In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by David Rees, political-prediction maker and former Get Your War On cartoonist for Rolling Stone.
Matt takes “a little shot at our own Rolling Stone for its Andrew Cuomo cover.… He’s one of the biggest douchewads in politics, a complete jackass, and we gotta put him on the cover?” Our hosts spare no words for Andrew’s brother Chris Cuomo — “the less brother, the guy who’s on CNN,” according to Matt; “Fredo” according to Katie — who recently had another public meltdown on Long Island.
Matt and Katie discuss how COVID-19 is being covered in the media and the similarities to all national-news coverage during the Trump era. Instead of focusing on the facts at hand and giving people the most accurate reporting possible, every story, like hydroxychloroquine for example, is being framed around what Trump has to say.
Our hosts take a look at Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Joe Biden, and Obama’s legacy during 2020. “I felt conflicted. I felt angry at him. But I also am so much angrier at the media and the politicians, like Obama, for their outsize role in all of this,” says Katie on Bernie. Matt responds, “You gotta play your cards a little bit closer to try to get some concessions. Although to be fair, this is an unusual situation. And he doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage left.”
Matt and Katie are joined by David Rees, who has turned his attention away from political cartooning and toward political-prediction markets. Rees tells us about his Election Profit Makers podcast, and what election forecasting looks like on PredictIt. He breaks down what these different political-prediction markets look like and how they function, from how many times Trump might tweet in a day to who will win an election, to when Bernie would drop out. And, of course, there’s the ethical dilemmas of betting on elections, which they get into as well.
But Rees still ponders what it would be like to be cartooning in the Trump era.
“I think the challenge is Trump is such an obvious, horrific target. And he’s just such a fucking bloviating fat, orange idiot, that of course that’s gonna be your first target,” says Rees. “I do think he’s one of the worst Americans of all time. Just like near the bottom of any list of all Americans. Not presidents, just all people. So he’s an obvious target. But I think it must take a lot of work and a lot of discipline to be like, ‘OK, but put him aside. Nobody cares about his hair in a blizzard. That’s not the thing, you know?’ And to dig a little deeper. That’s a long-winded way of saying that I think if I was still doing political comedy, the Biden-Trump head-to-head would just be enervating, and just depressing.”