Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Events

Pod Save America’s Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor talk about how Trump fueled their podcast and live show

Donald Trump has been a gift to much of the media world he maligns.

TV ratings for Trump critics including Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee have soared. Circulation and online clicks at newspapers including the Washington Post and what the president calls "the dying New York Times" are up, too.

Alums of the Barack Obama administration turned their fear of the Trump presidency into one of the hottest podcasts streaming today, Pod Save America. Former Obama speechwriters Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor created Pod Save America after Trump won in 2016. Former Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer co-hosts.

Imagine eavesdropping on a few liberal, plugged-in 30-something political operatives’ often funny rant sessions about current events. Throw in softball interviews with assorted Democratic politicians and journalists, and you get the idea of the podcast, which is on tour with a live version called Pod Tours America. It hits Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, before heading on to two shows in Miami on Friday.

Before the show, the Times spoke by phone to Lovett, 35, and Vietor, 37, about politics, how the podcast started and more. Here’s an edited excerpt.

So who goes to your shows, paying as much as $125 to hear Trump bashing that is free so many other places?

Vietor: We have members of MS-13 (the criminal gang often cited by Trump). The George Soros kids…

Lovett: … Russian bots, You’d be amazed how many Russian bots come to these things. … No, I think people listen to a lot of shows on their phones, and they feel like they want to be part of the community of people that care about something, they want to be around people that listen, too, and are participating in this new way. … The energy in these rooms is pretty exciting because it’s either people who are more passionate about politics than they have been before or maybe getting engaged for the first time.

What was the pitch you made in starting Pod Save America?

Vietor: Keepin’ It 1600 was essentially a hobby. It was a way to get your fix of politics even though none of us were working in it at that time. … Lovett and Favreau and I made a decision to get back into the political process more than we’d been in the past year. I think we all felt some guilt that we had been in the sidelines more than in previous elections. We decided to start a company, Crooked Media. We wanted to have a simple mission statement, which was to entertain, inform you, and help inspire action.

Do you think it would work if Hillary Clinton or a more mainstream Republican won the presidency?

Lovett: I don’t know that we would have launched this company if Trump hadn’t won. Probably we wouldn’t. There are two big reasons why we decided to do this. One, it was because we thought that Trump winning was a national emergency and a national crisis, something we felt like we wanted to be involved in fighting back against.

But long before … the three of us felt there was a market for a different kind of political conversation. The way we talk about politics has been broken for so long. … There are incredible reporters doing investigative work, writing about politics, doing journalism every single day, but the analysis, the punditry around politics is so broken, and frustrating and dispiriting that we felt we wanted to have the kind of no bulls--- conversations that we have when the microphones aren’t running.

In election cycle after election cycle, we hear predictions about a surge in young voters, and it never happens. Do you think it will happen this year?

Lovett: One of the lessons of 2016 is to spend less time worrying about what will happen and more time worrying about what we want to happen. … What we are seeing, whether it’s the Parkland kids leading this youth movement against gun violence, or people showing up the airport to protest (DACA) or people showing up at the women’s marches, there is an enthusiasm and energy among young people that speaks to the promise of them turning out in a new way because they’re so fundamentally dissatisfied with the politics that they’ve been handed. … If anything (positive) comes out of Trump being president, it’s millions and millions of people taking their democracy back.

Comments
Why is ‘Hold My Hand’ an all-time classic? Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum explain

Why is ‘Hold My Hand’ an all-time classic? Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum explain

Here’s how Darius Rucker recalls the conversation with Lady Antebellum singer Charles Kelley. "I want you to do a Hootie song with us," Kelley told Rucker as they prepared for their joint summer tour. "All right. Which one do you want to do?"...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26

The Fantasticks!: The world’s longest running musical features the classic song, Try to Remember. Through Oct. 21. 7 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $23-$50. (727) 498-5205; freefalltheatre.com.Tampa Bay Rays: vs. New York ...
Published: 09/25/18
Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Before Tampa show, comic Hari Kondabolu talks Apu, Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and race in America

Hari Kondabolu’s grandmother died this summer. He spent three weeks in India, saying goodbye and grieving with family. And even then, even at such a sorrowful time in his life, he couldn’t turn off the part of his brain that looks for jokes."To call ...
Published: 09/25/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 25

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 25

USF Lecture Series: Amara La Negra: The Dominican-American native of Miami is best known as the breakout star of this season’s Love and Hip Hop: Miami. La Negra’s free talk is expected to focus on the challenges of navigating the entertainment indust...
Published: 09/24/18
Review: Freefall opens its season with a crafty and talent-laden ‘The Fantasticks’

Review: Freefall opens its season with a crafty and talent-laden ‘The Fantasticks’

ST. PETERSBURG — The longest-running musical ever, The Fantasticks, weaves fairy tale and disillusionment, theater and its deconstruction together in charmingly simple ways. Freefall Theatre take it a few steps further, with two actors also playing p...
Published: 09/24/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 24-30

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 24-30

Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum: Two of country music’s most upbeat and crowd-pleasing acts perform Friday at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa. ($35.25 and up). Super Boat National Championship: The high-speed powerboats return ...
Published: 09/23/18
Updated: 09/24/18
At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

At 50, Clearwater's real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

CLEARWATER — For two decades, Dale Pople patrolled the streets feeding the homeless, helping old people carry groceries, extinguishing a car fire. He wore a red, yellow and blue Spandex outfit with an SH emblem: "Super Hero." Now, Clearwater&...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/24/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sunday, Sept. 23

Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Fest: The kicks off the hockey season with this free event including player autograph sessions, team scrimmages, selfie stations with players, food and beverage discounts, merchandise specials, hockey equipment sale and activi...
Published: 09/23/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Saturday, Sept. 22

Niall Horan: The One Direction singer-songwriter on his own tour brings along country’s Maren Morris. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $29.50-$107. (813) 740-2446.MegaCon Tampa Bay: The multi-genre convention brin...
Published: 09/21/18
Review: Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark packed with action

Review: Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark packed with action

On a fall night in 1915, an American reporter sips Chartreuse at a sidewalk table as German Zeppelins patrol the perimeter of Paris. As he plans how to finagle his way to the front lines of World War I, a bomb explodes at another cafe nearby, and he ...
Published: 09/21/18