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As promised every Friday we’ll tell you what our favorite segments of the week are, give you a written and expanded version of #RisingQs, and give you our weekly takeaways. If there’s anything you love, like, dislike, or hate don’t hesitate to reply to this email with your thoughts!
Favorite Segments Of The Week
#1: Bernie Sanders National Campaign Co-Chair Nina Turner
Why: Nina clapped back at the media for accusing the Sanders campaign of a “cover up” regarding his health status. She’s one of our favorite guests because she never holds back and if you listen carefully you can hear some pointed criticisms of rivals including Senator Elizabeth Warren. Could this be previewing a debate strategy? Time will tell…
#2: Intercept DC Bureau Chief Ryan Grim
Why: Ryan appears to be a Biden family corruption savant. He spoke literally for about 8 minutes straight from memory, offering up a detailed timeline of the Biden family’s business dealings. If you watch nothing else just sit back and enjoy as he starts in the 1970’s and makes his way to 2019. There are very few reporters we respect more than Ryan Grim.
#3: Former Mayor of NYC and President Donald Trump’s Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani
Why: Not everyday you get to interview the personal lawyer to the president embroiled in scandal after scandal. Rudy has played a central role in the ongoing Ukraine-gate impeachment scandal. Saagar tried to draw him out in explaining his role in originating the Ukraine scandal and whether he will cooperate with Congress.
#4: Presidential Candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Why: Tulsi Gabbard stopped by for a wide-ranging interview about potential boycott of the next Democratic debate, her opposition to Trump’s Syria policy, and why she backed Ellen DeGeneres in her George W Bush love-fest.
What jumped out to us was Tulsi’s willingness to critique the soft corruption of Hunter Biden. She and Andrew Yang are the only major candidates so far to do so.
Answer (from Saagar): Honestly I don’t think there is a right wing show which does a good job. I have been systematically amazed by Youtube shows on the left which debate with integrity the policy nuances of Medicare for All and other proposals. There is no right wing counterpart that I know of and that’s because much of right wing Youtube is focused on grievance politics and culture wars.
If the right actually wants to win then they need to get serious about policy and hash out their differences in the public square. In the meantime, we try to do as much as we can on #Rising
Answer (from Krystal): Yes absolutely. The timing is no accident. Senator Sanders’ plan to end corporate contributions to the DNC and other party committees, end corporate contributions to the inaugural committees, and also ban advertising from Presidential debates, forced her hand on this issue. If she wanted to continue to tout herself as a grassroots candidate she really needed to adjust. I also give a lot of credit though to the grassroots for pressuring Senator Warren to revise her position and also to our friends over at The Young Turks. Cenk and Ana were the first to my knowledge to press Warren on her money in politics positions and expose that she had a different plan for the General than for the Primary election. There’s more work to do here though. Warren still plans to do big dollar fundraising for the party and hasn’t made the same commitment to banning corporate money to the DNC. So, if this is something you care about, keep up the pressure! It’s working!
Answer (from both): Both stand a chance but they have major weaknesses. Biden is low energy Jeb Bush all over again except this time he doesn’t even have the money to back it up. Biden’s complete lack of revision in his political thinking and checkered family business dealings leave him dramatically vulnerable to the Hillary Clinton playbook Trump deployed in 2016. If you want to look at who architected the neoliberal consensus that destroyed the working class of this country, Joe Biden was a central player.
Warren on the other hand is a wine track candidate. She is exactly in the model of a John Kerry, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and others who have white papers for everything but do not register well with the general public. Her general waffling on policy makes it difficult to determine where she actually stands and makes her appear disingenuous.
That’s not to mention the heritage scandal that Democrats may not want to touch but Republicans will discuss every single day. Warren obfuscated her past for many years, benefited from it in her professional life, and will need to answer fully for what she knew and when.
Part of what people misunderstand about Bernie is that he is likely the only candidate in the field who can similarly project anti-establishment appeal. Bernie legitimately has stood up against the establishment for 40 years and to this day says he’s an existential threat to the Democratic party (which people love).
Krystal’s Weekly Takeaway:
Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill is about to hit shelves but it is already causing a major stir in the media world. In it, he details a new rape allegation against star anchor Matt Lauer and new allegations that NBC News Chief Andy Lack pressured multiple subordinates for sex. Lauer and Lack both deny the claims. But the real crux of the book is a sordid tale of the lengths elites will go to in order to protect other elites. Ronan reports that Weinstein relentlessly called the top brass at NBC. In one conversation, Weinstein reportedly told Andy Lack: “It was the ’90s. You know? Did I go out with an assistant or two that I shouldn’t have, did I sleep with one or two of them, sure. We all did that.” To which Lack reportedly responded: “Harvey, say no more. We’ll look into it.” In another conversation recounted by Farrow, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim tells him that his reporting would lead NBC to have to “make some decisions … like, is this really worth it.” According to Ronan, Clintonworld got in on the elite protection action as well. Farrow was working to secure an interview with Hillary while working on the Weinstein story and received a gem of an email from her publicist Nick Merrill explaining that the “big story” Ronan was working on was “a concern for us.” The implication of course being, go forward with the Weinstein story and kiss your access goodbye.
All in all, it’s a horrifying portrait of the inner workings of NBC, I place I of course used to work, but more broadly, it’s an extreme parable of how the news process too often works. News isn’t judged just on its newsworthiness. It’s filtered through a prism of elite solidarity and class solidarity and institutional self-preservation. Because the truth is, that the news media covers for powerful people every day.
I talked about this in my monologue Thursday:
Saagar’ s Weekly Takeaway:
My major obsession this week has been the NBA’s capitulation to China and how much of a sea change in American politics I believe it will bring about. The NBA-China story really encapsulates decades of failed American policy that has intertwined American and Chinese economies. Matt Stoller said it best on our show this week, that neoliberals promised us all in the 1990s that by doing business with China we could export American democracy and make more money for everybody involved. Instead what has happened is that we’re importing Chinese autocracy.
That autocracy and money has now infiltrated Hollywood, the News Media, and all major corporate sectors that govern the daily lives of American citizens. This was all done in the name of cheaper goods for us all. Are we better off? I would posit that not only have we destroyed our native capacity to support ourselves but now we are less free than at any time in modern history.
Just look at this video taken in our nations capital on Thursday night. An American security guard, on American soil, at an American basketball game, confiscated a sign that is offensive to the Chinese government. That shows the lengths that American companies will go to grovel for dollars in Beijing.
Fortunately I believe this is actually a major benefit. I have never seen this issue touch the nerve of so many Americans who now understand that Beijing is not shy about using its economic power to try and limit the speech of US citizens. For more on this you can watch my monologue from this week here:
Don’t Forget Debate Coverage!
We’re going LIVE 30 minutes before and the hour after the debate with special gusts The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, Bernie Sanders advisor Chuck Rocha, Democratic Strategist Don Calloway, Democratic Strategist Andrew Feldman, and Independent Women’s Forum Fellow Inez Stepman.
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