by Lee Fang
I interviewed Lee Fang of April 3rd. This is part one of a two part interview. Here's a link to the audio podcast.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Bio:Lee Fang is the author of the new book, The Machine-- A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right, is a reporting fellow at the Nation Institute and a contributing writer at The Nation . Fang is a former senior investigator at the Republic Report and a former investigative blogger for ThinkProgress . While at ThinkProgress, Fang wrote several articles including one regarding the US Chamber of Commerce that attracted national attention.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM reaching metro Philly and South Jersey, sponsored by Opednews.com . Just Google the words "Liberal News" or "Progressive Opinion." You don't even need to remember the name of the website, and it'll come up first on Google.
My guest tonight is Lee Fang. This guy is a monster! He is an investigative reporter with The Nation and the Nation's Investigative Institute, and he just got a new book out, too, called The Machine. Welcome to the show, Lee!
Lee Fang: Hey Rob, thank you so much for having me.
Rob Kall: Yeah! How do you like being called a monster? (laughs) A good monster!
Lee Fang: (laughs) Well, you know, a monster in terms of being obsessed with this stuff, you know. I have been very privileged to get this opportunity to write this book, to really put all my writing in one place and do a little bit more digging. This book reflects the investigative stuff I've done for Think Progress and The Nation over the last couple of years, and I hope folks enjoy it. It's a look at the political infrastructure, the way that Republicans rebuilt themselves after 2008 when people figured they'd be on the endangered species list, and the political strategies they used to rebuild themselves, and to push a really conservative agenda - even with Democrats in office.
Rob Kall: You've got an article that's out in the Nation right now that is a really exceptional article, The Right Looms In, and that article is (from my understanding) an excerpt from your book?
Lee Fang: That's right. It's adapted from one of the chapters in the book.
Rob Kall: Uh-huh. It is mind-boggling, truly mind-boggling to read this. Back in the early days when -- Opednews just had a tenth anniversary, and when I was starting it back in 2003 just before the Iraq war, there was a lot of talk then about how the Left needed to have some smart think tanks, and Think Progress was funded -- or, what's it called again? Center for American Progress.
Lee Fang: Which hosts Think Progress, correct.
Rob Kall: Yeah. What you've described here is a plague, a literal plague of different organizations and operations that is so much more massively funded. It's hard to get my head around it, really. Is there a big picture that you can give us an overview of it with?
Lee Fang: Yeah. And congratulations on your ten year anniversary of the show and the website, that's great.
Rob Kall: Thank you.
Lee Fang: But let me give you the big picture view, and the very big picture is that Republicans in the late 60s and early 70s saw the Civil Rights Movement, The Clean Air Act, the Environmental Justice Movement, all these Progressive, bottom up movements, and they were shocked, to say the least. They worked with the business community to found the big DC-centric think tanks that helped spark the Reagan Revolution all the way through George Bush; and that's the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, rebuilding and reforming the American Enterprise Institute, and all of these think tanks that have helped staff and provide the intellectual fodder for Republicans for thirty years.