The Internet Has Spoken: A Trump Counsel, Pat Cipollone, Shall Henceforth Be Called ‘Patsy Baloney’

An eagle-eyed writer watching this week’s January 6 hearings noticed that the closed captioning software was having a hard time with the name. The rest is history.

AP/Patrick Semansky, file
Pat Cipollone, then the White House counsel, at the Rose Garden of the White House, March 29, 2020. AP/Patrick Semansky, file

Anyone wondering who is this Patsy Baloney character that everyone on Capitol Hill seems to be yammering about should read on.

Speech-to-text software has gotten better in recent years, but it’s still far from perfect. Case in point : the closed captioning during this week’s January 6 committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

An eagle-eyed writer named Merrill Markoe watching the hearings on PBS from her West Coast perch noticed early on that the closed-captioning software was having a particularly hard time with one name that kept coming up, that of a former Trump White House counsel, Pat Cipollone.

“I am a compulsive reader and have been mind-boggled by the stuff I see going by on the closed-caption software for years now,” Ms. Markoe told the Sun in an email. “They never disappoint.”

Tuesday’s hearing most certainly did not. Mr. Cipollone was called “Pat’s Abalone” at one point, “Passive Loney” at another, and “Mr. Sibal oh Knee” at yet another. “Pets of Belonging” popped up at one point during Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony about what she remembered happening in the West Wing on January 6, and “Mississippi alone” at another. Mr. Cipollone was “Pat’s if Aloni” once, and “Mr. Sip Bologna” and “Mr. Sibal Oni” other times.

The faux pas that really struck a nerve was “Patsy Baloney.”

Ms. Markoe posted screenshots of the errors on Twitter and, of course, the internet ran with it. Her tweet got nearly 15,000 likes and was retweeted almost 2,500 times, eventually ending up in the trending column of the social media site.

Readers chimed in with the mistakes they caught as well. One noticed that Ms. Hutchinson’s former boss, Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, was labeled as “Mr. Medicine Dose,” and another said that Ivanka Trump was labeled “Miss Vodka.”

Washington insiders kept the train moving and immediately declared “Patsy Baloney” the winner in the game to pick a new Secret Service code name for Mr. Cipollone if Trump ever manages to overturn the 2020 election. A minor Twitter celebrity named @popehat — also known as lawyer Ken White — changed his handle on the platform to “PatsyBaloneyHat,” and none other than Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter now writing for the Wall Street Journal, declared in a column that the nickname will stay with Mr. Cipollone until he mans up enough to testify about his time in the White House.

Ms. Markoe — an author and former writer on the “Late Show With David Letterman” — said she was somewhat surprised by the reaction to her tweet, given that she has been noting closed-caption shenanigans during big news events for some time. During the defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard a few weeks back, for example, she chronicled the myriad ways that Mr. Depp was captioned, among them “Mr. Duck” and “Mr. Death.”

Asked to pick a favorite for Mr. Cipollone, Ms. Markoe, ever the wordsmith, said she would have to go with “Patsy Bologna,” which is the correct spelling of the sausage named for the city in Italy. Such attention to detail perhaps explains why the Writers Guild West awarded her the Paddy Chayefsky Award in 2021, she said.

“I suspect they must have been rewarding me for my important contributions to the national dialogue like this one,” Ms. Markoe said.

The New York Sun

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