Workin’ for the Weekend #33: Stirewalt Fallout, Kmele’s Race Debate, Gillespie/Lake Talk Lennon
Also: Sometimes it snows in March
Hello from a snowy Hudson Valley! We’re gonna get to some of our usual weekend links from the Fifdom universe, but first a reminder to the many thousands of you reading this email/post for free—paying allows you to join what for my money is THE best comments section on the Interwebs (from which I’ll be quoting below). It also gets you access to our full Members Only episodes, plus a virtual ticket to our Second Sunday tapings each month. Please consider signing up!
* Tons of positive feedback on Episode #396 featuring former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt. I interviewed Stirewalt about his book Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back for C-SPAN back in August. He writes a regular column for The Dispatch, and co-hosts (with Free Beacon Editor in Chief Eliana Johnson) a podcast called Ink Stained Wretches, which just today has dropped a new episode on “Fox’s Bruh Moment.”
I also wrote a piece this week for Reason pegged on the Stirewalt interview, and trying to make a broader point about
the self-constructed, still-lucrative predicament that Fox News, the Republican Party, and American conservatism all find themselves in at the beginning of the 2024 presidential cycle. Still enjoying the rarified views at the top of the totem pole, but clinging on for dear life, terrified of alienating the people down below who made them rich.
The conservative elite’s Fear of the Base pre-dates (and in fact helped give rise to) the political rise of Donald Trump—I wrote about that in 2016, 2015, 2013, 2005, and probably every year between (including my 2007 book about John McCain). Trumpworld has been, as I detailed in a Twitter thread last night, been exploiting that gap as a way to define himself against Fox News from July 2015 (when Rupert Murdoch toothlessly dinged Trump for sliming McCain) up until literally yesterday. Being aware of these tensions and pressures inside and outside 1211 Avenue of the Americas—where I worked happily with Kmele from 2013 to 2015, and where I would smilingly appear tomorrow if asked—is a matter of basic political-media literacy/curiosity, sez me.
* Speaking of Mr. Foster, he is taking the “Yes” side in a live debate March 20 with New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot on the question of, “Is America Too Obsessed With Race?” It’s at the Village Underground in New York City, it’s being moderated by Nick Gillespie (SD 72, #379), it’s sponsored by Intelligence Squared, and here’s the damn link. From the write-up:
Some claim that America has become overly concerned with race, to a level of obsession, pointing to things like critical race theory and diversity, equity, inclusion programs, which they fear could ultimately prove detrimental to the nation’s more egalitarian aspirations. They argue that notions of race are often too broad to be useful, while the fixation on it divides those who might otherwise find common ground. Others counter that, amidst lingering racial inequalities in wealth, education, employment, housing, mobility, health, and rates of incarceration, a raised consciousness plays an important role in recognizing and correcting such imbalances. On Wednesday, March 20, Intelligence Squared U.S. returns to the Village Underground stage to debate the following question: “Is America Too Obsessed With Race?” Press are invited to attend.
Arguing “YES” is Kmele Foster, co-host of The Fifth Column podcast and the co-founder and executive producer of the media company Freethink. Foster was one of the signatories of the Harper's Letter on justice and open debate, alongside more than 150 people, including Salman Rushdie, J.K. Rowling, and Noam Chomsky. He is an outspoken libertarian critic of cancel culture, the Black Lives Matter movement, and political orthodoxy.
Arguing “NO” is Nsé Ufot, activist, community organizer, and the chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project, a voter support and legal action nonprofit organization founded by Stacey Abrams in 2013. In 2021, Ufot was named one of Time's 100 Next, a ranking of emerging leaders thought to define the next generation of leadership.
* Did someone say Gillespie? The Man in Black made a rock & roll housecall this week to The Re-Education with Eli Lake (vet of episodes #52, #65, #141, #174, Special Dispatch #51, #326 & #368), to talk about John Lennon. I am guessing that the episode includes at least some moderate overpraise for Yoko Ono.
* Listener comment of the week comes from Coner, who writes:
Might have to consider Camille Cosby as a fill in for when Kmele is soo busy. She is a graduate of both Kmele's and Moynihan's alma maters, and may offer some interesting views on some main TFC threads based on her dissertation for her Doctorate of Ed from UMass Amherst.
Outro music is … a new song from Beck, why not, heard it for the first time today:
You ever consider rebranding as the Fifth Column Conference? Kmele’s attendance rate would improve and you could plausibly claim employment at the FCC.
Awesome photo! Trust the keyboard and banjo were/will be used over the weekend.