Trump Surrogates Have a Buckwild Night on TV, Demonstrate Why They Should Never Be Asked on TV Again

Screenshot via CNN
Screenshot via CNN

Here’s a question: if you had an acquaintance who routinely came over to your house, squatted on your rug, took a lengthy, luxuriating shit on it, then looked you in the eye and insisted “There’s no shit on that rug,” would you keep having them over? Yes? Good Lord. You must be in cable news.


In the wake of Donald Trump Jr. releasing some very incriminating emails about his meeting with a lawyer linked to the Russian government, the president’s usual TV surrogates have three choices: insist there was no collusion, insist collusion isn’t a crime, or insult the people interviewing them. On Wednesday night, advisors Kellyanne Conway and Sebastian Gorka did all three in a dizzying, plate-juggling display of bullshit that helpfully demonstrates why interviewing them isn’t useful or helpful, except to the White House.

Let’s start with Gorka, who has sailed past all that kerfuffle about allegedly being a member of a Nazi-affiliated group and exaggerating his military service. He appeared on CNN opposite Anderson Cooper to do what he does best: be an exuberant dick, call everyone fake news, and mock CNN’s ratings.

Gorka became infuriated when Cooper asked if the White House was in “bunker mode” following the Trump Jr. revelations. Gorka called that description “laughable,” adding, “We are pushing the ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda, the president is a steam locomotive that cannot be stopped, it’s just fake news.”

“I’m sad to see CNN fall to this,” Gorka added. “I know you want salacious, sensational coverage for your ratings, so your corporate sponsors and owners will have more money but that’s not media, that’s not reportage, it’s just fake news.”

“Okay,” Cooper replied. “I’m just going to ignore the insults because I don’t think it really gets us anywhere.”

“It’s not about you,” Gorka retorted. “It’s about actually having journalism back on TV. Where are the Walter Cronkites of yesteryear? This just about ratings and money. It’s actually quite sad.”

Cooper tried to move on, pointing out that all of President Trump’s claims about “fake news” misreporting the Russia allegations have been disproved by “his son’s own email chain.”


Gorka dodged that one, saying there is “nothing untoward” about the Trump Jr.’s contact with Russia, adding, “We are incredibly impressed by Trump Jr.’s transparency.” He called Cooper “like a broken record.”

“I’m not getting any answers from you,” Cooper replied.

“I’m answering every time,” Gorka said, smirking.

“No,” Cooper said, exasperated. “You’re responding. You’re actually not answering. You’re not being upfront.”


“Let’s let the viewers judge,” Gorka said, “And decide you’re now 13th place in national ratings behind Nick at Nite which is at 11.” He added something about Tucker Carlson doing better.

“I think it’s funny you have enough time at the White House to sit around looking at Nielsen numbers,” Cooper replied, mildly.


The interview continued that way for 13 excruciating minutes, raising the question: why are we watching this fucking guy? What does this incredibly irritating display of verbal ping-pong get us? Gorka did indeed use the same lines on CNN earlier in the week, telling Alisyn Camerota that more people wanted to watch cartoons than her network. 

Also, and more importantly: he doesn’t know anything. When Gorka was forced to answer an actual, factual question—did people try to reach out to the Trump campaign and Jr. all the time with damaging Hillary Clinton information, or did it just happen once, because Trump surrogates have made both claims—he flatly admitted that he didn’t know. “You’d have to ask him,” he told Cooper. “I didn’t write his day planner.”


Gorka, we should be reminded, doesn’t appear to have any actual security clearance. His only job is to go on TV and repeat talking points. Despite his habitual displays of puffery, his insistence that he knows what’s really going on, Gorka does not have the range. Interviewing him isn’t going to bring us anything new or surprising or factually illuminating, it just brings us 13 minutes closer to death.

After the interview ended, Cooper mocked his habit of giving insulting non-answers.


“It’s like Don Rickles.” Cooper he said. “That’s his schtick. It’s like the Hungarian Don Rickles.”

Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway was doing the same thing to a gentler audience on Fox News, holding up these ridiculous flash cards to show Sean Hannity. “This is to help all the people at home,” she beamed, as Hannity giggled.


“What’s the conclusion? Collusion? No. We don’t have that yet,” she told him. “I see illusion and delusion. Just so we’re clear, everyone. Conclusion? Collusion, no. Illusion and delusion, yes. I just thought we’d have some fun with words. Sesame Grover’s word of the day.”


His name isn’t “Sesame Grover” and this shit is unbearable and unwatchable. It’s no mystery why Fox is doing it—they will do literally anything to get away from the Russia story, up to and including inviting a dancing bear on the program to helpfully maul a few guests as a distraction—but maybe everyone else could just cut it out.

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.



Someone should just create an interview bot to fill in for Kellyanne Conway and the not quite a Nazi, but wishes he were guy. Gorka’s could just repeat variations of “Donald Trump is an alpha male. I am an alpha male. Our penises are like locomotives made of gorillas”. It would save everyone a lot of time and energy.