Kari Lake’s Two Wolves
Genuine MAGA Populism Has Never Been Tried
1. Back Story
You might have seen the highlights of my exchange with the GOP frontrunner in the Arizona Senate race,
Governor Kari Lake. But if you haven’t, go over to our YouTube page—make sure you are subscribed—and treat yourself to two minutes of “actually riveting” debate that called to mind a “post-apocalyptic Buckley-Vidal”:
In order to understand today’s lesson, a little backstory on this video and why it looks like it was taken by a fisheye security camera.
John Heilemann and I were covering a Bannon and Lake rally last week in Las Vegas for the series finale of The Circus (which was awesome if you haven’t watched it). The plan was to do a sitdown with Bannon to discuss Project 2025 and the MAGA overthrow of Kevin McCarthy and get video from Lake’s speech. But when we arrived at the event, we learned that she was also jonesing to chat. . . . And who am I to decline an interview with a
sitting governor Senate candidate?
So after the newsy, alarming Bannon interview, we went to a holding room to talk to Lake for about 15 minutes, where apparently her team was also filming. Yesterday, she decided to put the entire exchange on her X feed. (I am not going to link to it but you can check it out if you so desire.) The video above is a shorter compilation of that video that was shared by Ron Filipkowski on Xitter.
The truth is that the Lake tête-à-tête hit the cutting-room floor of the episode of The Circus. Had Lake not put it out, nobody would have even seen it—which some more traditional strategist types might argue would’ve been the best outcome. But that’s not how Lake rolls and clearly she thought her fans would enjoy watching her go after the lamestream media members and a Never Trump cuck. The whole thing is a classic case study in the alternate media universes we all are occupying.
I say all that because the longer interview was revealing in a specific way that doesn’t really come across in Lake’s security-cam-style footage but was palpable in person.
And it speaks to something I have been trying to suss out about the trajectory of MAGA.