Useful Idiots: Noam Chomsky on the Primary, Media Criticism, and COVID-19

In this week’s self-quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by linguist, historian, and activist Noam Chomsky, who offers a simple piece of advice for today’s politicians: “You have to face people where they are, not where you think they ought to be.”

In addition to all things COVID-19, Katie and Matt get into the nitty gritty on the Tom Perez and the DNC’s decision to hold this week’s presidential primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois (and Ohio’s postponed primary). “We’re in a new reality. Where the things that we used to consider normal or ethical or whatever are no longer really part of the equation… because for the first time, something is really at stake in American politics,” says Matt.

In the Biden vs. Bernie debate, our hosts take a close look at the accuracy of Joe Biden’s statements on immigration and deportations, social security, bankruptcy, Iraq, and more.

Chomsky reflects on Bernie Sanders’ campaign so far with Katie and Matt. He points out a range of pitfalls for the campaign, from how the media didn’t get complimentary of Bernie until “as soon as it looked like he was fading,” to the term “socialism,” to the lack of youth voter turnout.

Chomsky gives a grim assessment of the government’s response to COVID-19: “There’s a concept of economy and efficiency. You should have just enough beds for what you need tomorrow. You shouldn’t prepare for the future. Right? So the hospital system’s crashing. Simple things like tests which you can easily get in a country South Korea, you can’t get here. So the coronavirus, which should be controlled in a functioning society, is going out of hand here. We’re just not ready for it. What we’re good at, what our leaders are good at, and have been very good at for the last 40 years, is pouring money into the pockets of the rich and the corporate executives while everything else crashes.”

You can find the Useful Idiots podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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