Kops, Kovid, Kapitalism
Photo credit: Tim Bounds / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is there a common link between all the dark things that are happening? Is it hiding in plain sight?

Two million Americans are infected with COVID-19 and 110,000 have died. Thirty-five million Americans are out of work, lines at food banks stretch for miles, the military isn’t sure whom to take orders from, and the police seem unaccountable to the people they serve. 

And the president and all his men may be guilty of crimes that could take years or even decades to sort out. Yet the stock markets, prior to this week, have been hitting all-time highs, and the one percent are getting richer.  

As the public begins to push back — inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement — people are asking: Are things really different this time? Our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast is Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding in Plain Sight and host of the podcast Gaslit Nation. She argues that in fact something has been very different for a long time.  

Kendzior has spent years studying authoritarian regimes, and she thinks she understands the systemic issues of corruption and unaccountability that connect all the dots. She warns of darker times ahead that will be driven by an authoritarian playbook and will, she believes, produce more abuse of power, fraudulent elections, more violence and civil unrest — and more death… 

She urges us not to make the mistake of thinking that what’s going on today is the result of incompetence; rather, she says, the apparent chaos is actually a sign of self-serving malice that takes no prisoners, and must be combated as such.

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Full Text Transcript:

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Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to the WhoWhatWhy podcast. I’m your host Jeff Schechtman.

Jeff Schechtman: 160 years ago, we waged a civil war for the soul of America. 70 years ago, Joe McCarthy exploited the deepest fears of Americans as he destroyed careers and divided us. 52 years ago, we witnessed political assassination, riots in the streets, and an unpopular war that cost 50,000 American lives and drove a president from office. Today, the country is once again put to the test.

Jeff Schechtman: On Wall Street, it’s often said that the four scariest words you can hear are “this time it’s different.” Today, three years into the Trump presidency, it feels as if we are once again at one of those inflection points where something is seriously wrong, where something is different.

Jeff Schechtman: Two million Americans are infected with COVID. 110,000 have died. 35 million Americans are out of work. Lines at food banks stretch for miles. The military isn’t sure who to take orders from on America’s streets. And the police are clearly unaccountable to the people they serve. And the president and all his men may be guilty of crimes that may take decades to sort out. And yet the stock market is hitting all-time highs as the 1% get richer. Something is different.

Jeff Schechtman: In science or physics, we’d be looking for a kind of unified field theory to try and understand all of this. Some theory that connects the dots and make sense of such disparate but dark events.

Jeff Schechtman: We’re going to talk about this today with my guest, Sarah Kendzior. She’s the author of the bestseller The View from  Flyover Country and is known for her reporting from St. Louis, her coverage of the 2016 election, and her years of expertise and academic research on authoritarian states. She’s currently an op-ed columnist for The Globe and Mail. Her reporting has been featured in many publications. And she’s the cohost of the must-listen podcast Gaslit Nation. Her newest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America.

Jeff Schechtman: It is my pleasure to welcome Sarah Kendzior back to the WhoWhatWhy podcast. Sarah, thanks so much for joining us.

Sarah Kendzior: Oh, thank you for having me.

Jeff Schechtman: As you look at what we’re going through today, how different is it in your view from upheavals that we’ve experienced in the past? Is there something fundamentally different about what we’re experiencing today, the dark times that we’re seeing today?

Sarah Kendzior: I think there is in the sense that it’s as if we’ve taken all of the calamities and atrocities of the past and managed to combine them into one year. So you get an economy that’s like the Great Depression. You get a pandemic that’s like the pandemic of 1918. You get the corruption in government that far exceeds, that builds on the corruption of Nixon, of Iran-Contra. You get the paranoia in government from the McCarthy era, from the post-9/11 era. I mean, I can go on and on.

Sarah Kendzior: But this is a very difficult time, and I think that’s one of the reasons that people are taking this longer view of history, and they’re looking at a lot of the original sins of American life, which are rooted in racism. They’re looking at slavery, they’re looking at Jim Crow, at discrimination, and they’re seeing, I think, how so much of the corruption and inequality and suffering that people experience is rooted in those policies and how they are manipulated by a narrow elite that benefits politically, economically, any sense that…  I think people are fed up. They’re afraid, and they’re fed up.

Sarah Kendzior: And I guess the one final thing is I think coronavirus has removed any kind of belief Americans had, white Americans I should say, that they are not viewed as disposable by the Trump administration. We know what the Trump administration thinks of Americans who aren’t white, of Americans who are immigrants or from any marginalized group, but we have a hundred thousand people dead, or over a hundred thousand people at this point. They don’t even lower the flag. They don’t care. They will let you die. And I think that that realization has hit mainstream Americans very hard. And maybe they knew it in their heart at some point all along, but didn’t want to confront it, but now there’s no choice but to confront it because this is a life-or-death situation.

Jeff Schechtman: Cornel West talking about this recently was talking about police crime, Wall Street crime, Pentagon crime, White House crime. And he argued that what was at the heart of all of this was a lack of accountability, which is an essential ingredient of democracy. Talk about that.

Sarah Kendzior: Yes, that’s absolutely right. And I wrote the same thing in Hiding in Plain Sight, and in some extent in The View from Flyover Country. But what we’re seeing now with this administration is a profound lack of accountability that is a continuation of the lack of accountability from prior eras. That means that you literally have the same people who were never held accountable in the past involved in this administration, whether Paul Manafort, who was only arrested in 2017 for crimes he had committed decades ago, Bill Barr back in the position of attorney general after being the Iran-Contra cleanup guy, Trump himself, Ivanka, Jared. None of these people were ever held accountable. All of them were nearly brought to court or nearly were prosecuted. Jeffrey Epstein, of course, is another example of this, now conveniently dead.

Sarah Kendzior: So yeah, I feel like the refusal to hold powerful interests accountable, to reckon with the greatest catastrophes that we’ve had over the past 40 years, whether the Wall Street heist in 2008 or the 9/11 aftermath or Watergate, in which Nixon was pardoned, or the Iran-Contra. It means that you just get the same problems over and over again, the same people over and over again. John Bolton, yet another example. I mean, I could go on forever.

Sarah Kendzior: But yeah, it’s very literal in this case, and that’s one of the most disturbing things about it because I think the goal of the GOP for a long time has been to be a one-party state, Trump and his cohort want a mafia state, and unless accountability is enforced early and strongly, you are much more likely to end up with both of those things.

Jeff Schechtman: In that sense, is Trump simply symptomatic of what’s been going on or a cause of what we’re seeing today in so many respects?

Sarah Kendzior: I do think he’s a culmination of the worst tendencies of American life, whether political, economic, celebrity worship, infotainment complex, and manipulation of media. But I also think that he is very adept at exacerbating those tendencies. He’s like a vulture that preys on human pain. That was why he was so effective during his campaign in 2016. He’s good at being a demagogue, he understands propaganda, he understands spin, and he also understands crime.

Sarah Kendzior: He knows when to step back. He knows that his best strategy when he doesn’t understand what to do is to surround himself with a team of shady lawyers, whether Roy Cohn or Michael Cohen or nowadays Bill Barr, and let them do the dirty work, let them navigate the bureaucracy.

Sarah Kendzior: And so I think that he has taken a terrible situation, spun it to his advantage, made it much worse. And the complicity of the Republicans and the complacency of the Democrats have made that situation worse as well.

Jeff Schechtman: In many ways, the pandemic, COVID-19, has been an accelerant to so much of this.

Sarah Kendzior: Yes, absolutely. And when the pandemic first emerged, there were a lot of people who I thought were being far too generous to the Trump administration and saying that the response was simply incompetence, that there is no way they would let all these people die, that there is no way they would let all these small businesses go under, they would let all these people suffer. They absolutely would do that. They have been craving a situation like this.

Sarah Kendzior: There are tapes of Trump from 2014 saying that what solves American problems is when the economy completely collapses, when everything is a complete disaster, when there are riots on the street. We have the situation that he’s dreamt of for years, we have it right now. And that’s been the way that he’s operated his whole life.

Sarah Kendzior: That’s why his reaction to 9/11 is, “Now my buildings look taller.” That’s how he thinks of things. These are corporate raiders. These are mafiosos. If something collapses, they look at it and say, “How can I benefit? How can I strip this down further and sell it for parts? How can I profit off the chaos and the confusion that’s being caused right now?” And I think that that’s how they view the pandemic. There are others in Trump’s orbit, like Steve Bannon, who’ve expressed similar sentiments.

Sarah Kendzior: And so I think they’re content to let this ravage the population, particularly since it’s hitting Black Americans and Native Americans harder than it is white Americans, it’s exacerbating economic inequality that also existed, and all of that gives them more control in the end because they don’t feel any obligation to the public.

Sarah Kendzior: And what worries me is that they don’t seem to think the public has any real leverage. In a normal election cycle, a political party would be worried. If people who might vote for you are dying in hospital hallways, have lost their jobs, are dealing with all of these catastrophes that are going unremedied, they’d be worried about that. They’d want to reassure voters. They don’t express any worry at all, whether it’s Trump or Mitch McConnell or others, and that makes me worry about the integrity of the election itself.

Jeff Schechtman: How did they make that turn then into the election as we see these falling poll numbers and the degree to which they may be misreading where the public is right now?

Sarah Kendzior: Yeah. I mean, I don’t put great stock in poll numbers. I didn’t back in 2016 either. But I do think that Trump is a genuinely unpopular president. I think that that’s been the case for a long time. If anything, I think the media has treated him as if he’s much more popular than he is. And keep in mind, I live in a state that voted for him, and I’ve watched this turn in perception with my own eyes.

Sarah Kendzior: My view is that the Republicans seek to rig this selection. And Trump is an aspiring autocrat, and once an autocrat gets into power, it’s very difficult to get them out. We know what he wants. He wants power. He wants money. He wants immunity from prosecution, which now rests on his ability to stay the president. So he will do absolutely anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal. It doesn’t matter if it’s moral. It doesn’t matter if he’s caught, as long as he’s not punished.

Sarah Kendzior: And I’m glad to see that, finally, the Democrats seem to understand the gravity of the situation. I think Joe Biden said something this morning along the lines of Trump seeks to steal the election, he doesn’t want to have a legitimate election. They were very afraid of saying that back in 2016. The Democrats were pounding into our head never question the integrity of our institutions, even though that integrity, it deserved to be questioned. We were watching institutions collapse before our eyes. We were seeing the wreckage of decades of malfeasance in front of us.

Sarah Kendzior: I think now they realize they have to get out in front of this. And what I wish they’d do is establish how exactly we are going to vote during a pandemic, make sure that we are able to vote by mail, ward off the GOP attempts to sabotage that through things like wanting to destroy the Postal Service.

Sarah Kendzior: But they just need to speak the truth plainly to the American public. And it is encouraging for me when I see Biden say that Trump may steal the election, when I see him say that even if Biden wins, Trump will refuse to leave, because I think that’s absolutely right. They were very afraid of acknowledging this before, but they absolutely need to, and they need to do it well in advance of the election.

Jeff Schechtman: If Trump loses the election, is there going to be in the country, though, a sense of exhaustion from all of the chaos that we have seen over the past several years and a desire to simply and quickly move beyond and put Trump in the rear view mirror without any accountability for what’s gone on?

Sarah Kendzior: I think that that sense of exhaustion is already here. I think it’s been here for several years. I think that that was the mentality of Americans before coronavirus hit. That was sort of how Americans were responding to the impeachment hearings, which I have to say were lackluster. They didn’t go into Trump’s decades of criminal ties, ties to the Russian mafia, the connection between 2019 and 2016. They really avoided a lot of things that they should have brought up, and that might’ve led to the lack of interest.

Sarah Kendzior: But there was also this sort of shrugging it off like, “Oh, the GOP isn’t going to convict anyway. Why am I even bothering paying attention anymore? We know the outcome in advance.” And I see that all the time when I study autocracies. That’s a mindset where people kind of have to avoid current events or feel like they have to, just to survive, just to kind of keep their sanity.

Sarah Kendzior: I think with coronavirus, when they saw the response to that, when they saw the utter apathy toward widespread suffering, the utter lack of guidance, the encouragement to drink bleach, I think that that was it. I think that was a breaking point for a lot of Americans where they were like, “I have no choice but to care about this and to fight this,” as they get out on the streets with other people who have been fighting these battles a very long time.

Sarah Kendzior: And I think that that mindset will probably prevail in November if Biden wins and Trump refuses to leave. But what I worry, though, is that the violence is going to be upped quite a bit because I think what we’ve seen in the last few weeks is a dress rehearsal. Trump is out there. You’ve seen how the police will respond. You’ve seen what the National Guard is capable of, what the military will do if he gives them unconstitutional orders. He’s seeing who is loyal to him versus who is loyal to the Constitution. This is a way of feeling things out, a way of testing people. Very similar to what he did early on with people in the FBI, where he wanted loyalty oaths and so forth.

Sarah Kendzior: And so my guess is that what they want is Civil War Two, because they do not care about this nation staying together. They don’t care if it falls apart into pieces. That’s Putin’s dream, and we know that Trump is connected to the Kremlin. But it’s also theirs. It’s that corporate raider mentality where if the US fragments into warring little factions, it makes it much easier for all these sadistic billionaires to just swoop in and steal resources and profit off of people’s misery. That’s what they do.

Sarah Kendzior: And so everyone needs to understand that it’s an anti-American president, and it’s a president who doesn’t care about politics or the presidency itself beyond his personal gain. And he never ever has, but I hope that people certainly understand that now, four years in.

Jeff Schechtman: As you look at recent events and the context of all that you know and have seen and studied about autocracies, how do you see the role of the military here right now?

Sarah Kendzior: I’m worried about it. I mean, my guess is that the military is mixed in terms of who in the military would be willing to do something unconstitutional like fire on American protestors who are doing nothing wrong and who will refuse orders, and who is just a Trump lackey and who perhaps joined the military knowing they could serve under Trump, knowing that Trump pardons war criminals.

Sarah Kendzior: Trump has been encouraging this culture from above for many years, and we’ve seen military officials resign in protest of it. And I think that on the other end of that, we’re likely seeing recruits go in who are more overtly sadistic, who don’t see this as war crimes, this is just sadistic behavior that they’re now legally allowed to participate in. I worry that there are people like that.

Sarah Kendzior: I don’t know. I mean, my guess is that people in the military, they’re told to follow orders, so it depends on what the top brass of the military tell people to do, whether they stand up to Trump. They’ve got an unprecedented situation on their hands, and I’m not sure how they handle it, but I’m hoping that they honor their obligation to serve the American public, to serve the Constitution, and not to serve a tyrant. Our country was formed in opposition to a king, and so I hope that that’s something that they keep in mind when they are watching people rise up in protest of Trump and in protest of all of the horrific policies that he endorses and that he embodies. I hope they realize the people are who they are supposed to protect and serve.

Jeff Schechtman: As the economy continues to struggle and as the pandemic seems to be going through this resurgence right now, how do you see that playing against what we’ve been talking about? There is going to come a certain point when it becomes obvious to larger and larger segments of the population that all of his actions are having such a deleterious effect on the economy, and the pandemic is continuing to spread.

Sarah Kendzior: Yeah. I mean, I think that they’ve realized that now, though I’m not sure everybody is on board with the pandemic is continuing to spread. I think a lot of folks kind of think that it’s … Excuse me. They think that it’s over, in part because there are many places kind of behaving and acting as if it is.

Sarah Kendzior: But one thing that’s interesting, and I don’t think that the Trump administration is necessarily counting on this, is that the pandemic also has spurred people into the streets because unemployment is so incredibly high. The timing of this where you have masses of unemployed people, you have college students and teenagers who might otherwise be working in the summer or going to school, no longer in school, nothing to do, out on the street releasing all of that energy from being cooped inside for so long. And also I think kind of feeling like … They feel, “If I don’t fight for my life right now, it’s going to be taken from me in some way or another,” whether through police brutality, through fascism, through the continuation of this pandemic, which the Trump administration has no interest in solving.

Sarah Kendzior: I think the protests may continue to grow. I do worry about them being exploited, being weaponized. We’ve already seen that. We’ve seen numerous white guys pretending to be in Antifa. We saw the killing of the restaurant owner in Louisville initially blamed on the, quote-unquote, “Antifa,” and it turned out to be a killing by the National Guard. I think we may see more of that, and that’s something that concerns me.

Sarah Kendzior: But at this point, the suffering Americans are facing, the uncertainty, the instability, it’s so overwhelming that it’s hard to deny. And I think what appeal Trump had as a, quote, “strong man” is gone for the majority of Americans. They see him as the source of chaos instead of a solution to it. That’s not true, obviously, of his base. It’s not true of some of the people who vote for him, many of whom have white supremacy as a central value in their lives or who just simply feel wedded to this Fox News idea of the Democrats as the great enemy, the great conspirators against the American people. But I don’t think that that’s the majority of Americans.

Sarah Kendzior: My question about the election is like, does it matter anymore what the majority of Americans think? Will our votes be counted? Will we have a free and fair election? I have doubted that we would for years, and I still have doubts about that. I just hope that officials with the power to actually do something about this get on top of that now and are assertive about making sure that everyone’s right to vote and right to free speech, freedom of assembly and so forth is protected.

Jeff Schechtman: There is this conventional wisdom that exists out there, and I know you’ve spoken about this, that somehow at least 40% of the country is committed to Trump no matter what happens. Talk about that.

Sarah Kendzior: I mean, I don’t know where people get this 40% number. It’s such a strange thing to me because if you even look at the election in 2016, half the country didn’t vote. And then from that, fewer people voted for Trump than for Clinton. So let’s say you have like, I don’t know, 25% of the country voting for Trump. Of those people who voted for Trump, a lot of them, and I know this through covering it, hated both of them. They hated Trump, they hated Clinton. They were just kind of holding their nose. Some of them were like, “Yeah, let’s see what happens.” Some are one-issue voters. They vote on abortion, they vote on guns, things like that. They didn’t necessarily like Trump. They were willing to overlook the things they disliked about him because they hated the other candidate more or had another reason.

Sarah Kendzior: As time goes on, I’ve watched his grassroots support slip away. We’ve had a lot of cases where we know that people being interviewed and profiled in publications like The New York Times are members of the Republican Party, are part of committees, the same person being profiled again and again.

Sarah Kendzior: There’s been a movement in the media to make it look like he has this groundswell of grassroots support that I just don’t think is there. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have supporters. He does. And I think that he has a very hardcore base that will follow him no matter what, and you see this with the QAnon phenomenon as well. I just think that that number is much smaller. I think the very hardcore base is like maybe no more than 5% of the country. The problem is it doesn’t take a lot of people to cause a lot of chaos if that is … Excuse me. If that is their goal. We saw this with the MAGA Bomber and other figures who have emerged as hardcore, kind of cult-like Trump’s devotees.

Sarah Kendzior: But I’ve always questioned this number and also just the kind of binary polls like, “Do you approve? Do you disapprove?” Because I can tell you living in Missouri that a lot of people think when they’re polled like, “Do you approve of Trump or do you approve of the Democratic Party,” that if you say, “No,” they take you … Sorry, “Or do you approve of the Republican Party,” and you say, “No,” they take you as somebody who loves the Democrats or loves Hillary Clinton or loves all these other people that they can’t stand. And so they kind of hedge on that side. And I think if you just asked people, explain, “Well, what do you like,” or, “What do you think,” without these kind of yes or no’s and suppositions, you’re going to get a lot more honest, nuanced answers of where public opinion stands.

Jeff Schechtman: We began this conversation by talking about the systemic aspects of corruption, of lack of accountability, how long this has been going on and the way in which Trump to a certain extent is emblematic of that and that it carried him into the presidency. What do you see happening after and when Trump is gone? To what extent do we go back to some of the same situations with respect to lack of accountability and corruption? And to what extent has all of this maybe made people wake up to what needs to be addressed?

Sarah Kendzior: I think people have definitely woken up. I think the idea of it can’t happen here or American exceptionalism is out the window. It’s hard for me to imagine life after Trump if I don’t know the way in which he’s going to go out. If we’re going to have like a Ceausescu-type situation or if he’ll somehow be … I mean, maybe best case scenario is he’s bribed into leaving, he’s offered some sort of incredible amount of money plus immunity from prosecution or whatever it is he wants.

Sarah Kendzior: Trump doesn’t want to be a loser. That is his nightmare. When people were saying in 2016 that he was just running for attention or he was running to increase his brand, I thought that was ridiculous. He never runs for anything unless he believes he knows the outcome in advance, and he takes himself out of the running early if he thinks he’s going to lose.

Sarah Kendzior: And so a Trump that is forcibly removed, you’re going to have a violent movement in his wake. You’re going to have a cult following rising up. You’re definitely going to have successors that learned from his mistakes, people who are much slicker, less obnoxious, know how to kind of market and package the exact same rhetoric and policies that he had endorsed, because Trump’s not coming up with a lot of this stuff. It’s Miller, it’s Kushner, it’s Mitch McConnell, it’s Bill Barr. It’s all these people surrounding him that understand the bureaucracy much more, and they’ve never been held accountable.

Sarah Kendzior: And I think at this point also, he’s going to leave behind packed courts. He has been going out of his way under the tutelage of the Republican Party to pack courts with people who will preemptively exonerate all of these GOP criminals for their crimes, who will refuse to look into things like Russian mafia connections or Russian or Kremlin or other foreign influence over the 2016 campaign. We’re going to be stuck with a lot of the same problems.

Sarah Kendzior: And I think in terms of Congress, we need a strong antithesis to this. And I think we’ve seen that with Elizabeth Warren, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with others who are demanding accountability and whose central interest is fighting corruption. I think if that’s the case, and if people are willing to name names and actually force subpoenas and use real punishments when people dishonor them or dishonor this democratic process, we may get somewhere.

Sarah Kendzior: If Pelosi is still the House Speaker, I think we’re in trouble because she’s been an appeaser the entire time. She’s refused to use the full powers of the House, and she’s not alone in that. Jerry Nadler and others surrounding her are the same way. Very timid, very hesitant, aren’t really doing anything to stop this problem. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming to even impeach him, even though he impeached … He had like an impeachable offense a day for like three straight years before they did anything about it. And so that’s discouraging, and I think it just …

Sarah Kendzior: If Biden is there, it matters very much who he surrounds himself with who is in his cabinet, whether they are brave enough to tackle this endemic corruption, because if they don’t, then I do see a continuation of all of the horrible policies that we’ve had before, of all of the atrocities that were never examined, whether financial or political or whatnot. There needs to be a reckoning, and I hope that they are brave enough to bring that reckoning about.

Jeff Schechtman: And before I let you go, last thing, talk a little bit about your views on how the media has looked at the past several years and how that might be the same or different in a post-Trump world.

Sarah Kendzior: I mean, I think Trump and his people will still be there to manipulate it every day. And I think that plenty of these reporters know exactly what they’re doing when they build him up, when they present malice as incompetence, when they cover up crime with scandal. I don’t see them changing. I mean, I think The New York Times, for example, is a deeply corrupt organization. There’s finally been some progress in the last week about that. We’re still going to have Fox News.

Sarah Kendzior: There’s a discussion emerging now about the lack of diversity in media and especially the way that racists and racist policies are portrayed in media and the trouble that black writers in particular have had where they’re internally censored by their own publications and unable to speak the truth, which means that a large majority of Americans is not receiving that truth. And so hopefully, that problem maybe remedied somewhat, but I’ve been watching that go back and forth basically since Ferguson, so I don’t know.

Sarah Kendzior: I mean, one other thing that’s happened to the media after the pandemic is that nearly half of the reporters in America were fired or furloughed. I think we went into it with about 80,000 hired journalists at organizations, and 35,000 people have lost their jobs since then, which means we don’t have a lot of journalists. And I don’t know if they’re counting people like you or me who run podcasts and whatnot. I mean, I think they should, but I don’t know if they do. Nonetheless, there’s not that many of us either, and certainly not that many who are able to do it to make a living.

Sarah Kendzior: So there’s just a paucity of information, especially of investigative reporting. We just don’t have that much. We barely have anybody combing through all of these horrific and blatant crimes of the Trump administration. They’ll be in the news for a day and then they vanish, and we don’t have a court system that’s pursuing them either. So I don’t know. I mean, all these billionaires out there throwing their money around would do well, if they really believe in democracy, to fund investigative journalism and to fund journalism on issues like racism, where Black or Latino or Native American reporters aren’t even able to say what they truly believe out of fear of the corporation that they have to work for.

Sarah Kendzior: There are solutions to this. Unfortunately, they rely a lot on money and the ability of people to have the time and the income to pursue these questions. Hopefully, that will change. Hopefully, people at least realize the necessity for it now.

Jeff Schechtman: Sarah Kendzior. Her new book is Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. Her podcast is Gaslit Nation. Sarah, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you so much for spending time with us.

Sarah Kendzior: Oh, thanks for having me.

Jeff Schechtman: Thank you for listening and for joining us here on radio WhoWhatWhy, I hope you join us next week for another radio WhoWhatWhy podcast I’m Jeff Schechtman. If you like this podcast, please feel free to share and help others find by rating and reviewing it on iTunes, you can also support this podcast and all the work we do by going to

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from The White House / Flickr.


  • Jeff Schechtman

    Jeff Schechtman’s career spans movies, radio stations and podcasts. After spending twenty-five years in the motion picture industry as a producer and executive, he immersed himself in journalism, radio, and more recently the world of podcasts. To date he has conducted over ten-thousand interviews with authors, journalists, and thought leaders. Since March of 2015, he has conducted over 315 podcasts for

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