The conservative youth movement Turning Point USA (TPUSA) has become one of the Republican Party’s fiercest battlegrounds, and its annual convention certainly provided its share of talking points.
On this week’s episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast, hosts Will Sommer and special guest host Sam Brodey recap all of the cringiest moments from last week’s TPUSA convention—and outline how the conference has become a strange but poignant indicator of which direction the right wing of the Republican party is headed.
“I love watching how they organize the headliners and undercards of the festival, and who gets placed where,” Brodey said. “Like, we got Tim Pool getting top billing above multiple U.S. senators and congressmen—it’s just an amazing sort of reflection of their view of the world.”
“Also, it does seem like this conference is the venue for a lot of weirdness, including older politicians repeatedly telling this group of young people to be fruitful and multiply and put down the porn,” he added. “Josh Hawley literally said, ‘You guys need to log off the porn.’ It’s just like, oh boy.”
Hawley’s appearances at events like these appear to be a not-so-subtle indicator of his presidential ambitions, both hosts agreed—and the same is true for TPUSA all-stars who were met with raucous applause during their recent appearances, including losing Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), among others.
Then, the hosts hand out their end-of-the-year awards—dubbed the “Dreamies.” For the best grift, Brodey chose Donald Trump’s relentless fundraising, which has taken some incredibly aggressive (some would argue illegal) tactics and, rather than funding his campaigns, has gone mostly toward funding his legal costs and personal expenses.
The best conspiracy of the year went to a real whopper: the idea, pushed by a certain set of deranged TikTokkers, that ancient Rome did not exist.
Then, the Fever Dreams crew checks in on American media’s old guard—this time in the form of embattled network CNN. The cable stalwart has a new boss and a lot fewer employees than it did just a few months ago, says Daily Beast media reporter Corbin Bolies, and for the immediate future it’s likely going to take a wait-and-see approach to figure out if all the recent changes are working.
“It’s in a bit of a rocky transition to put it mildly,” Bolies said.
In addition, the newsletter boom is “cooling off,” Twitter seems headed for “collapse” and several top editors at The New York Times seem destined to depart at some point in the new year, according to Bolies.
Call it the 2023 “media death watch.”
Listen, and subscribe, to Fever Dreams on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.