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Politicon Brings Weekend Of Political Entertainment To Pasadena

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Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren on stage at Politicon. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard / Getty Images)
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Despite Anthony Scaramucci's sudden cancellation of his appearance at Politicon, the political convention continued as planned this weekend in Pasadena. The weekend featured panels, discussions, podcasts, and comedy in an attempt to bridge the gap between America's partisanship. Pundits and politicians from across the spectrum descended on the Pasadena Convention Center to bring citizens and their representatives together in a nonpartisan fashion.

The convention brought in national figures like Jake Tapper, Joy Reid, Ana Navarro, and Ann Coulter to discuss topics like Black Lives Matter, the concept of fake news, humor in the age of President Trump, and the legacy of President Obama. It also put events on the bill meant to elicit strong reactions from the audience and the panelists, like a debate between Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren.

Chelsea Handler has become politically vocal since the election of Donald Trump last November. She organized the Park City, UT edition of the Women's March (the march fell during the yearly Sundance Film Festival) and has devoted the latest season of her Netflix talk show Chelsea to discussing the current political climate. Tomi Lahren is a 24-year-old conservative pundit most known for her former talk show on The Blaze, in which she made controversial claims like comparing Black Lives Matter to the KKK. In her conversation with Handler, Lahren admitted to still being on her parents' health insurance despite criticizing the Affordable Care Act, and Handler dogged her on questions around President Trump's claims to "drown the swamp" before bringing in Goldman Sachs executives into his administration.

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Another panel, titled Donald Trump: Genius or Lunatic?, featured Sally Kohn, Anthony Atamanuik, Clay Aiken, Robert Davi, and Scottie Nell Hughes. As reported by Variety, Hughes (a CNN commentator) said the problem was how much the media covered Trump rather than “what is really on the minds of the American people.” Clay Aiken, the American Idol singer who tried and failed to secure a congressional bid in 2014, said "I am not quite ready to call him a lunatic and I sure as hell am not calling him a genius. He’s a narcissist."

Some attendees took the opportunity to dress up for the convention, like a major Tomi Lahren fan who made a custom shirt for Politicon.

Others took the opportunity for cosplay, like this man who dressed up as Kellyanne Conway at the Inauguration.

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In its third year, Politicon has built its popularity while also receiving criticism for its proclivity towards turning politics into entertainment. Huffington Post described it as the "Coachella of Politics" in 2016, and the New Republic points out that the founder, Simon Sidi, has no political background and spent most of his career producing large rock concerts. This is also the first time the political convention has taken place during a year when the President of the United States called the news media "the enemy of the American people."