106 episodes

Useful Idiots is an informative and irreverent politics podcast with journalist Matt Taibbi and podcaster/writer Katie Halper. Episodes feature on-the-road coverage of the 2020 campaign and exclusive interviews, with humor, commentary and dissection of the politics news of the week. Join Matt and Katie as they examine important stories that have slipped through the cracks and what the media got wrong – and laugh about whatever is left to laugh about.

Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper Useful Idiots, LLC | Cumulus Podcast Network

    • News
    • 4.6 • 3.8K Ratings

Useful Idiots is an informative and irreverent politics podcast with journalist Matt Taibbi and podcaster/writer Katie Halper. Episodes feature on-the-road coverage of the 2020 campaign and exclusive interviews, with humor, commentary and dissection of the politics news of the week. Join Matt and Katie as they examine important stories that have slipped through the cracks and what the media got wrong – and laugh about whatever is left to laugh about.

    The Biggest Government Coverup of the Century

    The Biggest Government Coverup of the Century

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    The press is a crucial part of democracy, checking on the government and alerting the public to what’s going on. The water supply has been poisoned––that's the kind of thing we depend on the fourth estate to report about.
    But where have they been? The national press was universally late in reporting on the Flint Water crisis, and quickly dropped the corruption, greed, and mismanagement that poisoned Flint's water and people. But the story continues, though you'd never know it from mainstream media. So is the crisis over?
    Jordan Chariton and Jenn Dize of Status Coup say no. In their recent article, they uncover mounds of corruption, finding the government guilty of a huge coverup with cleared text messages, piles of thrown away phones, and then-Governor Rick Snyder telling his staff: “Don’t put anything in writing because emails are cannons for our enemies.”
    They lay out a real case against Snyder for misconduct, willful neglect of duty, and even involuntary manslaughter. But today, he’s facing penalties equivalent to a parking ticket and a potential of up to one year in prison. And no one else is talking about it.
    In this interview, we examine the evil side of politics and the news that sadly can only be found in the reporting of independent media.
    Plus, Biden’s no longer is going door-to-door to give you a vaccine, a tribunal for human rights abuses in Cuba, and two important messages: don’t make guns that look like toys and if you’re going to commit bestiality, please make sure the animal is bigger than you.
    It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode of Useful Idiots. Check it out.
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    • 1 hr 27 min
    Julian Assange's Brother: #FreeAssange

    Julian Assange's Brother: #FreeAssange

    In the past few weeks of the crucial case for free speech and press, Wikileaks-founder Julian Assange was granted a new appeal on his extradition trial and it came out that a key witness (who is a diagnosed sociopath) admitted to lying, a smear campaign distorted much of what we know, and psychological torture was reported in the prison where he’s being held.
    Remember all that? You don’t? Well, do you read the New York Times and Washington Post? You do? But do you watch CNN and MSNBC? You watch those too? And they didn’t mention it at all? Hmm.
    So why does no one cover the story that creates a precedent of criminalizing journalism? Because there’s a narrative that Assange helped Trump. What Assange did do was release court-deemed-pertinent documents on Hillary Clinton before the election. What he did not do is meet with Paul Manafort to brainstorm how to help the Trump campaign. But that’s the evidence-free story they’re going with. So of course liberal media can’t defend a guy who helped Trump!
    But most importantly, this shouldn’t matter even if he did have any connection to Trump. The charges don’t have anything to do with 2016. They’re about 2010 Chelsea Manning revelations and publications of Afghan and Iraq war logs as well as reports of torture in Guantanamo Bay. It’s a serious trial on first amendment rights. And could have even more serious consequences.
    Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton and journalist Kevin Gosztola warn of a dark future: The New York Times may not care now, “but a President Mike Pompeo, who led the charge at the CIA against Wikileaks, if elected” could decide he doesn’t like the leaked material you published and bring the same case against you.
    And when they start throwing your colleagues in jail, don’t you want to be able to say you were against the Espionage Act back then?
    It’s an important interview about a case that has worldwide consequences, while also about saving one man’s life.
    Also in this episode of Useful Idiots:
    –Art critic Nina Felshin critiques Hunter Biden’s paintings
    –Greg Abbott’s plan to arrest all the democrats
    –Miami mayor calls for airstrikes on Cuba
    –Plus: Is it ethical to murder a drone?
    It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode of Useful Idiots. Check it out.
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    • 1 hr 46 min
    Black Scholar Adolph Reed DESTROYS Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility & Nice Racism

    Black Scholar Adolph Reed DESTROYS Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility & Nice Racism

    As PC culture, led fearlessly by Miss Woke 2021 Robin DiAngelo, moves deeper into decreeing what terms and actions count as racist, Professor Adolph Reed has a warning for us:

    “Both the discursive and institutional have emerged around a systemic disposition to find ways to evade talking about class and economic inequality, then it just grows in that dark environment with other fungi and so forth and so on.”

    That’s “historian of ideologies” talk for a simple yet important concept which he explains further:

    When we focus too much on the struggle against racism and prejudice, what recedes from view is the struggle against specific policies that cause essential problems of economic inequality.

    In his return to Useful Idiots, Professor Reed judges excerpts from DiAngelo’s new book Nice Racism, shares stories of civil rights history, and does something basic yet suddenly important in a time when both racism and faux-anti-racism seem to be growing: he simply defines racism.

    It’s an important episode which also turns out to be one of the funniest ones yet. Here’s what else you’ll get:

    –Katie Halper’s NBA Finals Predictions

    –Poor Saudi Arabia tries to defend itself against Yemeni children

    –Biden and Republicans finally find a chastity belt for their mouths

    –And of course, it sucks to Zuck

    It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode of Useful Idiots. Check it out.

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    • 1 hr 21 min
    How to Discharge Your Student Loans with Austin Smith

    How to Discharge Your Student Loans with Austin Smith

    What do you do when your congressman is an a**hole who celebrates the January 6 insurrection and uses it to try propel himself to governor of New York? You run against him and f*cking beat him.
    At least that’s what attorney and former Onion writer Austin Smith plans to do. And he’s using his “furious, blood-boiling” anger toward Lee Zeldin and the rest of Trump’s losers to help the people of New York’s first district to finally get a decent guy to represent them.
    Smith, who previously worked for the campaigns of both John McCain and Hillary Clinton, has a clear mission in Congress once he unseats Zeldin: help people understand and navigate the ridiculous stupidity of student loans. He discusses his lawsuits against the deceitful companies who keep people buried in debt and shares well-hidden secrets for people who might not know they’re eligible to discharge their loans.
    Listen here to what he has to say and then support his intellectual and for-the-people campaign here. Or just send him your junk (no, really).
    Also in this week’s episode of Useful Idiots:
    –Nina Turner gets the much-coveted “Jim Clyburn backs the other candidate” bump
    –Katie goes from inviting a NYT writer onto the show to cursing him out in a record-setting 7 minutes
    –Republicans love their ugly confederate heroes
    –And Matt laughs louder than he ever has on Useful Idiots
    It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode. Check it out.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Norm Finkelstein on Cancel Culture

    Norm Finkelstein on Cancel Culture

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    Norman Finkelstein, the prolific (and widely canceled) political scientist, and author of 11 books, joins the show to give us a sneak preview of his new book on cancel culture and identity politics. He explains what makes today's cancel culture new, what makes it not so new, and why it’s worse, in some ways, when the Left does it: “Obviously there’s cancel culture on the right. But the cancel culture on the right, or the mainstream, the establishment, whatever you want to call it, for a person of the left, is a given. That’s a part of what it means to be on the left. The true Left. You’re going to be marginalized, ignored. That’s the history of the Left.”  He critiques MSNBC's Bernie-bashing and identity-politics-weaponizing—Joy Ann Reid and her body-language expert, who diagnoses Bernie Sanders’ self-incriminating “turtling,” in particular— gives Noam Chomksy his due credit and sings the praises of W.E.B. DuBois. 
    Finkelstein also directs his formidable fire at White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo: “And what's her message to white people? Her message to white people is every white person... who's laying out in the street because he or she is homeless, which there are quite a lot in my neighborhood. Every white person from that person to Jeff Bezos, they all profit from racism. And then they, the CEOs, they get to play the enlightened ones because they give money to Black Lives Matter. So, the message to white people is be careful what you're willing to give up, because you're benefiting from this system. Every white person benefits from the system. If you let them climb one rung higher, you are going to go one rung lower. So it's a warning to white people to be cautious, careful, wary, of the demands of black people.... ”
    Plus, Katie and Matt lament the way Andrew Yang sabotaged his own campaign, depriving himself of what could have been a game-changing “Useful Idiots Show Bump,” and review some important penis-representation-related news stories. 
    Stand by for the substack-only section of the interview where Norman talks more about Angela Davis, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and reveals an early crush. 
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    • 1 hr 24 min
    Cuomosexuals and the NYC Mayor Race

    Cuomosexuals and the NYC Mayor Race

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    Ross Barkan on the New York Mayoral Race and Cuomosexuals, Plus Whale Mouthwash, Republicans Hit the Pipe, and Jeff Bezos Should Eat the Mona Lisa

    “This is kind of the Holy Grail for the left that can never quite get pulled off,” says Ross Barkan, author of The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus, and the Fall of New York. “It usually gets pulled off by moderates, or Barack Obama.”
    We talked to Ross about one of our favorite people — the demented neoliberal monster/werewolf Andrew Cuomo — but also about the upcoming New York City mayoral elections, which will be the large-scale litmus test on the state of the Democratic electorate since the 2020 primaries.
    New York City has one of the most rabidly progressive voter bases in the country, but the Democratic Primary next Tuesday has for some time now appeared likely to be dominated by moderates like former NYPD officer and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. Friend-ish-of-show Andrew Yang, who snubbed a Useful Idiots interview request during this campaign, has fallen off to fourth place in a recent poll, in the most recent demonstration of the ironclad Law of the Useful Idiots Bump. Will he make it back up in time to replace Bill de Blasio?
    Barkan discusses with us some of the factors that may be influencing the quasi-surprising New York results. Three of the four top candidates — Yang, Adams, and former sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia — seemingly go against national type. “All three of these candidates, Yang, Garcia, Adams, are explicitly against de-funding the police,” he says. “Who’s going to win? I don’t know, but I think Adams has the inside track.”
    Barkan, who wrote a pleasingly vicious book about Cuomo that depicts him in the garb of Machiavelli on the cover, also explained how the New York governor managed to pull off a surge in popularity last year despite horrific management of the pandemic.
    “Journalism… too often takes on the tropes of fiction, and seeks narratives, heroes and villains,” Ross said. “Cuomo filled that void,” giving journalists the tough-talking uncle figure to Donald Trump’s crazy-nitwit act. Reporters ran with that simple storyline for months, ignoring things like Cuomo’s craven manipulation of death toll figures for nursing homes.
    From there we basically just said gratuitous things about Cuomo and his doofus brother, but it’s worth a listen, particularly if you’re high.
    Also: we plow through the four food groups, stopping to discuss ICE’s sterling wokewash efforts, a dude who maybe got too much credit for being swallowed by a whale, and what “POS” stands for on a U.S. State Department Twitter handle. That and more, on this week’s Useful Idiots. 
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    • 1 hr 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
3.8K Ratings

3.8K Ratings

nfykbv123 ,

Flint

Thanks for shining a light!

M.J.Franks ,

Expected more

I made assumptions about what this podcast might be given that Matt Taibbi is in it. I was surprised to find shallowness, snark, and too much blather in areas where one or both hosts are surprising ignorant. Stick with what you know. I'd rather a 20-minute podcast with some real insight and detail rather than what feels like two people trying to fill time with banter. I don't mind various points of view as long as the points reflect rounded knowledge thoughtfulness that help provide illumination into possibilities for a future wherre humans can thrive.

shfifue sidbs ,

Cuba

Y’all have clearly never been to Cuba.

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