Jun 18, 2021 • 1HR 31M

New Useful Idiots: Ross Barkan on the New York Mayoral Race and Cuomosexuals, Plus Whale Mouthwash, Republicans Hit the Pipe, and Jeff Bezos Should Eat the Mona Lisa

Also: ICE celebrates PRIDE month in "Wokewash of the Week"

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Useful Idiots is an informative and irreverent politics podcast with journalist Matt Taibbi and podcaster/writer Katie Halper. Episodes feature on-the-road coverage of the 2020 campaign and exclusive interviews, with humor, commentary and dissection of the politics news of the week. Join Matt and Katie as they examine important stories that have slipped through the cracks and what the media got wrong – and laugh about whatever is left to laugh about.
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“This is kind of the Holy Grail for the left that can never quite get pulled off,” says Ross Barkan, author of The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus, and the Fall of New York. “It usually gets pulled off by moderates, or Barack Obama.”

We talked to Ross about one of our favorite people — the demented neoliberal monster/werewolf Andrew Cuomo — but also about the upcoming New York City mayoral elections, which will be the large-scale litmus test on the state of the Democratic electorate since the 2020 primaries.

New York City has one of the most rabidly progressive voter bases in the country, but the Democratic Primary next Tuesday has for some time now appeared likely to be dominated by moderates like former NYPD officer and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. Friend-ish-of-show Andrew Yang, who snubbed a Useful Idiots interview request during this campaign, has fallen off to fourth place in a recent poll, in the most recent demonstration of the ironclad Law of the Useful Idiots Bump. Will he make it back up in time to replace Bill de Blasio?

Barkan discusses with us some of the factors that may be influencing the quasi-surprising New York results. Three of the four top candidates — Yang, Adams, and former sanitation chief Kathryn Garcia — seemingly go against national type. “All three of these candidates, Yang, Garcia, Adams, are explicitly against de-funding the police,” he says. “Who’s going to win? I don’t know, but I think Adams has the inside track.”

Barkan, who wrote a pleasingly vicious book about Cuomo that depicts him in the garb of Machiavelli on the cover, also explained how the New York governor managed to pull off a surge in popularity last year despite horrific management of the pandemic.

“Journalism… too often takes on the tropes of fiction, and seeks narratives, heroes and villains,” Ross said. “Cuomo filled that void,” giving journalists the tough-talking uncle figure to Donald Trump’s crazy-nitwit act. Reporters ran with that simple storyline for months, ignoring things like Cuomo’s craven manipulation of death toll figures for nursing homes.

From there we basically just said gratuitous things about Cuomo and his doofus brother, but it’s worth a listen, particularly if you’re high.

Also: we plow through the four food groups, stopping to discuss ICE’s sterling wokewash efforts, a dude who maybe got too much credit for being swallowed by a whale, and what “POS” stands for on a U.S. State Department Twitter handle. That and more, on this week’s Useful Idiots.