In This Episode
- Thousands of flights across the U.S. were canceled or delayed early Wednesday morning after an FAA computer outage. Officials are calling it the largest national grounding of flights since 9/11, though there’s no evidence to suggest that it was the result of a cyberattack.
- New York Republican leaders publicly called for Representative George Santos to resign from Congress, following revelations that Santos fabricated many key aspects of his resume. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is standing by him, even as Santos faces formal ethics complaints and potential criminal investigations.
- And in headlines: President Biden’s lawyers reported finding classified materials at his former office space, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was released from the hospital, and Naomi Osaka announced that she’s expecting her first child.
- New York Times: Résumé of George Santos – https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/01/11/us/resume-of-george-santos.html
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, January 12th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day, the news podcast that’ll be converting to an Abbott Elementary recap show when season three comes out later this year.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we we’re just letting you know ahead of time so you can make a plan and get ready for a lot more news about Abbott Elementary. [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, another California lawmaker plans to join the fight for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat. Plus, we can all relax because President Biden isn’t coming for our gas stoves. That’s important y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, thousands of flights across the U.S. were canceled or delayed starting at 2 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday morning after a Federal Aviation Administration computer outage. The system was back up and running by 9 a.m. so flights could resume. But obviously this impacted many, many travelers over the course of those hours. Officials and aviation experts are calling it the largest national grounding of flights since 9/11, though we should note that according to the White House, there is no evidence at this time that a cyber attack or anything like that was behind the outage.
Juanita Tolliver: Emphasis on no evidence at this time, because I know a lot of folks are waiting for answers, especially the folks who were stranded yesterday. But based on what we do know, what happened here, Priyanka?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, So basically there was an outage affecting the notice to air missions computer system, also known as NOTAM. This system creates notices that the FAA uses to alert pilots to weather conditions, runway closures, any hazards or things that are going to be on their route or at their destination that could affect their flight. And before they take off, pilots review all this information either on paper or an iPad. So, you know, they know what to expect and they can keep you safe on your route. So sometime Tuesday afternoon, issues started arising within the NOTAM system. As of our recording time, the FAA hadn’t provided a detailed explanation of what exactly caused the system to collapse, but officials reportedly found a corrupt file in both its main and backup systems, and the issues in the system prevented new or updated notices from being sent to the pilots. So in order to keep planes flying, the FAA switched over to using a telephone hotline. Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh my god.
Priyanka Aribindi: Kind of wild.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s giving hotline bling.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Call me on my cell phone.
Priyanka Aribindi: A little wild. So, you know, they were doing this overnight just to kind of keep the flights going, lower volume. Uh. And they also decided overnight to reboot the main NOTAM system, which can take up to an hour and a half. You know, that’s a pretty significant amount of time–
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –During the day. Hundreds, thousands of flights take off land in that period of time. But they tried to do this overnight to impact the least amount of flights possible. You know, before East Coast morning, air traffic started back up again. But basically when the system came back online, it didn’t appear to be working correctly and it was taking a really long time. So then around 7:30 a.m. Eastern, the FAA issued a nationwide ground stop which stopped all domestic departures for about 90 minutes. Flights resumed taking off at 9 a.m. But like I said before, because of the outage and then the FAA’s ground stop. Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled on Wednesday.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like this incident throws my theory completely out the window about taking the first flight of the day. It’s no longer a guaranteed sure thing.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, no, it’s a roll of the dice whenever you fly now. [laughing]
Juanita Tolliver: Look. And those delays seemed inevitable because even when the ground stop was lifted, there was no way that all of those planes that were waiting could take off all at once. So ultimately–
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: –How many flights did this impact?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, at least 9200 flights were delayed and 1300 were canceled because of this outage. And the flights affected were passenger and cargo flights. But some medical flights were still able to operate–
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: –And this didn’t impact any military operations or their flights. So obviously, for every flight affected, there are dozens, if not hundreds of passengers. So a lot of people were stuck waiting at the airport or scrambling to make alternative plans. And this is really the latest headache for travelers after many, many months of air travel issues and mishaps. So, I mean, over the holidays, if you remember all those Southwest flight cancellations–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh my gosh yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: –And all those weather related ones, even before that, over the summer, as travel was kind of bouncing back after COVID, there were tons of lost bags, crazy long lines at the–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –Airports as well as delays and cancellations because of staffing shortages. So it has not been a great run for uh–
Juanita Tolliver: –It’s not been pretty.
Priyanka Aribindi: –the airlines, the airports.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s not been pretty.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, it hasn’t been good for some time now. And Republicans have been very quick to seize on yesterday’s events as well as the holiday travel meltdown, to criticize Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Biden administration. To Buttigieg’s credit, he seemed very committed to finding out what went wrong and how to fix it. He also suggested that those flights were grounded for that period of time so that they could make sure that passengers and crews would be safe and that the pilots would have the safety information, which, you know, that’s a pretty important reason.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: But aviation experts say that the FAA systems are definitely outdated. And on top of that, the FAA doesn’t have a permanent administrator at this time.
Juanita Tolliver: Ugh.
Priyanka Aribindi: The Trump appointee who did have the job stepped down back in March. Biden did nominate someone to take the role, but he hasn’t even received a confirmation hearing yet uh, despite the fact that Democrats hold the Senate and did hold the Senate. So we will have to see what happens with that nomination and FAA funding and, of course, their official explanation for what happened in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Juanita Tolliver: Y’all. Secretary Buttigieg is right. Safety first always puts safety first. But second, let’s go ahead and get an FAA administrator in there ASAP, because this is ridiculous.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: They can’t have this number of issues–
Priyanka Aribindi: –And some updated computer as while we’re at it. Please.
Juanita Tolliver: C’mon. Make the investment. We all need it. We all will benefit from it. Isn’t this infrastructure, though? I feel like it should already be covered, but okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, how many infrastructure weeks [laughter] do we need to have to get to this. Let me know.
Juanita Tolliver: Well, in another edition of that definitely took you long enough. Yesterday, New York Republican leaders publicly called for Representative George Santos’s resignation from Congress.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s so crazy. That did take them long enough. [laughing]
Juanita Tolliver: You know–
Priyanka Aribindi: –What!?
Juanita Tolliver: We got here eventually.
Priyanka Aribindi: Crazy.
Juanita Tolliver: A representative for the Nassau County Republican Committee said that, quote, “George Santos’s campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies, and fabrication. The announcement comes three weeks after Representative Santos was called out for lying about working on Wall Street and after he publicly admitted to not attending college, though he listed NYU and Baruch college on his resume, which can now be viewed on the New York Times website. It comes two weeks after it was reported that he lied about his mother passing away on September 11th, nearly one week after Representative Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker of the House. And only one day after New York Democrats, Representatives Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman filed an ethics complaint. So when confronted by reporters on the Hill yesterday, here’s what Santos had to say. Check this out:
[unspecified interviewer of George Santos] Will you step down?
[clip of George Santos] I will not.
[unspecified body guard or security guard] [banter] Guys we’re going to need a little bit of a little space here. [banter]
[unspecified interviewer of George Santos] New York Republicans are calling you a disgrace. You will not resign?
Priyanka Aribindi: [laughter] Wow um.
Juanita Tolliver: Sickening.
Priyanka Aribindi: Woof.
Juanita Tolliver: Look.
Priyanka Aribindi: Nightmare. What a nightmare.
Juanita Tolliver: But shout out to the reporters who’ve been chasing him down. Right. Like they need–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Seriously–
Juanita Tolliver: –these answers.
Priyanka Aribindi: –chase him into that elevator. What’s he going to say? I mean, clearly he’s going to say no because this man has no shame. He’s lied relentlessly and does not care about any non-existing consequences at this point.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh. Doesn’t care about the embarrassment, though. So, I don’t know. I guess that’s what he’s going to do.
Juanita Tolliver: This is his brand. It’s a complete mess and it’s characteristic of the current Republican House conference. What’s particularly astonishing to me, though, is that Santos is just firm in rejecting the notion of resigning when his entire fake life has been exposed. This is like a catfish who’s been found out saying, I’m not changing a thing. And he’s facing multiple investigations, including a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission for potential campaign finance violations, an investigation into his campaign by the Nassau district attorney in New York and a fraud investigation by the Brazilian government. And this man has the nerve to get on the bird app and taunt former Representative Adam Kinzinger, who called for his resignation. Like, Sir, I think you have a couple more important things you need to be paying attention to right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: But you know who is defending Santos right now? None other than Kevin sold his soul for the speakership McCarthy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Of course he is.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you, this man has no depth that he won’t sink to in the name of self-preservation. I am not exaggerating. Listen to what McCarthy told reporters who asked him what he plans to do about Representative Santos after the Nassau County Republicans called for his resignation.
[clip of Kevin McCarthy] The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern and he has to go through the ethics, let him move through that. Uh. But right now, the voters have have a voice. And the decision is not where people pick and choose based upon what somebody is [?]
[clip of unspecified news interviewer] Would you, what–
[clip of Kevin McCarthy] Um. So he will continue to serve. [banter]
[clip of unspecified news interviewer] Are you going to take any action against him at this point? Are any of these allegations acceptable to you?
[clip of Kevin McCarthy] What are the charges against him?
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh god.
[clip of unspecified news interviewer] Well, I mean he’s.
[clip of Kevin McCarthy] Is there a charge against him? You know, in America today, you’re innocent until proven guilty.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ugh Geez.
Juanita Tolliver: His rebuttal are what are the charges?
Priyanka Aribindi: This is so transparent. This is just a man who at any point, any single member of his caucus, can step forward and say, we don’t want you anymore and ruin his life. So this feels very plain and simple. Like he does not want this man to hate him. So he will say whatever he has to say.
Juanita Tolliver: That is right. He literally gave Santos the power to, like, negotiate in what should not be a negotiable situation. Kevin, homie, it’s been proven that Santos lied about attending college. It’s been proven that he lied about his mother and other parts of his identity, and it’s been proven that he lied about his work history. Not to mention, again, he’s facing concurrent investigations at the state, federal, and international level. So I guess Kevin’s move here is to ignore the current lies, give Santos a few House committee assignments, and then wait for charges to emerge from these investigations before he does anything ethical here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You know, a quick side note would have been really fun, and maybe we should still do this at some point to play a little WAD game of, like, lies that George Santos told and like, which one is fake? Like, pick the fake [laughter] one? I feel like we could have a lot of fun with that. Maybe something for the end of the week. But you brought up committees there. Is Santos actually going to get a spot on one of these committees? Is that going to happen?
Juanita Tolliver: Yep, that’s right. And it could actually be multiple committee positions because–
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh!
Juanita Tolliver: –In Kevin McCarthy’s mind, it’s no biggie so long as Santos is not on a highly visible committee like the House Financial Services Committee, which Santos actually submitted a request for. Dream big. Dream big.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great yeah seriously shoot for the stars.
Juanita Tolliver: But we all know that any committee assignment will be yet another sign of validation for Santos. And it will be in the name of self-preservation for House Republicans. If there is a scenario where Santos resigns, there will be a special election in his district that could easily flip for Democrats. And that’s the GOP’s biggest fear, is they’re hanging on by a thread with their five seat majority. More on all of this very soon, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Another California House representative is reportedly throwing their hat into the ring for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat. According to Politico, Representative Barbara Lee told her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday that she is also planning to run for the Senate seat in 2024. Lee declined to comment on the matter, but if she does run, she’ll face Representative Katie Porter, who announced her own bid to replace Feinstein on Tuesday, raising $1.3 million dollars in the first 24 hours of her campaign. Feinstein has yet to announce whether she plans to seek another term, though um. Maybe she should do that at some point.
Juanita Tolliver: You know, we’re waiting. Clock’s ticking. You know. President Biden is facing allegations that he mishandled classified materials from his time as vice president. His lawyers disclosed earlier this week that in November, they found nearly a dozen classified documents at an office Biden used before announcing his run for president in 2020. And according to multiple sources yesterday, at least one more batch of confidential documents was also discovered at a second location. Now, you may be wondering how all this stacks up against the trove of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home. What we do know is that the Justice Department is investigating both cases. However, Trump and his legal team resisted multiple requests by the government to return his set of documents, which ultimately triggered the FBI search last August. By contrast, Biden’s lawyers reported the issue, and the White House says he is cooperating. Not to mention there are big differences in terms of volume. Trump had 184 classified documents compared to Biden’s approximately 22. We’ll keep following this story as it unfolds.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. And I mean, definitely, as you pointed out, very key, very critical differences in these situations.
Juanita Tolliver: These are not the same.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, they are not. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was released from a hospital in Buffalo yesterday. Very exciting news. Hamlin spent more than nine days in two hospitals after suffering cardiac arrest during an NFL game last Monday. But after undergoing comprehensive medical tests and evaluations, Hamlin’s doctors said he can continue recovering from the comfort of his home.
Juanita Tolliver: Love to see it. More sports news. Tennis star Naomi Osaka announced yesterday that she’s expecting her first child. This could explain her withdrawal this past Sunday from the Australian Open, which begins next week. Osaka’s multiple grand slam wins and big endorsement deals have made her the highest paid woman in sports. But over the past two years, she’s been open about the mental health struggles that can come with competing at such a high level. Osaka shared the news of her pregnancy on Twitter, writing, quote, “One thing I’m looking forward to is my kid watching one of my matches and tell someone, that’s my mom.” Osaka also added that she’d be back for next year’s Australian Open. Congrats, Naomi girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that is really exciting news for her.
Juanita Tolliver: Super exciting.
Priyanka Aribindi: And also so cool for that kid to be like–
Juanita Tolliver: Right!
Priyanka Aribindi: –up in the stands watching their mom. That is so exciting and I hope that happens for her. And an update for conservatives who dared President Biden to pry their gas stoves from their hot, dead hands. [laughter] The Biden administration announced yesterday that the president does not support a gas stove ban as some in the right wing media had suggested. The controversy around these under the radar appliances began earlier this week when US Consumer Product Safety Commissioner and Biden appointee Richard Trumka Jr. told Bloomberg that a ban was under consideration. Gas stoves have been shown to increase the risk of childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. Here is how level headed Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson responded to that Bloomberg interview.
[clip of Tucker Carlson] Safety? Safety? [laugh] We’ve had these stoves for over a hundred years. It’s totally fine to give fentanyl to addicts, but a gas stove is a threat to your life? Right.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Why that man’s laugh sound like Goofy?
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m sick.
Priyanka Aribindi: I can’t even respond to the contents of whatever he said. I was too thrown off by his voice and his cadence. I’m sorry.
Juanita Tolliver: His laugh was maniacal Goofy. Like eew.
Priyanka Aribindi: Really yeah. He’s really reaching terrifying levels, which is kind of hard to say about a man in a bow tie. But. All right. Sadly, all of that outrage was wasted because in addition to Biden’s opposition to a ban, a White House spokesperson said that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has no plans to ban gas stoves either. You are fine people. Chill out. You’re good.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, let’s be real. When I heard the news, I was like, not my fucking stove. I love my gas stove. [laughter] It just bakes better. It cooks better it’s all the things right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah listen, I like mine too. I like mine too.
Juanita Tolliver: An elevated culinary experience, if you will, but if the real concern is childhood asthma and other respiratory problems, I’m going to need them to address some of their environmental zoning laws and address some of the ridiculous waste materials that are being sprayed across low income communities.
Priyanka Aribindi: There are about 700 other things you could do before we get to the stoves.
Juanita Tolliver: We got a list, that’s not at the top. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Mm mm. And those are the headlines. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today, if you like the show. Make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, report all your classified documents, people, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just classified documents like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi and–
[spoken together] Stay tuned for our Abbott recaps.
Priyanka Aribindi: What’s happening with Janine and Gregory? We got to know. We got to see. How long are they keeping us waiting?
Juanita Tolliver: It’s the ultimate relationship. I love them together so much and I love that they both won at the Golden Globes the other day. Like yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re just the cutest, they’re the–
Juanita Tolliver: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: –cutest people. They seem amazing.
Juanita Tolliver: Beyond. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: 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 producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.