In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by third-time guest of the show Shahid Buttar, who is running for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in California.
In a double edition of the segment “Democrats Suck,” Katie and Matt look at the Massachusetts Congressional primary election results, and listen to a preview of the new Mayor Pete podcast, The Deciding Decade. Katie remarks that the acoustic-guitar-centric intro to Mayor Pete’s podcast is suitable for “moms, dads, and Quaalude consumers in airports.”
“There’s an upside to the Morse story though, for me. He didn’t win, but it would have been a much worse precedent that he dropped out,” says Matt, referring to largely discredited smear campaign against the young, openly gay politician. “The fact that you can sort of defy this kind of tactic and stay in and still be viable at all, I think that’s something.”
For Republicans Suck, Matt and Katie take a look at President Trump’s recent interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, complete with police shootings vs. golf comparisons, and QAnon-esque musings. When Ingraham appears to give Trump a chance to walk back his unfortunate golf analogy, “he whacks her like a golf ball,” pronounces Katie.
“Every time it seems like things are breaking his way a little bit,” says Matt, “he just says something so crazy that he completely repels his own momentum.”
Shahid Buttar joins our guests to discuss allegations of campaign staff mistreatment and sexual harassment. He spoke on the accusation of sexual harassment, which he and others had previously said were not true.
“As to the claims made by Liz Croydon in Washington, they’re not true, and I’ve relied on others to expose the facts. My first commitment when these accusations came forward was to be an ally to survivors, and that means I’m not going tp punch down, I’m not going to impune the credibility of anybody accusing me. I accurately stated that the allegations towards me were false.”
Buttar also spoke on the accusation of gendered staff mistreatment within his campaign, which he believes was rooted in politically strategic differences.
“I’ve never meant to treat anyone on my team differently according to any characteristic, whether it was gender, age or race. We did have a lot of very challenging conversations with my staff during the primary, frankly because we had a lot of strategic differences,” says Buttar. “I have apologized before and I’ll do it again for any experience that people had on my team that they might have interpreted in that way.”
Buttar goes on to characterize these interactions differently than what was reported in The Intercept article, and other press in San Francicso.
“As a person of color who has been accused by a white woman of a sexual impropriety, it attains dimensions worse than merely unethical journalism,” says Buttar. But, he also said there have been lessons from this, while he still denies the allegations. “I’ve learned things, including that my feedback can be sharp somethings. But nobody in my experience either before or since ever experienced that in a gendered way. But it’s useful to understand how it could be perceived that way, but it’s given me an opportunity to grow as a leader, and a manager, and I’m going to continue doing that.”