance he had of getting a private audience with the president-elect.
The statement has yet to generate the kind of media outrage that Trump’s similar comments did a couple of months before. The president-elect claimed at the time that he had been engaging in “locker room” banter and did not literally mean it. However, his taped statement from over a decade ago elicited a series of women to step forward to claim Trump had behaved inappropriately toward him. The accusations did not suffice to derail his election as president of the United States.
Tyson’s buffoonery was unfortunate because imaging a conversation about science between the two media darlings is entertaining, especially when the subject of climate change would come up. Tyson is a well-known advocate of the theory of human-caused climate change, though like Al Gore it has not dented his opulent lifestyle. Trump has suggested that climate change is a plot by the Chinese to shame America into cutting back on its industrial development, something China has denied.
On the other hand, Tyson is also known as an advocate for #Space exploration. Team Trump has promised to shake things up at NASA and to set the space agency on a path to explore the entire solar system by 2100, a goal that Tyson would no doubt warmly approve of.
In turn, Trump may be able, from sad experience, to lecture Tyson on the perils of using social media and its potential to get one into trouble. He might even have his chief advisor Kellyanne Conway in on the meeting to inform Tyson of how to use the medium in a way that does not bring disrepute to the user.