Kickass News
Kickass News
Kickass News
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Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit Thanks for listening!
Legendary Newsman Dan Rather
Legendary newsman Dan Rather talks about his 60 year career and how his travels and conversations have given him a “wide shot” of the American experience and the values that unite us.  He condemns recent attacks on some on those values (including freedom of the press), he shares his own family's experience during the Great Depression as a lesson in empathy, and he recalls how his time spent with men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Medger Evers opened his eyes to institutionalized racism in America.  He talks frankly about how his own thinking has evolved on some social issues, and he weighs in on the recent rash of sexual harassment scandals that have rocked the news business.  He discusses a few of the dozen Presidents he’s known in his 60 years as a journalist and reveals the one word that has always carried Dan Rather through good times and bad. Order Dan Rather's book WHAT UNITES US: REFLECTIONS ON PATRIOTISM on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold.  Follow him on twitter at @DanRather or at   See for privacy information.
Oct 29
41 min
Lenny Kravitz Reveals How He Found His Voice
Grammy-wining musician Lenny Kravitz shares how his parents' biracial marriage and very different personalities fostered what he calls his "gemini soul," how his mom, actress Roxy Roker from TV's The Jeffersons, inspired the artist in him, and how he and his dad still found connection through music even as their relationship deteriorated. He recalls the rock concert that changed his life, the first song he ever wrote, and sneaking out of his parents' house every night to explore LA’s thriving music scene when he was in high school.  Lenny discusses his early music career, why he turned down lucrative record deals even though he was living out of his car,  and how he originally crafted a persona for himself in the style of popular 80s new wave artists like Prince and David Bowie.  He explains how his romance with The Cosby Show’s Lisa Bonet led him to find his authentic voice and record the album that would change his life, and says that "Let Love Rule" remains the guiding principle of his life. Order Lenny Kravitz's new memoir Let Love Rule on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold.  Follow him at and on Twitter at @LennyKravitz. See for privacy information.
Oct 26
39 min
Peter Frampton Comes Alive
Rock legend Peter Frampton talks about the making of that seminal rock album Frampton Comes Alive! and the story of his famous guitar that he nicknamed "The Phoenix."  He recalls learning to play guitar by ear when he was a boy, growing up with another future rock legend David Bowie, and what it was like to be in high school during the day and perform in a rock band at night.  He tells the story of the time he barely escaped Noriega’s Panama with his life, how he took the the news of the death of his former bandmate Steve Marriot, and how his recent diagnosis with a debilitating muscle disease has put an end to his touring days, but not to his writing and recording.  Plus Peter shares memories of working with the Beatles, Phil Spector, and many others. Order Peter Frampton's new book Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold.  Keep up with him at and on Twitter at @peterframpton. See for privacy information.
Oct 22
38 min
John Cleese on Creativity
As the actor and writer behind Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and films like A Fish Called Wanda, John Cleese is among the most creative minds in entertainment.  He opens up about his writing process, why he often finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places, and how you can foster creativity in whatever you do.  He explains why overconfidence is the enemy of creativity, where he gets his particular disdain for pompous politicians and feckless authority figures, and why he says that people in charge are always uncomfortable around comedians.  John reveals how he and the Pythons came up with that classic "Dead Parrot" sketch, the curmudgeonly hotel manager who served as the real life inspiration for his character in Fawlty Towers, and the moment when he first realized that he was funny.  Plus he shares why he turned down a Lordship, why believes that Prince Charles will make a good king, and why you couldn't even pay him to have dinner with Prince William. Order his book CREATIVITY: A SHORT ANS CHEERFUL GUIDE on Amazon or wherever books are sold, and follow him on twitter at @JohnCleese. See for privacy information.
Oct 19
58 min
Senator Ben Sasse on Political Division and Breaking w/ Trump
Senator Ben Sasse does a deep dive into the societal shifts affecting modern American life and the roots of our political divisiveness.  He talk about the outsized role politics plays in our daily lives, how "polititainment" celebrities like Sean Hannity are fueling dangerous tribalism in America, and how to build a healthier tribe of family and friends instead of political outrage.  He shares recent data that indicates that Americans are feeling increasingly lonely, and explains how the digital economy and smart technology are leading us to pull up our roots and lose our sense of community.  He then reveals how his own family has embraced the idea of a "digital Sabbath" and shares a few of his favorite tips for unplugging and living in the moment.  Plus I ask Senator Ben Sasse if he’s still comfortable with a GOP that has remade itself in President Trump's image. Order Senator Ben Sasse's important new book Them: Why We Hate Each Other--and How to Heal on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold, and follow him on twitter at @SenSasse.   See for privacy information.
Oct 16
50 min
Google's Eric Schmidt
Former Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt discusses how former college football coach Bill Campbell mentored him and many of Silicon Valley's greatest visionaries from Jeff Bezos and Larry Page to Marc Andreessen and Steve Jobs.  Eric recalls how he initially reacted when venture capitalist John Doerr suggested that he work with a coach, how Coach Campbell helped shape the relationship between Eric and Google's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and how the coach talked Eric out of resigning as Google’s CEO in 2004.  He shares how Bill Campbell coached teams more than individuals, and talks about the importance of trust and even love to a company's success.  Eric opens up about his decision to step down as Executive Chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet in 2017 and his next big bet on the positive potential of artificial intelligence.  Plus Eric Schmidt reveals why starting a meeting with some little polite chit-chat isn't just a waste of time and the power of hugs in the workplace. Order Eric's book Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  See for privacy information.
Oct 13
34 min
Tim Robbins on Defeating Tyranny with Satire
Oscar-winning actor/writer/director/producer Tim Robbins shares how he originally developed his latest project Bobo Supreme as a movie with the director Adam McKay, but he was inspired to adapt his screenplay for an auditory medium when the pandemic shut down film production. He reveals how he managed to record with 35 different actors in 35 different locations simultaneously during quarantine, and how it has given him a renewed appreciation for the radio dramas of Orson Welles and his Mercury Radio Theater.  We talk about taking down tyrants through satire, comedy as a welcome break from our toxic addiction to doom scrolling, and how Tim’s career in Hollywood has given him some insight into the fragile, narcissistic id of Donald Trump.  Tim offers some hopeful speculation on how the movie business may transform in the wake of Covid-19 and what it will take to reopen live theaters such as his own repertory group The Actors Gang.  Plus, how Joe Biden won Tim over, the enduring relevance of his film Bob Roberts, and why you probably won’t see a sequel to that seminal political mockumentary any time soon. Episode 1 of Bobo Supreme debuts today, October 8 on Patreon.  Visit or to listen.  Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimRobbins1. See for privacy information.
Oct 8
44 min
99% Invisible's Roman Mars on How People, Politics, and Pandemics Impact Design
99% Invisible host Roman Mars discusses his new book why it’s taken him a decade to finally write a 99% Invisible book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, all of the thought that this design fan put into the look of his first book, and some of the secret publishing considerations that determine everything from how many units get returned to whether a book gets sold by Costco.  We talk about the baseball player who became synonymous with stairs to nowhere and other architectural elements that have outlasted their usefulness, how the lost art of neon tube bending is making a comeback, and how residents, local governments, and more affect the look and character of a neighborhood.  For instance, Roman shares how taxes have impacted the shape buildings throughout history, and the role that design plays in making our public spaces safer and our cities more pedestrian friendly during the current pandemic.  Plus we talk about creepy dolls, librarians on a power trip, the beautiful hideousness of city flags, and San Francisco's love/hate relationship with the TransAmerica pyramid. Order Roman's his book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design.  You can listen to 99% Invisible wherever you listen to podcasts or at  Follow Roman and the show on Twitter at @RomanMars and @99piorg, and be sure to check out the whole lineup of Radiotopia podcasts at  Today's episode is sponsored by Kestra Financial.     See for privacy information.
Oct 5
44 min
H.R. McMaster Looks at America's Greatest Challenges to Come
Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster served in the US Army for 34 years and then as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump.  He discusses what it was like to take over that job in the chaotic period following the firing of his predecessor Michael Flynn, how studying LBJ's mistakes during the War in Vietnam made him even more determined to provide the current Commander-in-Chief with straight-forward, unvarnished policy advice, and why he believes that some others in the White House might not have had the same lofty motivations.  He talks about the value of empathy in national security and some of the biggest challenges America faces from an emboldened China that is taking advantage of the Covid crisis to advance it’s own agenda to a Russia that he says is determined to drag America down with it.  He he explains why the war in Afghanistan is really a one year war fought over and over 20 times, why he believes that his departure from the Trump Administration was partly the result of a social media smear campaign by Russian cyber-trolls, how the National Security Council put a strategy in place for a global pandemic (and what went wrong). Order his new book Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World.  Today's episode was sponsored by Freeform's new series Kal Penn Approves This Message, now streaming new episodes on Wednesdays on Hulu.   See for privacy information.
Oct 1
47 min
John Lithgow Takes on Trump with Rhyme and Verse
John Lithgow shares some of his favorite poems from his new book Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age and how a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous song inspired him to express his political voice through rhyme and verse.  He reveals that he originally wanted to go into fine art instead of acting, how his poetry books have returned him to his childhood love of drawing, and why the motley cast of characters around Donald Trump serve as endless sources of inspiration for his humorous illustrations.  We also discuss his magnificent turns as Roger Ailes and Winston Churchill on screen, how this classically trained actor was convinced to play an alien on the hit sitcom Third Rock from the Sun, and how Twilight Zone: The Movie has made him every flight attendant’s favorite star.  We talk about his series of books and albums for children, we dig into his dark poem about the President’s deadly mishandling of the Coronavirus, and John ponders whether might he one day want to star as Trumpty Dumpty himself.   Order his book Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  Be sure to check out some of John's celebrity video readings of Trumpty Dumpty on Youtube and follow John on Twitter @JohnLithgo.  Today's episode was sponsored by Freeform's new series Kal Penn Approves This Message, now streaming new episodes on Wednesdays on Hulu.   See for privacy information.
Sep 28
45 min
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