Background Briefing: March 5, 2019


The Culture of Celebrity is Colliding with the Culture of Scandal

We  begin with the dire results of our culture of celebrity colliding with the culture of scandal with an exemplar of both, the occupant in the White House who is a product of a discount version of celebrity culture and is needless to say, also mired in scandalToby Miller, a research professor at the University of California, a Profesor Invitado at the Escuela de Comunicacion Social at the Universidad del Norte in Columbia and Professor of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Loughborough University in London, joins us. One of the world’s leading analysts of popular culture, media, and their connection to the politics of everyday life, we discuss the trial in popular opinion underway of the late Michael Jackson following a devastating HBO documentary about the king of pop’s unusual relationships with young boys. We will assess the comparisons to the way the media built up Trump by giving him $6 billion’s worth of free advertising but now are tearing down the president they helped elect, to how the pattern of celebrity impunity that O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby enjoyed was suddenly turned from adoration to vilification as the horrible truths emerged about who these celebrities really are. Will this happen to Donald Trump? Or more to the point will his followers believe it when the awful truth is revealed to them?


The Unprecedented Trump-Fox News Relationship

Then we speak with Nicole Hemmer, a professor at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.” She joins us to discuss her article at CNN, “Why the Trump-Fox News relationship really is unprecedented” and the revelations in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer of how incestuous the ties between the owner of Fox News and the Trump family are, along with how blurred the lines are between White House policy and the Fox propaganda machine which both shapes policy and promotes Trump’s presidency.


Will the Senate Start Acting Like a Separate Branch of Government?

Then finally, with the White House trying to limit damage in the Senate ahead of the coming vote of disapproval of Trump’s emergency declaration which the House has already rejected, we will speak with Ira Shapiro, who spent 12 years in the United States Senate as Counsel to the Majority Leader and in other senior positions as well as being the author of The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis” and his latest book “Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country”.  We will speculate on what it will take for the Senate to return to regular order and start acting like a separate branch of government from the White House.