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January 03, 2023
What A Day
McCarthy Schism

In This Episode

  • Republicans made history on Tuesday by failing to select a new House Speaker on the first vote for the first time in 100 years. Rep. Kevin McCarthy couldn’t get enough support from his own party in three rounds of voting, as his colleagues clashed over who should get the speaker’s gavel.
  • Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after he collapsed on the field during his team’s highly-anticipated game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. Lindsay Jones, the senior NFL editor at The Ringer, walks us through what happened, and how it could impact the league.
  • And in headlines: Ukraine said that Moscow may step up its use of drone attacks, Southwest Airlines said it would give out frequent-flier miles to travelers impacted by last week’s holiday meltdown, and Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to defrauding FTX investors.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, January 4th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day encouraging you to start the year by deleting all the distracting apps off your phone except the ones that play podcasts. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we want your phone to be so boring that you have no desire to do anything on it except for listening to our show in the morning. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That’s all you should be doing. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Your screen time will take a dive. It’ll be great for everybody. [music break] On today’s show, more flooding is expected in California as another atmospheric river barrels towards the state. Plus, Southwest Airlines is trying to make amends for its holiday travel meltdown. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. But first, Republicans took control of the House yesterday at noon and the chaotic conference didn’t waste a second making their mark and making history by not selecting a speaker of the House on the first vote for the first time in 100 years. To add insult to injury, Kevin McCarthy made the asinine power posture decision to move his crap into the speaker suite of offices before the vote. And of course, Republicans didn’t hesitate in removing the metal detectors from the entrances to the House floor, which, mind you, were added post January 6th and after Republican members threatened to bring guns to the House floor. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Cool. Sounds like it is lit in there uh love to hear it. Great news.

 

Juanita Tolliver: Off to a strong start. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Like freaking chaos on day like it’s been like a couple of hours when this started. Anyways, tell us more what is happening here? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Look, while Republicans were falling apart, Brooklyn’s own Democratic representative, Hakeem Jeffries, outdid McCarthy on each vote, earning 212 votes from a united Democratic House caucus. And the images of Democrats chillin, eating popcorn and everything while the GOP drama unfolded were an entire mood. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That’s so funny. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like I was feeling it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, they were eating liberal popcorn. That’s hysterical. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Because it was a show. But honestly, no one should be surprised in the slightest by the dumpster fire of a display from House Republicans, especially when Republicans were going at each other screaming and cussing and everything during their closed door meeting Tuesday morning. See, MAGA extremists like Representative Matt Gaetz, who is currently under investigation for child sex trafficking. Representative Paul Gosar, who was removed from committees by Democrats last year after posting a violent, disgusting video of attacks on President Biden and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Lauren Boebert, who just barely won reelection by only .2%, have sworn that they will never support McCarthy as Speaker of the House, and they have made it their mission to publicly humiliate the man. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. Like these are like some of the most vile people, not only in government, but like in our world. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But you know what they say about a broken clock. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Go off. I’ll just sit here and uh pass the popcorn, please. [laughing]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Look, these MAGA folks, along with segments of the right wing Freedom Caucus, have also been pushing a set of demands, including a motion to vacate option to remove McCarthy from the speakership if he crosses them. Committee assignment guarantees for Freedom Caucus members, Republican investigations and more, some of which McCarthy has given into. But on Sunday night, they publicly said that it is still not enough. So cue the fighting in the morning meeting yesterday, and that energy clearly followed them to the floor where during the first vote McCarthy only earned 203 votes, with the rest going to Representatives Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise and others. On Black Twitter, this is the part where someone would ask, are you not embarrassed? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wasn’t even just one vote, wasn’t even two. [laughter] There were three votes yesterday. Tell us–

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –what happened in the other two rounds, because it certainly didn’t sound like anything good. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Pure chaos. So at the start of the second round of votes, Representative Jim Jordan made the nomination speech for Representative McCarthy, only to be followed by Rep. Gaetz, who was apparently so moved by Jim Jordan that he nominated him. And then the 19 Republicans who didn’t support Representative McCarthy in the first vote all coalesced behind Representative Jim Jordan. It’s also important to note that even though Representative Jordan gave the nomination speech for McCarthy on the second vote, Jordan never once said, Hey, y’all don’t vote for me. And that’s something we should all be keeping an eye on as we head into more votes this afternoon. And during the third round of voting, there was a dramatic moment when the internal GOP opposition to McCarthy grew from 19 members to 20 members, and it’s clear that McCarthy is moving in the wrong direction. That’s away from 218. That’s not closer. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, he’s he’s losing votes so I mean, like, what do we expect from today’s votes? Is he just going to keep losing? Like what’s going to happen here? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean. It could go one of two ways today. McCarthy could have begged and pleaded and cut enough deals last night to get to 218 votes, which seems pretty unlikely given that he’s failed to do exactly that since November 2022. It’s unclear also what else he could commit to beyond handing over control to the extremist MAGA republicans which let’s be real, he’s effectively already done. Alternatively, McCarthy could take the walk of shame, move his shit out of the speaker office and step aside so that Representative Jordan or Representative Scalise or Representative Elise Stefanik, the GOP conference chair, could step up. But honestly, I don’t see that happening. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: If anything, McCarthy, who keeps telling reporters that the conference is, quote, “unified”, is going to hold on to that delusion and drag this out for days. And keep in mind, nothing else can happen until all of this is taken care of. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No House members can be sworn in. No legislative business can happen. And there are reports that committee staffers may not be paid if a speaker isn’t chosen before January 13th. So a lot is riding on this man’s ego and the chaotic GOP conference. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m really glad you brought that up because like, yes, it is very funny for all of us to be– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –Sitting here watching this unfold, but there are very real consequences if this continues for much longer than it is already. So– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, hysterical. But let’s wrap it up now that we’ve had our fun. Um. But also we want to switch gears a little bit to Cincinnati, where Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin is in the hospital in critical condition. On Monday night, the 24 year old collapsed on the field during the Bills highly anticipated game against the Cincinnati Bengals and went into cardiac arrest. According to Hamlin’s uncle on Tuesday night, Hamlin is on a ventilator, but he’s improved to 50% oxygen needed from 100%. He is still sedated, but the focus is on healing his lungs and his breathing. If you weren’t one of the millions of fans watching this game in real time or who saw clips on the Internet of the incident, consider yourself very lucky. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Hamlin basically made what appear to be a, you know, typical tackle in football. He took the force of it in his head and his chest area. He got up, he started walking away. But then, like very scary moment, he kind of froze, kind of collapsed backwards. His body went completely limp on the ground. It was really terrifying to see. According to many of the announcers and reporters covering the game, it was unlike anything they had ever seen on the football field. According to a statement from team officials early Tuesday, Hamlin’s heart stopped after he was hit. His heartbeat was restored by the medical personnel on the field who administered CPR, used a defibrillator to shock his heart back into working and gave him oxygen before an ambulance drove onto the field to take him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. To learn more about what happened and you know how this impacts the NFL, what’s coming next? I spoke with Lindsay Jones, the senior NFL editor at The Ringer. I started by asking her to walk us through the moments after Hamlin collapsed on the field. 

 

Lindsay Jones: One of the most terrifying parts of this whole situation was that this was a normal football play. This was a routine tackle where you know he was the safety, he was the defender on the play. He took a hit right to the kind of the center of his chest, finished the tackle, stood up, collapsed. Um. And that immediately triggered the NFL’s emergency response plan, emergency management plan. It was very apparent, if you were there in that building, that lifesaving measures were going on, CPR was going on, on the field, an AED was used. All we know is that he’s in critical condition right now. He suffered cardiac arrest. His heart stopped on the field, and they were able to regain a pulse while he was still on the field before he was loaded into the ambulance and taken to that trauma center in Cincinnati. So it is the nightmare scenario and something that we just really haven’t seen happen in a professional football game. You know really we’re kind of still in this this moment where everybody is just kind of hoping and praying that this guy is going to be okay. And we just don’t know yet. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Definitely. Um. There’s been a lot of discussion about how this is unprecedented. You know, players from both teams formed a circle around the scene. Many of them were crying. The crowd was totally stunned. In all the years that you’ve been covering the NFL, have you ever seen anything like this? I mean, I was flipping channels and the announcers were talking about in their 20 years of announcing football, they had never seen anything like this happen. 

 

Lindsay Jones: Yeah, I mean, I’ve covered you know, I’ve been covering the NFL since 2008. You know, I’ve seen a lot of injuries you know I’ve seen players blow out their knees, dislocate ankles, suffer traumatic brain injuries. You know, just a couple of months ago, at that exact same stadium in Cincinnati, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered the second concussion in the span of less than a week. And, you know, we saw it was the fencing response. You know, he had to be taken off the field in an ambulance at the exact same place. And you get used to when you’re around football, the reaction of teammates when they see an injury, they wave them over. People are sad and concerned. They take knees. But then almost always there’s kind of polite clapping when the guy is carted off or helped off the field and he’ll get a thumbs up and a wave. And there was just none of that. You could tell from the very second that he collapsed the way that the referees immediately and he fell literally on top of one of the referees in the way that the teammates and the opponents responded that this was different. This was not a normal football injury. This was not even a concussion, which unfortunately is a regular football injury that we’re used to seeing. You just knew that something really scary was happening. And– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Lindsay Jones: –All of those players, the hundred or so players that were there at that game, experienced great trauma, too. And then there was this thing of, they can’t possibly try to play this game. Right? Are they going to try to make these guys resume playing this game? And a lot of kind of confusion and uncertainty for about an hour before ultimately the NFL announced that the game was being indefinitely postponed. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you brought up Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and there was a lot of scrutiny around the team and how they handled his injury. And now this traumatic on field injury and event happened. Where does the NFL, where does football go from this? 

 

Lindsay Jones: Yeah, I think so many football players, they play this game knowing the risks that come with, unfortunately, with head injuries now, I think there’s a lot of players that they understand there is no ignorance to what can happen to your brain when you’re playing football now. They understand that you could blow out your knee. And there are interviews where Damar Hamlin is saying you never know how long you get to play and you cherish every single moment like this. You do that because you think like on any given play, somebody could take out your ACL or you could get a concussion. You never think that you could suffer cardiac arrest, that your little heart could stop. And we don’t know exactly what happened yet. Exactly if it was the hit that you know triggered the cardiac arrest, or if there was something else involved. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Lindsay Jones: But it’s going to be really, really hard for these men, the people who play for these teams, the people that are around these teams. And then for many of you know those of us who were watching that game, oh, I’m never going to forget what I saw. And I don’t know how the players who were there, how they’ll ever forget it or ever move past it. But right now, the NFL is on track to play again Saturday afternoon. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. After Hamlin’s collapse, the NFL Players Association released a statement saying, quote, “The only thing that matters at this moment is Damar’s health and well-being.” You know, obviously, we don’t want to speculate on his condition. We don’t have the updates yet. But do you think this could lead to changes in how the NFL handles medical emergencies? 

 

Lindsay Jones: I do think the thing that the NFL is going to end up grappling with in the days and weeks moving forward from this is the emotional repercussions. And then what happened in the decision to quit playing how the players are responding on the field because it is so exceedingly rare. I mean, I cannot think of another time where they just stopped playing a game. You only hear of postponements because of major weather events or major delays. They played every single game during the COVID season. They moved games around, they played during blizzards, they moved games during hurricanes. This situation, they did not. It was so clear that the players were not able to play. The coaches were not able to coach. The outcry from those of us watching at home, the people in the state, nobody wanted that game to continue. And the NFL actually pressed pause. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Lindsay Jones: So I’ve had a little bit of a hard time with that disconnect between the medical action plan working so well and them being able to resuscitate Damar Hamlin on the field, get his heart started, getting him to the trauma center immediately. With the chaos that followed and not like thinking that you could have this plan in place, that a player could potentially clearly be dying on the field and you can save him, but not have this really structured plan in place for how you deal with the rest of it. It was almost like they were kind of dealing with that part on the fly, but it seemed like it took a lot more player intervention, coach intervention, common sense intervention than maybe it needed to when that decision maybe could have been made immediately. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Lindsay Jones, the senior NFL editor at The Ringer. We’ll continue following Damar Hamlin’s condition and obviously we’re hoping very much for his recovery. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that Moscow may step up its use of drones after Ukraine’s military executed what could be its deadliest attack yet on Russian forces over the weekend. The strike hit Ukraine’s partially occupied Donbas region. Russia says that at least 63 soldiers were killed, though Ukraine has placed that number far higher, claiming it killed 400 Russian soldiers and wounded 300 others. It’s unclear exactly when the strike took place, but it came amid a series of Russian air strikes on New Year’s Eve that left one person dead and 20 others injured in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev. Emergency workers are still sifting through the wreckage of both attacks. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Californians are bracing for more heavy rain just days after a brutal storm rolled across the state over the weekend. Residents statewide saw torrential rain and floods, but northern California took the brunt of it with record high water levels that left tens of thousands of homes without power. Some roads in the region were temporarily closed as rivers and streams overflowed. At least one person was found dead in their submerged car in the Sacramento area on Sunday. Forecasters expect more high winds and heavy downpours today and tomorrow with the most dangerous conditions expected again in northern California. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I know Northern California is supposed to take the brunt of it, but it’s not supposed to be pretty here in SoCal either. I have stocked up on my food. I do not plan on– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –Leaving my home. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Brace yourselves. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: In an effort to win back customers, red, yellow, and blue hearts. Southwest Airlines said yesterday it would give 25,000 frequent flier miles to each traveler that was impacted by the company’s holiday meltdown. This comes a week after the company canceled nearly 16,000 flights during the peak travel season. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Leaving many families stranded in airports all across the country. Southwest has already announced that it will fully refund travelers for their canceled flights and reimburse them for any extra expenses they may have incurred to get home. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Ponzi scheme whiz kid Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he defrauded investors out of billions of dollars through his now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange platform, FTX. Fried is accused of using his customers money to buy real estate, finance his hedge fund and donate millions to political candidates. His trial is set to kick off in Manhattan federal court in October. Complicating the picture is that two of Bankman-Fried’s top former FTX associates and housemates have already pleaded guilty to related charges and are cooperating with prosecutors, plain and simple they already cut deals so.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And check the weather report while you’re at it because it is probably snowing today in the home of Donald Trump Jr. who just signed a seven figure multiyear podcasting deal with a company called Rumble. But let’s be real. It is always snowing in that man’s house. [laughter] Rumble is a conservative YouTube competitor and Trump Jr. is currently one of the site’s most followed users. Gross. Fans of his off the cuff, sweaty, limited blood flow to the brain style will soon be treated to live streamed podcasts twice a week. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Hurray. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The show is called Triggered with Don Jr., and according to initial reports, it will mostly feature content that I believe is banned under the Geneva Convention. What Axios calls, quote, “Trump Jr.’s riffs on the news of the day.” 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Count me out. It’s like bootleg YouTube here said, hey, bootleg Twitter. Move aside. We’re coming through next. And I’m like– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I know. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –They realize his audience is capped for this because keep in mind, the joy of trolls like Trump Jr. is to harass people who disagree with them. They’re only going to be talking to themselves on what’s this app called Rumble? Eek.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Keep him there. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eek. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Keep him there. That’s fine. My point aside from all of this is that this man has now dared to enter our space–

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Going after our– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –competition. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –Webby. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But it’s not competition.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And I will not have it. [laughter] I will not have it. You all know when the Webby votes come around, you know who you’re voting for, you know what we’re up against. It’s good versus evil here. Cast those votes. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: It’s not even really a competition or a choice. So come on. WAD pod. Stand up. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, delete a distracting app and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just accounting records kept by FTX like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

[spoken together] And share the wealth Don junior. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Girl he ain’t got no money. Well, I mean, he’s got a seven figure deal, but let’s be real. They’re going to go under before he gets paid a dime. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, 1,000%. I don’t want his money. I actually want nothing to do with this man. But I will delete a distracting app. Sure. I’ll go for that. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. [laughter] [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.