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Deesha Dyer on Undiplomatic and Working in the White House
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Former White House Social Secretary Deesha Dyer joins the show to discuss her new book, Undiplomatic: How My Attitude Created the Best Kind of Trouble, overcoming imposter syndrome in political careers, and creating more opportunities for marginalized Americans. Daniella and Colin also discuss recent progressive federal policies and widespread protests on college campuses.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone. Welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.

Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger.

Gibbs Léger: Hello!

Seeberger: Daniella, when did it become summertime?

Gibbs Léger: I don’t like this. It’s too hot.

Seeberger: It’s so hot. I am running home, immediately running into the house, and turning on my AC to drop it down a few degrees from being at the office during the day, and it’s ridiculous. I’m not ready for it.

Gibbs Léger: No, like, can we have spring? Yes, my allergies are awful today, but can I have cooler weather to go with my awful allergies? A proper spring, if you will?

Seeberger: Yes. I’ve got to say, that was one of my favorite parts of when I lived in New York was you get the winter doldrums, it’s so cold, and then suddenly you have a real spring season to enjoy.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: So, I do miss it very dearly. Well, whether you are enjoying this episode out in the sun or trying to stay cool, I hear we had a really great chat this week.

Gibbs Léger: We did. I got to talk to my former colleague Deesha Dyer from the White House. She’s a former Obama White House social secretary, and she has a new book called Undiplomatic. We talked about imposter syndrome, supporting community colleges, and what it means to have the first Black woman in the role of vice president.

Seeberger: Well, I can’t wait to read her book and listen to your interview. But first, we have to get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, we do. And I just want to ask President [Joe] Biden if he’s a Dua Lipa fan, because he seems to be all about new rules these days.

Seeberger: Yes!

Gibbs Léger: I’m, of course, talking about rules finalized by the government agencies to rein in corporate greed, attacks on Americans’ rights, and make people’s lives a little easier.

Seeberger: He sure has been burning the midnight oil—almost as if he’s dancing the night away, as Dua says.

Gibbs Léger: That song will be in my head for the rest of the day. But in all seriousness, it’s clear that President Biden is committed to bettering conditions for American workers.

So, last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced a new rule banning noncompete agreements for most workers.

Seeberger: It’s a huge deal.

Gibbs Léger: It really is. So, noncompetes bar employees from leaving a job to go work for a similar business or to start their own competing business. And banning noncompetes is going to help boost wages and allow people greater freedom to leave abusive workplaces.

Last week, the Biden administration also extended overtime protections to more than 4 million workers. And it’s all a part of President Biden’s economic agenda of promoting competition and cracking down on corporate greed, not only to level the playing field for small businesses but to lower costs for American families as well.

He also continued to crack down on junk fees so wealthy corporations can’t get rich while leaving consumers out to dry. For instance, the Department of Transportation just announced that airline customers whose flights were significantly changed, canceled, or who don’t receive a service promised as part of the flight—such as Wi-Fi or meals—will be able to get a full refund.

And as somebody who has had to deal with this a lot, that is great news. These are just the kind of policies that seem small but have real impact on people’s lives.

Seeberger: They really do. And remember that this comes directly on the heels of other announcements that the administration has made cracking down on companies like Airbnb, Ticketmaster, SeatGeek to eliminate unnecessary fees so seeing Taylor Swift or Beyoncé is a little less painful for your wallet. But the administration isn’t just using its power to try to raise wages and lower costs, they’re passing a whole host of rules to protect our rights and make us safer.

So, for example, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] recently passed its first-ever drinking water standard a few weeks ago to protect people from substances called forever chemicals, things like PFAS. When they’re found in the water, these chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, negatively impact heart health, infant growth, and a host of other health problems. And thanks to investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law, local systems will actually be able to remove these chemicals in order to comply with the new standards. So it’s really kind of a whole administration-wide approach to actually protecting our health. So, we love to see it.

Gibbs Léger: We do.

Seeberger: And in the midst of widespread attacks on reproductive freedom, the administration also just recently announced updated medical rules to protect patient privacy around things like abortion care, IVF [in vitro fertilization], birth control, and other forms of reproductive health care.

Also this week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced it will propose a rule that would reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug. And while there’s certainly more work to do to mitigate the harms of marijuana criminalization, particularly for Black Americans, it’s a significant step in the right direction for the kind of change that we need to see.

And let’s remember all these rules go to show this is the kind of progress that can be achieved when government works in the interest of the people and focuses on the things that matter to them—like protecting their health, protecting their rights and freedoms, combating historic inequalities, and reining in corporate greed to make things just a little bit more affordable. They just have to have a partner on their side.

Gibbs Léger: It’s really encouraging to see so many of these changes coming out in the last few weeks. But now I want to turn to something that’s been dominating headlines this week. I’m sure if you’ve turned on the news, you’ve seen college students across the nation striking up protests on our campuses with a range of demands, including supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.

There’s been so much disinformation and spin out there about these protests, so I want to set the record straight on a few things here. First of all, hate, harassment, and violence has no place in the United States. Full stop. Period. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are reprehensible, they’re dangerous, and should have no safe harbor anywhere in our country.

And that’s why President Biden has talked about the need to address the alarming rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia in the United States. Second, freedom of expression is a central tenet of our democracy, and protests on college campuses have been a staple of free speech and activism in this country for decades.

I mean, look no further than the Civil Rights Movement or the protests against the Vietnam War. The ability to peacefully demonstrate is something that makes our country unique, and that should be celebrated. So, students are justified in peacefully demonstrating about the plight of innocent Palestinian people who have been killed or are suffering or starving in Gaza, just like those who are protesting over Hamas’ terrorist attack in Israel on October 7.

But we should also be clear. Federal agencies must step up to defend the rights of students and faculty and protect them from harm. Colleges need to foster an environment where free speech is prized and all students can learn without fear of intimidation, harassment, or threats of physical violence.

Every student—every student—should feel safe on their campus. And law enforcement should be the absolute last resort for responding to campus protests. There is a well-documented and very tragic history of police-driven escalations on American campuses, and they need to exercise much more restraint.

Seeberger: For sure. And we can’t have this conversation and not touch on one more thing. And that is—and it’s leaders mainly from the far right who are trying to use this moment for political gain—

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Seeberger: —hoping we don’t remember their history of turning a blind eye to bigotry and antisemitism. When white supremacists stormed Charlottesville in 2017 and a woman was killed, where was the outrage from folks like [House] Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA)? When neo-Nazis yelled “Jews will not replace us” and Donald Trump said there were “good people on both sides,” where was Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY)? Where was she? She wasn’t condemning him.

Gibbs Léger: Nope.

Seeberger: Fast forward to today, and have you heard them condemn Trump for saying any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat hates their religion, or comparing campus protesters to January 6 insurrectionists who are serving jail time, or for suggesting those events in Charlottesville I just mentioned were “peanuts”? Have you heard right-wing extremists condemn growing hate and Islamophobia? Have you heard them discuss a plan to end the conflict in the Middle East? You won’t hear any of that because they don’t actually care.

Gibbs Léger: Correct.

Seeberger: Yeah. The conflict in Gaza and the growing protest movement on college campuses are yet again making it abundantly clear that far-right extremists only care about their own political power. That’s it. They don’t really care what the consequences are. And we should also be clear that efforts to extinguish the ability to engage in peaceful protests risk setting an extremely troubling precedent in the United States that could be used against Americans by an aspiring or future authoritarian leader in the years ahead.

So, we have to be vigilant. We have to defend our rights and freedoms, or we could lose them in no time.

Gibbs Léger: Here, here, Colin.

Seeberger: Well, that’s all the time we have for today. If there’s anything you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod.

Gibbs Léger: And stick around for my interview with Deesha Dyer in just a beat.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Deesha Dyer is the founder and CEO of Hook & Fasten, a social impact firm. She recently published her first book, Undiplomatic, about her journey from being a community college student to becoming social secretary for the Obama White House. She was a 2019 resident fellow for the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and leads several charitable organizations and scholarship funds for young women and girls.

Deesha, thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Deesha Dyer: Yes, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you.

Gibbs Léger: Former colleague at the White House.

Dyer: Yes! Yes, yes.

Gibbs Léger: So, you just released your debut book, Undiplomatic, which I highly recommend. So, tell us about the book. What is it about and why did you decide to write it?

Dyer: Yes. And so again, thank you so much for having me here, it’s always good to see you. So Undiplomatic is about my journey from being a 31-year-old community college student who just took a chance on applying for a White House internship because I was kind of caught up—like many of us—in the magic and the hope and the change of Barack Obama’s campaign.

I got the internship and then got hired at the White House in 2010. Continued to rise to the senior position. And the book not only takes you through that, but it takes you also through my battle with really chronic imposter syndrome and feeling like I just didn’t belong there, I didn’t deserve to be there, I didn’t have the pedigree of everyone else despite continuously getting promoted. So the book kind of takes you through the evolution of imposter syndrome, gives some advice and lessons, but also entertains while doing it.

Gibbs Léger: Yes. The role of social secretary is such an interesting and important one. And it’s one that doesn’t get a lot of public attention outside of the beltway. So, can you tell us what the social secretary does and maybe share one or two of your proudest moments from your time in the White House?

Dyer: Definitely. So the White House social secretary is in charge of all the events at 1600 Pennsylvania, so the actual Executive Mansion. And I always want to stress that because, as you know and I think many people know, that the White House itself is large with an office building and with some other buildings. And so the social secretary does all the events—from the planning to the execution, with an amazing team—of any event that takes place at the White House. So it could be a state dinner, it could be a private birthday party, it could be a message event, it could be a presser—anything like that. And what I would say is that some of my proudest moments is probably—I was a band kid. All my life, I’ve been a band kid.

Gibbs Léger: Same.

Dyer: And so I’m in the color guard, love it, and I was able to bring a marching band, historically Black marching band, from a college to the South Lawn for the opening of the Smithsonian African American Museum. And then I also was able to welcome in Girl Scouts to sleep on the White House lawn for the Girl Scout campout, and they got a special badge for it.

I mean, they also were evacuated because we had a thunderstorm, but it was fine. But they were fine. And those were probably two of my—I mean, I have lots of proud moments, but I think off the top of my head, those were just very special moments to me.

Gibbs Léger: That’s incredible. So, as you mentioned, a major theme throughout your book is imposter syndrome. I want to dig into this, because it is something that I have struggled with and I know lots of other people struggle with. So how did it play a role in your journey? And what would you tell folks who are currently experiencing this in their careers right now?

Dyer: I mean, for me, imposter syndrome—feeling like a fraud, feeling like I didn’t deserve things or I wasn’t worthy—that was normal for me. So it wasn’t like you’re depressed or you’re down or you’re down on yourself. I’m like, “No, I’m not.” Because to me, it was normal to be like that. And so, imposter syndrome for me really played into it, because I went there without a college degree. I eventually graduated college while I was at the White House because I continued going to school.

But for me, I just constantly was telling myself, “I don’t deserve to be here,” which made me not really probably see the amazing experience and enjoy it for what it was. I was always trying to prove myself mentally and physically. I got sick just trying to prove myself and say, “I deserve to be here. I’m going to show you through sickness, through anything.” And the president and the first lady—which is interesting—they were confident in me. And I wasn’t confident in myself. And it was like, doesn’t that seem backwards?

And so what I would say to people now that I have kind of evolved and worked this through with therapy is when you think that you’re not qualified or not deserving, you have to ask yourself, who ever said that? Where was the proof of that? And usually most of the time, no one can come up with an answer. Right? Which means that it is something that is rooted from maybe childhood or adolescence or something that happened before that made you feel like an inconvenience or a lack of that has just grown over time.

I don’t think it’s natural for us to feel like we’re not worthy. Like something’s not, like—how does that happen? Why don’t we go the other way? So I think that that, to me, is the advice that I give—is to dig up the root of when it started and where it’s coming from, because most likely it has nothing to do with your present day and who you are.

Gibbs Léger: That is outstanding advice, and advice that I wish I had heard—

Dyer: Me too. Me too.

Gibbs Léger: —a couple years ago. So as a former community college student, I wanted to get your take on the Biden administration’s work with community colleges. They’ve increased training opportunities in the semiconductor industry through the CHIPS and Science Act, for example, and have also proposed measures that would lower the cost of community college and reduce student debt.

So, what do increased opportunities and lower barriers for entry to this education pathway mean to the students who rely on community college?

Dyer: I think it means an equal playing field. I think it means a chance to be like everyone else, a chance to have your foot in the door, a chance not to feel like you’re a step behind.

And I think that plays into confidence too. I think a big thing for me was community college was less than other colleges. And so I felt less as a whole, right? I couldn’t finish a four-year college, and I dropped out or got kicked out—depends on who you ask—but it made me feel like I just couldn’t do that.

So I think that these new measures that they’re taking kind of puts it so community college is just on par, just as competitive with any other degree, any other skills training, or anything like that. And not only are they doing that, but they’re making a really concerted effort to bring community college students into the White House.

I’ve done some work with them and spoke to the personnel office about hiring from community colleges. I mean, it’s just really important. So I think that what it means is not only renewed confidence that the path that I took was not like everyone else but it’s still the right path. And I think it gives you confidence, and it also gives you a chance to feel like “I’m actually contributing and I could do this on the level in which I’m comfortable with.” And I think that that’s a wonderful thing.

Gibbs Léger: I agree. I agree. So, speaking of confidence, I know for me personally, having a Black woman in the role of vice president is really powerful, and I feel like Vice President [Kamala] Harris recently has really been on a role in terms of the work that she’s doing. And she has a fan club, the KHive. They are entertaining, but also they come with the facts, which I really love.

Dyer: Yes, yes.

Gibbs Léger: So, I want to ask what does her leadership mean to you? And for a young Black woman in our country, like right now?

Dyer: I think her presence for me is like—the presence of being able to look even at the State of the Union and see a Black woman behind the president up there with the speaker, right? Or even seeing her dance or seeing her do cultural things that were just like—we could identify.

That’s kind of how I was with Barack Obama. He would do and say things, I’m like, “I can identify with him as a Black person.” And that made me feel like I was more part of politics. And so I think that to a lot of young women, even if they don’t aspire to be vice president, in any sector that they’re in, they’re like, look at her and see how many barriers she pushed through—I mean, still pushing. Not push. Still pushing. Let’s be very clear—we’re still pushing through. And say that, like, they can do that themselves.

And it sounds like a really corny thing, because I know when people say to me, “I look at that and I can do it too.” I’m like, I know it sounds corny, but when you’re in the thick of whatever it is—especially as a Black person in your career or in your job—any bit of information, any small thing of hope that you can cling onto is helpful for you, right? For your mental, physical—just getting through.

So I think her leadership, especially for this country, just shows that we’re moving forward. I think even if people—they can pick apart a policy or whatever, however they feel, but I think they can’t deny—you know what I mean—who she is and in what she means, right? And they can’t deny that there’s a whole bunch of other ones that are coming behind her.

Gibbs Léger: I think that’s right. I have to talk about the passage in your book when you’re on Air Force One, and the president comes by. And I forget exactly how the exchange went, but it ended with you saying, “I could jump out.” When I tell you, I audibly hollered. I was in a library reading, and I hollered out loud because it was so funny to me.

Dyer: Oh my gosh.

Gibbs Léger: Can you walk us through that moment, please?

Dyer: I mean, first of all, to my credit, I was exhausted. We had just —it was the national tragedy of the shooting at Fort Hood, and all of the regular staff was over in Asia preparing for the president to come. It was an advanced trip they were on. And so when it happened and I was in the department, the intern in the department that went ahead of the president, they were like, “Well, there’s nobody to go. So, hey, intern who’s 31, can you go down to Texas and help out the team?” And I’m like, “I don’t even know what that means.”

First of all, I didn’t even know I was going to Texas for a while. So I packed my bags, went, and on the way home after the ceremony was over, everyone was talking about getting on Air Force One and coming home. And I’m thinking to myself, “Well, nobody gave me a plane ticket. Where’s my Delta ticket? How am I getting home, right? Like, am I flying home with the military?”

And someone said—our dear friend Darienne Page, who was in charge of Veteran Affairs at the time—and she was down there, of course, it was the base. And she said, “Oh, you’re on Air Force One with us.” And I was like, “Woo-hoo.” Like, what? I was like, “Where do I sit?” I didn’t know anything. Like, do I get a seat number?

And her, and Kristen Jarvis, were like, “I’ll show you.” And so I went, and I sat on the plane. And I was like, I’m staying awake, because I’m not missing this moment. I’m like, staying awake and stealing whatever is not nailed down. And the president comes around and says hi to people. And he looks at me kind of like, “I don’t know who this person is,” but very nice, as he is.

And Reggie says, “Mr. President, this is Deesha, she’s our intern.” And he was like, “Oh, I didn’t know interns also flew on Air Force One.” Very nonchalantly. And I just blurted—I was so embarrassed, and I was so like, “I’m in the way”—I was like, “I can jump, I can leave, I can jump,” while we’re in the air.

And he kind of just looked at me and was just like, “OK, well, good to have you on board.” And I was like, “Oh my God. Oh my God.” And I was like, “I’m going to be fired tomorrow. I just offered to jump off this plane.” But clearly they didn’t—they hired me, actually, so the opposite worked.

Gibbs Léger: It was all fine. The first time I met the president, it was before an event and we were in the Red Room. And there’s a picture of me and Karen Richardson talking to him. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember the conversation.

Dyer: What year was it?

Gibbs Léger: It was, like, 2009.

Dyer: Oh, it was the beginning.

Gibbs Léger: It was the beginning, and I was so—I didn’t work on a campaign, so I didn’t have a relationship with him. So it’s just like, I know I spoke, but I can’t tell you what I said.

Dyer: The only reason I remember is because I’m a writer, so I wrote it down—

Gibbs Léger: Smart.

Dyer: —after it happened.

Gibbs Léger: Very smart.

Dyer: So yes, that’s how I know. That’s how I remembered what happened that day.

Gibbs Léger: So last question. This book and your story is so inspirational, and I’m sure you’re seeing impact on readers already across the country. So tell us about some of your favorite moments that you’ve experienced so far.

Dyer: I mean, I just—I’m floored. I mean, I’m still floored. As I said when I came in here, I’m floored. It hasn’t caught up to me yet. Because I just live my life. I live my life in the sense of a survivor. Like, how can I survive? Whether it was trying to find a place to live or eat or anything else, and then going back to school and then working for the president—I never did any of this out of inspiration or promotion or anything like that. And then I was like, well, I’m going to write about this, because when I go speak, people gravitate to me, and they’re like, “Your story—you’re so real, you’re so vulnerable.” And I’m like, isn’t that how everybody’s supposed to be? I don’t see it as any different.

But the reaction that we’ve gotten to this has been unbelievable. I mean, I think the biggest is probably from women, I’d say. And a lot of them are like, “You make me feel seen. You make me feel like I’m not crazy. I’m not wrong in the world. You make me feel like my presence as it is, is accepted with whatever I look like.”

And I’m like, absolutely, absolutely. Because I did not change how I looked. I did not take out my nose ring. I did not take out my earrings. I didn’t change my talk. And I still kept getting promoted. And while I, yes, still had imposter syndrome, I stuck very closely to who I was because I had to. I didn’t know any other way, really.

And the reaction of people saying that this is changing them—I mean, even now, I get chills. Because I was just living my life, and I just wrote it out. And I didn’t know that it was going to have this effect. Because I just think everybody’s supposed to be vulnerable and open and honest. So I’m like, “Isn’t that how everybody is?” And people are like, “No, you are authentic.” I’m like, “Isn’t everybody authentic?”

Gibbs Léger: No.

Dyer: It’s so much effort to pretend. You know what I’m saying?

Gibbs Léger: I know.

Dyer: And I think for me also, I would get fired from a job before I would change myself. At that point, I’ll just go back and work at Target. I’m fine. You know what I mean? Like, I just can’t.

So the reaction has been—it’s just all love, you know? And I know there’s some nonlove coming, but I’m OK with that. It’s not for everybody, and that’s fine. It’ll reach who it needs to reach, and it has been. So yeah.

Gibbs Léger: That’s great. I mean, like I said, it’s a phenomenal book. Your story is so inspiring. As soon as you said—I saw it on Facebook when you were like, “I’m writing this book.” And I was like, “Oh, this is so amazing.” And I just love seeing the reaction from our former colleagues.

Dyer: Yes, it’s wonderful.

Gibbs Léger: It’s such a great, supportive community.

Dyer: Yes. Yeah. And for me too, I think with Black44, our Black colleagues—there’s not a lot of people who are writing books from a Black perspective of the Obama world. And I was very careful, as you see, that I didn’t tell their story, I told my story. You know what I mean? And I think that that resonates with people who were just like, “She’s a regular girl who had an irregular life.” And it was great. It’s been great.

Gibbs Léger: Right. Well, I wish you continued success on the book tour.

Dyer: Thank you, Daniella. Thank you.

Gibbs Léger: And thank you so much for coming on “The Tent” today.

Dyer: Thank you for having me. I love seeing you.

Gibbs Léger: Yay!

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Well, that’s all we got for this week. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, we’ve got to talk about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Seeberger: Nerd Prom!

Gibbs Léger: Yes, as they call it, “Nerd Prom.” Although I said that to a reporter once and she got really offended. She’s like, “I am not a nerd!” I was like, “Sure. OK.”

Seeberger: OK. Take a breath.

Gibbs Léger: So for those who may not know, every year, the White House Correspondents’ Association throws an annual gala. It’s actually a fundraiser. And they sponsor sponsorships and scholarships for aspiring journalists. They recognize outstanding journalists doing work, and they all gather in [Washington,] D.C., and they get all glammed up. And celebrities are invited by different outlets. And then a whole bunch of parties happen during the weekend.

Seeberger: Yes, I was invited to a party at the Swiss ambassador’s residence this past weekend, but the party didn’t start until 10:30 at night, and the only party that I’m having at that time of day—I do have a 2-year-old—the only party that’s happening in my life at that time of day is a pajama party.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, then it’s a sleep party.

Seeberger: Yes, very much. But I did stay up a little past 10:30, because I did want to hear from—every year at the dinner, a comedian is invited to give some remarks to the audience that’s convened and the president, who typically is in attendance for the special dinner. And this year it was Colin Jost.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: Of course, of “SNL” [“Saturday Night Live”] fame and “Weekend Update” co-anchor. What’d you think?

Gibbs Léger: I thought he did a good job. I know that there’s controversy because some people think the jokes fell flat, but I was laughing on my couch watching it. Also, I like Colin Jost.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: It’s a dry humor. And I get that some people, that’s not their vibe. But for me, I very much appreciate that. So, I was cackling at a lot of moments that he was having.

Seeberger: It was a riot, I thought. And you know what, I’ve just got to say, you go Scarlett Johansson. I mean, she was getting so much love from the president, gave some remarks right before Colin, Colin was shouting her out repeatedly throughout his remarks. She looked beautiful.

Gibbs Léger: She did.

Seeberger: You know, I’ve got to give team Colin some credit for that. I felt like he did a good job of meeting this political moment and social moment that the country is wrestling with, and also at the same time, not allowing that to squelch our joy.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, because some of those jokes, they hurt. They burned some people.

Seeberger: They sure did. Myself included.

Gibbs Léger: So, you know what else is happening right now?

Seeberger: Well, I don’t know what is happening, but I know what’s not happening.

Gibbs Léger: I know.

Seeberger: And that is, we are in full-blown “Bachelor” drought season.

Gibbs Léger: It’s terrible. I don’t like this.

Seeberger: No, what are we supposed to do with our lives on Monday nights?

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. And they haven’t even, like, given us a date when one of the franchises is coming back.

Seeberger: It’s killer.

Gibbs Léger: It’s not great.

Seeberger: They may be waiting for after—what we’re in full-blown moment in right now, which is of course the NBA and NHL playoffs.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, yes.

Seeberger: Do you have a big stake?

Gibbs Léger: So, I grew up outside of New York City in New Jersey.

Seeberger: You did.

Gibbs Léger: So I grew up a Knicks fan.

Seeberger: Oh boy.

Gibbs Léger: So I’m still a Knicks fan at heart. I root for the Wizards because they’re here, I live here. But like, I am a Knicks fan in my core. And let’s just say when I watched the last game, when the Knicks went from being in the lead to losing in overtime—and the fact that my husband, if you’re listening, Matthew, was rooting for Philly—

Seeberger: What?

Gibbs Léger: —because he wanted to—I think he just did it to root against me. Because I’m like, “You’re not a Philly fan. Why are you rooting for them?”

Seeberger: Haven’t Philly teams won enough in recent years?

Gibbs Léger: I’m saying!

Seeberger: Come on! Hasn’t it been long enough since the Knicks made a run at anything?

Gibbs Léger: It’s been forever. The last thing that I remember was the ‘90s when we’d only just get so close and never win.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: So like, let me have this moment. Anywho, so yes, I am following the NBA. And I have to say the games have been really exciting, all of them that I’ve been watching.

Seeberger: They have been. And I think it’s why fans for both New York and Philly have been shuttling back and forth to each other’s towns. There’s been big presences of both teams at the games, whether they’re home or away.

I have been struggling, because I’ve not been following basketball as closely, but I have been following hockey very, very closely. Speaking of New York teams, my husband’s hockey team is the New York Rangers. They were the number one team in the Eastern Conference.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Seeberger: I’m a Dallas Stars fan. They were the number one team in the Western Conference.

Gibbs Léger: Uh-oh.

Seeberger: And so, you know, we’re both—

Gibbs Léger: You’re on a collision path.

Seeberger: God willing, we can both get to the Stanley Cup and we’ll duke it out then. But for now, my struggle has also been being in the Western Conference, the Stars games aren’t on until like 9:30, 10:30 at night! I mean, the other day—I think it was Saturday—I went to bed close to midnight. I woke up, like, an hour later, and the third period hadn’t even started, much less the fact that it went to overtime—

Gibbs Léger: Oh my goodness.

Seeberger: —where they didn’t even score the winning shot until, like, nearly 17 minutes through overtime. It was past 2:30 in the morning by the time the game was resolved. Like, get out of here. I don’t care whether it is on West Coast time or whether it’s on the Eastern Coast or Central time, whatever.

Gibbs Léger: Think of the people who can’t stay up that late. Please.

Seeberger: Please. We have kids, folks. We have kids!

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. I hear you. That was my complaint during the NCAA tournament too. Some of those games starting at, like, 10 o’clock. I’m like, who’s watching this?

Seeberger: Brutal.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, listen, I wish you luck—

Seeberger: Thank you.

Gibbs Léger: —to a certain point, because I grew up a Rangers fan.

Seeberger: Oh.

Gibbs Léger: So, you know, the Rangers get in, maybe you and I got a little—

Seeberger: They have a soft spot in my heart for sure, for sure.

Gibbs Léger: OK.

Seeberger: And best of luck to your Knicks.

Gibbs Léger: Thank you. Apparently, we’re going to need it, because I don’t like the trajectory of what’s been happening over the last two games.

Seeberger: Hey, you’re still up in the series.

Gibbs Léger: I know, but momentum is a real thing, and I just—anyway, I’m going to have to have a talk to my husband, because this lack of support is not going to stand.

Seeberger: It will not.

Gibbs Léger: It will not stand. All right, folks. We’re out of here. Take care of yourselves. It’s peak allergy season in D.C., so if you suffer like me, oh my gosh, I commiserate, and Godspeed to you. And we’ll talk to you next week.

[Musical transition]

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer, Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer, Mishka Espey is our booking producer, and Muggs Leone is our digital producer. Hai Phan, Matthew Gossage, Olivia Mowry, and Tony Pandolfo are our video team. You can find us on YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Mishka Espey

Senior Manager, Media Relations

Muggs Leone

Executive Assistant

Video producers

Hai-Lam Phan

Senior Director, Creative

Matthew Gossage

Events Video Producer

Olivia Mowry

Video Producer

Toni Pandolfo

Video Producer, Production



Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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