Center for American Progress Action

Rob Wilcox on the Gun Safety Movement 25 Years After Columbine

Rob Wilcox on the Gun Safety Movement 25 Years After Columbine

Rob Wilcox, deputy director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, joins the show to discuss the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

Part of a Series

Rob Wilcox, deputy director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, joins the show to discuss the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, recent wins for the gun violence prevention movement, and how to honor the victims and survivors of mass shootings. Daniella and Colin also talk about what Donald Trump’s economic proposals would cost middle-class Americans, as well as MAGA chaos in the House following Iran’s recent attack on Israel.


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. Daniella, is it summer yet already?

Gibbs Léger: I don’t think so because I’m pretty sure it’s still allergy season right now.

Seeberger: Things are a’bloomin.

Gibbs Léger: Things are blooming. They’re flying in the air. The cars are covered in green. My child and I are suffering. It’s misery right now.

Seeberger: We’ve also had some blooming in our house—blooming eye infections and whatnot. So it has been batten down the hatches, like, hang on, because you don’t know where it’s going to go. But I am happy to be here this week because I hear you had a really great conversation.

Gibbs Léger: I did. I had a great opportunity to speak with Rob Wilcox, who is the deputy director of the White House’s new Office of Gun Violence Prevention. We talked about the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, recent wins for the gun violence prevention movement—which was awesome—and how to honor gun violence victims and survivors by fighting for lifesaving policies.

Seeberger: A critical conversation to be sure. But first, we’ve got to get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: We do, Colin, and I’ve got some math for you today.

Seeberger: Yeah, my favorite.

Gibbs Léger: So we’ve talked before about Donald Trump’s extreme economic proposals.

Seeberger: We have.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, things like cutting taxes for the wealthy and repealing the Affordable Care Act.

But new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund reveals just how disastrous these policies would be for middle-class Americans. Trump’s latest tax proposal, which would extend portions of his 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, combined with his plan to repeal the ACA, would give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest households.

And we’re talking about an average of $400,000 for the top 0.1 percent of Americans.

Seeberger: That’s like, here, go buy a house—

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, exactly.

Seeberger: —every year.

Gibbs Léger: The multimillionaires and the richest 1,500 households in the U.S. would receive about—wait for it—$3.5 million in tax cuts. Each. Each, Colin.

Seeberger: My jaw is on the table.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Seeberger: Please give me a moment.

Gibbs Léger: Because, you know, they’re so financially burdened. Now, as if that weren’t shocking enough, let’s talk about how he plans to pay for it. As we’ve mentioned before, his blanket 10 percent tariff proposal would effectively increase taxes on the typical household by $1,500 per year. Is the math mathing for you, Colin?

Seeberger: Not quite. Not quite.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. Basically, Trump plans to make low- and middle-income families pay the price for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest families. In addition to the tariff-related price increases, he also wants to force 45 million Americans who currently have health insurance coverage through the ACA to pay for private coverage again without the financial assistance guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, driving up their health care costs.

So it’s clear who Donald Trump is making policy for: It’s for those top 0.1 percenters, not hardworking middle-class Americans.

Seeberger: One hundred percent. But fortunately, the Biden administration is currently going in the exact opposite direction. They’re making real strides for everyday Americans by making sure multimillionaires pay their fair share, stop letting the wealthy tax cheats continue to not actually meet their tax bills.

They’ve already also cut costs for low- and middle-income families in a number of ways. They’ve, for instance, successfully curbed junk fees for things like overdraft fees. So banks can’t make more money off of you just for having less.

Gibbs Léger: Yay.

Seeberger: They’ve also, of course, passed things like the Inflation Reduction Act, which instituted a $35 a month cap on insulin costs.

They are putting into effect a $2,000 annual out-of-pocket limit on drug spending. They have increased the financial assistance for people to purchase health insurance, like you were talking about, so that way, the cost of health insurance is lower every year. And they’ve also done things like reform the student loan system, so that way folks are able to take advantage of President [Joe] Biden’s SAVE plan to save about $1,400 a year on their student loan repayment.

And they’re not done, of course. This is just the early actions that President Biden has been able to get across the finish line. And his 2025 budget actually proposes to build on all of this success. It would extend tax cuts for low- and middle-income families that are set to expire, as well as continue the enhanced financial assistance to purchase health insurance. It would also restore the wildly popular and super successful child tax credit that Republicans in Congress let expire. And it would permanently shore up Medicare’s financing by making sure that the wealthy and large corporations are actually paying more of their fair share.

We could do all of these things by just making sure that we have a little bit more fairness in the tax system. That’s a stark, stark contrast with what Donald Trump is proposing and MAGA Republicans are pushing and what President Biden has already begun to deliver on—things that bring down costs for low- and middle-income Americans versus the extreme MAGA proposals that make low- and middle-income families pony up even more for things like gas, groceries, clothing—all while ripping away health care from tens of millions of Americans.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, it is stark indeed. Now, we’ve got to turn to some concerning news that’s been dominating the headlines. Over the weekend, Iran launched a direct attack on Israel, including over 300 drones and missiles that killed 13 people. They claim this attack was in response to an earlier Israeli attack on an Iranian Consulate in Syria.

But let’s be clear: No matter the justification, Iran’s actions were clearly a malicious attempt to provoke Israel and stoke further conflict. The U.S. and international partners have strongly condemned the attack, and they’re right to do so. Iranian aggression has destabilized the Middle East, making the region less safe for the millions of people who live there.

The Biden administration helped lead the international response condemning this move by the Iranians. And during the course of the attack, U.S. support helped the Israelis intercept 99 percent of the drones and missiles that Iran launched. The Israelis have pledged to respond, but we should be clear: Any further escalation of this conflict from the Iranians or Israelis cannot be tolerated.

Look, two things can be true at once. One, Iran is no friend of the Palestinians, and their attack on Sunday will draw attention away from the plight of those suffering in Gaza. And two, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has contributed to instability in the region, and they must exercise more restraint in this conflict.

It’s also not lost on me that at this moment when we’re so desperately in need of strong U.S. foreign policy leadership, our House of Representatives is literally incapable of action thanks to the antics of MAGA extremists.

Seeberger: You’re totally right, Daniella. I mean, it’s almost like we have our own national security crisis going on because when these big moments happen, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is just completely consumed in their own internal conflict. We’ve seen MAGA Republicans in the House stall on sending critical aid to our allies in Ukraine, Israel, and elsewhere for over six months now.

Even though the Senate passed a national security supplemental package over two months ago in February, we’ve still not seen the House of Representatives take any sort of action on this. We’re hearing that MAGA Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is expected to finally bring a vote this week on additional security assistance.

Gibbs Léger: Finally.

Seeberger: But instead of bringing forward the Senate package that passed 70-29—overwhelming bipartisan consensus—he’s instead opting to try to break it up into separate pieces. With the House voting separately on pieces like Ukraine aid and Israel aid, I have no doubt that extremists are going to try to seize the opportunity to introduce their own politicized amendments and continue to try to weaponize Ukraine aid in particular. They’re really committed to doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding, it seems.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), in particular, is especially committed to that. Her former colleague in the House, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO)—he started calling her recently “Moscow Marjorie,” which I think is honestly perfect.

Gibbs Léger: It really is. Kudos to Ken Buck.

Seeberger: Truly, truly. So Moscow Marjorie is not happy with Speaker Johnson’s plan. And she’s so upset about the Ukraine aid piece making its way to the floor and potentially to President Biden’s desk that a number of MAGA Republicans led by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congressman Tom Massie (R-KY), and others are threatening to try to kick Mike Johnson out of the speakership—just like they did a few months back to [then-Rep.] Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

The whole situation is just so bonkers. Like, the U.S. is just completely paralyzed on issues of, again, critical national security priorities and the broader stability of the whole world, all because MAGA extremists want to try to score cheap political points. We can’t even address the pressing problems unfolding right now in Iran and Israel because far-right lawmakers in our own country are too caught up in their own dysfunction. They’re just once again proving that they’re completely unfit to govern.

Gibbs Léger: You are absolutely right. I know in the past we’ve called certain congresses the “do-nothing Congress.” This literally is the do-nothing Congress.

Seeberger: Of do-nothing congresses.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly.

Seeberger: Yes.

Gibbs Léger: I mean, they refuse to do the work that we need them to do.

Seeberger: You’re totally right. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. If there’s anything else 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 Rob Wilcox in just a beat.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Rob Wilcox is deputy director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. He previously served in a number of senior roles at Everytown for Gun Safety, and before that, worked as an attorney at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Rob has dedicated his life’s work to his cousin, Laura, who was shot and killed at 19 years old.

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

Rob Wilcox: Thank you so much for having me.

Gibbs Léger: So this week marks 25 years since the mass shooting at Columbine High School, which really was a first-of-its-kind tragedy. Since then, we’ve unfortunately seen many, many more mass shootings in schools and other public places.

And we’re also taping on the 14th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. And there are too many other mass shooting anniversaries to name over the next few weeks. What has changed in the last 25 years, and what is the state of play of the gun violence epidemic in comparison to what it was back in 1999, when the Columbine shooting happened?

Wilcox: The first thing to say is what hasn’t changed is the heartbreak that those families have felt. Doesn’t matter if it’s two years or 25. Nothing changes when you’ve lost a child, a friend, a sibling, or when you’ve been shot and injured. And my phone is filled with the contact information of folks who have lost someone or were shot and injured themselves.

And what I think has changed the most in 25 years is that the gun safety movement has become stronger than it’s ever been. And that doesn’t mean that the heartbreak is over. We are still seeing tens of thousands of Americans be shot and killed, shot and injured every single year. The president himself, as he was taking office, called this a public health crisis—the first president ever to call it such a thing.

And so, where do I think we are? I think we’re at a place where we are making monumental change that is saving lives. But I also know that it’s taken far too long. It’s really hard just to say that and not kind of ask yourself, is that really happening? Because I think so many of us remember after those moments when nothing changed.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Wilcox: The shooting in Columbine led to a bipartisan effort in the Senate to close the gun show loophole. That’s the loophole that allowed those killers to get armed. And it got 50 votes. It was led by [then-Sens.] John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT). [Then-Vice President] Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote, and it failed in the House. And you kind of ask yourself, well, if that wasn’t going to change anything, what will? And not only that, a couple years later—that was very soon after my cousin was shot and killed—I came to D.C. for the first time to work on this issue. And I remember The Washington Post headline like it was yesterday, where the gun lobby claimed that with the election of George W. Bush, they’d work out of the West Wing. So there was low points, right, where we didn’t see progress, and where we in fact saw harmful things be done. And then after that shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, yet again, we saw a bipartisan effort to try to do something. And there was 50 Democratic votes in the Senate and only four Republicans.

So yet again, we failed. And I think there was a moment there, where there was two paths. One was for people to say, “Will anything ever change? Will my kids ever be safe in school? Maybe my only solution is to give them a clear backpack and to arm every teacher that I can think of.” And for others, it was, “Let’s get to work.”

And we saw survivors band together with advocates and activists. We saw survivors of not just mass shootings, but community violence, domestic violence, firearm suicide come together. And then over the past 10 years, what we’ve seen is success. Success in changing policy. And so after the terrible shooting in Uvalde that you mentioned, we had another Senate vote.

And this time there was still only 50 Democratic votes. But instead of four Republicans, there was 15. And the year after that, instead of the gun lobby working out of the West Wing, we had Joe Biden establish the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention led by survivors of gun violence for stopping gun violence.

Gibbs Léger: You were a key adviser to Congress during the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022, which was the most significant gun safety legislation in 30 years—astonishing, given what we’ve just discussed. So, what impacts have the legislation had so far, you know, how do we build on its successes to achieve more federal action on gun violence prevention?

Wilcox: Look, the beauty of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was that unlike prior attempts, like the ones I mentioned—which were about a single policy and maybe preventing a single type of gun violence, because this movement has grown to see all forms of gun violence and the need to address them—what we saw was a bill that didn’t just expand background checks, which the Biden-Harris administration just announced last week.

It didn’t just address domestic abusers who get access to guns by addressing the dating partner loophole. It didn’t just address how to get guns out of the hands of people in crisis by using red flag or extreme risk protection order laws, which give you a process—which literally could have saved my cousin’s life.

But it also invested $15 billion into mental health—the largest investment in youth mental health in history, to hire and train 14,000 new school-based mental health workers, $250 million for community violence intervention. So that bill carries the promise of a nation of survivors, because it’s addressing all forms of gun violence. And our first job the president gave us with this office was to maximize the benefit.

And so for the past six months, we have been working to put in place every single piece of that law to make sure we are saving as many lives as possible. And that’s how we get to the next bill, right? We prove the promise of that policy by putting it in place and saving lives in a responsible way—following the law and enforcing the law.

And so that’s how I think we get to that next moment, is we show that when you give these tools to go after gun traffickers, and to address domestic violence, and to enhance our background checks—well, we can make real progress that doesn’t impact the rights of law-abiding citizens but will keep our communities safe.

Gibbs Léger: So we know that commonsense gun safety measures help save lives, and some states have been implementing them with great success. In Connecticut, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012, the state passed a robust set of gun reform laws. And in 2020, Connecticut had one of the lowest gun death rates in America.

Other states, like Minnesota and Michigan, have recently expanded background checks, for example, and other reforms. But some states are moving in the opposite direction, proposing laws that will lead to more guns in schools—like Tennessee, which just passed a bill to arm teachers without notifying parents.

What dangers do these types of laws pose, especially compared to evidence-based solutions being implemented elsewhere?

Wilcox: I mean, the danger is that they’re not going to make our schools any safer, and in fact, they’re going to introduce new risks. I think we’ve got to follow the evidence. And what the evidence shows us is that strong gun safety laws save lives.

And a bunch of folks have looked at every single state and compared their gun violence rates to the gun safety laws they have in place—to the investments they’re making in community-based strategies and interventions. And the chart is as predictable as the sun will rise—that the states with these stronger laws that make real investments, they see less gun violence.

And so the third charge the president gave us was actually to build better state and local partnerships. And so last December, with the vice president, we convened state legislators from across the country. It was the largest convening of state legislators this administration.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, wow.

Wilcox: And we had this incredible conversation. And we released the Safer States Agenda, which puts policies in six buckets that are evidence-informed.

First is let’s have structure. Let’s put in place offices of gun violence prevention at every level of government to coordinate and implement. Let’s invest in proven, effective solutions like credible messengers, hospital-based violence intervention, suicide support, crime gun intelligence. Let’s, third, make sure that we are supporting survivors. Let’s make sure that folks have access to resources. Because too often, people have been locked out, and it’s been inequitable. We’re trying to make a change federally, but we need our states to follow suit.

And the three other categories get directly to firearms, right? Safe and responsible firearm storage in the home. Good, strong background checks and taking on the gun industry. We know those are the solutions that work. And I’m proud to tell you that we’ve seen states take action across the country to implement that agenda. But some states, like you said, have gone in the wrong direction. And the truth is, the sad truth, is that’s not going to do anything to protect those kids, or those schools, or keep those communities safe.

And I think that that often can be a problem, is sometimes you do the things that might sound good, or feel good, or maybe align with what you’d rather see. It’s not the tough choice; it’s the easy one. But that’s not what’s actually going to keep folks safe.

When it comes to schools, it’s really simple, actually. Almost every individual who’s targeted a school for violence has shown some kind of warning sign, has told someone. Three out of 4 get the gun from the home. So it’s about youth mental health, right? It’s about intervening when there’s signs of crisis. It’s investing real dollars into school-based strategies and solutions that create those mechanisms where people can say something, and we can get kids help. And it’s about cutting off access to guns in the home, right? If any state really wants to keep schools safe from gun violence, what they would say is responsible gun ownership means keeping that gun out of the hands of a young person.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Wilcox: Because those are literally the guns that are killing our kids, are the ones that we buy to protect ourselves.

Gibbs Léger: Wow. That is quite a sentence right there. You talked about the gun show loophole, that the Biden administration just announced big plans to close it and expand background checks nationwide. Can you talk about how it’s planning to do this and what this will mean for public safety?

Wilcox: This is huge. And this is an implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. That law made a change in who has to become a licensed gun dealer. And by implementing that change, we are making the largest expansion of background checks since 1993, when the Brady Bill passed. We’re estimating that this is going to cover 20,000 individuals who are selling guns at gun shows and online at flea markets without getting a license, without doing a background check.

Why is that important? It’s important because we’ve seen individuals that fail background checks buy guns through these loopholes.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Wilcox: It happened in Columbine, as Tom Mauser has spoken about. It happened in Midland and Odessa, Texas, where an individual failed a background check when he went to a sporting goods store, bought one from a stranger he met online, killed a number of people. And that sale never should have happened, right? It should have been blocked yet again. But it’s not just those incidents. When we took a look at gun-trafficking investigations, the No. 1 gun-trafficking channel for guns that are moving into our communities are unlicensed dealers.

Gibbs Léger: Wow.

Wilcox: Over half of the guns involved in ATF’s [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’] investigations started with an unlicensed dealer. So our job is to go upstream, right? It’s not just who ends up with a gun. It’s how did it get there. And we have a new gun trafficking law that gets at those who are profiting off bringing guns into our communities. And we’re going to the source, right? These unlicensed dealers. And so this new regulation implementing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a game changer. And it’s going to save a lot of lives by actually doing a thing that 90 percent of Americans think we should, which is run background checks on gun sales.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Wilcox: I think the vice president—I love the way she says it. It’s like, if you’re selling a gun to a stranger, you just might want to know if they have a dangerous mental health history, if they have a felony, if they’re a domestic abuser. You just might want to know these things. And just by looking at someone, you won’t.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, very much common sense. You’ve been personally impacted by gun violence, as we’ve talked about, as have many in the gun safety movement. And this week, you joined our colleagues at the Center for American Progress for a film screening that included stories of Columbine survivors, victims, and their families.

So from your perspective, how can we center and honor those stories as we go about fighting for change on this issue? And how do we make sure that the people who have been impacted by gun violence the most are not forgotten?

Wilcox: Everyone’s survival journey is different, but those who want to share and contribute, we have to give them space. And I really admire the space that the Center for American Progress has created so that survivors can share their experience of something that happened so many years ago. But if you talk to any of those families, they still carry those scars today. And so I think we just have to be so intentional about focusing on survivors.

But you can’t ask a survivor of one type of gun violence to necessarily represent all survivors. And we have to create spaces where those who are impacted have that opportunity. We know that gun violence predominantly affects young Black men in our cities, and so we need those survivors. We need the mothers, we need the young men to be centered as well.

And then, in one way, that’s why we focused on community violence intervention, right? Community-based solutions that are about intervening before there’s violence—not with necessarily a law enforcement approach, that’s complementary—but with real evidence-based programming that happens at the hospital, that happens with credible messengers who interrupt, with cognitive behavioral therapy.

And so I think that’s my note of caution, is—we need to send our survivors, yes, but we have to be thoughtful about making sure that we are inclusive of all survivors, and that if we’re talking about a particular type of gun violence, that we’re making sure that we’re listening to survivors who experience that type of gun violence.

I know from my personal experience, my aunt and uncle still carry those scars, and that shooting happened in 2001. I know that they made it their life’s work to try to make change in California, and they helped pass 70 laws. And I promised them that I’d get a federal law passed.

And I couldn’t believe when Joe Biden signed it into law, but it’s because of this movement of people that have come together to say, “Not one more,” and, “We have to do something.” And it’s honestly because of leaders like Joe Biden, who’s never stopped taking on the gun lobby, who’s never stopped fighting for survivors, who really understands what it means to turn pain into purpose.

And because of that leadership and because of the survivor community and advocates calling for change, we finally are starting to see it. And it’s showing up in real ways. In 2023, we saw an 11 percent reduction in homicides. It was one of the steepest declines in history. And new data that just came out today showed that in 2024, we’re seeing a 20 percent drop.

Gibbs Léger: Wow.

Wilcox: These are significant changes that save lives. And it’s because of the solutions that we’ve started to put in place with investing in people and trying to address access to illegal guns and that flow that we talked about. And so at the end of the day, I think what we need is not to abandon these strategies or not to let them languish, but we have to double down and accelerate. We have to keep investing. We have to keep going upstream. And with that, we’re going to keep seeing this progress. But kind of where we started—that doesn’t heal your scars fully. And the spike in gun violence we saw has left far too many empty seats and far too many mothers in tears. And so we have to also recognize that trauma.

As we seek to prevent, how do we heal people? How do we actually help individuals, families, and communities heal, especially those that disproportionately suffer gun violence in our country and see it on a regular basis? Because that trauma can last for a generation, if not more. And so we both have to prevent and keep working on these strategies while also investing in healing.

Gibbs Léger: Rob, I want to thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.” Not just for being here, but for channeling your pain and your family’s pain and suffering into your life’s work—and for all the work that you do for the people who don’t have a voice at the table. I know this work can be really hard, especially when it hits so personally. So I deeply want to thank you so much.

Wilcox: Thank you for that. And thank you for these questions and this opportunity to talk about some of these incredible people that I’ve met, but also some of the work that we’ve done but still have left to do.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, we have a lot to talk about real quick.

Seeberger: So much to talk about.

Gibbs Léger: So much. OK. First, let’s start with “Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard” and the news that our friend of the pod, Preston Mitchum, is engaged!

Seeberger: Yay! We love a love story on “The Tent.”

Gibbs Léger: We do. We love love. He and his fiancé now got engaged on their trip in Spain. Exclusive to People magazine. Hello!

Seeberger: Of course.

Gibbs Léger: Like, naturally.

Seeberger: Yes.

Gibbs Léger: Really happy for Preston and just cannot wait. If you’re not watching this season, y’all—it’s so good.

Seeberger: It’s so good.

Gibbs Léger: It’s so good.

Seeberger: I even started watching. I’ve got very, very limited time, but Preston, just for you, I had to tune in.

Gibbs Léger: In perhaps less happy news about love?

Seeberger: Yeah, a love story that unfortunately seems not to have panned out well.

Gibbs Léger: Not at all.

Seeberger: Yeah, we got some news last week that “Golden Bachelor” Gerry and his, I guess, now-soon-to-be ex-wife, Theresa, are splitting.

Gibbs Léger: After three months.

Seeberger: Three.

Gibbs Léger: Three.

Seeberger: Uno, dos, tres.

Gibbs Léger: One, two, three.

Seeberger: Yes. You know, honestly, I feel like, look, there are a lot of seniors out there who maybe are widowed or divorced, looking for new love, right, who are—like, they go on a dating website and they get scammed, right?

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Seeberger: And I feel like we’ve got our latest scam here for senior dating, and it’s Gerry. What the heck, man?

Gibbs Léger: I know.

Seeberger: Like, I feel totally cheated by—

Gibbs Léger: I feel bamboozled.

Seeberger: —yeah, by all this. I was sitting here a few months ago talking about “The Golden Bachelor.” It was just renewing my hope—

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Seeberger: —in the “Bachelor” franchise, this is what love’s all about, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly.

Seeberger: What?

Gibbs Léger: OK, we don’t have enough time to go into my theories about what really went down, but I wish them both nothing but happiness and peace.

Seeberger: You will all need to tweet Daniella asking her what her theories are and—

Gibbs Léger: Yes, I’ll DM them to you.

Seeberger: —we’ll elaborate there.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Seeberger: Speaking of love stories—

Gibbs Léger: Nice transition, Colin.

Seeberger: Thank you, I had to. Yeah, I may have thought about this a little bit. On Friday, we get Taylor Swift’s newest album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Gibbs Léger: Yay.

Seeberger: Highly anticipated. This is going to get me through the rest of the spring allergy season and just—I’m so, so excited. She has a few, I think, what are going to be sick collabs with Post Malone, Florence and the Machine. You know, she collaborated with Jack Antonoff on this. Love Jack. And you know what? I think she started writing this after she wrote “Midnights.” And so I’ll be interested to see just how much of her love story with—

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. With Joe [Alwyn]?

Seeberger: Well—

Gibbs Léger: With Travis [Kelce]?

Seeberger: —with Travis—ends up actually getting into this album.

Gibbs Léger: Because that’s what I’m unclear about, is the timeline of when all this was written.

Seeberger: So apparently, I guess she started writing “Tortured Poets Department” fairly quickly thereafter of writing “Midnights.”

Gibbs Léger: OK.

Seeberger: We’ll see. I mean, this would be maybe a track or two. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the whole album is about their love story—but I guess probably not, because it’s called “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Gibbs Léger: Well, see, that’s the thing. I’m just curious. Is it going to be like—when I think “tortured poets,” I think of yearning and longing and angst and all of that.

Seeberger: Yep.

Gibbs Léger: Which just doesn’t seem to be where she is right now.

Seeberger: No.

Gibbs Léger: So she’s out at Coachella living her best life with Travis, so.

Seeberger: As she should.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. So, very curious to see both how it does and how people react to it.

Seeberger: Well, Travis is a little tortured poet himself. He’s said that he’s not always the most eloquent with his words.

Gibbs Léger: He’s not.

Seeberger: So, we love you regardless, Travis.

Gibbs Léger: I know. It’s his heart.

Seeberger: Yes. That’s what we care about.

Gibbs Léger: That’s what matters. Exactly. On that note, that’s going to do it for us. Take care of yourselves, take that antihistamine if you need it, and we will talk to you next week.

“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 Toni 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.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.