One Year After Uvalde | Crooked Media
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May 23, 2023
What A Day
One Year After Uvalde

In This Episode

  • A year ago today, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. As the community of Uvalde, Texas marks the grim anniversary, families of the victims continue to demand answers – and accountability – from law enforcement and elected leaders. Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, joins us to discuss what needs to be done to stop America’s gun violence crisis.
  • And in headlines: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential campaign today on Twitter, writer E. Jean Carroll is seeking more punitive damages from Donald Trump, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have re-invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their upcoming Pride Night celebration.


Show Notes:



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Erin Ryan: It’s Wednesday, May 24th. I’m Erin Ryan. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What A Day. Where in honor of Bob Dylan’s birthday. We are reminding you that Timothée Chalamet will be playing him in the next biopic. 


Erin Ryan: And before you ask, yes, he’s doing the singing. But I got to say, Bob Dylan was booed off stage of his high school talent show when he tried to sing. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He can’t sing. 


Erin Ryan: He’s not a songbird that Bob Dylan. [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his bid for 2024 in one of the worst ways possible? Plus, a Russian court has extended the detention of an American journalist. 


Erin Ryan: But first, on May 24th, 2022, one year ago, a gunman entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 19 students and two teachers. The response to the shooting echoed what we’ve often seen in the wake of senseless violence in this country. On one side, rage, demand for change and a call for lawmakers to enact reforms that most Americans support. On the other, useless platitudes about thoughts and prayers and blame placed on everything but the guns. In the months since, we’ve learned heartbreaking details about how this tragedy could and should have been prevented, both by lawmakers who failed to protect the public from firearms and law enforcement officials who failed to take appropriate action that morning. As a reminder, nearly 400 law enforcement officers descended on the school that day and waited over an hour to confront the gunman. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. One of the most horrific stories in recent memory, which is really saying something considering how many horrific stories there have been in recent memory. So to get some perspective on all this and some reflection, I sat down with Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, the nation’s largest grassroots group fighting gun violence. Watts, a mother of five, founded Moms Demand on December 15th, 2012, the day after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, the organization, which is now part of Every town for Gun Safety, has grown to more than 10 million members across all 50 states. Watts recently announced that she will be stepping down from her role in the organization at the end of the year. I started off by asking Shannon how the Uvalde community has weathered such an immense tragedy over the past year. 


Shannon Watts: I am not a gun violence survivor. I just think it is so heroic, first of all, that they have survived the worst tragedy that one can imagine. I also want to be clear that, you know, you don’t have to be an activist to be a hero. Some of these people are just figuring out how to make it one day at a time. Right. I mean, this is 21 children and teachers missing from their dinner tables and their classrooms. We have to honor them. And we have to remember that it isn’t just one protest. It isn’t just one policy. It isn’t just one social media post. Right. It is the unglamorous, heavy lifting of grassroots activists. And I think that is so clear in a state like Texas. You know, Texas has had more mass shootings than any other state, 48 alone since the shooting tragedy in Uvalde. And yet there Republican lawmakers are continuing to weaken the state’s gun laws. You know, they’ve had opportunities time and time again to pass legislation that could have prevented the horrific shooting in Uvalde. Like raising the age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21. And they continually do the opposite. And I watched the Uvalde families, the survivors, show up in the state house and chant and protest and, you know, put their bodies on the line just to pass a bill through a House committee. They waited 12 hours for this committee to finally vote. And that you know in itself was something that hadn’t happened. It was important progress, but it still never made it to the floor for a vote in either chamber. So I’ve watched them do heroic things, and I know that they won’t give up. I know that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You mentioned the efforts to raise the age to get a weapon like this from 18 to 21. What other policy changes and gun reform bills have families of the victims been calling for or families across the country? Um. We’re focused on Texas in particular, but I think this is a nationwide question. And how have lawmakers and public officials responded to that? I mean, you said they’re weakening the gun laws, but just expounding on that just a bit. 


Shannon Watts: Every time there’s a horrific shooting tragedy like this with an AR-15, there’s always a call to ban assault rifles. And we are calling for that, obviously, at a federal level. But um we’ve had the most success at a city and state level in the last couple of years we’ve passed assault weapons bans in four states. Most recently in Washington state, uh this legislative session. You now, AR-15s are the tool of choice for gunmen who commit mass shootings. Ten of the deadliest mass school shootings in the last eight years have involved an assault rifle. But that isn’t the only policy that that we need and have to look at. We have to strengthen our nation’s background check system. We have done this at a state by state level, uh over the last decade, we have now passed background checks in 20 states. That just means you know that unlicensed sellers have to conduct background checks um and that helps keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. But at the same time, we’re watching the gun lobby in red states pass something called permitless carry. Now in over two dozen states, you can carry a hidden loaded handgun in public without a background check or safety training or a permit. We are also working to pass secure storage laws that keep guns out of the hands of kids and teens. Most school shooters in this country are actually students who have easy access to unsecured guns in their homes. And then finally, working to fund community violence intervention programs. These are community programs that have relationships that can stop retaliatory gun violence before it happens. And this is just such life saving work that we’re finally seeing being recognized not just by cities and states, through unlocked budget dollars, but even at a federal level. We unlocked millions of dollars through the bipartisan Safer Communities Act for Community violence intervention programs last summer. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. So going back to the investigation into what happened in Uvalde, there has been a criminal investigation into the police response that day. That investigation is still happening and the community is kind of still waiting for answers. So what are they asking for and what do you think is the reason behind the sort of lack of transparency coming from not just the local police, but the state really? 


Shannon Watts: Well, the families are asking for transparency. They’re asking for answers to their questions about how did this happen? Um. Just this week, we saw that parents are finally getting access not from the state, not from the government, but from media to video of what was happening that day. And it is horrific. Right? We’re seeing police officers vomiting because they were so traumatized by what they saw in those classrooms. Um. A year later, these parents are just now being able to access this video and not because of the Abbott administration, um but because the media was willing to show it to them. We should be very concerned when a government not only isn’t trying to solve the issue, they want to prevent the families most impacted from understanding what happened, because if you don’t understand what happened, you can’t fix it. Um. And that seems to be what Abbot’s administration is intent on, not providing answers so that they don’t have to provide solutions. That is corruption. And we should all be concerned about not having access to information on one of the most horrific shooting tragedies this country has ever experienced. I mean, if you look at other peer nations, they have not only done thorough investigations, they have acted with alacrity. Right. They quickly put solutions in place. And we’re seeing Texas lawmakers, I want to be clear, Texas Republicans, doing the opposite. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Just going back to the police response that day, it obviously got a ton of criticism and it was a major kind of added horror, I think, to so many people of uh the already just unfathomable horror of what happened that day. I think it also kind of cuts against this idea, right, that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. And so when you heard about what happened with the police that day and kind of this like feeling many people had, that they should have acted faster, they should have done more. What does that say to you about the broader kind of situation we have on our hands, right when it comes to gun violence? 


Shannon Watts: So to be clear, nearly 400 officers, many of them armed with handguns or semi-automatic rifles, were unable to stop a teenager with a semiautomatic rifle. Um. They did not want to go in, according to reports. They were worried that they were outgunned. This person clearly had a death wish. He did not care if he was killed uh as he was killing innocent children and educators. And this idea that somehow arming teachers or having armed school resource officers um is going to save us is really highlighted by the failures in Uvalde that day. You know, Ted Cruz is always talking about the need for more guns in schools. And he says, you know, it isn’t laws that’s going to fix this. And, you know, I just want to be clear that there was a hot air balloon tragedy in the state of Texas where 16 people were killed in Lockhart. And Senator Cruz put forward legislation to tighten hot air balloon regulations. Um. That legislation passed. And it just sort of highlights the fact that it isn’t that Ted Cruz doesn’t think gun laws won’t work. It is that there is no hot air lobby funding his Senate seat. Ted Cruz and other Texas Republicans at the federal and state levels are in the pockets of gun lobbyists. They clearly do not care that children are dying. That is not hyperbole. [sigh] You know, we have short memories in this country and this should be at the top of everyone’s mind when we vote in November. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action. We’ll keep you posted on any progress from our elected officials to stop these massacres from happening in the first place. Until then, our hearts go out to everybody in Uvalde today. [music break]


Erin Ryan: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Erin Ryan: In what may be one of the most cursed collabs in modern history, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential campaign today on Twitter. Yes, this is a real thing that’s happening and not just some elaborate punishment generated by an artificial intelligence chat bot. Honestly, this is why the writers are trying to get AI out of stuff. You know? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Oh I know. 


Erin Ryan: Like this sounds like it– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Honestly. 


Erin Ryan: It really truly. No, this is real this is– 


Josie Duffy Rice: It really does. They would have thought this up.


Erin Ryan: Humans came up with this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I know. 


Erin Ryan: Humans came up with this. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Or whoever is controlling the simulation. 


Erin Ryan: [laugh] True. According to multiple reports, DeSantis will make a live appearance on Twitter spaces. A thing that I just learned existed as I was preparing for today’s show alongside the chief twit himself, Elon Musk. Well, that’s going to go down great for swing voters in the Midwest. You know, Republican primary voters in Iowa are going to be like, good, finally, Twitter spaces, the place I get my news. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Erin Ryan: Elon Musk, the guy I look to for guidance. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Literally. 


Erin Ryan: Oh, man. Great strategy. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Boomers, famously great at Twitter. 


Erin Ryan: Boomers from Iowa famously love Twitter. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Famously love Twitter. 


Erin Ryan: We’ll have more to say about Meatball Ron. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: His astonishing lack of charisma and his extraordinarily dangerous political agenda on tomorrow’s show. But just as a treat, an adviser for former President Donald Trump reportedly told CBS News yesterday, quote, “announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis. This way he doesn’t have to interact with people and the media can’t ask him any questions.” I got to say, Ron DeSantis making Donald Trump’s advisers, friends, and spokespeople seem charismatic and funny since 2023. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Incredible. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s right. 


Erin Ryan: Yep. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s right. 


Erin Ryan: Broken clock. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Broken clock. A Russian court yesterday extended the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for another three months. Russian authorities arrested Gershkovich back in March for espionage charges that the Journal and the U.S. government have repeatedly denied. Gershkovich has been held in pretrial detention ever since, and many of the legal proceedings in this case have been held behind closed doors, including yesterday’s hearing. Members of the press and even Gershkovich’s own parents, were denied entry to the courtroom, though the U.S. State Department said at least one U.S. embassy official was allowed inside to observe. A department spokesperson once again called on Russia to release Gershkovich, calling the allegations against him baseless. This is the first time Russia has detained a U.S. correspondent on spying charges since the Cold War. And Gershkovich could spend 20 years in Russian prison if convicted. His next hearing is scheduled for August 30th. 


Erin Ryan: And in some fuck around and find out news, writer E. Jean Carroll is seeking more punitive damages from Donald Trump. You’ll remember that about two weeks ago, Carroll won $5 million dollars in the civil sexual assault and defamation case against the former president. She’s now going after Trump for the comments he made about her the day after the verdict during a CNN town hall. During the event, Trump once again accused her of lying about the alleged assault and even suggested that she is mentally unstable. In a court filing Monday, Carroll added an additional complaint to a separate and still pending suit she filed against Trump. This one is over comments he made about her in 2019 when she first went public with the allegations. The amendment includes the verdict handed down earlier this month and all the shit Trump said about her on CNN. She’s now asking for at least $10 million dollars in damages. Carroll’s lawyers said Trump’s statements, quote, “show the depth of his malice toward her, since it’s hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will, or spite.” Yeah, this reminds me of that scene in Austin Powers, where he’s like– 


Josie Duffy Rice: I love where this is going already. 


Erin Ryan: –and he’s reclaiming his penis pump after being unfrozen in front of Elizabeth Hurley [laughter] and he’s denying that it’s his. And they’re like, a photo of you [laughter] with the penis pump. Like that is literally Donald Trump’s case in this civil suit, it’s like a video–


Josie Duffy Rice: [laughing] Oh man. 


Erin Ryan: –of you on CNN saying defamatory things. The day after a $5 million judgment was awarded to the plaintiff. Like dude. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I mean, I can’t think of anything more beautiful than to win that case in civil court. Win that money and then have him do the exact same thing the next day. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s like the best version of of Groundhog’s Day to me. 


Erin Ryan: I mean, men don’t change even from day to day. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But I have to say, usually for $10 million dollars, they will change. 


Erin Ryan: You would think. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Everybody has a price. 


Erin Ryan: You would think. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Here’s some proof that divine intervention is real. On Monday, the L.A. Dodgers re-invited members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their upcoming Pride Night celebration. We told you last week that the team rescinded their invitation to the Los Angeles chapter of the legendary drag performance art and activist group after bowing to pressure from conservatives and Catholic organizations. That, in turn, drew heavy backlash from LGBTQ+ and civil rights groups. Over the weekend, representatives from queer advocacy groups and even some of the sisters themselves sat down with the Dodgers front office to work it out. The team has since apologized and like the good forgiving Catholics they are at heart, the sisters accepted. They’ll be honored with the team’s Community Hero Award on June 16th at Chavez Ravine, when the Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants. Angelinos, do not miss your chance to see these drag nuns truly serving bunt. 


Erin Ryan: Oh. [elongating vowel]


Josie Duffy Rice: That was good. 


Erin Ryan: Wow. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was good. That was great. I don’t know what a bunt is. [laughter] In baseball but I know it’s a thing. [laughter] Like isn’t it when you just, like, kind of hit it. [?]–


Erin Ryan: You deliberately hit the ball into the infield like a grounder into the infield so that you have to make the basemen choose between who they’re going to. It’s like. It’s usually like a sacrifice, or you’re just– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. 


Erin Ryan: –trying to get on base. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. 


Erin Ryan: Um. Yeah. God, that’s a good joke. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s a great joke. 


Erin Ryan: And finally, when it comes to weird choices from the apps we watch our TV shows on, when it rains, it streams. Netflix continued its big game of chicken with password sharers everywhere, announcing yesterday that their new page sharing feature would officially start rolling out for U.S. users. Primary account holders with Netflix subscriptions will be prompted to set a household location on their devices and any logged in accounts not regularly connected to that main location’s wi-fi will be directed to sign up for a new subscription. Standard accounts will be allowed to add one non-household member and for an additional $8 a month you can have two non-household members. Meanwhile, in case you haven’t been asked to download an entirely new app yet, the streaming network formerly known as HBO, HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO Max officially rebranded as Max yesterday, following suit What A Day will now be known as Jonathan. I’m really feeling bad that my nomination for just calling it WHAT was overruled. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Just changing a great brand to something stupid. 


Erin Ryan: Just change it for the sake of changing it. You know, you’re you’re an executive. Your job really is kind of useless. You got to show that you are doing important work by changing something. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You have earned the $19 million dollars you’ve made. Yeah.


Erin Ryan: Yeah. Change something that doesn’t need to be changed. That’s the way. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to ask what in tarnation is going on in the Texas legislature? 




Erin Ryan: It’s Wednesday, WAD Squad. And today we’re doing a segment we like to call No context, Bad vibes. 


[sung] No context, bad vibes. 


Erin Ryan: [laughter] I’ve never heard that before and it is bad vibes. Take a listen to today’s clip. 


[clip of unidentified person] The Speaker I’ll move adoption. 


[clip of Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan] Mr. Campbell, send the amend– the amendment is [?] the author, is their objections to the opposite amendment? [indistinct mumbling] is adopted. The Chair recognizes Mr. and Mr. Johnson of Harris. Mr. Johnson of Harris to speak in opposition to the bill. 


Erin Ryan: Oooh. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: What? What were the words? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Erin Ryan: What were the words? 


Josie Duffy Rice: What were the words? 


Erin Ryan: Um. Look, I’ve got an 18 month old child. She is learning how to speak. Most of the things she says are not very clear. I would say if she were presiding over a governing body. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’d give her the gavel. 


Erin Ryan: I think that her communication skills would be clearer than that person. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Totally. 


Erin Ryan: Okay. So that was a somewhat affected Texas House speaker Dade Phelan. Dade Phelan. Is there a more Texas name? Holding court in the state’s House of Representatives last Friday night. The clip got some heat over the weekend, with many noting that the Republican House speaker seemed noticeably sloshed. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, really threw gas on the brisket smoker yesterday when he released a statement accusing Phelan of, quote, “debilitating intoxication” and called for his immediate resignation. Within the day, Phelan’s team hit back, claiming the AG was actually trying to pull focus from an active House investigation, namely the specific reasons why Paxton wants to use over $3 million dollars in taxpayer money to settle a whistleblower lawsuit accusing him of misconduct. Wow. This is a real Texas brisket of bad decisions and bad behavior. A lot of ingredients. 


Josie Duffy Rice: There’s a lot going on in. 


Erin Ryan: Many Texas lawmakers, including Phelan, have publicly opposed Paxton’s request. The statement from Paxton’s office calling for Phelan’s resignation went out just 2 hours before a House committee was ready to announce subpoenas for the investigation, including one for a member of Paxton’s staff. As far as a curious case of the allegedly drunken Texan, Phelan’s office has repeatedly declined to comment. But basically, Texas Republican leadership is fighting and it’s no holds barred. Now that we’ve got some context, what are your thoughts on this clip? 


Josie Duffy Rice: [laugh] Where do I start? Sounds like calling home from a party in high school and trying to pretend like you [laughter] are totally sober. Your mom is like where are you? And you’re like [indistinct mumbing] I’m at Harris’s house. Like, it just is not inspiring confidence. However, I would like to ask, could they be worse lawmakers drunk? Maybe this is good for everybody. [laughter] I don’t know. 


Erin Ryan: Oh, my God. I feel like if you listeners cannot conjure an image of Ken Paxton’s face. Go ahead and Google it when you’re in a place that’s safe where you’re not driving or operating a motor vehicle, the man has resting corruption face. He is [laughter] an extremely like his entire political career, has been characterized by playing dodge ball with seemingly credible accusations of him kind of being a dirty politician. Right. And so my reaction is, I guess, kind of like one, on one hand, let them fight. The Texas, you know, legislature isn’t up to any good this session uh or most sessions, but especially this session. On the other hand, I kind of think maybe Ken Paxton did something bad and uh– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Totally. 


Erin Ryan: Maybe he wouldn’t have spoken out if they weren’t investigating him for doing bad things. 


Josie Duffy Rice: There’s absolutely no way that this is their limit where it’s like, oh, he had a couple of drinks. We don’t– 


Erin Ryan: Oh, yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: –love this, we can’t stand for this. So Ken Paxton is 100% done something bad. 


Erin Ryan: You have to take shots before you go into the chamber at the Texas legislature. 


Josie Duffy Rice: If I had to deal with these people all day, I would also be drunk. [laughter] There may be an actual problem here, in which case I hope he gets help. However, everybody involved in the story is still and I’m not gonna say irredeemable because they could do some work on themselves, but pretty close to irredeemable assholes. So. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You know. 


Erin Ryan: A lot of bad people in an embarrassing fight. Fine by me. Keep it up. Keep it up. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Love when shitty people argue with each other. My favorite activity. 


Erin Ryan: Totally. And that was no context, bad vibes. 


[sung] No context. Bad vibes. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Try to remember your HBO password and tell your friends to listen. 


Erin Ryan: And if you are into reading and not just who exactly makes up the cursed Elon DeSantis crossover demographic like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Erin Ryan. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] And keep on fighting Texans. 


Erin Ryan: Yee haw! 


Josie Duffy Rice: [indistinct mumbling] Overruled. 


Erin Ryan: [indistinct mumbling] 


Josie Duffy Rice: [indistinct mumbling]


Erin Ryan: [indistinct mumbling] 


Josie Duffy Rice: Gavel. 


Erin Ryan: Gavel. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s like I’m drunk but I have a gavel so nobody can tell. [laughter] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. And Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. We had production assistance this week from Fiona Pestana, Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.