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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.

 

119 Episodes
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Today’s pod tackles a subject of profound importance: The sheer, inexplicable weirdness of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. There’s Representative Matt Gaetz’s bizarre speech, in which his face was so taut that one Republican derided him as an “AI sex doll.” There are all the ugly “Mass Deportations Now!” signs, the cultish rituals in which attendees treated Trump as their MAGA God King, and much, much more. We talked to Ron Filipkowski, who closely tracks the right wing as the head of Meidas Touch News. He helped us find meaning underneath all the ugliness and insanity. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Surprise, surprise: The Republican convention is turning into a festival of media bashing. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene did something that deserves special attention: After fielding a question about J.D. Vance that displeased her, Greene erupted, repeatedly dressing down the reporter in strikingly vicious terms. Arizona senate candidate Kari Lake, meanwhile, used her convention speech to similarly smear the press. All this is a bad omen: If Donald Trump wins the election, the assault on the press is going to shift into authoritarian overdrive. We talked to Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz, who explains why a Trump crackdown on the press could get alarmingly far. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Now that Ohio Senator J.D. Vance is Donald Trump’s running mate, everyone is combing through his old quotes, and a striking one has surfaced: in 2016, Vance warned that Trump threatened to take the white working class to a “very dark place.” In short, Vance once understood that MAGA ideology, at its core, is really, really toxic. And that’s a big political vulnerability. We talked to Sarah Longwell, the pollster and prominent Never Trumper, about how the Vance pick will showcase the worst aspects of MAGA throughout this race and how Democrats can try to use that to win swing voters. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the days after the horrific effort to assassinate Donald Trump, MAGA figures have widely sought to exploit this moment of national crisis, by arguing that Democrats invited or even encouraged the shooting. The leading proponent of this absurd claim is Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, and on Tuesday, Trump announced that Vance will be his running mate. We talked to Alex Shephard, a senior editor at The New Republic and author of a great new piece on this new MAGA agitprop, about why the Vance pick—and other assorted signs—suggest that the politics around the shooting are going to get a lot more poisonous. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
At the time of this recording, we know little about the attempt to assassinate Donald Trump. He was hit in the ear, but thankfully doesn’t appear seriously injured. The 20-year-old gunman has been identified as Thomas Matthew Crooks. He was registered as a Republican but donated $15 to a progressive group in January 2021, and we know nothing of his motive. Political violence is absolutely unacceptable no matter who is targeted. So for now we will focus on the bigger picture: We talked to Zack Beauchamp, author of a new book called The Reactionary Spirit and a piece for Vox called: “America is not ready for what comes next,” about whether this horror will lead to an escalation and what it says that American society is again at this point.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In recent days, Donald Trump has angrily claimed he knows nothing about Project 2025, the blueprint his allies are drawing up for an authoritarian second term presidency. But CNN is now reporting that at least 140 people from the Trump administration have a hand in the Project 2025 plan. And NBC News has unearthed video showing that Trump expressly praised the plan’s creators for their work in 2022. We talked to Amanda Becker—a reporter for The 19th News and author of a forthcoming piece on Project 2025’s minutiae—who explains why Trump keeps running from Project 2025 and what its darker designs really have in store for us. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
With President Biden forcefully declaring that he isn’t leaving the presidential race, the latest polling looks frightening. The Cook Political Report just released new polling averages showing Donald Trump leading Biden nationally by three points. FiveThirtyEight’s averages also look grim. New swing state polls show Trump dominating. But Ron Klain, the former White House chief of staff to Biden, nonetheless maintains that Biden is still the Democrat with the best shot against Trump. We invited Klain on the show, and he fielded some hard questions while making an expansive case that Biden still has a path.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Although the Democratic Party remains mired in infighting over President Biden’s disastrous debate performance, congressional Democrats now appear increasingly convinced that he will survive as the nominee. They seem resigned to this even as many appear convinced he will lose to Donald Trump in November. What happened here, exactly? We talked to The American Prospect’s David Dayen, who has a good new piece called “Why the Bid to Push Out Biden is Losing,” about how Biden seems to have shut down the opposition, what it says about the Democratic Party, and why there’s still grounds for deep anxiety about what comes next. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Monday, we learned that the committee for the 2024 Republican convention is debating a new platform, proposed by Donald Trump, that purports to soften the party’s positions on abortion and same sex marriage. This will be widely interpreted as a savvy effort to woo swing voters and suburban women. But what if it’s really an expression of fear that the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the horrors it has unleashed will remain a major problem for Trump and the GOP this fall? We talked to Jess McIntosh, a Democratic strategist and longtime defender of reproductive rights, about what’s driving this shift, why it’s a scam, and how Democrats can make sure voters know it. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Sunday, Donald Trump erupted at The New York Times, slamming it in crazed and bizarre terms for its supposed unfair treatment of him. Yet if anything, in recent days the Times has crusaded relentlessly against his opponent, President Biden. Which is why this moment helps explain how Trump games the media—and how the media lets Trump game them. We talked with Will Stancil, an active social media presence who has prominently skewered the press for an immense double standard toward Trump and Biden. He explains why the Times and the media often seem to crusade more aggressively against Biden’s age than against Trump’s obvious mental unfitness for the presidency.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Donald Trump shared some deranged images on social media that called for the jailing of Liz Cheney. Taking his rage in a new direction, one image even called for her to face a military tribunal. Meanwhile, new reports suggest Trump is preparing an unexpectedly vicious wave of persecution if he wins. So what can Trump actually do to his political opponents if he unleashes all the powers of the presidency on them? We talked to Kristy Parker, former federal prosecutor and counsel at Protect Democracy, who explained why Trump’s coming crackdown on his enemies could be more disturbing than we expect—and how to fight back against it.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Yesterday the Supreme Court released its shocking new ruling in the case involving Donald Trump’s demand for absolute immunity from prosecution for insurrection-related crimes. The court gave Trump much of what he wanted, notably ensuring that his trial for the insurrection will be delayed indefinitely. But what’s really worrying is what this ruling could allow Trump to get away with if he wins back the White House. We talked to legal expert Richard Hasen, who just published A Real Right to Vote and regularly writes about Trump’s attacks on democracy, about why the case for alarmism is real and serious.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
At last week’s debate, Donald Trump ranted that the January 6 defendants are “so innocent,” raging that President Biden is “destroying their lives.” Then at a rally, Trump called for their immediate release, while proclaiming victory over a big Supreme Court ruling that seemingly weakens the cases against the attackers. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann just co-authored a good new piece explaining that the ruling will only impact a small percentage of those cases. Still, if Trump wins, he’ll pardon untold numbers of those convicted. So we talked to Weissmann, who went deep on on that ruling and on why Trump’s pardon threats endanger the rule of law at its foundations. Listen to this episode here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
MAGA personalities raged at CNN when it refused to allow a Donald Trump propagandist to smear journalists on air. They exploded again when CNN announced that the debate would be fact checked. We think this provides an unexpected glimpse into what Project 2025’s implementation might look like. This thought was driven home by a must-read thread from writer David Roberts about Project 2025’s true aims. So we talked to Roberts about what MAGA’s hostility to neutral journalism portends for a second Trump term—one that wrecks the professional, fact-based civil service and transforms government into a tool for manufacturing propaganda. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
President Biden and Donald Trump are set to hold their first debate, after Trump and his allies spent weeks mocking Biden’s age with doctored videos and dumb jokes about Biden’s supposed plan to rely on performance-enhancing drugs. Is all that agitprop just chum for the MAGA masses, or does it reflect a genuine belief that Biden actually is so deep into his dotage that he can’t possibly be a worthy debate adversary? We talked to veteran reporter Marc Caputo of The Bulwark, who has a good new report on Trump’s debate prep. Caputo is highly illuminating on what the Trump brain trust is really thinking as we head into the first showdown.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Judge Aileen Cannon gave Donald Trump two more big assists. She agreed to hold a multi-day hearing on the constitutionality of the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith. And she appeared skeptical of Smith’s demand for a gag order on one of Trump’s most deranged attacks on law enforcement yet. We talked to law professor Corey Brettschneider, author of a new book called The Presidents and the People: Five Leaders Who Threatened Democracy and the Citizens Who Fought to Defend It. He vividly explains how Cannon is enabling Trump to attack the rule of law itself— and the dark antecedents this has in U.S. history.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In recent days, Donald Trump’s spinners have worked hard to build up images of his supposed political invincibility. But what if it’s all smoke and mirrors? In an important new piece, Politico reports that behind the scenes, many Republicans are suddenly feeling quite uncertain about Trump’s chances. We talked to Never Trump conservative Mona Charen, an editor and columnist at The Bulwark who has written shrewdly about the GOP tendency to overestimate Biden’s weaknesses, about what’s really driving these sudden new doubts—and whether the race is really turning in Biden’s favor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
At two speeches over the weekend, Donald Trump ramped up the dangerous language about migrants, floating the idea of Ultimate Fighting Championship matches between migrants and native born Americans. This comes as Trump and MAGA are escalating their propaganda tactic of highlighting isolated murders to smear migrants as dangerous criminals. We talked to Brian Beutler, who argues regularly on his Substack that this sort of shameless, degenerate politics is itself a big story, about how the press should cover the Trump-MAGA demonization of migrants as a major scandal in its own right.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Donald Trump raged at a Fox News poll finding behind, and lashed out at Fox for featuring a guest who dared criticize him. Trump regularly unloads on Fox when it doesn’t follow his script, which is remarkable, given that Fox is usually committed to deceiving its viewers on his behalf. Both Trump and Fox draw on a long history, in which grift and scams have been deeply intertwined with the American right for over a half century. We talked to journalist Joe Conason, author of a new book called: “The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism,” about the place of the tortured Trump-Fox relationship in that long, ugly story.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Any day now, the Supreme Court will rule on Donald Trump’s demand for immunity from prosecution for alleged insurrection-related crimes. Depending on how the court rules, it’s still possible Trump’s trial will begin before the election. But what if the damage is already done? Veteran labor strategist Michael Podhorzer has an important new piece on his Substack arguing that the MAGA-friendy justices and the court have already interfered in the election by delaying the trial to the degree it has—and that this is about to get worse. We talked to Podhorzer about why he thinks the court is pushing our country into a deep crisis.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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