In late July, I had a conversation with my Puck partner Tina Nguyen, who covers the part of the conservative world I’ll call the MAGAverse. I hoped to get a better understanding of how power is moving in our country, and Tina did not disappoint. We connected from hotel rooms, mine in D.C., and hers in Tampa, where she was reporting on Turning Point USA Student Action Summit—a conservative meet-up and incubator for young right-wing activists and leaders. Our conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Baratunde Thurston: Good morning, Tina! So, I’ve brought you into this hotel-to-hotel chat to pick your brain on three topics. The first is January 6 and what we’ve been learning and how the MAGA world thinks about it. The second is what the outside world thinks about our little democratic experiment we’ve been running for a couple of centuries. The third is you and how you came to be in a situation where, as I understand it, you’re spending your weekend at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, which is why you’re in Tampa.
But let’s start with the Jan. 6 hearings. I’m old enough to remember my excited liberal friends donning Robert Mueller t-shirts that said things like, “It’s Mueller Time,” as they opened boxes of wine to prematurely celebrate a moment of accountability for Donald Trump. In the end, of course, not much happened to Trump, so I’m curious what the far right you cover is seeing when they watch these hearings, if they are watching these hearings at all?