In Episode 000 of the Origin Stories Podcast, longtime talk radio producer Brent Jabbour explains the inspiration behind “The Podcast about Politics and People.” From working with Ed Schultz to the lack of discourse in politics there is a hole that needs to be filled. We play clips from upcoming episodes that include conversations with Sen. Byron Dorgan – D-ND, Michael Steele – Former RNC Chairman, Scottie Nell Hughes – Grassroots Republican Strategist, Ned Ryun – CEO of American Majority, and Former Representative Jack Kingston, R-GA. (Worry not lefties, we have scheduled a conversation with many folks involved with the progressive movement coming up after Labor Day.)
Welcome to episode zero of the Origin Stories Podcast. It’s a podcast about politics and people. My name is Brent Jabbour, and I wanted to give you a pilot episode for multiple reasons. One, which is technical because I want to get it up and get it on all the aggregator sites like Itunes, Google Play, stitcher, all of the places you might get podcasts. But also because I wanted I wanted to give you an explanation on why I am doing this.
For a long time, about eight or nine years, I was a producer with Ed Schultz. I started on his national radio show as a call screener, and then I went on to book guests for the daily radio show, when he stopped doing the radio show in 2014 I stayed and I ran his podcast and his website. And then I came to Washington D.C. to work on the News with Ed Schultz on RT America to book guests for that program as well.
As many of you who are fans of Ed Schultz know, he unexpectedly passed early in July. And so I got to this point where I was a little sad, I was a little lost, I didn’t know what I was going to be doing following that as he had always been such an inspiration, he always gave me direction on what I wanted to do.
And I realized over the last month and half, maybe two months by the time this is released, that one of the things I miss most about my friend Ed is that I would talk to him every day, I would go and sit in his office and he would share personal stories and relate those to why he felt certain ways on policy. Sometimes they weren’t necessarily policy related, it was a just a good story about why he was the way he was. And it gave me insight into him. And, many people didn’t fully understand who he was. They would think he was a loudmouth or he was angry. Which he may have been, but the fact is that he was a kind and generous person who had a lot of cool experiences going back to his childhood all the way moving forward into his life as a political pundit, talking head, host of the Ed Show on MSNBC.
I can’t tell you the amount of stories and things that we talked about that were as simple as the time he was in the film The Campaign, with Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell. He just had a little part, where he was basically doing the Ed Show talking about this race that was the subject of the movie. And, he would talk about how goofy that whole situation was and also getting the residual checks for two or three dollars when it would show on Comedy Central or TNT. And he would say he would look forward to the times during campaign season because he knew the film would air.
Those kinds of little stories. What I wanted to do is bring those types of stories to the people you see every day, whether it is on television, on the Hill, doing things. The reason we called it Origin Stories is to play on the fact that no matter who these people are, you may see them as a hero or a villain, they could be either one depending on where you stand. But I want you to understand where they came from, maybe you can have a little empathy, maybe you have a little sympathy for the people involved in these movements.
There is also this situation with people, especially those who are my age, I am in my mid-thirties, who are starting to become very active. And that is perfectly fine. However, what it has created is they are also starting to shut themselves down to people who are different from them. So they say, I can’t be friends with that person, I can’t understand that person, I refuse to compromise my position because they think so differently.
Well, one of the things I realized is, I felt that way for a long time as well. And, when I moved to Washington D.C., which would be very strange because it is a progressive city, because Washington D.C. is the nation’s capital, and now we have a Republican in the White House, I have run into a lot of conservatives, I have run into a lot of libertarians, a lot of Republican-Republicans, I would call them establishment folks. And I realized that they are very nice, they are normal people. Yes, I disagree with them on most every bit of policy that they might espouse. But, the fact is, they are nice people. People I enjoy being around.
So, I wanted to bring their stories, not just the Conservatives, but the Liberals as well because those are people I really communicate with, I really understand. I’ve also had this very pragmatic view on things, where I don’t really agree with the other side, however, I do understand how they have come to be. So that is what we are going to try to accomplish in the Origin Stories Podcast: A Podcast about politics and people, a little bit about personality as well. There are a lot of Ps and alliteration there as well. I think that comes from my old Top 40 radio days, having to come up with names for morning show stunts and the like.
But the people you are going to hear from are probably people you know from the Ed Schultz days. But, some you may not know from that, people I just find interesting. The first two episodes and I am going to play some clips here at the end of this, are of Senator Byron Dorgan, a member of Senate leadership in the 90s and into the 2000s into the Obama administration, who a Senator from North Dakota, but just a good guy. And has always been nothing but polite to me, he is a Democrat. And, we really spoke about what the state of the country is, and the state of the party because I can talk about a left and right divide all day. But, the left and the left are very, very, very divided. And we are going to talk about that, and we are going to talk about what can be done to correct that. But, we are also going to talk about the people involved.
I’ve known Senator Dorgan for six or seven years. But, I don’t know him all that well. I have shared a few personal conversations with him. But, we learn quite a bit about his upbringing and how he molded his policy and what he thinks about what’s going on in Washington today.
In the second episode, we are going to take a 180 and we are talking to former RNC chair Michael Steele. Michael Steele, I had never met before, I had never spoken with him. I always thought he was an interesting guy. He had a small connection to Ed that we will discuss in the podcast, and I think you will really enjoy it. I really just admired him because I thought he was outspoken about the things that were happening in the Republican party that he disagreed with. And, because of that, I thought he would be really really interesting to talk to.
Kind of a funny story about that whole situation: He was running a little late because he was dealing with a family issue and because of that was just googling doing a little last minute research on what I wanted to talk to him about. And we ended up getting into a long-long discussion about the Civil Rights movement, him growing up in Washington D.C. being about 9-10 years old during the 1968 riots. And then we went on to speak a lot about the Catholic church and religion because he wanted to be a priest, he went to seminary school. And that was really interesting to me. I had fun, I’ve had fun with both of those. And I am currently sitting here waiting to interview somebody else. I’m thinking this one will be pretty fun as well.
So, what we have coming up, people I will be recording with: I have arranged an interview, I don’t like to say interview it’s actually a conversation, with Congressman Kevin Cramer out of North Dakota, a Republican. He’s running for Senate right now against Heidi Heitkamp in a very contested seat, so we will see what happens there. We will see why he thinks he should be the next Senator. He takes a lot of guff from the left in North Dakota, which is a small sect, but in major cities like Fargo, major cities in North Dakota like Fargo, it’s a pretty left-leaning town. I’m looking forward to talking to him.
We will be talking to Senator Nina Turner, former State Senator from Ohio, she is now the President of Our Revolution, that’s Bernie Sanders’ organizing group. We are going to talk about that fracture on the left, but we are also going to talk about her. She is a very very interesting person, outspoken, and really knows the issues. But she is also a real everyday person. These are the people we will talk to. And eventually we will get into possibly a couple of athletes who are involved in activism, we’ll speak with maybe some celebrities who are involved in activism, and how they got molded in that way. Why they take those life experiences they’ve had and they relate them back to getting involved. And that is really what we are doing.
So, here are a couple of clips of some the interviews I have recorded. Kind of a sizzle reel, if you will. And I want you to go ahead, and when it is available on Itunes, please subscribe to it, subscribe to it through your favorite podcasting app:
Clips (on tape):
As far as policy is there one thing you wish you could take back?
Former Senator Byron Dorgan – D-ND:
The vote the authorizing George W. Bush to take military action in the Gulf War. The vote required him to do a number of other things which he did not do. But, when Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice and others were giving us top-secret briefings day after day after day they made the case that they knew there were biological weapons and nuclear weapons and so on that threaten our country. Turns out, they were wrong. And it also turns out that I know, I know for a fact that some of what was said to us in top-secret briefings misrepresented the facts, and some of it deliberately misrepresented the facts.
Scottie Nell Hughes – Republican Grassroots Strategist:
This is what’s happening across the board, and this is where Conservatives and Republicans continue to lose. I don’t have to agree with you. But, I can still have sympathy and empathy for you and from your point of view. I may not agree with it, but I at least have to give you some sort of grace and look at it from your viewpoint. You’re right. These kids did go through it. Interesting story, my son’s going into sixth grade this year. I met his English teacher, and she said she had moved from Connecticut, about 8 years ago, and I didn’t make the connection. Another mom called me, and says, you know, she was a teacher in Sandy Hook. And after Sandy Hook happened, she left her entire community and came to Nashville. That woman right there, I hold with so much high regard.
Michael Steel – Former Republican National Committee Chair:
No elected official should use the Bible for anything other than Sunday School or Church services. You live that out. You don’t dictate it to others. So, if you are a pro-life Catholic like myself, then you live that out. I don’t need to judge you, because God has made it very clear, he doesn’t like it when we judge each other. That’s not my job, that’s his job.
Ned Ryun – CEO – American Majority:
I think the most important thing that I am trying to communicate to my children is, of course, I would like them to go to college, but at the same time, I think the most important thing they have to do is always have a desire to learn. Always be curious. And I think that is the one thing that I love about what my parents instilled in me is always be curious, always ask questions, always try to explore, always read as much as you can. One of the things I remember from growing up is read widely with discretion. It was one of those things they just instilled in me a desire to learn and always be curious, and always seek out and try to understand things much better.
Former Representative Jack Kingston – R-GA:
In Athens Georgia at the time wealth, wealth is always something everybody kind of watches but I think intellect was just as important. So, at the dinner table, you were allowed to have any opinion you wanted but you were not allowed to be unable to back it up. You had to be able to back it up, you had to be able to say this is what I believe and this is why. And I think every night we would have the traditional family dinner with my three sisters, and mom, and dad, and we were very fortunate in that respect. But, we would talk about things.
(End of Clips)
That you so much for listening to the pilot episode, episode zero of the Origin Stories Podcast. Again, my name is Brent Jabbour. You can follow me on Twitter @BrentJabbour, please like the Facebook page, Origin Stories Podcast: A podcast about politics and people. And of course, feel free to give me any comments, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear what you have to say, just about this little bit. But We have a lot more coming up. It will be released every Thursday. Thank you.