Trump and Omarosa Are Kindred Spirits

My conversations with him about her star power.

Donald Trump and I used to talk a lot about Omarosa Manigault Newman. The future president was fascinated by her. He was fascinated by her self-absorption and nastiness, fascinated by her fleeting star power and fascinated by the fact that she was publicly recognizable by her first name alone, sort of like Prince or Madonna.

.. Viewers gravitated toward Omarosa because, on a show that exploited a “Lord of the Flies” scenario to see how badly an average group of men and women wanted to please Trump, she could behave so horrifically that it reassured folks that they probably wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — that monstrous themselves.
.. The producers of “The Apprentice” originally thought that the show’s dog-eat-dog world would be its main attraction and that Trump’s now famous boardroom firings would just be icing on the cake. They soon discovered that Trump decapitating people with his signature phrase — “You’re fired!” — and most of the other scenes he inhabited were what gave this ensemble act its real juice.

in the show’s first season in 2004 Omarosa owned her own peculiar space. Viewers loved hating her.
I’m going to crush my competition and I’m going to enjoy doing it,” she declared on the show.
.. she dispensed with decorum and bluntly told people off. She often belittled her own teammates when strategy was debated.
If she decided she wasn’t up for a particular challenge she found a way to dodge it.
.. She was scheming, deceitful, ruthless and unapologetic, and Trump was mesmerized.
.. Trump told me that he initially had been worried that some of “The Apprentice” contestants lacked star power. Omarosa changed his mind.
I didn’t think she had it. But she was great casting,” he told me. “We didn’t know she was the Wicked Witch until the audience found she was the Wicked Witch. We had an idea but you never know how it is going to be picked up.”
.. Worried about what would become of him if and when NBC canceled “The Apprentice,” he sought advice about how best to secure his stardom. He told me he rang up Lorne Michaels, the producer of “Saturday Night Live,” for counseling... “Which is bigger, a television star or a movie star?” he asked.

“A television star,” Michaels replied. “Because you are on in front of 30 million people, every week, virtually every week.”

All of this gave Trump a newfound appreciation of Omarosa.

“I would have never thought that Omarosa was a star,” he told me. “I didn’t think she was that attractive. I didn’t think she was anything. And she became a star.”

.. When Omarosa bungled her final task (shopping some art) toward the end of the first season, Trump canned her. His own star was shining brightly and he didn’t need Omarosa’s added glare.

..  By most accounts, she treated her White House stay the same way she handled “The Apprentice” competition — full speed ahead, detractors be damned.

.. Trump tweets relentlessly when he feels cornered or obsessed, and he is currently obsessed with Omarosa. She is just as craven and self-absorbed as he is, and betrayal by a kindred spirit has never sat well with him.

.. Trump’s response is also evidence that the man elected in part because of the managerial and business prowess he demonstrated on “The Apprentice” can’t get his country’s priorities in order. Expect him to wallow in moments like this for years to come.


Jordan Klepper’s Comic Conspiracy

On “The Opposition,” Klepper channels Alex Jones, updating political satire for our confusing moment.

Klepper has never been coy about his primary inspiration: Alex Jones, the founder and Cassandra-in-chief of the alternative-media network InfoWars.

..  And yet, if we’re being honest, his delivery is among the best in the business. His voice is a mellifluous yawp, at once abrasive and mesmerizing, with the dynamic range of a slain-in-the-Spirit preacher.

.. Klepper doesn’t have Jones’s pipes, but his vocal performance strikes an analogous tone—unnecessarily loud and full of unearned bravado.

.. Jones has advertisers, but most of his revenue comes from his brand of dietary supplements, such as Anthroplex and Survival Shield X-2, which he hawks relentlessly.

.. “If you see me, in an interview or a deposition, say that I’m playing a character, that’s because in that moment I’m simply playing a character who, to throw them off the scent, would say that he’s playing a character.”

.. For two decades, Jones’s shtick played equally well on the far left and the far right. Then Trump came along, and Jones’s brand shifted: less antiauthoritarianism, more Americana; less “Resist the police state,” more “Blue lives matter.” Jones’s problem is not that his mind is closed. If anything, his mind is far too open.

.. what’s a satirist to do? The answer is as simple as Strunk and White: be specific.

.. he caught Fox News anchors directing their viewers toward unvetted theories on Facebook; he played several boldly self-contradictory clips from InfoWars’ post-Vegas pontification. The shooter had connections to Islam; the shooter had connections to Antifa; there were multiple shooters