Hell is empty, and all the devils are here
Rudy Giuliani's "Masked Singer" appearance represents a massive failure of society to hold its worst actors accountable.
But felt a fever of the mad, and played
Some tricks of desperation. All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
Then all afire with me. The King’s son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring — then like reeds, not hair —
Was the first man that leaped; cried “Hell is empty,
And all the devils are here.”
- William Shakespeare, The Tempest: Act 1, scene 2
Hello, dear readers,
Ever since Deadline reported in February that Trump lawyer, former mayor of New York City, and treasonous ghoul Rudy Giuliani was going to be a contestant on this season of Fox’s The Masked Singer, I’ve watched the show with a certain sense of dread. It’s one of the few network TV shows that my wife Kayla and I like to watch live most weeks (as I’ve said in the past, she likes it, I’m mostly just fascinated by the spectacle of it all, the phony suspense, the scripted drama, etc.).
Last night, Giuliani’s episode aired.
Wheeled onto the stage in a jack-in-the-box outfit, Giuliani began singing George Thorogood’s 1982 song “Bad To The Bone.” Within seconds, it was clear that this was it — this was him. Flailing his arms around as he shout-sung the lyrics, Giuliani’s performance was followed by a list of clues that included a sign that said “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter,” which was a reference to Four Seasons Total Landscaping, where Giuliani accused the city of Philadelphia of having “a sad history of voter fraud,” pushed the false claim that deceased boxer Joe Frazier cast a ballot in the election, and that there were “at least 600,000 ballots” in Philadelphia and another 300,000 in Pittsburgh he was calling into question.
All this occurred just moments after every major news network projected Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election, marking the start of a scary new phase of the attack on American democracy. Up until then, there was a bit of wiggle-room. Yes, Trump had repeatedly undermined faith in the election. Sure, Trump gave a bizarre late-night press conference in the early morning following the election in which he called for vote counting to stop and pledged to ask the Supreme Court to declare him the winner. Damage was done. Big league, as Trump would say.
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But the networks calling the race and finding it mathematically implausible for Trump to regain the votes needed to overtake Biden in any of the crucial states in play could have been a moment where Trump called off his goons, admitted defeat, and faded from view. Was that ever likely to happen? No. But still, it was a moment of choice.
Giuliani wasn’t just some random member of Trump’s administration or campaign. He was the rot at the campaign’s core.
Giuliani’s crimes predated the 2020 election. His shady behavior in Ukraine could have landed him in prison, though it seems unlikely Trump would have allowed that to happen given his tendency to issue pardons to the likes of Steve Bannon and Roger Stone. It was Giuliani’s field trips to Ukraine and efforts to shake down a foreign government for political gain that led to Trump’s first impeachment.
And then there’s the matter of everything that came after. Following Giuliani’s press conference at the landscaping company, Giuliani began traveling the country as part of a “Trump won” sideshow. He’d hold press conferences, appear before state legislatures, and make baseless arguments in court, all to push the lie that Trump was cheated out of a second term.
When Trump asked Giuliani to try to shake down state officials for voting machines or outright pledge to reject the results, Rudy was happy to do it. Because that’s who Giuliani is at his core: a criminal. A mob boss. A tacky fraud who capitalized on a horrific terrorist attack that he personally made worse.
It’s hard to believe in a just world if men like Giuliani are not only allowed to continue on consequence-free, but to get the full “redemption tour” treatment that goes along with game show appearances.
As bad as it was for Sean Spicer to pop up at the 2017 Emmys, Giuliani’s Masked Singer stint was worse. I sat there, watching him smiling on TV, being cheered on by panelists Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, and to some extent, Robin Thicke. Ken Jeong walked off the stage (Thicke apparently left the stage at one point to check on Jeong). And even though I knew it was coming, the story hit me in the gut. I felt a sense of unease. I felt anger and frustration. I felt a deep sense of total injustice.
There are few true villains in the world, but Giuliani is certainly among them. And this isn’t a matter of politics, either. Hell if I even know what Rudy personally believes, politically, these days. But what I do know is that Giuliani is corrupt to his core, and should be rotting away in a prison cell. Instead, he’s being welcomed back into society like none of this happened, like it was all just a game.
The impact of his corruption will outlive him just as Trump’s will. His actions have destabilized us in perhaps irreparable ways, and I think it’s important to remember him for that. Instead, to millions of people, he’ll be remembered as the guy who sang “Bad To The Bone” and flashed his veneers to the camera.
Last night marked a failure of society, and everyone involved in making that happen should feel a deep sense of shame for as long as they live.