The decision by the popular liberal podcast Pod Save America to break ties publicly with Tim Miller – a Republican adviser and Trump skeptic – might not make ripples beyond the beltway. It’s an interesting story nonetheless.
In a strangely sanctimonious statement posted on Twitter, Pod’s co-hosts – three ex-Obama staffers – announced they would be dropping Miller, a regular guest, because of his links with the lobbying firm Definers Public Affairs. They ‘ultimately found it impossible to square that work with the values of our company’.
Definers – for those who missed it – is currently caught up in a media storm regarding some advisory work it had been doing for Facebook. In researching an anti-Facebook campaign (Freedom from Facebook), Definers supposedly provided Zuckerberg’s team with information linking the group to the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a notorious bogeyman for conservatives.
The accusation – a pretty tenuous one based on evidence so far – is that Definers were somehow complicit in furthering the ongoing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories leveled at Soros in the darker corners of the internet. For the liberal Pod bros, that put Miller beyond the pale.
In a statement posted on Medium (which, to Miller’s credit, is probably the most comprehensive account of the whole affair), Miller denies he did anything dirty, pointing out that his work for Definers was pretty standard fair. He also notes that he’s been consistently critical of those right-wing figures who have indulged in anti-Soros conspiracies (including during his Cuck Zone segment on Pod itself).
In publicly excommunicating Miller, the Pod crew are indulging in an odd kind of virtue-signaling: positioning themselves as whiter-than-white to gain left wing approval. Moreover, there’s something hugely disingenuous in implying that Miller’s work was anything other than standard public affairs work – something which Pod’s hosts, two of whom are accomplished lobbyists, would have surely known.
The Pod bros are hardly the first Obama alumnus to cash in on their connections. Former White House staffer David Plouffe went on to lobby for Uber (where he was fined $90,000 by Chicago’s city administration for violating ethics rules) before being hired by Mark Zuckerberg himself. The firm 32 Advisors – which lobbies on behalf of foreign governments and big business – is renowned for hiring ex-Obama staffers. The President’s former spokesman Robert Gibbs took on lucrative contracts from the autocratic Qatari monarchy. I wonder if the Pod’s hosts — or founder Jon Favreau’s other company, Fenway Strategies — have ever taken any money that doesn’t ‘square with the values’ they purport to hold.
Now that Miller has been dropped, it will be curious to see whether there’s any outpouring of support for him on social media or the conservative blogs. Sadly, I suspect not. With online politics increasingly consolidating into a fight between two antagonistic tribes – the unapologetic pro-Trumpers and the tiresome woke left – those caught outside of the base camps are left isolated.
If Miller were to take the classic MAGA response – to stick it to Soros with both barrels and whinge about being censored – he could probably count on scores of retweets, angry petitions, and supportive op-eds. Sadly, as a non-tribal conservative, Miller is unlikely to garner any ‘organized sympathy’ – the currency which increasingly drives Twitter debates – even if he happens to be in the right.
In short, the whole affair is a sorry mess: a good podcast just dumped one of its stand-out guests purely to boost its liberal image – and all because of a non-story over lobbying. Pod save us all.