A SOFA IN WASHINGTON — “But First, uh, simple question. Is she a whistleblower or is she a fame junkie?”
Host Brian Stelter, in a dusty purple tie today, is talking about Omarosa Manigault Newman, who is busy giving NBC’s Meet the Press an exclusive interview about her new book, appropriately called Unhinged.
“What is Omarosa Manigault doing with her new book?” Brian continues. “She’s making startling claims against her former boss, President Trump. But should we take her seriously? …Ultimately it is a story about credibility and it is INcredible.”
(Mirror thought bubble: Uh, before I begin, simple question: Is Brian Stelter aware that he’s a left-wing commentator and a biased reporter?)
“Now, I think the book is a big deal,” he says. She is the first Trump White House staffer to write an unflattering tell-all. But…some of what she has written is unbelievable. There are basic mistakes in the text.”
Brian says tellingingly, “You know what’s going to happen. For days to come, the media is going to be talking about this book, especially the entertainment media, the tabloid press, which finds this irresistable.” (His tone suggests that the tabloid press is somehow beneath him.)
Let’s hear from the show’s “all-star panel.”
There’s April Ryan, American Urban Radio’s White House correspondent and unofficial president of the “I Hate Omarosa” club,” Indira Lakshmanan, a columnist for The Boston Globe and Jeff Greenfield, a CNN political analyst.
“It’s a mixed bag,” Indira says of Omarosa’s book. She gives WaPo’s Josh Dawsey a lot of love. She says HE has listened to some of the tapes and “Josh Dawsey says many of the tapes match what he heard on those tapes.”
April looks like she’s ready to explode. Lots of glaring. Eye fluttering. Anger coming out of her eyes or wherever (just kidding).
“How are you processing this?” Brian ponders, as if he is her therapist.
April is about to wreck Omarosa.
“Well, you know, in the Washington Post article, after she edited the tape, that I detail in MY book factually….she said that is what WE do,” she says. “…But here’s the problem. If indeed these tapes are factual, and I believe them to be credible … I called Elijah Cummings…he said if indeed these tapes are credible, this is a national security issue he’s looking into.”
OK, a little translation since she’s all over the place: April believes Omarosa’s tapes are accurate even though Omarosa tried the same bullshit with her. After sifting through Twitter on Sunday, she rang Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who said if the tapes are credible, there will be hell to pay as it means our national security could be in jeopardy.
April details White House cell phone rules. “I know this for a fact,” she says. “In the Oval Office you’re not supposed to tape. You’re not supposed to bring your cell phone in the Situation Room, in the Roosevelt room. You’re not supposed to have your cell phone in the office of the Chief of Staff.”
Maybe her funniest quote: “You’re talking about Russia and then you have to worry about Omarosa.”
Brian flashes a quote from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying Omarosa is full of shit and O is “full of lies.”
“She has no credibility either,” April can be heard throwing shade at Sanders.
Greenfield goes back in time, pointedly 1964: “If it weren’t for the fact that there are serious national security issues here, this looks like a weird remake of Dr. Strangelove.”
He says he’s waiting for WaPo associate editor Bob Woodward’s book, which comes out in a month. “I’m an old school guy,” Greenfield says. “I want to see what he has to say about how this White House operates.”
Brian points out something he has covered repeatedly on his show. Omarosa says the President is in declining mental health. “Should that not be a lead story?” Brian asks incredulously.
“We’ve never had a book from a gruntled employee,” Greenfield says. “…The problem is the source of this. Omarosa is so compromised.”
Suddenly a weird silence descends over the show. No one knows whose turn it is to speak. What the hell?
Brian wants to know if any of his guests are there.
April pipes up: “I’m here, I’m sorry. I’ve known Omarosa for years and we are not friends anymore. This White House has created this monster” — she explains Trump has created the monster in his own likeness — “and this monster has come back to bite him.”
This guest is a street fighter and goes after O with knives. “She used to be a Democrat,” she says. “She went so far as to try to go after me. She told Sean Spicer to stop calling on me. She lied on me, said I was giving money to Hillary Clinton to hurt my career. She may not talk about it in her book but I TALK ABOUT IT IN MINE.”
(Omarosa had previously tried to spread a rumor that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had given money to April. She also taped an argument with April, edited it and sent it to Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts.)
And then April sticks the knife in: “She’s not a friend. She’s a liar. And I will say she’s evil.”
Forget about being asked to be a bridesmaid in O’s wedding. Omarosa is dead to her and we’ll be hearing her bitch about the former White House aide all week.
Brian says he hopes O will respond to that soon.
“She will, I’m sure she will,” April snaps.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the program. Sure it’s an “exclusive.” But it’s a real snoozer so excuse me while I locate my pillow. The New York Mayor is here to rip on Rupert Murdoch, Fox News and the New York Post.
“We would be a more unified country,” the mayor says, when asked what the nation would be like if Murdoch hadn’t created those news outlets. “…There is no Donald Trump without NewsCorp.”
De Blasio punches Fox News, saying, “Today you have one outlet and one outlet only that is constantly sewing division.”
Brian wants to know if de Blasio is saying these outlets shouldn’t exist.
“Look, it’s a free country,” he replies. “I’m saying because they exist we’ve been changed for the worse.”
“Sure sounds like you feel anti-media feelings,” Brian says, looking sad, like he’s just been slapped in his plump face.
“No, I feel anti-NewsCorp feelings,” DeBlasio says.
Why is he doing this? Brian wants to know.
Brian holds onto this refrain: “Politicians make lousy media critics.”
So why is de Blasio on his show at all if politicians make lousy media critics, which Brian can’t seem to stop saying.
“Because it’s not happening enough,” the mayor says.
And then an outright lie. De Blasio says CNN operates without an agenda. “CNN on a regular basis provides both sides to the story,” he says, smooching Brian’s ass.
Brian acts like he has just solved a cold case: “Are you doing this because you want to run for president?”
“I hope you can hear that I believe in a strong media with diverse views,” de Blasio says, after trashing Fox News and the New York Post and wishing for them to vanish into oblivion.
Next up: covering hate groups.
There’s a hate march Sunday in Washington. What a better time to bring up what Fox News host Laura Ingraham said on her program the other night.
Don’t take Brian’s word for it — listen to her. He plays the clip.
Here’s the short version: She whines about legal and illegal immigration and says some bizarre things about how the country has changed demographically and not for the better. After a day of attacks, she swears she wasn’t referring to race and ethnicity.
“What I hear is white fright,” Brian says.
The thrilling “All-Star” panel is back.
Indira says, “Look, we can’t ignore it. It’s something that is reality. It is our job to shine a light on some of the ugliest things in our society…Of course we have to cover these people, but we have to give the proper context.”
Greenfield is massaging the hell out of his left thumb. He looks like he’s being tortured as he waits in a room with bookshelves. He’s obviously not listening and doesn’t realize he has been called on.
Another weird silence ensues.
What’s his view on what Indira said? PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE.
“Are you saying that to me Brian?” he asks.
April still looks pissed about Omarosa.
Greenfeld says “clear lines need to be drawn.” He says the President has attracted this element of white supremacy since being elected.”
“April Ryan…what’s your take?”
SILENCE. SILENCE. MORE SILENCE.
You can see April talking, but you can’t hear her.
“I wonder if I’ve lost April,” Brian says.
CHYRON: WHITE ANXIETY FINDS A HOME ON FOX NEWS.
Ladies and gentleman, we are winding down to the end.
Next up: Let’s watch as Brian takes a swipe at his longtime enemy, Fox News host Sean Hannity, for letting Trump’s lawyers take over his radio show. Which — yes — was completely fucked up and predictably the media reacted with a degree of craziness over it.
“This would be funny if it weren’t so serious,” Brian says, with laser shots of anger in his eyes.
“He only trusts his Fox Friends,” he says.
Brian is going on and on about a hall of mirrors.
“Trump willingly walked into this house of mirrors, heck, he helped build it, but does he know how to get out?” he asks dramatically.
(Other questions we should ask ourselves: Is Trump trapped inside his own mind or in his birds nest of a hairdo? Is Brian dropping acid?)
So many unanswered questions on today’s “Reliable Sources.”
Brian ends his show with a promo for next week’s guest:
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
“Tweet me,” Brian says, soliciting questions for his interview.