Dec 4, 2020

Olivia Nuzzi On Covering Trump

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Appears in this episode

Andrew Sullivan
Unafraid conversations about anything

Olivia is the brilliant 27-year-old Washington correspondent for my old haunt, New York Magazine, who has been covering all things Trump. I talked with her about the man who has defined so much of the news these past five years.

(You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app” — which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. To listen to two excerpts from my conversation with Olivia — about the first time she met Trump; and on whether he’s a germaphobe or just a snob to the unwashed masses — head over to our YouTube page.)

Meanwhile, a reader sounds off on the previous episode with Matt Yglesias, author of the new book, One Billion Americans: The Case For Thinking Bigger:

One billion Americans? I shudder to think of it. 

Has Mr. Yglesias not been to China and India and witnessed the crowds, the trash, the pollution and loss of nature there — much less the environmental devastation that would result from one billion human beings gorging resources with the customary appetite of Americans?

Fifty years ago I moved from the Northeast to California to enjoy the wide open spaces of the West: the spacious skies, fruited plains, and amber waves of grain of America the beautiful. Alas, since that time our population has doubled, our exurbs have metastasized, and 70% of our wildlife has disappeared. Practically every problem that haunts California now — homelessness, high prices, electricity blackouts, fires due to global warming — has its roots in overpopulation. So do the immigration and refugee crises that are undermining stability and stirring up nativist backlash worldwide.

By all means let’s be more open to immigrants, but enough is enough. There are three times as many human beings on this planet than when I was born. One billion Americans is a recipe for dystopia. 

Matt responds:

California’s problems don’t stem from overpopulation (it’s about a third as dense as Connecticut) but from the underbuilding of housing in its already developed cities. As I discuss in the book, for example, Los Angeles invested a considerable sum of money into building the LA Metro into what’s now actually one of the most extensive rail transit systems in America. But they didn’t change zoning laws in a complementary way to put big apartment buildings near the stations. Consequently ridership is low, and the pattern of housing scarcity, high prices, and sprawl pressure continues. All throughout the hyper-expensive Bay Area, land use is dominated by mandatory single-family zoning that makes rowhouses and even modest sized apartments illegal. This leads, again, to high prices and sprawl with all the attendant problems. 

Another reader praises “the smart and interesting conversation with Yglesias”:

The part of the episode that keeps striking me is how serious publications are disallowing words like “looting” or “rioting” when precisely these things are happening. This “woke” language censoring is, I believe, damaging and undermining the efforts of those who may be marching or protesting for change and doing so in a peaceful way.

When the quasi or fully criminal disrupters are not being called out for what they are doing (vandalizing, looting), but we hear that police need to be “defunded,” it appears more and more Americans who otherwise do not align with Trump and his abhorrent rhetoric, go in his/their direction. The Left has/had a perfect opportunity to garner more moderate support in this country, and seem to be doing everything in their power to push it away, precisely because we are being held (cancellation) hostage by the “Woke.” Perhaps we should stop looking at how deranged Trump is, and start seeing that we too are being forced to radicalization under penalty of a social media execution.

Thanks for being willing to have THAT conversation. Perhaps it can only be had now by those of us Cancelled, and we need to lead the way.