49 episodes

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone.

And of course, change can be negative as well as positive.

In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology--and how they intersect. Other topics include disinformation, extremism, and polarization.

Theory of Change podcast Matthew Sheffield

    • News
    • 4.7 • 38 Ratings

Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone.

And of course, change can be negative as well as positive.

In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology--and how they intersect. Other topics include disinformation, extremism, and polarization.

    Theory of Change #050: Liz Dye on the many lawsuits against Alex Jones

    Theory of Change #050: Liz Dye on the many lawsuits against Alex Jones

    Alex Jones, the far right talk radio host who pioneered the art of making money from internet conspiracy theories, is facing the worst moment of his career. It is quite possibly the apocalypse of Jones. After making up thousands of lies over a career spending decades, Jones is now starting to face consequences.

    In August, a jury in Austin, Texas, returned a damages verdict against Jones for defaming the parents of a child who was killed in a school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012. Jones was ordered to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $49 million in punitive damages. The lawyer for the plaintiffs in this case, which is one of only several, insists that this will be only the beginning of what's going to happen to Jones and his company Infowars.

    But is that right? Will he actually have to pay those large-scale fines? And will Jones be affected by large scale fines at all?

    And in the long term, are legal suits a way forward to stop the propagation of conspiracy theories in this country? Joining me to discuss in this episode is Liz Dye. She is a columnist with the legal affairs website Above the Law. And she also is a writer at Wonkette.com.

    This episode was recorded 8/7/2022.

    AUDIO TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2022/09/will-defamation-lawsuits-be-the-apocalypse-of-alex-jones/

    GUEST INFO
    Liz Dye on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/5DollarFeminist

    Above the Law archive:
    https://abovethelaw.com/author/edye/

    Wonkette archive:
    https://www.wonkette.com/u/five_dollar_feminist


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 50 min
    Theory of Change #049: Brandi Collins-Dexter on why Democrats shouldn't take Black votes for granted

    Theory of Change #049: Brandi Collins-Dexter on why Democrats shouldn't take Black votes for granted

    Since the 1964 presidential election, Americans of African ancestry have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidates. Republicans usually get in the single digits in presidential races, according to decades of opinion surveys.

    On the surface, it may seem like Black Americans have an undying loyalty to the Democratic party. But taking a closer look reveals a much more complicated situation. And that’s because Black Americans are actually no different than any other racial group in having many different ideologies.

    In fact, many Black people are actually conservative—and not just on religious matters either—but don’t want to vote for a Republican party that has a decades-long history of empowering and pandering to racists, especially since Donald Trump came on the political scene in 2015.

    But even that aspect is complicated as well, because Trump actually got more Black votes in 2020 than he did during his first presidential campaign, according to exit polling by Edison Research. In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 69 points among Black men but four years later, Joe Biden had only a 60-point margin. A similar trend happened among Black women. In 2016, Democrats won the group by 90%. In 2020, they won by 81%.

    This trend parallels a similar movement among Hispanic voters which we’ve discussed in previous Theory of Change episodes and it raises all sorts of question. Joining me today to talk about all this is Brandi Collins-Dexter, she’s the author of a book that will be coming out in September called “Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future.” She’s also a former Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change, a progressive activism group.


    AUDIO TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2022/08/many-black-americans-dont-actually-like-democrats-what-does-that-mean-for-politics-in-the-long-term/


    GUEST INFO
    Brandi Collins-Dexter on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/BrandingBrandi

    Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future
    https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250824110/blackskinhead


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Theory of Change #048: Molly Olmstead on how the Catholic right is doubling down on media

    Theory of Change #048: Molly Olmstead on how the Catholic right is doubling down on media

    While radicalization of American evangelicalism has attracted at least some journalistic and scholarly attention, it’s important to note that there is something very similar happening among some Roman Catholics in this country, primarily due to a TV channel called Eternal Word Television Network.

    Many people outside EWTN’s elderly demographic have never heard of it, but the network’s influence on Catholicism, in America and around the world, is substantial.

    By its own account, EWTN reaches 400 million households in more than 150 countries. It also owns a radio network with 380 affiliates, several news services, and the influential National Catholic Register newspaper.

    At its founding in 1981, EWTN didn’t start off mixing a far-right political agenda with religious services, but in the years since, it’s gone all in for Donald Trump and a host of extremist Catholic figures who are bent on canceling anyone with progressive views in the church—even Pope Francis himself.

    Joining us in this episode is Molly Olmstead, she’s a staff writer with Slate who published an absolute must-read piece last month about EWTN entitled “Unholy Alliance.”

    AUDIO TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2022/07/ewtn-a-tv-channel-founded-by-a-cloistered-nun-has-quietly-become-a-right-wing-media-juggernaut/


    GUEST INFO
    Molly Olmstead on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/MollyOlmstead

    An Unholy Alliance: A nun founded a TV station that became the “Catholic Fox News”
    https://slate.com/human-interest/2022/06/ewtn-catholic-media-pope-francis-fox-news.html

    Slate archive:
    https://slate.com/author/molly-olmstead


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 35 min
    Theory of Change #047: Alex Shephard on how Democrats aren't responding to the moment

    Theory of Change #047: Alex Shephard on how Democrats aren't responding to the moment

    The far-right U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning the right to abortion at the federal level was leaked to the public on May 3, but it wasn’t until July 7th that President Joe Biden unveiled any sort of meaningful action to protect access to federally approved abortion medications and to prohibit states from banning people from traveling across state lines to seek the procedure.

    The judicial activist writing was on the wall long before this, however, when the Christian fundamentalist Amy Coney Barrett was successfully nominated to the Supreme Court to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s even more notable because Ginsburg herself had explicitly warned advocates of reproductive rights that they needed to do more than rely on courts to protect them.

    Now that Christian nationalists have firm control of the most dangerous branch of the U.S. government, a project which they publicly campaigned on for decades, Democratic elites are finally having to pay attention to the radicalism that’s held control the Republican party for more than a generation. So far, the response from party leaders has been less-than-encouraging, to put it mildly.

    Instead of informing the public from the presidential “bully pulpit” about the many Republican Supreme Court outrages, Biden has restricted his communications to newspaper op-eds and background interviews, with occasional exhortations to “vote.” The White House seems to be under the impression that being quiet and waiting for economic inflation to simmer down will lead him to victory, as it did in 2020.

    But the strategy hasn’t worked. In public opinion polls, Biden’s approval rating is the lowest it’s ever been. Will Biden step up and give people a reason to vote for his party before the mid-terms are over? Or will the series of extreme Supreme Court rulings do the job for him?

    Joining us to discuss is Alex Shephard, he’s a staff writer at the New Republic.

    AUDIO TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2022/07/politics-has-changed-drastically-in-the-past-10-years-why-are-democrats-still-running-the-same-plays/

    GUEST INFO
    Alex Shephard on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/alex_shephard

    New Republic archive:
    https://newrepublic.com/authors/alex-shephard


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Theory of Change #046: Max Berger on what the left can learn from the right

    Theory of Change #046: Max Berger on what the left can learn from the right

    American democracy is in crisis, much of it the direct product of Donald Trump, a petty scammer who managed to talk his way into the White House who was willing to overthrow our government after he lost in 2020.

    But the crisis of the present moment is larger than Trump himself. It’s also larger than the extremist political movement that calls itself “conservatism” in the United States. The political left is also in crisis, a crisis of stasis. Poll after poll has shown that Americans overwhelmingly support more progressive public policies like universal health care, paid parental leave, higher taxes on the wealthy, more oversight for corporate behemoths, and a lot stronger protections for employees.

    There’s no doubt that reactionary Republicans have played a role in stopping these policies from becoming reality, but it is also the case that more than a few Democrats have also worked hard to block them.

    At the same time, however, progressive activists who do favor these policies and want to implement them for their fellow Americans have had difficulty promoting the ideas into law. What can be done about this situation? Can the political left take at least some lessons from the right on how to make change? I think so.

    Joining me to discuss all this is Max Berger, he’s the editorial director of More Perfect Union, which is a new site featuring in-depth reporting about how corporate America abuses workers and showcasing employees who fight back. He also is the co-author of a 2018 report called “Beyond Trump: A Theory of Political Transition” that sought to give advice to progressives on a way forward.


    GUEST INFO
    Max Berger on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/maxberger

    More Perfect Union:
    https://perfectunion.us/

    Report, "Beyond Trump: A Theory of Political Transition"
    https://plantogovern.us/beyond-trump/


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Theory of Change #045: David Neiwert on how the radical right is the mainstream right

    Theory of Change #045: David Neiwert on how the radical right is the mainstream right

    On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ignored decades of settled precedent about abortion access and women’s health care in a sweeping decision that rolled back the court’s 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. The new ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the culmination of decades of anti-abortion activism.

    Clarence Thomas, one of the reactionary justices who joined in the new 6-3 ruling, signaled in a concurring opinion that he aims to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions protecting the rights to contraception, private consensual sex acts, and the right for people to marry someone else of the same sex.
    “We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote. “Accordingly, we should eliminate it from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.”

    No other justices formally signed onto Thomas’s opinion, but it’s critical to note that the Dobbs ruling and all of the other recent SCOTUS decisions are part of a much larger political and legal movement that is extremely radical and extremely influential.

    Since the rise of Donald Trump, many people have become aware of right-wing extremism, but what you might not know is that the radical right is actually far more powerful in the Republican party, especially at the state and local levels of government.

    Joining us to discuss this is David Neiwert, he’s a senior staff writer at Daily Kos and also the author of a number of books including “Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us.” He’s also a long-time analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    FULL TRANSCRIPT:
    https://flux.community/matthew-sheffield/2022/07/extremist-groups-are-targeting-state-and-local-officials-for-harassment-and-intimidation/


    GUEST INFO
    David Neiwert on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert

    "Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump"
    https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3450-alt-america-the-rise-of-the-radical-right-in-the-age-of-trump


    ABOUT THE SHOW
    Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield and is part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at https://flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

    Theory of Change website:
    https://theoryofchange.show

    Theory of Change on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/TheoryChange

    Matthew Sheffield on Twitter:
    https://twitter.com/mattsheffield



    SUPPORT THE SHOW
    PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/theorychange
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discoverflux

    If you're not able to support financially, please help us by subscribing and/or leaving a nice review on your favorite podcast app. Doing this helps other people find Theory of Change and our great guests. Thanks for your help!

    Theory of Change on Apple Podcasts:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theory-of-change-podcast/id1486920059

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

Andrew9413 ,

Great show

Great insight and informative

Barge Guy ,

Can’t Stop Listening

I’m a longtime subscriber of the podcast. Mathew is well prepared, has fantastic guests and continually sheds light on a most ignored section of our society; the effect of religion in our current events.
My one quibble is in his excitement to participate in the conversation, he seems to leave the “interviewer” seat and jumps in as if he too were being interviewed.
Quick example; he’ll ask a guest a thoughtful, insightful question. Sometimes before they are even finished Mathew steps in to add an addendum to what is being said.

Drives me nuts.

Like I said; small quibble and it’s not going to get me to stop listening.

Jordan Michele smith ,

Great podcast

Very informative.

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