The (Il)Logic of Elise Stefanik’s Hostage Video

I read a column recently by someone who argued that DOJ had failed because Trump and his top deputies are not yet in prison.

It was the expression of someone who always had unrealistic expectations about how long white collar investigations take, even ignoring the delays overtly attributable in this case to Executive Privilege claims (which stretched from June 2022 to April 2023), other privilege fights (9 months for Rudy’s devices, longer for John Eastman’s, and still longer for Scott Perry’s, with a total of 25 witnesses invoking some kind of privilege), and litigation that would be inevitable when prosecuting the first former President (three months so far on the immunity claim).

Where the column made a decent point, though, is in the ethical response to Trump’s prosecution. Normally, if a politician were charged with 91 felonies on top of the several personally damning civil suits and two trials involving your eponymous corporation, it would be sheer insanity for any politician to have anything to do with the scoundrel.

Republicans don’t give a fuck anymore.

And until we can solve that problem, we will always be fighting an uphill battle against fascism, because Republicans simply do not give a shit about rule of law anymore.

As I hope to write up one of these days, Trump has spent the last 8 years training Republicans to loathe rule of law. At first, he trained Republicans to adhere to him over rule of law. Now, opposing rule of law is an explicit litmus test for politicians in the Republican Party, who as a result join Donald Trump as he assaults rule of law at every turn.

Which is important background to Elise Stefanik’s appearance on Meet the Press today. Along with refusing to commit to certifying the election, Elise called those prosecuted for their crimes on January 6 “hostages” (much of the transcript is below).

In context, I don’t think Elise was explicitly comparing the Jan6ers to hostages held by Hamas, as many took her comment to be.

Rather, and perhaps more damning, I believe this was defensiveness. I believe she was, instead, defensively responding to the clip Kristen Welker had shown of Trump adopting the term, a term Trump has adopted from the culture of martyrdom that right wing supporters of terrorism adopted (as right wing terrorists always do) long before October 7. Elise was also defensively responding to a clip Welker showed of Elise herself, condemning the violence that Trump has now embraced.

Before I look at what Elise said, let’s talk about why.

In response to a great post on January 6 and fascism the other day, I attempted to write a taxonomy of the reasons why Republicans are waltzing along with Trump towards fascism. This is evolving, but I came up with:

  1. Cowards afraid of his retaliation
  2. People conned by his grift
  3. Utilitarians who believe he’s the only way GOP wins
  4. Adherents of fascism
  5. Christian nationalists

I have no doubt that Elise worries that defending her past statements might elicit retaliation from Trump, item 1. But for her, this is about ambition, utility, item 3.

In a profile that describes friends explaining that Elise wasn’t radicalized to Trump’s radical beliefs, she just sold out to her ambition, Nicholas Confessore described her gradual transformation into one of the most ardent MAGAts. With Elise it’s all about naked ambition, the conviction that by yoking her own destiny to Donald Trump’s she will gain power herself.

But according to current and former friends, she felt increasingly frustrated and lost in the House, horrified by the behavior of her harder-right colleagues and unsure of her place. As Mr. Trump’s presidency unfolded, it was becoming more difficult to play the middle. Some of the high-profile issues on which she had positioned herself as a bipartisan leader — climate action, immigration — had little traction in the Trump era. The president’s base wanted revenge, not high-minded ideas; Mr. Trump set policy by tweet, not white paper. As the 2018 midterms approached, Ms. Stefanik’s campaign took on a grim, joyless air. According to friends and advisers, she seemed brittle and unhappy. No longer a novice candidate, she dictated a hyperlocal campaign, emphasizing her bipartisanship and focus on regional issues. Though Democrats took the House that fall, Ms. Stefanik won the largest margin of any Republican in New York, a seeming validation of her carefully calibrated approach. But it was bittersweet. She was a promising young lawmaker with a seat at no particular table, respected by her party’s fractured establishment but viewed with suspicion by its ascendant Trump wing.

Still, the campaign had given Ms. Stefanik a glimpse of an alternate path. That August, she had appeared with Mr. Trump at Fort Drum, a major military base in her district, to mark the signing of that year’s defense bill. With a Democratic wave approaching, Ms. Stefanik had fretted for weeks over whether and how she wanted him to appear, but ultimately lobbied hard for Mr. Trump’s visit, according to a former White House official involved in the planning. At Fort Drum, Mr. Trump mispronounced her name — calling her “STEF-a-nik,” not for the last time — and offered backhanded praise. “She called me so many times” that he had dodged her calls, Mr. Trump told the audience. Ms. Stefanik gave a brief speech from behind the presidential lectern, lit for television as she cited the bill’s pay increase for soldiers and provisions she had written providing support for military spouses.

The day made a powerful impression, according to people who know or have worked with her. The cheering crowd was “a taste of being Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows for a day,” said the former White House official, referring to two of Mr. Trump’s staunchest House allies. More important, she had successfully maneuvered the power of the presidency — even if it was his presidency — behind a piece of her own agenda. It was a taste of the influence she had always imagined having.


Virtually no one who knows her believes she has any genuine attachment to Trump-style populism — unlike Mr. Trump’s earliest supporters, for example, or media figures like the Fox host Tucker Carlson. Indeed, over dozens of interviews, former aides, advisers and friends going back to Ms. Stefanik’s Harvard days struggled to identify any of her deeply held political beliefs at all. Most recalled, instead, her generic loyalty to the Republican Party, her intense competitiveness and her unerring ability to absorb what she thought people around her wanted and to reflect it back at them. Eager to advance, skilled at impressing more powerful figures with her intelligence and work ethic, she has spent years embedding herself wherever the action seems to be at the time.

Today’s appearance was, as everything will be for the next six months, an audition by Elise to be Trump’s running mate.

And that dictated her pitch perfect — from a Trumpian sense — answers to Welker’s questions.

Watch how she did it (I’m paraphrasing the transcript below. Direct quotes are marked. Trump keywords are in pink):

Welker: Do you still stand by your criticism of violence from January 6?

Elise: You cut my defense of “election integrity“! Plus, I also condemned BLM violence. And did you know that [we are claiming without evidence] Joe Biden coordinated with Hunter Biden, who blew off our subpoena, which makes Joe Biden the most corrupt President ever?

Welker: Well, the White House refutes your claim, but Trump lost fair and square. Do you think insurrectionists should be held accountable?

Elise: Hostages! Prisoners! “I believe that we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives.” Weaponization. Two sets of rules. “If your last name is Clinton or it’s Biden, you get to live by a different set of rules.” Condemn the violence. Election integrity. “if we don’t have [election integrity], we do not have a democracy.” “[T]he real threat to our democracy is these baseless witch hunt investigations and lawsuits against President Trump.” Witch hunt. Tish James. DC Circuit. Undemocratic. Shredding our Constitution. “[Y]ou know who agrees with me, Kristen? The American people. That’s why President Trump is winning in poll after poll against Joe Biden.”

Welker: But DOJ indicted top-name Democrats, including the president’s son, twice

Elise [Interrupts] “[T]he American people are very smart. They know that they tried to give Hunter Biden a sweetheart deal. We’ve heard from multiple IRS blowers” [sic] [sic]

Welker: “He’s been indicted twice, Congresswoman –”

Elise: “A judge that threw out a sweetheart deal that was negotiated on Joe Biden’s behalf. Joe Biden and the Department of Justice have been withheld from going after the Biden crime family, which Joe Biden sits atop of.”

Welker: “Other top Democrats have been indicted, as well. But we have a lot to get to, so I want to stay on track.”

Elise is as good at this kind of word salad filibuster as Jim Jordan, and she cleans up a lot better.

It wasn’t (just) that Elise adopted the word “hostages” for Jan6ers, adopting the term Trump used to turn Jan6ers into martyrs. Much of the rest of her response consisted of blurting the key words she knows Trump wants to see on TV.

This is not meant to be a rational response. Trump is not in the business of fielding rational responses. This was a brilliant performance of Trump’s own degradation of rational response, with many of the required key words included.

Hunter Biden. Dick Pics. Hunter Biden. Dick Pics.

Elise’s response was an overt rejection of rule of law — excuses made for the terrorists who assaulted her work place. It was a defense of Nazis just weeks after her success at accusing liberals of anti-semitism. But it was also a willful rejection of rational argument, in favor of blurting the key words she knows will win her favor from Trump.

It was, most of all, an assault on rationality and truth itself: a refusal to engage in Welker’s futile attempt to get Stefanik to abide by her own words, much less adhere to rational defense of her, much less Trump’s, actions.

I’m not really sure what to do with these exchanges, short of big outlets like Meet the Press refusing to invite insurrectionists. At the very least, people who chant fascist slogans to please Trump need to pay a price. But where? How?

But the press needs to understand that interviews with Trump’s people are not, for him, designed to be a defense of his beliefs — or lack thereof. They are designed to throw out as many key words as possible to blur matters of truth.

Which task Elise performed spectacularly today.


In terms of what we’re hearing today, former President Trump has referred to January 6th as a, quote, “beautiful day.” Just this weekend, he referred to some of those who are serving time for having stormed the Capitol as, quote, “hostages.” Do you still feel as though that day was tragic and that those who were responsible should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law?


Well, first of all, Kristen, as typical for NBC and the biased media, you played one excerpt of my speech. I stand by my comments that I made on the House floor. I stood up for election integrity, and I challenged and objected to the certification of the state of Pennsylvania because of the unconstitutional overreach. So, I absolutely stand by my floor speech. I am proud to support President Trump. And I want to correct another statement you made that there is no coordination with Joe Biden and the Department of Justice in prosecutions against President Trump. We just saw Hunter Biden defy a congressional subpoena and the White House admitting it was in coordination with Joe Biden the morning of. That is coordination, and I believe that Joe Biden will be found to be the most corrupt president in our nation’s history. And that’s why all of the investigative work that we’re doing is so, so important, because the American people, they deserve transparency and accountability.


A lot to unpack there. Of course, the White House has said that Hunter Biden is acting unilaterally. On the issue of election integrity, though, as you know, Trump took his case to court more than 60 times that there was fraud. He didn’t win. But I want to get back to this key question. Do you still think it was a tragic day? Do you think that the people who stormed the Capitol should be held responsible to the full extent of the law –


I have concerns about the treatment of January 6th hostages. I have concerns – we have a role in Congress of oversight over our treatments of prisoners. And I believe that we’re seeing the weaponization of the federal government against not just President Trump, but we’re seeing it against conservatives. We’re seeing it against Catholics. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m so proud to serve in the Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Government, because the American people want answers. They want transparency. And they understand that, as you look across this country, there seems to be two sets of rules. If your last name is Clinton or it’s Biden, you get to live by a different set of rules than if you’re an everyday, patriotic American. I’ve been clear, Kristen. If you go back and play the full speech I gave on the House floor, I condemn the violence just like I condemned the violence of the BLM riots. But I also, importantly, stood for election integrity and security of our elections, which, if we don’t have that, we do not have a democracy. So, the real threat to our democracy is these baseless witch hunt investigations and lawsuits against President Trump, whether it’s Tish James or whether we see in the DC Circuit Court. And that is undemocratic, and it’s shredding our Constitution. And you know who agrees with me, Kristen? The American people. That’s why President Trump is winning in poll after poll against Joe Biden.


The Justice Department has indicted a number of top-name Democrats, as well, including the president’s son, twice. So, I mean, a lot of critics would argue that undercuts your argument there are two systems of justice.


If you want to try to –


Let me – can I follow up with you –


I want to answer that. If you want to – if you want to make that case, the American people are very smart. They know that they tried to give Hunter Biden a sweetheart deal. We’ve heard from multiple IRS blowers –


He’s been indicted twice, Congresswoman –


But it was because of a judge that threw out a sweetheart deal that was negotiated on Joe Biden’s behalf. Joe Biden and the Department of Justice have been withheld from going after the Biden crime family, which Joe Biden sits atop of.


Other – other – other top Democrats have been indicted, as well. But we have a lot to get to, so I want to stay on track.

98 replies
  1. Mike Stone says:

    I no knowing of her district, but a terrific outcome would be that the people in her district send he packing in her next election. And, I do not see her getting Trump to ask her to be is VP.

    • ApacheTrout says:

      I live a stone’s skip (across Lake Champlain) from her district and drive through her district on a somewhat regular basis. Without even considering election results, one can tell it’s a Trump stronghold. Farmers for Trump and Trump 2024 Save American are common, and there’s a surprising number of Confederate flags on porches. And the plethora of Christian fundamentalist radio stations in upstate NY never fails to surprise me when I channel surf while driving the NY Throughway.

      • Discontinued Barbie says:

        I dont think enough people realize how radio is a direct line to middle America. The majority of small stations in rural America are on the spectrum of “conservative” to Christofascism.
        There really aren’t that many neutral to liberal leaning stations. Even NPR is hard to come by in some areas.

        • Rayne says:

          This is something we have long needed to address. We failed during Biden’s first term with a Democratic majority to change rules regarding broadcast ownership. Too much of this country still only hears one or two corporations’ content/agenda.

          What a pity Americans haven’t figured out how to go rogue with publicly-owned broadcast bandwidth.

          • Arabiflora says:

            With the demise of the Fairness Doctrine and the proliferation of cable-based (vs over the airwaves) media feeds, where’s the leverage to promote/insist upon honesty in broadcasting?

            • Rayne says:

              Not enough persons file complaints with the FCC about violations by broadcast licensees of their contract in which broadcasters are supposed to serve “public interest, convenience, or necessity” over publicly-owned airwaves. There should be more concerted efforts to demand revocation of licenses but consumers don’t seem to know about the complaint process or give a shit enough to file a complaint.

              As for cable: the public could be pressing for a change in ISP status to match that of telecom since cable carries much of the same communications traffic as telecom, at least over the “last mile”; there should likewise be a change in cable networks to match that of broadcasters since much of telecom and ISP networks are federally regulated as commons. But again, the public would have to learn about common carriers and broadcast regulations and give enough of a damn to organize and demand lawmakers regulate cable.

              Now I will wait for the inevitable rebuttals about the freedom of the internet and interfering with competition blah-de-blah-blah…noting, of course, that the suppositions Reagan and Clinton administrations made about the proliferation of media over the internet didn’t foresee new monopolies and monopsonies arising from an unregulated space.

        • Tracy Lynn says:

          Earlier last year, On the Media broadcast a series called “The Divided Dial.” The series was about the rise of right-wing religious radio and focused on Salem Media Group, a very large media group with radio stations all over the country. In some areas, they are the only media outlet available. The link to the first episode is here: https:// episodes/ episode-1-divided-dial-on-the-media (added spaces to prevent inadvertent click-through).

          Your comment, Discontinued, reminded me of this series.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          Christian Satellite Broadcasting, the propaganda arm of Calvary Chapel — which claims to be the fastest-growing evangelical sect — is on 40 stations and over 300 translators and I believe is within hearing of almost all Americans.

          “To Every Man an Answer,’ its ask-the-pastor program, is superficially non-political but sure sounds fascist to me. Armageddon comes up a lot, and they’re for it.

        • GSSH-FullyReduced says:

          Hate radio at its best; Michael Savage, UCBerk Dr. of nutrition, the Paul Revere, Quack, quack, roar, explode into vicious bloody confetti…

      • ernesto1581 says:

        This is absolutely the case. I regularly drive route 8 across the Adirondacks and, with tiny blue sparks of difference here and there, see and hear the same, the Gadsden flag often flying in tandem with the The Stainless Banner on front porches.
        Stefanik currently lives in Schuylerville, NY, which is about as far south as you can get from the northern border and as close you can get to progressive Democrat Paul Tonko’s melange of parts of Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties without stepping on his toes.
        She ran for congress originally from Willsboro, NY, up by the border, where her parents had a vacation home for many years.

    • freebird says:

      I live in upstate New York. Stefanik is trying to camp on to what she thinks her district believes. It is rural and has the paranoia that says that everyone is out to get them like when that man shot and killed a woman for making a wrong turn into his driveway. After the initial shock, people shrugged it off. When I go to Saratoga, I bring water, food, blankets, and make sure the spare tire and gas cans are filled.

      The state had a prison building spree in rural areas to placate the yahoos to allay the fears of urban violence and to give the denizens jobs. Since the spree, the state had to close 22 prisons and pay two years of severance. You cannot give the prisons away.

      The paranoia runs deep. This how they reconcile the overthrow of the government by their supporters combined with the FBI, the deep state and antifa. I keep going back to that article that Hofstadter wrote about these people in 1964.

      • Rayne says:

        I’ve had my suspicions about that New Year’s Eve/Day car crash. It wasn’t in Stefanik’s district but the initial media reports calling it terrorism are likely to reinforce and trigger the rural paranoid who may lack context in which to frame the news. This is the second explosive car crash during a holiday in New York which was labeled initially as possible terrorism by news media, the first being the Rainbow Bridge crash the day before Thanksgiving. News about both crashes would play large and loud in Stefanik’s district because broadcast and cable media market for Niagara Falls and Rochester overlap with her district.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          RW media appears to operate on the assumption that in their fearful hearts, its audience almost *wants* a terrorist attack. That would release much of the hatred and tension created by the discourse.

  2. mattchew says:

    “Indeed, over dozens of interviews, former aides, advisers and friends going back to Ms. Stefanik’s Harvard days struggled to identify any of her deeply held political beliefs at all. Most recalled, instead, her generic loyalty to the Republican Party, her intense competitiveness and her unerring ability to absorb what she thought people around her wanted and to reflect it back at them.”

    This is the most dangerous type of person. Also unfortunately it seems as though the line between #3 and #4 is getting quite blurry at this stage.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I don’t think there’s anyone in American politics I hate more than Elise Stefanik. She is a thirsty, shameless fraud who would fire her grandma from a cannon into an upstate lake if it advanced her ambitions, and she has become very good at what she does because there is nobody willing to call her out on who and what she is.

    • CaboDano says:

      “I don’t think there’s anyone in American politics I hate more than Elise Stefanik.”
      Shoot howdy, the pomposity is just too much. Remember her performance at the microphones when Mike Johnson was at long last annoited Speaker? Triggered me then, too, but today on Meet the Press? That was a gag fest.

  4. Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

    I know all this “both sides”, whataboutism, gish gallop stuff, but can’t an interviewer just say, “Either answer the question as posed, or I’m cutting you off.”

    And then screw the “let’s move forward” stuff and air some mini video clips of Trump being an asswipe at his rallies.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s NBC’s Meet the Press. Of course they won’t do that, the format has always avoided true and consistent pushback against bullshit from their guests.

      It’s like a quid pro quo: you, the guest, will give us time and we, NBC MTP, will give you an unfettered platform.

      Just as much an amplifier today as it was +20 years ago under Tim Russert before he died in Iraq.

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        Meet the Press was often on during the time I was growing up and from 1967 through 1969 I saw a lot of people from the Johnson and Nixon administrations talking about the Vietnam war and our foreign policy in Vietnam. I was 13-14 years old and I realized that these guys knew much more about the history of the conflict, the political situation, balance-of power in SE Asia than I did. Notwithstanding their advanced degrees and years of real-world experience, I decided that they were full of shit.

        Their answers were not designed to inform, but a presentation to keep their viewers thinking the administration officials knew what they were doing. Their responses to the host’s questions may not have been the word salad of a MAGA Congress critter of today, but everything was a rationalization of sending young men and women to their deaths with no real goal to achieve. In recent years I was amazed to see they were still on the air.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          You make a good point, Alan. Disinformation wasn’t born fully-formed in 2016. It certainly did not sprout in this country from some foreign seed; our power structure has long maintained the institutions that teach and reward the dark arts of propaganda and misleading rhetoric.

          There are spirals of irony in Harvard’s most recent debacle–the tails of which Harvard evolved to suppress. Central now is that they’ve been bitten by the asp they helped engineer, as snake-handled by those like Chris Rufo whom they hold in contempt.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You could find what you want in Europe, Dutch journalists are known for it, but the American corporate-owned press would rather preserve access to the best and brightest, than alienate them by pointing out their hypocrisy and naked ambition.

    • Marinela says:

      The problem or surprise is not with Elise S. as we know what she would do.
      We have interviewers that could do a better job with a guest like Elise if they are given the chance.
      Medhi Hassan is one example, but they would not even consider giving him the role to interview these people, or elevate similar hosts.
      We are left with a vanilla host that doesn’t have a chance, is not well prepared and not quick.
      It is better to stick to 10% of the issues, just pick them before hand, and expose the guest for who they are.
      If they respond, then move on to the next subject.
      Less issues are better, moving on because you want to cover more stuff is favoring the gaslighter.
      Otherwise you just give them a platform to lie to your viewers.

      But even if the media would allow Medhi Hassan to host / interview, Elise would not accept the invitation, which is another problem.

        • fatvegan000 says:

          There is speculation that he got canned immediately after he called Regev out on Israel killing Gazan children during an interview on his show.

          Mehdi’s show was my favorite, so I’m upset. It doesn’t seem right if Regev has the power to make NBC fire Mehdi.

          • Matt___B says:

            He didn’t get canned immediately. He’s been doing his 1-hour show every Sunday since his December 17 interview with Regev – it’s like he got a demotion and 3-week notice. I guess he’s chosen not to accept the demotion – I don’t blame him.

            • JustAPerson says:

              I hope Mehdi excoriates MSNBC. But he is way too professional to deign to sour grapes.

              He has built up a following – so he will still be with us in some form of social media.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Damn it! Mehdi is one of the smartest, and certainly quickest minds on the air. I love seeing him corner the talking-points crew during interviews. And this is not the first time MSNBC has fired liberal/progressive talent for having the nerve to say what’s true.

  5. JustMusing says:

    As a long time reader, but non-commenter, I got pushed over the edge with this interview and the absolutely crass lying, fact perversion, deflection, and naked ambition that has overtaken and captured the Republican party.

    But better it see the light of day, because it’s important to understand the agenda being formulated and it generates hard push back. I was very pleased with Biden’s forceful Jan 6th speech and that his meme and demeanor flows down to the entire base who want Trump and his supporters gone.

  6. Sandor Raven says:

    From The Atlantic, a long and deeply historical article about reasons why (as per EW) “Republicans are waltzing along with Trump towards fascism.”

    Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?

    By Anne Applebaum

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    I am going to place Meet the Press into the category of entities that care nothing about rule of law.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rick Perlstein had a similar take, in an excellent article cited at the end of the comments on your post about “How Trump Manipulated 3 NYT Journalists.” He agrees that Republicans “don’t give a fuck anymore,” about using any means necessary, including force of arms, to obtain and retain political power.

    He implies that so long as Democrats continue to focus on winning votes rather than also winning political power, they may not adequately respond to the Republican threat, any more than the MSM will adequately respond to it. He frames the participants in a way that Warren Buffet described a class war that only the upper class was waging, and had already won:

    In one corner, a party consistently ratcheting toward authoritarianism, refusing as a matter of bedrock principle…to compromise with adversaries they frame as…evil and seek…to destroy.

    In the second corner, a party that says that, in a political culture where there is not enough compromise, the self-evident solution is to offer more compromise….

    And in the third corner…elite political journalists, who frame the Democrats as one of the “sides” in a tragic folie à deux destroying a nation otherwise united and at peace with itself because both sides stubbornly … refuse to compromise.

    As if a nation defined by racial and economic tensions was ever what Norman Rockwell’s wartime illustrations hoped it would become: “a nation otherwise united and at peace with itself.”

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I disagree with Confessore’s explanation that her friends don’t believe Stefanik “has any genuine attachment to Trump-style populism.” What matters is that her conduct will display all the fervent attachment there is if it promotes her ambitions. If that were not true, she would not have joined Trump’s bandwagon in the first place.

    • RitaRita says:

      Maybe she is a Sen. Mike Lee type – a believer in minority rule by elites (as long as they are the ones who get to judge who is elite). A convenient rationale for the power hungry.

      • emptywheel says:

        I believe that whatever happened to Mike Lee is far more traumatic (as in significant) than that–and there are Republicans who agree.

        Something really, really, fried his brain and I’d like to know what it is.

    • Cheez Whiz says:

      Stefanik is the poster child for Vonnegut’s “we are what we pretend to be” warning. The judgment call of attaching herself to Trump to further her ambition makes any performance on her part even less of an issue.

      • Rayne says:

        If she’s pretending to be a white supremacist handmaiden she’s doing a pretty fucking good job because I can’t tell where her mouth starts and that racist bastard Chris Rufo’s schtick ends.

        • chocolateislove says:

          The irony, of course, is that if the white supremacists and Christian fascists take over then Stefanik’s time in Congress will come to a screeching halt. The shitheads *might* keep one or 2 minority men around but women? I don’t think so. At best women will be Press Secretaries and Communications Advisors. Pretty faces to put in front of cameras to spew whatever the men want them to say. OTOH, maybe that’s enough for Elise. As Suzanne Stone says in To Die For, “you’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV.”

          • Rayne says:

            But before the white supremacist patriarchy ditches their handmaiden, she’ll double down on her bullshit out of desperation trying to save her job and her relevance. It’s going to get uglier before before she’s excised from Congress.

            • chocolateislove says:

              Oh for sure. The debasement of self would almost be amusing if Elise was only hurting herself. Unfortunately she’s going to be able to do a shit ton of damage before she’s relegated to the sidelines.

    • SteveBev says:

      I was prompted to read around about Stefanik, and was shocked, but not surprised, by her support of 2022 candidacy in New York of Carl Paladino. who has a history of controversial comments –
      expressing admiration for Hitler;
      likening gay marriage to the holocaust;
      some truly vituperative racist remarks about the Obamas;
      and calling for Garland to be executed because of the Mar-a-Lago search. Stefanik purported to explain away the first, even though it surfaced during the 2022 campaign, and ignored the last despite being publicly called upon to denounce it.

      • Robert of Had says:

        Remember the insurrectionist wearing the “CAMP AUSCHWITZ” shirt who only got sentenced to 75 days in jail. According to the sedition caucus, he was treated “far worse” than those who died during the Holocaust.

  10. Fiendish Thingy says:

    Welker is clearly in over her head.

    If only NBC had the guts to let Medhi Hasan take over the show…

    • Matt___B says:

      Mehdi’s last show (under his own name) was broadcast today at 5 p.m. Guess he will continue rove around like a ghost on other MSNBC anchors’ shows…

        • Matt___B says:

          That so? Makes sense, I wouldn’t want to stick around after being demoted like he was. Wonder where he’ll wind up next. He’s already been at Al Jazeera and The Intercept. I like him, he should be able to resume his career somewhere prominent.

    • Rayne says:

      You know, I think it would be better if Hasan was appointed as a senior producer of MTP and a rotation of hosts assigned to work the desk. He could teach several of the more junior talking heads how to do a better job of interviewing; the rotation would keep any one of them from being a target of the right-wing; and the Sunday morning audience which is primarily cis-het white male captains of industry won’t feel they can attack a Middle Eastern moderator/host because Hasan wouldn’t be the face of the program.

  11. Robert of Had says:

    Remind them the moment they tore down the American flag from the roof of the Capitol and threw it to the ground, and hoisted a TRUMP flag in its place it, it was officially an insurrection against the United States.
    Calling the convicted seditionists “hostages” is textbook definition of ‘giving aid and comfort’ to enemies of the United States.

  12. Yankee in TX says:

    If all you’re worried about is the next election, you can strain at gnats and try to swallow camels.

    The New Orleans school board filed a bs claim on their fidelity bond from the company that employed me. At mediation, the board would accept nothing less than the full bond penalty. They were were unmoved by our iron clad defenses. During a break, the mediator, a wizened retired local judge said “Yankee, your problem is you’re thinking Logical.” I replied that I tried and hoped that everyone else thought logically. He said that such a thought didn’t enter into their calculations. The matter was front page news and that every board member was elected. The board members would rather lose the case than be accused of settling for anything less than a full recovery by their opponents in the next election.

  13. soundgood2 says:

    Maybe these interviewers should get more personal with their questions. For example, put up a photo of one or more of the Capitol Police who were brutalized on Jan. 6. Play the video. Then ask Ms. Stefanik if she agrees with Trump that the people who were convicted of these acts are political prisoners/hostages? Then make her answer that question. If she starts gaslighting, interrupt her and insist that she answer the question. Keep that up until she answers the question or you end the interview. Having a list of questions you are committed to having her to answer just gives her multiple opportunities to change the subject. Same goes with abortion questions. Present them with an actual example of a woman who has been adversely affected by the abortion ban. Ask if they are okay with this particular woman being forced to suffer while politicians and judges question whether her doctor’s advice is correct. When you keep the questions general, it is easier to dodge and deflect.

    • Bob Roundhead says:

      I believe you correct. Unfortunately, this tactic is only used against the left. Imagine asking the new speaker of the house when it is ok to drag a police officer down the stairs while beating him with a pole. Run the video he released over and over again for him. Have him justify it. Our press can’t do this because the four or five owners of most of the 5th estate won’t allow it in the paperwork on the airwaves.

        • AlaskaReader says:

          Anyone wanting a laugh should read:

          Alaska Republican Party Chair wishes to defend Haley.

          Spaces break the link. I guess that’s right?

          https: // opinion-the-causes-of-the-us-civil-war-were-complex/

          (All one need know of Stefanik, Stefanik vouched for Santos)

          • Rayne says:

            Really need to lean into that Stefanik-Santos relationship. Clearly she’s willing to get shit splashed on her rather than exhibit prudence appropriate to governance.

            Nice job with the link, managed to clear while I was abed. :-)

            • AlaskaReader says:

              Thought links were ok, but had to be broken, is that incorrect? I am unclear if I mis-stepped.

              • Rayne says:

                You did fine. Most of the time during 8:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m. ET links are likely to clear on their own or have a moderator who’ll clear them if they don’t. We do need to sleep, though, so breaking links is the optimum approach to clear a comment in moderator downtime.

                I should caution community members, though — even if a link is broken you should validate the source. ADN (Anchorage Daily News) for example is a legit news entity and links are safe.

    • says:

      yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

      DEHUMANIZATION — or melding people into a group and always discussing each collectively (e.g., them, the left, antifa, the socialists, radical left Democrats) — is the primary tool that keeps poor people in red states (“red-sters”), for example, voting against their self interests because it’s a cardinal sin to vote for “the enemy” (Democrats)….and “the other side” remains the enemy until the red-sters can see the story of a human in that group, relate to their story, and learn how they vote can make a difference.

      I cannot scream loud enough here — Welker’s interview gave air time and credence to Stefanik’s despicable gas lighting. I read the Prospect article linked above and agree this is dumb, dumb journalism. We cannot win the argument by engaging with propagandists using their framework and their group-speak. Democrats have been called radical fascists who are a threat to democracy for much longer in my state than before Republicans’ have. Does Biden think Bill Barr just invented the fear (that the left will destroy democracy) for his book tour?

      Broad group labelling won’t work. Biden’s speech the other day was “projection” to red-sters in my state. He’s the only one taking his opponent off the ballot, as they see it. The more Biden continues to ‘group’, label, and otherize, the more Trump wins the argument. Newt Gingrich started fascist-enemy labelling in 1992 or earlier. In what universe does Biden think he can reclaim and redefine these terms?

      The absolutely ONLY WAY TO GET red-sters in my state and others TO VOTE FOR candidates of THE PARTY they’ve been told their entire lives are their “ENEMIES” — and the REAL FASCISTS — is for them to see a piece of themselves in the humans stories from members of the ‘enemy’ group, commisserate with that person’s situation and realize it could be their own, and learn which lawmakers, from which party, caused the person’s plight.

      As Rayne said the other day, this takes all of us and you gotta get creative.

      I have four Gen Z daughters/-in-law who are literally scared to death to start their families. Right now, things look very dangerous for pregnant women in Red States. There are concrete examples, for those paying attention, of pregnant women in red states praying they won’t…
      – “… die of a miscarriage because they bleed out in their beauty parlor’s bathroom ,
      – “…be accused of aborting their baby illegally ,
      – “…permanently lose their ability to conceive a child again ,
      – “…fear ever becoming pregnant again in the future ,
      – “…spend thousands of dollars they don’t have to watch their non-viable twins, conjoined at the heart, die in their arms ,
      – “….accidently risk their life trying to save it, by travelling out of state for an abortion ,
      – “…face charges for not knowing how to dispose of their baby’s remains after twice having hospitals send them home and force them to have their baby in their home toilet” (or toilet at the beauty parlor like the first case listed above)
      – be further victimized by a domestic abuser and much more likely to be killed (pregnancy causes many abusers to become more violent and more lethal in their violent attacks). These same women most often do not have dominion over birth control or sex refusal in their relationships.

      I’ve been pro-life my entire life. Which means I’ve been pro-choice my entire life, because babies don’t survive when their host-mom is murdered or dies of pregnancy complications. One daughter and I have vowed to circulate these stories as broadly as we can, and inform our fellow voters of the consequences of keeping abortion banners in office. We can’t win this in our state in 2024, but Texas could if it did nothing more than increase it’s voter turnout from bottom fifth in the nation to bottom quarter.

      I don’t know what stories you can tell others in your state. Steal mine above if your states’ women and girls are being denied healthcare, but if not, NPR has plenty of ideas that air every day. It doesn’t have to be an issue that involves lives being in jeopardy, there are unfair rent policies, deaths in jails & prisons, immigrant kids still not reunited with their parents after Trump’s boarder separation policy, and DREAMERS WHO TEACH AT YOUR CHILD’s school whose spouses will be deported under Trump, etc.

      Find a compelling human story. Tell it to someone who could hear it (e.g., another parent at your child’s school, in the last example above), and repeat! And, if you can, financially support media outlets, like NPR or that tell these stories.

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks for that detail. I still need to publish a post about the anti-abortion laws’ effects on older women, will try to add this as well.

      • Konny_2022 says:

        Biden’s speech the other day was “projection” to red-sters in my state.

        When projection-ers accuse the other side of projection, I’m running out of my wits. Actually, I think Trump stole this “argument” from his adversaries.

        As to being creative, the Guardian just had this story from Germany: “German anti-fascists aim to trademark Nazi slogans to ‘hit them where it hurts’” by Kate Connolly,

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you,, for that comment. The citations you bring are terrifying, and only the tip of the iceberg. I will borrow your formulation about being pro-choice because you are pro-life. It makes sense and it resonates.

  14. c-i-v-i-l says:

    To the five categories, I’d add:
    6. White nationalists
    Perhaps also: those who share his sociopathy (e.g., they find his cruelty and desire for revenge appealing). Many of his adherents are likely in more than one category.

  15. sohelpmedog says:

    Every time I try to post a comment it disappears. Help?

    [Moderator’s note: I have asked you TWICE now to confirm the email address with your username and you’ve ignored me. Your name is currently in the auto-moderation list; to remove it I need to be able to contact you to verify identity. DOES THE EMAIL ATTACHED TO THIS COMMENT WORK? /~Rayne]

  16. CaptainCondorcet says:

    My only question is that when mortality finally catches up to TFG, which Republican is going to give the Kruschev-style “Secret Speech” and will someone leak it?

  17. rattlemullet says:

    They are noting but followers, no leaders. 6. Lemmings – Someone who blindly follows a crowd—maybe even toward catastrophe—is called a lemming.

  18. Linda_08JAN2024_1010h says:

    How odd-
    The website, Crooks and Liars, reported about Stefanik’s lie in the interview, “the federal government is weaponized …against Catholics.” The journalist at that site retorted for readers, “Really? When is the last time you heard of any persecution against Catholics?” So, why, in contrast to that site, do the commenters in this thread omit mention of the politicizing of right wing Catholics? Stefanik’s comment was aimed at getting White Republican Catholics to vote for Trump. In 2020, 63% of White Catholics who attend church regularly voted for Trump, a 3% increase from 2016. Stefanik’s district has a large number of committed voters who are right wing Catholic. If Trump wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, it will be because of right wing Catholic voters. The Catholic Conferences have highly successful, sophisticated voter mobilization apparatuses which have been used against reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and, for school privatization. In states like Ohio, almost all education voucher money goes to Catholic schools which is not surprising because the Republican Catholic Gov. in 1999 said that getting tax dollars for Catholic schools was the aim of vouchers. (Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 14, 1999, “Whose choice? How school choice began in Ohio”)

    Marcy relegated right wing religion to 6th place in her list. And, she used the word, “Christian” which the public interprets as protestant as in Christian schools vs. Catholic schools. Research showed 40% of people who identify as evangelicals don’t attend church so they aren’t getting Republican messaging through their churches. Catholics are. For example, Steve Bannon geofenced Catholic Churches for GOP messaging. Catholic Conferences, which are in almost every state, have paid lobbyists.

    There were 12 Jones Day lawyers in the Trump administration, men like Don McGahn. Bill Barr who said religion should be introduced at every opportunity was right wing Catholic. Leonard Leo is right wing Catholic with 9 kids. Paul Weyrich, co-founder of ALEC, the religious right, the secretive CNP and the Heritage Foundation was funded by Charles Koch and he was right wing Catholic. John Eastman was President of Robert P George’s National Organization for Marriage. (btw- Cleta Mitchell was NOM’s attorney.)
    There must be a widespread taboo against telling the truth relative to politicized GOP Catholics?
    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too common (there are several Lindas/Lyndas in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Again, welcome to emptywheel. You’re new here and therefore may not be familiar with this community.

      — Generally speaking, optimum comment length is 100-300 words; at 369 words yours is a bit long for community members on mobile devices to read comfortably;

      — Leeway on comment length is earned with both time, proven contributions to the community, and quality of comment;

      — We prefer claims to be supported – bring links to facts cited.

      Lastly, there’s no bias here against reporting about Catholics. The challenge again is that data indicates a decline in religious observation/adherence to faith across the U.S. (Pew Research, Gallup) regardless of Christian sect. If you have evidence to the contrary about Catholics in Stefanik’s district, bring it. Otherwise the problem is and remains right-wing fundamentalism regardless of Christian sect, as it has been since the inception of the Council for National Policy which has been driving toward a Christian theocracy for decades.

      • Rayne says:

        On a personal note, both of my folks are die-hard Mass-every-Sunday Catholics. Mom is rabidly against Trump because he’s a sexist pig while Dad has politely said Trump’s misguided; I need to ask Dad what he thinks now after the stolen classified documents given my father’s history in naval SIGINT.

      • Linda_08JAN2024_1010h says:

        Thanks, Rayne, Pew and PRRI’s research about religious voting is informative. More studies covering the breakdown by state are needed. Marcy could review the various published analyses about the role that religion, “Jesus, guns, babies,”plays in voting in the electoral college-rich central and southern states. Btw- readers at the Ravitch blog, comment favorably about Empty Wheel’s quality analyses.

        Adding info to my prior comment, while national media reported about the Republican anti-democracy Issue 1 on the ballot in Aug. in Ohio, it was only a couple of local media that reported the archdioceses of Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland spent $900,000 to promote the legislation. Publicly, Ohio’s bishops stated they had no position on Issue 1 because it had “no moral content.” The archdioceses’ expenditure was one of the top 5. Another of the top 5 was a group co-founded by Robert P George (American Principles Project). Evidently, political spending was unrelated to the decline in church membership.
        There appears to be uniform agreement by pundits about which states Biden needs to win (no states in the Northeast are mentioned because they tend to be a lock). Central states are flyovers for northeast pundits like Richardson and Robert Kagan (Richardson recently wrote the GOP was dead, a point that ignored the majority of governorships and legislatures in the nation are GOP and, Kagan identified an all-inclusive list of Trump supporters that ignored right wing religious). His list didn’t even put it at 6th.
        I’ll let the readers refute or confirm that “Christian” conjures an image of protestants. I’ll let them decide if omission of Republican Catholic politicking by media, bloggers,…exists and if it has resulted in wins for the right wing. Those readers may want to note that there isn’t one evangelical protestant on SCOTUS. Taking the opportunity to add, Catholic Labor reported that Catholic organizations are the nation’s 3rd largest employer. Who knew, the usurpation of government function could create such a windfall for a religious sect? My apologies if I exceeded 300. I’ll ty harder in the future.

        [MODERATOR’S NOTE: SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too common (there are several Lindas/Lyndas in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • Rayne says:

          1 — Don’t ignore moderators here.

          2 — Your second comment is 341 words – once again too long. If you try for a third overlong comment it may not clear publication.

          3 — Don’t ask contributors here write anything like you did in your first paragraph; if you were actually reading this blog you’d know Marcy already has her work laid out.

          4 — You’re ignoring the community’s standard for fact-supported comments by making more claims without a single link to support them.

          This is only your second comment and you’re on thin ice. Your overlong comments may be perceived as DDoS of comment thread. Get sorted or moderation will do it for you.

          • Rayne says:

            Linda: Your comment at 12:18 p.m. ET was received and will not clear moderation. You have ignored moderator’s requests and are effectively spamming this thread.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Linda, you must not have been around here or reading comments long to believe that this community has “ignored” RW Catholics. I am hardly the only one who has drawn the links between Bill Barr and John Durham (and Leonard Leo, etc.) via their extreme and authoritarian version of Catholicism. This has been discussed, in detail, by others.

      I too was brought up short by Stefanik seemingly throwing Catholics into her list at random. I had meant to bring it up in comments too, but other things pushed it from my mind. I am therefore grateful to you for reminding us of how anomalous (and therefore likely a dog whistle) her statements were.

      I’m glad you’re here. Just don’t assume that if we haven’t touched on it in the past few days it doesn’t matter to us. I’ve been studying religion in America for many years, and the influence of far-right Catholics–particularly as fused with oligarchic takeover of the GOP–remains among the most vexing issues I’ve seen.

      • Linda_08JAN2024_1010h says:

        Thanks. I’d planned to make my stint in the penalty box permanent.
        Recommended research about the world wide campaign, “The new official contents of sex education in Mexico: laicism in the crosshairs,” at the Scielo site.
        For a CRT connection, the Ryan Girdusky interview at Pat Buchanan’s site. Girdusky founded the 1776 PAC to raise money for right wing school board candidates.

        [Moderator’s note: THIRD REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your ORIGINAL username “Linda” is far too common (there are several Lindas/Lyndas in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. You attempted to post this comment under username “123456” — this is not acceptable as it is too common, has been attempted before, and not 8 letters long. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • linda_08jan2024_1010h says:

          Behavior modification using rewards has its advocates because some perceive it to be humane while being efficient.
          Others believe both carrots and sticks are dehumanizing.

          [Moderator’s note: 1) Letter case matters – “linda_08jan2024_1010h” is not the same name as “Linda_08JAN2024_1010h”. If this is the username you’re choosing, be sure to use the same case each time you comment. 2) The reward for using a site standard compliant username is participation. If you do not like the way comments operate here you are not obligated to participate. /~Rayne]

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Linda, Allow me to suggest that you become more familiar with Empty Wheel–not just the posts but the regular commenters *and* the overtaxed moderators–before you assume facts not in evidence.

          You have not been put in any penalty box. If you’re referring to comments in moderation, that happens to mine (and other regulars’) all the time. Yes, I felt a bit hurt at first, but then I realized I wasn’t alone and that it’s a necessary aspect of keeping the site troll-free.

          I’ve found too that it helps to read comments for awhile before jumping in with big, directive contributions. That way you know you’re not repeating something someone just said, in context, recently. And your personal expertise can shine light on others’ comments, too.

          Rayne is not your enemy. You could trust me on this, and I hope you do.

          • Linda_08JAN2024_1010h says:

            Thanks for the clarity. I appreciate your time. I only post comments that I would own publicly. I misunderstood who benefitted from the protocols.
            An internet presence like Empty Wheel is a large and impressive undertaking. I accept that management knows what works for them.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              Linda, Thank you for replying. I spent my time because it seems like you have much of value to contribute, and I don’t want you to depart due to a misperception about how the site works–both in terms of written rules and the unwritten norms that take longer to master for most of us.

              I hope to see you back here soon! I would love to have your company in discussions related to Opus Dei, the Federalist Society, or anything else. But please do change your username as Rayne asks, and when you do, could you let me know what the new one is, so I know it’s you?


          • yydennek says:

            “small contribution” Notre Dame Prof. Nicole Stelle Garnet who is a Manhattan Institute Fellow (Koch) is the legal scholar credited as most influential in advancing religious charter schools (tax-funded). She is described as a good friend of Amy Comey Barrett.
            The Biel v. St. James Catholic school SCOTUS decision exempted religious schools from civil rights employment law.

            [Thanks for updating your username to meet the site’s standard. Please be sure to use the same username and email address on each of your future comments. /~Rayne]

            • yydennek says:

              “small contribution”
              The Executive Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference was formerly with EdChoice and the Koch network.
              Media reported the VP of EdChoice Kentucky was also the associate director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                yydennek, you sound like the artist formerly known to me as Linda. I’m guessing you know much of this history, but have you read Anne Nelson’s book Shadow Network?

                Nelson gives a vivid, thoroughly researched narrative account of how these forces coalesced to create the dark-money behemoth you keep referencing in your comments. I’ve been recommending it to folks here for years; it’s still the best book on the subject I’ve found (I haven’t read Sheldon Whitehouse’s yet).

  19. Purple Martin says:

    Of Stefanik, I didn’t recall this from 1984 until Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark noted it this morning. It’s the perfect complement to Marcy’s pink words quote:

    “…she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none that she was not capable of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her. ‘The human sound-track’ he nicknamed her in his own mind.” — George Orwell, 1984

    …and the tragedy of it is that this is a path Stefanik freely chooses.

  20. The Old Redneck says:

    For people like Stefanik, it’s #3.

    It’s a simple numbers calculation. 2020 was a rude shock: I think it dawned on Republicans that they simply didn’t have enough voters to win the Presidency. They saw Joe Biden as a mediocre candidate who nonetheless won because of demographics and voting trends. I think they were particularly spooked by the number of young people who are not on their side.

    The prospect of being a minority party for a long time did not sit well. So they came around to the idea that winning was more important than preserving democracy in its existing form. The things we’ve heard since then are all part of an effort to “win” by any means necessary. All those platitudes about rule of law, respect for tradition and the legitimacy of opposing parties . . . those can’t compete with gaining power.

    • fatvegan000 says:

      I agree overall, but in my view Stefanik herself turned earlier than 2020. She he was visibly intoxicated with new-found power while performing for Trump during the first impeachment.

Comments are closed.