On Friday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) released a mini-documentary titled "Gaveled Out: Return of the People's House," which focused on the initial race for the speaker's gavel, the intervening period when McCarthy was in the top spot and Gaetz's subsequent ouster of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy that eventually led to the more conservative Mike Johnson (R-LA) being elected. The mini-documentary, which is 13 minutes long, has already garnered significant attention, with over 250,000 views within the first few hours of posting.
The video opens with the pivotal showdown in early January at the start of the new Congress that saw 20 Republican lawmakers take a stand against McCarthy's speakership in order to get various concessions in return for their vote. The concessions obtained by those 20 lawmakers include the ability for a single member to vacate the chair, the release of all January 6th footage to the public, a vote on term limits, the appointment of House Freedom Caucus members to the rules committee, single subject spending bills, and various other concessions. After a prolonged fight that saw 15 ballots, the two sides were able to come to an agreement, and McCarthy won the speaker's gavel.
While Gaetz and other members who were amongst the 20 rebel lawmakers were at first optimistic about the concessions they were able to get out of House leadership, the documentary points out that by the summer, McCarthy had failed to live up to Gaetz's standards. This is what eventually prompted Gaetz to move to vacate the chair and oust McCarthy alongside six of his colleagues. In the subsequent fight for the speakership, House Republicans saw Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) all fail to win over their colleagues to become the 56th speaker. It was only until Mike Johnson, who got second place in the secret ballot during Emmer's nomination, was considered that Republicans were able to come together.
Towards the end of the film, the documentary claims that Gaetz's actions were vindicated with various headlines displayed reading, "Matt Gaetz Sees Vindication in a Mike Johnson Win," "On This Issue, Matt Gaetz Actually Has A Good Point," and "Speaker Mike Johnson Is Triumph for Matt Gaetz and a Nightmare for Biden." Gaetz then concludes the production by saying, "I made all of you a promise that we would have a speaker of the House who is more conservative and more honest. And we got our guy. It was so touching to see this man of God talking about how we can fulfill America's great vision together, and it is an America First vision. It is a strong American vision and one I definitely share."
"Matt Gaetz leading the charge to get Kevin McCarthy ousted as Speaker was a HUGE step in getting America back to the people," wrote Gunther Eagleman on X/Twitter.
"Matt Gaetz getting Kevin McCarthy removed as Speaker was the best thing Gaetz has done for America yet," wrote Paul Szypula. "Even though the new Speaker Mike Johnson will likely disappoint it shows there are consequences for letting down America. Well done Gaetz — we need more politicians like you."
The documentary has already drawn critics, with former McCarthy staffer Maggie Howell writing, "'It's not for show, it's not personal' but let me pay someone to create a mini drama about screwing over my own party since I have no legislative accomplishments to date."
Gaetz has been a divisive figure in the Republican Party in the past few years, but no one can deny that his decision to oust McCarthy was courageous and, ultimately, that Speaker Johnson is a more conservative lawmaker who will advance a conservative agenda into 2024.
You can follow Sterling on X/Twitter here.