A drowning person will frequently appear calm, at least compared to the thrashing, screaming depictions we see on television.
One giveaway that lifeguards are trained to look for is the act of climbing an invisible ladder. Panicked swimmers will push down at nothing, trying to create space between themselves and the water. This can continue into rescue efforts, with the swimmer trying to climb anyone who tries to help them, pushing them under to get a second more air.
All this is to say, Matt Gaetz definitely looked like he was drowning in a bizarre interview on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday. Underneath the layers of polish that make him look like an animatronic Texas preacher at the world's saddest Chuck E. Cheese, Gaetz was sweating as he ranted about extortion plots and possible links between the Biden administration and a reported investigation for sex trafficking-related crimes.
According to a report from the New York Times, Gaetz is being investigated as part of a probe into former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg. The former local politico was beset with scandals during his tenure and has been charged with stalking political opponents and sex trafficking. In the course of that investigation, feds hit upon potential misconduct from Gaetz. The connection between Gaetz and Greenberg is unknown, but photos posted to Twitter by the one-time tax collector show that they had met several times.
Per the Times report, Gaetz is being investigated for potentially paying or gifting a minor something of value to induce them to cross state lines for the purposes of sex.
Carlson invited Gaetz on to his show. The environment could not be friendlier, with Carlson admitting that he had no questions for Gaetz and was giving him free reign to state his case.
Gaetz thrashed around at the Department of Justice and the host of the show, pushing down on anything he could get his hands on. He named former-DOJ employee David McGee, saying that he asked Gaetz for money in exchange for sweeping these charges under the rug.
“I know that there was a demand for money in exchange for a commitment that he could make this investigation go away, along with his co-conspirators,” Gaetz said. “They even claimed to have specific connections inside the Biden White House. I don’t know if that’s true, they were promising that Joe Biden would pardon me. Obviously, I don’t need a pardon.”
Gaetz made reference to other allegations that were not part of the Times report. In passing, he referenced photos of himself with "child prostitutes" to claim that they don't exist.
Elsewhere in the interview, Gaetz attempted to rope Carlson into the issue. He said the host knows how it feels to be falsely accused of sex crimes and went on to say that Carlson and his wife had had dinner with Gaetz and the woman at the center of these charges.
It can be hard to tell how Carlson feels about what's being said by any guest. Much has been made of his resting face of deep, slack-jawed confusion. The host who has been accused of sexual misconduct by former employees made it clear how he felt about Gaetz's implied accusation, calling a separate accuser "mentally ill." He also claimed to have no recollection of a dinner with Gaetz. After the close of the interview, Carlson continued to distance himself from the representative. He called the segment "one of the weirdest interviews I've ever conducted."
Following the interview, Gaetz doubled down on his extortion story on Twitter.
Of course, none of this addresses the fact that both stories could be true. A DOJ employee attempting to extort money out of Gaetz to make an investigation into potential sex crimes go away would not mean that the investigation is entirely illegitimate. The named employee has yet to respond to Gaetz's counter-allegations.