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Read Now: The Trump presidency was a reality show. The January 6 hearings are the reunion special. – 101 Latest News



The Trump presidency was a reality show. The January 6 hearings are the reunion special.

#Trump #presidency #reality #show #January #hearings #reunion #special

Remember when then-President Donald Trump hurled a plate at a White House wall, spattering it with ketchup? You didn’t see that moment. You didn’t even know about it when it happened. But when Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, told that story before the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection of January 6, 2021, odds are pretty good you could picture it.

The ketchup wall was just one of many damning details in Hutchinson’s testimony, delivered on June 28. She also testified that Trump seemed intent on allowing heavily armed people to march on the Capitol, that he reportedly attempted to seize control of a vehicle from a Secret Service agent who wouldn’t drive him up to the Capitol, and that he was obsessed with the size of the crowd listening to his speech on that day. (With Trump, some things never change.)

Those were all big, shattering revelations. But in the moment, as Hutchinson was testifying, what seemed to garner the greatest buzz on social media platforms was the ketchup. It was so ridiculous, so overly dramatic, so campy. Even though Hutchinson says it really happened, it nevertheless had big reality TV vibes, a sense that what was real had been turned up a couple of notches. And that was what made the moment stand out.

Reality television made Trump, both literally (he built considerable fame atop The Apprentice) and figuratively (he seemed to subconsciously fashion himself as a reality TV character on the campaign trail). And even though Trump is no longer in office, reality TV remains a compelling way to understand him and his administration. With the hearings set to resume this week, the “narrative” surrounding them — at least among casual observers — increasingly has the feel of people discussing a reality show around the water cooler, too.

Now that his presidency is over, the January 6 hearings stand as a kind of last-minute reunion special, one where the former star has removed himself from the proceedings by refusing to testify. No less a former Trump luminary than former chief of staff Steve Bannon is set to testify this week.

Since Trump won’t be testifying, he misses a chance to set the narrative and define its “characters” going forward. He has lost control of the story, as it were. As such, we’re left with the stories we didn’t hear about in all those years of the Trump White House. And in the midst of that vacuum, of course we’re picking on the most ridiculous details.

Donald Trump has always been our reality-show president. These hearings prove he still is, even without his usual tricks.

Donald Trump’s fame only increased after he began hosting the NBC reality show The Apprentice in 2004.
Matthew Imaging/Getty Images

In the summer of 2015, as Trump began his rise to the top of the Republican presidential primary polls, many political observers wrote him off as a flash in the pan. But his TV presence was fascinating.

In the early Republican primary debates, he kept finding ways to make himself the story and to pull the camera’s focus back to him. His many years on the reality show The Apprentice had served him incredibly well. Trump had so internalized how to be on television that none of his opponents seemed to be anywhere near as comfortable. Being good on TV isn’t the primary skill that wins presidential races, but it helps considerably. And Trump was really good on TV. “The contents of Trump’s message are loathsome to many, including many Republicans, but the package Trump is selling them in is market-tested and ready to ship,” I wrote at the time.

The idea of understanding Trump as a scheming reality show contestant, willing to do whatever it took to win, only grew as he won the Republican nomination and the presidency. He quite willingly took on the role of “reality show villain,” which wasn’t really a negative. In reality TV, the “villain” is just the person who drives the story forward through their scheming, whom the cameras are always pinned to, who does and says the most outrageous things to garner attention. The archetypal example is likely Richard Hatch from the first season of Survivor, who won the whole game by being as unscrupulous as possible. Whether Trump thought of himself this way is impossible to know, but he quite obviously understood what made good television.

“Donald Trump is starring in a TV show where he is the protagonist” turned out to be an incredibly useful way to understand Trump’s rise to power. (The New York Times’s James Poniewozik wrote an entire book about it.) It didn’t help blunt the occasionally catastrophic effects of his policies, but it did explain why he seemed so comfortable with complete and utter chaos. Indeed, he seemed most at home amid it.

Trump seemed comfortable playing a reality show villain, the guy whose behavior was so unbelievable that you had to keep tuning in to see what he did next. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and disrupted every aspect of American life, Trump’s desire to be at the center of his own TV show ran aground — but it wasn’t as though he lost the 2020 election in a blowout either. To plenty of people, the Trump show was one they wanted to keep watching.

The Trump who attempted to subvert the election on January 6 — especially the Trump portrayed in the testimony at the select committee hearings — is essentially a man who believed himself to be a TV protagonist who was so intent on remaining the protagonist (or, okay, the president) that he nearly destroyed American democracy in the process of asserting that fact. His efforts ultimately failed, but the reminder of just how self-aggrandizing and destructive Trump could be may be why Hutchinson’s testimony seemed to strike such a nerve.

The January 6 hearings are finally exposing Trump’s reality TV villain persona for the sham it’s always been

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6 committee.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

There are few formats more poorly suited to riveting television than congressional hearings. The January 6 committee has lots of compelling visual evidence, including some truly gut-wrenching videos, but the core of the hearings are individual testimonies. And just watching someone talk makes for really boring television.

As such, almost every time there are congressional hearings for anything, those inclined to believe those hearings should move the public opinion needle fret endlessly about whether they have “broken through.” If hearings are so boring on TV, why would anyone watch these hearings if they were not already inclined to agree with the idea that Trump’s actions require investigation? And if nobody watches them, will they matter?

A similar dynamic even struck the Watergate hearings, probably the most famous televised congressional hearings of all time. When looking back at reporting from the period, it’s not hard to find folks fretting over whether anyone really cares that Nixon did something bad. Eventually, enough people did, both within Washington and without, that Nixon stepped down. But it took longer than you’d expect. The gap between the beginning of those hearings and Richard Nixon’s resignation was well over a year, and even in terms of his approval rating, it took several months to reach a true nadir.

The temptation, then, is to say that the hearing where Hutchinson testified was only the sixth hearing of this particular committee, and therefore, there’s plenty of time for the hearings to reach a wider audience. But those typical congressional hearing dynamics are all scrambled in the face of Trump. He’s been playing the part of reality TV villain so long that if you’re someone who just wanted him voted off the show back when he was being a garden variety asshole in Republican primary debates and not, you know, possibly committing treason, then the last several years have built an ever more frustrated sense of urgency. Something — the Mueller report, the first impeachment, the second impeachment — has to take down Trump. And yet nothing has. If you’re that person, then Trump’s ability to never face accountability seems increasingly galling. Ah. Well. Nevertheless.

Yet perversely, I think that’s why “Trump threw a plate at a wall” broke through in a way some of the other January 6 committee revelations have not. Hutchinson’s story, dryly delivered though it was, played into a different type of reality TV villain — not the calculating mastermind willing to do anything to win but the unhinged person who makes everybody’s life hell. (Imagine the table flip moment from Real Housewives of New Jersey and I think you’ll see what I mean.)

This less-controlled reality TV villain can be very fun to watch on TV, but you’d rarely want them in your corner. They are, instead, cautionary tales of what happens when “I’m not here to make friends” boils over into something so antisocial that it burns up on reentering the atmosphere. You definitely wouldn’t want to hang out with this person.

Occasionally, that sort of villain simply removes themselves from the narrative altogether. Perhaps the most famous example of this happening in reality television occurred when Lisa Vanderpump abruptly stepped away from Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the show that made her a TV star, midway through filming its ninth season. (Her employee-centric spinoff, Vanderpump Rules, continues to run.) Her reasons for doing so were varied, but at base, they boiled down to (and I paraphrase) “everybody is persecuting me.” Her castmates were insufficiently nice to her. The editors weren’t making her look good. And so on.

If that sounds at all like the former president’s obsession with how he’s perceived, well, the former president was also a reality TV star. And reality TV is a uniquely deceptive beast because if you’re on it, the process of getting “a good edit” makes it sometimes seem as though you’re literally in control of reality, especially if you’ve got a lot of power over the creative direction of the show, as Trump did over The Apprentice. (There’s one more comparison point to be drawn here: Like Trump, Vanderpump didn’t fare particularly well on the Real Housewives reunion she skipped.)

When watching Hutchinson’s testimony in front of the January 6 committee, I couldn’t help but fantasize about the ways that the things she was saying might have been intercut with the footage of those things happening were this an actual reality TV reunion special, the live audience oohing and aahing at all the big moments from the season prior. I’ve been reading the Trump presidency through a reality TV lens for so long that I can’t stop, even when the events being described are horrifying and sobering.

I say none of this to downplay the seriousness of the charges Hutchinson made against Trump but, rather, to suggest why the January 6 hearings might finally be puncturing the televisual archetype that made Trump such a formidable political force. I am under no illusions that anything will happen to make Trump suffer actual consequences for what he did, but I do think the hearings have finally exposed him for who he is, just a little bit. He’s not a scheming Survivor. He’s a snippy, back-biting Real President of DC.


Read Now: Jeffries Hasn’t Spoken to McCarthy Since Agreement – 101 Latest News



Quote of the Day

#Jeffries #Hasnt #Spoken #McCarthy #Agreement

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News the debt ceiling deal contained no wins for Democrats, claiming that Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told him that himself.

Said McCarthy: “One thing Hakeem told me: there’s nothing in the bill for them. There’s not one thing in the bill for Democrats.”

But Jeffries told CBS News it’s not true: “I have no idea what he’s talking about, particularly because I have not been able to review the actual legislative text. I talked to him yesterday afternoon… I haven’t spoken to him since that point and time.”

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Read Now: Conservatives continue to rage against debt limit deal, while eyes turn to Progressive Caucus – 101 Latest News



WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) speaks with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on November 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. DC. Democratic leaders in the House are waiting on the final Congressional Budget Office cost estimate for President Joe Biden's Build Back Better before scheduling a vote on the $1.75 trillion social benefits and climate legislation. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

#Conservatives #continue #rage #debt #limit #deal #eyes #turn #Progressive #Caucus

Let’s start with the Democrats, who had been pretty quiet as the early details leaked. The Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal told CNN earlier today that she was waiting on the legislative text to make a final voting decision, “That’s always, you know, a problem, if you can’t see the exact legislative text. And we’re all trying to wade through spin right now.” That said, she mocked Republicans for not getting what they claimed to want—a reduction in the deficit. Hard to do that when they increased Pentagon spending and removed IRS funding designed to collect unpaid tax revenues.


With the legislative text out, House Democratic leaders sounded optimistic late in the day about Progressive caucus support. 


That is the standard reaction after expecting the worst—relief, mixed with surprise, like new food-stamp access for the homeless and veterans—a huge progressive win. (I can’t believe that wasn’t already a thing.)

Aside from question marks about the Progressive Caucus membership, the bulk of the party remained supportive. Insofar as I’m seeing any reaction, it’s simply parroting the White House’s talking points. If anything, any celebrations are muted, lest they add fuel to conservative efforts to scuttle the deal.

But as the Semafor headline noted, “The Democrats (mostly) won the debt ceiling fight.” Or as progressive journalist Josh Marshall put it, Republicans walked into a Deny’s at gunpoint, demanded money, and walked out with nothing more than breakfast. It’s okay to both be disappointed at some of the concessions, while also celebrate Biden’s major negotiating victory in a government in which Republicans, with the House, unfortunately do have a say

Many conservatives remain furious.

Rep. Chip Roy continues his tirade against the deal, tweeting at one point that “it’s worse than I thought every minute that goes by.” 


And Roy understands the leverage Republicans are losing in the regular budget appropriations process, tweeting that “If you want the border to be secure – no member of the @HouseGOP can vote for this #debtceiling ‘deal’ because it will remove all leverage we have to force action on the border.” 

Of further conservative ire, Roy tweeted that the deal threw out the $131 billion House Republicans cut in their debt limit show bill, designed to get spending back to pre-COVID levels, and replaced them with “what appears to be effectively flat spending […] at the bloated 2023 Omnibus spending level, jammed through in a rush in December…”

In response, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee tweeted, “With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?

Of particular interest is former Trump budget director Russ Vought, who is currently rallying opposition to the deal:

While we wait on text, let’s take the numbers as the GOP is claiming w/o knowing the gimmicks (Dems are claiming higher spending). Deal provides $1.59 trillion in FY24 v. $1.602 in FY23. You gave Biden $4 trillion for $12 billion in cuts largely coming from unspent COVID$?

Or take “It cuts nondefense spending to 2022!” No it doesn’t. FY22 nondefense spending was $689 billion. GOP numbers claim FY24 will be $704 billion. You don’t get a dog biscuit for that.  

Reviewing the text now. Confirms that there only 2 years of actual caps and then 4 years of meaningless language that binds only Congress & easily waived.

 The “administrative PAYGO” is totally worthless. It’s not just that it can be gamed with plans for fake offsets in exchange for real spending. Its that the OMB Director has complete waiver authority in Section 265 if “necessary for program delivery”

So I’m not a budget expert, but what that tells me is that whatever budgetary restrictions exist in the deal, they can easily be waived. 

Furthermore, responding to a seemingly sensible conservative noting that McCarthy’s leverage was limited given that Democrats control the White House and the Senate, Vought furiously responded, “What exactly did [McCarthy] deliver on? You can’t build on it because he gave every leverage point away for the remainder of Biden’s tenure. The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.”

Savor that.

The bill is worse than a clean debt limit.

I actually don’t know if that’s true, to be sure. But I desperately hope it is. 

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Read Now: Biden CBP Denies Government is Providing Financial Support to Illegal Immigrants, Gets Immediately Slapped With Fact Checks – 101 Latest News



Biden CBP Denies Government is Providing Financial Support to Illegal Immigrants, Gets Immediately Slapped With Fact Checks

#Biden #CBP #Denies #Government #Providing #Financial #Support #Illegal #Immigrants #Immediately #Slapped #Fact #Checks

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied that the federal government provides help or financial assistance to illegal immigrants, prompting a torrent of fact-checkers to come along and state that they are lying.

“NOTICE: Claims that migrants will be provided free travel and transportation to their destination are false,” the CBP’s official Twitter feed posted Thursday. “The U.S. government does not provide help or financial support for noncitizens.”

It is the second time they have made such a claim, posting a duplicate tweet roughly one month ago.

It is unclear what “claims” they are referencing or if the group was simply trying to get out in front of a situation in which illegal aliens coming in are expecting travel and transportation to new locations to be provided.

Regardless, several sources were quick to jump all over the CBP’s claims calling them alternately misleading, false, or a flat-out lie.

RELATED: Invasion Begins: Video Purportedly Shows Illegal Aliens Opening DHS Packets With Smartphones, Some Court Dates Not Until 2035

CBP Gets a Brutal Fact Check or Two

The Heritage Foundation think tank came along and, not pleased with the length of time Twitter’s Community Notes was taking to correct the CBP statement, provided their own fact check.

“Since @CommunityNotes hasn’t shown up yet, we’ll say it. This is a lie,” they wrote. “The U.S. Government pays NGO’s to do the work for them.”

The Heritage Foundation provided a link to their research showing the federal government uses charities “to hide the true cost of the border crisis.”

The report calls the funding of NGO’s through taxpayer funds Biden’s “dirty little secret” and describes them as “charities or religiously affiliated nonprofits but who spend most of their money and time helping illegal immigrants settle in the United States.”

That’s right. Your money helping to resettle illegal aliens into America so they can take even more of your money through social services or by taking jobs from Americans or legal immigrants.

RELATED: Texas Blocks Border Crossing Where Soldier Was Seen Opening Gate for Illegal Immigrants

More Call Out CBP’s Lies

Twitter’s Community Notes did catch up to the situation and slapped the CBP’s tweet with a little fact-check of their own.

“This statement by CBP is misleading as the federal government funds non-government organizations such as Catholic charities to assist in the travel, food, and shelter for illegal aliens and is coordinated by FEMA,” the label reads.

They provide a link to FEMA’s website promoting over $332 million in grants to provide “food, shelter, and services to individuals and families … who entered through the Southwestern Border and who are now awaiting their immigration court proceedings.”

Oh, good. So they’re only providing help and financial assistance until their court dates. Well, at least that shouldn’t take long, right?

Except, as The Political Insider reported earlier this month, documentation provided to illegal immigrants at the border had some being provided with court dates set as late as 2032 and 2035 in Chicago and Florida.

Potentially twelve years of financial assistance and the CBP wants you to believe that nah, we don’t provide financial support for illegal immigrants.

Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin also called the CBP out over their statement.

“This is blatantly false,” he tweeted.

“The U.S. government indirectly provides financial support for migrants by giving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to NGOs via FEMA’s Emergency Food & Shelter Program,” Melugin continued. “The NGOs then assist migrants w/ transportation around U.S & other services.”

Melugin just weeks ago posted a video showing a female National Guard soldier opening a gate and allowing a large crowd of illegal immigrants across the border onto private property in Texas.

The soldier did so, Melugin reported, because she “was following CBP directives to open the gate because the migrants had already crossed onto US soil and needed to be processed.”

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