If you’re like me, you associate days of the week with political podcasts. Monday is FiveThirtyEight’s “Politics,” Wednesday is “The Argument,” Thursday is Slate’s “Political Gabfest” and so on.
Podcasts – much like newsletters 😉 – have become an important part of how we talk about democracy in America.
One of the most popular podcasts out there is “Pod Save America.” Created and hosted by former aides to President Barack Obama, the twice-weekly podcast has become a defining voice of the so-called resistance to President Donald Trump. Since launching in 2017, the show has been downloaded more than 530 million times.
Now, the podcast is coming to Denver for a live show on July 17 at the Bellco Theatre. I spoke with one of the show’s host, Jon Lovett, this week. Here’s our conversation edited for length.
What can folks who attend expect at one of your live shows?
Pod Save America is a no-bullshit conversation about politics. We break down what’s happening. Not just what Trump is doing every day, but stories that sometimes don’t get enough attention.
At the live shows, we have that same conversation. But It’s always more fun to do it in front of a big group of people who are part of a big community together.
We launched this show for two reasons. One, we felt as though we were in a real political emergency where everyone had to do their part. Two, there is a lot of incredible journalism covering politics today, investigations, interviews. There’s plenty of great political coverage. But there’s a lack of a conversation about politics that isn’t just about what’s wrong, but what everyone can do to be part of fixing it.
You’re going to have a conversation with Gov. Jared Polis. What do you plan on talking about?
We want to talk with him about what he’s doing in Colorado, and what role Colorado will play in national politics. Both in the presidential and in a Senate race, what people in Colorado can do to get involved and be part of the fight. There are also lessons to be learned about how Colorado has been changing.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is going to be testifying the same day you are taping. What are you expecting to hear from his testimony? Do you think it will change anything?
I expect Mueller to remove his mask and just start screaming for impeachment. I expect him to have an incredibly high-pitched voice. … I HAVE NO IDEA! … Joking aside … I want to know more from Mueller about some of the disagreement between how (Attorney General William) Barr characterized his work and how Mueller characterized his work. Robert Mueller has seemed to make clear that the reason he didn’t recommend charges is because of the Justice Department guidelines. Barr implied or said the opposite. I’m interested in what Robert Mueller has to say as to whether or not what he put down in that report is an impeachment referral.
What should Coloradans be thinking as we approach the 2020 election?
How Democrats should frame the 2020 election, it’s one of the biggest questions. It’s what we’re trying to answer in the primary. I look at what’s happening right now, I see not only an unfit president, I see a president who has been empowered by Republicans in Congress who have made a devil’s bargain.
Winning the Senate is going to be really hard. But it runs through Colorado. Cory Gardner can distance himself where it’s helpful, but ultimately Mitch McConnell will be on the ballot in Colorado. A vote for Cory Gardner is a vote for keeping Mitch McConnell as majority leader. And a vote for McConnell is a vote to never hold Trump accountable.
Colorado Democrats are beginning to whisper and worry that the field of candidates running to unseat Gardner isn’t strong enough.
That’s what the primary is about. It’s a bunch of candidates who are sharpening their arguments, proving they have the right resume. It’s early. And primaries make candidates stronger. Let’s see what happens.
Pod Save America is part of Crooked Media, which Axios and others sometime describe as part of the “resistance media.” Do you agree with that term and do you worry about there being too much partisan media?
There are two problems that often get combined. There is the problem of people who only get news from sources they agree with. I think that often gets combined with there is a left wing media and right wing media.
There is no equivalent to what happens on MSNBC and what happens on Fox News. Places like Fox News have no respect for their audience whatsoever. Sean Hannity isn’t interested in helping his viewers at all. The same goes for Tucker Carlson, the same goes for the host of Fox and Friends. They are looking to mislead. MSNBC is not the equivalent of that. That’s not what Rachel Maddow does. The world would be a better place if Sean Hannity held himself to the same standard as Chris Hayes.
On Pod Save America, we try to be intellectually honest. We’re not trying to pull one over on anyone. On Fox News, they traffic in fear and hate. That’s not what they do on the left. There is a need for a counterweight to the propaganda on the right. We try to do it by getting people involved, being entertaining and making people laugh.
Is there one piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to get involved for the first time?
I understand why making that first call, or going to that first canvass is intimidating. You don’t know, maybe you’ll get bored, or you’re not good at talking to strangers. But this is the moment to get involved. You have to give it a shot. You don’t want to remember this moment as the time you didn’t knock on doors or didn’t donate a little bit of money to help a Senate candidate win. I know it’s a discouraging time, but soon you realize volunteering is a place to put all this anxiety, it’s a place to put all this frustration. The opposite of optimism isn’t cynicism. It’s activism. Don’t get cynical. You can yell at your Trump-loving uncle or you can go out and get two people to vote and win the argument that way.
Welcome to The Spot, The Denver Post’s weekly political newsletter. I’m Nic Garcia, a political reporter at The Post. Keep the conversation going by joining our Facebook group today! Forward this newsletter to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe. And please support the journalism that matters to you and become a Denver Post subscriber here. Send tips, comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 days until the new Denver City Council is sworn in; 19 days until the second Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit; 181 days until the next legislative session
|//li.denverpost.com/imp?s=279216&sz=1×email@example.com&p=071119151908” height=”1″ width= “10”/>
||//li.denverpost.com/imp?s=279218&sz=1×firstname.lastname@example.org&p=071119151908” height=”1″ width=”10″/>
“Hey Google, talk to The Denver Post”
“Alexa, open Denver Post”
The Top Line
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner
Cory Gardner’s second-quarter haul tops that of Democratic rivals. Find out how much he raised here. Continue reading
This Colorado Democrat hasn’t said she’s running to unseat U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, but supporters paid for a poll to gauge her support if she did. Continue reading
“If not me, who?” Colorado medical students pursue training as abortion providers even as more states restrict access. Continue reading
Some conservatives say their nascent efforts to recall state lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis are an unparalleled organizing tool. But are Democrats the real benefactors? Continue reading
As ICE raids loom, meet Jesus, an immigrant who faces the possibility of deportation and fears being separated from his fiancee and two children. Continue reading
National Popular Vote repeal effort nearing
Colorado Votes, the folks behind the effort to stop the state from joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, say they’ve technically collected more than enough signatures to put the question to voters in 2020.
This is the law passed during the session that would give Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote.
The group is hoping voters reject the idea, but they have to get it on the ballot first. That means collecting 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters.
It’s no small task – especially since the group relies heavily on volunteers.
Colorado Votes says it has about 160,000 now, but the group is hoping to clear 200,000 to provide a cushion for those found to be invalid. The Secretary of State’s Office rejects signatures for a number of reasons: Some people who sign petitions may not be registered to vote, they’ve moved and haven’t updated their address, or they sign with a nickname rather than the legal name on their voter registration.
The effort of Colorado Votes’ volunteer army, which has been collecting since late March and faces an Aug. 1 deadline, highlights the Herculean size of the task that now sits before the groups trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis. There are two separate efforts each trying to collect five times as many valid signatures in about a third of the time. – Anna Staver
Western Conservative Summit kicks off tomorrow
If you’re downtown this weekend, you might notice things are little more conservative around the Colorado Convention Center.
Colorado Christian University’s annual Western Conservative Summit begins tomorrow. The two-day gathering will feature speakers including Donald Trump Jr., Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
As we were about to hit send, the university announced that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis will also speak.
The event is the first since Colorado Republicans suffered a brutal beating at the ballot box last fall. Judging by the name of some of the breakout sessions – “Take back your country by taking back your community,” “Connecting across the spectrum” and “How to fight the left’s wooing of women” – it’s clear organizers want to use this time together to find a path toward reclaiming some of the political power they lost.
The Denver Post politics team will around both days, so be sure to and say hi!
Colorado politicos get married over Fourth of July weekend
Jennifer Ridder, center left, poses for a picture with Gov. Jared Polis, on her right, and several members of his campaign team at Ridder’s wedding.
Two Colorado power couples were married last weekend at separate events in the mountains.
First, Jennifer Ridder, who helped lead Gov. Jared Polis to victory last November, married James Owen. Both are now advising Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s presidential campaign.
Also, state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat, married Shad Murib. Murib previously served on Polis’ campaign and is now an adviser to Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
Congratulations to both couples!
A #ColoradoBBQ epilogue
I want to take a moment to say thanks to #copolitics Twitter. #ColoradoBBQ started trending last week after U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said it was “the best in the nation.”
Coloradans on Twitter had all the feelings about this, and Gardner got his fair share of ribbing as folks debated whether Colorado-style barbecue was a thing. In between the memes and cutting one-liners was a conversation about the best places to eat barbecue in the Centennial State.
GQue up in Westminster seemed to be a crowd favorite, so I went and grabbed lunch there this week and I can confirm it is indeed delicious. I’m pretty sure you don’t need teeth to eat their ribs. And fun, random fact: State Rep. Susan Lontine’s former campaign manager is a pitmaster there.
In other Colorado food+politics news, Gov. Jared Polis and New Mexico’s governor exchanged heated words about chile this week. – Anna Staver
Hugh Jackman joins Gary Hart to celebrate new namesake center
Colorado’s one-time Democratic presidential hopeful, former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, has continued to encourage public service in the three decades since his run. Now his family is in the process of forming a namesake center in his honor.
On Wednesday, an event in Denver supporting the just-incorporated Hart Center for Public Service drew Colorado politicos – and actor Hugh Jackman. Jackman, who portrayed Hart in last year’s movie “The Front Runner,” about Hart’s political downfall amid scandal in the 1980s, was in town for a musical performance at the Pepsi Center. Hart and his family attended the show Wednesday night.
The Hart Center, formed by Hart’s daughter, Andrea, says it’s looking to partner with a university for academic and training components. The goal is to connect students with fellowships and public service leaders.
“This is really kind of a legacy project for my father,” Andrea Hart said. “In addition to really wanting to make an impact, public service is something he’s always talked about in his professional career, and been passionate about.”
A spokesperson for Metropolitian State University confirmed that the Denver school has been in talks with the Hart Center about “a number of nonpartisan partnership opportunities,” but no formal agreement has been struck yet. – Jon Murray
Hickenlooper is going to be spending more time in Iowa, will it be enough?
It’s been nearly two weeks since John Hickenlooper’s campaign was upended by a staff exodus, leaks of a poor fundraising quarter and bad headlines. Hickenlooper spun the events following the first primary debate as a “reboot.”
Since then, we’ve been looking for a shift.
There hasn’t been much in the way of new messaging, however. If anything, during a recent interview with the editorial board of the Des Monies Register, the largest newspaper in Iowa, Hickenlooper reverted to many of his original talking points and backed off his attacks on socialism/Bernie Sanders.
Perhaps the only notable difference post-shakeup is the campaign’s schedule. You should expect to see the former two-term governor in Iowa a lot more between now and Labor Day. His new team has already added more days and stops in Iowa this month. More is to come, especially with the state’s fair coming up.
Hickenlooper’s best shot at getting on the debate stage this fall includes moving his numbers in qualifying state-level polls in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Iowa has long been considered Hickenlooper’s best shot at gaining traction in early states.
The question is, will more time in Iowa be enough? Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney has spent more than a year building his Iowa team, which includes eight field offices. That’s more than any other candidate, including front runners such as Sanders and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Yet his polling average is at or below 1 percent in the Hawkeye State.
|//li.denverpost.com/imp?s=279217&sz=1×email@example.com&p=071119151908” height=”1″ width= “10”/>
||//li.denverpost.com/imp?s=279219&sz=1×firstname.lastname@example.org&p=071119151908” height=”1″ width=”10″/>
What else you need to know
- Recall petition for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis approved; signature-gathering could start this week. Denver Post
- Denver Democrat Angela Williams is running for U.S. Senate in the crowded race to face Cory Gardner. Denver Post
- Colorado just made getting public records a little more expensive. Denver Post
- Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan but face a hotter, drier future. The Conversation
- Joe Biden is the liberal Bob Dole, the looser Mitt Romney, the supposedly safe bet who’s owed a shot. NY Times