INT. SENATE FLOOR.
SEN. CHARLES E. GRASSLEY (R-IOWA):
We welcome everyone to today’s hearing on the Whistledown Report and its role in the use and abuse of gossip that is currently threatening our democracy.
The report’s author, Lady Whistledown, has agreed to come here and meet with this committee provided that we protect her anonymity.
Lady Whistledown walks in wearing a purple cape with a large hood and takes a seat at a table.
Good morning, Lady Whistledown, we are told you have prepared an opening statement? If so, please proceed and then we will move to questions from my colleagues.
Fast-paced and upbeat music reminiscent of Downton Abbey begins to play on the overhead speakers as LADY WHISTLEDOWN begins speaking.
Dearest Senators, the time has come to place our bets for the upcoming social season in Washington. Consider the many gentlemen calling at the door of 2446 Belmont Ave, where one Miss Malia Ann Obama has recently returned from Harvard…
Lady Whistledown, pardon my interruption, but does your opening statement have anything to do with this hearing?
Fast-paced music stops, LADY WHISTLEDOWN demurs.
In that case, let us hear first from Chairman Thune.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SOUTH DAKOTA):
Do you know what the difference is between The Whistledown Report and The New York Times? One is a tawdry gossip rag that provides little actual journalistic value to its readers. And the other is The Whistledown Report.
Laughter from the crowd.
We might laugh, but The Whistledown Report now stands beside media giants like the Times and the Wall Street Journal as a source of news for millions of Americans. With so many paying attention to what you write, can you understand, Lady Whistledown, why Congress is concerned with ensuring that you do not abuse the power of your pen?
Senator, I assure you I’m aware that my report—
Please, Lady Whistledown, that was a rhetorical question to be used as a soundbite in future campaign ads.
Chairman Thune, do you have a non-rhetorical question for Lady Whistledown?
Senator Thune flips through a stack of prepared note cards, tossing most of them aside.
A-ha! I knew I had one.
Lady Whistledown, is it true that the Duke of Hastings uses the pull-out method to ensure he has no male-born heir to continue the Hastings lineage?
Audible gasps heard from the audience.
Chairman, I’m not quite sure what this has to do with the issues before this committee. Senator Feinstein, do you have questions for Lady Whistledown?
DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CALIFORNIA):
Thank you very much, Senator Grassley. I’d like to refer the committee members to the visual aids my staff has projected onto the screen over here.
Senator Feinstein points over to a large projection screen in the chamber which includes several enlarged pictures of the Duke of Hastings butt.
More audible gasps.
Senator Feinstein, those are just various pictures of Lord Hastings’ naked rear end.
FEINSTEIN, smiling widely:
Indeed they are.
I fail to see how this relates to our concerns about the role of social media in maintaining a civil society. Do any other members present have any serious questions for Lady Whistledown that do not relate to the sexual proclivities of the Duke?
Someone stands up in the audience, holding a notepad and quill.
Lady Whistledown, are you not in fact Madame Delacroix, the modiste?
Lady Bridgerton?! Who let her in here? Will someone tell the Viscount to come and retrieve his sister?
I would like to call a witness.
GRASSLEY, sighing heavily:
This is not a trial. But, fine, who is it you’d like to call?
Senator Feinstein nods over to the images of Lord Hastings rear end still up on the screen.
Chuck, he’s already here, in the back of the room! I see no reason not to ask him to promenade a little to the front.
Heads turn to Lord Hastings who is standing at the back of the room whispering into the Duchess’s ear.
DUCHESS, while laughing:
My Lord, you are still a rake!
Senator Cruz, can you help me bring some order to this hearing? Surely you have a well-prepared set of questions for our guest?
Senator Cruz stands from his desk and stares down Lady Whistledown with a smarmy grin.
TED CRUZ (R-TEXAS):
Lady Whistledown, what do you make of Benedict Bridgerton? He strikes me as a sissy liberal snowflake. He’s always wearing those tight white pants and frilly shirts and hanging out with artists.
What on God’s Green Earth has gotten into everyone today, anyways?
Not Lord Hastings’s seed, I can assure you of that.
Snickering throughout the room. Senator Grassley looks totally confused.
Lady Whistledown, since none of my colleagues seem to be able to focus on the task at hand—
Senator Grassley is interrupted by heavy panting and grunting from the back of the room.
Goodness sakes. Will someone please tell the Duke and the Duchess to get a room?
Grassley waits while the Duke and Duchess of Hastings are escorted from the chamber with half of their clothes missing.
As I was saying, since none of my colleagues seem to be able to focus on the task at hand, I am left to bear the burden of assessing how to deal with the power you wield over society.
I assure you, Lord Grassley—
Very well, when in Rome.
The fast-paced music from earlier begins to play again.
Senator Grassley, I assure you that I’m well aware of the pull my report has over the happenings of society in this city. But is not freedom of the press a hallmark of your American tradition?
When I share that Senator Stevenson’s wife has not come in 30 years of marital relations, am I not providing the people with the information they need to make an informed political decision?
Your graces, I put before you the premise that it is gossip that holds a society together—more so than any laws passed in these hallowed chambers.
It is gossip that hems in society’s worst impulses and her roundest parts. And speaking of vulgar impulses, have you heard the latest news about the Viscount? It seems that our eldest Bridgerton—
That’s enough Lady Whistledown. Clearly this hearing is as useless to the American people as another flower print dress is to a Featherington girl.
Sir, we shall yet put a pen in your hand!
In any case, I believe Congress will now adjourn for the season.
Grassley strikes his gavel.
Music plays again.
And what a season it has been for our recently betrothed, the Duke and Duchess of Hastings.
Lady Whistledown, I’m going to have to hold you in contempt if you continue to narrate these proceedings.
And is it not contempt that darkens the doorstep of every marriage, when the flame of first love finally begins to flicker?
GRASSLEY, completely and utterly exhausted:
Seriously, can someone cut off her fucking microphone?