Brian, I already made that graphic. Narineh is a California patriot and native. How could words capture her desire to seek beauty in unexpected places or convey her sense of wonder? Should she mention that her favorite feeling is being in a new place for the first time or that she likes to listen to the sound of spaces? That she loves to cook for friends and spend time in nature and write in her journal?
Or should she stick to her qualifications: that she worked on the Rookie podcast, a variety of shows at MTV News, and in public radio at Marketplace, the economics show? Does this count as a bio? Roman studied politics at Princeton, where he did everything in his power not to become the next Ted Cruz. Her interests are totally normal and not all weird. Caroline misses Bethenny and hopes she returns to the franchise soon.
It was early s Long Island punk music that did it. He soon began working as a full-time psychotherapist while simultaneously recording bands in his Brooklyn-based recording studio. From there, he mixed for various TV shows, recorded and produced bands, post-mixed films and Internet media, and sound designed as a freelancer and staff engineer in both NYC and LA. In Kyle moved to the west coast to become a full time Californian.
Kyle is also an avid TV-watcher, news-reader, dog-haver, and, totally without bragging, has a lot of plants. Feel free to wake him up. After he graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Media Studies, he began working in marketing with lifestyle brands like Good American, Rachel Zoe, and Popsugar. In case you were wondering, Jordan Silver is his real name and not a stage name. She was born in Potomac, MD, which also happens to be the location of the newest franchise of the Real Housewives.
Alison Starr sadly turned down an audition for a less serious career in sales, her previous employers include Conde Nast, Mic and the Outline. While Neil loves VR, he is excited to join the real world in its resistance. He is an avid consumer of: news, plane tickets, sneakers, hoodies, HBO, and fine foods. Jordan is an alum of the Fox News nightmare that is Brown University.
He is a grassroots organizer and grasstops pooper who greets every visitor to Crooked Media with two paws and a full heart. Leo is fighting for better toys, more string cheese, longer walks, and a political revolution that will deliver social and economic justice for all. He believes in the power of one voice to change a room, like when his half-sister Pundit barks during Game of Thrones. Currently, Pundit is licking her privates and hoping that General Kelly will finally get Trump to pivot.
Find those deep cuts. Crooked Founders Jon Favreau Founder. Jon Lovett Founder. Jon Lovett is a straight shooter widely respected on all sides. He earned this reputation which is seriously fantastic, ask people as a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and as a presidential speechwriter in the Obama White House. Tommy Vietor Founder. Before seeking fame and fortune in podcasting, Tommy worked for President Obama for almost a decade. Ana Marie Cox is a political columnist and culture critic. DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice.
Jason Kander Host, Majority Sarah Wick Chief Operations Officer. Priyanka Aribindi Associate Editor. She also wrote this bio. EJ is Very Online, a decision she sometimes regrets. Juliet Beckstrand Assistant. Brian Beutler Editor in Chief. Brian Beutler cut his teeth in the crooked media for 12 years before finally dropping all pretense and joining a company that embraces its Crookedity. Elijah Cone Director, Digital Content.
Elijah Cone has spent his career in Los Angeles hand-crafting authentic, GMO-free, farm-to-table content experiences for a variety of faceless corporations and brands. Alison joins Crooked as penance for 3 years spent between Fox and Amazon. Nikki Fancy Head of Marketing. Kari spent several years on the dark side of the financial world as an analyst working for small local finance startups, Goldman Sachs and SpaceX.
Travis Helwig Head Writer. Travis Helwig is a three-time Emmy-award winning writer and producer. Justine Howe has been to 24 countries, 45 states, but unfortunately only 1 planet. Mellani Johnson Associate Producer. Mellani is a self-taught Motion Graphics designer who would rather animate this bio than write it. Katie listens to all the podcasts, on double speed. Shirley Ma Graphic Designer.
Michael Martinez Senior Producer, News. Michael Martinez came to Crooked after spending a decade in public radio, where he acquired enough tote bags to last the next ten lifetimes. Shaniqua McClendon Political Director. Jesse McLean Design Director. As a designer, Jesse was naturally drawn to podcasting — the most visual medium. Narineh Melkonian Associate Producer. Narineh Melkonian is a video producer who has worked on everything from mini docs to comedy webseries. Mukta Mohan was asked to write a bio and it sent her spiraling into existential crisis.
Alexis Reliford Social Media Associate. Her parents could afford a car, though they still named their daughter Alexis. She likes her name and also really wants to own a Lexus some day. Caroline Reston Associate Producer. Kyle, like all audio engineers, is a former psychotherapist. And like all former psychotherapists, Kyle loves to listen. Whites were happy to exploit other whites when they could. And by the way, blacks were often willing to exploit other blacks.
And around the globe, the majority of people lived at subsistence levels, without a say in the politics or economic forces that determined their lives. Often they were subject to the whims and cruelties of distant leaders.
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The average person saw no possibility of advancing from the circumstances of their birth. Women were almost uniformly subordinate to men. Privilege and status was rigidly bound by caste and color and ethnicity and religion. And even in my own country, even in democracies like the United States, founded on a declaration that all men are created equal, racial segregation and systemic discrimination was the law in almost half the country and the norm throughout the rest of the country.
That was the world just years ago. There are people alive today who were alive in that world. It is hard, then, to overstate the remarkable transformations that have taken place since that time. A second World War, even more terrible than the first, along with a cascade of liberation movements from Africa to Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, would finally bring an end to colonial rule.
More and more peoples, having witnessed the horrors of totalitarianism, the repeated mass slaughters of the 20th century, began to embrace a new vision for humanity, a new idea, one based not only on the principle of national self-determination, but also on the principles of democracy and rule of law and civil rights and the inherent dignity of every single individual.
In those nations with market-based economies, suddenly union movements developed; and health and safety and commercial regulations were instituted; and access to public education was expanded; and social welfare systems emerged, all with the aim of constraining the excesses of capitalism and enhancing its ability to provide opportunity not just to some but to all people. And the result was unmatched economic growth and a growth of the middle class. And in my own country, the moral force of the civil rights movement not only overthrew Jim Crow laws but it opened up the floodgates for women and historically marginalized groups to reimagine themselves, to find their own voices, to make their own claims to full citizenship.
It was in service of this long walk towards freedom and justice and equal opportunity that Nelson Mandela devoted his life. At the outset, his struggle was particular to this place, to his homeland — a fight to end apartheid, a fight to ensure lasting political and social and economic equality for its disenfranchised nonwhite citizens. But through his sacrifice and unwavering leadership and, perhaps most of all, through his moral example, Mandela and the movement he led would come to signify something larger. He came to embody the universal aspirations of dispossessed people all around the world, their hopes for a better life, the possibility of a moral transformation in the conduct of human affairs.
Do you remember that feeling?
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It seemed as if the forces of progress were on the march, that they were inexorable. And then as Madiba guided this nation through negotiation painstakingly, reconciliation, its first fair and free elections; as we all witnessed the grace and the generosity with which he embraced former enemies, the wisdom for him to step away from power once he felt his job was complete, we understood that — we understood it was not just the subjugated, the oppressed who were being freed from the shackles of the past.
The subjugator was being offered a gift, being given a chance to see in a new way, being given a chance to participate in the work of building a better world.
And during the last decades of the 20th century, the progressive, democratic vision that Nelson Mandela represented in many ways set the terms of international political debate. Yes, there were still tragedies — bloody civil wars from the Balkans to the Congo. The march was on.
A respect for human rights and the rule of law, enumerated in a declaration by the United Nations, became the guiding norm for the majority of nations, even in places where the reality fell far short of the ideal. Even when those human rights were violated, those who violated human rights were on the defensive. And with these geopolitical changes came sweeping economic changes. Suddenly they counted.
They had some power; they had the possibilities of doing business. And then came scientific breakthroughs and new infrastructure and the reduction of armed conflicts. And suddenly a billion people were lifted out of poverty, and once-starving nations were able to feed themselves, and infant mortality rates plummeted. And all that progress is real.
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It has been broad, and it has been deep, and it all happened in what — by the standards of human history — was nothing more than a blink of an eye. And now an entire generation has grown up in a world that by most measures has gotten steadily freer and healthier and wealthier and less violent and more tolerant during the course of their lifetimes. It should make us hopeful. But if we cannot deny the very real strides that our world has made since that moment when Madiba took those steps out of confinement, we also have to recognize all the ways that the international order has fallen short of its promise.
In fact, it is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the shortcomings and contradictions of this international order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business. So we have to start by admitting that whatever laws may have existed on the books, whatever wonderful pronouncements existed in constitutions, whatever nice words were spoken during these last several decades at international conferences or in the halls of the United Nations, the previous structures of privilege and power and injustice and exploitation never completely went away.
They were never fully dislodged. Caste differences still impact the life chances of people on the Indian subcontinent. Ethnic and religious differences still determine who gets opportunity from the Central Europe to the Gulf. It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa. And it is also a fact that the accumulated disadvantages of years of institutionalized oppression have created yawning disparities in income, and in wealth, and in education, and in health, in personal safety, in access to credit. Women and girls around the world continue to be blocked from positions of power and authority.
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They continue to be prevented from getting a basic education. They are disproportionately victimized by violence and abuse. Economic opportunity, for all the magnificence of the global economy, all the shining skyscrapers that have transformed the landscape around the world, entire neighborhoods, entire cities, entire regions, entire nations have been bypassed. In other words, for far too many people, the more things have changed, the more things stayed the same. And while globalization and technology have opened up new opportunities, have driven remarkable economic growth in previously struggling parts of the world, globalization has also upended the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in many countries.
And the result of all these trends has been an explosion in economic inequality.
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Think about that. In many middle-income and developing countries, new wealth has just tracked the old bad deal that people got because it reinforced or even compounded existing patterns of inequality, the only difference is it created even greater opportunities for corruption on an epic scale. Now, it should be noted that this new international elite, the professional class that supports them, differs in important respects from the ruling aristocracies of old. It includes many who are self-made.
It includes champions of meritocracy. And although still mostly white and male, as a group they reflect a diversity of nationalities and ethnicities that would have not existed a hundred years ago. A decent percentage consider themselves liberal in their politics, modern and cosmopolitan in their outlook. Unburdened by parochialism, or nationalism, or overt racial prejudice or strong religious sentiment, they are equally comfortable in New York or London or Shanghai or Nairobi or Buenos Aires, or Johannesburg.
Many are sincere and effective in their philanthropy. Some of them count Nelson Mandela among their heroes. Some even supported Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States, and by virtue of my status as a former head of state, some of them consider me as an honorary member of the club. And I get invited to these fancy things, you know?
But too often, these decisions are also made without reference to notions of human solidarity — or a ground-level understanding of the consequences that will be felt by particular people in particular communities by the decisions that are made. Which is why, at the end of the 20th century, while some Western commentators were declaring the end of history and the inevitable triumph of liberal democracy and the virtues of the global supply chain, so many missed signs of a brewing backlash — a backlash that arrived in so many forms. Russia, already humiliated by its reduced influence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, feeling threatened by democratic movements along its borders, suddenly started reasserting authoritarian control and in some cases meddling with its neighbors.
China, emboldened by its economic success, started bristling against criticism of its human rights record; it framed the promotion of universal values as nothing more than foreign meddling, imperialism under a new name. And perhaps more than anything else, the devastating impact of the financial crisis, in which the reckless behavior of financial elites resulted in years of hardship for ordinary people all around the world, made all the previous assurances of experts ring hollow — all those assurances that somehow financial regulators knew what they were doing, that somebody was minding the store, that global economic integration was an unadulterated good.
Because of the actions taken by governments during and after that crisis, including, I should add, by aggressive steps by my administration, the global economy has now returned to healthy growth. But the credibility of the international system, the faith in experts in places like Washington or Brussels, all that had taken a blow. And a politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear, and that kind of politics is now on the move. I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts.
Look around. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained — the form of it — but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good? The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise. Social media — once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity — has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories.
Two different stories, two different narratives about who we are and who we should be. How should we respond? Should we understand the last 25 years of global integration as nothing more than a detour from the previous inevitable cycle of history — where might makes right, and politics is a hostile competition between tribes and races and religions, and nations compete in a zero-sum game, constantly teetering on the edge of conflict until full-blown war breaks out?
Is that what we think? Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good. And I believe we have no choice but to move forward; that those of us who believe in democracy and civil rights and a common humanity have a better story to tell.
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And I believe this not just based on sentiment, I believe it based on hard evidence. Look at history. Look at the facts. The fact that countries which rely on rabid nationalism and xenophobia and doctrines of tribal, racial or religious superiority as their main organizing principle, the thing that holds people together — eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil war or external war. Check the history books. We have a better story to tell. But to say that our vision for the future is better is not to say that it will inevitably win.
Because history also shows the power of fear. History shows the lasting hold of greed and the desire to dominate others in the minds of men. Especially men. History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn on those who look different, or worship God in a different way. First, Madiba shows those of us who believe in freedom and democracy we are going to have to fight harder to reduce inequality and promote lasting economic opportunity for all people.
But they need bread. And when economic power is concentrated in the hands of the few, history also shows that political power is sure to follow — and that dynamic eats away at democracy. And Madiba understood this. This is not new. He warned us about this. So if we are serious about universal freedom today, if we care about social justice today, then we have a responsibility to do something about it. And I would respectfully amend what Madiba said.