Editor’s Note: This episode was taped early Wednesday, before the events at the Capitol on January 6th.
In the first socially distanced episode of our Useful Idiots podcast of 2021, which was recorded before the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi of the Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano.
For “Democrats Suck,” Matt laments the reelection of Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker of the House.
“[Nancy Pelosi’s] role is to be a representative basically of the oligarchs, as Bernie would say. She’s a non-change agent,” says Matt.
“She’s a status quo agent.” adds Katie.
“She’s very practiced at doing stuff that’s good for TV. Ripping up the speech, the Kente cloth scarves, whatever it is,” says Matt. “What she’s a symbol of is really a system-wide phenomenon that’s all about money flowing into the political system, and making sure that voters in general are paying attention to something else.”
Also on the show’s docket is Amazon’s recent purchase of planes for its air freight network, as they previously had only leased aircraft. Matt half-jokingly expresses concern that it’s only a matter of time until Amazon aircraft are armed as well.
“This to me is basically the first step towards that dystopian reality, when basically everything is going to be owned by Amazon,” says Matt.
Stefania Maurizi joins Matt and Katie to discuss the latest developments in the Julian Assange case. She’s been covering Julian Assange and Wikileaks for a decade, and gives our hosts an update on the recent rulings by the U.K. court that denied the U.S. extradition request, but also denied bail for Assange.
Maurizi explains the reasoning behind the extradition denial.
“The judge was very openly critical about prison conditions in the U.S., and the detention conditions under special administrative measures,” says Maurizi, also pointing to lessons from the Chelsea Manning case.
Maurizi discusses her opinion on whether or not a Biden administration will approach Assange differently than Trump’s did.
“It’s very hard to assess where Biden is when it comes to the Julian Assange case. At the same time, if we look at this decade, basically the Obama administration started all this prosecution from the very beginning,” says Maurizi, who says she just is not sure where Biden will fall on this. “I’ve never heard of a single media organization which has been kept under continuous investigation for an entire decade.”
Finally, Maurizi explores the implications for journalists, particularly investigative ones, coming from this entire Assange episode.
“These documents are tremendously important,” says Maurizi. “He may never know freedom again for publishing them.”