'Useful Idiots': Matt Christman and MSNBC's Petty Wars on Bernie Sanders

In the latest socially distanced episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Matt Christman of the “dirtbag left” cult classic podcast Chapo Trap House.

For “Republicans Suck,” Matt has a laugh at the Republican’s winning strategy in U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia. A contingent of Trump voters may sit out the election, citing displeasure at what they see as a lack of effort by other elected Republicans in contesting the Presidential election results in Georgia.

“Either the Republicans make more of a spectacle of themselves by deciding to back this failed coup attempt, which they’re not really going to do,” says Matt. “Or they’re going to make the longplay move which is to do the right thing and encourage Trump to step down, and then they’re going to lose Georgia.”

For a this-week-only segment called “Isn’t MSNBC Terrible,” Katie and Matt break down an MSNBC response to Bernie Sanders’s advocacy for federal Covid-19 relief.

“Is it that they just hate him so much and he makes their skin crawl?” asks Katie. “Or is it that they’re actually opposed to him making this radical demand that people get more than $600 a month?”



Matt Christman, one of the three hosts of the popular show Chapo Trap House, joins Matt and Katie for a broad discussion on political and culture divides based on education, left vs. liberal in-fighting, and the influence of Chapo Trap House.

“It’s not really about whether you went to college or not,” argues Christman, “it’s about a package of values that you subscribe to.”

Christman says that Republicans leave college looking to succeed for themselves by their own virtue, and Democrats see demographic roadblocks to success as unfair.

“The thing that they share is a bedrock assumption that capitalism is inviable, and that virtue comes from success, comes from thriving in the marketplace, and the reason people go to college is to find out how to go about doing that,” says Christman.

In terms of the left/liberal divide, Christman claims that “leftists and liberals share cultural assumptions about the value of cosmopolitanism, the need for things like racial and gender oppression to be addressed, and I don’t think the fact that liberals believe that invalidates those claims and invalidates that politics, but that’s hard for people to process because the left/liberal divide is just another recreation of the same question of sorting that goes on between the left and the right more broadly.”

Our hosts and Christman also discuss post-2016 shifts in the media landscape, using Chapo Trap House as an example of early success in the trend of journalists going independent at places like Substack and Patreon.

“Everyone understands now at this point that if you want to do any kind of political media work, you kind of have to at some level depend on contributions from listeners or viewers, because there is no architecture within the corporate media to allow for anything other than the most vapid identity stuff, or just DNC cheerleading,” says Christman. “The persisting problem is that if this pool of people who are consuming political media is fixed, as it is now, within this realm of overeducated younger people, that their disparate lived experiences and inability to direct any of the things they might be exposed to into their daily working lives means that its actual efficacy in the world,  which is what presumably we’re doing this for, is pretty attenuated.”

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