The Real Housewives of Donald Trump
“Like good bad TV – a medium Trump has been milking for over a decade now – it’s that which has yet to be revealed that keeps us all tuning in to a grotesque flesh sack of rejected TV pitches, whose fact-checks always bounce.”
I was walking with a friend through Chelsea toward a party, discussing the presidential election, what else, when the line came to me: “Omarosa could be the next Valerie Jarrett!” This took some explaining, since my friend had never watched The Apprentice, and I did a poor job of it, because I have no memory for the plot points of reality TV shows. I would say it’s because I “have a life” but honestly I’ve forgotten the plots of hundreds of reality TV shows. The best I can conjure is that Omarosa Manigault didn’t win, but is still the most famous cast-member in the history of our future overlord’s NBC-produced business acumen gauntlet. She was ruthless, or her character was edited as such, and she always wanted to be “project manager.” (Google it, life-haver.) In one episode, a small piece of plaster dislodged from the ceiling of a worksite she was supervising, hitting her in the head and causing her to lose focus in the competition.
12 years later, Omarosa is publicly supporting Trump’s presidential bid in “real” TV interviews, including one where she told her interlocutor, “Donald says I’m his Valerie Jarrett.” Since then, Omarosa has gone so far as to say, “Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” Kind of makes you yearn for the days these TV personalities barely left Trump Tower.
Omarosa is not the only woman whose personal and financial relationship to Trump conveniently bleeds the line between truth and well-drafted lies. As the conversation progressed, my friend and I moved onto Trump’s alleged history of sexually abusing women.
“By the way,” my friend said, “did you hear that Trump maybe sexually assaulted someone?”
“Yeah,” I said, “his wife, right? She says that in some biography.”
“No someone else.”
“Woah, how did I not know about this? Show me.” She looked it up and the story turned out to be from a few days ago.
“Must not be real then,” I said, my assumption being that it would have been big news, therefore I would have heard about it.
“The Atlantic reported it.”
“Did the New York Times report it?”
“Then it doesn’t seem real.”
Of course by “real” I had meant, shamefully, “real news” not “what really happened.” The former you can know with the touch of a screen, the latter you may come to know merely as unease, depression, and slimeball sciamachy. What’s important is that my brain had, with a single word, elided the difference between the two. This is what it’s like to watch the Trumpian presidential election, and I’ve been watching the women in Trump’s orbit in particular to try to piece together what, if anything, “election news” means to me anymore.