Former Obama White House staffers John Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor are bringing “Pod Saves America’s” progressive, anti-Trump stance to HBO on Friday. And, yes, it will resemble the wildly popular, twice-weekly podcast — particularly episodes that are taped on the road in front of thousands of fans.
Including one that featured a Utahn.
“I think one of the most rewarding experiences for all of us have been these live shows,” Favreau recently told members of the Television Critics Association. “We’re suddenly in a crowd of two, three thousand people, and you hear all these inspiring stories about people getting involved in politics.
“We were at a show in Denver, and this woman stood up and she said, ‘You know, I drove three hours, four hours down here from Utah. I’m an undocumented immigrant, and I’m a Dreamer. And I have a very specific question about the Utah 3rd [Congressional District] and I’m wondering if you can flip it.”
The Utah woman received huge applause; the hosts took time to talk to her afterward. And that sort of connection is both an “inspiration” and “a nice antidote to reading Twitter and watching the news all day,” Favreau said.
HBO will air four “Pod Saves America” specials — taped the day they air — on four consecutive Fridays at 9 p.m. First up: Miami.
If you’re one of the millions who download the podcasts, you know you can expect criticism of Republicans in general and Trump in particular. And criticism of how the press covers politics — which the hosts saw from the other side when they worked in the White House.
Vietor pointed to a “chumminess” that develops between (at least some) reporters and the politicians they cover. Pfeiffer criticized the press for treating Trump “not like president, but like a pundit. Like, just as if he was appearing on a Fox News cable panel, which is his destiny, I’m sure.”
“They know he can’t answer [policy] questions, so they don’t ask the questions,” Pfeiffer said.
(A lot of people don't remember this, but Obama and his staff didn't get along terribly well with the press.)
Favreau, Lovett, Pfeiffer and Vietor are partisan, and they’re not trying to hide it.
“We’re Obama people. … You know what our beliefs are,” said Favreau, adding that “part of the problem in political journalism” today is that people with partisan beliefs go on cable news channels and “have to pretend that they’re nonpartisan.”
But … doesn’t that make Pod Save America sort of the progressive counterpoint to the likes of Fox News Channel hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham?
“We have our biases,” Favreau said. “Now, what we try to do that’s different from Fox is we try to make sure we are factual, that we are providing people true information. And if we make mistakes, we try to correct them.”
“We don’t have a three-hour block of racist crap,” Lovett added. “That’s one thing we’ve tried to avoid.”
That should give you a clue about what to expect from “Pod Save America” on HBO.