The hosts dived right in on the news of the day, with Huntsman asking why Trump Jr. had chosen to signal-boost the supposed name of the whistleblower whose memorandum set off the Ukraine investigation and unleashed the specter of impeachment upon the president. He had done so after a weeks-long attempt in conservative online media to unmask and publicize the official’s identity. Most mainstream news outlets, including The Washington Post, have not published the name, and U.S. officials have not disclosed it, in compliance with federal laws.
“For days he’s been out there in the media. So what’s the difference between me tweeting about it?” Trump, Jr. said. “I’m a private citizen putting this out there.”
“I don’t think I should forgo my First Amendment rights,” he said after more questions from the hosts.
Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host who is now a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, attempted to maintain some semblance of decorum while still defending the president and his son from a unified front of critics.
“Okay, it wasn’t the most prudent decision to retweet an article,” she said, later adding, “I did come out of the bathroom and say, ‘I left you alone for 10 minutes; what happens when mamacita is gone?’” She also said that the president had been transparent in releasing a transcript (it was not quite a transcript) of his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In another key exchange, McCain, who is the daughter of the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and frequently spars with the president, confronted Trump Jr. about the “pain” his family had caused others.
“A lot of Americans in politics miss character,” McCain said during a rare moment of quiet. “A lot of people miss the soul of this country. You and your family have hurt a lot of people and put a lot of people through a lot of pain, including the Khan family, who was a Gold Star family that I think should be respected for the loss of their son.”
“Does all of this make you feel good?” McCain asked.
“I don’t think any of that makes me feel good, but I do think that we got into this because we wanted to do what’s right for America,” Trump Jr. said. “My father has been working tirelessly to bring back the American Dream.”
At one point, Trump Jr. decried “PC culture,” which is a subject of his book. He also accused Behar of admitting to wearing blackface. In a 2016 episode where the hosts discussed natural hair, Behar displayed a photograph of her younger self dressed as a “beautiful African woman” for Halloween and wearing “makeup a little darker than my skin” and sporting her natural curls. After Thursday’s show ended, Trump Jr. retweeted the old footage and several conservative supporters boosted the clip.
Plenty of drama reportedly took place off-camera as well, according to a Hollywood Reporter journalist in attendance. Goldberg reportedly chastised the audience during a commercial break for booing, saying, “It’s messing with everyone’s mic.” When the segment was ending, a man in the audience reportedly yelled, “Praise the Lord!"
It wasn’t all acrimonious. Toward the end, Trump and Guilfoyle, who began dating in 2018, were asked if they were getting married. They responded with demur: that their priority for 2020 was getting President Trump reelected.
Then it was all over, as suddenly as it began.
Nothing groundbreaking was learned, but the show did provide a glut of confrontational content that both liberals and conservatives could serve up to their hungry followers on social media.
After the segment, the show tweeted out a flurry of clips and Trump Jr. retweeted an incoming wave of support from conservative media. Twitter exploded with GIFs. Trump Jr. went on Fox, joining Sean Hannity for a debrief.
Everyone got what they came for.