One of the most satisfying moments of television I witnessed last year came during a broadcast of "Good Morning America." At the time, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, former reality-television villainess turned Trump White House staffer, had been recently forced out of the administration and was making the rounds on the talk-show circuit trashing her former boss/trying to resuscitate her public image.
After a 10-minute sit-down interview with Michael Strahan, the camera cut back to the anchor desk, where Robin Roberts, the even-keeled, ever-likable anchor who kept her on-air poise even as she went through a public battle with cancer a few years ago, added the following kicker:
"She says she has a story to tell, and I'm sure she'll be selling that story," then Roberts added, barely under her breath, "Bye, Felicia."
The verbal poke was a cathartic moment for anyone with a sense of history for either woman.
In a way, Manigault-Newman is the complete inverse of Roberts: an insincere, naturally repellent person whom I suspect few in this country would willingly choose to wake up to for their daily news headlines and national weather forecasts.
That the sweet, even-tempered Roberts had been the one to give Manigault-Newman (who had famously said after the 2016 election that "every critic, and every detractor, will have to bow down to president Trump" while grinning ear-to-ear) the much-deserved kick in the fundament on her way out of the public sphere only heightened the sense of karmic justice.
Robin Roberts was annoyed as hell, and she wasn't going to take it anymore!
Of course, Roberts was right, and in the months since her exit, Manigault-Newman has resurfaced a few times to sell her story — over the winter, as a contestant on "Celebrity Big Brother," where she teased ominous forthcoming revelations about her time in the White House; and now, on a marathon press gauntlet to promote her bridge-burning cash-out book, "Unhinged," a behind-the-scenes look at her relationship with Trump, with whom she has been associated since 2003.
Her talk-show appearances this week, much like her appearances after her forced resignation in December, reveal a wounded narcissist with a clear-cut agenda.
In every interview I watched (and I caught multiple appearances on multiple networks), Manigault-Newman played coy about her vague revelations involving Trump (he is in a state of mental decline; he's said racist things, but I can't tell you exactly what), while hammering away at a very specific message about how unfairly — and in her mind, criminally — she was treated by Chief of Staff John Kelly when she was asked to resign. (He kept her in the Situation Room for two hours! He wouldn't let her call the president! He wouldn't let her get her asthma spray!)
Her network appearances have used tantalizing Trump breadcrumbs to lure you in the door, so she can inflict damage on her primary target: John Kelly, the person who fired her. Had Kelly not done so, one gets the impression Manigault-Newman would likely still be serving in the White House, demanding the president's critics bow before him.
Should we then categorically dismiss the insights and revelations found in Manigault-Newman's book simply because she is an unlikeable, insincere person with a super-obvious ax to grind?
Personally, I am not convinced we should discount her. While I don't trust Manigault-Newman's word as a person, I do trust her to operate in her own best interest, and I think she feels at this time her best interest is R-E-V-E-N-G-E. And she knows that revenge is a dish not best served cold, but in a raging dumpster fire, with all the receipts.
As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Given that no one currently poses a greater threat to American democracy than Trump, does that make Manigault-Newman a friend of American democracy?
I'm sure she would like you to believe that, anyhow.
Giving some weight to the validity of her revelations are the secret audio recordings Manigault-Newman has released in conjunction with her "Unhinged" promotional blitzkrieg. You can hear fellow staffers, and the president himself, discuss Manigault-Newman's firing, and the existence of a tape of "Apprentice" outtakes that feature Trump allegedly using the N-word.
If you'd like to know more about that, feel free to pony up the $28 and contribute to Manigault-Newman's legal defense fund (the infamously litigious president has announced his intentions to take her to arbitration for breeching the terms of her non-disclosure agreements). If you'd rather not fill her coffers, the internet has your back, as many publications have reviewed advanced copies of the book and spilled most of the juiciest revelations for free.
Aside from her apparent admission during a promotional interview on MSNBC that Trump knew about Hillary Clinton's hacked emails before they were released (Somebody please tag Robert Mueller so he sees this!), Omarosa's most damning revelation about Trump — in my opinion — is that she once walked in on a meeting between him and his embattled ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, after which she witnessed the president eat a piece of paper.
I cannot overstate how huge this development is!
Not because I think it proves Trump and Cohen were discussing something nefarious (although they probably were), but because it reveals a very important aspect of the Donald's personality.
Assuming the paper in question contained sensitive information, and the president wanted to destroy it, there are any number of means by which he could achieve that goal. He could have ripped the paper into tiny pieces. He could've crumpled it into a ball and shoved it in his pocket to dispose of at a later time. He could have set it on fire. Flushed it down the toilet. Colored over it with a permanent marker.
And yet, given all of those options, our president, Donald J. Trump, in an alleged moment of panic, chose Option E — to shove that paper in his mouth and eat it.
That is a fascinating insight into his character. We all went to grade school with a kid who ate paper. Usually that kid also ate glue. And Play-Doh. And once, you caught him eating a worm at recess, and it wasn't even on a dare.
Now that kid is running the country, with his sights set on the most delicious paper of all — the Constitution.
Somebody better tell the teacher.
Ryan Jackson supposes after all the Diet Coke and McDonald's drive-thru, the president needs to get his fiber somehow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.