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Announcement: New Home For "Useful Idiots"
Katie Halper and I are moving the podcast to Substack
Useful Idiots, the podcast Katie Halper and I started in the summer of 2019 at Rolling Stone, is moving. After eighty episodes that included interviews with the likes of Tulsi Gabbard (our first guest), Roger Waters, Andrew Yang, Erin Brockovich, Michael K. Williams, Noam Chomsky, Marianne Williamson, Adam McKay, Bernie Sanders, Nadya Tolkonnikova of Pussy Riot, Tim Robbins, Adolph Reed, Chris Hedges, and many others, the show that was created with the idea of being a home for voices shut out or shouted down in traditional media outlets is moving, appropriately, to Substack.
Katie and I have already cut the first installment of the show, which will be coming out in the upcoming days. You can see our trailer above, which is from an episode that features an interview on the current state of speech freedom and nuclear safety with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
When it became clear we’d be leaving Rolling Stone, we ran into a dilemma. Neither Katie nor I was anxious to ask anyone to pay for content they were used to getting for free, though the show would cost something to produce. The solution we ended up hitting upon was more content. Roughly speaking, we’ll be generating as much free content per week as we did at Rolling Stone. There will be a few paywalled segments, but the bulk of the show will be free, especially in the early going. Subscribers to TK will also have access to some of the paywalled segments.
For those not familiar with the podcast, Useful Idiots was formed at a time when we were beginning to see more and more people tuned out of the mainstream press for having unpopular views on issues like censorship, Russiagate, and the presidential campaign. The conceit of the show was to allow guests to talk about controversial or taboo subjects, especially if they were in the process of being smeared as “Useful Idiots” or worse.
When a campaign to have the Michael Moore-produced movie Planet of the Humans removed from the Internet got started, we had Moore on to explain. When sleazy politicians tried to smear cancel congressional candidate Alex Morse out of his race, he came on to tell his side of the story. We had Julian Assange’s partner Stella Morris on to talk about his extradition case, invited future Substack supernova Glenn Greenwald to explain his departure from The Intercept, called writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in Paris up when everyone was going bananas about his Harper’s Letter, and talked with Shahid Buttar, a congressional challenger to Nancy Pelosi, when opponents tried to cancel him.
Katie and I also tried to cover everything from the presidential race to the search for a Covid-19 vaccine to last summer’s protests from an offbeat, or even just flat-out drunk, point of view. The Substack version of the show will continue that dubious tradition of drinking games, “Test Your Knowledge” quizzes (e.g. who said it, Biden or Trump?), unpleasant/irrelevant discussions about necrophilia and sharks, and other features. We’ll also be taking more listener questions, in a regular mailbag feature.
Followers might notice some changes from the Rolling Stone version of the show. Although you’ll able to access the podcast through Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and PocketCasts as before, the show will be released in a different format. On the show’s YouTube channel, we’ll be releasing shorter segments and excerpts, so the different segments of the program — whether from the interviews or our discussions together — will be more accessible. And we will be doing occasional livestreams. At any time during the week, you’ll be able to find all the show’s content (which will also include transcripts and written content) at its new home, at UsefulIdiots.Substack.Com.
We want to listen to any suggestions, including what types of guests you’d like to hear from in the future, or if there are any topics you’d like us to explore more.
Lastly, both Katie and I are very grateful to Rolling Stone for its support of the show. We will miss very much our former producer Dan Halperin, and camera and sound editors Reed Dunlea and Elvis Metcalf. Now, we’ll have to ask for some listener and viewer support, to help fill their places. If you choose to subscribe, you can do so at UsefulIdiots.Substack.Com, for $5 a month or $40 per year. No matter what, we’re most thankful for everyone who listened to or watched the show in the last two years, and we hope to be able to do more for you in the future.