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August 23, 2023
What A Day
Not My Debate, Not My Monkeys

In This Episode

  • The first Republican presidential debate took place in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. There was a lot of finger pointing and interrupting on the stage, but no Donald Trump. Instead, he appeared in a pre-recorded interview with Tucker Carlson that debuted on X at the exact same time. We’re joined by Crooked’s Editor-in-Chief Brian Beutler and Alyssa Mastromonaco of Crooked’s Hysteria podcast for their takes on who stood out.
  • And in headlines: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group, died in a plane crash, South Carolina’s Supreme Court upholds the state’s near-total abortion ban, and tickets for Fyre Fest 2 went on sale.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, August 24th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. The podcast that’s giving a toast to 20 years of pumpkin spice lattes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, it is PSL season, baby. They are back at Starbucks starting today. I don’t want to hear a peep about how it’s too early. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The only thing better is a PSL from a unionized Starbucks. Because. Yes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Hell yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We want the workers respected. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. [music break] On today’s show, the man who led a mutiny against the Kremlin in June is presumed dead in a plane crash. Plus, Fyre Fest two is coming and the first round of tickets is already sold out. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But first. 

 

[clip of Ron DeSantis] You don’t take somebody like Fauci and coddle him. You bring Fauci and you sit him down and you say, Anthony, you are fired. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laugh] Oh, that was just a small clip of the absolute chaos that took place in Milwaukee last night during the first GOP presidential primary debate of the election season. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, plenty more chaos where that came from. But to break it all down, we are joined by Crooked’s editor in chief Brian Beutler and Alyssa Mastromonaco of Crooked’s Hysteria podcast. Thank you both so much for joining us. 

 

Brian Beutler: It’s great to be here. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Thanks, guys. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: All right y’all, let’s jump right into it. So the debate started on the topic of the economy with Ron DeSantis immediately going in on Bidenomics, saying it must be reversed. Chris Christie largely agreed and Nikki Haley came in with this bit. 

 

[clip of Nikki Haley] The truth is that Biden didn’t do this to us, our Republicans did this to us too. When they passed that $2.2 trillion dollar COVID stimulus bill. They left us with 90 million people on Medicaid and 42 million people on food stamps. No one has told you how to fix it. I’ll tell you how to fix it. They need to stop the spending. They need to stop the borrowing. They need to eliminate the earmarks that the Republicans brought back in. And they need to make sure they understand these are taxpayer dollars. It’s not their dollars. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: All right. So I got to know, what’s your take on what she had to say and how did that set her apart from the others on stage. And Brian, let’s start with you. 

 

Brian Beutler: I was reminded when she said that that I think earlier this week, she said something to the effect of we don’t want unions to come pollute the economy in South Carolina. Right. And so that’s like a big flank of Bidenomics. And she, I suppose, is going to want to take that message that Biden nomics and his support for unions is poison or toxic in some way to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, big union states. And she’s going to bring the whole Republican Party along with her because the whole Republican Party agrees with her about unions. Their attacks on Biden nomics will possibly ring true in the current moment where inflation hasn’t come all the way down, where people are still adjusting to the fact that their wages are rising faster than inflation. But when it comes to the fall campaign, as long as the economy is continuing on this trajectory, that message is going to fall flat and they’re going to be left with things like we need to disband unions, which is not going to help them. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: I do think it’s so interesting how they really seem to hate teachers unions. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my gosh, 100%. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: What’s different, you guys, about teachers unions then the makeup of other unions? It’s so strange why they seem to hate teachers unions so much. But also, I thought that, you know, she dipped her toe into the am I going to speak truth to power? Am I going to separate myself from everybody by saying what I know to be the truth instead of saying what I know people want to hear? The one thing that was interesting about the very beginning of the debate and it did sort of haunt me throughout, I am so surprised any of the campaigns agreed to booing to any reaction from the audience. It would have helped Trump if Trump were at the debate, his people would have been like, yes, yes, yes, we want it. And they would have got it. But it just seemed so strange to me that any of them would have wanted the reaction. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a very vocal crowd. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very interactive. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Very interactive. I was like, Oh my God, you guys. Half the time you couldn’t even tell what they were actually doing. You’re like, are they cheering are they–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: –booing? What are they doing? 

 

Brian Beutler: But it was fun because you got to hear like what they booed and what they cheered and they would–

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: –cheer at things like the January 6th insurrection and like handing Ukraine to Vladimir Putin. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Brian Beutler: Even without Trump there to kind of egg them on, they know what their cues are. And it’s those things. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Certainly, another big issue that came up last night was climate change. Let’s take a listen to Vivek Ramaswamy on what he had to say. 

 

[clip of Vivek Ramaswamy] The climate change agenda is a hoax. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I believe right before that, he said he was the only candidate on that stage who was not bought and paid for and then came out with that. So what were some of the responses to that question in general that stood out to you from the debate? Alyssa, let’s start with you this time. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: I think it’s incredible to watch an entire stage of people get up there and just say that climate change isn’t happening. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of watching this debate. Um. Vivek is terrifying. 

 

Brian Beutler: Yeah. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Wholly terrifying. And I did not know that going into the debate. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Nor did I. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah, he definitely let us know tonight. 

 

Brian Beutler: Can I set the record straight about what he literally said which is that– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, please. 

 

Brian Beutler: I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for. So I can say, you know, without any kind of like, fears about who’s like going to come back at me, that climate change is a hoax. The only people in the world who say climate change is a hoax are like deep conspiracy theorists, and people who are bought and paid for. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. 

 

Brian Beutler: You do not get money in the world for saying climate change is real or that you want to raise the carbon tax like nobody pays you money to say that it’s actually the other way around. I guess, in a Republican primary field where they’re maybe kind of playing footsie with like, maybe we shouldn’t be such climate deniers, it makes sense to try to frame it that way. But I really think what he’s doing is like he is just like trying to find the Trump wavelength so that Trump, if he’s watching, is going to be like– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yep. 

 

Brian Beutler: I say climate change is a hoax because Trump says climate change is a hoax. I say I will pardon Donald Trump because I hope Donald Trump is watching. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: And will know that I’m the only person willing to go there because he made everyone in that auditorium hate him, including people in the audience turned on him. But like he doesn’t care about any of them. He only cares about Trump. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Such a good point. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: 100%. And when he said it, I was like, Oh, he just locked in the VP position if Trump becomes the nominee, like that’s exactly what his mission was. And he delivered like you said Alyssa, terrifyingly well. All right. Let’s pivot now down to the moment when Fox cut to a live view of the Fulton County, Georgia jail last night and asked candidates if they would still support Donald Trump as their party’s nominee, even if he was convicted of election interference in the state. 

 

[clip of unsaid speaker at GOP debates] You all signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. If former President Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party’s choice? Please raise your hand if you would. [cheering]

 

Juanita Tolliver: So the hands went up and then Ramaswamy defended Donald Trump, going so far as to say this. 

 

[clip of Vivek Ramaswamy] President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: So it seems like while DeSantis didn’t use that leaked debate strategy, defend Trump, be on his side, stand up for him. Clearly Ramaswamy did. So let’s talk about that. Brian, you first. What’s your reaction to that? 

 

Brian Beutler: What I found a little disappointing about that section is that I think that there was an opportunity and like Asa Hutchinson kind of took it and Chris Christie kind of took it to say, this is all wrong. What Donald Trump did was wrong. Even if you don’t think that he should go to prison for it. What they didn’t do was use that fact, which is it’s true, right? Everyone in the room knows it’s true, but they weren’t able to parlay that into a way to make all the Trump sycophants from Ramaswamy on down look ridiculous. Like look cowardly and look craven. Chris Christie leapt to Mike Pence’s defense for having not participated in the coup, but he didn’t turn that around to say, and all you people who won’t say that, even though you know it’s true, are cowards and shame on you. But he could have. And I think that in part it was because Ramaswamy was just shouting at everyone and getting in their heads and frazzling them that he wasn’t able to find that pitch. But that was the pitch I was looking for, the one that might have unsettled things in an interesting way and gotten more people to say, okay, our position on Trump is untenable, but it never really happened. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: All throughout this debate, I kept like drifting into different television shows, like it felt like Succession. I kept hearing people speaking like Martin Sheen’s voice. I’m like, maybe if they sounded like Martin Sheen, they’d sound smart. But mostly I thought that that last part was the real like Thelma and Louise, Mike Pence and Chris Christie are like, we’re going over the cliff together. But like they hit the break right before they got to the edge of the cliff. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Failure to follow through. Yeah.

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: They were super dramatic. They were like, let’s go. And then they’re like, err, you know, like they all had an opportunity and they totally squandered it because they’re like pussies, I guess. [laughter]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Name it. 

 

Brian Beutler: Yeah. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: That’s what happens when you get me in my pajamas, you guys. 

 

Brian Beutler: She said I just agree. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: So in general, a lot of finger pointing, a lot of interrupting on that stage last night. But when it came to the issues that were discussed, from abortion to education to UFOs, bizarrely, who stood out to you and, you know, who faded into the background in this debate? Alyssa, let’s start with you. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Let’s caveat everything with I don’t agree with these people. Okay? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No, totally, absolutely absolutely. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Heavy asterisks. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Just caveat, I feel like Mike Pence had a pretty good night. He did a fairly nuanced job of taking credit for the Trump stuff while saying Trump didn’t uphold the Constitution, you know, which is pretty he’s pretty clinical about it, too, right? He’s like– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: –he didn’t uphold the Constitution. I did. So I thought that Pence had a pretty good night, honestly, Vivek, for having never debated like this ever. I thought he did a pretty good job. And Chris Christie, of all of them, I think has the most well-reasoned plans, even if I don’t agree with them. I think he’s the person who’s actually thought through from A to Z on like half of it I think. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Anybody that faded into the background that you may have expected more out of, not that you expected to agree with, but–

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: You know, I kind of thought DeSantis was like– 

 

Brian Beutler: Yeah. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: You know, Homer Simpson into the hedge. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] 100%. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: He’s like, listen, they’ve all decided to take each other down. So I’m just gonna be real, real quiet. You know, he had, like, the– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: –vaseline on his teeth. He just kept smiling. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: He was like, if I don’t move, they won’t notice me. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Exactly. Exactly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Exactly. What about you, Brian? Any standouts and any flops? 

 

Brian Beutler: I would say that the candidate who had the best night at the debate was Donald Trump. The candidate who was on stage who had the best night um for the reasons we’ve already gone over was Vivek Ramaswamy. Not because anyone likes him. Like again, everyone came to hate him because he’s just a cock. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: He did a better job than anyone else playing to Donald Trump’s narcissism. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: And I think that he might well be rewarded for it in the future. Pence warmed up, and he’s finally gotten over trying to straddle this line where he’s like, I’m going to be like kind of pro-Trump, but also I don’t appreciate that he tried to get me killed. [laugh] And somehow, despite having taken every possible position on Trump three times, Nikki Haley came across very in command and like, swatted down Ramaswamy very eloquently and like forcefully. I agree that Ron DeSantis was oddly absent. And I got to say that Doug Burgum like, makes me think that at some point in our lifetimes we could have just kind of normal political debates from time to time. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Okay, Brian. [laughter] 

 

Brian Beutler: And it wouldn’t be so bad. And it would be like hokey small town Republican versus like big city Democrat. And we’ll just talk about that instead of whatever all that crap was that we just listened to. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: His closing statement was the one in my head. I was like, if Martin Sheen was giving this, [laughter] I’d be into it. 

 

Brian Beutler: [?] looks like Martin Sheen, too. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: You know? 

 

Brian Beutler: Kinda looks like him, yeah.

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: I was like, okay, his delivery wasn’t good. But in another voice, in like, moderator voice, it would have been much, much better. But Nikki Haley and Vivek yelling at each other were like Logan and Kendall blaming the chocolate milk and the Range Rover on Shiv. I was like, this is outrageous like, that this is happening. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I can get with that 100%. And of course, we can not forget Tucker Carlson’s interview with Donald Trump that debuted on X at the same time as last night’s debate. At the very end, Tucker asks Trump this question. 

 

[clip of Tucker Carlson] Do you think we’re moving towards civil war. 

 

[clip of Donald Trump] There’s tremendous passion and there’s tremendous love. Uh. You know, January 6th was a very interesting day because they don’t report it properly. I believe it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken before. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This is one of the many unhinged things that came out of that interview. So, Brian, starting with you, how much will these debates matter to Republican primary voters when Trump looms large, does his own thing, and still finds a way to always bring the spotlight back to him? 

 

Brian Beutler: I just think that the challenge for Republicans is like, what do you do when there’s somebody in the race who everyone knows shouldn’t be president again, shouldn’t be the candidate again who’s polling at 60%, which means unless some part of that dynamic changes, they’re all going to lose. Right? None of them is going to become president. People like Christie and Asa Hutchison need to figure out how to break this collective action problem that they have so that there’s more people in that field talking about how big of a disaster this is going to be. But like Trump didn’t show up in part because he was scared. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: He was scared of Chris Christie. That was a big reason he didn’t show up. And correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think at any point anyone on the debate stage pointed out that he’s a coward. He ducked the debate because he’s scared. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Nobody. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No one said that. 

 

Brian Beutler: It’s the sort of thing where if you get four or five of the people who are polling at 20, ten, five percent to say the same thing, and it just becomes like the lore among the other candidates, you might be able to chip away at that. But if he’s at 60% and they’re not doing anything to try to undermine that, then the dynamic is not going to change. Right. Like something else would have to intercede to make his numbers come down. And unless he gets convicted of a crime and goes to prison, I’m not sure what that would be. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, they would still ride with him, though. They made that clear tonight. Alyssa, jump in on this. What do you think? 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: If I were these Republicans all on the stage, I would just get together and figure out a way to antagonize Trump to violate the terms of his bond. Like what are they doing? [banter and laughter] You guys, there’s some low hanging fruit here and they are not picking it up. I’m like, guys, what are you doing? This is so easy. 

 

Brian Beutler: Yeah, it’s I guess they’re all thinking about the next job, whether it’s president or cabinet secretary or vice president or whatever else. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Yeah totally.

 

Brian Beutler: If they just accepted, I’m never going to be president. And it’s possible that on a kamikaze mission, I might never have a senior job in Republican politics again. But I might be able to help Republicans nominate somebody like Doug Burgum [laughter] so that the party doesn’t just eat itself alive or so that we don’t end up with a second Trump term and whatever that would bring the United States. A lot is possible. They just can’t make themselves do it because if they lose his supporters, they don’t get that job. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Mm hmm. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. Sadly, only two out of the eight people on stage last night had that kind of altruistic approach, though so. 

 

Brian Beutler: Yeah. [laughter]. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Brian Beutler: It’s weird to call Chris Christie civic minded, but there is [laughter] something civic minded about what he’s doing. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: [laughing] [?] Thank you. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is Alyssa Mastromonaco of Crooked’s Hysteria podcast and Crooked’s editor in chief Brian Beutler. Thank you both so much for joining us. Always a pleasure to chat with both of you. 

 

Brian Beutler: This was fun. Thanks. 

 

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Thanks, guys. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The next Republican presidential debate is on Wednesday, September 27th, from the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where I’m sure they will only have good things to say about being in that state. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Russian authorities said yesterday that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the country’s paramilitary Wagner Group, died in a plane crash just outside of Moscow. While U.S. intelligence hasn’t been able to confirm reports of Prigozhin’s death. The military chief was listed as a passenger on the plane that crashed, killing all ten people on board. A quick little refresher on who Prigozhin is. He was a close ally of Putin’s, who served as the chief of the Wagner Group, a group of mercenaries for hire that has typically operated in Africa and other parts of the world in partnership with the Kremlin. Wagner has been critical to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine ever since last year when they were recruited for the war. But back in June, as you may remember, Prigozhin led an armed convoy towards Moscow. He called it a, quote, “March for Justice,” after he accused Putin of launching an airstrike on his own fighters. Prigozhin ended up calling the whole thing off before the march actually reached the city, but it was momentous. The move marked one of the biggest threats to Putin’s leadership in over two decades. And many were shocked when Russian officials exiled Prigozhin to Belarus without pressing any criminal charges. But it seems that the military leader may have met a similar end to that of Putin’s other enemies. If confirmed, Prigozhin’s death could give Russian authorities the opportunity to formally take over the Wagner group. I feel like since June, we have been waiting to see what would happen to this man and this is exactly as everyone feared. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s the Putin playbook. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Sadly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: More of Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case turned themselves in yesterday, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was formerly Trump’s personal lawyer and played a key role in pushing claims that the election was stolen from Trump. He faces 13 felony counts. His bond was set to $150,000. And like other defendants, Giuliani was released after booking and taking a pretty fugly mug shot. [laughter]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, they can’t all be winners. They can’t all be good mug shots. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Also Wednesday, a federal judge rejected efforts from two former Trump administration officials, Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clarke, to avoid arrest if they don’t surrender by Friday’s deadline. Several other defendants have already surrendered to Fulton County authorities ahead of Friday’s deadline, including lawyers Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Ray Smith, former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party David Shafer, attorney Jenna Ellis and others. As a reminder, Trump plans to surrender at the Fulton County Jail today. And one web site is already taking bets on his mug shot from if he’ll smile to his weight at booking. Okay, let’s be real. No body shaming allowed. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We’re not body shaming the man. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like it doesn’t matter what he does, smile or frown. With that overhead angle and that overhead lighting, he’s going to look horrid. It is what it is. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Well I feel like he’s going to come out of it like he always does. Like I feel like he’s going to be smiling. I feel like it’s going to be a double thumbs up. I feel like it’s going to be on a T-shirt by the end of day. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We have two big losses in the fight for abortion access. South Carolina’s Supreme Court, which is newly all men, just for the record, upheld the state’s new near-total ban on abortion by a four to one vote. That new law bans abortion after cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, which is typically around six weeks of pregnancy. The court reversed a decision made in January that struck down a similar ban, which declared that the state constitutions privacy protections include a right to abortion access. And that decision was written by, you guessed it, the court’s only female justice at the time. Up until now, South Carolina had allowed abortion until 22 weeks. Meanwhile, in Indiana, the state’s near-total abortion ban was upheld on Monday after their state Supreme Court denied a rehearing on the case. On June 30th, the court ruled that the abortion ban does not violate the state’s constitution until it was challenged by the ACLU. But that denial of a rehearing means that the ban will take effect within days. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Some updates on the devastating Maui wildfires, as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, the death toll sits at 115 and authorities have identified 27 victims. Among those who perished in the fires was 14 year old Keiyero Fuentes. His family held a memorial for him earlier this week on what would have been his 15th birthday. Take a listen to what his brother told Hawaii News now. 

 

[clip of brother of Keiyero Fuentes] He had a very kind heart. A very good heart. I wish I could’ve made more memories with him. He was too young. If we still had time, I know he would have been a very, very, very good man. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, this is heartbreaking, not only for the Fuentes family, but the people who are also going to have to repeat this sad, tragic ritual of saying goodbye to their loved ones. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, far too soon. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Meanwhile, the number of people who remain unaccounted for has risen. We told you on Tuesday’s show that 850 people were missing. But the FBI has updated that number to over 1000. Rescue workers have been working with local officials to compile a list of who’s missing. And that process has become somewhat easier now that cell phone service is back in Lahaina. But several names on that list don’t have a lot of identifying information like gender or age. Some of them are even just first names. Plus, the amount of tourists and unhoused folks in Lahaina complicates things even further because they’re harder to trace and get in contact with. Local officials will start releasing names of those unaccounted for in the coming days in hopes that the community can help find them alive. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, Fyre Festival is back and the first 100 tickets have already sold out? Finding it hard to believe, but it’s true. Founder and fraudster Billy McFarland announced Fyre Fest two earlier this week without a lineup or a specific location. Of course, all that is known so far is that it will apparently take place in the Caribbean by the end of 2024. People committed, they don’t know anyone who’s going to be there. They know that the whole first thing was a scam. Sounds like these people are pretty fucking dumb, but that’s okay. The first set of tickets went for $499 and per the website, the next tier of tickets start at $799, and the highest valued tickets are going for $7,999 apiece. No Taylor Swift. No Beyoncé. [laughter] Absolutely no reason to pay this much money for anything associated with Billy McFarland. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Especially when you can literally book your own flight and hotel for these prices and have a grand old time in– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –the Caribbean like. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Have a lovely vacation. Yeah. Without putting a dollar into Billy McFarland’s pocket. That seems like a win for everybody. McFarland’s first shot at making Fyre Festival happen was back in 2017, and as we all probably remember, it was a total disaster. The music festival was advertised as the, quote, “cultural experience of the decade.” But when ticket holders arrived at the Bahamas expecting luxurious accommodations, they were met with cheese sandwiches and disaster relief tents and all those pigs on the beach that I’m sorry will never be out of my brain. [laughter] You might remember the pictures that were posted all over social media. In 2018, McFarland pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released last year and was sent to a halfway house in New York. And now I guess he is back for round two. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The only burning question I have about this is is Ja Rule down? Like has he promoted this? [laughing] Like is he on board? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I actually think a hysterical marketing campaign for this would be like to get all of the original, like really famous like– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –models and influencers to like post about it again. [laughter]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Zero lessons learned. But here we go. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, if we’re not going to learn, there are several documentaries out at this point, I don’t know. You might deserve to get scammed by Billy McFarland. 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. Douse out Fyre Fest [laughter] and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just what’s going to be on the menu for Fyre Fest two 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 PSL me ASAP. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I love a PSL. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You’re so into this. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s nice to get excited about things. For all the haters out there. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Just try it. Being excited about things feels good. [laughter] [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.