Useful Idiots: David Sirota Talks Trump, Covid, Amy Coney Barrett - Rolling Stone
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‘Useful Idiots’: Trump vs. Covid and ‘Handmaid’ Amy Coney Barrett

Journalist David Sirota joins the show to talk Trump and Covid, Biden and the election, and how Eighties pop culture relates to today

In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by investigative journalist David Sirota.

For the “Republicans Suck” segment, Matt and Katie cover every angle of the story on everyone’s mind, Donald Trump vs. Covid-19. This includes a play-by-play of Trump’s, according to Matt, “Caesarina, Hitlerian, Mussolinian” display on the White House balcony, as well as the implications for the election.

“The reasons he won are not terribly complicated, they’re not hard to figure out. He took a population that was disaffected for a thousand and one reasons, promised every one of them whatever they wanted (including people who were racist and xenophobic), he gets elected, but basically he’s a small-time con artist who’s just all not that smart,” says Matt. “Over time he does stuff that’s self-harming, and politically stupid, and he reveals himself constantly. And that ultimately is what is going to lose him the election and not the mountains fo propaganda about him being a literal fascist dictator or a Russian spy.”

For Democrats Suck, our duo discusses Senator Chris Murphy’s assertion on CNN that Trump is a Russian agent of Putin. “You can’t just call the guy a Russian agent on television and not back it up,” says Matt. Katie adds that, “It’s very apparent that Trump is being absurdly irresponsible in terms of how he’s treating his own Covid infection, but there was so much noise about Russia, and it was so unnecessary, and it was such a fabricated controversy and fabricated story that, I really do think that if that hadn’t been done, the justifiable criticism and freakout over Trump and his handling of Covid, both on a national level and on a personal level, would have been so much stronger.”

This week’s guest, David Sirota, discusses his recent report about Trump’s disabling of OSHA. Sirota breaks down the resulting effects of how large businesses can, and cannot, defend their workforces against coronavirus outbreaks. “Essentially, there’s if not a direct cause and effect certainly a correlation, of workers begging the Trump administration for help, the agency that’s been gutted by Trump that’s supposed to police this kind fo stuff basically blowing off the complaints, and big shocker, the end result is workers dying,” says Sirota.

Katie, Matt, and David also discuss Amy Coney Barrett, and debate the effects of prioritizing cultural vs. economic issues when scrutinizing the nomination. “All these universal programs actually disproportionately empower the most marginalized communities,” says Katie. “If you care about cultural issues, you need to talk about economic issues, because we know that unlike cultural issues which are a wedge issue, economic issues go across the spectrum in terms of voters.”

They also ponder the ways in which the left can pressure Joe Biden, if he were elected, into following through on progressive legislation like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. “Here’s this guy who’s going to rhetorically juxtapose himself against this thing called ‘socialism,'” says Sirota. “That’s going to be part of the political parameters if he wins office. It’s something that’s going to have to be navigated.”

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