Background Briefing: September 26, 2022


Italy Lurches to the Far Right in a Low-Turnout Election With the Left Divided

We begin with the election of a far-right coalition in Italy led by Giorgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy party which has its roots in a neo-fascist party founded in 1946 that was hostile to the anti-fascist republic created after the war. Joining us is Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an historian who writes about authoritarianism, democracy protection, and propaganda. She is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other fellowships, and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also an MSNBC opinion columnist, a regular contributor to CNN and The Washington Post, and provides live commentary on CNN, MSNBC, and other networks. Her latest book is Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, and she publishes Lucid, a newsletter on threats to democracy. We discuss her article at The Atlantic, “The Return of Fascism in Italy.”


An Update on the Investigations Into Trump Ahead of Wednesday’s Jan. 6 Hearing

Then with the House January 6 Committee about to have what is thought to be its final hearing on Wednesday, we get an update on the many stories swirling around the inquiry and the many others dogging Trump, and speak with Andrew Feinberg, a reporter covering the White House, Congress and the 2022 election for The Independent where his latest articles are “Trump lawyers fighting to keep January 6 testimony from grand jury” and “Capitol rioter who got call from White House on Jan 6 is identified.”


As Trump Drags the Country Towards Civil War, What Can be Done to Stop Him

Then finally, following Trump’s embrace of QAnon at a recent rally in Ohio and his posting a picture of himself on his Truth Social platform wearing a Q lapel pin with a caption “The Storm is Coming”, we will look into whether Trump is trying to drag the country into a civil war and speak with Barbara Walter, a professor of political science and Rohr Chair in Pacific International Relations at the University of California San Diego where her current research focuses on the behavior of rebel groups in civil wars, including inter-rebel group fighting, alliances and the strategic use of propaganda and extremism. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she serves on the CIA advisory panel Political Instability Task Force and helps run the award-winning blog Political Violence at a Glance and is the author of the new book, How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.