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David Corn on the Republican Party: “American Psychosis”

I sat down with my friend David Corn. We talked about his book, American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy, soon to be coming out in Paperback.

David Corn is a veteran Washington journalist and political commentator. He is the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine and an analyst for MSNBC. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Battled the GOP to Set Up the 2012 Election and Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (co-written with Michael Isikoff). He is also the author of the biography Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA’s Crusades and the novel Deep Background.

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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors

Jimmy Tingle 0:05
Hey everybody, this is Jimmy. Welcome back to another episode of the Jimmy tango show. Today we have my friend David Cohen on the show folks. And his new book is a New York Times bestseller, and it is coming out in paperback on September 12. So you will be seen this interview in time to get down to the bookstore or go to Amazon and get that book because it is an awesome book. Let me just read you some of the description of this book, American psychosis a historical investigation of how the republican party went crazy. That’s right, folks. Number one New York Times best selling author and investigative reporter David Kahn tells the wild and harrowing story of the Republican Party’s decade long relationship with far right extremism, bigotry and paranoia. A fast paced or arcane behind the scenes account of how the GOP since the 1950s has encouraged and exploited extremism, bigotry and paranoia. Why to gain power, corn reveals the hidden history of how the party of Lincoln Lincoln, the greatest president ever ha the party of Lincoln forged alliances with extremists, Kooks racist and conspiracy mongers and fostered fear anger and resentment to win elections and how this led to Donald Trump’s triumph and the transformation of the GOP into a Trump personality cult that foments and bolsters the crazy and dangerous excesses of the right. The Trump incited insurrectionists attack on the Capitol on January 6 2021, was no aberration. American psychosis shows it was a continuation of the long and deep rooted Republican Alliance and practice a boosting and weaponizing the rage and derangement of the right. Now here are two reviews I’m going to read. One is from a conservative Republican, and one is from Rachel Maddow. This is Charlie Sykes. He’s a lifelong Republican, wonderful talk show host up in Wisconsin. He’s got a great podcast called the bulwark. I listened to it all the time, and I would highly recommend it. Charlie cites lifelong Republican heights in this series and deeply reported work, corn recounts how the modern GOP succumb to the extremism, alternative realities and paranoia that spread the American psychosis that exploded on January 6, a desperately important read from Charlie Sykes, author of how the Wright lost its mind. This is a Republican. And of course, Rachel Maddow says from MSNBC Cohen is a great journalist. I love the way he thinks I love the way he writes. I’m so glad he’s done a super readable modern history of the right we just need smart, digestible history about this stuff. Right now, American psychosis is perfectly timed, relevant history for where we are right now. That’s from Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow Show. And David Korn is a veteran Washington journalist and political commentator. He is the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine and an analyst for MSNBC. Welcome to the show, Mr. David Cohen.

David Corn 3:15
Good to be with you, Mr. Jimmy tingle.

Jimmy Tingle 3:18
It’s great to see you again. And I say this all the time when I see David, but I’m so happy for you. Because I know how much work went into this book. I know how much work you put into the work of Mother Jones and, and MSNBC and doing all these book dates, and all these interviews and everything. So it was extremely grateful for you being here today. But I’m just really happy for you that the book took off. And it’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, a great read, and it’s coming out in paperback book on September 12. Folks, so it’s a great thing to start off, kick off the fall with and just to put in perspective where we are politically in this country right now. So David, I wanted to ask you, did you watch the Republican debate the other night?

David Corn 4:03
I did after the fact. So I could fast forward through some of the more most inane parts. And it just was, I think, a great encapsulation of where the party is now. And I’m reminded of the line from succession for those of you who watched, which Logan Roy looks at his three children and says, you are not serious people looking at this bunch of, of what is eight people on the stage, it was like, there was not a lot of seriousness. They didn’t deal with the bigger biggest issues. They were all trying to basically push the the grievance buttons that Donald Trump has, you know, did so well in doing and reaching the presidency in 2016. They said things were not true they you know, Vivek Rama Swami who is now like the The golden boy of the GOP pack called Climate Change a hoax. Nikki Haley said it’s real, but really, we don’t have to do anything about it because it’s the fault of the Chinese. And the Indians, as in the country, India. It was pretty low in terms of intellectual sustenance, vigor, content. There was a lot of posing, and posturing for the mogga extremism. It’s taken over the Republican Party. It was it but it was I say this. None of this was surprising. Trump has transformed the party in the sense that he is taking it to. And this is, I guess, a pun intended, a logical extreme kind of kind of the point of my book, that for 70 years, the Republican Party has encouraged and exploited far right extremism, bigotry, paranoia, conspiracy theory, often more on this side, and not front and center. But you saw new Glenridge Sarah Palin and others over the past few decades, speaking to the paranoia on the right, and accusing Democrats of being, you know, a plotting and scheming to destroy America. Glenn Beck had a show on Fox, all the Republican leadership went on, in which he said Obama had had a secret plot to destroy America. And he was I said, concentration camps and, and ruined the economy. So he could become emperor. Were they’ve been doing this for a long time. Yeah. But it was more or less to the side. Trump came along and said, I can put this in the spotlight, you know, I with conspiracy theories, and claiming that the Democrats are in league with an Tifa, black radicals and communists, literally to annihilate the America, you love and your suburbs, meaning your white suburbs. Right. And so, you have a republican party that has been fed so much red meat, that it’s about to have a heart attack? I don’t know. It just wants more and more and more. And that’s what you see these these publican candidates doing or trying to do, following Trump’s strategy. But you know, the thing is, the party already has Trump so they don’t need other Trump’s out there as Ron DeSantis. I don’t know if it’s DeSantis DeSantis dos Santos. Don’t worry me Santas. But anyway,

Jimmy Tingle 7:40
Donald, it’s D sanctimonious.

David Corn 7:45
But FERS says, Ron DeSantis. So if anyone knows it’s going to be NPR and how to pronounce something very, but nevertheless, you know, he went out there with this whole anti woke agenda, which curtailed a bit during the Republican debate. Because it turns out, it’s not that popular. It’s popular conservative media is popular and Fox, but it hasn’t been working with the Republican primary electorate. He’ll at least hasn’t gotten him support. But he, but you know, it is his way of trying to out Trump, it was his way of trying to out Trump, Trump. And in any event, I think the GOP debate ultimately, is utterly inconsequential. That unless Donald Trump drops dead to me or something like that happens, he is going to be the nominee. Well days, you know that these nice monetary outcome, they won’t go after him. Anyone who has counts on October, Chris Christie, or ASA Hutchinson, and by and if you’re listening at home, you get extra bonus points if you can identify with a sergeants that is. But if you know, so it’s what they kind of say, is interesting in terms of a reflection of where they think the party is at. But it makes, I think, very little difference. And what’s going to happen with the Republican contest,

Jimmy Tingle 9:10
right? Well, David, just to put in perspective, the theme of your book is that the party has a history. And it culminated with Trump and January 6, but it’s been going on for a long time for those of the listeners and viewers who are not familiar with your book, just give some examples out of the book of where we’re doing things like for example, the birther issue, the whole birther issue.

David Corn 9:33
Well, let’s start at the beginning. Yeah, sure. So you know, so. So, you know, the what I what I describe is that this relationship between the Republican Party, the GOP, and far right extremists, going back to his very starting after World War Two, and it begins with McCarthyism. And you had Joe McCarthy, as you know, going out there and saying that the Democrats aren’t wrong. They were evil. They were part of a communist plot. They wanted to literally take over America. And it was part of a plot that had infiltrated unions, corporations, PTA meetings, local theater groups, everything. The commies were out there was that the Russia was bad. It was this internal subversive threat. That was that was the true enemy. And initially, Eisenhower and other Republicans went along with this, even though they knew it was nothing except bullshit then, and and eventually, McCarthy went too far that the Republicans were able to somewhat distance themselves from him in the mid 50s, late 50s. But then in 1964, when Barry Goldwater is running for president, he basically makes an alliance with the John Birch Society, which was McCarthyism on steroids. It was there, you know, the birchas believed that not the commies were a threat, but they were already had already taken over the entire media, churches. Every educational institution was not just putting fluoride in water. They were, you know, trying to implement impose a un regimes dictating America. I mean, it was, you know, they had weather machines. It was just, you know, controlling the weather. That is, it was just complete nutso stuff. But yet, Barry Goldwater would not distance or disavow the John birchers. Instead he recruited them and use them to win the Republican primary in 1964. Against Nelson Rockefeller, a moderate establishment Republican, these guys, I mean, there was basically the queue and honors of their day. And, you know, they, they try to keep them a little bit to the side, but he used them for fundraising foot soldiers, and refused to, to denounce them. And so you had that alliance, you have Nixon, in a few years later, making alliances with Southern racist, the most virulent bigots, to win primaries, and then to win general elections. In the 70s, you had the new right and religious right, which both sort of evolved together, saying that Democrats and liberals were God hating atheists, and gay rights activists wanted to basically killed Christianity, and wanted to kill Americans who weren’t gay. You had members of the Moral Majority going out there and saying that it was okay to kill people who are homosexuals, because the Bible said you could. And you know, and rather than put this, you know, be aghast at this model Reagan and the Republican Party totally embraced it. They embrace this extremism. So again, and again and again, you see Republicans making common cause with the most extreme bigoted hatred, feeling paranoid pushing elements of the conservative movement, you know, they don’t have front and center but they, you know, go speak to them, they embrace them. And this happened later with with both George Bush’s and Pat Robertson, Pat Robertson, had, you know, the Christian coalition of a group of evangelical Americans that he organized for political purposes. And Pat Robertson, who died recently, was a complete nutcase. He put out a book, saying that the Rothschild family and Kissinger in the Queen of England and others were part of a global world conspiracy involving pedophiles and, and others very much like the q&a of today. And he claimed that in the George HW Bush was part of this conspiracy is an unwitting dupe and what happens George Bush when he’s running for president, goes to pat robertson embraces them speaks to the Christian coalition because he wants the votes and, and the money. So again, it’s authenticating and legitimizing the worst of the worst of far right extremism. Newt Gingrich did the same. Sarah Palin did the same. You mentioned birtherism. That’s how you know, that’s how Donald Trump came to be a conservative hero. He took on this crazy theory that had no merit. Brock Obama was born in Kenya, and it was racist. And it was tied into the idea that he was a secret Muslim, and a secret socialist, and he had secret plans for annihilating America. And Donald Trump, you know, kept claiming that he had proof he had evidence he had none of that. But it was what propelled him to become a conservative champion that led to you know, that led to his candidacy for president in 2016. And it ends up with Trump becoming president pushing a gazillion conspiracy theories, including the big one that I’m election was stolen from them, which leads to January 6, and what is he doing these days, he’s campaigning that the people were insurrectionists riders, on January 6, should be pardoned. And that and then he says, We love these people. He’s hailing them and praising them as though this is a full frontal embraced by the leading Republican of violence, and treason.

Jimmy Tingle 15:26
Well, David, I imagine you get this question a lot going around to book readings and on the air or when you do radio, etc. Is there anything like that on the on the left?

David Corn 15:39
People think it sounds unfair, or hyper partisan? When I say there isn’t. This is asymmetrical. Joe Biden is not out there, encouraging and Tifa and working with Antifa and praising and Tifa or anarchists. He runs for president in 2020, saying, I want to use president, everybody. I want to bring this country together. You know, I think Republicans are wrong and policy. I think Donald Trump has been, you know, reprehensible and irresponsible. But I would like to be the president, everybody. Donald Trump runs for president saying that the Democrats are evil, you can’t you can’t find an equivalent to Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Lauren Borbet. Or Jim Jordan, on the left here, there are far left members of Congress, they have been, but they’re not out there pushing conspiracy theories. On the other side, you don’t have this, you know, this long record of, of Democrats or Democratic presidential candidates who go on and say Alex Jones is right, who go on and say, you know, Q anon is right. It’s something very particular to the Republican Party. And there is there is no equivalent. On the other side, while there are people on the left, you know, and you know, and others who may have crazy ideas and notions are be conspiratorial and very extreme in their views. They don’t have the same relationship with the Democratic leadership. And perhaps more importantly, the Democratic leadership does not spend time trying to court them and bring them into the fold. While with Trump, you see again and again and again. He and his other and his acolytes keep appealing to the extremists of the far right, you have Tucker Carlson going on the air just recently, not on the air, I guess, on Twitter, saying, you know, to Trump, while you know, these people want to assassinate you, the left wants to kill you. All, this is totally inflaming, right, the passions and hatreds and paranoia of the right. And there’s nobody who does that, at that high level. On the left,

Jimmy Tingle 18:01
all right, so Rupert Murdoch, when he was on trial, Underoath. He famously said, I don’t know how much it’s been reported. Maybe it’s not that famous. But he said, Listen, I’m not pulling for the red. I’m not pulling for the blue. I’m pulling for the green. It’s about money, and Fox channel and Fox News. And all of it is really about the bottom line. So when you when you talk about the media, whether it’s talk radio, or do or it’s television, do you think what’s driving these media companies is the economic incentive, that there’s a willing audience there that wants to hear this? And that will be it’ll reinforce some of their worst instincts. Do you think that’s what’s driving that there? And then on the political side, everybody on the stage the other night was a supporter of Trump. They’re not all they’re not all, you know, conspiracy theorists. Right? But they all supported Donald Trump. So what was driving all of those people that Nikki Haley’s the chris Christie’s the ASA hasit Hutchinson initially was with him.

David Corn 19:10
Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie are pretty explicit in their criticize,

Jimmy Tingle 19:13
they’re off the reservation now, but five years ago, five years ago, they were not

David Corn 19:21
this Christie was very much on Trump’s young until he didn’t get a job control

Jimmy Tingle 19:24
what was driving them then just well, let’s

David Corn 19:27
let’s start let’s start with the fox in the media. Rupert Murdoch is a conservative, he likes conservatives, no regulation, no taxes and lower taxes that serves his interests. But I think but just as importantly, he realizes that there is this market for far right extremism on on the air. And, you know, you know Fox only gets three to 4 million viewers a night in a a country the size of 303 million people, that’s 1%. But it still is enough to make a boatload of money. And so he wants to keep that audience entertained. And and revved up and angry. And He does that by confirming their prejudices, their biases, and their most conspiratorial notions. And we saw the documentation that came out of the Dominion voting systems lawsuit, in which Fox ended up having to settle for worth $785 million or something. credible fear, we saw that case, documentation come out, in which it was clear Collison and other host other executives. And Murdoch realized that if they did not amplify and confirm Donald Trump’s big lie, the disinformation that was coming forward, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and all the others who have, you know, kind of bamboozled the public. They didn’t, you know, lean into that they would lose audience share, their audience would go to OA, and then another network or Newsmax and other fart network, where they were all conspiracy all the time. And so it revealed Fox to be a for profit propaganda outlet, right? Nothing journalistic here at all. They just want to keep the audience and you know, anything. And they were just scared, you know, plus, of a, alienating their audience by by telling the truth that the election was not stolen was not rigged, and that Joe Biden was the legitimate president. So they it was just it was everything revealed that you ever suspect about Fox? You know, they don’t care they come up with the more about talking points.

Jimmy Tingle 21:58
And he, he would he he testified accordingly. That’s what he basically said that we’re in, we’re in it for the money. What’s going on with the rest of the party, though the

David Corn 22:09
problem is not with elected officials. And people like Mitch McConnell, the problem is that 10s of millions of Americans believe the swell that Donald Trump has been sleeping, not just the big lie about the election, but everything else, conspiracy theories, or disinformation about COVID. They believe that they believe that Trump is their guy, they don’t believe that he is a criminal, or they don’t care if he’s a misogynist or racist. They, you know, they are part of this Trump cult. And that is the majority of the Republican Party to report other Republicans know if they go against that, they will put their careers on the line and they’re likely to lose. So it’s just a total profile and cowardice that we see across the board, that whether it’s Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, whoever you want to point to, that almost all the major Republicans here they refuse to vote against Trump during impeachment, convict them. And they even the ones who criticized him, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy for the January 6, Riot blamed him, you know, within weeks, we’re back on his side and saying what, you know what a fine fellow is and that they would support him if you ran for president. Right? You got the nomination yet. So they but they are not so much afraid of him. They’re afraid of these 10s of millions of Americans. And that’s why I call the book American psychosis who have been struck by this political, you know, irrationality, they believe things that are not real, they believe the election was stolen. They believe in Tifa, and BLM or legal Joe Biden and they’re coming to destroy your town village. It’s, you know, this is where the Republican Party has gone. Okay. And 10s of millions of Americans are at that point. And so that’s why the Republican Party itself can’t move from his position without basically pulling itself apart.

Jimmy Tingle 24:17
Alright, David, let’s close it up with I have one. I want you to make a prediction. Will Joe Biden barring any extreme, you know, health issues on any either side? Will Joe Biden be victorious in 2024? Will the Democrats will the blue wave the long awaited blue wave, the elusive blue wave? Will it actually hit the shores of America this 2024 election season?

David Corn 24:53
Jimmy, I can’t even tell you what am I what I’m gonna have to do? Any Want to make some prediction on 2024? is not worth interviewing? Well, one thing to keep in mind is that Biden had 7 million more votes in Trump last time, right? And, and to be quite brazen about it, Trump’s voters are older, and they live in less healthy areas of the country. So that means that in the four years between the elections, a lot more Trump voters are dying, and Biden voters are dying. And if you look at younger voters, they’re breaking towards Democrats. So demographically, it should be, you know, good for the Democrats. But our system is crazy. You can become president with and you can get 10 million votes less or more than the other guy and so become president, because you do well on a few states in the Electoral College. Right. So it’s really hard to gain this out. And with Trump’s, you know, his zillion indictments, and possible know what impact that’s going to have, even on the Republican primaries. So all I can say is, hold on to your hats. Buckle up. Get a Scotch ready, because it’s just gonna be a wild ride between now and then.

Jimmy Tingle 26:15
Well, David, it’s great to have you back on the show. Thanks again for doing it. The book is American psychosis. And it’s coming out in paperback on September 12. So get that either through Amazon. Or you can go to David Cohen, what’s your website, David,

David Corn 26:31
they can get it on Amazon or any other book place. They want to subscribe to my newsletter, which comes out one or two times a week. Yep. And has information about the book, but just other writings about what’s happening. They can go to David corn.com,

Jimmy Tingle 26:45
David corn.com, the name of his newsletter is our land. It’s really great. You got a lot of great articles on there, David, and of course, please support Mother Jones. David is Washington bureau chief editor. And thanks again for being on the show David and continue success and keep the faith my friend, get some rest. If you got a long we got a long road man. 2024. But I’m optimistic and I’m just gonna tell you why. Okay, the issues that so many people care about guns, climate choice, and immigration reform, okay, those four issues, I think those that’s the Democrats wheelhouse and I think if Biden starts talking about recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction and start using his son as an example of what millions of people are going through and gets behind that issue, and just connects with the average voter like he has and continues on the wave of accomplishments that he’s been racking up with infrastructure and everything else. The green economy, I think, what I think I’m optimistic, that’s all I can say, I’m optimistic, and the President might be in the Fulton County Jail. That’s the other thing.

David Corn 28:01
You Yes, well, we there’s so much that we don’t know. And all I can say is, in the next year, we’re going to need lots of laughs so keep them laughing.

Jimmy Tingle 28:12
All right. And here’s one final thought thought for you. If the president and those 18 people that he that were checked into the Fulton County Jail the other day and got the mug shots, if they end up as residents of the Fulton County Jail, I guarantee you, prison reform will be front and center on the Republican platform.

David Corn 28:35
As well as the quality of food improves, right. Okay.

Jimmy Tingle 28:38
Take care, David. Thank you so much, Jimmy. Bye bye.

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