Take one self-proclaimed satanism expert. Add in a pinch of dumpster-diving. Throw in a chicken coop fire, and (of course) pillow magnate and Donald Trump pal Mike Lindell. And you’ve got the recipe that Trump 2020 deadenders are currently cooking up in the great state of Arizona to try to, somehow, overturn the election there.
“It could be like a Coen brothers movie. It has that atmosphere,” Daily Beast political reporter Will Sommer tells his colleague and co-host Asawin Suebsaeng on the premiere episode of Fever Dreams, The Daily Beast’s new podcast. “You have these kind of vigilante groups of people who connect on Facebook and say, ‘Well, let's go to the board of elections’—and then they dive into the dumpster and see what they can find… Or there was a fire at a chicken farm owned by or connected to this guy who's opposed to the recount, and they said, ‘Well, he probably put the ballots in there and set the fire!’ And then they go out to the farm and they smell the air and they say: ‘This smells like burnt ballot to me!’”
Fever Dreams takes you inside the right’s push to retake power, from the conspiracy-slingers to the MAGA acolytes to the straight-up grifters. Thought the Trump era was crazy? Wait ’til you hear what comes next.
To start, there’s the slew of Republican efforts to not only to keep challenging the 2020 presidential contest, but to also execute further election and voter crackdowns across the country.
“What’s going on is that Republicans need some shred of voter-fraud evidence that they can then use to impose more voting restrictions,” Will adds. “But what they’re doing here in Arizona…[the recount effort involves] this satanism guy, who maybe does not have the most credibility, or they were looking to hire this very pro-Trump outfit that’s been laughed out of other state recounts.
To help further unpack how the Trump era was just one long, aggravating, and monumentally blood-drenched Coen brothers movie that we were all forced to live through, Swin and Will welcomed Ike Barinholtz, the comedian and star of such films as Blockers and the Neighbors franchise, as well as in TV series Bless the Harts, Eastbound and Down, and The Mindy Project.
The whole Trump presidency “really was Burn After Reading,” Ike contends. But “if you want to learn how the insides of the [Trump] White House work, you have to watch Step Brothers. It will all make sense.”
Ike also opens up about what it was like to co-star in the 2020 satire The Hunt, just as then-President Trump was busy issuing, in Swin’s words, a “cultural fatwa”—via tweet—on the movie. “No one loves ‘cancel culture’ more than the Republicans. It’s their favorite thing, they love it, they thrive on it,” he says. “The worst possible thing is for Donald Trump to tweet about you. Just, it changes your life in a terrible, terrible way…I was super nervous that he was going to tweet about it. And then he tweeted about it!”
As a result, he and others working on the movie were, naturally, inundated with threats of retribution and violence, including, as Ike put it, tweets from “MAGA Tim holding a picture of a fish, saying he was gonna kill me.”
Each week on this show, we’ll shine a light on the events, organizing principles, and power brokers that not only exist, but have affected the course of world and domestic events, or have even entranced your next-door neighbors or family members.
Even in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s administration, the collective energy of these conspiracy theorists, grifters, and influencers is still pushing our mainstream political landscape closer and closer to a breaking point. And we’re here to help you better understand how and why this is happening, and who in the halls of power are letting it happen. (Listen on Apple Podcasts and your favorite podcast providers.)
Along the way, we’ll also regularly bring on guests including political pros, hard-nosed reporters, and some influential voices from Hollywood. Every once in a while, you might also hear from some familiar faces from the trenches of Trumpland and veterans of the Democratic corridors of power.
Subscribe on your preferred podcast player to enjoy new episodes every Wednesday. If you’d like to follow us on Twitter, our hosts are at @willsommer and at @swin24. Come say hi, or share some requests.