The last thing Omarosa Manigault Newman wants to hear anyone say is “Remember Omarosa?”
We mustn’t forget her. She must always be on our minds. She must be relevant. Since her book, Unhinged, rose to cultural consciousness then faded away, replaced by some Presidential antic equally frightening and frivolous (because those are the poles between which we lurch now), she keeps coming back with new schemes for our attention.
First there were was Omarosa’s recording of President Trump claiming that the “real” collusion story is about Hillary Clinton and The Russians. This got no serious attention because it was utterly ridiculous. Still, it echoes a point Omarosa and others (including me) have already made—Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be President. Anyone can prove it to themselves and others by comparing old and new Trump interviews. The difference in clarity of mind and coherence of thought between then and now is staggering. Were I a Cabinet member I’d be ready to push the 25th Amendment button at a moment’s notice. But I suspect Omarosa has an ulterior motive.
Then there were Omarosa’s coy speculations on who wrote The New York Times anonymous op-ed. She named a few White House staffers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers among them. Her reasoning was based on the stylistic aspects of the writer’s prose, her assertion that Ayers “has the most to gain,” and nothing else.
There’s the story of how White House staffers on her level were in on the 25th Amendment “joke” with #TFA text messages. No one has backed this up, and Omarosa doesn’t even have screenshots of such messages.
Remember all her talk of recordings of Trump saying the N-word? She said she’d heard Trump saying it, then said someone else has the actual recording. No one has actually produced it. Worse, when NPR reporter Rachel Martin pointed out that Omarosa had actually said something quite different in her own book, she seemed unfamiliar with her own writing:
“When asked by [Rachel] Martin about the discrepancy during the interview, Manigault Newman insisted Martin must not have read the book (she had) and pointed to a section at the very end of it.
But in that section, Manigault Newman doesn’t actually describe hearing the tape. She writes of calling one of her “sources” who had a lead on the “N-word tape.”
“Incredibly, this person – who shall remain nameless – picked up the phone.
On this phone conversation, I was told exactly what Donald Trump said – yes, the N-word and others in a classic Trump-goes-nuclear rant – and when he’d said them.
During production he was miked, and there is definitely an audio track.
For over a year I’d been so afraid of hearing the specifics from someone who’d been in the room. Hearing the truth freed me from that fear. And only now that it’s gone, do I realize just how heavy it’s been.”
During the interview with Martin, Manigault Newman read the section aloud, then insisted it described her hearing the tape rather than what the words on the page state, which is that she heard an account of what was on the tape. “I heard the tape,” she said when pressed.”
“Omarosa Tells NPR She Heard Trump ‘N-Word Tape,’ Contradicting Her Own Tell-All Book” | NPR | Tamara Keith | 08/10/2018
And remember her claim that Trump knew about the Russian hack of the DNC before that information was released to the public? Again, no proof.
That’s five major claims Omarosa has made, all of them without “receipts.” Every one seemed juicy and damning, only to end up in the dustbin of Washington’s news cycle. But while Omarosa’s claims have delivered nothing they’d promised other than increased attention on Omarosa, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard reminds us that our moment is beyond our casual, everyday notions of reality and knee deep in the realm of hyperreality:
“Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI). Individuals may find themselves, for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world. Some famous theorists of hyperreality/hyperrealism include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Daniel J. Boorstin, Neil Postman and Umberto Eco.”
“Hyperreality” | Wikipedia
Omarosa actually working in the White House is a mundane hyperreality only because Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon worked there too. That Omarosa has or knows of recordings that could crack Trump’s presidency like an egg is pure hyperreality. Omarosa writing a book that exposes her on-air as a liar lying about her own lies is pure, uncut hyperreality. Omarosa herself is hyperreal. Indeed, we know down deep if we aren’t reminded by the news everyday that the Trump presidency itself is hyperreality defined.
All of it feels fake and constructed to mock any of our everyday ideas about what a presidency is. Or what reality is.
“A limited hangout or partial hangout is, according to former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Victor Marchetti, “spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.””
“The phrase has been cited as a summation of the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation, and is used in political commentary to accuse people or groups of following a Nixon-like strategy.”
“Limited Hangout” | Wikipedia
What if every hyperreal public moment of Omarosa’s has been part of a limited hangout? What would that look like? What’s its purpose?
I contend that it would look very much like what we’ve seen thus far—real in some sense, contrived and coordinated in a much deeper sense such that it’s more real than real. Even more so if we consider how she threatened April Ryan, one of the few prominent black reporters in the White House briefing room, like a scene from a BET reality show. Or that weird fiasco where she brought her wedding party to the White House, like a scene from a BET soap opera.
I think Omarosa never really left the White House, that she’s always been the one who said we’d all bow down before “the master of the universe,” and that her task now (the hangout) is to string the news and entertainment media along on her fact deprived claims while also getting more exposure for her book and herself. I think it’s also likely that Trump insulting her as a “dog” and “a low life” was theater. I think it’s entirely possible that after all this blows over she’ll still be in Trump’s orbit just like Steve Bannon and Cory Lewandowski. When it’s finally revealed that she’s back in the Trump fold (albeit in a distant, diminished role like the others), the news and entertainment media will struggle to explain it away but will look stupid doing so.
The problem with “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thinking is that you’re never really sure that the enemy of your enemy isn’t actually working for your enemy, merely portraying herself as a friend. This is the very essence of the limited hangout—it has a decent chance of working out as planned, but also a similar chance of working too well.
IMAGE SOURCE: Omarosa Manigault – Caricature