All About That Karen Bass | Crooked Media
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November 17, 2022
What A Day
All About That Karen Bass

In This Episode

  • After leading congressional Democrats for over 20 years, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she won’t be seeking a leadership role in the next Congress. Her decision to step down is expected to pave the way for a new generation of leaders to fill the caucus’s top ranks.
  • Congresswoman Karen Bass is the next mayor of Los Angeles, after beating out billionaire Rick Caruso. She will become L.A.’s first woman mayor, and the second Black mayor in the city’s 241-year history.
  • And in headlines: workers at over 100 Starbucks locations nationwide went on strike, Ticketmaster canceled the general ticket sale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, and the executive who oversaw Enron’s bankruptcy called FTX’s collapse “unprecedented.”


Show Notes:


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For a transcript of this episode, please visit




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, November 18th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What A Day where we should all be prepared for the Artemis One rocket to say that it regrets being launched and it’s turning around and coming straight home. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Even rockets reserve the right to change their mind. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, listen, this is uh six year old me at a sleepover. It’s classic behavior. We know, and it’s fine. It happens to all of us. We’ve all done it. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, thousands of Starbucks workers went on strike. Plus, Swifties have another reason to be pissed at Ticketmaster. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, don’t even get me started on that. But in today’s news, after leading House Democrats for over 20 years, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that she will not be seeking a leadership role in the next Congress. 


[clip of Nancy Pelosi] And with great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hours come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect. And I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I love when somebody knows it’s time to go. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And just like graciously steps aside. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Love it, more people should do it honestly. It’s definitely, though, like a big change for the Democratic caucus. She is a huge figure in all of Democratic politics and really has been for decades. Now, she’s not leaving Congress, as she said earlier in that announcement. She will stay to represent her district in San Francisco. But she is ready to pass the party leadership torch and mentor her replacement. And we will talk a little bit more about who that may be in just a second. But she hasn’t lost the support of her caucus or anything like that. They have really a lot of respect for her. Most, if not all of them, consider her to be a really effective leader. But she is 82 years old. She has served under four presidents. She noted that she enjoyed serving under three, which was a very clear diss to Donald Trump. And this decision also does follow the recent attack on her husband, Paul, at their San Francisco home, as well as a really narrow loss of the Democratic House majority. She also struck a deal back in 2018, little known fact with the Democratic caucus that she would only stick around as speaker for two more terms, though, sticking to her word on that. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A politician that sticks to their word. Oh, my gosh. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Nance, we love it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. We love to see it. All right. So can you walk us through her career a little bit? You mentioned she’s been around for so long. What– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –are some of her biggest achievements? 


Priyanka Aribindi: She really has been around for a long time. She was elected to Congress for the first time in 1987, so 35 years ago. And at the time, she was a 47 year old mother of five children. She actually started her career as an organizer and a fundraiser for the Democratic Party in her district in San Francisco. And, of course, she worked her way up and eventually became the first woman to ever hold the speakership in 2007. She spent 12 years as minority leader in the House when Democrats did not have the majority and eight years as the speaker when they did. Some of her biggest achievements are really like a list of, you know, all these Democratic priorities. Passing the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, economic stimulus bill of 2008, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and more recently, the Inflation Reduction Act and last year’s massive Covid 19 relief package, as well as leading two impeachments and launching the special investigation into the January 6th attack. She has done all of this while raising over a billion dollars for the Democratic Party, one of the party’s most effective fund raisers. And she’s achieved all of these things, oftentimes with really narrow margins in the House in recent years. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely right. And she’s getting her flowers, you know, from everybody. President Biden, former President Obama, members of her caucus and prominent Democratic senators. Steve Scalise was even present at her speech. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The only Republican in House leadership to be there. But he did give her a standing ovation. But it hasn’t been all praise during her decades long career in Congress. We know this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely not. She has gotten a lot of criticism in recent years from House progressives. We have a really big party. A lot of people who have a lot of different ideas about, you know, what they want to get done and the best ways to get there. Not everybody has always agreed on those ideas. But it’s a real testament to her and her leadership that for years she has been able to take all of these people with different ideas and get them to coalesce and just make shit happen in the house. It probably goes without saying at this point in our politics, in our world. But Republicans, I mean, she is a high powered Democratic woman in power. Like they hate her. They do not like this woman at all. They have zero respect for her. They have made her out to be public enemy number one for years. There was a straight line between the rhetoric that they have used, the ways that they have described her, and those chants of where is Nancy that we heard on January 6th and that Paul Pelosi heard when his house was broken into by a man who was looking for her, just incredibly toxic, incredibly alarming. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Absolutely. Okay. So what’s next for House leadership now that she’s stepping aside? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s the big question that everybody has been asking and we might have a few answers very soon. So Pelosi wasn’t actually the only one who had a big announcement like this. The number two Democrat right behind her in line, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also announced that he’d be stepping down from his leadership role. And Representative Jim Clyburn, who is third in line, did the same, though he will seek to be assistant leader instead of his current role as House whip. But Clyburn did give us some hints about who may be up next. He says he looks forward to, quote, “doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic leaders, which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar. Hakeem Jeffries is really the name that most people have been throwing around. He is a congressman from New York. He currently serves as House Democratic Caucus chairman, and he’d be the first Black House leader to represent either party. It might not be smooth sailing entirely for him either though, some progressives are a bit apprehensive about him. But this is also the first time the Democrats have had a major leadership change like this in the House since Nancy Pelosi showed up. It’s kind of only natural that there would be a little bit of shuffling here, a little bit of figuring out what’s happening, who we’re backing and how this is going to go on. Uh. But time will tell. Very quickly, actually, House Democrats will elect their next leaders on November 30th. So we will keep you posted as we learn more. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you so much for that Priyanka. Wonderful news. I would say about a strong, powerful woman. And now, meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, another story about a strong–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –powerful woman. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We’ve got more. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Absolutely Black baby Jesus heard my cry and history has been made by a one Congresswoman Karen Bass. 


[clip of Karen Bass] It is with a special feeling in my heart and with the thoughts of my mother and my daughters and all of the women in this city that I stand before you in this place as the next mayor of Los Angeles. [cheers and applause]


Tre’vell Anderson: That was her yesterday, speaking for the first time as mayor elect of America’s second largest city. She’ll be L.A.’s first woman mayor and only second Black mayor after beating out billionaire Republican in Democrats clothing Rick Caruso. This was a very tight race at one point, even though I still contend it shouldn’t have been. But ultimately, it was called for Karen Bass Wednesday afternoon and Rick Caruso has since conceded. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So I feel like there’s been a lot said about Rick Caruso. You know, everyone knows he spent a ton of money on this. Everyone knows, he runs The Grove, which is like this amazing mall in Los Angeles. But, you know, for those of us who don’t know, can you tell us a little bit more about Karen Bass and what she’s about? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. So Karen Bass is a native Angelino who has been at this thing called servant leadership for a minute. She has been in and around politics for decades. After working as a physician’s assistant during the AIDS crisis, she became a community organizer in the early nineties who brought together, in particular, Black and Latinx communities to improve the social and economic realities of South Los Angeles. She was later then elected to the California State Assembly, and in 2008, she made history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as speaker of any state legislature. She then moved on to Congress in 2011 and has had a hand in major legislation around improving the child welfare system, protecting LGBTQ rights and reforming the criminal justice system. She also voted to impeach Donald Trump, which, you know, I think shouldn’t be a flex, but it is considering our political landscape now. And so I think that bears noting. But in total, she served six terms in Congress. So, you know, she’s not a spring chicken when it comes to government. Right. She’s a veteran. She knows how to move through various spaces. But that said, she’s got her work cut out for her in this role as mayor. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. A few months back, I actually listened to an episode of Pod Save America where they sat down with her and I thought it was such a good way to get to know her. I felt like I knew a lot more about her. I really liked the interview. I highly recommend it to anybody who is curious and wants to learn more about her, but especially to, you know, all of these people. There are several, especially celebrities in Los Angeles who kind of made it out to be like if Rick Caruso didn’t win, everything was going to hell and it’d be a disaster. And I really feel like if more of them listened to this, listened to any interview that she’s done, it made me feel really hopeful and really confident in what she can bring to Los Angeles. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But anyways, there were so many issues of major concern in this race, in her race against Caruso. What are some of the biggest tasks that she has as mayor? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, well, you know, I’ve said this before on the show that it always seems like it takes a Black woman to come in and clean up everybody’s mess, which is super unfortunate. But, you know, that’s where we are, particularly here in Los Angeles. And so at the top of her to do list has to be addressing homelessness and housing and public safety concerns. You know, during the campaign, every single ad that I saw at least, was about one of these issues, if not all three of them. And every one of these issues, if not all three of them, were major factors in all of the endorsements we saw from different celebrities for either candidate, as you–. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –Mentioned. And so that’s got to be, I think, top of mind in terms of like where she’s directing her administration. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But also, I’ll remind you that she’s inheriting the Los Angeles City Council fiasco that we’ve mentioned on the show before, that’s still recent, as well as continued side eyes and calls for accountability of the LAPD and the sheriff’s office. So, like, you know, her administration’s plate is, you know, it’s full. Okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: She got a lot to focus on it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And of course, you know, we’ll be here to keep y’all updated on the ongoing impact of Karen Bass’s historic election. But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A court in the Netherlands found two Russian nationals and a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist guilty of murder for shooting down a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine back in 2014. The attack, which brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killed all 298 people on board. All three of the defendants were sentenced to life in prison, though none of them were in the courtroom to hear the verdict. They are believed to be hiding in Russia, which will not extradite them. MH 17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a Russian made missile over eastern Ukraine. At the time, Ukraine’s military was fighting against pro-Russian separatist groups. 


Tre’vell Anderson: We hope you were able to forgo your daily egg bite yesterday because workers at over 100 Starbucks locations nationwide were on strike. The labor action was organized by the Starbucks Workers Union, which now represents nearly 7000 employees. The goal was to call out what the group sees as the coffee giant’s refusal to negotiate new contracts in good faith. And they accused the company of firing union affiliated workers and other union busting tactics. Organizers planned the walkout to coincide with the popular Red Cup Day, which is when Starbucks gives out reusable holiday cups. Now, this is the kind of war on Christmas we can support over here– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –In these parts, right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you wanted to know what it sounded like from some of the picket lines, the Associated Press captured this anti-capitalist sea chanty that striking baristas sang outside a Starbucks in New Jersey. 


[clip of striking Starbuck’s baristas singing] What shall we do with the billionaire bosses, what shall we do with the billionaire bosses, what shall we do with the billionaire bosses, earlyeye in the morning. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting, that’s all I got. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. I’m kind of like, wow. Starbucks, a real community coffeehouse feel with a guitar. The open mic. I don’t know. [laughter] I’m into it. I’m into the vibe. Taylor Swift fans got a chance to experience more of that heartbreak that their idol is always singing about. When Ticketmaster abruptly cancelled the general sale for Taylor’s Eras Tour, which was scheduled for today. I cannot overstate how crazy that is, they basically were just were like, never mind, we’re not selling this to the general public. We can’t. As we noted earlier this week, a presales for the tour started on Tuesday morning, and after selling a record breaking 2 million tickets that day, the Ticketmaster system became so overwhelmed that its website crashed. The company released a statement yesterday explaining that the general sale cancellation was due to, quote, “insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand.” Swifties, including myself, have been absolutely crushed by this announcement, to say the very least. And now Senator Amy Klobuchar, who sits on a subcommittee for antitrust and consumer rights, is joining the list of lawmakers who are criticizing Ticketmaster’s monopoly over live events. Someone’s got to do it, and Amy is on it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, as long as they get this worked out before Beyonce comes a ringing? Okay? That’s all that really matters. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. If there are any WAD fans out there who uh have an extra ticket, would like to invite me as a friend. I’m open to making new friends. I’m open to paying for this ticket, even. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Shoot your shot, Priyanka. And for anyone nostalgic for the early 2000s, this one’s for you. Because Enron is back in the news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: John Ray, the executive who took over the Texas energy giant after patterns of fraud, led to its collapse in 2001, has taken a new job as CEO of FTX. He’s set to guide the seriously troubled cryptocurrency exchange platform through bankruptcy and help it pay back at least some of the estimated $8 billion dollars that it owes. If you want to know how bad things were inside FTX, which was once worth $24 billion dollars, Ray wrote in a Thursday court filing that he had never seen, quote, “such a complete failure of corporate control.” And he was there at the failure of corporate control that they made all those great documentaries about. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If something goes wrong, if you make a mistake, you didn’t really how bad did you really fuck up because you didn’t lose billions and billions of dollars? We are fine. We could be fucking up worse unless you’re Elon Musk at Twitter. You’re fucking up pretty bad, [laughter] otherwise you’re good. 


Tre’vell Anderson: This is a prime example of, you know, the old adage it could always be worse. So, like, put a smile on, why don’t you? And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to discuss the holiday copyright battle that could have risen to the North Poles highest court’s. [music break]. 




Priyanka Aribindi: It is Friday WAD squad. And today we are doing a segment where we visit the last place where justice can be served in America, a place where the law is administered by people with zero legal experience apart from knowing parts of legally blond by heart. A place affectionately known as the podcasters court. [gavel sound] Tre’vell. I’m going to tell you about a recent weird thing that happened in our nation’s courts, and you get to evaluate it on its merits based on your amateur legal expertise. Are you ready? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Judge Slay’vell is ready to go. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Today we are talking about a legal battle that could only truly be settled by Judge Santa Clause involving singer Mariah Carey’s attempt to copyright the phrase, quote, “Queen of Christmas.” Now, it’s generally agreed upon in our society that Mariah Carey holds this title thanks to her ubiquitous holiday song, All I Want for Christmas is You. But earlier this year, Carey attempted to make this designation official by getting a trademark that would have given her the exclusive ability to put Queen of Christmas on perfumes, lotions, sunglasses, face masks and many other products you would never want to buy with that on it. She also tried to trademark a Princess Christmas and QOC. On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Carey’s applications following a challenge by a singer named Elizabeth Chan. Chan records only Christmas music and has been called the Queen of Christmas by The New Yorker. And she rejects the notion that anyone should have these trademarks. Speaking to the magazine Variety in August, she said, quote, “Christmas is for everyone. It is meant to be shared. It’s not meant to be owned.” So a lot to consider Tre’vell, but the big question, do you think justice was served when the patent office rejected Mariah Carey’s trademark? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? No shade to Miss Elizabeth Chan. 


Priyanka Aribindi: She made some points. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But how are you going to be the queen of Christmas and don’t nobody know you? No shade. No shade. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s on The New Yorker. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It doesn’t make any sense, right? Queen of Christmas is a title that is bestowed by the people. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Not by a judge, not by a court. And I think the people would say that Mariah Carey is the queen of Christmas. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Sure. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And you’re right. Nobody wants to buy no lotion with queen of Christmas on it. But that’s not the point. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. See okay. My read of this, yes, Mariah undisputed queen of Christmas. Sorry. No one reads the articles in The New Yorker. We don’t get all the way to the end. We buy it. We leave it on the coffee table. It’s never touched. That’s what it’s there for. It’s for the aesthetic. It’s to make us look like we read. But no one was going to buy this shit anyways, and that was what she was going to do with the trademark. So I feel like it might actually be okay. She is the Queen of Christmas in everyone’s heart. This just saves us from a lot of useless shit. That’s my read. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s a good point. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m down with that. Mm hmm.


Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways, that was the podcasters court. This court is adjourned. [gavel sound] One more thing before we go. WAD is taking a break all next week for Thanksgiving. So until then, only discuss politics with your relatives you know are safe. And we will see you back here with a new episode on Monday, November 28th. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, skip an egg bite and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just the pitch for the soon to be Oscar nominated FTX documentary of the future like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And don’t give up hope swifties. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, I’m sure she’s recording it for Netflix so we can all hang out in our living rooms and drink better alcohol and sit down while we watch. So that will be fun. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I love that for y’all. 


Priyanka Aribindi: At least me. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Lita Martinez, Michael Martinez, and Sandy Girard. Production support comes from Leo Duran, Ari Schwartz and Matt DeGroot with additional promotional and social support from Ewa Okulate, Julia Beach and Jordan Silver. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.