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Primary Concerns Episode 32: The Fallout of an Election Meltdown


The second presidential debate Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, was the beginning of Donald Trump’s last stand. Reeling from the disclosure of explosive video showing him boasting about sexually assaulting women with impunity—and facing a steady stream of defections from senior members of his party—Trump sought to stanch the bleeding by unleashing a torrent of abusive attacks on Hillary Clinton. The goal: to firm up his demoralized base, extract a price from everybody in the GOP who tries to defect, and do so by subjecting Clinton to maximal humiliation in the public sphere.

But as Trump leashes himself to panicking Republicans, he knows better than anyone that further damaging footage may exist and may well surface in the final four weeks before the election. How does this all end? Former Republican operative, and political writer Liam Donovan joins us to assess the damage.

Then, Trump has been a challenge for all journalists to cover, but especially for the female reporters embedded with his campaign. That was true before the hot mic disclosure late last week, but it’s even more true now. Claire Landsbaum, staff writer for New York magazine’s The Cut has explored the topic in a recent feature called “What It’s Like To Be A Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump.” We discuss how recent events have changed that experience.

Further reading:

  • In National Review, Liam concluded, “The decision to grasp for Trump’s coattails or cut him loose will fall to the individual candidates based on their own circumstances.”
  • Claire’s excellent feature on female Trump reporter embeds.
  • Brian Beutler argues that Trump’s meltdown is upon us in the New Republic.