News Brief: The Growing Pushback to Copaganda

Citations Needed | June 10, 2020 | Transcript


Nima Shirazi: Welcome to a Citations Needed News Brief. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: You can follow Citations Needed on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed and become a supporter of our work through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson if you’re able to do that at this time. We do these News Breaks in between our regularly scheduled episodes when the news is moving incredibly fast and we just have a lot to say. And so this time around, though, there is some news that we want to comment on because it actually has to do with what we have been talking about on a number of different episodes over the past few years Adam, namely how copaganda is used and abused and exploited on network TV.

Adam: So yeah, surprisingly, major copaganda reality TV shows like Live PD and Cops have been pulled from TV schedules. It’s not officially canceled. The producers of these shows said out of respect for the family of George Floyd in the subsequent protests and the sort of current mood of the country that they were going to pull it from the schedule. I’m using a grad school word here that I learned that I’ve never used since, it’s a huge zeitgeist shift that I didn’t really anticipate seeing because these pop culture products have traditionally kind of gotten away —

Nima: Right.

Adam: We’ve had this sort of pat compartmentalization where we say, ‘Oh, well, these are, you know, this is drama so it’s sort of, if you sort of care about this, you’re a tryhard’ and now that’s changed. Now, it’s sort of becoming mainstream to view these cultural products as being as kind of reinforcing and normalizing and desensitizing us to police violence and copaganda in general in shaping public perceptions of police, which, you know, there’s dozens of studies that prove this, we talked about this in Episode 38, the live show, we went into those studies and showed how, for example, torture on 24 works, how Law and Order’s handling of suspects informs how people view police brutality. A bunch of studies show that people are influenced by how police are depicted on television.

Nima: Imagine that. All those TV shows and movies actually do something, I mean, when it inundates your pop culture, you start to think about cops in a certain way. That is on purpose. It works that way.

Adam: The bottom rung of this has always been these reality TV shows like Cops. There is a podcast called Headlong: Running from COPS that did a kind of more approachable criticism of police serials that kind of began to start eroding this in more kind of normie liberal circles where you say, okay, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. So, around that time, June of last year, I wrote an article for The Appeal that was titled, “Time to Ban Ride-Along Police TV” and basically a cursory understanding of these reality shows will tell you why they, and by banned I didn’t mean like the federal government bans them, although I suppose I wouldn’t have a problem with that —

Nima: Right, but let’s take these off the air. How about these stop getting made.

Adam: These reality shows have contracts with cities and city police departments that have to be approved and are approved by county commissioners or city councils or mayors and so it’s important to understand that these ride-along shows have actually led to death. In 2010, after seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones was shot and killed by Detroit police in a raid that was accompanied by a First 48, which is similar to Live PD, police raid, the mayor of Detroit banned the police from ride-along TV reality shows. According to Huffington Post, quote, “activists have argued that having a television crew present could have affected how the police executed their search warrant the night Aiyana was killed — creating more of a spectacle than was necessary, for the sake of the cameras.” Indeed, the lure of celebrity was clear: Police Chief Warren Evans, who was later asked to resign and quit, he was really fired, had already filmed promos for his own reality ride-along show on ABC called The Chief. Now the show was subsequently cancelled after the seven year old was shot and killed by the First 48 accompanied crew police raid and several members of the crew of First 48 were tried and convicted of obstruction of justice because they deleted tapes relevant to the killing.

Nima: Adam, your piece also notes a number of other things that I think are relevant here. So if you don’t mind, I’ll actually quote you which I usually don’t do, I usually quote other people, but I’ll do it for you this time.

Adam: Thank you.

Nima: So for example, you write this, quote:

In 2017, Live PD filmed and aired a car chase that ended with a severely injured 2-year-old. That same year, a South Carolina woman learned her own son had been killed while she was watching Live PD, which follows police during their patrols. In 2018, a Miami man received a $1.3 million settlement after being falsely accused of murder on The First 48. A sound technician for Cops was shot and killed by police in 2014 while filming a police encounter at a Nebraska Wendy’s.

End quote.

So as you said, like there are lethal consequences to not only moral, ethical and certainly permanent damage done by the exploitation of people who are quote-unquote “featured” on these shows, right? They will forever be tarnished this way, presented this way at their most vulnerable often, but there are these other even more lethal consequences, literally people getting killed because these shows are being filmed.

Adam: Yeah, and another huge problem that they present and again, we’re not even getting to the kind of meta question about how they reinforce racist and classist stereotypes, just on a basic level, they consistently exploit people who are in the shows. So the creator of the podcast Headlong: Running from COPS, Dan Taberski, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times last year where he was criticizing Cops and one of the things he noted in his research was that of the eleven suspects featured on Cops that the producers actually stopped track down and talked to, quote, “all but one said they either did not give their legal consent to appear on the show, were too inebriated to consent knowingly or were coerced into signing — with the police and producers, troublingly, working together to get those signatures.” The origins of the show Cops themselves were extremely fraught and full of we’re kind of a morality and liability nightmare.

Nima: And if it seems like it was something out of like the nightmarish Reaganite ‘80s — you would be right! Because it is.

Adam: Yeah, so according to one 2006 University of Texas research paper which we also mentioned in Episode 38, quote:

The White House instructed the DEA to allow ABC News to accompany them on ‘crack house’ raids. As the head of the New York office of the DEA reported back to his superiors, ‘Crack is the hottest combat-reporting story to come along since the end of the Vietnam War.’… In 1986 alone, more than one thousand crack stories appeared in the press, with over 400 crack cocaine reports on NBC alone.

So in the 1980s the Reagan White House was sort of telling people to ride along with cops, get it from our perspective, to kind of give it the sort of Cinema Verité feel that you were kind of in the shit of it.

Nima: Because it also then validates, right? It creates a media component, a visual component to propaganda about the war on drugs, you get to see the down and dirty on the streets reality of then what the Reagan White House can say it is combating, it is fighting against at a larger scale and so you have this political propaganda pushed through the media as early kind of reality TV on these ride-alongs and so it all sort of works in concert, it creates a feedback loop so that the all important thing that the government is doing with its over policing, with its militarized “war on drugs,” quote-unquote, you get to then see that played back on the news to really understand why it’s so important.

Adam: Yeah. And so taking their cues from the White House in 1986, Cops creator, John Langley, filmed what was in effect a kind of backdoor pilot for Cops called American Vice: The Doping of a Nation. It was a 93-minute primetime special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. So Tim Costello profiled Cops, and he pointed out that this new kind of escalation took it to new visceral extremes. We’re going to play a quick clip from the pilot episode of Cops in 1986 to give you a sense of how much it created this kind of sexed up, supercharged, testosterone, militaristic cop-approach to policing into entertainment.

Geraldo Rivera

[Begin Clip]

Man #1: Live via satellite from cities coast to coast, American Vice, the real story of the doping of our nation.

Man #2: What you’re about to see is not a made for TV movie or a television police drama. This is real life. The first in a series of raids we’ll be showing you this evening. In this one members of the San Diego California Police Department are raiding a so-called crack house where pushers sell cocaine to people in this neighborhood.

Man #3: For the past six months, we have covered the street cops whose job it is to rip and tear and pound their way into the nation’s crack houses and shooting galleries and we have gone undercover to expose the pushers who profit from this dirty business.

[End Clip]

Nima: Yeah, so right out of the gate this first pilot episode, this 1986 special, resulted in a lawsuit because one of the women featured in American Vice, Terry Rouse sued Geraldo for defamation that actually resulted in a settlement that Geraldo also paid out because Geraldo referred to Rouse as a quote-unquote “prostitute” who was quote-unquote “supplying truckers with speed.” So that was, you know, broadcast but the reality is that Rouse was present at the bust because she was there painting a friend’s house, not a prostitute supplying truckers with speed and so she sued and there was a settlement. So yeah, right from the start Cops was based on the smearing of the powerless or the exploitation of people caught on film.

Adam: And it’s important to note that when we call these ride-along shows copaganda, this isn’t something we’re sort of asserting, the police themselves pitch these to cities as helping the police departments. So Williamson County, Texas, which we’ll touch on later, as the center of another horrible violent tragedy based on these reality shows, debated canceling its contract with Live PD in May of 2018 and County Sheriff Robert Chody lobbied to keep the contract explaining that it doubled as a recruiting tool. He said, quote, “We don’t have those vacancies that we once had,” he told CBS Austin. “When ‘Live PD’ came on board, we went from that shortage of 30 [correction officers] to a waiting list of applicants for corrections.” So the police themselves pitch these things as recruiting tools for police. Like these are the definition of copaganda.

Nima: Literally PR.

Adam: Yeah, because they make it look cool, you’re out, you’re catching the bad guys, you get a bunch of disaffected people sitting around watching TV, you know, at one a.m. and they’re like ‘I could do that, that looks fucking cool man, I can go bust and people’s heads open.’

Nima: ‘I can run through a gate and tackle someone on someone’s lawn.’

Adam: Yeah, and apparently that’s going to lead to bad things. So now, thanks to the courage of activists and protesters and those who lit the both metaphorical and literal match in Minneapolis, we now have a situation where the culture has shifted now where people are thinking, ‘Hey, you know, maybe it’s not a good idea to mindlessly promote the agenda of the police.’

Nima: Right. Maybe when the cops are the main characters and heroes of every show that actually has an effect on the perception and the psyche of the American public about what cops do.

Adam: Speaking of Williamson County, an article published June 8, 2020, today, we’re recording this headline, “Austin-area police chase ends in death as Live PD cameras roll.”

Javier Ambler was driving home from a friendly poker game in the early hours of March 28, 2019, when a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy noticed that he failed to dim the headlights of his SUV to oncoming traffic.

Twenty-eight minutes later, the black father of two sons lay dying on a North Austin street after deputies held him down and used Tasers on him four times while a crew from A&E’s reality show Live PD filmed.

Ambler, a 40-year-old former postal worker, repeatedly pleaded for mercy, telling deputies he had congestive heart failure and couldn’t breathe. He cried, ‘Save me,’ before deputies deployed a final shock.

His death never made headlines.

Now, after months of questioning and requests for information from the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, recently released documents and police video shed light on that fatal night at a time when the nation confronts decades of injustice against minorities by law enforcement.

They would go on to say:

Ambler’s death also renews scrutiny on a suburban agency that has been under fire for more than a year, largely because of its relationship with the reality TV show.

So here you have an example of the Williamson County Sheriff was promoting this, lobbying city council as good for recruiting and he didn’t give a shit that there’s anecdotal evidence from people who were involved in the raid in Detroit, it says the reason why they do these tough guy tactics, rather why they’re more likely to do them, they of course do them with or without reality TV, but they’re more incentivized to do them to kind of do this whole Zero Dark Thirty thing because the cameras are rolling.

Nima: So you have to look really tough.

Adam: Because they’re recruiting tools and no one’s going to want to join a police department when you go around and you get cats out of trees and polish apples for old ladies, right? You want to go kick some fucking ass and so they know this and they sex that up and invariably this leads to people getting killed. People are starting to see this for what it is and no longer hiding behind the kind of, for the longest time and there is still is to some extent, but it’s slowly being chipped away at over the past few days and few weeks, there’s this moral firewall between what we create and our politics and people will sort of resign to these things. It’s sort of like the ‘I’m just a comedian’ line, right? ‘I’m not responsible for anything I do’ when I say something stupid or bad, I can just go ‘Oh, it’s just a joke.’

Nima: ‘Yeah, hey, I was just, it was just a goof. I don’t have to actually take on any responsibility,’ which actually is a weird thing that even Jon Stewart used to do, even wielding tremendous power as the most watched news program and yet, when there was any sort of pushback, when there was any sort of light then shine back on like, ‘Well, you know, you really do have this platform and if you use it irresponsibly that actually has repercussions.’ It was like, ‘Hey, yeah, we’re just trying to make people laugh here.’ It’s like, what? There is some level of accountability and responsibility that you have when you are putting ideas out there and commenting on things you can’t just say, ‘Hey, I’m just making jokes. I am not responsible.’

Adam: Yeah, I think there was a fear that if you cross this line you become, the assumption was that you’re Tipper Gore, right? That you’re scolding content, and there’s always been this sort of glibertarian streak in the American Hollywood left where you sort of say, you know, ‘I’m an artist, I create’ that if you somehow open up the floodgates to interrogating the moral or political content of what you create, that somehow that will inhibit creativity, and everybody will just become a boring left-wing scold, cancels everyone, and there’s no there’s no more creativity, right?

Nima: Right. Right.

Adam: And that may be true, but I don’t care because the consequences are high. I don’t really care about your precious creativity and there’s plenty of creativity you could do that doesn’t require just recycling pro-cop propaganda, I mean, there has to be other things we can explore and people are trying to explore those and I hope we get more and more of that, but it’s sort of like you’re just doing the cop drama because it’s a fucking formula you know is going to sell. You’re not just sitting there like Ralph Waldo Emerson sort of contemplating life and you sort of a priori came up with a show about cops beating in people’s heads, I mean, this is a fucking product that you’re selling so I think a lot of that’s bullshit and you see this is now shifting. So you saw the Washington Post, other than the New York Times where edgy ideas go to die and conventional wisdom is codified, a piece by Alyssa Rosenberg, who has actually been very critical of police TV dramas for several years, before it was cool, before we did, wrote an article called, “Shut down all police movies and TV shows. Now.” Which triggered the right very much. Fox News talked about it I think for about five hours that night. The piece kind of still does PR for Brooklyn Nine Nine, it sort of soft pedals it’s copaganda, but mostly it’s very good and then Vulture wrote, “Cops are Always the Main Characters,” which was a pretty robust criticism of the use of police in police serials.

Nima: Yeah, but I mean these shows it’s not, and Rosenberg touches on this of course, but it’s not just the ride-along shows, right? The valorization of cops obviously suffuses all of our media. So just recently, June 2, USA Today reported that a writer for Law and Order: SVU was fired for threatening to quote-unquote “light up” looters in a post on Instagram. So, you know, this guy Craig Gore was a writer on SVU, posted this thing with him in a mask and a semi-automatic or whatever and threatening people in LA who were out after curfew and and so Dick Wolf, the executive producer of Law and Order and other shows like Chicago and FBI, issued a statement last week saying this, quote, “I will not tolerate this conduct, especially during our hour of national grief. I am terminating Craig Gore immediately.” Unquote. Now, again, this is from Dick Wolf, who incidentally is the number one benefactor of copaganda.

Adam: Yeah, so as we mentioned on Episode 94 about pseudoscience, Dick Wolf was very open in a 2002 interview that the goal of Law and Order was to venerate prosecutors and police, that he thought prosecutors had gotten a bad name over the years and that shows like Perry Mason had sort of put too much emphasis on defense lawyers and he thought prosecutors needed their day in the sun and basically said that everyone in jail was by definition guilty in that interview. So Dick Wolf is, now everyone’s going back real quick and sort of deleting their ideological internet history, right? We’re sort of ‘Oh, I didn’t do that. I’m actually woke now.’ Dick Wolf has always been, we talked about this on Episode 94, Dick Wolf parties and hangs out with police. So just a quick search for some of his events, Dick Wolf was honored by the Department of Homeland Security Foundation, which is aligned with the Department Homeland Security in May of 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue, and we’re going to read you the invitation to this event. “The Ridge Awards is an annual ceremony in fundraising honoring federal agents in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. This year on May 19, the Ridge Awards will also honor Dick Wolf, two time Emmy Award winning writer, producer and creator of Law and Order, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD with a Lifetime Achievement Award.” So the attendees included, quote, “John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism at the NYPD who will receive the Patriot Award, John J. Reilly, the Deputy Administrator of the DEA… and Dick Wolf… and fourteen agents within the DEA who have been nominated for the Ridge Awards for the disruption, dismantling of an international drug trafficking organization that resulted in 131 arrests.” I’m sure that’s a real thing that existed that needed to be down.

Nima: So that is the outraged Dick Wolf at his writer who apparently doesn’t like protesters, which seems to be the thing that Dick Wolf is about.

Adam: I can’t stress to you how normal this is. So in 2009, I was waiting tables at a place called The Charles which is now defunct, it was in the West Village, and I was waiting a fundraiser for the NYPD Foundation and then Commissioner Bratton was there. And I remember this because we all thought it was really funny, because we said, “Hello, Commissioner” — from Dark Knight, it was 2009, it was heady times — and there was a bunch of celebrities there and one of them was Dan Patrick from ESPN who was sort of doing this and it was all these big wigs from banks, and they’re all donating money to the NYPD Foundation and they were just hobnobbing with celebrities and it was like, this is just a normal thing we do, we give money to the police, because they’re sort of seen as this thing that’s either very value neutral or good.

Nima: Right.

Adam: And this kind of hobnobbing, this kind of revolving door between the police and entertainment industry has been going on for so long, and has been essential to codifying the public perception of crime and police that now that people are challenging it, I mean, people don’t know how to handle it and so you have, you know, Comcast the other day, two days ago announced they were dedicating $100 million to social justice media creation products, which is perfectly fine, but Comcast owns NBC, which runs Chicago PD, which is one of the more egregious violators of copaganda, a show that is basically just a love letter to, this is also a Dick Wolf show. I want to read you real quick a few of the tag lines from their posters. It’s got a tough white guy staring at the camera and it says “Don’t f*** with my city.” The fuck is asterisked out. There was a Chicago PD tweet that tweeted out a picture of two police standing over a suspect twisting his arm, very obviously torturing him and it says in sort of gritty graffiti “Do what you got to do #ChicagoPD.”

Nima: That’s literally an ad for police brutality.

Adam: It is and the tweet says, “Too far? Or not far enough. Chicago PD.”

Nima: Tune in tonight at nine.

Adam: There’s another with a white cop who is holding a shotgun and he’s sort of screaming and it says, “Don’t test us.”

Nima: It’s just this Clint Eastwood nonsense.

Adam: The show is second to Blue Bloods on CBS, which is just a show that is created for and created by and designed for cops. I mean, it’s for the consumption of people in that community and the people who work on these shows, again, they attend fundraisers, they attend events, they’re all buddy-buddy with them and more important they hire consultants.

Nima: So all of these shows, whether it’s network TV or streaming services, all of these shows employ consultants that were, you know, like former cops, former FBI, former military, so you have this litany, that the organization Color of Change has provided, which kind of lists off all the police, FBI, military consultants, by the series that they work on it includes, you know, CBS which is NCIS and Elementary and NCIS: New Orleans and SWAT, Criminal Minds, Bull, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, NCIS: Los Angeles. You then have NBC shows like The Blacklist, Chicago PD, Shades of Blue, Law and Order: SVU, you have Amazon shows Bosch and Goliath, you have Netflix shows Mindhunter and Seven Seconds. The list continues if you kind of expand the aperture out and start looking at other TV shows, all the movies that employ former cops and former military. It’s this cottage industry of venerating cops and paying cops and paying the military to consult on your show or your movie to make it even more brutal, even more realistic, which then just kind of like makes it more enticing.

Adam: Yeah, because when they talk about the military or cop advisors, their whole thing is like, ‘Oh, we want it to be authentic,’ and your way of making it authentic you’re going to smuggle in a ton of ideology. Your police advisor is going to say, ‘Oh, well the suspects always run or the suspects are always, you know, holding drugs or the suspects always fight back.’ ‘Oh, that’s realistic.’ Well, no, the Blue Lives Matter crowd has a very fucking fervent ideology.

Nima: Right.

Adam: And that informs how they view quote-unquote “police work” and so that necessarily trickles into the show because, again, these shows don’t consult defense attorneys, they don’t consult the ACLU, they don’t consult the other side of the equation. They only consult cops because that’s who they worship, and that’s who they venerate.

Nima: And so that veneration extends even to the kind of hand wringing antihero, even when you’re meant to think that the cop main character is, you know, well, he’s not all together good, he uses brutal tactics, but let’s learn about his past, let’s learn about his divorce, let’s learn about how he hasn’t seen his kid in seven years and now he is humanized and we understand the motivation that goes into then throwing kids up against a wall and beating their heads and with the butt of his pistol but we don’t get that kind of attention on the victims of his violence, right? And so even in the ‘Let’s make this authentic, let’s make this nuanced and complex,’ it’s still doing the work of propaganda.

Adam: Yeah, because I mean to be clear like a few of these shows will have like a Crucible episode, there’ll be a Law and Order where they convict the wrong person and they sort of fret about it, one out of every like 50 shows, some of them will have a bad apple they catch but the overall content is approved by police because again they’re all friends with police, they all know police, they all hang out with police. It’s sort of like the anti war movie that all the soldiers love and the generals love, which is like okay, is that really an anti war movie? Or did you just make —

Nima: ‘It really tells it like it is,’

Adam: Yeah, you just make it look fucking cool, it’s sort of war is hell? It’s like the hell part is what they’re selling man. That’s what people sign up for, they sign up for the cool ass shit. So as we enter this new sort of mode of cultural criticism, I’m curious where it goes from here because, again, I think, what you’re going to see more and more is this kind of reformed cop show where you, you know, you have shows like on ABC For Life, which is a show about someone who gets innocent people out of jail, you see, so Dick Wolf is now doing the only thing he can do now, he’s bringing back the character of Stabler from Law and Order: SVU in a new show where he fights hate crimes. So he’s doing the form of liberal carceralism that’s kind of vaguely still politically correct because who’s going to oppose throwing people in jail for hate crimes? So it’s going to sort of be copaganda in the most narrow, liberally acceptable way you can now sort of do it.

Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU.

Nima: Right. Next is going to be like the ICC prosecutor, but at least they just take down African dictators and no one else.

Adam: So, Linda Fairstein, the now infamous prosecutor from what is commonly known as the Central Park Five, what we now call the Exonerated Five, she was an early consultant to Law and Order: SVU. In fact, she’s very close with many of the people who started Law and Order: SVU and Law and Order: SVU, again, is designed to, it uses carceral feminism, it uses protecting sex crime and sex victims which is again the first thing anyone mentions when you talk about abolition, ‘What do we do about rape?’ Because again, that’s serious, but so far the legal system is failed but it doesn’t fail on television where they always catch the rapist, they always catch the bad guy, it has a very sort of feminist kind of slant to it and that’s by design because Dick Wolf kind of sells police, sells carceralism with a little bit of a liberal twist and this is why all the people they arrest who commit murder in New York are wealthy white doctors, right? Because if you had a show where it was realistic, where the NYPD was going around harassing black kids, nobody would want to watch that because why the fuck would you want to watch that? It’s sad.

Nima: Like the thing is, it’s a little realistic but like not the kind of realistic I want to watch.

Adam: Yeah, where they’re like framing Puerto Rican kids and it’s like, nobody wants to watch that, right? They do this inverted thing where it’s a fantasy where the NYPD is a fighting force for the little man, when of course they’re not and now we’re at a time where people, and this is why he had to have Stabler go fight hate crimes, because there’s not much left you can do that isn’t going to be politically incorrect at this point and I mean that in a good way. So like, where do we go from here? Where do all these cop shows go? Most of them will probably just stay, Blue Bloods is going to tell everyone to go fuck themselves because it’s only 60 year old Fox News viewers who watch it but like there is a real reckoning now and a real thought process about copaganda and whether or not we can view cops as, I mean, forget good, which they all do, but even morally neutral, is this something that’s kind of something that we don’t need to take a stand on?

Nima: Yeah. So I think that where this goes from here is something that we’re going to be paying close attention to, you know, we figured this news about Live PD and Cops being pulled from TV at this time really speaks to not only the power of movement, the power of protests, the power of an uprising, that there are real demands being made that obviously go far beyond what’s on TV, but I think it’s really kind of amazing, that it is affecting pop culture as well, that politics can’t really move in a certain way without pop culture moving as well and so seeing that happen now is a really important step. Is it the most important set? No, but it is noticeable and so we wanted to mention that especially because we’ve talked about these fucking shows and Citations Needed a lot and so now the fact that there might be some sort of consequence, some sort of reckoning —

Adam: We’re not allowed to win, though, it’s bad for our brand.

Nima: (Laughs.) It’s super bad for our brand.

Adam: We’re not allowed to actually make progress, we’ll be out of business.

Nima: They’ll be rebranded, there’ll be Not Cops.

Adam: Yeah.

Nima: They’ll just do direct to video, endless behind enemy lines movies, right? They’ll just, they’ll keep pumping them out so that the Clint Eastwood crowd will be sated, and then kind of launder pro-cop stuff through more shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Adam: Yeah.

Nima: That’s what we’re going to get.

Adam: The idea that you can think critically about how your work, how your creative work, perpetuate systems of power seems pretty basic to me. It seems like something that you should have to ask yourself, and it seems like a line has been crossed now where people are compelled to do that and I don’t think it should result in self-flagellation, and you know, ‘I’ll do better,’ all that shit. It’s like, look, just go produce things that aren’t picking on people who are vulnerable. It’s not hard, I mean, there’s plenty of good stories that are about people standing up for the little guy, but the whole power dynamic got warped in the ‘90s where the prosecutors became the little guy and the big guy became slick defense lawyers and for decades the good guys were defense attorneys. We can do it, it’s not hard.

Nima: But that’s not the purpose of the shows, right? Like the purpose of the show, much like other shows on A&E, which actually, we’ve discussed before on our Addiction Reality Show episode, that it’s not about boosting people up, it’s about breaking people down and for the viewer, it’s so much about saying, ‘Well, thank God, I’m not like that. Thank God as bad as my life is, as hard as my life may be, at least I’m not like that,’ and I think that it’s that kind of punching down and holier than thou kind of TV which we see in Cops, certainly, in shows like Hoarders, in shows like Intervention. It all kind of works together, right? And in addition to the racism and the classism, obviously, that is embedded in that, and so if that is going to shift, even just a little, I think that is great and we will keep an eye on that. We’ll see how long it takes for Live PD to come back on air I guess.

Adam: Yeah, probably pretty quick, people will probably try to wait till this blows over.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: And so, you know, they’ll probably bring back Live PD and Cops eventually maybe, but for now, people are at least thinking about the cultural products they create. What a novel concept.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: Before we go on the last News Brief, we did a quick shout out to a few righteous organizations we suggested you donate to and said if you tweeted or Facebooked us your receipt, we would call out your name. Well, turns out was a big hit, you raised over $10,000. That’s what the receipts were sent to us.

Nima: Which is amazing, you are all amazing and so thank you to all of you listening, of course, to this Citations Needed New bBrief and extra special thank you to the incredible people who donated to the three organizations we spoke about: National Bailout, Assata’s Daughters and the Chicago Freedom School. Incredible response to that, thank you to all of you, you are all amazing and you have our eternal gratitude. Thank you, all of you, you are fucking amazing.

Adam: And some people donated anonymously, thank you to those people too and for those, of course, who gave a lot of money, $300, $400 or %500, $700, thank you very much you went above and beyond, we appreciate that, I know the organizations appreciate that.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: We were pleasantly shocked that y’all donated $10,000.

Nima: Keep it going. Please.

Adam: And we really appreciate it. Yeah, keep it going, if you keep doing it and keep tweeting at us or Facebook messaging us, we’ll keep reading them. For the foreseeable future we’d really appreciate your support. I know right now people are looking to groups to donate to and to help out and I know that these groups are useful and if any different ones come in, it sucks you have to sort of choose but these are ones that we’re familiar with. And as we move forward, I’m sure we’ll probably think of other causes or organizations we can help promote, if you can, I know again, I know that if you can, if you absolutely can give we recommend your do. Again, these are organizations that Florence, Nima, myself, all give to so we don’t promote things we ourselves don’t give to. So we very much appreciate the outpouring of support and it makes us optimistic and of course, there’s a ton of other things you can do other than charity. So definitely do that. But for the purposes of this, that’s what we’re asking for.

Nima: So that will do it for this Citations Needed News Brief, thank you again for listening. Of course you can follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed and become a supporter of our work, if you are able to at this time and have already given to organizations that need it, but you can do that if you want to through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. Thank you all for sharing the show, for ranking the show, for rating the show, it does go a long way and we cannot do the show without all of you. So thank you all for listening, cannot thank you enough, you make the show possible. So with that, we will end this News Brief. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: Citations Needed is produced by Florence Barrau-Adams. Associate producer is Julianne Tveten. Production assistant is Trendel Lightburn. Newsletter by Marco Cartolano. Transcriptions by Morgan McAslan. The music is by Grandaddy. Thank you again, everyone. We’ll catch you next time.


This Citations Needed News Brief was released on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Transcription by Morgan McAslan.