Magazine | January 28, 2019, Issue

NSA Surveillance Transcript, Text-Message Compilation

(Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/Tima via Reuters)


Begin Extract

01.07.19 17:05:44

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Hey, sitting here with the SML and going over some of the little stuff in re: tonight’s Trump response. He’s thinking maybe easy chairs, club chairs kind of thing? The two of them by a fireplace (maybe in his office; does she have one?) looking super casual and not like it’s a crisis. Maybe mugs of cocoa? Too much? Just that the SML wants to project a kind of fun, relaxed vibe. Just him and the SOH chilling and being super normal. Thots?

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Will run it by her. Concerned re club chair and casual vibe as that implies the two of them are romantically involved, like we’re in their living room or den or something and that would be very off-brand for Nancy P. Her brand is strong woman, no-nonsense, projecting a kind of mature sexiness. Image people are telling her that her spirit animal is Catherine Deneuve.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Catherine Deneuve is not an animal. Not understanding.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Just saying don’t think the SOH will go for a PJ-party visual with the SML. Also, don’t take wrong way but she totes outranks him, so prob best to keep it professional.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Ooooookay. Just trying to counter Trump’s usual weirdo delivery and heavy breathing and freak-out vibe with something cooler but get it that you and she are all about rank. Sad.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Please. Nobody ever suggests something like that when the man outspanks the woman.



INDIVIDUAL TWO: OUTRANKS Duck­ing spell check arrgghhhh!

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Wow. Gender card. Okay, got it. This is how it’s going to be? Really thinking that we have an opportunity to make some great teamwork happen and project a fresh image, but I guess your boss the SOH is too old-school.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Old-school? Old? Please clarify use of the word OLD to refer to my boss the first female SOH ever.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Want me to be blunt? She’s basically 90.


INDIVIDUAL ONE: Fine. But the SML is barely 60.


INDIVIDUAL ONE: Which is the new 60, a lot of people are saying, and which will be barely retirement age or not even retirement age after SS reform.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Is this going to be a productive convo or should we just talk later? Trump doesn’t speak until 9 PM so maybe we should talk at 7 after you’ve had a chance to tamp down the SEXISM.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Fine. Fine. Sorry. Do you have any constructive thoughts or is it just dump-on-the-SML-day over there??

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Anything? Anything useful?

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo?

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Just a sec! HOLD UP talking to the SOH right now. CAN I HAVE TWO SECONDS PLEASE TO DO MY JOB??????

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Standing by . . .

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Okay, just talked to her. She likes the idea of a relaxed vibe but not in the lounge set you pitched, but maybe something cool and scary like a conference table. Trump is so pink and orange and emotional maybe a super adult setting? Working well to keep hitting the “Trump is a baby” thing, the tantrum angle, the “he’s crazy and he’s going to get us all killed” stuff from the media presentation.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Agree re all that. Love hitting the HCAHGTGUAK stuff. Just that our media people are telling SML that he needs to connect with Jewish-grandfather energy, the reading glasses on the nose, the friendly-internist kind of thing. Any­thing softer?

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Hey! HEY! GOT IT!! How about we riff on the whole “Hamilton” musical thing and have the two of them in one of those really old-timey rooms in the Capitol and maybe at those super-old little desks like the ones that look like they’re from middle school, like they used to have in colonial times or whatever and maybe the SOH is sitting at the desk and reading some old scroll or something and the SML is next to her and it’s like they’re absorbed in the reading and then when it’s time it’s like we the audience interrupted them and they look up and see the camera and it’s “Oh, hello there, my friend Chuck and I were just looking over some historical documents and we didn’t hear you come in” or whatever and then it might even be cool (will check with the SOH) if he puts his hand on her shoulder like they’re buds during the actual response part.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Thoughts? Hello?

INDIVIDUAL ONE: That’s a really weird suggestion.

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Agree. Pretend I didn’t mention it.

INDIVIDUAL ONE: Important thing is, I think we’re all in agreement that it shouldn’t be some awkward duo thing with the two of them standing at a lectern surrounded by American flags looking like insane grandparents high on psychedelics. Right?

INDIVIDUAL TWO: Obvi. Agree re that.

End Extract

01.07.19 17:29:03

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