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THE DAILY BLAST with Greg Sargent
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THE DAILY BLAST with Greg Sargent

Author: Greg Sargent

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Every weekday, The New Republic’s Greg Sargent brings you a fresh way of thinking about the biggest political stories of the moment, offered up in an entertaining, information-packed conversation with a leading lawmaker, journalist, or newsmaker. We go deep into the stories behind the headlines leading TNR and other news outlets—while making it fun and fast.

 

99 Episodes
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MAGA deception seems to have gone nuclear. Fox News’s Sean Hannity is floating strange new theories about President Biden’s upcoming debate with Donald Trump. Republicans dishonestly doctored numerous videos to make Biden look befuddled and senile. And we learned that the Sinclair media apparatus is blaring out all that deception to huge audiences. We talked to well-known writer and podcaster Thom Hartmann, author of a New Republic piece, “From the Border to Bump Stocks, the MAGA Lie Machine Is Heating Up,” about whether we’re approaching a point of no return that will make this election like no other.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Politico released a new poll with some pretty big surprises: A larger-than-expected percentage of Americans say Donald Trump’s criminal conviction in Manhattan makes them less likely to vote for him. The finding is even more striking among independents. The poll also took the innovative step of trying to gauge how important Trump’s conviction is to voters. And the answer is: Pretty important! We talked to Ankush Khardori, a senior writer for Politico Magazine who oversaw this poll, who walked us through its findings, what they mean, and whether Trump’s pressure on Republicans to protect him from the law will backfire on the GOP in November.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s new book comes out, and it contains a disturbing chapter about Donald Trump’s ignorance, explosive rage and megalomania during the coronavirus pandemic. We think this should be covered as a loud, clanging alarm bell about the dangers of a second Trump term. So we talked to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has written a series of columns on voter amnesia about Trump’s 2020 performance, about the horrors unleashed on the country by his unfitness for the presidency—and why recent events suggest he’s gotten much worse.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
New reports are emerging about Donald Trump’s tightening grip on the GOP, and the upshot is this: It’s crazier and more dangerous than you thought. First we learned that Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson privately schemed over how to sabotage ongoing prosecutions of Trump. Then Trump met with Republicans and reportedly unleashed numerous strange rants, calling the Justice Department “dirty no good bastards” and spinning out a wild tale about Nancy Pelosi’s daughter. We talked with A.B. Stoddard, a columnist at The Bulwark and shrewd observer of GOP politics, and she trenchantly explained why this moment is very much not a drill.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
An influential group called the True Texas Project is hosting a conference in July that will actively promote Christian Nationalism and the racist great replacement theory, the Texas Tribune reports. The group, which subscribes to the idea of a “war on white America,” has ties to many Texas GOP officials, the report says, including Senator Ted Cruz and Attorney General Ken Paxton, a major supporter of Donald Trump. We talked to Sarah Posner, author of several books on the religious right, who sheds much-needed light on this ugly tangle far right ideologies—and how they’re being mainstreamed at the highest levels of Republican power.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump is now leveling his authoritarian threats right out in the open. He appears supremely confident that none of it will alienate swing voters. Now NBC News reports that the Biden campaign hopes to draw out this side of Trump at their upcoming debate—but if Trump doesn’t see these things as liabilities, he may advertise them all over again when voters are paying attention. We talked to Slate legal writer Dahlia Lithwick, author of an excellent new piece outlining how Trump is running on an overt promise of authoritarianism, about whether voters will awaken to the threat he poses—and how this could cause his confidence to blow up in his face.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the wake of Donald Trump’s criminal conviction, House Speaker Mike Johnson and Republicans are ramping up with sordid new efforts to use their congressional powers to protect Trump from other ongoing prosecutions. This gives Democrats an opening to hammer Republicans for aiding and abetting Trump’s nonstop quest to place himself above the law. Yet some Democrats seem reluctant to engage this fight. We talked to California Representative Eric Swalwell, who breaks down the absurdity of the GOP’s various tactics—and how Democrats can go on offense against them.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Some Republicans are reportedly worried that Donald Trump’s ongoing public attacks on his criminal conviction show that he’s overly focused on lathering up his base, and refuses to grasp that the verdict will likely alienate swing voters. We think this highlights a deeper truth about Trump and the MAGA movement itself: They cannot acknowledge that such Trump-centrict obsessions might be unpopular with the broader electorate, as this would constitute showing weakness. We talked to Washington Post reporter Isaac Arnsdorf, author of an excellent new book called Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement’s Ground War to End Democracy, who helped us unravel this tangle of MAGA pathologies. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A judge just ordered longtime Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to surrender to prison on July 1st after his conviction for defying the Jan. 6th committee’s subpoena. Not surprisingly, Trump and MAGA have already exploded in rage. Making this worse, Bannon is one of the leading pro-Trump figures calling on Trump to jail Democrats without cause if he wins the White House—and Bannon’s jail time will only fuel that mania. We talked to Eric Columbus, a lawyer who represented the Jan. 6th committee, about the alarming signals this sends about the perils of a second Trump presidency. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal published a dodgy hit piece about President Biden’s age. Then something unusual happened: Democratic lawmakers went nuclear on the piece, going on record to forcefully undermine its core assertions. This deserves some discussion: Could Dems better “work the refs” the way Republicans do? When liberals do criticize coverage, why do newsroom leaders shrug it off? Why do editors insult our intelligence with phony justifications for the overemphasis on Biden’s age? We chatted with Aaron Rupar, a shrewd media observer and author of the “Public Notice" Substack, about the deeper problems with the press this episode reveals.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
MAGA loyalists have been relentlessly pushing a silly talking point: The American people are in full scale revolt against the criminal conviction of Donald Trump. Guess what? The polls are telling a different story, finding majority support for the verdict. One of these, from the progressive firm Data for Progress, finds that this is also true among swing voters. We chatted with Data for Progress’s executive director, Danielle Deiseroth, about what all these numbers are really telling us, most (though not all) of it good news. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the wake of Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, Republican anger at the verdict is getting darker, with GOP leaders talking about holding hearings and even defunding other prosecutions of Trump. But Democrats are not engaging this debate nearly as intensively, and appear divided over how to proceed. This is puzzling: The furious GOP defense of Trump is deranged and reckless, and would almost certainly be deeply unpopular—if voters are made to understand it. We talked to veteran Democratic strategist Celinda Lake, who suggested ways the party might find a stronger and more unified posture in this battle going forward. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The other day on CNN, prominent Never Trump lawyer George Conway did something you rarely see in Washington. He dressed down a GOP commentator for lying his ass off about Donald Trump—and then, right on the air, he asked why CNN was paying this Republican to spread lies on Trump’s behalf. We think this episode illustrates a deep problem with the media’s handling of pro-Trump propaganda. So we chatted with Conway about why he unloaded—and in the process, he revealed some interesting things about the network. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Earlier this week, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito refused to recuse himself from hearing Jan. 6-related cases amid controversy over an upside-down U.S. flag outside Alito’s home that’s associated with Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” effort. Then, on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts denied Democrats’ demand for a meeting, adding to the imperiousness around the conservative justices and making the Alito scandal look worse. We talked to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, about what he called the “omerta” code for right wing justices—and whether it’s time for hearings into the Alito mess. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump recently said he’s “looking at” imposing restrictions on contraception if he is elected president, and even promised a concrete policy. Then he quickly walked it back. But certain constituencies on the right have not given up—far from it. We chatted with Politico reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein, co-author of a great new piece detailing the blueprint that Trump’s MAGA allies are developing for him to restrict birth control through executive action, about how far this could get if he regains the White House. It isn’t pretty. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Tuesday, Judge Aileen Cannon temporarily denied special counsel Jack Smith’s latest request for a gag order on Donald Trump’s lie that the FBI was set to use lethal force on Trump at Mar-a-Lago. In keeping with a shady pattern of favoritism to Trump, Cannon said No, but she may feel pressure to grant the gag order later, lest Smith seek her removal. We talked to legal scholar Matthew Seligman, who has done great work road-mapping Trump’s legal travails, about why Cannon’s move may not help Trump in the long run—and why it’s premature to assume he won’t face a federal criminal trial before the election. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump and his media propagandists have been preposterously suggesting the FBI under President Biden was set to use “lethal force” against Trump when it searched Mar-a-Lago. This fabrication was summoned into existence by Fox News and the right wing media. We talked with media reporter Brian Stelter, author of a great new piece on Trump in The New Republic’s “American Fascism” issue, who put all this in its larger context, explaining what the right wing media has become under Trump, and how he will bully non-compliant media outlets if reelected president. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Thursday, Donald Trump tweeted that Vladimir Putin will release Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Russia, after the election—“for me,” meaning for Trump. In other words, elect Trump president, and Putin will release him. We think this saga gets at a larger story about Trump’s approach to politics and foreign policy. So we talked to Nicholas Grossman, a professor of international relations who writes about Trump’s Putinist inclinations. He explains how Trump may be sabotaging U.S foreign policy to help himself politically, while aligning himself with the world’s autocrats and dictators. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Trump and MAGA Republicans are floating the crackpot idea that President Biden’s FBI was ready to target Trump with lethal force when it searched Mar-a-Lago. This is based on a wildly absurd reading of FBI policy, but beyond this, we think this saga says something larger about the fascistic politics of Trump and his MAGA allies. We talked to Federico Finchelstein, an expert on fascist movements and author of a new piece in The New Republic’s issue on “American Fascism,” who explains why Trump is best seen as a “wannabe fascist.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Monday, the prosecution rested its case in Donald Trump’s hush money trial in Manhattan. This comes after Trump’s defense team concluded their efforts to destroy former Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s credibility as one of the chief witnesses against Trump. So has the prosecution proven its case? We talked to New York Law School professor Rebecca Roiphe, who has prosecuted cases like these in New York, about why she thinks a conviction is now likely—even as it still remains very possible that Trump could beat the rap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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