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Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen on Their New Film ‘Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down’

Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen on Their New Film ‘Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down’

This week, Daniella speaks with directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen about their new film "Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down" and with CAP's Tobias Harris about the recent assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Part of a Series

This week, Daniella speaks with Betsy West and Julie Cohen, directors of the new documentary “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down.” They discuss their most memorable moments filming with Gabby ​as she recovered after being shot in 2011; the importance of storytelling in spurring political change; and what viewers can learn from Gabby’s fierce optimism in the face of tragedy. Daniella ​also breaks down the latest January 6 hearing and is joined by Tobias Harris, CAP senior fellow and author of The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan, who discusses the recent assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Learn more about the podcast here.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. We’ve got a great interview lined up for you today with Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the directors and filmmakers behind the brand-new documentary, “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down.” It’s an incredibly moving and timely documentary about Gabby, her long road to recovery after being shot in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, and her advocacy for gun reform.

But first, we have to get to some news.

So, as much as I don’t like talking about Republicans, we’ve got to talk about Donald Trump and his MAGA lackeys. You’d have to live under a rock to not know that the January 6 committee recently held another public hearing on Tuesday. This one was about the role that extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers played in the insurrection last year, and how they were inspired by Donald Trump’s unhinged rhetoric leading up to that day. It is quite a doozy for MAGA Republicans.

So, to recap: We learned about some wild screaming matches at the White House in late December over Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election after the Electoral College had certified Joe Biden’s win. Like, the Real Housewives don’t have anything on these guys. Now, it sounds like a joke, but I kid you not Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, and the former CEO of—yes—were snuck into the White House by a junior staffer because no one—rightfully, I might add—would give them a meeting with the president of the United States. This cast of characters probably got into a screaming match with the actual White House staff because everyone knew that overturning the election was truly a fool’s errand. At one point, Rudy was left alone in the Cabinet Room of the White House before Mark Meadows had to escort him out of the building to make sure he didn’t sneak up to Trump’s residence. At another point, Trump tried to name Sidney Powell as special counsel to quote, “investigate the fraud they’d all admitted was not there.” And this was all before they drafted an executive order to instruct the Department of Defense and a host of other federal agencies to seize voting machines across the country.

But don’t worry, it gets even more bananas. After this meeting wrapped, Trump sent out that infamous tweet at 1:42 in the morning on December 19, calling on his supporters to come to [Washington,] D.C., for January 6 protests that would be quote unquote, “wild.” We learned on Tuesday that this was a clarion call for extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, who immediately began coordinating with each other in preparation of what took place on the sixth. We also know that close Trump allies like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn were being provided protection by these groups leading up to January 6. You’ll recall if you’ve been watching these hearings that an informant from the Proud Boys told the January 6 committee that they would have killed Mike Pence had they gotten their hands on him in the Capitol that day.

During Tuesday’s hearing, we were also told that after Trump placed his final call to Mike Pence on the 6 [of January], during which Pence told Trump he would not overturn the election, Trump started adding threats against the vice president back into his speech at the Ellipse. This is even more remarkable because Pat Cipollone and the Office of Legal Counsel had already struck those lines out of his speech. Oh, and we also learned Tuesday that many of these extremists, like “Stop the Steal” rally organizer Ali Alexander, were aware that Trump had planned to send that armed mob to the Capitol days before it happened. That is a very important point.

And you don’t have to take my word for how outrageous this all is. Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager of all people, texted on January 6 that Trump’s rhetoric was responsible for the death of at least one person on Capitol Hill, and that he regretted helping get Trump into office in the first place. Okay, Brad, sure. Oh, and guess what, [Rep.] Liz Cheney [(R-WY)] told us that Trump has continued to try and intimidate witnesses. He recently called an official we have not seen in these hearings yet, which they reported to the January 6 committee, and the committee then reported that to the DOJ. Just a quick reminder, witness tampering is a crime.

Now, if all of this feels like the antics of a mob boss you never want to see anywhere close to the White House again, you’re right! The American people deserve to know the truth about Donald Trump and the MAGA extremists who clearly criminally conspired to stop the peaceful transfer of power and must be held responsible for their treasonous actions. Anything short of that would be a betrayal of our nation’s values. And let’s be clear, it will threaten the stability of our democracy in the future as well. Now, I think the committee has done an excellent job of laying out, in great detail, all of Trump’s heinous actions leading up to January 6. There’s another hearing scheduled for next week, so I hope you continue to watch this space. Our democracy depends on it.

Now, I wish I had better things to turn to, but if you’re anything like me, you were truly stunned to wake up last Friday to the news that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been assassinated at a campaign event in Japan. Now, I was just a kid when Ronald Reagan was shot and severely wounded in the ‘80s. And I remember the shock and horror of our country that we went through in the immediate days after that shooting when it was unclear whether Reagan would survive. So, I can only imagine the tremendous grief, outrage, and shock that Japan is feeling right now.

So, here to break down what this moment means both for Japan and our country’s relationship with them is Tobias Harris. Tobias is a senior fellow here at the Center for American Progress. And he literally wrote the book on Shinzo Abe, called Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan. Tobias, thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Tobias Harris: It really is my pleasure. Sadly, not under happier circumstances.

Gibbs Léger: I know. I know. So, I want to start off by asking you, you know, just how unprecedented his assassination is for Japan. I believe it’s been nearly a century since any political leader has been assassinated there and gun violence is just not a thing in that country, unlike the United States. So, can you share a little more with our listeners about how truly unforeseen this event was, and how the country and its people are coping today?

Harris: Sure. So, I mean, you’re absolutely right. I mean, it starts from the fact that violent crime, gun violence, is just exceedingly low. I mean, as a number of reports pointed out, this was the first death from gun violence in Japan this year. You know? There was one last year. So, it’s just an extremely, extremely rare thing to happen to anyone, let alone to a public figure. And of course, it’s been—60 years ago, a leader of the Socialist Party was killed, you know, during a rally, you know, and that was a, you know, I think, a shocking event at the time. But it was also a time when there was just more ambient political violence. There were clashes between left- and right-wing groups, clashes with police and protests. Abe’s grandfather, who’d been prime minister, was actually stabbed nonfatally in those kind of crazy days. I mean, it was just a very different time.

What’s most notable about now is that this came really out of nowhere, because there’s just not that kind of ambient political violence. I mean, if anything, the complaints about Japanese politics these days are that it’s too tranquil, too placid, that you don’t have—if anything, you know—that people aren’t engaged enough. And so, I mean, it’s totally out of nowhere, very unexpected. And, you know, you just don’t expect something like this to happen. You know, Japanese democracy, the thing that I always have appreciated about it—so, I worked for Japanese lawmaker a number of years ago, and I really learned to appreciate that there’s very little distance between elected officials and the people. You know, yes, they have internet campaigning now. Yes, they have TV ads. But I mean, ultimately, elections are won or lost by getting out there and talking to voters and handing out flyers and putting up posters, and, you know, standing outside train stations giving rallies, which is exactly what Abe was doing when he was shot. I mean, that is how Japanese democracy functions. And, you know, so for that trait to be exploited, you know, in such a brutal way. It was really heartbreaking.

Gibbs Léger: Well, I was just gonna ask you, you know, do you see that system now changing, in light of his assassination?

Harris: So, you know, it’s early. And, you know, I think in the day or so that followed the assassination news, the final days of a campaign for Japan’s Upper House, I think there was a little more security at events those days. I mean, the question is whether the fact that—I mean, the details of the assassination, the reason why it happened, was so unique, that, you know, it’s possible that it doesn’t lead to a broader reassessment of how Japan campaigns. I mean, I think, certainly for the time, you know, security will be tighter around VIPs. But ultimately, it’s hard to imagine that kind of accessibility that characterizes Japanese politics changing dramatically, that, you know, ultimately, they’re going to find ways to carry on, and, you know, trust in the fact that there aren’t a lot of guns around in the first place. And in fact, one of the first responses—I mean, since the assassin basically made his gun at home—they’re looking at now cracking down on access to videos that teach you how to do that kind of thing. I don’t know if that will work. I mean, [it] seems like that information is there if people want it, but yeah, it’s too early really to say how this changes Japanese society.

Gibbs Léger: So, as I mentioned earlier, you know, you literally wrote the book on Shinzo Abe, and I’ve heard you talk about how his assassination has had an unexpected emotional impact on you. So, can you talk a little bit about how you’ve been feeling on a personal level, having studied him so closely over the years?

Harris: You know, to some extent, it’s a feeling of nostalgia mixed with sadness. I mean, you’re just, you know—whatever one’s kind of personal beliefs about him or agreements or disagreements with his politics—I mean, it’s just such a horrible way for someone to die. And I mean, it’s hard not to feel, you know, shock and sadness at that. But, you know, he was such an enormous, outsized figure in Japanese politics for so long that I think everyone I know—you know, sort of the community of Japanese politics watchers—you know, I think we’re all just stunned because I think there’s a sense of: He was a fixture. You know, to be a Japanese politics watcher for a long time was, to some extent, kind of know what Abe was up to, kind of being Abe watchers and Abe thinkers, and really trying to understand what he was trying to achieve, I mean, not just when he was prime minister. Of course, when he was prime minister for almost eight years from 2012 to 2020, I mean, there was lots of thinking about what his government was doing. But for even longer than that, he has just characterized an entire era of Japanese politics. And so, I think there’s a certain bittersweet sense of kind of the passing of an era, you know, that there’s a sense that something—whatever comes next—is going to be new, is going to be different. And you know, he’s of course, going to shape what comes next. But he himself will not be there. So, there’s definitely a sense that an age is over.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, you know, my final question was going to be, you know, what you think Abe’s legacy will be and you touched on that a little bit. And, you know, if you could expand a little, you know, what does all this portend for the future of Japan? And, you know, do you see it having an impact on our relationships with the country moving forward?

Harris: Well, I think in the biggest picture—and you look at his entire political career, going back to the early 1990s—I mean, he was determined to make the Japanese state stronger, you know, particularly in national security and building a national security establishment in a way that Japan did not have in the first decades after World War II. I mean, in part because the U.S. occupation imposed a number of constraints on Japan, and he wanted to undo those constraints. And for better or worse, he made enormous progress on that front. In Japan, the Japanese prime minister is a stronger figure than really at any point during the Cold War, has powers available, crisis response powers, policy formation powers. I mean, all of that has changed. And he wasn’t the only person pushing for that. But he did, probably, more than any single individual to introduce the reforms that made that made that possible, and then show how those powers could be used.

And so, Japan, in a number of ways, is more capable and is a more capable ally of the United States. And I think, you know, we’ve seen the last several administrations really look to Japan as a country that is now capable of playing more of a role and is expected to play more of a role. I mean, there’s no better illustration than during the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine where, you know, I think there was there was real—I don’t want to say pressure—but just, I think, you know, the U.S. government, I think other governments were looking to Japan and wanted to see that Japan was also going to participate in a sanctions regime. Japan was also going to find ways of supporting Ukraine. And Japan has stepped up in ways that, you know, has met those expectations. And certainly, in comparison to 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and Japan was almost nowhere to be seen, it’s a big sign of how much Japan’s role in the world has changed, and how it has now stepped up as a partner of the United States. And I expect that’s going to continue under Abe’s successors.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Tobias, I want to thank you for all of the work that you’ve been doing over the past couple of days. And thank you so much for taking time out to talk to us on “The Tent” today.

Harris: It really is my pleasure, thank you.

Gibbs Léger: To our listeners, if there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod. And please let us know what you think of the show. You can rate and review us wherever you’re streaming from, and we really appreciate your feedback. Stick around for our interview with Julie Cohen and Betsy West in just a beat.

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Betsy West is a video journalist and filmmaker with three decades of experience in news and documentaries. As a longtime producer and executive at ABC News, she received 21 Emmy Awards and two DuPont Columbia Awards. She is also the Fred W. Friendly professor of professional practice and media society emeritus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Julie Cohen is a producer, director, and head of BetterThanFiction, a production company that makes documentaries, television programming, and digital content. Her films have screened at more than 80 festivals, and she has won three New York Emmy awards since 2012. She’s also a former longtime NBC News staff producer and continues to consult for NBC. Together they’ve made four documentary films: “RBG,” “My Name is Pauli Murray,” “Julia,” and their new documentary, “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down.”

Betsy and Julie, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Betsy West: Thank you, Daniella.

Julie Cohen: Great to be here.

Gibbs Léger: Okay, first of all, congratulations on your new documentary. It is an incredible piece of storytelling and very inspiring, especially in this moment of soaring gun violence, which we will get to in just a moment. I wanted to start by talking a little bit about how you decided to take on this project. How were you connected with Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly? And did you have any concerns about telling Gabby’s story when you first came across this opportunity?

West: Yeah, this is Betsy. We were connected by a producer named Lisa Erspamer who had met Gabby and Mark a few years ago and had always thought that Gabby’s story would make an incredible documentary. In early 2020, they indicated to her that they’d be willing to consider the idea. And so, she reached out to us, kind of out of the blue, and we set up a Zoom call at the beginning. And I guess in April, really the beginning of the pandemic, and you know, our first concern was: Okay, how is this going to work on Zoom, talking to someone who has aphasia and has problems communicating? And those fears were allayed very quickly in the conversation, because Gabby is just such an extraordinary communicator. And we were quickly laughing and talking and then getting a tour of their home in Tucson. They sort of took along the iPad and walking around the house and that tour wounded up by the freezer, that when they opened the door and revealed the Tupperware box, inside of which they have stored the pretty substantial chunk of Gabby’s skull that was taken off after the shooting, you know, to kind of alleviate so the swelling wouldn’t kill her, basically.

Cohen: Yeah, it’s unusual to start a conversation with someone with them showing you a big chunk of their removed skull. But let’s just say it got our attention, and, you know, not just—there was a lot about that, that really, you know, kind of took us aback but also really intrigued us. I mean, first of all, just kind of on a human science level, to be talking to this incredibly lively, communicative, thoughtful person, and then see the size of her skull that’s missing, like, really understand the enormity of what happened to her was impressive, I would say; but more like the sort of the dark humor involved in, like, thinking, like, in an early conversation with someone that you’re going to show them that you keep your skull in a freezer; and, as they as they like to joke, right between the sliced mangoes and the frozen empanadas. Like, we’re like, “Okay, these people are interesting.” And it sort of showed an unexpected attitude towards the shocking event that Gabby and her husband—because obviously, your whole family goes through something like this, when you when you go through it yourself—to show, like, this sort of, not just even the ease and acceptance, but even the humor with which they address the fact that she’s missing that much of her skull you’re like, “Wow, these people are interesting.”

Gibbs Léger: I can only imagine what it was like to be on that walkthrough and be like, “Wait, what am I looking at?” So, you know, throughout the documentary, you use footage of Gabby’s recovery in the days immediately following the shooting that was recorded by Mark and other family members. And it’s really impactful to see her recovery sort of in real time. So, how did you decide which parts of this footage to use? And, you know, talk to us about, like, the process of making those decisions.

West: Mark Kelly told us during that call that he had filmed a lot of Gabby’s recovery, and that he would help us. He would track down where it was all stored and would get it to us. So, we were looking at it as it came in bit by bit and were just kind of blown away by the process of Gabby coming back from this near-death experience. And, you know, it was just so fascinating to see how she progressed and how the speech pathologists in particular were helping her to just even to formulate—you know, at first it’s like a gesture. Can you hold up your hand and give me five? And then it evolves to her slowly regaining her speech, so that, you know, the moment when she says, “My name is Gabby,” I mean, that’s just a huge accomplishment at the very beginning.

So, it really is the baseline for how devastating this injury was, and then you see the techniques that the therapists use, with flashcards and repetition, and then the use of music. A lot of the times they’re singing, “My name is Gabby,” and using music because as we learned and you learn in the film, music plays a unique role in a person’s brain. It’s not just located in the language center. Music actually lives all over your brain. So that gives you an opportunity, when there’s been the kind of severe damage that Gabby suffered, to access other parts of the brain where the music and the lyrics are. So that became kind of key to Gabby’s recovery. So, we just found the material fascinating, you know, with the help of our editor [we] brought it down to the pieces so that you see, day by day, the progress.

Gibbs Léger: That’s really remarkable. And, you know, obviously a big part of the documentary is her journey from a congresswoman to an incredible advocate for gun reform. And, you know, she’s really able to share her experiences in a way that makes people understand the impact that gun violence can have. You know, there’s a great example in there of her testimony to Congress around the time of Manchin-Toomey, the background checks bill. I remember that very vividly, you know. But beyond her personal story, you know, what do you think it is that makes her such an effective advocate for gun reform?

West: Yeah, well, you know, Gabby’s an incredible human being, but she’s also a symbol. Let’s face it. She’s a symbol of what a huge, devastating loss gun violence can be. Family members and often parents of children, when children are killed in a mass shooting in a school, also take on that role— whether they want it or not sometimes—of being a symbol of gun violence. The unique situation in Gabby’s story is her decision, you know, just playing a very active role. This happened to her. There is so much work for her to do in her day-to-day recovery. Like, even still now, 11 1/2 years later, she’s fighting to continue the process of recovery every single day with so much verve and energy, and no one would hold it against her if she decided, like, “That’s where I’m gonna put all my energy. I’m just going to focus on my own recovery.” For goodness’ sakes, that’s enough.

But Gabby had a different reaction, you know. She did spend the first couple years very aggressively working, you know, pretty exclusively on her recovery. And then the Sandy Hook tragedy happens in, you know, less than two years after Gabby’s shot. And she and her husband recalled the moment that they first had a conversation about that. Mark was actually on an overseas trip and called her to check in and see how she’s feeling, you know, knowing that she will have heard about this, you know, horrifying and retraumatizing mass shooting that’s happened. And Gabby had a one-word answer to that, which was just “Enough.” And they both kind of understood, like, “I’m going to actually do something. I’m going to take the attention that I get on a daily basis”—because Gabby does get a lot of attention for surviving the Tucson massacre—”and I’m going to try to put that to good use and draw attention to the quest to make some changes.” Manchin-Toomey, as you mentioned, going back to 2013, and the ongoing attempts, finally reaching one—a modest but significant legislation that passed a couple of weeks ago—you know, to try to push to get something to happen, because Gabby’s right. Enough is enough.

Cohen: You know, Gabby, I think realized also that she has a unique position because, you know, not only is she a survivor of gun violence, but she also has real political instincts. And she realized that, you know, the way to make some sort of progress is to reach out to people who are gun owners like herself, and even to NRA members. And that has been a focus of the Giffords organization. They’re not saying nobody can have guns. They’re not against guns. They’re against gun violence, and they try to work on legislation that can be supported by a large swath of the U.S. population. And in fact, you know, many of the things that they advocate are supported by the general population. It’s just very difficult to get them through Congress. The other thing she’s done strategically is to go state by state and to lobby for bills in various legislatures, and they’ve had quite a bit of success with that over the years.

Gibbs Léger: Now, a lot of this material in the film is unfortunately extremely timely. You know, so far this year, the United States has seen more than 300 mass shootings, with the latest happening in Highland Park, [Illinois]; Uvalde, [Texas]; Buffalo, [New York]; and elsewhere. Did recent, you know, gun violence incidents from this year kind of play into how you structured or told the story at all?

Cohen: You know, truthfully, the film was finished before the episodes that you described, although we did add a little part at the end acknowledging both some of the recent episodes and the legislation that was then prompted to move forward as a result of them. You know, unfortunately Daniella, there is not a time in the past 11 1/2 years since Gabby was shot where this subject matter would not be extremely, painfully relevant. The epidemic of gun violence in our country—not only mass shootings, like the ones that we’ve mentioned, and the ones where Gabby herself was so severely injured—but also, you know, the day-to-day, all-too-frequent gun violence, both homicides and suicides, totaling up. You know, we show in the film an installation that the Giffords organization created, like flowers placed on the [National] Mall in Washington to represent last year—when we filmed—the 40,000 annual victims of gun violence. They did the installation again this year at 45,000.

Gibbs Léger: Wow, yeah, that’s such a sobering statistic. So, having recently gone through this process and completed the film, I wonder if you can take away any lessons or have any lessons to share with us and our listeners about how we can share stories of gun violence responsibly, compassionately, but in a way that motivates action, because I do think that there are a lot of people who are worried about—exploiting might not be the right word, but—exploiting someone’s pain for a greater good of ending gun violence. But you know, they might be not sure exactly how to traverse this topic.

West: Yeah, I mean, I think that that’s what makes Gabby’s story so powerful, because she is putting herself out there. I mean, when we interviewed President [Barack] Obama, he talked about her courage to show herself as a living, breathing example of the consequences of gun violence. Now, certainly, not everybody wants to do that. And certainly, you know, parents who’ve lost children, it’s a very painful choice. I mean, do you want to dedicate your life to trying to make some sort of sense out of a personal tragedy? Or is this something you want to deal with? I mean, certainly, as journalists, we’re very conscious of that. You know, Gabby, as we learned at the very beginning, has dealt with this horrible tragedy that happened to her and she seems to get a lot of sustenance about connecting with people about it. And, I think, as she says, “Be a leader; speak to people; get your message out there; and don’t get discouraged.” I mean, Gabby is one of the most optimistic people we’ve ever met. She’s optimistic personally. She keeps on trying to get herself better, to improve her language. And she’s optimistic politically. You know, the recent bill that passed is a result of a lot of the activism that she and others have done. But her attitude is it’s not enough. We have to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep going.

Gibbs Léger: So, my last question is, you know, what do you hope viewers take away from this documentary overall?

Cohen: We want people to come out of the movie theaters where this film is going to be showing thinking about the gun violence issue, thinking about ways that it can be addressed, even in periods where, you know, there have been many who said, “Absolutely impossible, you’re not gonna get any bipartisan action on anything, let alone a wedge issue like the gun issue.” But I think we actually want people to come away with a broader message and feeling which is something Gabby also exemplifies: Just complete, ebullient raising up—even being thrown one of the worst possible circumstances a human being could possibly imagine—and yet, coming through it and finding meaning in life and finding, like, joy and laughter and so on. Like, that’s such a fantastic way to live and we admire Gabby for it, and it makes us feel good to see who she is now. And we want the viewers to have that same feeling.

West: It’s a very serious topic but it is not a depressing story, actually. The way Gabby approaches her life and this whole issue and—as some people have said, you know, she’s ‘Gabbifying’—you just can’t help but admire her, root with her, and smile along with her and maybe sing

Cohen: And sing!

West: And sing a little bit, too.

Gibbs Léger: Well, you know, I think that is a great message for these times that we live in. When people feel overwhelmed, that there is someone like Gabby Giffords that they can look to and draw inspiration from. Everything that she’s been through, just being such a beacon and a light of hope for this cause. Betsy, Julie, I want to thank you so much for joining me on “The Tent.”

West: Thank you.

Cohen: Great to be here.

Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Please continue to take care of yourselves. Mask up, if you’re in an area that’s got a lot of COVID going around, because there’s a lot of COVID going around. I have two things I want to talk about. First, all those really cool space photos from the Webb telescope. It’s awesome. If you’re the kind of person who, like, kind of gets freaked out by the thought of being surrounded by lots of things that you don’t understand in the world and space, maybe don’t, like, stare at them forever, but they’re very pretty and it’s very cool and yay science.

But what I really want to talk about is, you know, I have to talk about the new season of “The Bachelorette.” So, I believe a couple of months ago, when they announced that there were going to be two bachelorettes, I said something to the effect of, “I don’t understand how this is going to work.” Well, after watching the finale—I mean, not the finale, the premiere—I understand how this is going to work, in that it’s not, and that it’s going to be chaos. And that this is what the producers wanted. Because I was like, there’s no way that they’re going to just have them compete, like, for the same men, because that’s going to be messy and they’re friends. And like, why would you do that? Oh, because it’s chaos. And it’s ratings. And these people don’t care. It’s going to be so incredibly messy. Of course, I’m going to watch the entire thing, because I love mess, and I love reality TV. But I’m kind of, like, annoyed at the producers here because they are just setting them up to be heartbroken. But again, that makes for good television. So, why do I expect anything different? I thought—because you have two bachelorettes now—I thought that the men were being kind of timid. And I get it, because you’re there to find love, to find my person. But if there are two people? Like, I don’t know. Do you, like, go really hard for one person? Or do you just kind of sit back and see what happens? But when you’re, like, all these other guys there, you can’t really do that. So I say all that to say, it’s gonna be a mess. I’m here for it. I will be talking about it throughout the season because that is what I do. It is my prerogative to do so. So anyway. Oh, spoiler alert. There was no rose ceremony, which I actually thought was really a great thing that they did. Makes a lot of sense to me. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Again, continue to take care of yourselves. We will talk to you next week. Go and look at some space photos. Take care.

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Legér. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Tricia Woodcome is our booking producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, 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


Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Tricia Woodcome

Former Senior Media Manager

Sam Signorelli

Policy and Outreach Associate, Government Affairs

Tobias Harris

Former Senior Fellow

Rachel Lim




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