Background Briefing

Ian Masters

Ian Masters

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In our divided country where fake news and alternative facts compete with urgent realities and scientific truths, Ian Masters’ “Background Briefing” offers a daily digest of analysis and insight into national and international events. While Donald Trump ignores the Presidential Daily Briefing and gets a version edited by Stephen Bannon, listeners to “Background Briefing” obtain the best open-source information from the most experienced specialists closest to the scene so that an informed citizenry can restore civic engagement and establish a fact-based consensus on how our country deals with the challenges we face.

Five days a week, Background Briefing asks knowledgeable and thoughtful experts to explain the complexities behind major news stories in long-format interviews.

The program airs Monday-Thursday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time and on Sundays from 11:00 to Noon, broadcast live on KPFK, 90.7FM in Los Angeles.

Ian Masters is an Australian-born and BBC-trained journalist and filmmaker. He has made a career of asking provocative questions of the most informed thinkers in order to bring light to the day’s most important news stories. Since 1980 his Sunday program, Background Briefing, has aired on KPFK-FM in Los Angeles. In 2009, the program expanded to five days each week.

Theme song: ‘One Time, One Night’ by Los Lobos

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We begin with the unmasking of Donald Trump by Donald Trump in an impromptu press conference yesterday in Trump Tower, revealing in public who the president is in private in spite of the efforts by aides who try to dispel Trump of his far-right wing fringe beliefs fed to him by Fox News, Alex Jones and Breitbart. Sarah Posner, an investigative journalist, author and expert on the intersection of religion and politics, who is one of the few journalists to have interviewed Stephen Bannon who boasted to her that Breitbart was the platform for the alt-right, joins us to discuss how Trump showed his true colors as an ignorant racist with no sense of history or decency who has debased the presidency and fanned the flames of hate and division in this country by pandering to a violent extremist minority of followers of a genocidal maniac responsible for World War 11 and the slave-masters responsible for America’s bloody Civil War.

Then we examine Trump’s reference to Southern “heritage” and his claim that there were “very fine people” in Charlottesville protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee decrying that in doing so “you are changing history, you are changing culture”. Karen Cox, a Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, joins us to discuss the mythology of the Confederacy Trump espoused where the institution of slavery is whitewashed in the name of a noble “Lost Cause” and her article at The New York Times “Why Confederate Monuments Must Fall”.

Then finally we look into the move by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department to demand that the web hosting company Dreamhost turn over data detailing all visits to an anti-Trump protest website. Marc Rotenberg, the President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC, joins us to discuss whether Dreamhost will prevail in its refusal to comply with a government warrant on the basis that Trump’s DOJ is seeking “to identify political dissidents of the current administration”.

Background Briefing

Trump Unmasks the Real Donald Trump

Trump's Whitewash of Southern "Heritage"

Trump's DOJ Seeks to Identify Political Dissidents of the Current Administration

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We begin with the extraordinary reopening of self-inflicted wounds by Donald Trump today who reversed his reluctant acknowledgement that neo-Nazis and white supremacists were responsible for the violence in Charlottesvile to blame what he called the alt-left, reviving his inexplicable compulsion to pander to the far right fringe of his base for reasons that remain unclear unless our president is in fact a racist. Antony McAleer, Board Chair and Co-Founder of Life After Hate, a non-profit working to de-radicalize Neo-Nazi and white supremacist youth whose funding grant from the Department of Homeland Security was rescinded by Katherine Gorka, the wife of White House deputy Sebastian Gorka who vowed to shut down the DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism program and shift funds away from white supremacist domestic terrorism to target American Muslims, along with getting his wife a job. From a former member of WAR, the White Aryan Resistance, we will learn about the mainstreaming of white racism today away from tattooed skinheads to clean-cut people in suits such as Richard Spencer who look like our neighbors.

Then we speak with Michael Greenberger, the Founder and Director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland where he teaches courses on counterterrorism and emergency response. He joins us to discuss the shift in focus of Trump’s DHS away from the main and well-documented problem of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists to the imaginary problem of a Muslim invasion and imposition of Sharia Law, and the role of alt-right advisors at the highest levels inside the White House pushing this racist and counter-productive agenda.

Then finally we look into Trump’s renewed attacks on the press as he tries to shift blame away from his own failure of moral leadership and speak with Lewis Friedland, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin where he directs the Center for Communication and Democracy. He joins us to discuss the right wing media eco-system being built by Fox’s Murdoch and Sinclair’s Smith to serve as the Ministry of Truth and propaganda outlet for the Trump administration, and presidential aide David Gergen’s remark that Trump can’t heal hate in America because HE has so much hate in is his heart.

Background Briefing

A Former White Aryan Who De-Radicalizes Neo-Nazis and Had His Funding Cut by Sebastian Gorka's Wife

Trump's DHS Ignores Real White Supremacist Terrorism to Focus on the Gorka's Muslim Obsession

Trump's Renewed Attacks on the Press

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We begin with the grudging acceptance by Donald Trump of the need to condemn Saturday’s violence by neo-Nazi white supremacists in a television address today in which he insisted on first emphasizing what a great economy he has created before addressing the burning issue of Charlottesville as if it were an afterthought. A witness who was part of an interfaith protest by clergy who faced Saturday’s phalanx of heavily armed white supremacist Stormtroopers spewing racist hatred, Bryan Mann, joins us. He is in his sixth year of studies at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Boston and will be an ordained rabbi in June of 2018. With his prayer shawl and kippa, linking arms with other clergy led by Cornell West, Bryan faced the Nazi taunts of “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”, and he describes how the police did nothing to protect the counter-protesters who were defended by the Antifa, the anti-fascists who came to their rescue meeting violence with violence which has led many, including Trump, to assign blame to “many sides”.

Then we examine the rumors of palace intrigue that suggest the alt-right radicals close to Trump, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller and the fascist sympathizer Sebastian Gorka, might be on the way out of the White House. Addy Baird, a reporter for ThinkProgress where she has an article “The subtle dogwhistle in Trump’s belated condemnation of white supremacists”, joins us to discuss today’s nasty tweets by Trump who went after the only black member of his manufacturing council, the CEO of Merck Pharma, who resigned to protest the president’s reaction to what happened in Charlottesville.

Then finally we look into the emerging right wing media juggernaut being enabled by Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that will effectively become the Ministry of Truth for the Trump presidency. Timothy Karr, the Campaign Director for Free Press and the SavetheInternet.com Coalition joins us to discuss how Ajit Pai’s changing of the rules to allow the Sinclair Broadcasting Group to buy up Tribune will create a monopoly that, along with Fox News and Breitbart, will pump out pro-Trump propaganda and create a Putin-like media machine of alternative facts while attacking the rest of the free press as “fake news”.

Background Briefing

A Rabbinical Student Who Faced the Taunts of Nazis In Charlottesville

Are the White House Right Wing Radicals On Their Way Out?

The FCC's Ajit Pai is Enabling Trump's Ministry of Truth

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We begin with the violence that was brought to Charlottesville, Virginia by the Ku Klux Clan, neo-Nazis and white nationalist groups under the banner of “Unite the Right” who organized a Nazi-like torchlight protest Friday night against the removal of a statue of the Confederate leader Robert E. Lee then on Saturday converged on the statue wearing military gear waving Confederate flags and Nazi swastikas chanting “you will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us” as they clashed with counter-demonstrators. Nicole Hemmer, a professor at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and author of “Messenger of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics”, joins us to discuss her article at U.S. News and World Report “Sounds and Silence in Charlottesville: The violence of white nationalism spilled onto the streets of Virginia” and what she witnessed after a car driven by a white supremacist ploughed into a crowd of demonstrators celebrating the dispersal of the “Unite the Right” demonstrators.

Then we speak with sociologist Randy Blazak, Chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crime which monitors hate groups in the State of Oregon and a professor at the University of Oregon and author of “Hate Offenders”. He joins us to challenge the troubling remarks by the President of the United States that implied liberals and conservatives are equally violent when Trump went out of his way to emphasize that the hate, bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville came from “all sides”. We discuss what is clear and that is there are members of the alt-right in the highest positions in the Trump White House and that the alt-right is trying to hijack the discussion about who is the victim in American history by encouraging the myth that white men are oppressed.

Then finally we assess the extent to which Trump’s threat of military action against Venezuela is playing into the hands of the Maduro government who have brought Venezuela to the brink of collapse and now, thanks to Trump, can blame the “Yankee imperialists” who have a sorry history of military intervention in Latin America. Jennifer McCoy, the Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University and author of “International Mediation in Venezuela”, joins us to discuss how Trump has set back regional efforts to deal with the worsening tragedy in Venezuela.

Background Briefing

White Supremacists Bring Violence to Charlottesville

Trump's Persistent Defense of the Alt-Right

Trump's Threats Play Into Maduro's Hands

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