Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/kickassnews. Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit www.kickassnews.com. Thanks for listening!

LATEST EPISODE

Malcolm Nance Says Trump Is a "Willing Asset" for Putin

In the wake of the bizarre Trump-Putin Summit, intelligence expert Malcolm Nance says Trump has gone from being an unwitting asset of Russia to a willing asset deliberately undermining NATO, the European Union, and even his own country.  Nance says Donald Trump has betrayed his oath to uphold the Constitution and is the closest thing America's seen to another Benedict Arnold.  He reveals Russia's broader efforts to undermine US and the influential Americans enabling Russian interference including the most powerful gun-rights organization in the country, the politician known Putin's man in Congress, and the alt-right media baron he calls "the American Goebbles."  What's Vladimir Putin's end-game?  Malcolm Nance says Putin's ultimate goal is to dismantle western democracy itself! Order Malcolm Nance's new book The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West on Amazon or Audible.  Follow him on Twitter at @Malcolm Nance.  Today's podcast is sponsored by GooglePlay.
00:42:11 7/18/2018

Past Episodes

Former Deputy National Security Director Ben Rhodes talks about how he survived a full 8 years in the White House, his close friendship with President Barack Obama, and what it was like to travel the world representing America.  Ben says the Arab Spring taught him that sometimes hope and change have to take a back seat to pragmatism and the big picture.  He reveals how he secretly worked with the Pope to reopen relations with Cuba, how sleeplessness led to some frayed nerves during the Iran nuclear negotiations, and how wild conspiracy theories around Benghazi continue to follow him even today.  He throws some cold water on Trump's accusation that President Obama ordered the FBI to investigate him, discusses how he and Obama emotionally processed Trump's 2016 victory, and talks about the somber mood on President Obama's final foreign trip as he tried to console/encourage other world leaders like Angela Merkel.  Plus the we talk about the Syrian red line, Hillary Clinton's private server, sanctions against Russia, and Trump's North Korean photo-op. Order Ben's book The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House on Amazon or Audible and follow him on twitter at @BRhodes.  Today's podcast is sponsored by GooglePlay and Morning Brew.
00:59:30 7/15/2018
Rob Reiner returns to talk about the long road to making his latest film Shock and Awe about the journalists who "got it right" about WMD in Iraq and why he says Americans still may not be ready to deal with the mistakes of the Iraq War.  How discusses the lesser known news syndicate that uncovered the truth about WMD and why the mainstream media at the time ignored all the warning signs.  He talks about his love for classic newsroom films like All the President's Men and his urgency to make a film about great journalism at a time when the free press and the truth are under greater assault than ever.  Rob Reiner gives an update on his group the Committee to Investigate Russia, he cautions that the rhetoric on the Left treads a thin line between energizing their base and energizing the other side, and we ponder how Archie Bunker went from a punchline to a political movement. Rob Reiner's movie Shock and Awe opens in theaters Friday, July 13.  Follow Rob Reiner on Twitter at @RobReiner and learn more about The Committee to Investigate Russia at www.investigaterussia.org.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Adiamor Jewelry, GooglePlay and Morning Brew.
00:39:07 7/11/2018
Bestselling humorist David Sedaris talks about why he doesn't do social media, how a fitbit has come to rule his life, and his irritation with the British habit of bullying Americans into drinking.  David shares how watching his father grow old has him thinking about his own mortality and how he keeps politics from coming between him and his Trump-supporting dad.  David Sedaris says his heavy travel schedule has liberated him from the watching the news and he couldn't be happier about it.  Plus he shares a few of his favorite travel tips and regional insults from around the globe. Order David Sedaris's book Calypso on Amazon or Audible.  For more, visit www.davidsedarisbooks.com.  Today's podcast is sponsored by GooglePlay and Morning Brew.
00:41:25 7/8/2018
Astrophysicist Adam Frank offers an explanation for why we have yet to made contact with extraterrestrials and says it is highly likely that many of ten billion trillion planets in the universe have hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations.  He discusses three possible fates that may have befallen those civilizations and how studying other planets could help us save our own.  He says that climate science actually holds consistent truths across all planets that have atmospheres and if we can predict climate change on Mars, we are certainly able to predict climate change here on earth. Plus Adam talks about the significance of the recent discovery of methane gas on Mars, his experience as a science consultant on Marvel's Dr Strange, and why he doesn't like the term "alien." Order Adam Frank's book Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth on Amazon or Audible.  Keep up with Adam at www.adamfrankscience.com or on Twitter at @AdamFrank4.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Outside the Box podcast.
00:51:41 7/4/2018
The Simpsons's longest-serving writer/producer Mike Reiss celebrates the 30th anniversary of the longest running show in TV history and shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America's most iconic cartoon family.  He talks about his early days writing for the Harvard Lampoon and why Lampoon alums make up half the writers rooms in Hollywood.  He recalls working on The Tonight Show, how only meeting with Johnny Carson was just like being a guest on his show, and a Carnac joke taught him that there's just no science to comedy.  He discusses coming on board the first episode of The Simpsons, why Fox had little faith in the first primetime cartoon since The Flintstones, and why The Simpsons became a cultural phenomenon right out of the gate.  He reveals that Simpsons characters are just bad impersonations of old movie stars, how the writers put special guest roles into the script just to meet their childhood heroes, and Mike shares a few of favorite celebrity guests and some of the ones that got away.  He talks about the fans' love/hate relationship with the show, some of the crazier fan theories swirling around The Simpsons, and the show's complicated relationship with Seth McFarlane's Family Guy.  Plus Mike Reiss tells me which countries have actually banned and even sued The Simpsons and how his own popular children's book got boycotted by the Texas Board of Education. Order Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons on Amazon or Audible. Watch The Simpsons every Sunday night on Fox and follow Mike Reiss on Twitter at @MikeReissWriter.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Michelin Premiere Tires and Dollar Shave Club.
00:55:38 7/1/2018
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recalls how tinkering with a TV set as a boy led to a career in signals intelligence, his frustration when working as an intelligence briefer to General William Westmoreland during the Vietnam War, and what it was like to be in the room when President Obama ordered the raid on Osama Bin Laden.  He discusses Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the now infamous intelligence meeting with President-elect Trump at Trump Tower, and why he believes that Russia's efforts successfully tipped the election for Donald Trump. Plus he weighs in on the North Korean Summit, his war or words with President Trump, and much more. Order James Clapper's book Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence on Amazon or Audible. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Jim Jefferies Show podcast and Dollar Shave Club.
00:43:57 6/27/2018
New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff talks about the surprisingly patrician upbringing of Robin Williams, his time studying to be a serious actor at Julliard, and Robin's early influences as a comedian.  Dave reveals how Star Wars helped Williams land the role of Mork the Ork, and why his shenangigans on Mork and Mindy might have landed him in hot water in the age of #MeToo.  He discusses Robin's gradual evolution as a movie star, and why Hollywood didn't really know what to do with him at first.  Dave shares how John Belushi's overdose scared Robin Williams straight, what eventually caused him to fall back into addiction some 20 years later, and how a rare disease led to his tragic suicide.  Plus Dave Itzkoff recalls his own favorite personal encounters with the comedian, and why Robin always wanted to give total strangers what he called "an authentic Robin Williams experience." Order Dave Itzkoff's book Robin on Amazon or Audible.  Read more by Dave Itzkoff in the New York Times and follow Dave on Twitter at @ditzkoff. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah: Ears Edition, LegalShield, and Dollar Shave Club.
00:55:33 6/24/2018
Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki drove across the U.S. in Elvis Presley's 1963 Rolls Royce to talk to people about Elvis as a metaphor for the American dream in his new documentary The King.  He traces Elvis's journey from his birth in a Mississippi town that's barely kept alive by Elvis tourism to the musical melting pot of Memphis, and ultimately to Las Vegas and the "sweaty sequined jumpsuit Elvis" who became more of a corporate brand than a man.  He reveals how he acuired Elvis's Rolls Royce, and how it became a beacon for people on both sides of the political divide to have a conversation about the promise of America, the sins of the past, and where our country is headed today.  Plus Eugene Jarecki talks about the perils of driving and directing and roadtripping in a 55 year old car. The King opens in theaters in NYC on 6/22 and in LA on 6/29. For information and showtimes, visit www.theking.film.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Outside the Box podcast, LegalShield, Michelin Premiere Tires, and LightStream.
00:55:33 6/20/2018
Ambassador Michael McFaul helped President Obama craft the US-Russia "reset," and he later had a front-row seat for the end of the reset with the return of the hostile, paranoid Russian President Vladimir Putin.  He recalls witnessing history unfold during the attempted Russian military coup in 1989 and early encounter with a young unimpressive Vladimir Putin in the 90s.  He gives an insiders account of being with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she presented the infamous "reset" button, the first meeting between Putin and the newly elected President Obama, and his own thoughts on what motivates the Russian President.  He talks about arriving to protestors in Moscow on his first day as Ambassador, the Russian FSB's sinister surveillance and harassment campaigns against him and his family, and the extensive efforts to gain Kompromat on US officials as well as certain wealthy American businessmen. Order From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia on Amazon or Audible. Follow Michael McFaul twitter at @mcfaul or at www.michaelmcfaul.com.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Michelin Premiere Tires, Just for Men Control GX, and Travel Guard Travel Insurance.
00:55:33 6/17/2018
Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Duplass talk about Season 2 of Goliath.  Billy reveals why he's so attracted to outsider roles, what he found particularly appealing about playing an attorney, and how the show's creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro (both former attorneys) helped him prepare for the courtroom.  He talks about some of his own favorite movie lawyers, the death of independent film, and how television has come a long way since his early days on the 90's sitcom Evening Shade.  Mark Duplass talks about his excitement to play a bad guy on Goliath, what it's like to be one half of the acclaimed filmmaking duo the Duplass Brothers, why it took a while for them to learn to "individuate," and what it's like to work as an actor on another director's set.   Season 2 of Goliath is available on Amazon beginning Friday, June 15. For more information, visit http://a.co/i02m9ob and follow Mark Duplass on twitter at @MarkDuplass.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Legal Shield.
00:55:33 6/13/2018

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