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Simply save dot com slash crooked, simply safe dotcom aggregate. Welcome to Positive America, I'm John Fabara. I'm John Lovett and Tommy Vietor on today's POD, the White House press corps with its first presidential news conference. Republicans are controlling the media narrative on the border. And in Georgia, they just passed voter suppression legislation that Joe Biden called an atrocity.


Then we have a very important update from Tommy on the contest we promised last week when we were trying to figure out who's actually worse than Ron Johnson.


So stick around for that later on. But first, love it.


Tell us about the show this week. Great. Love it or leave it. Danielle Perez, hilarious. In the in the opening of the show, Jason and Rene came by and did a March Madness bracket on snacks. Renee is very healthy, so she won by losing. And then I talked to Alan Levy about infrastructure. The thing I talked about on PSA, we turn it into an interview on love or leave it. There you go. It was Infrastructure Week.


It was great show. Just really trying hard to work from every one of these days, get a job at DOT. I got to update my LinkedIn. Also, be sure to check out the latest episode of Histeria Speaking EPEAT, where Senator Amy Klobuchar joined Erin and Alissa to talk about the for the People Act and her budding friendship with Secretary of Transportation Boot Adjudge. Check it. Or they spotted like locking in the market or something recently.


I have not heard this. I think I read that somewhere. I'll dig into it. I'll get back to you. Spotted, spotted, Amy and Pete. All right. One more note now.


We are very big fans of D.C. statehood here. No one more than the man who produces this podcast, Michael Martinez.


We now have brand new statehood for D.C. March in the crooked store. Great t shirts go by one. As always, a portion of every order supports vote.


Writers shop now at crooked dotcom store. All right, let's get to the news for the first sixty five days of the Biden presidency, in the midst of a global pandemic and an economic downturn, much of the Washington media has been focused on the biggest story of them all.


The questions are piling up for President Biden, who now becomes the first president and a century to not hold a solo press conference 43 days into his term.


No Biden alone at the lectern in the White House, we see the president frequently holding events about covid, holding events on vaccination sites, etc. We see him a lot. Are we getting the access for question and answer that the White House press corps wants to see? It's been more than a month now and there's been no solo press conference by the new president. Both of his most recent predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, had held a solo presser within the first month of their presidency.


But why hasn't he carved out some time to answer some tough questions for multiple reporters live about the covid relief package or school openings or the immigration surge at the border unleashed?


Finally, on Thursday, the White House press corps got its chance after President Biden kicked off the press conference by announcing that he has a new goal of 200 million shots in arms by the end of his first hundred days. He stuck around for sixty two minutes so that reporters could follow up with around two dozen questions that are weighing heavily on the minds of the American people.


Let's hear from their old friend. Mitch McConnell says you have only spoken to each other once since you took office and that you have moved far left since taking office. Do you see it the same way he does? Have you rejected bipartisanship? Have you decided whether you are going to run for re-election in twenty, twenty four? You haven't set up a re-election campaign yet, as your predecessor had by this time.


And if you do if you do run, will Vice President Harris be on your ticket? And do you believe you'll be running against former President Trump?


Oh, come on, Tommy. The Columbia Journalism Review wrote that many of the questions showed that, quote, The political press is more concerned with novelty, spectacle and contrived outrage than with transparency. Fair? Yeah, I mean, it was bad.


The questions were very redundant. Some were vague and confusing. The immigration questions mostly adopted the Republican framing. I thought Biden did a pretty good job. All things considered. He seemed pretty at ease and comfortable in the job and I thought made a compelling case for for infrastructure. But that was not what folks wanted to ask him about.


I mean, look, it does bring you to a larger question about the value of these kinds of setpiece events.


During the Obama years, there was a conversation about how to update press interactions with the White House, with the president, the White House briefing room and the press secretary. Those didn't really happen.


Those conversations didn't continue during the Trump years because he was so abnormal. He loves shouting lies over like helicopter engines. And they basically got rid of the press secretary's briefing for years at a time.


And so, you know, Biden wanted to get back to normal. But clearly, there's a lot of room for improvement here. I saw reporters complaining that Biden didn't make news as if that's his job. Right. I mean, I would actually argue he did make news about both vaccines in Afghanistan. But OK, it was also a reminder that Republicans can bully the press corps into focusing on whatever issue they want. They made it about the border. They made it a crisis.


They made it about this is a political problem for Biden with no context or history. And that does not lead to like an honest conversation about a tough issue. So, yeah, I mean, look, these these press conferences, they're anachronistic traditions. They could be structured better. Maybe Biden should just do longer one on one interviews where he'll be less likely to get the same question ten times. But like asking if you're going to run for reelection and if you predict it'll be against Trump and if Carmelo will be the VP instead of covid, that is an indefensible waste of time.


Love it, not a single question about the pandemic, which, according to polls, is the number one issue on voters minds of all parties.


Yeah, so I'm radicalized. I've been radicalized. It's happened. I'm against doing these. I think that they're a full waste of time. It's it speaks to I think there's a fundamental problem here. Like what is the most effective way to ask the president a bunch of probing questions on the key issues of the day? Is it at random having 20 people independently develop one question and hope that a full range of issues are covered and hope that those individuals adapt as those questions are asked?


Well, clearly, that's not happening because there were multiple questions, as Tommy said, around immigration that were framed along Republican lines. But also there were just questions that repeated themselves that was also true on the filibuster. Yeah. So, no, they didn't adapt in the kind of questions they were asking. And I do think that there is this like a lot of the questions, especially around politics, around the filibuster, these were TROL questions. They won't they would be offended by it by saying, but these are trollish questions.


You're trolling for a response. Like, I don't I don't think it's I don't think they're asked for the same reasons. Ted Cruz tries to troll people and everything that he does. But it is a kind of troll move to be like, are you really bipartisan? You what happens if you don't fulfill your entire agenda? Will you be a successful president? Straight shooter? Mitch McConnell describes you accordingly. Is he right? Come on, ride it.


And so where I land is like, well, OK, what is the goal like? We have I feel like, as you know, citizens and partisans like two goals. One is to like educate the American people about and hold the president accountable also while making sure that he has like fulfilling his political objectives, like what's the best way to do both of those things? The town halls with regular people who as far better questions, plus sit down interviews, serious, hard hitting, sit down interviews that run each topic to ground like those two things together are far more effective and far more, I think, informative than the thing that we saw.


Not that there weren't amidst some bad questions, some really good questions and good moments. Yeah, we it is totally appropriate and fair for Joe Biden to take very tough, serious, substantive questions from the press, that is not at all what we're saying. But what reporters sometimes do to deflect media criticism is they claim to be speaking on behalf of the American people. The public has a right to know this. The public wants President Biden to take questions, the public, this, the public that they are not representing.


What is on the public's mind. These White House reporters, they are representing what is on the minds of producers and editors and reporters that they talked to in their Washington to New York circles. Those that is what these questions reflect. The public cares about covid, the public cares about the economy, about joblessness, about homelessness, about racism. Republicans care about immigration. There's plenty of substantive immigration. Questions you can ask is we'll get to in a second.


So it's not about the fact that like, oh, Democrats don't want them to have tough questions. It's we don't want stupid fucking questions. And they're asking stupid questions. Just this morning at the White House briefing, again, Jeff Mason as Jen Psaki with the CDC saying that maybe there's a rise in cases again. Will President Biden reconsider his plans to travel so much? The vaccinated president traveling on Air Force One may ask the question again. I ask it once a week about his travel.


What are they doing here?


Also, I saw some people suggest that the covid news is too good. The relief bill passed was too positive. Right. So that's why I didn't get asked about it. I just disagree with that. There are a lot of tough questions you could still ask about covid school reopening has been incredibly contentious. You could, you know, be annoying and push him on whether vaccination targets have been artificially low and that we should be moving faster. You could ask about literally anything Larry Summers has uttered over the last three months.


There's lots of annoying and potential for a fourth wave rising, Kate, like there's a host of things to talk about inflation concerns or there's like so many legitimate topics.


Do you think you'll face Donald Trump again in twenty twenty four was a question that was an embarrassing moment for everybody.


So whatever you may think of the White House press corps failure to ask a single question about covid-19, the most glaring omission of the press conference came from the president himself who neglected to call on the Edward R. Murrow of our time, Fox News's Peter Doocy. Per usual, the network and their star White House journalists took the snub in stride.


Of course, Joe didn't take any questions from our own Peter Doocy. Not a shot there. Naturally, none of the other reporters even dared to ask about the wind, knocking Joe Biden down three times, climbing up Air Force One. The stairs there, the wind knocked him over.


Well, if I had been there, I definitely would have taken told the president to call on Peter Doocy. Peter Doocy is not Jim Acosta and he's got good questions to tell you.


Something else President Trump didn't do, I certainly did not give him a list of reporters to call out in order.


Fox is the only member of the five network TV pool that has never been on the list in front of the president. And I'm just curious, but that is official administration policy.


We're here having a conversation, aren't we? Yes. And do I take questions from you every time you come to the briefing room? Yes. But has the president taking questions from you since you came in? Since he came into office, yes or no? Only when I shouted after he goes through his whole list. And the president has been very generous with his time with Fox. I'm just curious about this list that he is getting.


Do we need to start a petition? Should love it. Should we have people call the White House on behalf of Peter Doocy?


Never call on Peter Doocy. Never until the day. Never. No reason. It can't be.


Look, that the Joe Biden, I think, wisely skipped over, I think, to organizations that have done the most to kind of parrot right wing talking points in their political coverage, Fox News and The New York Times. And I think that that just makes sense.


Just a base political reason.


Like I think that makes sense. I kind of you steer away from that kind of more rightward tilting organizations, especially in your first press conference. I just think how they make the news about themselves, it's this narcissistic, solipsistic world view that is so ridiculous. Do you think do I think that Joe Biden would have struggled with a question from Peter Doocy? No. Do I think he should give Fox News a question ever? Absolutely not. Fox News is the propaganda arm of the Republican Party treated accordingly?


Who cares if the son of the doofus on the Trump loving morning show is upset?


And also, by the way, I thought it was stupid and annoying when CNN focused on how Jim Acosta was treated by Trump at press conferences, even though that was clearly worse because he was calling him the enemy of the people and like inciting people against the entire network. But it's like it's not about you, Fox, but this is all they do. It's all grievance. Like they tried the shit on us in 09. We we caved eventually. Like, Biden should just stay tough.


Who cares about Peter Doocy? Yeah, my critique of the White House, this been too nice to Fox for Jen Psaki is up there every day taking questions from fucking Peter Doocy. That's nicer than she has to be.


This game is still there. Yeah, that is fine. That's actually maybe more fun. But they are. Yeah, they are a propaganda network. I would make an argument for Joe Biden never calling on Fox once the entire time he's fucking president. No reason.


They're not a news organization. Just just going to I am radicalized. Never call on these people. Never do a press conference in front of them ever again.


You want to talk to people, go to let the let these, you know, serious news organizations decide internally who they want to interview. Joe Biden in one on one. We both Eivor, we the three of us know that there's a ton of politics that go on behind the scenes about who's going to get the interview, who's going to do this and that. Like these press conferences, like relieve a certain amount of pressure they face to, like, go in front of these reporters.


Fine. Like, I understand why inevitably these things are going to happen. But like men, I am just not at all interested in their complaints anymore.


Also, it's like, do you know what the consequences are for never calling on Fox News? Absolutely nothing. Not what's going to change? Absolutely nothing. They're going to whine and lie about you like they do.


If you take a question anyway, do you think voters care if you don't take a question from Fox News? Of course not.


No one fucking cares. Keep whining, Peter Doocy.


That was amazing. So even though Fox wasn't called on, the network's favorite issue was the subject of more questions than any other topic, by far as you guys mentioned.


Here's here's a quick sample of all the immigration questions you've said over and over again that immigrants shouldn't come to this country right now. This isn't the time to come. That message is not being received. I'd like to circle back to immigration, please. I've spoken to lawyers who say that they some of these children have not seen the sun in days. What's your reaction? What is your reaction to these images that have come out from that particular facility? Is what's happening inside acceptable to you?


And when is this going to be fixed, given the conditions that were just laid out at the migrant facilities at the U.S. border? Will you commit to allowing journalists to have access to the facilities that are overcrowded moving forward?


How do you realistically and physically keep these families from coming to the U.S. so that many questions about immigration was a victory for congressional Republicans who've been trying everything to move the media narrative away from Biden's popular rescue plan, including a stunt last week where 18 Republican senators made a trip to the border so they could get on camera. Here's Lindsey Graham and Steve Daines telling us what to focus on for 18 senators here because.


It's the biggest issue facing the country in many ways right now. The flood of Mexican meth, Mexican heroin, Mexican fentanyl 20 years ago in Montana, meth was homemade. It was homegrown. And it had purity levels less than 30 percent. Today, the meth that is getting into Montana is Mexican cartel.


Make meth great again. Stop importing meth. So it's easy to mock these Republicans.


There's a great Twitter jokes about Ted Cruz posting footage of himself and what appears to be a jungle by the border. But it does seem like they've been able to spin the media into believing they're Biden's border crisis bullshit, even though there's no evidence this influx of migrants has anything to do with Joe Biden's policies. Tommy, why do the Republicans have been successful here? And what should Democrats be saying about all this?


I mean, here's a challenge for Biden, right? Which is that the humanitarian situation is really bad. It's unacceptable. And the government needs to do a better job of caring for these human beings. And I don't want to parrot their crisis language.


But clearly, the most problematic part of this issue is if there ever you have the government treating kids, especially in an inhumane way, but treating them well requires infrastructure, money, people, better laws and a better system.


And Republicans are creating a political trap.


Right, because they want Joe Biden to say this is a crisis. But on the other side of that omission isn't humanity. It's a harsher response. It's turning the kids away. It's build that wall chance. And so you have Lindsey Graham and his buddies in their little boat. You saw them driving around with like a boat with a machine gun, I guess, to defend against unaccompanied minors. And what they want actually is to bring back the remain in Mexico policy, which would move the humanitarian crisis over the border a couple of miles into Mexico, because during the Trump administration, asylum seekers had to wait in squalid camps there.


So, you know, that's what's so frustrating about this debate, is Republicans don't actually want to do any of the things that would solve the problem. They want to build up pressure to push Biden to act in some nebulous way. But all the ways they want him to act make things worse. We went through years and years and years of Trump being as harsh as he possibly could to people trying to immigrate to the United States. And the numbers just went up and up and up and so like that's why this conversation feels so broken and frustrating.


Yeah, love it, it does seem that Republicans have duped reporters basically into covering the issue, they want it the way they want it covered. There's a legitimate story about the conditions at both border facilities and having enough space at HHS that the Biden administration does need to solve. And reporters could focus on that. A lot of those questions weren't focused on that. A lot of those questions were focused on just the general influx of migrants crisis frame that the Republicans have been pushing, which isn't necessarily true.


We also like it's also very confusing, like the Republican rhetoric is contradictory, right? It's like, you know what? Joe Biden is putting kids in cages, but also his open borders policy is causing this surge. There is a rise in apprehensions. Therefore, we need more border security. But wait, hold on a second. If it's a rise in apprehensions, that means that the border security is apprehending people as they're attempting to come over. Why are they attempting to come over illegally?


Well, because there are still orders in place because of the pandemic that turn a lot of people away. Why are there more unaccompanied minors? Well, because we're not doing a barbarous thing of turning away children who are here alone, but we are still turning away. Families like this is very complicated. And I think this is yet another example, I think, where there's a really hard, substantive problem here. You know, the Trump administration said, all right, cruelty will be our weapon.


That will be our policy lever. We will use cruelty as a tool to try to stop people from trying to come into the country. The Biden administration won't do that well immediately. There is still cruelty. There are still too many kids trying to come in there still, you know, huge problems at the border. What are we going to do to address that?


Well, it's a complicated issue involving a really long term plan about helping countries where these people are are coming from building the infrastructure, as Tommy said. And we never get to that part of the debate because we've got Ted Cruz in a fucking flak jacket aiming a gun at, you know, like in a raft, trying to seem tough because it's about trolling Joe Biden and reckoning what the Trump administration did.


It's just this idea that Joe Biden is a nice guy or Joe Biden's policies are somehow causing this.


When there was a just as there was an influx in twenty nineteen of the same magnitude when Donald Trump was president, no one thought Donald Trump's policies or Donald Trump's personality was somehow drawing migrants to the United States. And there was a larger influx or as large influx at times in twenty nineteen.


But but like, OK, let's say there is an impact of removing racist, violent, jingoistic administration, sending a signal that maybe things are different. What's your answer to that? Go back to the barbarism we had like a few months ago, like go back to that impulse. That's what we need to do.


Yeah, because the real difference is Joe Biden's not turning away kids anymore because he's following the asylum laws. And the press has framed this as like Joe Biden's more you know, he's changed policies.


Now he's going back to what presidents have done forever except for Donald Trump. Right.


The reality is that most people are getting turned away when they try to cross the border because of a provision called Title 42, which says the government can turn people away from the border for health reasons. In this case, we're talking about covid. That's like that means like 80 percent of people are getting turned away and a lot of them are trying again, which is increasing numbers. You guys made the important point.


Biden is not turning away children because that's an unthinkable thing to do, to take a 12 year old kid and plop them back down in Mexico and say best of luck.


Right. And so but reporters still brought to the conversation the suggestion that because Biden is more humane, that's leading to a surge. You're always going to be able to find anecdotal evidence of people who say things like that.


But it completely ignores the much broader, more complicated set of economic conditions, security conditions, covid natural disasters that have led a lot of people in Northern Triangle countries in Central America to try to come to the US over the years. And simplifying it down to Joe Biden. Nice or not, is just it's an unbelievably facile, unhelpful way to have this conversation.


You know, it is you know, it is more helpful, ABC This Week flying their roundtable down to the border. Yeah, for sure.


And, you know, it's the fact the fact that the Bush administration does not want to use deprivation and cruelty to dissuade people in the same way that the Trump administration did does not mean that there aren't terrible conditions that reporters are right to question the Biden administration over total.


Then, of course, we'll dig into that. You dig into that and what's happening? Well, it's a really difficult logistical question about what you do to find a place for these kids that doesn't that that isn't harmful, that isn't unsafe, that isn't unhealthy, that, you know, when they're when there is covid restrictions and and that are different in all parts of the country, it's it's a difficult, thorny, hard problem. And by the way, there's even like there's that short term problem and then there's the medium term or longer term question is like, OK, well, what should this asylum system look like?


And and what do you do? If the Republican argument is the more humane the system, the more people will try to use it? There's that that creates a paradox that nobody wants to address, which is if the if like if the answer is a humane system results in a crisis, then like is your answer is, is that where we go? Like, the only answer is creating an inhumane border. That's what the answer seems to be.


They want us to force that. They want that to be the natural political trap, which is a false choice. They want to be they want to build that wall and they just want to blame Biden for not having success. They're not trying to solve the problem. They don't give a fuck about the problem. It's a political argument. That's right. ABC News ABC News has solved the problem by having a set in a different location with the same pundits in more casual clothing.


That's the way we're going to work. Nailed it. You know what I mean? Completely nailed the.


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So one person who refuses to be excluded from this border narrative is Donald Trump, who told Judge Jeanine over the weekend that he feels he owes it to ICE to go to the border himself. This is part of a mini media tour from the former president, which he also told Laura Ingraham that the armed insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, one of whom tried to gouge a cop's eye out, posed, quote, zero threat, saying, quote, Some of them went in and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards.


But the most important recent appearance from Trump came over the weekend when he surprised a Mara Lago wedding reception with a beautiful toast to the new couple. Here's a clip.


I just got a picture of the news. I get all these flash reports and they tell me about the border. They tell you about China and Iran. We dealing with Iran. I don't really think they would have done anything. They would have done anything in this country because of drugs, sanctions and the decision. Disappointing because. Now we're not dealing with the United States and they don't want to deal with us and China the same thing. They never treated us that way.


We saw it happened a few days ago was terrible. And the borders that go into the borders, the worst that anyone has ever seen and what you see now, multiply it times 10, you you would know that he's the only one. I know that my name on the border tougher than the US, Jim.


All right. So anyway, let's raise a glass to the bride and groom. Here you both. You look like you love each other anyway. Enjoy the shrimp. That was part of your deal. You got shrimp. All right. I got to go.


There's one of those speeches at every wedding. I love it.


The yeah. He's really in the kind of we are at the late stage Xanadu. You know, it's very it's look, it's pitiful.


I actually had heard the remarks until this moment.


And that's how you can see how from the Laura Ingraham thing, though, how conservative media is going to help him go from being a temporary pariah after inciting an insurrection to a guy who just wishes Joe Biden would get tougher on the border. Just going back to complaining about the president in power, the government power just throwing bombs from the outside. Nothing controversial about Donald Trump. That's what they're going to they're going to memory hole January six. That's always been the plan.


I do wonder, you know, Trump will certainly draw attention to the border if he goes there. I saw Dave Weigel from The Washington Post tweeting about this. I guess the question is, how will people receive that he's historically unpopular? Are they sick of him? Will he politicize the border issue even more than it's than it already is and maybe be less of an effective messenger against Biden than the images we saw in the just the reporting that's getting talked about about the about the border.


One place you can see Donald Trump's influence is Georgia, where Stacey Abrams put it, quote, Republicans are responding to the big lie by actually doing what the insurrectionist sought by passing a voter suppression law that President Biden called Jim Crow in the 21st century.


You might have heard that the law criminalizes offering food and water to voters who are waiting in line. It also includes tougher photo I.D. requirements for mail in voting and limits on Dropbox's. But I think the most significant and dangerous reform is that it essentially gives the Republican state legislature control over the state board of elections and the county elections boards, including the authority to suspend officials and disqualify ballots. So like I saw, some Democratic politicians and election analysts say that this law could create a backlash.


You know, Dave Wasserman tweeted, If past is prologue, Georgia Republicans just handed Democrats their best turnout tool for 2022 and beyond. I'm not sure about that. Like, it may be true that it could sort of convince a lot more people to go vote because they're trying to be stopped. But if Republicans in the legislature controlled the board of elections, I'm not sure how higher turnout overcomes that. What do you think?


I think there's three pieces. One is efforts to suppress the vote based on the truth, efforts to suppress the vote based on a lie and efforts to suppress the vote by stealing the election after the election is done. So they're trying to restrict mail in voting because they've been convinced by a lie around mail and voting before this election. It was not clear to anybody that mail in voting was better for Democrats or Republicans. Trump both made that up and kind of made it true in one election during covid because he idiotically convinced a bunch of people not to vote that way, even though it's perfectly safe and traditionally had not been seen as having a partisan advantage.


Then they're doing a bunch there's a bunch of pieces of this that are just simply trying to suppress the votes of African-Americans and Democrats. And I do think, to your point, like those can be very harmful. Those are pernicious. They can be overcome. They've been overcome in the past. The third piece of this, I think, is not getting enough attention, which is, well, if Democrats win a close election and Republicans decide they don't accept the results, we don't have a Brad Roethlisberger.


They just kick his burgher out. And so they are not I do I don't think we are being attentive enough to the threat that in a close presidential election, in a close race in a state like Georgia, the. Ability of a legislature which which is, by the way, filled with more radicals than Republicans in Congress than than, you know, state, state Republicans, local Republicans have been some of the most radical human beings in politics, giving them the power to decide the outcome of an election or who's in charge of overseeing the election is incredibly dangerous.


And we might see we are fortunate that we got to the end of this, where the close states at the end were certified and the results were counted and we won unequivocally. But in a closer election or even one that's not as close, we might see Republicans send their own electors, for example. And then we're then we're off to the races, especially given we don't know what's going to happen in the 2022 midterms. So it's very, very dangerous what's happening.


Yeah, I mean, you said a close election, but you're right, it doesn't it doesn't actually have to be close. Look what happened in Michigan, right? Michigan was not a particularly close state.


And yet we had, you know, their county board was sort of deadlocked between Republicans and Democrats. And it was only the fact that you had one Republican who was not super Trumpy who said, I'm not going to go along with this to overturn to try to overturn the election or say that we're not going to certify this. You have the Republican legislature in control of the elections machinery, not just at the state level, but on the county level. And they're able to disqualify ballots like the food and water thing has been getting a lot of attention because it's the most vivid imagery.


But I think this is very, very dangerous. Tell me, what are your thoughts on this?


Yes, that is a very disconcerting piece of this law. I mean, just to just to explain the food and water thing to folks. I mean, the thing to know is that studies have shown that voters in communities with larger minority populations tend to face longer wait times to vote. Fulton County, Georgia, where Atlanta is, is at the very top of that list. Right. So that doesn't happen by accident. Republicans try to make it harder to vote in black communities.


And now what they're doing is saying, if I go and try to give a bottle of water to someone who is waiting hours to vote, I could be arrested for that.


Right. So, like, they are trying to create reasons for black voters mostly to leave the lines.


Now, I will say the silver lining a little bit of all of this is it's really good that we're talking about this. We're talking about it candidly. It's good that Joe Biden really hammered home how awful these laws were, because I think a lot of times it's the case that voter suppression bills get passed. There's not a lot of coverage. And then when Democrats lose because of them, the Thumbsucker analysis piece is about why it happened is like, oh, the Democrats are too liberal or whatever it is.


Right. That's not happening here. We're talking about this honestly.


I also think it seems like earlier versions of this bill that had some even more restrictive provisions on Sunday voting or maybe that floated the idea of getting rid of automatic voter registration. Those were curtailed seemingly by some of this media outrage. So that that's look, I'm looking for a silver lining. There isn't much, but that's good. No, I know the question now is, of course, what to do about this law. You know, we have talked a million times about how the for the People Act would supersede most of these state laws.


So we need to fight for that. If someone should go ask Joe Manchin what he thinks about the fucking Georgia law that just passed and Kyrsten Sinema, who are still sticking by the filibuster, President Biden said the Justice Department is taking a look at possible actions. Civil rights groups have already filed a lawsuit arguing that the law places unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote, particularly for black and Latino voters. Other civil rights groups have called on major sports organizations like Major League Baseball and the PGA to move the All-Star Game in the Masters tournament out of the state.


Some have even called for boycotts of Georgia based companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Levitt. What do you think about this pressure on the Georgia business community?


I am my my view is if it's coming from Stacey Abrams, great. If it's coming from outside of the state, I'm not for it. I think we should be guided by what the local organizations are saying. And I know Stacey Abrams has been reluctant to embrace a boycott just yet. I'm not sure what the right thing to do is a right.


But we you know, we need to think about using all the levers we have.


Tell me, what do you think I sort of think there's a a subtle distinction between calling on businesses to speak out against this law and sort of trying to pressure them to do so and going so far as to boycott Georgia based businesses that could have broader repercussions than just the CEOs of those companies.


Yeah, no, look, it's fair. I mean, look, this is tough because you want to make sure you aren't hurting the same people who might be impacted by this law. So, for example, Major League Baseball, the players association floated the idea of moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to somewhere else in response to this bill. I could see how that would create a lot of pressure on the state of Georgia to maybe walk back some of these voter suppression policies.


I could see how that would hurt a lot of minority owned businesses who might be relying on people visiting the city and spending money around these events. So I don't know the sweet spot. I agree with Levitt that, like, I want to follow the lead of people in state and see what they want to do.


I think at a minimum, the way we beat these kinds of voter suppression laws long term is continuing the organizing that, like Stacey Abrams and all these groups have been doing for decades now. Yeah, I mean, Stacey Abrams hasn't spoke specifically on this yet, she came out against sort of the boycott when there was an abortion ban in Georgia.


But the new Georgia project, which is Stacey Abrams organization, has asked people not to boycott and tweeted that there are ways to fight back that don't double down on harming Georgians, was their quote. Civil rights activist Bernice King has also tweeted that it would hurt middle class workers and people grappling with poverty. So I think the the the ways to fight this are going to be in court. And, of course, with trying to pass H.R. one at the national level, those seem to be the two big ways.


And, of course, calling on businesses to say something. I think that's that's important, too. But the boycott is not what a lot of activists in Georgia want.


And so so I'm sorry, I can have not to make it into Dicko. That's why these people are just so busy, bodies tweeting at me. And not a Diet Coke, I just I can have it right. Well, so you tweeted me not to, but it sounds like I'm going to I'm going to go with I'm going to I know that you care a lot about this issue because you're tweeting at me, their Diet Coke and my avatar.


But I'm going to go with Stacey Abrams, who says I can have the Diet Coke. I want to pressure Coca-Cola to do the right thing. All right. I do. If you're going to drink it, maybe every time you drink it, you should tweet something, Apple is happy to do it, but or ignore those tweets. Just just ignore the tweets telling me to stop having jakab. That's just OK.


That is, we got to the focus on what we got to the heart of the issue. We've had some we've elevated some big crises today. Peter Doocy wasn't called on top his. DIACO No, no, no.


You're missing. There's no crisis because I can have this. Oh, boy.


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Speaking of bad people, last week we debated where Ron Johnson ranks in the pantheon of worst Republicans and we promised to follow up with an actual contest. Tommy, I know you've been doing some work on this in honor of March Madness. What do you got? OK, John. Yes, you're right, last week on the show, we promised you guys some bracketology. So the you know, the trends available to us are brackets and stuck ships. So just be thankful that we chose this one.


So here we go.


The eight worst Republicans, we're calling it our March Madness tournament. Here's how this works.


OK, I got I have eight teams for you to choose from the affiliate, so I'm going to read you two names out of each region. So we have the West, the east, the South and the Midwest. That's how the NCAA tournament works. You guys. You too. You good. Thanks for your help. No problem. You got a debate amongst yourselves and you choose a winner of those two. Now, in a couple of cases, because we're here to have fun.


I'm going to tell you about who was defeated to get into the late right.


We're good. OK, OK. All right. Yes, right on your lead. OK, we're going to start out in the West.


We've got some heat coming out of the top of this bracket. Steven Miller has the three seed now. Lovett branded him a C plus Santamonica fascist. But Steven Miller, he played himself into shape over the years. He found some creative ways to be evil and he ended up with the three seed. OK, now we had a play in game to get to the second team in the West.


Nixon super fan and sycophant Hugh Hewitt went up against a media killing nerd bent on global domination named Mark Zuckerberg.


Now, on paper, guys, on paper, this sounds exciting, but not in practice. Zuckerberg is a billionaire. Huge loyalty can be bought. So Zuckerberg is the second awful Republican in the West with the 70s. Now, you guys get to choose Steven Miller first. Mark Zuckerberg. Steven Miller.


Wow, that's interesting. It's so tough. It's interesting, right?


Because good game because it's a really it's a question about flash and sizzle versus fundamentals. Yes. Steven Miller is the Tzion Williamson. He's a raw talent. They both went to Duke. He's a pure scorer. But like, Zach is awful.


You just don't really know why Mark Zuckerberg has done more damage worldwide because because Donald Trump would still have been awful and terrible and inhumane and racist and xenophobic without Steven Miller and Steven Miller, as I've always said, not just a racist, a terrible speechwriter.


And so I agree with you. I just think Steven Miller isn't that effective being that evil. He's just not even that effective. Mark Zuckerberg, he's bad.


Yeah, it's a it's a you know, Steven Miller is cute as an acute harm. Mark Zuckerberg is a society wrenching global negative influence that affects us all and every single day in small ways. In large ways. So, yeah, I agree. I think Zuckerberg wins all rights.


Zuck OK, guys.


Going to the east now looming large in the east is the reigning champion, Donald Trump with a one seed. You know him. There's not a lot I have to say here, though. I do have some very sad news, which is the duke of the bracket, right? Not this year.


They suck Donald Trump junior Ana Brockovich protocols and he got disqualified from entering the tournament. He's our v.c of this year. Yeah, I know. I know. It's heartbreaking. So the second spot in the East was also a play in game, guys. OK, we had Politico playbook against Tucker Carlson.


Now, listen, I'll be the first new playbook. I'll be the first to admit that Politico playbook. They got off to a hot start this year. They're cutting and pasting Stephen Miller quotes. They're they're both sizing democracy. But Tucker puts in the work night after night. He's a grinder, so he's in the faucet. So your choice out of the east, Donald Trump admittedly having a down year.


He lost his platform. You got outhustled by Democrats against Tucker. The Grinder dominates the offensive glass. Who do you choose? You know how I'm going to I'm going to I'm going to go with an upset here, I'm going to say, Tucker Carlson, I'm looking to the future. I'm looking to the future.


I know it's it's look, the Tucker Tucker has. It's Tucker, it's it's a young it's a young squad, but it has heart and, you know, Trump is tired. Yeah, he has a lot of he has a lot of experience in the arena to do harm. But Tucker has watched that team play for a long time, and he's bringing a lot of what Trump used to do with a kind of a youthful vigor and vim that can't be.


I agree. I also would just love to get it out in the ether that Donald Trump is now nervous about a challenge from Tucker Carlson taking. I just I like to see that fight in public to get maybe in play, but actually. Speaking of speaking of worse, that's a really good idea.


OK, so the south is the blue blood bracket. These are just old school shithead Republicans. So with the number five seed, we've got a man with no principles, no dignity. These sad sack senator from Cancun, Ted Cruz, as noted earlier, last seen lurking near the Rio Grande. Which sort of swamp creature? OK, so the second team, again, we had to play in game to get here. We had Marjorie Taylor Green out of Georgia.


Now, Marjorie has been playing out of her mind recently. Some might say literally, she promotes Kuhnen. She promotes insurrectionists, the 9/11 truth movement. Unfortunately for her, she went up against the blue blood named George W. Bush.


And guys watching, watching loose change a couple of times doesn't help you against the guy who did 9/11, you know? So that's the show.


I'm obviously kidding. He was 9/11. If he did do 9/11, he was there for it.


It's weird if you think about like we're joking here. George invaded Iraq. Clear winner number two. So now you choose the South. Ted Cruz, who beat Jimmy Kimmel one on one in basketball, which isn't relevant but seems like it against George W. Bush, was the pedigree, the storied history, though? He was a legacy admission.


Look, this is this is easy for me. And I know this might sound hypocritical, because during the Zuckerberg vs. Miller match, what we said Zuckerberg, because he had a greater global impact than Miller, George W. Bush clearly had a greater global impact than Ted Cruz because of the Iraq war.


But Ted Cruz is a fucking asshole. It's got to be Ted Cruz. It has to be Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz sucks.


Yeah. No, he does suck. He does. Look, I don't want to disagree with you. I, I do think he sucks. But it's it's interesting because George Bush, I would say, is still a threat to George.


That is true. That that is true. That is true. Though. The damage done by George W. Bush continues and we continue to pay a price for the damage, ongoing destruction of our economy, of our political institutions and Bayamon of of the Middle East like those continue.


And George W. Bush represented the genteel version of Trump ism of Republicanism that did a lot of damage. I disagree. I just disagree.


Ultimately, Ted Cruz is a leader who follows people around and then gets there and tries to run in front and tell them how excited he was to lead them there. So I I'm going to say George W. Bush personally, that's how I feel.


That's how I feel today.


Ted Cruz left one hundred people to die of hypothermia in Texas while he went to Cancun just a few weeks ago.


Ted Cruz would have to do that a thousand times to start competing with the fucking body count of George W. Bush. Well, what we're learning here, guys, what we're learning here is that I should have thought up a mechanism to handle a tie.


So you break it, you are against it. If we go to Ted Cruz, it's been all up. Say it's George W. Bush would be my vote. But listen, this is not about me. This is about the listeners. So let's go to the Midwest, which is just this is just a brawl. OK, so we have our eight seed here. He plays an uptempo game. He pushes Russian propaganda. He pushes anti Voxer conspiracy theories.


He thinks Greenland was once green. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, he's in there with the eighth seed. He's also hydroxy Clark wins last best hope.


So the play in game for the next spot was controversial. Again, guys, it was all Kentucky. We had Senator Mitch McConnell, the Prince of Darkness, earned himself the nickname Cocaine Bitch. So he is subjected to extra drug screening before these games against Abe Lincoln.


Now, I know. I know this. Hear me. Yeah, this is controversial here. I mean, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in eighteen sixty one. The twenty twenty one. GOP loves that. But Lincoln is famously a pro union guy. The modern GOP, they want to secede.


So Mitch Tell on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors deciding there are a lot of Republican votes that they got. Lincoln and I know I told you is controversial. This wasn't me that did this. It was the voters. So, again, who do you choose?


Guys got Mitch McConnell. He's a bit like Syracuse. He builds an. The tribal zone around the Senate to stop everything, Ron Johnson is basically playing a different game out there, he often seems to dunk on himself. Ron Johnson versus Mitch McConnell.


Mitch McConnell, I mean, Mitch McConnell may be one of the most destructive forces in politics over the last several decades.


Yeah, I mean, I just think, you know, Ron Johnson is a baby with a hand grenade. I'm not saying I'm not saying I'm not scared, but I don't really know how to finish that. I just think of him as a just picture a baby with a hand grenade, sort of an image. You know, you got that far. That was pretty good.


I like that. OK, so. I mean, that does it are fascist for is Zuck, Tucker, Bush or Cruz versus McConnell, maybe the listeners can tie break for us.


We'll do like a Twitter poll for Bush. Chris, I love that. I love that phrase.


Yeah, I love that, too. I think that's great. That's great. This is going to be this is an interesting journey. This is a I'm excited. So so Dan and I can talk more about the final four. Yeah. I'm sorry. The Fascist fascist for thank you for on on Thursday. Well, again, Dan's going to be very happy that Mitch McConnell and I know that. Thank you for getting the branding right. Dan might actually understand some of the basketball related puns in here.


So that'll be good to play in a play in game. A lot of playing games in this tournament. A lot. I know. I know it made it fun, but that's what I got. Now, Gonzaga, Gonzaga is very good to learn.


I only hear around this time of year we go. Here we go. Well, that's our show for today. Look.


Well, we'll be asking you guys to participate in March Madness on the on the Internet. So look out for that. And we will see on Thursday where. Dan, we'll be back. Bye, guys. Bye bye. Hotei of America is a crooked media production, the executive producer is Michael Martinez, our associate producers are Jordan Waller, Jazzy Marine and Olivia Martinez.


It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle Soglin is our sound engineer, thanks to Tanya. Commentator Katie Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Reston and Justin Howe for production support. And to our digital team, Elijah Cohn, Na Melkonian, Elfriede Friede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.


Hi, it's Ana Marie Cox from with friends like these, we're doing a series of episodes exploring reconciliation and forgiveness between people, between races, between countries in marriages, in the criminal justice system, and even what it would mean to reconcile our relationship to the planet. And a small spoiler that might be one of the trickier ones with friends like these seeking forgiveness wherever you get your podcast.