Positively Dreadful

By Crooked Media

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Positively Dreadful, hosted by Crooked Media’s Editor in Chief Brian Beutler, takes listeners below the headlines of the stories stirring widespread anxiety in today’s news landscape to give them a richer understanding and appreciation of how and why to remain engaged, even in the face of daunting challenges.

Episode Date
Lock Him Up?

Former FBI investigator Peter Strzok joins to talk about how the Trump accountability story isn’t fully written. The January 6 hearings, and earlier investigations, have revealed more Trump crimes than we could have imagined six years ago, yet he hasn’t faced criminal charges and our institutions haven’t been bolstered to protect future threats he poses to the Constitution. Is the justice system failing? Or are we making a mistake by putting so much stock into legal accountability in the first place?

Aug 05, 2022
Baby Got Build-Back

Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer strike a deal on a big budget bill that would dedicate hundreds of billions of dollars to clean energy, giving Democrats much needed wind at their backs ahead of the midterms. The climate fight is a case study for how Democrats can harness political power, win back voters, and proactively redefine what it means to be a Democrat.

Jul 29, 2022
How to Make Guns Toxic

A bipartisan bill in Congress is one step forward for gun safety, but the Supreme Court just pushed us two steps back. As the legislative path to reducing gun violence has closed, we might have more success if we can influence the way people think about guns in America. How can we change hearts and minds rather than laws, and, in doing so, make gun culture anathema instead of something we celebrate or just roll our eyes at?

Jul 22, 2022
Make the Movies Maverick Again

Moviegoing has changed a lot in the past several years, as movies have become increasingly niche and box offices dominated by derivative blockbusters. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have another golden age of cinema, even if it’ll be different from the ones in our past. Top Gun: Maverick managed to break the mold as a big budget action movie that quickly became a cultural touchstone for all kinds of Americans, proving, perhaps, that we can at least rekindle moviegoing, with movies everyone feels drawn to see.

Jul 15, 2022
How to Restore Roe

The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, access to abortion has collapsed across the country, and Democrats in Washington don’t have the votes to undo the decision right now. It’s a mess. But we may be able get Roe back sooner than it seems—if Democrats and their allies in the reproductive rights movement learn from years of their own missteps, and quickly. That will determine whether restoring the right to abortion takes six months or 60 years.

Jul 01, 2022
Optimistic Realism with Rep. Jamie Raskin

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) joins Brian to talk about how personal loss and the insurrection changed him, why unchecked optimism fails us when corrupt people come to power, and how we can still balance realism with hope today.

Jun 24, 2022
Coming Soon: Positively Dreadful

Crooked Media’s Editor in Chief Brian Beutler takes a deep dive beneath the headlines of the stories stirring anxiety throughout society to give you a richer understanding and appreciation of how and why to remain engaged—even in the face of daunting challenges. New episodes every Friday starting June 24th on the Rubicon feed.

Jun 17, 2022
The Sum of It All

In our final episode, Brian Beutler and author Heather McGhee look back at the highs and lows of President Biden’s first 100 days, and ahead to the path he’ll have to carve if he wants to overcome the politics of white grievance to implement a transformational agenda for a multiethnic democracy.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Apr 30, 2021
A Supreme Threat to Biden's Agenda

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to legal scholar Leah Litman about why Democrats and Republicans viewed the fight over the courts so differently for so long, whether Biden's judicial nominees signal an end to that disparity, and what he and Democrats in Congress can do to protect his agenda from right-wing justices.

Apr 23, 2021
Bessemer and the Bigger Picture

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to civil rights icon Rev. Dr. William Barber about efforts to unionize Amazon workers, how that fight continues, and what a Democratic majority in Congress can do to strengthen labor rights for working people of all races.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Apr 16, 2021
Rejoining The World

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to Crooked Media's own Tommy Vietor about the challenges President Biden will face fixing the damage Trump did around the world, and how he can unite global leaders on a series of climate goals. They also discuss Biden's first major foreign policy steps, like ordering airstrikes in Syria, trying to salvage the Iran Nuclear deal, and reining in public and corporate corruption.

For a transcript of his episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Apr 09, 2021
Protecting Democracy

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to FiveThirtyEight senior writer Perry Bacon about the wave of voter suppression laws that are hitting states like Georgia - and what President Biden and the Department of Justice can do about it. They also talk about the biggest threats to HR1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act - looking beyond the filibuster to other ways Republicans are preparing to fight those bills—in both the court of public opinion and the regular kind.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Apr 02, 2021
The Roaring 20s

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to The Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal about President Biden’s coming $3 trillion economic reform package, which would fund infrastructure, green jobs, child and elder care, and community college. They talk about the bill’s chances of passing Congress, whether it warrants comparisons to FDR’s New Deal, and whether and how it would cement Biden’s legacy.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Mar 26, 2021
Death by Papercuts

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) discuss the child-migrant crisis and the ways it complicates efforts to pass immigration reform. They also explore why Democrats shouldn’t freak out over Donald Trump’s performance with Latino voters, why some of his Latino voters already regret their votes, and how Democrats can combat the scourge of disinformation in Latin communities.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Mar 19, 2021
98% Great

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler talks to Senator Brian Schatz about the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the provisions in it that address poverty and healthcare, and whether its passage will be the high-water mark of the Biden era, or just the beginning.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Mar 12, 2021
Classroom Conflict

This week on Rubicon, host Brian Beutler and education reporter Rachel Cohen discuss the origins of the contentious debate over school reopening, and how President Biden has navigated it. They then look ahead to how the looming COVID-relief bill will help modernize schools and whether those investments will allow students to resume normal, in-person education in the fall. 

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Mar 05, 2021
A Promise Is A Promise

This week on Rubicon, host Brian Beutler talks to writer Matthew Yglesias about President Biden's pledge to forgive student loan debt, the debate over how much debt should be forgiven, what authority Biden has to do it -- and the political and economic risks and benefits. Beutler and Yglesias take different sides on the importance of loan forgiveness - and debate whether Biden should follow through on his promise quickly or wait until other Congressional scores are settled.

For a transcript of this episode, visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Feb 26, 2021
Inherent Power

This week on Rubicon: Brian Beutler talks to John Dean, the former White House counsel for Richard Nixon who got swept up in the Watergate conspiracy before turning on his boss and helping end the Nixon presidency.

They discuss the fallout from the impeachment hearings, whether Democrats have the stomach to truly hold the Trump Administration accountable, and how commissions, select committees and subpoena power can be wielded without Republican votes.

For a transcript of this episode, visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Feb 19, 2021
Democracy Needs Heroes

This week on Rubicon, Brian Beutler looks beyond Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial to the broader question of what post-Trump accountability should look like across the federal government. He asks author, historian, and culture critic Ruth Ben-Ghiat about the common tactics modern authoritarian leaders use (and have used for the past century), how other countries have tried (and often failed) to stop them, and whether the early steps President Biden and his majorities in Congress have taken suggest they will do what needs to be done to stop resurgent authoritarianism in the U.S.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon

Feb 12, 2021
Graduating Kindergarten

This week on Rubicon: Brian Beutler talks to climate science writer Emily Atkin about the predictable first steps President Biden has taken to fight climate change, and the exciting but under-the-radar ways that Biden has woven climate science into offices throughout his administration. They discuss the more difficult, lasting steps that have tripped up progressive officials and activists for decades (carbon tax, legislation, regulations, it's all here!) Learning from the Obama years, they survey the roadblocks Biden will likely encounter in the Senate and the courts, and hunt for ways around them.

Want to know more? Check out Emily's newsletter, Heatedhttps://heated.world/

And here are some related climate reads:





For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon.

Feb 05, 2021
A Problem You Have To Solve

This week on Rubicon: Brian Beutler talks to MSNBC's Chris Hayes about Biden's COVID plan, the parts of the plan that will be hardest to execute (spoiler alert: vaccines!), and how to recalibrate our criticism for a president who finally takes the pandemic seriously.

For a closed-captioned version of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon

For a transcript of this episode, please email transcripts@crooked.com.

Jan 29, 2021
Time Is Our Enemy

Our season two launch episode takes a broad look at the ways Republicans might try to hobble President Biden as he ramps up his administration, and how he and Democrats in Congress can team up to stop them. Host Brian Beutler speaks with Faiz Shakir, a Capitol Hill veteran who also managed Bernie Sanders's 2020 campaign, about the policies, strategies, and messages Democrats should use if they want to govern successfully.

For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/rubicon

Jan 22, 2021
Rubicon: The First Hundred Days of the Biden Presidency (coming January 22)

Crooked Media’s Editor in Chief Brian Beutler walks you through the early decisions that will mark the dawn of the Biden era, explain their importance, and analyze whether or not they meet the urgency of the moment. New episodes every Friday starting Jan. 22.

Jan 14, 2021
To Be Continued

With the impeachment of Donald Trump behind us, the most vulnerable Republican senators will now have to explain to their constituents why they voted to conceal evidence of Trump’s guilt, and let him off the hook, and contend with the fact that Mitt Romney, the former leader of their party, refused to participate in the coverup. But they’ll only face these questions if the rest of us keep the public eye trained on Trump’s corruption. Matthew Miller rejoins host Brian Beutler to discuss how what comes next matters just as much as what we’ve just been through.

Feb 07, 2020
The Proposition

When Republicans acquit Donald Trump, it’ll mark the end of this impeachment process. Much more importantly it’ll mark the dawning of a brave new world. What kind of America will we live in? And, short of Trump losing the election soundly, will it be possible to go back?

Susan Hennessey, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Executive Editor of the Lawfare blog, joins host Brian Beutler to discuss whether Republicans are unmaking the republic.

Jan 31, 2020
The Fix

What if the Senate completes an impeachment trial in a way that deprives the public of the fairness it demands, and plainly violates the oath senators take to do impartial justice? Harvard Law Professor, and host of the Noah Feldman joins host Brian Beutler to discuss the opening of the trial of Donald Trump, and the legitimacy crisis we face if Republicans complete his coverup for him.

Jan 24, 2020
The Floodgates

A deluge of new details about the Ukraine scheme have made Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump more desperate than ever to conceal as much incriminating information as they can. And they may still have the tools they need to keep the public from ever learning the full truth. Kate Brannen, the editorial director at Just Security who unearthed some of these details, joins host Brian Beutler to discuss the lastest extraordinary developments, and what Trump and McConnell, in their desperation, might do to prevent more of them from coming to light.

Jan 17, 2020
The Standoff

When Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins—whenever it begins—the Senate will be divided between Democrats, who will demand to hear from all the first-hand witnesses who defied the impeachment inquiry, and Republicans who will want to acquit Trump without letting any new incriminating information come to light.

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Sarah Binder joins host Brian Beutler to walk us through all the arcane rules and requirements senators will have to navigate if they hope to hold a fair trial—or a coverup.

Jan 10, 2020
The Showdown

The House of Representatives has impeached Donald Trump, but the fight has only just begin. His trial won’t begin until 2020; but between now and then that fight won’t stop. In fact, this may be the most important phase of it. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent joins host Brian Beutler to look ahead, and discuss what each of us—Democratic members of Congress, presidential candidates, impartial journalists, activist, or just regular voters—can do to make sure both Trump and those who seek to cover up his crimes are held accountable.

Dec 20, 2019
The Dodge

This week House Democrats announced the official articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Trump is just the fourth president in U.S. history to face the prospect of impeachment for alleged misconduct in office, but many were left wondering why there were only two articles, one for abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign and the second for obstruction of Congress. This week, Rubicon host Brian Beutler speaks to Michelle Goldberg, a columnist for the New York Times and cohost of the podcast, The Argument.

Dec 13, 2019
The Choice

Donald Trump wants House Democrats to impeach him as soon as possible. Lucky for him, House Democrats ALSO want to impeach him as soon as possible. The problem? When it comes to what’s best for Donald Trump, only one of them can be right. Sorting out who’s right and who’s wrong is one of the most pressing issues in all of politics right now. So host Brian Beutler brought Matthew Miller, former Justice Department official, back on the show to try to answer the question and sort through ALL of the fast-moving developments in the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Dec 06, 2019
The Backstory

Through two weeks of impeachment hearings, we learned a lot about the hoops President Trump and his associates jumped through before he hopped on the phone with his Ukrainian counterpart and said, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” What they left fairly murky is why Trump viewed Ukraine as such a ripe target for corruption in the first place. On this week’s episode, Brian Beutler and The Atlantic’s Frank Foer discuss the true origins of the Ukraine scandal, and how they fit into a much larger story of global corruption.

Nov 29, 2019
The Confession

The impeachment inquiry will soon move into its closing phase. Republicans have given no indication that they will take any steps to protect the country from President Trump’s corruption. And we remain in the dark about a great deal. As the public hearings draw to a close, Quinta Jurecic, managing editor with the Lawfare blog, joins host Brian Beutler to discuss the dots left unconnected  thus far, and what we risk by not connecting them.

Nov 22, 2019
The Evidence

This impeachment is a test for Republicans: When it’s all said and done, when they’re all out of excuses, will they admit that what Trump did was wrong? Or will they vote, with the whole world watching, to say they’re fine with it.

As the inquiry enters a new open phase, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent joins host Brian Beutler to discuss how close we are to that point, and whether Republicans will pass or fail the test when we get there.

Nov 15, 2019
The Coverup

Republicans are out of excuses, their defenses of Donald Trump have all been debunked by the facts. Slate legal writer Dahlia Lithwick joins Brian Beutler to examine the tactics the GOP have now turned to in order to defend their president, and what it will mean for the country if they get away with it.

Nov 08, 2019
Introducing “Rubicon: The Impeachment of Donald Trump”

“Rubicon: The Impeachment of Donald Trump” is hosted by Crooked Media's Brian Beutler and launches on November 1st. New episode out every Friday.

Nov 01, 2019
The Stakes

The impeachment of Donald Trump is about more than just one president. It’s about preserving bedrock tenets of democracy. With that in mind, Brian Beutler and former Justice Department official Matt Miller recount how we got to this point and look ahead to what it would mean if Trump is removed from office — and what it'd mean if he isn’t.

Nov 01, 2019