Omarosa Manigault Newman is good at getting fired and even better at spinning failure in her favor.
Her expertly timed one-on-one interviews are a master class in misdirection. Because if there’s anything Omarosa learned from her former boss President Trump (who recently called his former staffer a “lowlife”) it’s how to manipulate the narrative while seemingly feeding into it.
Omarosa, whose new book “Unhinged” is a literary dart aimed straight at the White House, has been hitting the sit-down circuit hard over the last 24 hours. The former assistant to the president appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, sitting across from host Chuck Todd, and by Monday morning she was sipping from a “Today” show mug at a table with Savannah Guthrie.
“Savannah, slow down,” Omarosa told the morning-show host who had been trying, like any good cross-examiner, to get the former reality-show star to answer a question straight. Did you know the president was a liar? If so, then why work at the White House, Guthrie had asked.
“I’m going to answer your questions,” Omarosa continued, setting the pace as she always does. “Don’t worry, I’m here. I’ve got all the time you need. You don’t have to ask 10 questions in one second. It’s okay.”
But before Guthrie’s grilling was even over, Omarosa alluded to another one scheduled right after. Add to that the post-White House interviews she has done with Stephen Colbert, Julie Chen, Michael Strahan and Deborah Roberts, and a familiar cadence emerges from the former “Apprentice” villain’s TV moments.
Omarosa is somehow both combative and charming on camera, never letting an interviewer step on her answers. She slows things down or hits the pause button when she feels cornered into a simple “yes” or “no.” “Let me finish” and “hold on a sec” are her “ummms.” She always looks impeccable, no hair or makeup out of place, and dresses like a hip stepmother. It’s as if she’s playing a role, inhabiting a carefully crafted character. So as the bombs drop — revealing her taped conversations with President Trump and his Chief of Staff John F. Kelly — it’s almost hard to take Omarosa seriously even when she’s making king-slaying accusations. (Trump is unfit for office, Kelly is a puppet master and the White House is infested with vipers.)
Is she for real or is this all just the latest plot twist in “As Omarosa Turns”? It’s impossible to know because Omarosa herself is so deliberately mercurial.
One minute she’s defending Trump and mocking his enemies, and the next she’s calling him a racist with a loose grip on reality. The seesaw of sound bites is crazy-making — and it’s also what’s kept Omarosa on TV and in the zeitgeist for some 15 years, with no signs of slowing down.
Years ago during a one-on-one interview with Bethenny Frankel, an old enemy from her “Apprentice” days, Omarosa, looking every bit the polished villain, used the moment to add to her mystique while at the same time pinpointing her popular culture status.
“You don’t stay a decade on television in reality TV without being smart and creating a brand that people want to see,” she explained in the 2013 interview. “There’s a brand there. There’s a commodity. There’s something of value.” She added that there “was a brand in being smart.”
A few months later, Frankel’s talk show was canceled. Five years later, Omarosa is still here on your TV screen and now in your bookstores.