Giuliani’s journey from “America’s Mayor” to eye-rolling embarrassment hit another low this week, when it was revealed that not only had he appeared on the latest season of the reality show “The Masked Singer,” but also that when his identity was revealed, two of the show’s hosts walked off in protest.
As CNN’s Chloe Melas reports: “Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong walked off stage following the revelation of Giuliani as a contestant on the popular Fox reality show in which contenders perform in full costume until they are eliminated.” The episode is expected to air next month, Melas notes.
It’s cringe-inducing all around. And, unfortunately for Giuliani fans — and I assume there are still some out there — it’s the latest in a series of increasingly desperate attempts by the former New York City mayor to stay relevant.
Giuliani’s descent began slowly — and then all at once. It was tied directly to his association with Donald Trump, whom he had known for decades as they orbited each other in New York City circles.
As Trump’s presidency wore on — and as the legal problems mounted — Giuliani emerged as one of a few members of Trump’s inner circle, largely due to his utter servility and willingness to say (and do) anything in support of the then-President’s increasingly out-there views.
In the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss, Giuliani became the public face of Trump’s Big Lie — his repeated insistence, sans evidence, that the election had been stolen from him. Giuliani’s buffoonery was on full display during a press conference just days after the election held at a local Philadelphia landscaping company that happened to share the name of the Four Seasons hotel.
Giuliani has kept up the drumbeat of widespread voter fraud — again, with zero proof — for much of the past year. He is the subject of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems due to his repeated (and false) statements suggesting that the 2020 race was somehow rigged.
The common thread that ties Giuliani’s election denialism to his appearance on a reality TV show is this: He is absolutely desperate to stay relevant.
Giuliani had a taste of being a national figure following his shepherding of New York City in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That celebrity status led him to be considered a front-runner in the 2008 Republican presidential campaign, but his bid fizzled amid a lack of voter interest; he won a total of zero states in the that year’s primary.
That loss left Giuliani adrift. He was a moderate in a party that was moving more and more to the right. By the time Trump began running for the 2016 presidential nomination, Giuliani wasn’t even in the picture, politically speaking. His desire to matter drove him to endorse Trump on the day of the New York primary.
“I’m Rudy Giuliani, I mean a lot in New York politics, I endorse Donald Trump, but I’m not a part of the campaign,” the former mayor said at the time. “I’m not a part of the campaign apparatus and I don’t want people to think I am.”
“I’m Rudy Giuliani, I mean a lot in New York politics.” I mean …
The “Masked Singer” appearance — and the controversy it triggered — is rightly understood as a continuation of Giuliani’s desperate search for relevance in the decade (or so) since he mattered in American politics. It would be funny — if it wasn’t so sad.