Culture Wars/Current Controversies

“Meltdown”: How “Hope and Change” led to MAGA

By Matt Taibbi

Interview with David Sirota, creator of the new Audible podcast series about the aftereffects of the 2008 financial crash, produced by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions.

“What’s really cool is I have very few friends in DC,” says Meltdown podcast creator David Sirota. “When this comes out, I’ll have absolutely none.”

Meltdown, released on Audible yesterday, is an investigative audio series that’s been an obsession of my friend David’s for years. He developed it in conjunction with Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, of Taxi to the Dark Side and Client 9 fame. The subject is one of the great taboos in modern mainstream media, which makes the sheer breadth of the series all the more satisfying: the Democratic Party’s botched response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, and the political consequences that followed.

I consulted on the project and you’ll hear my voice on several of the episodes, along with contemporary witnesses like Neil Barofsky, the former Inspector General of the TARP bailout. In the interview below, you’ll hear the Useful Idiots interview of David about the series. But first, a few words about Meltdown, whose central themes I covered for nearly a decade in Rolling Stone, and in books like Griftopia and The Divide.

When Barack Obama was elected on November 4th, 2008, America’s political landscape appeared altered permanently. Obama’s “realigning” victory put his party in full control of the state, armed with a whopping 78-seat advantage in the House and a 59-41 edge in the Senate. Conventional wisdom held that the combination of massive youth and minority turnout and Obama’s re-conquest of so-called “Reagan Democrat” districts was a knockout blow to Republicans from which they’d never recover. The demographic picture was only going to get less white going forward, leaving Republicans, as the New York Times put it on Election Night, “contemplating where they now stand in American politics.” Pundits were convinced merely competent leadership by Obama would leave Democrats with a permanent supermajority.


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