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In our first TRNN podcast, we discuss a viewer letter that says Paul Jay underestimates the danger of Putin – with Marc Steiner, Dharna Noor and Paul Jay

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MARC STEINER: What am I saying? Welcome to The Real News Podcast?

PAUL JAY: Yeah, the first.

DHARNA NOOR: Well, I mean, we have a podcast. Just not this one.

PAUL JAY: That’s a Baltimore podcast. It’s the first Real News podcast.

DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to the other Real News Podcast.

MARC STEINER: Welcome to this Real News Podcast. I’m Marc Steiner. Good to have you with us today. And I’m here with the editor-in-chief here at The Real News, Paul Jay, and our chief climate correspondent Dharna Noor. Folks, good to have you all in the studio at one time.

PAUL JAY: Thank you, Marc.


MARC STEINER: Let’s start this way. The last time I talked to you, Paul, on the air, I got a response from a friend of mine who could not get it on the website. And this is what he wrote. Nick Sheridan. He wrote: Hey, Marc. Distressed to read–so he must have read the transcript–your noncritical interview with Paul Jay, where he invents the term ‘Russophobia’ to whitewash Putin for what he did toward democracy in 2016, and appears to be continuing. Apparently even the corrupt Russian oligarchs are the fault of the United States, not Russia. So how do you respond to the viewer of Real News?

PAUL JAY: First of all, it’s a great letter, because of something I was wanting to explain during our session, or give my opinion about. And because of time I didn’t get a chance to expand on it.

And first of all, I didn’t invent the term ‘Russophobia.’ We didn’t know whether to call it Russophobia, Russiphobia. Roos–we didn’t know what to call-

MARC STEINER: Ruskiphobia.

PAUL JAY: We looked at what- [laughter]. We looked at what other people were calling it. And we found in the Nation and some other places this term Russophobia. But the real point he raises is even, even the rise of the oligarchs, he says, saying I I’m saying, is even the Americans’ fault.

MARC STEINER: And you’re not saying that.

PAUL JAY: I’m not saying that. And to use an old Marxist terminology, and I don’t mind once in a while, because I have a lot of respect for what Marx had to say, there’s a thing in dialectical and historical materialism, and the framing goes like this. The basis of change is internal; the condition for change is external. So it doesn’t matter what the Americans might have done if the socialist system in the Soviet Union hadn’t degenerated, if it hadn’t become such a bureaucracy. I mean, who were–a lot of the oligarchs, most of the oligarchs, were actually party functionaries who wanted to get rich. This was an internal development of the way socialism, whatever you want to call that system, what it became.

So that’s the basis of change, is the degeneration of socialism in the Soviet Union. And whether the Americans were involved or not, that process had its own legs. On the other hand, after 1990, shock therapy, the Americans were very involved in supporting Yeltsin, were very involved in creating this free-for-all to loot the publicly owned assets of the Soviet Union and turn them into private assets. Now, I think the Americans, in fact, were very disappointed that most of those assets went into the hands of what became the Russian oligarchy. And I think that’s part of the contradiction that still exists, why there’s antagonism for the current Russian government and Russian oligarchy. Because the Americans said, geez, after all these years we finally bring down the Soviet Union, and we don’t get our hands on the oil and all the riches?

So I am not saying that this is primarily an American thing that gave rise to the oligarchy. But as external condition, sure, it played a significant role in how it unfolded.

MARC STEINER: Dharna, are you going to say something? Before I-

DHARNA NOOR: No, no. I mean. I can hold my question.

MARC STEINER: You don’t have to.

DHARNA NOOR: I guess–I’m wondering if you think that any of those sort of, like, McCarthyist impulses, and that, that history of that—whatever, sort of manufactured backlash to socialism has anything to do with, now, the corporate media’s focus on the apparent interference of Russia in the election in 2016? Or are they two completely separate issues?

MARC STEINER: Well, they’re all interconnected.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah. And I mean, how could they not be.

PAUL JAY: Yeah. It’s all interconnected. But let me kind of split this up a bit. I do not know whether or not the Russians did something or another in the elections itself. I find it perfectly believable that they might have. I find it perfectly believable that they did next to nothing and it’s being exaggerated.


PAUL JAY: I think there’s plenty of smoke and fire on the corruption side; links between Trump and money laundering. And there’s lots of–looks like some real stuff there. And perhaps there was real stuff. Certainly in terms of digging up dirt, Russian intelligence knows some stuff that Trump could use against Clinton, were there contacts at that level. And it seems very possible. And we know there’s certainly some meetings took place that looks like that’s what they’re for.

That being said, this is normal stuff. This is minor stuff in the scheme of how competing mid- and big capitalist countries relate to each other. It’s being blown up to such a significance not because the American media cares about American democracy, because if they cared about American democracy, clearly, as I’ve been saying all along, there’s far, far greater threats to American democracy coming from the billionaires of America.


MARC STEINER: Well, I mean, a couple of things. I mean, I think that … First of all, what … The issue about Russia is huge, because, I mean, I’m one of those who does believe they interfered in this election. The evidence points directly to their interference in this election.

PAUL JAY: I mean, at some point I’ll ask you what evidence. But anyway, go on.

MARC STEINER: Well, we can get into that. But the other part is I don’t think they were the–as I wrote back to my friend who wrote in, I don’t think that their interference-

DHARNA NOOR: Was the deciding factor.

MARC STEINER: Was the deciding factor in Hillary Clinton losing this election. So I think that’s something I’m always saying, is yes, but no. And we have to be clear about that.

But the other thing is that the reason I think sometimes the arguments like we’re making here at this moment people don’t pay attention to, don’t care about, is because people are more concerned with what–some people are more concerned–with the ascendancy of this right-wing, racist, nationalist group seizing a huge portion of political power in this country. That’s what people are worried about. That’s why people who were for Bernie ended up working–most of them, anyway–either working for or voting for Hillary. Because of that. And the reason people don’t care about the oligarch question, I think, is because they’re really concerned about what’s happening to this country, and where Trump is taking it.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, and what kind of oligarchs we’re getting.

MARC STEINER: And clearly, Trump had dealings with Russia. Clearly his business dealings were involved there. All these folks around him are going to fall. And I think he may or may not fall on this. Who knows? We’ll see how the political issue unravels in the Senate. I mean, he Congress will probably vote to impeach, is my guess in the next session, at some point the question is whether the Senate will, I think, have to vote on it one way or the other once Congress impeaches, the House impeaches. I mean, so I think there is a ‘there’ there. I just don’t think that’s what caused Trump to win.

PAUL JAY: Well, I don’t think there’s any question it isn’t what caused Trump to win. But the–this is why you have to separate two issues. If they can, you know, from the interest of real democracy, not the BS democracy they claim Russia interfered with, but in terms of the rights of people and the savage attack of the Trump administration on the people, the more the elites fight, the more they wound this far-right administration and the pools of capital behind him, the better. What I don’t like, and why I think we need to say, don’t use this to stoke the fires of the Cold War and American chauvinism, and don’t create illusions about who Putin is, either. We can do all of the above. We do not have to prettify Putin, and-

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, as though he’s some socialist hero, or something.

PAUL JAY: Well, no, that is, if he’s the devil.

DHARNA NOOR: Oh, sure. Sure.

PAUL JAY: Or prettify him that he’s not the devil. He’s neither the devil, or is the devil. And it’s not just about Putin. I mean, Putin is going to leave the stage of history sooner or later. It’s about a whole class of oligarchs; a state that came into being to deal with the chaos of the ’90s. But mostly to deal with it in the interest of the rising class of oligarchs. So we’re dealing with a state. And that state has criminal elements to it. Certainly the oligarchs have all kinds of criminality. The state led by Putin, allied with this far right Russian Orthodox Church. Putin’s extremely clever in the way he plays with right-wing organizations and nurtures them in Europe, and then plays with lefties through RT in North America. But let’s not forget it’s a midlevel, small–relatively small economy, small military force.

MARC STEINER: I think what you’re–

PAUL JAY: Let me finish the point. So let’s-

MARC STEINER: Yeah, OK. But you’re, you’re making, you’re diminishing their power too much. That’s not–you are, you are.

PAUL JAY: I’m not diminishing their power. Look at the, look at the actual numbers. I mean, the actual size of the economy–the problem is the American chauvinism runs deep in the American left. And they want to attack the Russians as if it’s anything close to the criminality of the Americans.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, I think-

PAUL JAY: You can’t even compare the two.

DHARNA NOOR: And I think especially, like when I hear people my age who are, sort of, have broad Democratic Party allegiance, there’s a lot of pearl clutching when it comes to potential Russian interference in the elections when there is no understanding of the amount of–the history of American interference in so many elections, and the U.S.’s complete disinterest in any self-determination in Latin America, or in the Middle East. Arming of, you know, groups that are directly in opposition to those sort of democratic forces. And that, I think, is a sort of forgotten history in this sort of coverage that you see on CNN or an MSNBC. But again, I don’t think that’s to say that it’s not possible that there was interference, just like–as though interference in a democratic process is weird or unheard of.

MARC STEINER: And I think there’s a history of the Soviet Union before Russia, the Russian government now, and the U.S., being involved in elections in Europe. Both trying to involve themselves in elections in Europe. And we talked about Italy before. Italy is one of the major examples where that happened. And I think that–Russia’s economy may be nowhere near as powerful as the United States economy or China’s economy. I don’t think there’s any question about that. But their political influence is huge. Huge around the globe.

PAUL JAY: Not even close to the United States and China. Like, in a–like, in such a minor league way. Maybe along its borders, yeah. It’s a regional power.

MARC STEINER: But strategically, I mean, whether it’s–whether it’s Russia’s support of Assad, and what’s happening in Syria. I mean, the internal stuff; the repression against the Muslims inside of Russia, repression against Muslims in China. All that’s taking place as well.

PAUL JAY: Wait a second. I’m not in any way suggesting this isn’t a repressive, autocratic–it could very easily become a very nationalist, even fascist state. Those forces exist there. But let’s not in any way diminish what the reality of the balance of this is. I mean, what the United States has done since World War II, its global footprint–you know, from Vietnam, to what they did in Africa, to Iraq. I mean, go on and on about it. There’s nothing that this current Russian state has done outside its own borders that compares with the scale of the crimes of the United States. And it’s a very chauvinist position not–when you’re an American–to not keep reminding people of that. Otherwise you create this BS illusion that America has always fought-

Like, here’s the American logic. And a lot of the left falls for this crap. America does bad things, but for good reasons. American intent’s always good. Yeah, we supported a bunch of dictators, but we really wanted democracy. Of course, everyone else does bad things for bad reasons. And that’s BS.

MARC STEINER: You were going to say, Dharna?

DHARNA NOOR: I mean that’s–yeah, that’s what I was saying, as well. But I don’t–I think that there are segments of the American left that turn that into and therefore, there is nothing bad about Russia. And that’s not what you’re saying at all. You’re still admitting, like, yes, OK. It’s a state where there’s, you know, it’s rife with authoritarianism. There is still an oligarchy. It’s just not an oligarchy that has as much power as the U.S.

PAUL JAY: Like, you know how critical I am of Saudi Arabia. I mean, there’s not a thing about that Saudi state that shouldn’t be savaged. The criminality they’re responsible for, and on and on and on. It’s still nothing compared to what the United States has done. And in fact, the Saudis couldn’t even do what they want to do. In fact, when Trump said you wouldn’t last two weeks without us, it’s true. But just at the scale of the crimes, you know, American foreign policy is just that a level that no one approaches.

MARC STEINER: Look, I–a couple of things. It’s interesting, the reactions I’m having to the conversation here. Visceral–it’s almost that-

PAUL JAY: Especially a guy who’s been fighting against U.S. foreign policy his whole life.


PAUL JAY: Yeah, you. I mean, I’m talking about you. And for anyone who’s listening, Marc Steiner, this guy has been an activist against the American oligarchs his whole life.

MARC STEINER: So I guess part of it is that … The reason, I guess–here’s what my visceral reaction was–that you can’t organize in the United States and organize in opposition in the United States to change the nature of this country, political politically it’s this country, and act as if we hate this country. Which some people do sometimes, right? You can’t do that, because people aren’t going to buy it. Because nationalist feelings are nationalist feelings no matter where you come from, and people have them. Most people have them. So I’m just saying that.

And the other part is, of course, the United States–I mean, one of the things that I will give the New York Times in this is they did a series of really good articles about the Russian intervention focusing on what the Americans have done in elections for the last 60 years on this planet, and interrupting other people’s elections, and overthrowing Arbenz. And overthrowing Mossadeq in Iran, and Arbenz in Guatemala, and the interference in the Italian election, the Chilean election.

PAUL JAY: And the Canadian.

MARC STEINER: And that Diefenbaker. Nobody knows Diefenbaker unless you’re Canadian. But they did, in 1961.

PAUL JAY: They overthrew Diefenbaker.

MARC STEINER: They overthrew Diefenbaker.

PAUL JAY: Because he wouldn’t accept nuclear missiles on Canadian soil.

MARC STEINER: Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, that’s all real. And I think we–but I think that there’s got to be a bridge here between that understanding and the deep fear that a majority of Americans have about Trump and what he represents. Which is why there is this broad coalition in this country that’s happening, even though it’s very divisive internally, a broad coalition confronting this, because the ugliest, meanest, most racist, vile elements in our country, this country, in the United States, are in ascendancy. That’s a real danger.

People argue with me about, well, you know, why did Valerie–my wife, who also works here–why did she go to Pennsylvania door to door for Hillary Clinton? And if you ask her, she’ll say because you had to stop that racist bastard and the people around him from getting into the White House. That’s the fear people have. So sometimes when you, when we end up, we end up–feel like we’re sounding as if we’re defending Russia, which I know you’re not saying, Paul. But the reality is people care less about that than they do about if Russia was involved and Trump was involved and his people were involved, maybe that’s the way we can stop them and get rid of them. That’s–you know, I mean, that’s …

PAUL JAY: I get–I get where you’re headed here. See, my response is we should not stoke the fires of chauvinism, we should not bring up the ghosts and demons of the Cold War, take advantage of this horrible mentality of demonizing others, especially Russia, but it’s easily going to be China any, look at your watch, tomorrow, in order to make the point that this far-right administration needs to come down, that we cannot allow the far right of the United States to take over power. Because in the long run it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass, because that–I’ll give you a concrete example, the demonization of Iran.

Now, I don’t defend the Iran administration. And I make a point at The Real News that we’ve done a lot of stories about worker strikes in Iran. The jailing of the head of the bus drivers union, and the repression, and the executions. I mean, the Iranian–if I were an Iranian, I would fight to overthrow-

MARC STEINER: Absolutely. Right.

PAUL JAY: This theocratic kind–it’s not fair to call it fascist, because next to the Saudis it’s bloody democratic. On the other hand, it’s a very reactionary, repressive state.


PAUL JAY: We always say that. On the other hand, the demonization of the state in order to prepare conditions to try to either overthrow it, or bomb it, or start a war with it, we never shut up about that. Shut up about that. I mean, our point is it’s our job to tell the whole truth. And if the world’s a little complicated, then we better say so and try to get people clear about it. We can do both. We can say don’t stoke the fires of hysterical chauvinism about Russia. Tell the truth about a repressive regime in Russia. Tell the truth about what’s wrong with Trump. But let’s fight Trump based on his horrible attacks on the American people, not some minor stuff about Russia that some day could help start a war with Russia.

I mean, I did these interviews with Ellsberg. You know, don’t unseriously the possibilities of nuclear war with Russia, even if it starts accidentally. But it could be accidentally within a time of extreme tension.

MARC STEINER: Well, I mean, what’s happened is we’ve forgotten completely in this country how dangerous and how real the possibility is of a nuclear war. I mean, it used to be on everybody’s mind. You know, if you grew up in a certain era, as I did, in this country, you remember hiding under the desk. That was going to happen to you in a moment. I remember the Russian–the Cuban missile crisis. And I was in high school, and we all thought we were going to die that day, that the war was going to start, and we were all going to be dead.

PAUL JAY: Yeah, me too.

MARC STEINER: Yeah. I mean, it’s–you know. So …

PAUL JAY: We used to do the going under the desks-

DHARNA NOOR: Now we do that about school shootings.

MARC STEINER: Right. So your ass out of the desk–and that was going to help you, with your ass sticking out of the desk, and your head dow on the floor. Yeah, Dharna, please.

DHARNA NOOR: Well, I guess maybe the sort of obvious viewer question in response to what you said, though, then, Paul, is like, where are the Real News stories about workers going on strike in Russia, or where’s the stories about opposition in Russia to Putin?

PAUL JAY: Oh, we’ve done them.

DHARNA NOOR: Right, but-

PAUL JAY: In fact, one of the earliest stories we did was about the killing of journalists in Russia.

DHARNA NOOR: Agreed. And I think the answer is like, yeah, we want to do more of everything, and there’s only so many of us, and we only have so many hours to do [crosstalk].

PAUL JAY: Well, we just did a multipart series with Alexander Buzgalin. And a lot of that was about the rise of this autocratic state. About–you know, and it’s an objective process. You had this chaos. And in order to have some normalization of capitalism in the chaos of the ’90s they needed a very strong state that could start normalizing laws. Why? So the oligarchs could make even more money. You know, they didn’t do it because they wanted to have some anything else. It’s driven by the interest of the oligarchs. But it’s an objective process. It’s not about evil Putin, the richest man in the world who’s trying to take over. I mean, this is, this is chauvinism, when you talk like that.

MARC STEINER: Putin is not trying to take over the United States.

PAUL JAY: No. It’s not even trying to take over the world, because he can’t. Trudeau in Canada, if he could be the world hegemon, he’d be there tomorrow. Sweden. There’s not a country on earth that if they could wouldn’t like to be the United States and control the world, because that’s what capitalism is.

MARC STEINER: But to say that–let’s move on, try to get another subject going here. We’ll try in a minute. But to say that Russia is not attempting to interfere in other countries’ elections, not intending to interfere so it has more power around the world, is absurd, because they are.



MARC STEINER: I mean, that’s …

PAUL JAY: And so are the Germans. [Crosstalk] No, I’m sorry, you’re wrong. I did a documentary in Albania in the late ’80s, early ’90s-

DHARNA NOOR: Should have brought popcorn.

PAUL JAY: Yeah. The engineering of the fall of the Albanian government was primarily engineered by the Germans. And then there was a fight between the Americans and the Germans, because the Americans, when the party of labor in Albania actually won the first election and was going to continue, they actually met with the undersecretary of state for the Balkans, who said to the leadership–because I happen to know somebody who was actually the secretary for Ramiz Alia, who was the chairman of the party. And he said to Ramiz Alia, we will support you if you’re going to do all these reforms. But on one condition: Not the Germans. I don’t want the Germans involved. It’s only going to be the U.S. And Ramiz Alia said no, and then they helped the Germans then bring them down.


PAUL JAY: So this contention goes on.

MARC STEINER: I understand that. But my response was because you cannot compare the intellectual power of Germany to the international influence of Russia or the actual power of the United States.

PAUL JAY: Not at this point, no.

MARC STEINER: I mean, they just don’t have it.

PAUL JAY: Not now. But it’s an enormous country and [crosstalk] so that can change.

MARC STEINER: They’re not being able to-

PAUL JAY: But if you look what Germany did to Greece-


PAUL JAY: And then what it’s doing with the EU. [Crosstalk].


PAUL JAY: But here’s my main point. We do not need to side with any of the oligarchies when they’re fighting amongst themselves. And you know, in the old lefty terminology these are interimperialist contradictions, and we don’t need to side with any of them.

MARC STEINER: I understand that. But again, I’ll come back to my main point. And my main point is that people in the United States care less about that at this moment than they do about getting rid of Trump.


MARC STEINER: That’s the main issue.

PAUL JAY: And so they should.

MARC STEINER: Because he’s–I mean, this right-wing turn, and the right wing of the wealthiest people in this country have taken power.

PAUL JAY: And I’ll tell you, this obsession with Russia is not helping bring down Trump, because the people that voted for Trump don’t give a damn.

MARC STEINER: No, they don’t care at all.

PAUL JAY: They don’t care at all.


PAUL JAY: So instead of focusing on what’s BS about Trump’s policies, focusing on Russia is not weakening him an iota, unless they bring him down legally.

MARC STEINER: I spend a lot of time–not a lot of time. I spend some time reading this stuff on Facebook. I have a lot of people, because of what I’ve done in life–so there’s this massive amount of people that are on my Facebook page. And a bunch of them are on the right. And a bunch of them are really hardcore Trump people. When you read the dialogues on their page, it’s frightening, I mean, that we have such different views of the same things that take place day after day. And what they say, and the memes they put up, and the racist and misogynist stuff that gets on their page. No matter what Trump does, they find a reason to believe that he’s right. I mean, it is really scary. I mean it’s more than anything, that kind of popularization of what Trump Has done is the most frightening thing we face.

PAUL JAY: Well, I’ll go. The problem, the reason the corporate Dems focus on this Russia stuff instead of his horrible policies, even like the–I mean, the horrible stuff of the undoing of the social safety net, whatever there was of it; even this tariffs and free trade, and this–the more they focus on substantive policies, the more you have to ask the question, well, what the hell did you do when you were in power? How did–you know, because we know that it’s the Obama years tilled the soil for the rise of Trump. Not deliberately. But the consequence of the widening inequality gap, the consequence and how the ’07-’08 crisis so benefited the finance sector, and other–you know, the billionaires, and didn’t the others. I mean, all of this helped set the table for this.

So instead of dealing with the real issues–and I’m not saying all the Democrats. There are some that certainly are focusing on policy. But the main corporate leadership–and certainly the media just loves the fest of it–is they think they can use this old chauvinism, this old warmongering mentality, and tap into that to weaken Trump. And I think, one, they’re wrong. They’re not really weakening him. And two, it’s–you know, you play with fire when you dredge up that stuff.

DHARNA NOOR: But a lot of people–I mean, a lot of people see that and agree. Look how well Rachel Maddow’s show is doing, right? Like, I don’t-

PAUL JAY: Amongst people that would never vote for Trump.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, OK. That’s fair.

PAUL JAY: It’s not influencing the people in the working-

MARC STEINER: Well, you’re not going to. Well, I don’t [agree] with that.

PAUL JAY: Working class people you’re not influencing.

MARC STEINER: Well, first of all, when you say ‘the working class,’ who we talking about?

PAUL JAY: The sections that voted for Trump, I’m saying. You’re not going to–Rachel Maddow, they don’t watch Rachel Maddow.

MARC STEINER: Because, I mean, the-

PAUL JAY: They watch Fox.

MARC STEINER: The working class is made up of a lot of brown and black people and progressive white people who are part of the working class.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, or Democrats.

PAUL JAY: Even some of them–even some of them voted for Trump.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, some of them. But like, I-

PAUL JAY: No, but I’m not talking about the sections that did vote for Trump, which is you need to influence, you’re going to change some of these electoral results.

MARC STEINER: Maybe you do, maybe don’t. Maybe you can’t, maybe that’s not what you should focus. I mean, I think-

PAUL JAY: Well, that’s a different question.

MARC STEINER: I mean, I think that what, what for me–and I guess part of my reaction sometimes the conversations we have is that I’m really less interested in this, the Russian piece, that I am about how to deal with the right wing who’s taking over the country.

DHARNA NOOR: Sure. I think that-

PAUL JAY: Yeah, except the media is- people are watching, you know, CNNs and MSNBCs, and even Fox. And 80 percent of what they talk about is the Russian piece. So you’ve got to deal with it, Because it’s what the media is harping on. Although I agree it’s not the real issue.

MARC STEINER: I mean, because what we’re, what we’re facing here–I mean, if you just take the area you’re covering all the time. Climate change, right. That the Trump administration has dismantled everything that the liberals and people further the left have forced the government to do in monitoring our environment. Every day something new tumbles out.

DHARNA NOOR: Worth noting, also, and Russia as well. Russia was one of the states that at COP24 just last week intentionally blunted the impact of this latest IPCC report that shows we might have just 12 years left to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Because they’re an oil power. And so did Saudi Arabia, and so did Kuwait. It’s not a coincidence that-

PAUL JAY: I think it’s such a–that’s such an important point, because that’s what people should be attacking Russia for, and viciously. They’re putting the whole future of the human race, civilization as we know it is at stake, and the bloody Russians are only interested in their fossil fuel. That’s what we should attack Russia for.

MARC STEINER: But the thing to me, though, is what we should be doing, thinking about, is attacking what’s happening here, in these borders. I mean, the latest piece is they’re going to, they’re trying to–I don’t know if you’ve covered this yet or not. I think you have. They’re redefining what a wetland is so they can build anywhere they want in this country.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, certainly.

MARC STEINER: And destroy drinking water for 80 percent of this country. I mean, and destroy the environment. I mean, it’s making it more difficult for solar power to take off. It’s a real danger with what these right-wing maniacs are doing in control of all that. And clearly-

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, and you combine that with the concentration of wealth, and these infrastructure plans that just incentivize higher concentrations of wealth and more privatization. The whole thing ends up being an entire mess.

MARC STEINER: I mean, we are–yeah, I think we’re in a very, very dangerous place.

PAUL JAY: Let me just–I just want to answer one thing you said earlier about talking to American people and sounding like you hate America, because I think it’s a very important question. There is–there is no such thing as just America. Yeah, there’s a country. But there’s classes in this country. And the American people one can love, one can be loyal to, one can care about. But that’s not the same thing, because the American people don’t control U.S. foreign policy. They don’t control most of the country. So when you–you know, scathingly critical of U.S. foreign policy is not to be critical of the American people, although it’s not without some, because Americans are still voting for people that run these policies. But still. [Cough] excuse me.

But the, but the issue of we’re not all in the same boat, and not all Americans are responsible for the crimes–in fact, they’re really not. They’re actually suffering from it themselves. I mean, the bottom line is the U.S. empire is not good for the American people. So when you critique these things, you’re actually defending the American people by critiquing these things.

MARC STEINER: Yes. I don’t disagree with that. I mean, my … We live in a very complex place. And one of things I’ve been thinking a lot about, just in terms of its complexity and what we’re facing here, is that the questions of race and racism in our country are so deep. I mean, that is at the bottom of what has destroyed–as part of what destroyed the union movement. That’s part of what destroyed any kind of class unity there was in taking on power in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s in this country, allowing race to tear us apart. And I think-

PAUL JAY: Oh, I’m sorry. That–just in case anyone noticed, that’s my phone started to play a Real News story and I have no idea. [Crosstalk]

DHARNA NOOR: It’s Dimitri’s interview with Roger Waters.

PAUL JAY: Was that the Roger Waters interview? All right.

MARC STEINER: How’d you know that?

PAUL JAY: Because she watched it.

DHARNA NOOR: Because he said at the beginning that he was about to interview Roger Waters.

MARC STEINER: I didn’t hear that. That’s what you get for being a deaf old man. Good thing I have headphones on so I can hear you all talk.

PAUL JAY: Well, it seems to me that the question you just asked is the beginning of another podcast.


PAUL JAY: So let’s do it–we’ll do it again. We’ll do it again next week.

MARC STEINER: And this is great. And let us know what you think of these Real News podcasts. I want to know. We all want to know. And here with Paul Jay and Dharna Noor-

PAUL JAY: And this podcast began with a letter from a viewer.

MARC STEINER: From a viewer.

PAUL JAY: So this could be part of the thing, that we’ll respond to what people [crosstalk].

MARC STEINER: I love that. Let’s do that. We can do that.

DHARNA NOOR: Send us letters.

MARC STEINER: Dharna. Paul.

PAUL JAY: And the more critical the better.

MARC STEINER: Yes. That’s Dharna Noor.


MARC STEINER: That’s Paul Jay. And I’m Marc Steiner. Thanks for being part of The Real News Podcast.

DHARNA NOOR: Thanks, Marc.

PAUL JAY: Thank You.

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Paul Jay was the founder, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network, where he oversaw the production of over 7,000 news stories. Previously, he was executive producer of CBC Newsworld's independent flagship debate show CounterSpin for its 10 years on air. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 20 films under his belt, including Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows; Return to Kandahar; and Never-Endum-Referendum. He was the founding chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and now the largest such festival in North America.

Dharna Noor is a staff writer at Earther, Gizmodo's climate vertical.

Host, The Marc Steiner Show
Marc Steiner is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on TRNN. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. He walked his first picket line at age 13, and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested at a civil rights protest during the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught theater for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA.