Yeah, About Those “Standing Ovations” Trump Says the CIA Gave Him …

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This weekend, Donald Trump gave a speech to CIA employees that has been drawing a… let’s say, mixed reaction. If you ask Trump or his team, the visit was a huge success, drawing big laughs and long standing ovations from the crowd. If you ask pretty much anyone else, it was a disaster. Not just a bad speech, mind you, but also one giant insult.

Let’s talk about those laughs, to start. First off, it’s being said that those reactions amounted to basically a staged live laugh track. The people leading the applause and those laughing were, by most accounts from those in the room, plants from Trump’s team, not part of the intended audience.


The head of the CIA is also apparently “deeply saddened and angered” that Trump would think laughs during this speech (during which he continued to talk about his war with the media, as well as ratings and inauguration crowd sizes, all while speaking in front of a memorial for CIA agents who lost their lives) were even appropriate in the first place. From CNN,

“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro said in a statement. “Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Another former Pentagon staffer, Rick Wilson, said “It’s like going to do standup in Arlington Cemetery.”

Over the last few days, more and more reports of these inappropriate and totally staged applause-leaders and laughers have been coming out. But what about those “long standing ovations?” Surely, Trump can’t have staged those?


Because yes, the hundreds of CIA employees in attendance did stand through Trump’s 15-minute speech. Not because they loved his words so much they couldn’t bring themselves to sit, though. It was because federal employees, especially those in national security, will not sit in the presence of the president unless he instructs them to do so. (You can see in the full video that he never does this.) That’s something that most presidents know since most presidents have, you know, experience and stuff.

As Rick Wilson, that former Pentagon staffer, said,

“I’m amazed by the fact that he doesn’t understand basic protocol. There’s no Miss Manners in this group. There’s no one telling him, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’”

Fine. That’s fine. We’re supposed to be giving him a chance, right? That’s what we keep being told? We’re just supposed to wait while he eventually catches on, to apparently everything from very basic day-one protocol on up.

(via HuffPo, image via Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.