OptOut's Weekend Picks (Dec. 12, 2020)
Another week of desperate coup attempts and rapidly rising COVID-19 deaths is coming to a close. I hope that these news roundups of content from our more than 80 media partners help you process these wild times we’re hurtling through. Independent news outlets like the ones below really help me, both as a journalist and a news consumer—my personal desire for an independent media aggregator was why this project got going in the first place. Even without a finished app, I’m getting the benefits of this media ecosystem we’re creating, and I hope you are as well.
Speaking of the app, can I give you a little peek? These are screenshots from the “alpha” version—very much a work in progress, but it’s taking shape and looking good. It’s…a real live app, people!!
We can’t wait to share it with you soon. It’s been exciting to work with the great volunteers at the Progressive Coders Network to build this thing, and I can’t thank them enough for their hard and selfless work.
We’re on track for our March beta release, and thank you for being the first people to start following our progress. Right now we have 124 paying subscribers to this newsletter—those dollars are the only money we’ve raised, and it’s paying for web hosting, development services, nonprofit incorporation, etc.
We’re really grateful to those supporters, and if you’d like to join them in helping us launch and maintain this app, please become a paying subscriber here:
And now, The News. There’s a lot of it. This week, I’m going to share more articles than usual and also include a more comprehensive roundup of our podcast partners’ episodes. And, as usual, I’ll throw in a few videos for you.
Exposed by CMD: Who Funds the Federalist? Finally, We Know.
For years, most people on Twitter have wondered, Who funds the right-wing, pro-Trump website The Federalist? The question became a meme, and if you dared to ask any of the site’s executives or top editors, they’d immediately block you. Now we finally know some of the far-right media outlet’s bankrollers.
Thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy’s research director David Armiak, we got ahold of new tax returns from two entities that gave to The Federalist’s affiliated nonprofit last year. I report that the bigger known funder is the Uihlein family, major GOP donors who own shipping supply company Uline. You’re gonna start noticing that logo on cardboard boxes all over the place—you can’t unsee it!
Support the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit watchdog that leads in-depth, award-winning investigations into the corruption that undermines our democracy, environment, and economic prosperity.
Check out my interview on Matt Binder’s DOOMED in audio or video format. You can support Matt and his podcast here.
Mainer: How Sara Gideon Lost to Collins the Day After She Entered the Race
A tough assessment of Gideon’s failure to oust Republican Sen. Susan Collins from Nathan Bernard of Mainer.
While her constituents worried about keeping their jobs and homes, Gideon’s campaign bombarded them with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of ads, including pleas for them to give her money. The fundraising juggernaut engineered by her highly paid political consultants badgered Mainers for more cash till the bitter end.
Support Mainer, a worker-owned solidarity cooperative.
TYT Investigates: Environmental Group Opposing Udall as Biden's Interior Secretary
Food and Water Action is opposing New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, who is in the running to lead the Department of the Interior and “does have an inclination to compromise on issues of fossil fuel development.” Ti-Hua Chang reports.
Jones supports another New Mexican Democrat in the running, Rep. Deb Haaland. She is a staunch environmentalist and vice-chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources. One of the first Native American women elected to Congress, Haaland is of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and endorsed by 150 Native American leaders, along with other environmentalists and progressives like 350.org.
Follow TYT Investigates on Twitter and check out their YouTube channel.
The Daily Poster: ‘Risk Your Life Or You Don’t Get Any Money’
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shut down in-person press conferences—but workers are stuck in offices as the state refuses to take action against employers and compel remote work. OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman reports.
Help The Daily Poster hire more writers.
Progressives Everywhere: How The Biggest Swing State Swung Back to Democrats
Jordan Zakarin explains how progressive activists helped Joe Biden win back Pennsylvania from Donald Trump.
Pennsylvania Stands Up members made nearly seven million calls within the state and held more than 400,000 conversations with voters — and as Deputy Organizing Director Julia Berkman-Hill tells us, they weren’t the sort of quick GOTV chats that dominate before Election Day.
Support Progressives Everywhere, a newsletter that covers those in power and spotlights the grassroots organizations pushing them to do better.
What’s Left: Why progressive politicians should be going on Fox News
After Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) got some heat for appearing on Laura Ingraham’s far-right Fox News show, Zeeshan Aleem argues that progressives should be doing more of that. (I tend to disagree! But it’s an issue the left needs to keep grappling with, and I always appreciate Zeeshan’s thoughtful analysis.)
Khanna went on with a specific goal of persuasion among an audience that might be receptive to it. This wasn’t a chummy panel of talking heads sharing hot takes, it was an interview tightly focused on the issue of foreign policy before a segment of the Fox News audience that was exceptionally likely to be receptive to his message.
Subscribe to What’s Left, a weekly newsletter about American politics and society, with occasional forays into international affairs.
The Flashpoint: Tulsi Gabbard Prepares for Post-Congress Career With Pivot to the Right
Eoin Higgins reports on Gabbard’s latest moves, which mark a return to the social conservatism that defined her early political career.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard this week introduced two bills calculated to appeal to social conservatives, a move that raises questions about the outgoing congresswoman’s political future after she leaves office in January.
Most news apps focus on articles, and most podcast apps only feature audio. OptOut has articles, podcasts, and video all under one roof. I’m looking forward to having a one-stop shop for all news mediums!
We have a lot of excellent podcast partners. Here’s a selection of this week’s episodes.
The Red Nation
Guest host Jorden Revels is joined by Lumbee scholar Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery to discuss the social, political, and cultural dynamics of Lumbee history in the context of the Southeastern U.S. experience. Support The Red Nation.
The Human Rights Industrial Complex with Dan Kovalik
Subscribe to Historic.ly at the link above. Twitter temporarily restricted their account, so follow them here.
I truly love Jordan and Rob’s sarcastic intros. This time they chat with friend of the show Hasan Piker. Support The Insurgents at the above link.
Trevor talks with Dr. Judson Brewer about addiction, stress vs. anxiety, and how we can help alleviate the strain of all the things 2020 has brought us through mindfulness and meditation. Support Champagne Sharks.
Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson, the authors of the book Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide, talk about what Degrowth means. Support Utopian Horizons on Patreon.
Means Morning News
I was walking around Brooklyn yesterday evening and cracking up listening to Sam Sacks lighting up a bowl as he covered a story about weed. Yes, he literally smokes weed on camera while doing his broadcast. I love MMN and stan The Sams! Subscribe to Means TV to watch the video version and access a lot more indy content.
The Next World
Free The Land: Sterling Johnson and Jenn Bennetch, Philadelphia Housing Action
Philadelphia Housing Action used direct action to force the city of Philadelphia to relinquish over 60 vacant homes for a community land trust for housing for the homeless. Learn about this on Partners for Dignity & Right’s podcast, The Next World. Support their work.
Why You Mad
Comedian Khalid Rahmaan joins Why You Mad to talk about the Showtime documentary that just came out about The Comedy Store, cults, communism, how to pronounce latinx, and more. Support the pod.
In this Bonus episode, Pete raps with RS Benedict about Total Recall. Support Podside Picnic.
Office Hours with Tim Heidecker
Comedian Tim Heidecker and his podcast co-hosts DJ Douggpound and Vic Berger IV have an album coming out on December 18! Check out one of the songs and get the album here in a few days.
The Jacobin Show: The Year of Racial Reckoning and the Dead End of Identity w/ Vivek Chibber
Jacobin has a new weekly show! On Wednesdays at 6pm ET, Jen Pan, Ariella Thornhill, and Paul Prescod host The Jacobin Show: socialist perspectives on class and capitalism in the twenty-first century, the failures of liberalism, and the prospects of rebuilding a left labor movement in the U.S.
In this first episode, professor and Catalyst editor Vivek Chibber talks about the rise of liberal identity politics in 2020 and how socialists can foreground questions of class and redistribution today.
Not Safe For Wonks: Twitter Still Isn't Real Life (feat. Aaron Thorpe and Jamie Peck)
The Wonks answer questions such as: Is being a streamer organizing? What do media personalities and activists owe each other, if anything? Why is Destiny a irresponsible, clout-grabbing dork? And they celebrate the return of Aaron Thorpe, host of the podcast A Time of Monsters, who thankfully survived a very rough car crash.
Tim Black TV: 🔥 Joe Biden EXPLODES at Civil Rights Leaders
Tim Black covers The Intercept’s leak of a meeting Joe Biden had with a number of Black civil rights leaders.
Read Ryan Grim’s Bad News article with more details about the meeting.
The Humanist Report: Kelly Loeffler's Husband Now Implicated in Her Insider Trading Scandal, Too
Mike Figueredo breaks down just how financially compromised Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and her Wall Street husband are as the right-wing Georgian Loeffler tries to hold onto her seat.
Gilded Age: Government ‘Handouts’ with Lindsey Boylan
Manhattan borough president candidate Lindsey Boylan joins Walker and me to set the record straight about Joe Biden's statement that people "don't want a handout" during a devastating pandemic and resulting economic recession. We respond to questions from the live chat.
Feel free to support Gilded Age on Patreon.
Brick House is live!
Our friends at the Brick House collective launched their site this week. Spearheaded by OptOut adviser Maria Bustillos, Brick House is a worker-owned cooperative of nine media outlets, including our partners Popula and Sludge. Brick House is doing exactly what independent media needs: coming together in solidarity to create a new news experience for readers and listeners. We’re excited about this new collective and hope you are, too!
Radical Transparency from Passage
Respect to Passage, our partner to the north, for putting out this 2020 transparency report. Passage, a site with perspectives on politics, economics, and culture from Canadian writers and thinkers, launched in February and is doing quite well. More outlets should follow Passage’s lead so they can be fully accountable to their readers and supporters.
That’s it for this week. If you’ve gotten this far, perhaps that means you’re ready to support us! If so, become a paying subscriber here: