Although new abnormal listeners, when you're about to hear is the first episode of The Daily Beast new podcast, Fever Dreams, the podcast takes you inside the right's push to retake power from the conspiracy slingers to the Magga acolytes to the straight up. Grifter's thought the Trump era was crazy. Wait till you hear what they have planned next. The show is hosted by Asulin Superceding and Will Summer. There's new episodes every Wednesday and you could subscribe on your favorite podcast app today.
Again, that's Fever Dreams. I hope you enjoy this episode. Hi, guys, this is Usman Soothsaying, but please call me Suyin, and welcome to The Daily Beast Fever Dreams. Hi, I'm Will Summer Politics reporter at The Daily Beast, where I dig into all the darkest recesses of American extremism and extremely online militants. I'm currently working on a book about Kuhnen and its disastrous impact on our society. I'm also a senior political reporter at The Beast and co-author of the book Sinking in the Swamp.
I spent years covering the intersection of entertainment and politics, and in the post Trump era, it seems like that's the only sensible way to cover politics in this beautiful, hideously stupid country of ours on this podcast. We're going to take you on a deeply reported plunges into the sometimes hilarious and sometimes scary fanatics infecting the way that millions of Americans view the world and how they vote. Even in the aftermath of the Trump administration, the energy of these conspiracy theorists, grifters and influencers is still pushing our mainstream political landscape closer and closer to a breaking point.
We're here to help you better understand how and why this is happening and who in the halls of power is letting it happen along the way will also regularly bring on guests, including political pros, hard nosed reporters and some influential voices from Hollywood. Every once in a while, you might also hear from some familiar faces from the trenches of Trump Land and the veterans of the democratic corridors of power. So will premiere episode. How are you feeling? Yeah, I'm excited.
I think. I think People Dreams give me an exciting podcast, so I'm glad to have you along with me for the ride. Well, I'm feeling like the little guy and the odd man out right now because unlike you, I'm not a fuckin HBO starlet in the same way you are. As we premiere the show, the great Christopher Moltisanti, Denarius and now me among the HBO stars. Yeah, I'm in the new HBO docu series on Kuhnen Q Into the Storm, which premiered on Sunday and will be kind of unschooling for the next two weeks.
OK, and something I've started to pick up on on Twitter. When your fans keep messaging you about the HBO doc is then the premiere episode. They've noticed the décor of The Daily Beast DC office and have started ribbing us about it because of how there's nothing in the background. There's like a framed poster of the Daily Beast logo and then like a desk with maybe a couple of galleys and books on it. And there's just nothing. There's like a door with ostensibly a lock on it, but that's it.
Yeah. I mean, my wife saw it for the first time. She called it a jail for journalists, and that really, really sums it up. I mean, it is a grim office. And I think what I want to stress to people, though, is there was a lot of confusion on HBO. There were a lot of people who thought, that's my house. But I don't I don't have just a framed name of my employer on the wall.
And now they just have rows of desks, like there was just a lot of like, will you got to, like, up your game? Man, I think in kind of the pandemic era with room radar and all this stuff, I think people really think that they're like, get some succulence in there. Like they just forget that offices exist.
Right. And look, people for extremely good reasons hate the stereotype of the like the classic media elite in DC, New York, Los Angeles, wherever.
I would like to think that the general aesthetic of The Daily Beast DC office helps combat or try to put to rest any semblance of that kind of stereotype, because we are not fancy people in the office. People walk in and consider it a closet, even from people who don't have offices. And I've actually taken a great deal of pride in that. In the last several years, I've worked at The Daily Beast.
Hopefully the podcast catches on and we can afford it ourselves. To do office based on the podcast will explain something to me. I remember like a couple of years ago, a few years ago, whenever it was that they were first recording your interview for this then documentary to be. I remember I was in The Daily Beast DC office when you first came in in a suit with like a crew of a guy or a couple of guys trailing behind you with a big old camera and you telling me to get the hell out of the office.
Did these guys, like, really know what they were talking about? You know, I've sat for a lot of kind of like Q and unrelated documentaries or interviews. And this guy, I would say, like knows his stuff more than anybody as people they see on the documentary, he goes on and gets like crazy access to a lot of kind of the key. Q And on characters. No, I mean it's been cool. When he did it, when he started it, I had no idea he was going to end up with HBO.
I thought this was just some guy. I mean, it's a long time filming stuff. And so I frankly, this may be reflected in how I appear in the video, which is not with a haircut. And so, you know, there's a lot of people like, oh, we'll get a haircut. Well, rest assured, it's been three years and I got a haircut since then. I mean, he got crazy access to the people who I think are pretty good suspects to be currently behind.
Q And on and in a way that because he got to them so early in the growth of on these days, I mean, I just emailed one of them for an interview for my book and they were just like, we're going to sue you immediately, like did like leave us out of the book. So they really have their guards up now. And so I didn't call in. And, you know, I think it'll be an interesting documentary for people.
Moving on for a second, I need to ask you for an update on something else that you've been deep on. The weeds, on Tim and the alleged kidnapped cat, or is it multiple cats? It's just one cat. OK, explain what this is to a listener who just tuned in and is asking, why are we talking about a guy named Tim Paul? First of all, is that even his real name? And what is the deal with the cat?
Yeah, I think it's his real name. I mean, Tim Cool is is a character. He's kind of one of these guys that you might have. Be aware of if you're not really into right wing YouTube, but he's he's hugely he's a massive deal there. And so Temple is this guy who used to work advice. He covered Occupy Wall Street. And he's one of these kind of like like street reporter types. And he always wears a beanie.
But he's kind of more recent claim to fame in the Trump era. And the post Trump era is that he's like, I'm a liberal, but liberals are too crazy for me now and I love Trump and so people love it. He's one of these. Like so many times in my mentions, I get people saying, like even the liberal Tim Poole says this is wrong. Or when I describe him as a right wing personality, which he clearly is, you know, they go, Tim pool right wing horridly.
He's been in the news. We have a story about him on The Daily Beast recently.
So has he been trying to move in on Dave Rubin's territory? Is that his deal? I mean, I would say maybe that Dave Ruben would love to move in on Tim Poole's territory. Oh, I think this guy is Tim who really has a racket going. And so he's been very successful. He's got this mansion out in Maryland. You know, if you believe his aggrieved associates, he moved out there because he's afraid of antifa and he has a skate park in the mansion and kind of a rotating cast of buddies.
His critics have called it his compound. So he's kind of this interesting character. And he recently had a falling out with his business partners that that drew my attention with the falling out business partners.
Did the empire start to crumble or is this more of a disgruntled associates or former associates thing? And what the hell is the deal with the cat?
Yeah, so Tim Pool, it's like so he has this YouTube show and it's very successful, but it's very opinion based and it's sort of tim pool grabs, whatever the, you know, social justice warrior outrage of the day is. And he talks about how mad it makes him and his audience. But a couple of years ago, he tried to launch a sort of news network that eventually became called Scanner, and he raised a million dollars from his fans and he hired some other these kind of like street reporters there.
There's some people from Vice. And they were this was going to be kind of Tim Poole's news empire. It was going to have offices around the country. All this stuff was going to have like 50 employees. Do they ever break news ever? Well, no, because they basically don't exist right now. And so and so this is what happens is these Vyse people, they sort of tensions quickly rise of Tim Pool and the vice people. They start like investigating him, which traditionally is not something you do with your business partners.
I'm investigating editor in chief Noah Shachtman right now. And like a three part report, I mean, my commitment to you and to the listeners, to your dreams is that I will never be investigating you, Suyin. So there's clearly a lot of weird stuff going on. But basically this relationship is fraying. And then on January 6th, one of these reporters is filming the riot. And there's a lot of tim pools, frankly, buddies there, such as Alex Jones and some of the members of the proud boys, people he's interviewed, people he appears a little cozy with.
And then one of his business partners tweets this thing that is meant to implicate Tim Pool in some elaborate scheme. I wasn't able to verify it, but Tim Pool apparently freaks out about it and demands that they all go to his compound and get some footage. So basically, this relationship falls apart. Now, stuck in the middle is a cat. And there's this reporter who was at the Capitol. She her cat had been living at the compound while she was traveling.
And basically, as this relationship falls apart, Tim demands the footage back. He wants the equipment back. The cat is kind of stuck in the middle. And so there's this kind of month long saga over getting the cat back. And so she alleges that he was effectively taking her cat hostage.
What is the name of the cat? Female and male. The cat is Betsi. It's a female cat. It's a white cat. And fortunately, the good news for listeners is that the cat is now safely, safely at home. There was a whole operation. I mean, the police were called I mean, it became a whole thing. I mean, Tempur counters that, you know, the cat was just living at his house and he wanted to get the cat back to the to its owner.
But I think the thing to keep an eye on here is that this temple business empire, at least this corner of it, is sort of continuing to fall apart amid these allegations. And I think, you know, YouTube, right wing YouTube and Tim Poole and his associates are kind of an undercover aspect of the right wing media ecosystem. So hopefully we'll find out some more things. OK, well, someone else you've been trailing recently, is this someone who is a self-proclaimed Satanism expert who seems to think that he and his motley crew will be the silver bullet in realizing the Trump world election fraud or quote unquote, election fraud dreams in Arizona and thus hopefully making him president again by the summer or something like that.
In terms of alternate realities we're covering. Told me about this supposed Satanism expert.
Basically, you know, even Donald Trump, even most of his supporters have moved on from the idea that they're going to prove that there was this election fraud in 2020. But in Arizona, like this dream lives on. And so it has become this real hotbed for for exactly the kind of crazy characters, you know, I love following. And we love hearing fever dream. So the Arizona State Senate is controlled by Republicans. They're going to do a recount of ballots.
Now, this is five, five months after the election. And one of the key characters in this recount pushing this recount is this guy who Dr. Lyle Repak and I put Dr. there in quotation marks. There's a lot of question marks about that. And this is a guy who is this kind of right wing operator in Arizona. And he's. Fascinating character. He's like weirdly influential with the state legislature, he's tied in with all these like these Bundy types, these anti-government ranchers.
But what really struck my mind was when his previous occupation was during the satanic panic in the 80s, when police were arresting all these daycare workers on these trumped up charges of abusing children in satanic rituals. You know, Lyle was the guy telling the cops this was really going on and he was saying, oh, God. And so he was like, these lawyers, these attorneys, they're all these doctors. They they worship the devil. And this happens all over the country.
And now he's he's bringing a little of his Satanism or his Satanism tracking to the recount. And so he's been meeting with these activists and saying, you know, I believe demonic forces are at play here in Maricopa County amongst the ballots.
When you and I started looking at this in recent days, because Arizona really is a hotbed for all of this stuff where these pro Trump dead enders and die hards who seemingly will never accept that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2012 presidential election. They're really zeroing in on Arizona right now. They want to make this the next big fight. They want to incorporate whatever they find or supposedly find into something that they really hope the Supreme Court ends up taking up. And it does serve as kind of an incubator or blueprint for how certain Republicans are never going to give up on not just 2020, but on using that and Trump to push their anti-democratic election and voter crackdowns in the future.
So this guy actually does have power with influential state lawmakers, is that correct? Yeah. I mean, this guy is plugged in with various people in the state legislature, in the state House of Representatives, and who, coincidentally or not, are also the people pushing for the recount. Yeah. So the people involved in this and this in this Arizona recount, which is now come to include Mike Lyndell of my pillow, who is sort of the Forest Gump of these recounts and kind of keeps popping up and is, in this case, funding some of these groups.
Some of these people, like Lendell, are convinced that Donald Trump is going to win office again, take office this summer. But I think if you pull the if you pull the lens back here, what's going on is that Republicans need some shred of voter fraud evidence that they can then use to impose more voting restrictions. Obviously, they're already doing this elsewhere in the country without that. But what they're doing here in Arizona is they're doing this recount.
But then if you look at who they want to be involved in the recount. Right. So in this case, this Satanism guy who maybe does not have the most credibility or they were looking to hire this very pro Trump outfit that's been laughed out of other state recounts, it has this kind of imprimatur of official illness that you can then show your voters or hold up on Fox News. But really, when you dive into it, it's all these really bizarre characters and it really just doesn't stand up to any scrutiny.
Are they dumpster diving in Arizona right now? There was this weird thing about chicken coops. It really does get to the point where it starts getting beneath the dignity of people, reasonable people who actually want to pass this and litigate it. But the problem is, is it actually sort of is gaining steam? Yeah.
I mean, look for me. I think the sweet spot of the story for me is if it could be like a Coen Brothers movie or it has that atmosphere. And for me, I mean Arizona. Right. So you have these kind of vigilante groups of people who connect on Facebook and say, well, let's go to the board of Elections. And then they they dive into the dumpsters and see what they can find. I mean, they have these pictures and these are pictures put out by their group.
These are meant to make them look good, just like old guy, kind of just like digging around in the trash. And then they they say, you know, we found the shredded ballots or there was a fire at a chicken farm owned by or connected to this guy who's opposed the recount. And they said, well, he probably put the ballots in there and set the fire and then they go out to the farm and they smell the air and they say this smells like burnt ballot to me.
So they're positing that burnt ballots have a very specific fume. That's right. Right in the way that, you know, let's say if the chickens had, you know, obviously a lot of chickens did die in this fire. But but they say they can kind of, like, suss it out with their noses. And I mean, these are just the like just all the kind of zany ideas that people are relying on to sort of keep this this Eterna, you know, this lie going that the election was stolen from Trump.
And so, you know, I talked to the former chairman, this big Democratic bigwig in Maricopa County, and he was just like, you know, Arizona is just always in the news for these kind of zany things. And, you know, he obviously hopes they'll move on. But based on my reporting, I don't think that is about to happen any time soon.
I'm trying to figure out what would actually be a one to one comparison on the Democratic side for something of this scale. It would be like Democratic or liberal activists in a certain state trying to get Medicaid expanded by enlisting the help of a fortune teller.
Yeah, I mean, you know, you could look at, like, I don't know, Jill Stein looking at the ballots in twenty sixteen. But again, you didn't have anything like that where it was like the state legislature was on board and all this kind of stuff. So, you know, look, I mean, if there's Democrats diving in dumpsters to, you know, let us know about it, you know, but I don't really see it.
Right. And I. Another reason that we're going to keep hearing more and more about this is because you mentioned Mike Lyndell earlier, who was an on again off again Trump adviser and the my pillow magnate.
And he told us for this story that whatever eventually ends up happening in a potential vote, audit or recount or whatever, he wants to include that in an eventual lawsuit that he and his lawyers, according to him, were already working on. They want to get it before the Supreme Court. Obviously, other Trump or Trump backed lawsuits that have to do with the 20 20 election have already been consistently laughed out of court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, where there is a sizable conservative majority.
If they are to be believed, it is apparent that they actually do have national plans for this. They've already been openly signaling that this is a dress rehearsal for something that they want to take father in their next front in this war. And given how the Republican Party has been behaving on state levels and nationally during the end of the Trump era and now in the post Trump era, it's unfortunately something that I don't believe can be automatically discounted.
Yeah, I mean, you know, these are some zany characters for sure. But I do think that I mean, this is all just kind of a this just lays the groundwork, I think, for a future sort of voter suppression efforts and future attempts to overturn future elections.
OK, something else we've been tracking recently, which was, in my opinion, all but predictable even before the dust cleared on the day of January six, was that there would be this massive Republican effort to pretend or at least say that the Margarite was no big deal, that this big bloody melee was just a thing that happened. It could have been a parking ticket. And lo and behold, obviously, one of the ringleaders of such a messaging effort has been none other than Marjorie Taylor Greene will tell us a little bit more about that.
Yeah, I mean, I've been fascinated by this effort, especially over the past couple of weeks, to to either downplay the riot or just act like it never happened. And so so in this case, we got Marjorie Taylor Green, obviously one time Kuhnen supporter from Georgia, now professional troll in the halls of Congress. And so over the weekend, you know, we still got a lot of this fencing up around the Capitol. And so, look, do they need all the fencing?
Maybe not. But, you know, Mergenthaler Green gets out there with the big sign she has this big sign puts it up and it says Ford, Pelosi. And, you know, then it's got some people kind of cowering behind the fence in the back on her side. And I'm seeing a lot of the similar stuff from these right wing blogs. And they're saying, why are all these fences up? And it's like it's because of the riot.
You know, they're just acting like, you know, it's like they were born on January 7th and then they're just like, what is all this stuff for? And it's like it's because you guys kill people just going crazy. And then, you know, on the in the right wing media, these various blogs, they've been writing these things where it's like like basically every writer now has the equivalent of a go fund me. It's on this Christian website called Gibson Go and they go.
They do these like these pities stories on the blogs and they say the FBI broke into my house and, you know, trashed my trash, my file cabinet. And then you say, well, that seems pretty unfair. But then you go on the federal court system and you type in their name and it's like, oh, this guy was threatening to shoot cops. It's just like they're acting like this is just this has come out of heaven and they're being harassed for no reason.
And then, of course, that's obviously not the case.
How many of these people do you actually think are committed to the cause or do you think a lot of them are having this sort of whining reaction because they thought they could cause play fascistic uprising and just get away with it just like they do with anything else on the Internet?
Yeah, I mean, I think there's definitely a sense, you know, on January 6th that you could, let's say, invade the capital in camo with your militia buddies. And then suddenly now that the consequences are shaken out, I mean, everyone in these stories, it's always like after the Trump speech, I was just trying to get some lunch. But then I followed the crowd. I thought I was going to Chipotle and then suddenly we were in the capital.
What happened? And then you look at the indictments and these guys are just wearing like combat gear and they're like talking on their walkie talkies. And it's like, I didn't mean to break in. And so, like, you know, they're just these stories and it's just very basic, like, well, yeah, I don't know. That's what happens when the FBI searches your house. It was like there was one where this guy was like he's like a power washer and they tricked him and they said it was this client.
He thought he was meeting a client in his driveway and that it was the FBI and they arrested him. And it's like, well, yeah, you know, you tried to overthrow the government, man. So there is this one that is big. The Gateway Pundit made a big deal about this. These people who had a farm and the FBI arrested the guy because he was in the Oath Keepers and allegedly broke into the Capitol. And they said they let the donkeys loose.
They kept the gate open. And so the donkeys escaped. And so you think, well, we're in the donkeys hurt? No, the donkeys were just rounded up again. I mean, this is not you know, this is you're not really jackbooted thugs here. People are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each with their sob stories.
And if I think about this is yes, this is the most extreme and most darkly comical version of this impulse. But there has been this perspective among the mainstream Republican Party and Republican Party politicians, maybe even starting within less than 24 hours of. The actual riot in January to be like, we need to move on, we need to heal enough division, Joe Biden, please stop trying to tag us Republican politicians with the riot every chance you get. They would not drop this for a second four years, if not decades.
If this happened on the other side, in the exact same one to one context, it just blows my mind.
It's like you can't just move on from something like this.
I totally I mean, there is this sense of like it's very rude of you to bring up the riot. And we're seeing this sort of play in in a larger way. And that, you know, now they've dropped plans for sort of a 9/11 Commission style investigation of the riot, basically the implication being that Republicans are not willing to play ball and just would be trying to obstruct it. So, I mean, that's all kind of what these minor attempts, whether it's Marjorie Taylor Green kind of posing for a photo op in front of the fence or all these blog posts, you know, lamenting that people are facing legal consequences.
It all kind of plays into our larger collective memory of the riot. OK, but the donkeys were OK. The donkeys were OK. I mean, honestly, I was like, oh, jeez. Like the donkey got run over. No, you know, donkey like it. Also, to be clear, my sense is this is about three donkeys in like a suburban neighborhood. I think they were probably like I think it was just like that, you know, they were walking down the street, they were in somebody's driveway.
So I don't think this was like a Western like the stampede situation. And really, the people who are complaining the most are not the people who do appear to have wandered inside once the doors were busted. But I mean, you look these people up and it's just like, oh, this guy's in the Oath Keepers. He was on the chat where they were talking about breaking into the capital. So there it is, I guess. Well, for our first guest on this premiere episode of Fever Dreams, we are welcoming our dear friend Barenholtz.
IHC is a comedian actor who first danced his way to America's hearts and minds as a cast member on the Fox sketch comedy series Mad TV in recent years, I guess starred in such films as Blocher's, the Neighbors franchise, The Hunt Suicide Squad, as well as in TV series such as Bless the Hearts, Eastbound and Down and The Mindy Project. He also wrote, directed and starred in the Twenty Eighteen Political Satire. On top of that, he's also active on Twitter at Barenholtz, where you can find him tweeting about why, as Elizabeth Warren would have made such a fine president and also why Mr.
Potato Head should be summarily executed for being a like welcome to Fevered Dreams. Thank you guys for having me on your premiere episode. And I just wonder how far down the list did you have to go? Well, it was the Bundy ranch guys, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, gender neutral Mr. Potato. And then I barenholtz any list I'm on with Ammon Bundy. I also thank you guys.
I'm a big fan of obviously I know both of you guys well. I got to tell you, I loved your biggest star. Thank you. Move over.
I was watching, I was watching the Kuhnen documentary with my wife. And first of all, she was very disturbed that I knew a lot of these people.
I go like, Oh, there's Liz Crocombe. She got her fuck. Do you know that? Like, why do you know that's not good?
The dog was so great because it included what is really, truly one of my favorite moments of the Trump presidency, which was when he was the Easter Egg Roll or in the context the Q is the Q drop is like he will say the phrase Tip-Top at some point and like whatever. A week later he's doing the Easter Egg Roll and he's up on there with Melania and the Easter Bunny. And he's like, Oh my God, it's such a great speech.
He goes, he goes, you know, all the people who have put in so much work at this great house behind me or building or whatever you want to call it, because frankly, it doesn't have a name, which is it's the White House. It's the most famous building in the world. And we keep it in tip top shape, some might say tippy top shape. The whole time he's doing this, he's the Easter Bunny is right next to him in the shot.
And he has this, like, shocked expression. It's a top three Trump speech. And quite frankly, a top three speech by any American president is like the dumbest vignette that was ever created by Stephen King when he was like on a date alloted trip or something like, OK, before we get into the deep stuff and how the Trump era has affected your comedy and you write that you've been working on for the past few years, I want you to clear up something for me really quickly.
I hope our listeners have this exact same question. Yes, I have wondered ever since I was a little boy and I first saw it on VHS tapes from movies that we just rented. Why does Hollywood fetishize the width or the end credit intro and exit sequences? And I asked you specifically because I was just watching your new movie, the movie that you're in on Netflix, directed by Amy Poehler. It's called Moxie. And I kept waiting for your name in the intro credits.
And I started think to myself, if I could have one of those annoying and icky Barenholtz credits and you got a whiff, you didn't get it. And no, I think Marcia Gay Harden got it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Fuck her. That's, that's not cool.
I know you're terrible. You're wonderful woman. Amazing actress. Why of course I'll tell you they exist and I'm really glad you brought this up and I think this will be most of what the episode is about.
When you're an actor and you have got a part in a movie your agents and managers make your team are negotiating with the producers of the movie for certain perks. And those perks can be everything from you know, they want to make sure that, you know, you have the same trailer as this other person, but credit is one of them. And you might have some actors who are like, why would I be the fit name? You see, I've I've been making movies for twenty years and I'm more than the person who's number two.
So what the agents would say is, OK, so it's going to be with.
So then it becomes like with Rob Schneider and then someone maybe bigger gets another part and they've already given away the whiff so that person would get the end.
So then it's and Jim Breuer, this movie sounds terrible, but, you know, it's really going down when there is an introducing. Oh, God, yeah.
That's a good one. Like introducing Nikki Blonsky in the Hairspray movie when she is the star of the movie and she is like last in the credit.
But introducing is kind of exciting because they're basically saying, like, we have someone so amazing that we want to take credit for being the ones who unleash them on the world. So that is kind of dope.
I've always wondered this and thank you for answering the question, because whenever I've watched the movie, I see that happening in the real world, in not Hollywood, when your name is last and there is and or with like in reporting when you're at the very. The article, it's like with additional reporting by us, when Sube saying it will summer, it means you didn't do jack shit or something close to it. It means you are worthless.
So when I see every other name in the movie, including the person who played like the bellhop in one seat and suddenly and with and or with Bruce Willis, it always confused me as a child. Like, why would anybody want that?
I think a good rule of thumb is the first the most famous five actors in a movie are the first three names you see in the last two names. I think you could do worse than to think of it in those terms.
OK, so in the next Scorsese movie, hopefully you have a way for an end, correct? Yes. I would do anything on a Scorsese movie. I would I would, you know, clean out the honey wagon. I would be a caterer. I would be a fluffer if he did that. And his movies, which he doesn't do, he does not do it. By 18 hour porn movie, Straight to Netflix, directed by Martin Scorsese.
They're going to age some of the porn actors like they did Robert De Niro and the Irish. OK, the main reason we want to get you on is our very first inaugural guest is because, as we mentioned earlier, you costarred in the movie The Hunt, which I believe came out in twenty nineteen. And it's one of my favorite subplots of the Trump era, because before he went out and publicly talked about it, he had started picking it up in conservative media and places like Fox News that, oh, this movie is coming up and involves killing a bunch of deplorably and Trump supporters or whatever.
And I was hearing from people in the White House, people who I was talking to regularly, that the then president, literal leader of the free world, was walking around talking about this allegedly racist movie that was so cruel and so nasty to him and its supporters and that he needed to speak out about it. He needed to now denounce this movie. Yeah. So Fox News and other avenues of conservative media whip up a frenzy about it. They have not seen it.
They don't know what it's actually. And in fact, any normal preened person who watched the trailer for the movie that came out would not come away thinking, oh, this is a movie saying it's good that these Trump supporters would be, of course, right. So the president comes out and tells the cameras that this is a terrible movie. Can't believe this is happening. This is very unfair. And then as people who follow the entertainment press, as they know, the movie ended up being postponed in terms of its release date.
What was it like as that was going on behind the scenes, not just for you, but other people involved with the production and the cast as the then president was issuing a cultural fatwa against the hunt?
Yes, fatwa. Very good word. Cancel culture. No one loves cancer culture more than the Republicans. It's their favorite thing. They love it. They thrive on it. Well, you know, back story in the movie, I read the script and it was these Damon and Nic just really, I thought had a really nuanced, funny take on it. So obviously wasn't as advertised. And then the director is this amazing guy, Craig Zobel. When I saw it, I was really blown away.
I was like, man, it really feels like it's in that kind of it has DNA with some of the great Paul Verhoeven movies of the late 80s and 90s, you know. Oh, yeah. It feels like it's making fun of how stupid the world is close to fascism and violence. We all are living it. Anyways, after I saw it, I really didn't think it was going to be much of a thing. I thought maybe a few places might pick up on it, but if you saw it, that wouldn't pass muster.
And I was flying to New York with my it was my wife's family reunion. And we're flying to New York. We're on a plane with three little kids, which is super fun.
A lot of people say it's bad, but it's really fun. And I remember landing at in Newark and someone had texted me, this is the banner on Fox News right now. And it was a picture. It said, Hollywood kills deplorable. And it was a picture of me holding a gun. And I was like, and you played deplorable.
Yeah. It's like, oh, you play a Charlottesville martyr in the movie with the Charlottesville marcher. Right. So I was nervous that, like, give Judge Jenene or whatever is talking about this, you know, because I know I followed what happened closely enough to know that the reality is just like the worst possible thing is for Donald Trump to tweet about just it changes your life in a terrible, terrible way.
Ask Dave Weigel. But no, seriously, it's heavy duty when he like tweets about you. So I knew that. I know how the chain works. Right. It starts with, like, sort of it. And then it goes to like the Fox News hosts that No. One. No, like Steve Hilton. And then it makes its way to the nightly news and Judge Jeanine and then it makes its way to Fox and Friends. And then Trump tweets about it.
So the whole weekend, I was like super nervous and he was going to tweet about it. And then he tweeted about that.
And, yeah, a bunch of friends of my texted were like, Trump just said, your movie is racist and, you know, I'm against racist white people. It's so weird. It's so weird. Yeah. Yeah. Donald Trump's super worried about racism, too, but like, it really made me a super presence. Son in law and father that weekend show, I would be like, let's play with the kids in the pool, but I have to go to the bathroom again and like, sit on the toilet and read, like, you know, Magga Tim saying, you know, holding a picture of a.
Saying he was going to kill me and then I knew I knew that once that happened, the movie was going to get postponed at some point. And then the next day, sure enough, we got the call that they were going to pause the movie. And the worst thing about it was, you know, I know I'm sure that those people were telling you, Swen, about how bad he was and how this was consuming him. And I don't doubt that.
But at the same time, he was having a terrible period. You know, he was recently there was I think it was the El Paso shooting. Yes. I mean, Melania had gone to the hospital and there was a young baby who's both of his parents were killed and they were like, where's the baby? And they're like, oh, he left. And they're like, bring him back. And people were like, outraged. How can you do that?
So it was like everything. It was it was just a distraction, I think, you know what I mean. It was like a way for him to like, I'm mad about this and let's talk about this. And they talked about it for like a day and a half and it went away. And then it came out in the theaters and it was No. One at the box office for 30 weeks in a row. Oh, wait, no.
It came out the weekend coronavirus came out so. Right. I can't remember. I forgot. I forgot. But yeah.
So it was a real journey with that movie from cancellation to covid. It was just but it came out on DVD right after kind of everything shut down. And I think a lot of people end up seeing it and really enjoying it. And once you see it, you know that it's absolutely nothing as advertised.
So what would you say was the primary feature of those days, particularly after Trump started tweeting about it, was what you and other people in the cast and crew being inundated with death threats? Was it a hassle with the studio? And was it really the Trump and got media focused stuff that ended up getting it postponed? Or was it that combined with the fact that there had just been multiple, like horrific mass shootings in the country?
No, I don't think it was that. I think that was the cover that the studio kind of gave. I'm not talking. I turn on myself. I definitely had people say, like, you think it's funny. You know, you would think it's so funny if people are hunting you. Right? So, like, I got a couple of those. But I think the thing that no one talks about in the media and again, I'm speculating here, but I know it's happened to other places.
So it stands to reason that can happen here, too, is once Trump tweets about something, that person or that entity is is inundated with death threats. And so it wouldn't surprise me if they got a couple of those. And once that happens, they are, you know, somewhat libel, I think. And they have to they did the right thing by being like, we've got to we've got to pull this. You know what I mean?
What what good is it to leave this out there knowing that, you know, someone could come in with a long gun because they're so fired up by what the president said that something horrible could happen? So, you know, there was a lot of a lot of tax going around, a lot of like, it ties up financial concerns. Maybe this person is in the movie and they get a bonus. If it makes over X, all of a sudden that all disappears and everything.
And it just sucked because you knew it wasn't the case. It wasn't the reason they were all so mad and screaming at us and saying we were racist, which I still don't get, was unfounded. It was just it was bullshit. So that was that made it all the more stressful. But it was a really stressful three, four days. And yeah, they love cancer culture.
They love it that Trump in the past life ever tweeted or talked about something else you were involved with, like was he a mad TV? But that would be great if he was if he was like, well, SASO, Schwarzenegger's much better than Barenholtz is.
Sorry, I, I mean, it really did deeply saddened me that there bad TV that I knew when you were one of the main cast members back in the particularly the early Bush era was not around for the Trump presidency because. Yeah, yeah. At SNL, I don't think I've made my gripes with Trump or SNL or any secret. But what people forget is how deliciously inappropriately mean spirited that era of mad TV was to politicians like during the height of anti-Bush sentiment.
They during the 2004 election, they turned John Kerry character into this extremely cold hearted war criminal for no reason. And it was just so fucking funny because it was just so much more of a viscerally violent and appropriately mean sketch comedy show than SNL was at that time. Yes. Adam McKay, that era did have some good stuff in it, but it really would have been the perfect sketch comedy show for the Trump presidency. And instead, we get Alec Baldwin as like this bizarrely lovable Trump on SNL for somebody.
I remember being mad at the time because I hated George W. Bush so much. I don't like love John Kerry, but I was like, John is going to win. He's a war hero. And then, like, we would do these sketches where Frank Caliendo was George Bush and he was like, dopey, likable, bouncy. And then Michael McDonald came out as John Kerry in the most horrific, embarrassing cringe impression. And I remember thinking, like, oh, fuck, this is the Majelis voter bloc is going to swing it.
Yeah, it would have been fun to see what that would have done during the Trump era. I can only imagine, like, I think Matt. This whole kind of modus operandi was just like heightened to 10, you know, I mean, just get to 10 right away. So if I was running the show, I would have him just like literally like in a diaper, you know what I mean? Like, I would really try to, like, lean into because you want to go the other way.
SNL did their thing.
They they they went the kind of resistance porn and a little bit more. Yeah. Yeah. And then they also just want more, just more kind of standard. Normy takes on it where it's like you could really do some crazy but it is hard just because Trump himself was such an insane character, you know what I mean. Like he was so beyond the pale. Like every choice he always made was so odd that I get why it's been tough for some people to make him funny.
There's a couple of people that I did a sketch for Sarah Silverman Show years ago with Tony and a Tunic who I thought captured Trump really, really well. This guy, James Austin Johnson. I don't know if you know who he is. Incredible. Yeah, incredible.
And what he really nails is the way Trump's because Anthony sounds more like him. I think James really captures his brain in a way that I haven't really seen where it's it's it's so stream of consciousness and so just a maelstrom of just years of Access Hollywood and and been reading People magazine article, you know what I mean?
Like, it's just it's just all like petty grievances against minor celebrities. So anyways, all this to say, it would have been fun to see mad, it would have been a different mad TV just because it was a different type of comedy that it mad TV was definitely I wouldn't say it was the most Wolk's show.
Right. Right. Like a version of Mad TV that I grew up with and loved would have had during the height of the coronavirus crisis, like like something I loved about that TV, especially as an idiot like kid and teenager was there was so much blood, there was so much blood and gore. It would have like Trump in a doctor's outfit during his press, was just caked in blood and gore, just like coronaviruses, just killing so many people.
You and I have talked quite a bit over the past few years about Dinant. And so, in fact, I think that's what brought you and me together as friends because we bonded over intense love for this ridiculous pro Trump sister duo. I'm a guy. Mogwai Swen is a stealth boy. Yeah, I think silk is underrated, man. Like you need someone there playing backup. Chuck D needed Flavor Flav like he need you need your hype, man.
You need someone to like pump you out a thousand percent that.
OK, so besides them, who are the other oddities of the Trump era, who you're starting to at least in a purely a mischievous cultural sense, Miss?
Oh, I'm not requestion.
Oh, this is a really, really, really great question, because I will say it like there were days of my life where I was like, I fucking hate Dan Bongino and like, I always hate him and like, it's so funny. It's just like they're all like the photo and back to the future.
They just start disappearing and you don't think of them anymore.
My favorite Trump oddities. Oh, this is a really, really, really good question. I really like Dan Shaviro.
He is really he was the king. He was really the guy who ran the any you saw a tweet that wasn't rife with typos and kind of was coherent. That was Gavino. I miss him. Who was it was like three women who would sing songs that were quite deplorable. Choire was a really good one. They broke up. They broke up even before the end of the Trump era. Will it be good they couldn't even make it? And the person who went out in the funniest way, because I can't imagine really thinking about him again.
But Rudy Giuliani, man, Rudy Giuliani, he went from being like such a popular political figure in America. Like some people don't know this, but like if you were around after 9/11, like if you made a joke about Rudy Giuliani, everyone would get mad at you unless they were like a true lefty. And his last like our last memories of him will be like four seasons, landscaping, hair dye seeping down his face, trying to overthrow the republic asshole, completely opening and exploding in a courtroom.
It's just like shitting his pants in a courtroom. Not publicly getting stiffed by Trump like that is a very funny way to kind of he was a bull. He got point twenty twenty one. I mean, really hard.
I think one of our central thesis of covering the Trump era, The Daily Beast, particularly in the D.C. bureau, has been this. OK, like I know some people were kind of hoping for it to be a Tom Clancy novel, particularly in early and mid 2017, when all the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff was exploding. Even back then, we were trying to scream from the hilltops that this is not a Tom Clancy novel. This isn't John le Carre.
This is a Coen Brothers movie. The entirety of the Trump era was just one long, incredibly stupid, incredibly violent Coen Brothers movie that we just all had to live through.
Yeah, it really was burn after reading the whole thing had a very strong burn after reading feel to it I thought I would miss. Of these people, and I would still be like checking up on them, but they just they really do just disappear from your brain there. It's funny. It's funny that you bring up burn after reading because there was a somewhat central or semi central figure in the Butler probe. I unfortunately can't say their name here, but when I was just talking to the guy in I think it was 2017 or 2018, they would say that and they were someone who was being looked into by the feds.
Their response was, if you want to understand any of this shit, man, you've got to watch the movie Burn after reading.
Oh, my God, I hope so. At least have something to say about the self-awareness there.
But anyway, if you want to learn how the insides of the White House work, you have to watch Step Brothers.
Yes, yes, I know.
You got to get running. Thank you so much for your time. And this was a lot of fun. Come back any time and keep tweeting through it.
You guys, best of luck.
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Well, we are now at the segment that we all here call Fresh Hell, in which we try to introduce our audience to something that they will be astonished by in this world and something that they probably have not heard about yet. And yet, here we are. Will, can you tell us a little bit more about Sidney Powell and how she wants her lawsuit brought by voting tech company Dominion to be tossed because, quote, no reasonable person and, quote, should ever believe her or would ever believe her claims?
Says Cindy Powell. Is this sort of a free range pro Trump attorney who sort of files her lawsuits on behalf of Trump and collects money from all her fans? And so in the aftermath of the election, she went after all these voting companies saying they were Hugo Chavez had cracked a plan before his death nearly a decade ago to steal the election, all this kind of stuff. Well, now that she's being sued by one of those voting companies, she has decided that her legal case would be like, I was just kidding.
Aw, come on. You really believe me. And so she filed a motion basically saying that, quote, No reasonable person would have taken her claims seriously. And so she can't be held liable for it. Right.
And this is, I think, a not uncommon legal tactic whenever this comes up in court with public figures like I think Fox News tried a similar thing recently in a court filing with Tucker Carlson in which Fox's lawyers argued that no reasonable viewer of Tucker Carlson's program, given how much bravado and hyperbole or whatever it contains, would take this as anything other than a guy just riffing. He's not necessarily reading you something from the almanac or something that could be considered an objective fact.
He's just spouting he's just being Tucker Carlson. So, I mean, the thing I find funny about this and yes, I'm aware that it is not entirely uncommon, is that when whether it's Sidney Powell or Fox News, whenever they argue this in court, they are essentially saying, oh, our client or this guy is a total bullshitter. And why are you believing anything they say you're essentially throwing whatever supposed principles or actual argument you have in public or anything you actually pretend to believe just completely under the bus because you don't want to have to end up coughing up millions of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars or whatever.
And I mean, I get it's a convenient maneuver, but it really does give up the game on a lot of this and just underscores how much of a grip this entire thing is. When they were telling millions of people who believe them, including former President Donald Trump, that one of the biggest scandals ever had just unfolded in front of them during the 2012 election and that it was being stolen from you, the people. And obviously we've seen that there are intense real world consequences for doing that, including bloody rioting.
Yeah. I mean, you know, this is a kind of classic defense. I mean, this is what for these kind of characters, Alex Jones, you know, famously was involved in a child custody dispute. And he he said he was basically playing a character and just joking around on his shows. And so, yeah, I mean, this is a move. I don't think it's one that just really increases your credibility with your audience. I mean, in Sydney, Powles kids, she was acting like this was, you know, the state of the American republic was at stake.
And then now she's thinking, you know, I don't take it too seriously. Right.
And it's Sydney Powells case. Before she was actually served with the lawsuit, she was publicly signaling bring it on. I would love to be sued by these guys because then we get to go in discovery and we get to find the evidence of the real hacking and the real fraud and show dominion for the lying frauds and criminals they are. And they will go to jail, as we reported a few weeks ago, when the process server finally showed up, finally found Sidney Powell, it took them a while to serve her with a box full of documents with which, you know, you would serve someone for a lawsuit like this.
She refused to even get out of the car or talk to and barely made eye contact with the process server. And look, if you're going to go out there and say, bring it on, but when the push comes to shove, you won't even get out of the car to accept a box of papers. What were you even doing here? Either you believe the republic is crumbling before us and you, Sidney Powell, are going to be there to save it or it's just for show.
There was that move of like her and Lin Wood, another pro Trump attorney. There was a lot of people were saying, jeez, I think you're going to get sued. And they'd say, I'd love to get sued. They'll never sue me, though. They're too afraid of discovery. And then they get sued a week later. And in City Valse case, they try to avoid service because she doesn't want to be sued. And so I think what's exciting here as observers of this and as people who watched after the election as these characters, you know, helped Dementor politics even further, is that now, you know, they're promises to be, you know, some small measure of reckoning in the courtroom.
And, you know, I think we're going to find out more about about all these kind of wild election lies. You know, once these things shake out, that could end up being true.
But one thing that saddens me a little bit about this is that I'm not sure there is any measure of what some random lawyer who they do not know can put in a court filing that will end up swaying someone who is a drunk, 20, 20 dead ender. Millions of people who have actually, according to all the polling, seem to be buying in. This or, I don't know, Sydney Powles, legions of fans, these people who worshipping at the feet of the Kraken and there's been so many times where what little bits and pieces of reality have been offered up to subvert what these people at least say they actually believe.
And it has not made a dent. I don't think that Sydney Powell even arguing in court like no reasonable person could actually believe this will actually have any more of an impact with his people, because they have already made clear that people like Sydney Powell are targeting millions upon millions of suckers in this country, people who are willing to buy anything, people who are willing to trust the wallet inspector, if they're walking down the street. I just am skeptical that this could end up producing a turn in that, because I think we're at the point of no return.
But maybe that's just my cynicism, bleeding out a little bit too much.
Oh, no. I mean, these people are going to believe it for the rest of their lives. I mean, like, whatever city us, it is easy to forget now what? Like a cult of personality. Sydney Powell on her own, built up with the endless promises of the cracken. I mean, people were talking. They wanted her to run for president or they wanted Trump to make her vice president. I mean, it was she was just a huge deal for these people.
And there's a lot of ways you can kind of get around this in your head. You basically they either they ditch Sydney Powell and say, well, what she taught us was true or, you know, you just say, well, you know, Sydney Powell has got to do that because the darned deep state controls the judges. And so she's got to get around it that way. But, you know, nevertheless, they still believe her claims.
So I think obviously we saw some crack and flags on January 6th, all these Trump riots. What I loved about it was people say, where's the crack and where's the crack? And then she would say a couple. She'd say, oh, remember that thing from a couple of weeks ago that no one noticed? Yeah, that was the crack. And some affidavit ends like or then she claimed she was the crack. So I think the crack and remains.
Well, on that note, let's wrap up this episode of Fevered Dreams from The Daily Beast in future installments will also be speaking to some awesome reporters and colleagues at The Daily Beast and beyond, from politics to pop culture and other overfed, underdeveloped institutions. We hope you'll subscribe to us on your preferred podcasting app and share the show on social media and at your family dinner table. If you'd like to follow us on Twitter, IHM at Will Summer and Suyin is at Suyin 24.
Say Hello. This podcast is produced by Jesse Cannan with Music by Brian De Meglio. Thanks so much for listening and we'll see you next time.