Citations Needed
Citations Needed
Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson
Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.
News Brief: Law & Order's Boring Anti-Bail Reform Diatribe
Five days before the midterm elections, the long-running NBC staple removed all subtlety and character work and explicitly lobbied against bail reform in a ham-fisted, boring slog of an episode. With guest Juwan J. Holmes.
Nov 23
43 min
Episode 171: The Vacuity of "Radical Libs Forced Voters Into the Arms of the Right" Discourse
"How The Left Created Trump," revealed Rob Hoffman in Politico in November 2016. "Blame liberals for the rise of Donald Trump," insisted S.E. Cupp in The Chicago Tribune the year before. "How the left enabled fascism," explained David Winner in The New Statesman in 2018. For decades, we’ve been fed a narrative that the rise of any right-wing tendency is the fault of leftists and liberal scolds. The electoral appeal and success of fascist movements and politicians, we’re told, is first and foremost a reaction to blue-haired wokeness warriors whose language and protests alienate and antagonize Real People. These Real People, then, have no choice but to shift further right, where they find a political home – typically shared with the likes of faux-populists like J.D. Vance, Josh Hawley, and Tucker Carlson – that makes them feel included and represents their best interests. It’s a convenient refrain. Instead of placing the blame on wealthy and powerful right-wingers and centrists who actually benefit from the preservation of reactionary politics, or giving credit to left-wing activists for challenging devastating right-wing policies, this narrative instead demonizes the powerless, while insisting that those who are fighting for a better world should simply give up, lest their agitative ways turn off potential allies and create another Trump. Who does this narrative benefit, and how do both overtly right-wing and ostensibly liberal legacy media allow it to persist? On this episode, we dissect the concept that reactionaries’ politics are the result not of their own interests, but of a snarky, out-of-touch Lefties who say mean things and simply bring up racism, imperialism and other injustices too much, and if they simply went away, the Trump right would starve itself to death and be replaced by moderate, reasonable National Review politicians. Our guest is The Dig's Daniel Denvir.
Nov 16
1 hr 16 min
Episode 170: The Shallow, Audience-Flattering Appeal of the ‘Neither Right Nor Left’ Guy
"Clinton Says He's Not Leaning Left but Taking a New 'Third Way,'" reported The New York Times in 1992. "It's not left. It’s not right. It’s forward!" proclaimed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang during a 2019 Democratic debate. "Neither left nor right," reads the slogan of far-right French political party Front National. Every few years we hear about a new, trailblazing political vision that transcends traditional party lines, leaning not to the right or the left, but straight ahead. No longer, we're told, must we conform to antiquated political notions of "liberal" or "conservative," nor must we continue to tolerate the corrupt duopoly. Instead, we can embrace a forward-thinking alternative; a third way; a modern, pragmatic and new political paradigm. But for all the talk of moving "beyond left and right," there sure is a lot of right-wing sentiment. Rhetoric like this almost exclusively comes from neo-fascists, libertarians, and centrists – Glenn Beck, Bill Clinton, Andrew Yang, and the like – and virtually never from figures on the Left. Why is that? What political purpose does the false notion of transcending right and left serve? And why does this hackneyed concept continue to surface and resonate? On this episode, we examine the vacuous nature of claiming to reject political categories of "right" and "left." We analyze how this rhetoric disguises garden-variety right-wing austerity politics as a novel, barrier-breaking political vision, as well as how it taps into real frustrations with political systems, but obscures and absolves the causes of these frustrations through sleazy, sales-pitch style tactics. Our guest is writer Osita Nwanevu.
Nov 9
1 hr 12 min
Episode 169: How the Right Ventriloquizes "The Working Man" to Push Pro-Corporate Policy and Gut Welfare
"Yes, undocumented immigrants take jobs from working Americans. Here’s the proof," an opinion piece in The Washington Post tells us. "Save our truckers, not affluent students seeking a free ride," pleads longtime Republican consultant Douglas MacKinnon in The Hill. "Biden's Student Debt Cancellation Robs Hard-Working Americans, Will Make Inflation Even Worse," proclaims a so-called Expert Statement from the Heritage Foundation. There’s a warning we hear again and again, particularly from the Right: A policy that would actually help people must be stopped, because it’ll harm the Working Man. According to demagogues like Tucker Carlson and JD Vance – as well as many of their more liberal counterparts – immigration, labor organizing, protest rights, and student debt cancellation simply can’t be allowed, lest they harm hardworking, meat-and-potatoes plumbers and truckers. But these cynical admonitions disguise some very important truths. Progressive policies serve the interests of many of these plumbers and truckers, many of whom might want to organize their workplaces or have their debt relieved. And the supposed menaces of job-stealing immigrants or entitled lawyers who want others to pay off their loans aren't actually responsible for depressed wages or plummeting standards of living–corporations bolstered by U.S. policymaking are. On this episode, we examine the right-wing trope of ventriloquizing an imaginary “Working Man” in order to divert attention from policies that serve the corporate bottom line, We’ll detail how this tactic obscures class dynamics between labor and capital, reinforces racist conceptions that harm workers of color, and ultimately suppresses the rights of all workers while absolving their employers of wrongdoing. Our guest is filmmaker, author and Debt Collective co-founder Astra Taylor
Nov 2
1 hr 8 min
News Brief: Fentanyl In Our Halloween Candy and Liberal Messaging Failures of the Overdose Crisis
In this Halloween themed News Brief, we debunk the idea drug dealers are handing out fentanyl candy to our children. But we also examine why these copaganda panics are able to take hold: namely the failure of liberals to provide an alternative, non-carceral vision for how to handle the very real and urgent overdose crisis.
Oct 28
41 min
A Citations Needed Live Show Beg-a-Thon: The Morality Politics of Star Trek + Pro Wrestling
In this Live Show Beg-a-Thon, recorded 10/20, we discuss the morality politics of Star Trek and Pro Wrestling with guests are Robert Greene II and Brandi Collins-Dexter.
Oct 26
2 hr
A Friendly PSA: Support Citations Needed, Win Some Merch!
Citations Needed is now in its sixth season. Over the past five years, we've dropped 170 episodes and over 125 news briefs. We've been joined by hundreds of amazing guests. We've done live shows, AMAs, newsletters and special interviews. Our small team does all the research, writing, recording, editing, pre-production, production, post-production, transcription, promotion and distribution. We love doing the show and we have more great episodes on the way. But first, we're doing our first PBS-style fundraiser, tote bags and all. Since we started, we've always been listener-supported. We've never run ads or had corporate sponsors. It's the way we want it - to stay totally independent. And for that, we rely on you, our listeners, fans and supporters. So, it's finally fundraiser time. Go to to support the show. Next week, new and current supporters will be in the running for official Citations Needed swag - mugs, tote bags, t-shirts and sweatshirts - and nine lucky folks will get copies of recent pod guest Brandi Collins-Dexter's new book, "Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future." But you have to be a subscriber to win stuff! Sign up to support the show by 12am on Monday, October 24 to be eligible. Thanks for all your support. We can't do this without you.
Oct 22
3 min
News Brief: DC Media's "Fare Evasion" Meltdown
In this public News Brief, "DC Media's 'Fare Evasion' Meltdown," we discuss local TV news, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal's breathless coverage of so-called "fare evasion" and how our media decides which theft to care about and which to ignore.
Oct 19
21 min
News Brief: Young Turks' Misleading Anti-Bail Reform Demagoguery
In this public News Brief, we discuss the nominally progressive news network's lies and omissions when covering efforts to reduce the US's unprecedented jail and prison population.
Oct 5
36 min
Ep. 168: How Faux Folksy "Real World" Advice is Employed to Limit Political Possibility and Punch Left
"Increasing Numbers of US Students Look for a ‘Real’ World," read a 1965 headline from the magazine Moderator. "Academics: Get Real!," the Harvard Business Review implored in 2009. "‘Defund the police’ runs into reality," the Washington Post warned in 2021. "As Latin America Shifts Left, Leaders Face a Short Honeymoon," the New York Times declared in 2022.   We're often reminded that anyone who espouses some degree of left-wing politics – whether a student, activist, political leader, or anyone in between – is at odds with the "real world." Academics, especially those in the humanities, sit in their ivory towers. Organizers and demonstrators against state violence have their heads in the clouds. Elected leaders campaigning on elevating living standards don’t know what they're in for. But who's in charge of determining what’s ‘realistic’? Or what "the real world" is exactly? Why is studying theory, fighting for better healthcare, or working toward poverty reduction any less ‘real’ than plugging away at a spreadsheet for a weapons manufacturer or venture capital firm? And how did this pat and folksy concept of the "real world" emerge as a go-to dunk on eggheads and activists? On this episode, we seek to answer these questions, as we examine the canard that anyone to the left of a Goldman Sachs executive isn't living in or contributing to the "real world." Our guest is Street Fight Radio's Bryan Quinby.
Sep 28
1 hr 16 min
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