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Matt Gaetz is a United States congressman who’s currently under investigation for sex crimes, but he’s apparently still got some free time to step into a new role: Podcaster.
Gaetz’s “Firebrand” podcast posted its first episode on Thursday, and features Gaetz whining about Fox News, denying the aforementioned sex crimes, and interviewing fellow far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene. It is just as bad as you’d expect something like this to be.
“March 31, April Fool’s Eve, I stood in the Fort Walton Beach airport as my chief of staff delivered the news: The New York Times would soon be reporting that I was being investigated for child sex trafficking,” Gaetz recalled. “Soon, Insider would publish that I used hookup websites and that I brought a 17-year-old across state lines.”
“Of course these things are totally false. Verifiably false, actually, printed with malice, a court may find,” Gaetz added, implying that he may file a lawsuit.
After spending 15 minutes describing the investigation into him as a deep state conspiracy, Gaetz moved into something which appeared to bother him just as much: Fox News and Paul Ryan, the former House speaker who now serves as a director on Fox’s board.
“I appreciate the platform Fox News gave me for years,” Gaetz said. “It allowed me to get key information to the country. I have many friends still at Fox News and I enjoy our discussions, whether they’re on-air or off-air.”
“That said, Fox News isn’t what it used to be,” Gaetz added.
Gaetz did not mention why, exactly, Fox News stopped giving him that platform. But it might have something to do with a disastrous appearance he made on Tucker Carlson’s show earlier this year to deny the sex trafficking allegations, just hours after the story broke.
During that appearance, Gaetz brought up a previous allegation against Carlson and told him that the two had eaten dinner with Carlson’s wife and a woman Gaetz believes to be at the center of the sex trafficking allegations, telling Carlson, “You’ll remember her.” Carlson was reportedly furious about Gaetz’s appearance; one source told CNN: “It pissed him off.”
Gaetz was particularly annoyed by Fox News’ sidelining of Lou Dobbs, whose show was canceled earlier this year. “Lou Dobbs Tonight” was canceled the day after voting technology company Smartmatic filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Fox, Dobbs, and other co-hosts, (the company insisted Dobbs’ cancellation had nothing to do with the lawsuit). Gaetz, for his part, blamed it on Paul Ryan; on the podcast, Gaetz played clips of Dobbs—who he dubbed “Sweet Lou”—criticizing Ryan.
“Now that Paul Ryan has concentrated power at Fox News, Lou Dobbs is no longer on air,” Gaetz said. “He can’t guide the populist right away from the invade-everywhere, invite-everyone version of Republicanism that sells out to K Street and abandons Main Street.”
Gaetz closed out the episode with an interview with Greene, the far-right freshman Georgia congresswoman. Gaetz and Greene have been barnstorming the country—with varying degrees of success—spewing misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, false and unproven election fraud claims, and their particular brand of conservative grievance politics.
Greene was kicked off her House committees earlier this year after old social media posts emerged showing her endorsing violence against Democrats and the media and advocating conspiracy theories. But she told Gaetz she actually really loves not being able to perform what’s supposed to be one of the core functions of her job.
“Hell no. Far more effective on the outside,” said Greene, who’s headed to the Iowa State Fair this month, driving speculation that she may run for president in 2024. “We're far more effective going out all over the country encouraging moms and dads to fight their school boards… we’re far more effective on the outside instead of sitting there on Zoom committees where Democrats don't wear pants.”
“Right now, while Democrats and Nancy Pelosi and them are just running this place however they want, I would never waste one second on a useless committee,” Greene said. Podcast appearances, on the other hand, are a perfectly good use of her time.