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Fever Dreams

Author: The Daily Beast

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Inside the right’s push to retake power, from the conspiracy-slingers to the MAGA acolytes to the straight-up grifters. Thought the Trump era was crazy? Wait ’til you hear what they have planned next. Hosted by Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer. New episodes every Wednesday. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app today.

15 Episodes
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Far-right activist Ammon Bundy is running for governor of Idaho—despite being legally banned from the Idaho statehouse. “He’s prepping a run for Idaho governor, to the dismay of the Idaho Republican Party, which really does not want that affiliation,” said The Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill. Elsewhere on the episode, The Week national correspondent Ryan Cooper talks about a government report claiming that the U.S. Park Police didn’t clear protesters outside the White House—and how its claims that the Trump administration didn’t act just to set up a presidential photo-op have been overblown in the media.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
On this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng sit down with Canada-based comedian and “Not Even a Show” host Chris James, a man who spends his days figuring out ways to prank prominent conservatives and MAGA luminaries, such as Rudy Giuliani and Dan Crenshaw, on-air. “These people are in positions of power and they are acting in this incredibly reckless way,” James says. Elsewhere on this episode, Suebsaeng and Sommer dig into how the false idea of Donald Trump’s August “reinstatement” in the White House worked its way up from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, all the way up to the ex-president’s delusional ears. And if you’ve been wondering how Fox News host Greg Gutfeld’s new paid-subscriber venture is going… Sommer has discovered that it mostly feels like a lazy effort to prove to his fans just how dumb they are for giving him their cash.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
You thought Michael Flynn calling for a coup was the most exciting thing to happen at the QAnon conference in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend? Think again, Fever Dreams fans, for just before the wacko retired general longingly wished for a Myanmar-style crackdown here in the U.S. of A., our very own beloved host Will Sommer got kicked out of QCon to a standing ovation. Also on this episode of Fever Dreams, our hosts talk to The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel about the massive GOP push to crackdown on voting rights at the state and local levels, and they discuss how Trump’s associates are trying, and failing, to get the former president to care about encouraging his base to get vaccinated.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
A tough-talking anti-human-trafficking organization with ties to Donald Trump relied on a tip from a psychic for at least one of its failed “raids” in Haiti, according to reporters who have tracked the group. “They have defended the use of psychics and made it sound like something that law enforcement does all the time, which they might do, but that doesn’t make it a good idea,” Vice senior staff writer Anna Merlan said on the latest episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
On this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng welcome writer/director Larry Charles, a Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator who also wrote some of the darkest and most beloved episodes of Seinfeld. According to Charles, if Seinfeld were on the air today, Kramer would definitely be a “QAnon believer”... but also somehow in Antifa, too? Charles also opens up about what he sees as mainstream comedy and “very corporate” satire’s major failings in confronting Donald Trump over the past half decade. Elsewhere on this episode, Suebsaeng and Sommer introduce listeners to a former Survivor contestant and a falconer—yes, a falconer—and explain their efforts to take down Joe Biden and the all-powerful “Deep State.” (The duo have not been entirely successful.)  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
If the federal investigation into Matt Gaetz does indeed end up spelling the MAGA congressman’s downfall, it’ll be partly because of a group of wannabe Instagram influencers. On this week’s episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng welcome fellow Beast reporters Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger, the duo that’s been breaking story after story on the Gaetz scandal in recent weeks. The pair reveal new details on the Gaetz saga that haven’t been publicly released before, including additional passages from the confession letter secretly written by disgraced Gaetz wingman Joel Greenberg, and sent to Trump associate and longtime GOP ratfucker Roger Stone.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng sit down with Intercept reporter Ken Klippenstein, to delve into how an incredible amount of taxpayer money goes into the U.S. government’s sprawling, frightening, and oftentimes downright bizarre domestic surveillance programs. Millions upon millions upon millions of that treasure often get funneled into programs such as the Trump administration efforts to prevent threats to the republic as SCARY as… Insane Clown Posse fans, violent emojis, and individuals (supposedly) trying to break Netflix star Joe Exotic out of lockup.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
So, remember when ex-President Donald J. Trump insanely told the United States that injecting yourself with bleach might be a cure for the coronavirus? It turns out that there’s a whole slew of wackos who have been promoting bleach drinking—disguised under the name of “miracle mineral solution”—for a range of health problems long before #45 took office and let more than 400,000 Americans die from COVID on his watch. That includes a scammy father-son duo who tried to form a church of bleach so they could claim it was their religious right to sell their chlorine dioxide snake oil. The feds didn’t buy it and now they’ve been indicted (after a brief stint on the lam in South America) in the biggest takedown yet of these dangerous bleach peddlers. Plus! Sportswriter David J. Roth walks us through how anti-vaxx stubbornness among some players is causing big-time chaos in baseball.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng go deep on the far-right “Health and Freedom Conference” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where thousands of attendees flocked to reaffirm their commitment to Donald Trump, the QAnon conspiracy, coronavirus denialism, and the belief that their high-profile political enemies deserve to be shot and killed. Sommer recounts his time reporting from the terrifyingly mask-free conference. Suebsaeng and Sommer also welcome Sara Kenigsberg, a former video producer for Biden 2020, who opens up about what it was like to become an object of the Trump campaign’s hate last summer. Her crime? Well, in part, it was loving pigs, and arguing that these animals don’t racially profile humans. Seriously.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this episode of FEVER DREAMS, hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng welcome HuffPost reporter Ryan J. Reilly, who dishes on some of the wildest, least expected, and flat-out dumbest ways alleged U.S. Capitol rioters have been handed over to the feds. Some are, intentionally or accidentally, snitched out by their wives or significant others. Others get screwed by people who hated them in high school. Others get arrested following the help of amateur “Facebook stalkers.” Additionally, Suebsaeng takes the listener into a strange, dark ride through Donald Trump’s “voter fraud” tipline, complete with deranged tales of dick pics, pornographic Trump deep-fakes, and “a hell of a lot of buttholes.”  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Note: If you're coming here from The New Abnormal the interview picks up after the commercial around 12:30 He founded the noxious online forum that gave QAnon life. And now, he thinks “Q” should be arrested and tried. In Q: Into the Storm, HBO’s new six-part documentary series on QAnon, the filmmakers make their case that father-son duo Jim and Ron Watkins are the true culprits behind “Q.” In a new interview with The Daily Beast, the breakout star of the doc dishes on the Watkins’ “fascist” ramblings (including expressing sympathy with Spanish conquerors who mutilated indigenous populations), why he thinks the Watkins should be prosecuted, and the precise moment he discovered that his former cohorts could be singlehandedly duping the world with a deranged conspiracy theory. In this special bonus episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast, New Abnormal host Molly Jong-Fast joins Fever Dreams producer Jesse Cannon and co-host Will Sommer to interview Fredrick Brennan, the star of HBO documentary. Brennan, founder of the website 8chan that would become a breeding ground for QAnon, has since become an outspoken opponent of the website’s current owner, Jim Watkins, and his son Ron. Brennan argues that Ron and Jim should be arrested for allegedly posing as the mysterious “Q,” likening them to scam artists. “Essentially, what QAnon was—what the Q poster was doing—was impersonating a federal agent,” Brennan said. “And the Watkins have received material gain for that, in terms of their site getting bigger, them being featured in mass media, he had a super PAC…that received donations. He received ads that he would not have received otherwise.” Brennan added, “I think that this case is too important and that the courts should be left to decide whether or not what they did was impersonation of a federal agent…We can't keep looking at the Internet and being like, ‘Oh, well it happened online.’” Brennan elaborates on the very moment it dawned on him that his 8chan successors could actually be behind the far-reaching and destructive pro-Trump hoax. “When 8chan came back online, it was extremely unstable,” he recounted. “I was trying to post on it to see if it worked. And it was not working at all for me, but somehow, ‘Q’ was posting. And that was kind of the moment for me that sealed the deal…If they had not already been controlling it before, they were controlling it now.” Brennan also describes why he believes the Watkins family wants to do far more than just shitpost—that they would love to help bring about a “fascist” state.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
By the end of the big new documentary series on QAnon, the filmmakers show off a pretty damn strong case that a shitposting systems administrator named Ron Watkins is the guy currently behind “Q.”  But the docuseries doesn’t fully capture—at least not in detail—all the crazy lengths to which Watkins went in order to finger Steve Bannon as the head of the violent, culty conspiracy movement.  “Ron actually had been planting the seed for Bannon from the very first time I met him,” Q: Into the Storm director Cullen Hoback tells Will Sommer and Swin Suebsaeng on the new episode of FEVER DREAMS. “So he had known me for, I think, less than 48 hours. And at the end of that interview… he pulls me aside and he just says, ‘You know, you should look into Steve Bannon.’ Which I immediately found pretty suspicious... Right from the get-go, he was planting the seed.” Hoback wasn’t the only guy Watkins was trying to convince. Even in his own shop—the notorious troll-haven 8Chan—Watkins was attempting to shine a light on Bannon. “It seemed like he had even done that internally. Somebody who works with them [Ron Watkins and his father Jim] at one point… showed me a chat they'd had that went all the way back to early January of 2018, where Ron was internally suggesting Steve Bannon.”  Hoback adds, “It seems that this was a red herring. This is my interpretation, that it was a red herring that he had been planting for some time. And I suspect that he had put a lot of work into this and wanted someone to pick up on it.”  As the documentary shows, Watkins even produced a supposed “data set” meant to demonstrate that “Q” and the former top Trump strategist were in the roughly same place at roughly the same time.  But suspicion eventually swung back to Ron and his dad, even though they were almost certainly not “Q” originally. (Most likely, it was a group of folks.) Back then, you might be surprised to learn, “Q” was treated as a joke—one of a whole gaggle of “anons” claiming to have insider knowledge the nefarious workings of the deep state. There was even one character named “BigDickAnon,” Sommer says.  “It's interesting reading the first posts where everyone's like, ‘Get outta here, Q, you're a total loser.’ There's a really funny line where Q's like, ‘I must go dark, the deep state is closing in’ and someone's like, ‘Yeah, time to log off. Mom's meatloaf is ready, loser. Get out of here,’” Sommer adds. “It's just fascinating to see how people treated Q initially and how it turned into this thing that would have people in Congress—and storming Congress.”  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Did you know that everyone’s favorite Suez-Canal-blocking ship is now the subject of a QAnon conspiracy? The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer lay out why the adrenochrome set is convinced that the stuck ship’s cargo is full of trafficked children on the latest episode of our Fever Dreams podcast (Hint: it has to do with Hillary Clinton’s secret service code name—you guessed it, EVERGREEN.)  Speaking of Hillary conspiracies, Suebsaeng and Sommer discuss why the right just can’t seem to come up with a good Joe Biden conspiracy to smear the new president; Trump’s base seems more interested in reverting to their old hatreds of Clinton and Barack Obama. (As Suebsaeng points out, Biden quite simply is not Black or a woman, and so doesn’t inspire the same level of vitriol from the hardcore racist, misogynistic Trumpites.) Meanwhile, there’s a tug-of-war going on between those in the Trump administration who want the former president to receive “credit” for the COVID vaccine drive and the rightwing anti-government, anti-vaxx diehards who refuse to believe that their Emperor God actually wants them to get the shot. The tussle is crystallized in Trump’s former HHS staffer Michael Caputo, a “really brash, incredibly Trumpy longtime Republican operative” who has taken it upon himself to prosthelytize about the vaccine in biker bars among the “MAGA Sons of Anarchy”—and who’s running into a lot of resistance. Keep an eye out for the interview with The Daily Beast’s own Kelly Weill, who walks our hosts through the crazy cast of lawyers and faux-lawyers who have sprung up to defend the Capitol Rioters and anti-masker businesses—one of them quotes from Lord of the Rings, another has never actually passed the bar because he thinks it’s a British conspiracy.  And most importantly, we learn about Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes’ supervillain origin story, how Texas National Guard troops faced a hostage situation with Pizzagate overtones, and how Will Sommer is singlehandedly responsible for bringing the phrase “soy boy” out of the Internet swamp into the national spotlight.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Take one self-proclaimed satanism expert. Add in a pinch of dumpster-diving. Throw in a chicken-coop fire, and (of course) pillow magnate and Donald Trump pal Mike Lindell. And you’ve got the recipe that Trump 2020 deadenders are currently leading in the great state of Arizona to try to, somehow, overturn the election there. “It could be like a Coen brothers movie. It has that atmosphere,” Daily Beast political reporter Will Sommer tells his colleague and co-host Asawin Suebsaeng on the premiere episode of  Fever Dreams, The Beast’s new podcast. “You have these kind of vigilante groups of people who connect on Facebook and say, well, let's go to the board of elections—and then they dive into the dumpster and see what they can find…Or there was a fire at a chicken farm owned by or connected to this guy who's opposed to the recount, and they said, well, he probably put the ballots in there and set the fire! And then they go out to the farm and they smell the air and they say: This smells like burnt ballot to me!” Fever Dreams takes you inside the right’s push to retake power, from the conspiracy-slingers to the MAGA acolytes to the straight-up grifters. Thought the Trump era was crazy? Wait ’til you hear what comes next. To start, there’s the slew of Republican efforts to not only to keep challenging the 2020 presidential contest, but to also execute further election and voter crackdowns across the country.  “What’s going on is that Republicans need some shred of voter-fraud evidence that they can then use to impose more voting restrictions,” Will adds. “But what they’re doing here in Arizona…[the recount effort involves] this satanism guy, who maybe does not have the most credibility, or they were looking to hire this very pro-Trump outfit that’s been laughed out of other state recounts. To help  further unpack how the Trump era was just one long, aggravating, and monumentally blood-drenched Coen brothers movie that we were all forced to live through, Swin and Will welcomed Ike Barinholtz, the comedian and star of such films as Blockers and the Neighbors franchise, as well as in TV series Bless the Harts, Eastbound and Down, and The Mindy Project.  The whole Trump presidency “really was Burn After Reading,” Ike contends. But “if you want to learn how the insides of the [Trump] White House work, you have to watch Step Brothers. It will all make sense.” Ike also opens up about what it was like to co-star in the 2020 satire The Hunt, just as then-President Trump was busy issuing, in Swin’s words, a “cultural fatwa”—via tweet—on the movie. “No one loves ‘cancel culture’ more than the Republicans. It’s their favorite thing, they love it, they thrive on it,” he says. “The worst possible thing is for Donald Trump to tweet about you. Just, it changes your life in a terrible, terrible way…I was super nervous that he was going to tweet about it. And then he tweeted about it!” As a result, he and others working on the movie were, naturally, inundated with threats of retribution and violence, including, as Ike put it, tweets from “MAGA Tim holding a picture of a fish, saying he was gonna kill me.” Each week on this show, we’ll shine a light on the events, organizing principles, and power brokers that not only exist, but have affected the course of world and domestic events, or have even entransed your next-door neighbors or family members. Even in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s administration, the collective energy of these conspiracy theorists, grifters, and influencers is still pushing our mainstream political landscape closer and closer to a breaking point. And we’re here to help you better understand how and why this is happening, and who in the halls of power are letting it happen. Along the way, we’ll also regularly bring on guests including political pros, hard-nosed reporters, and some influential voices from Hollywood. Every once in a while, you might also hear from some familiar face...
Fever Dreams Trailer

Fever Dreams Trailer

2021-03-1601:351

The Daily Beast’s top reporters take you inside the right’s push to retake power, from the conspiracy-slingers to the MAGA acolytes to the straight-up grifters. Thought the Trump era was crazy? Wait ’til you hear what they have planned next. Hosted by Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer. New episodes every Wednesday. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app today.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Comments (1)

Emmm Arrrrr

great start to the pod.

Mar 27th
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