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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.

 

53 Episodes
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Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been hit by a lot of bad news lately. His former vice president declined to endorse him. His legal travails are getting worse. And some states are lurching to new extremes on abortion, making it impossible for Trump to shrug off responsibility for the end of Roe v. Wade. Yet as Media Matters has documented, Fox News appears to be dramatically downplaying a lot of these stories. We talked to Media Matters news director John Whitehouse about Fox’s evolution into a pro-Trump propaganda network and what that says about today’s right wing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Wednesday, Donald Trump declared that he won’t sign a national abortion ban if elected president, a clear sign he recognizes the issue poses a severe threat to his prospects. But this week, the Arizona State Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law banning almost all abortions, demonstrating that Trump will be forced to answer for every extremist lurch in the states from now until the election. We chatted with Elvia Diaz, the editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic, who explains how deeply personal this issue is for millions of women and why that’s a serious problem for Trump and the GOP in Arizona and beyond. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
At a recent fundraiser, Donald Trump promised big tax cuts to some of the richest donors in the country. He also suggested he wants more immigrants from countries like Norway—hint, hint—while blasting Latin American migrants as criminals and worse. This corrupt bargain—offer huge giveaways to wealthy elites so they embrace far right governance—is an old story. In today’s episode, Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt—who studies what happens when conservative elites ally with authoritarian movements—explains why it’s extraordinarily reckless for corporate leaders to calculate they can work with Trump despite his promise of a lawless second term. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Mike Johnson finally appears set to decide whether to hold a House vote on funding military aid to Ukraine. If so, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened to try to oust him as Speaker. Yet something funny has happened: A lot of House Republicans want to vote on Ukraine aid. Is there any chance it might pass? How will Donald Trump react? We talked to Julia Ioffe, a journalist for Puck and a leading voice on Russia-U.S. relations, who shed light on the brutal road ahead for Ukraine and explained how the MAGA-Putin alliance really works. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It’s a new trend: GOP legislatures are advancing bills that place onerous new kinds of restrictions on public and school libraries in states like Idaho, Alabama, Georgia and others. On the front lines of taking on this trend is Emily Drabinski, the president of the American Library Association, who also grew up in Idaho and is openly gay. So we invited Drabinski on to the show to shed light on what it takes to battle the book banners targeting LGBTQ materials in states like her own, and what sort of toll this is taking on communities across the country. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump recently spoke privately with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Trump’s team won’t say word boo about what was discussed, and we can guess why: His private business dealings with the Saudis are going gangbusters even as he’s locking up the GOP presidential nomination, creating all kinds of opportunities for corruption. We talked to Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who explained why the Trump-Saudi relationship is absolutely crying out for serious scrutiny. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, special counsel Jack Smith made a surprise move in his prosecution of Donald Trump for stealing classified documents. He called on Judge Aileen Cannon to make a quick decision on a key matter, flaunting his frustration with her over numerous rulings putting the thumb on the scale for Trump. We chatted with Philip Rotner, a veteran lawyer who has written a series of pieces for The Bulwark arguing that Cannon is killing the case against Trump right in broad daylight. Rotner explains in unsettling terms why her interventions for Trump are likely to get uglier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
One of Donald Trump’s central campaign promises has been to pardon untold numbers of rioters who attacked the Capitol—people he’s described as martyrs, victims and “hostages.” Now, an important new analysis finds that many of the inmates Trump has referred to are ones who violently attacked law enforcement officers. We talked to Tom Joscelyn, lead author of that analysis and a former senior Jan. 6 committee staffer, who explains how his findings blow apart a lot of Trump-MAGA propaganda about that dark and terrible day. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
GOP members of Congress facing tough races are suddenly worried that having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket might present them with a problem, according to new reports. They fear having to answer for Trump’s degeneracy and extremism, even as the GOP’s small donor base is not delivering at the very moment as Trump is siphoning off party money for legal fees. What explains this sudden GOP epiphany about Trump? How likely is it that these fears will materialize? We chatted with Tim Persico, a top Democratic operative involved in House races in 2022, who provided insights into how this Trump effect really works. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump’s announcement that he is now peddling something called the “God Bless the USA Bible” drew outrage from some religious figures, but one group that’s been conspicuously quiet about it are evangelical leaders. Why? Perhaps because Trump is making subtle promises to give them what they want. We talked with Katherine Stewart, a journalist who covers the religious right, about all the ways Trump is signaling a second term shaped around ideals of Christian Nationalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
You’ve probably heard someone say we’re in the midst of a “racial realignment.” The idea is that Donald Trump is surprisingly strong among nonwhite voters, helping explain why head-to-head polling looks rough for President Biden. But political analyst Ron Brownstein has written an important new piece that adds sorely needed nuance, finding that the flipside to Trump’s strength among nonwhites is Biden’s unexpected support among white voters. We chatted with Brownstein about why his thesis shows that Trump’s position is more precarious than it seems. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Two days after a major bridge collapsed in Baltimore when a cargo ship rammed into it, we still know little about six bridge workers who are presumed dead after an intensive search. Little by little, we’re learning that police were just about to alert the workers about the crash but were a hair too late, and that they were immigrants who were supporting children and families. Who were these workers? Could they have been saved? We talked to Maximillian Alvarez, editor in chief of the Baltimore-based Real News Network, about what this horror tells us about immigrant life in America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
All of a sudden Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to be attacking House Speaker Mike Johnson almost daily over all kinds of things, especially his promise to find a way to pass military aid to Ukraine. Does that mean Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans will successfully thwart that effort? Why is the House GOP in such chaos, anyway? We chatted with GOP lobbyist Liam Donovan, a Twitter virtuoso and shrewd observer of Republican politics, who helped demystify all the crazy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
NBC News is reeling over its decision to hire former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel as a political analyst. McDaniel actively participated in Donald Trump’s effort to steal the 2020 election, pressuring state officials not to certify the outcome, and personalities like Joe Scarborough and Chuck Todd have been harshly critical. We chatted with New York University’s Jay Rosen, one of our most incisive media critics, about whether the uproar will prompt the media to grapple more deeply with its struggle to capture the true threat Trump and MAGA pose to our democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In recent days, Donald Trump opened the door to cutting Social Security, and he’s also threatened to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would throw millions off health insurance. All this comes as President Biden’s economy is doing quite well by many metrics. Yet Trump is favored on the economy, and his MAGA support remains solid, even though his policies would badly sell out his base. We talked to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, author of a series of columns about the economies under Trump and Biden, who helps us make sense of all these disconnects. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
With Donald Trump’s fundraising badly trailing that of President Biden, the RNC’s new “election integrity” lawyer, Christina Bobb, is emerging as an important player in the Trump-MAGA campaign apparatus. Bobb, who was deeply involved in Trump’s Stop-the-Steal efforts, will help reassure the MAGA faithful, perhaps firing up the small-dollar donations that Trump desperately needs. We chatted with Andrew Egger, who has a great new piece for The Bulwark about Bobb’s role, about why she’s so pivotal for Trump and how she’s become the face of the new MAGA establishment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Donald Trump just announced that he’s likely to campaign for the presidency on a promise of a 15-week abortion ban, even as political commentators are wondering whether reproductive rights will be as salient this fall as they were in 2022 and 2023. An interesting test looms in deep red Alabama, where Marilyn Lands is running for a state House seat in a special election set for March 26th—a campaign that Lands has made about her own agonizing abortion story. We talked to Lands about what she’s hearing on the ground and how voters are reacting to her personal journey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Is there any chance that Congress will not abandon Ukraine to the Russians? With Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans determined to cut off military aid to Ukraine, it’s looking grim. Yet there are glimmers of hope. Some Republicans are reportedly pushing a proposal that would offer aid to Ukraine as a loan. And there are signs that House Speaker Mike Johnson does want something to pass. We chatted with Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, who offered a keen understanding of the tortured dynamics surrounding this deeply dispiriting debate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Donald Trump’s lawyers admitted that he’s failed to secure a bond to cover the half-a-billion-dollar penalty he faces in his civil fraud case in New York. As The New York Times delicately noted, “he does not have enough liquidity” to persuade any company to provide that bond. Translation: He doesn’t have the cash. This is humiliating to Trump, relative to his self-mythology. But it also points to his broader, largely-overlooked weaknesses in the 2024 campaign. We discussed this with The New Republic’s Timothy Noah, author of a great new piece on Trump’s financial travails that predicts he will soon declare bankruptcy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Ohio over the weekend, Donald Trump delivered one of his most unhinged and dangerous rally speeches yet: He used appallingly dehumanizing language about migrants, saluted the Jan. 6 rioters as patriots and heroes, and predicted a “bloodbath” if he loses the election. We talked to New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser, the author of an excellent new piece about Trump’s use of violent and authoritarian language at rallies like this one, about why the media urgently needs to do better at conveying the full threat to democracy that Trump poses. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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