May 28, 2021 • 1HR 16M

New Useful Idiots: Aaron Maté, calling from Syria, describes his treasonous interview of Konstantin Kilimnik. Plus: M*nge Face, "Mental Retardation Thereafter," and Assad's John Hancock

Also: Abby Martin and Daniel Ellsberg get the Useful Idiots bump, and a man falls to his death inside a stegosaurus

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Matt Wilson
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.
Episode details

Click here for the extended interview.

We had to speak with guest Aaron Maté of The Grayzone via Skype, because other platforms wouldn’t service his location — he was calling in from the capital city of our sanctioned enemy, Syria. What, you might ask, was Aaron Maté doing in Syria?

“I thought you guys weren’t supposed to talk about my real mission here,” he said, “which was to negotiate a co-host position for Useful Idiots for Bashar al-Assad.”

Put that in your conspiratorial pipe and smoke it, Oz Katerji! Our dream of making dictatorial podcast history lives! The last remaining stumbling block in negotiations — Assad is represented by William Morris, while Katie and I have different representation — is a trifle. This is gonna happen, haters.

Followers of Useful Idiots know that one of the original conceits of the show was that Katie and I would provide a forum for people shut out or shut down by the mainstream press. The very title, Useful Idiots, was a reference to the hot establishment insult of the time, deployed against those deemed unwitting “assets” of Vladimir Putin. Our very first guest, then-presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, was perhaps the most prominent American to be denounced as a “Useful Idiot.” Many other friends-of-show, from Glenn Greenwald to Chris Hedges, have worn the designation.

Perhaps no other figure in media, however, more perfectly represents the profile of the Useful Idiots guest than Aaron Maté. Known from his on-air work at Democracy Now! and from his writings at places like The Nation, the veteran journalist was one of the first to feel the effects of the point-and-shriek mania directed toward “Russiagate Denialists.” In the past years he’s probably done more than any one reporter to debunk Russiagate myths, and his most potent weapon has been doing the journalistic basics — reading public documents, and calling for comment.

In recent weeks, Aaron pulled off one of his biggest coups on that score, interviewing the current lynchpin of the Russiagate conspiracy theory, Konstantin Kilimnik. For those not familiar with the case, Kiliminik is a Russian citizen, living in Moscow, who was the focus of a recent Treasury Department statement accusing him of having “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” while working with the Trump campaign.

“Boom!” says Aaron, imitating Russiagaters. “Now we have our smoking gun.”

The humorous thing about this story is that, despite the supposed centrality of Kilimnik to the collusion theory, no American official ever interviewed him. Aaron did, and the contents of that interview raise a host of questions about the Trump-Russia collusion case. He describes that explosive interview in this episode.

Meanwhile, we go through the Four Food Groups, discuss the Democrats’ immigration policy and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s conception of second-class citizenship, and wonder why there was never a rock band called Michelle Bachmann Turner Overdrive. All this, and more, on this week’s Useful Idiots.