For-profit

Crooked Media

Formation:

2017

Type:

Political Media Company

Founders:

Jon Favreau

Jon Lovett

Tommy Vietor

Crooked Media is a left-of-center political media company founded by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, all former senior aides to President Barack Obama. The company was founded in early 2017 after the election of President Donald Trump. [1]

Crooked Media is best known for its podcast Pod Save America, which is hosted by Favreau, Lovett, and Vietor and reportedly received 1.5 million listeners per episode as of late 2017. [2] In October 2017, the company announced the launch of Crooked.com, a left-leaning news and commentary website. [3]

Crooked Media openly engages in progressive political activism, including by urging its listeners to support policies such as gun control and the Obamacare, to vote for Democratic candidates, and to stage demonstrations and protests. [4] Co-founder Jon Favreau said of the venture, “I don’t know if it’s a political movement or a media company.” [5]

In a 2017 interview, Crooked Media’s founders said that the company is funded entirely through advertising revenue. [6]

Founding

Co-founders Favreau and Lovett both worked as speechwriters for former President Barack Obama, while Vietor was a spokesman and press aide. All three left the Obama administration to become political commentators and launch ventures of their own. In March 2016, they joined with fellow former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer to host the left-leaning political podcast Keepin’ it 1600, which was produced by the pop culture media company The Ringer. [7]

Following the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016, Favreau, Lovett, and Vietor decided to do podcasting and activism full-time in opposition to the Trump Administration. They ended Keepin’ It 1600 in December, launching Crooked Media and its flagship program Pod Save America the following month. [8] Crooked Media was named after a phrase used by Donald Trump to attack his adversaries during the 2016 Presidential campaign. [9]

Political Activism

Crooked Media openly engages in campaigning for liberal causes and candidates. In 2017, it partnered with controversial left-wing advocacy group MoveOn to send nearly 2,000 of its podcast listeners to Republican congressional “town hall” events for the purpose of disrupting the meetings. [10]

During the 2018 midterm elections, Crooked Media engaged in fundraising and get out the vote efforts. It launched a partnership with liberal political group Swing Left for the purpose of winning seven House of Representatives districts held by California Republicans. All seven districts targeted were won by Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. [11]

“Pod Save America”

Crooked Media’s flagship product is the podcast Pod Save America. In addition to providing commentary on recent news items relating to politics, the show aims to mobilize its listeners to engage in left-leaning and anti-Trump political activism. [12]

The New York Times described the podcast as “one of the big breakout hits of the nascent resistance movement” and “the left’s answer to conservative talk radio.” [13]

Pod Save America’s popularity with key blocks of the Democratic electorate has made it an attractive interview outlet for politicians, activists, and journalists on the political left. Guests have included former President Barack Obama, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kamala Harris (D-CA). [14]

Other Productions

Podcasts

With the success of Pod Save America, Crooked Media launched several spin-off podcasts.

Pod Save the World, hosted by Vietor, focuses on foreign policy. Its episodes often focus on criticizing the foreign policy decisions of the Trump Administration. [15]

Pod Save the People is hosted by controversial Black Lives Matter and LGBT activist DeRay Mckesson and focuses on social justice and progressive activism. [16]

Lovett or Leave It, hosted by Lovett, is a political commentary and interview show which satirizes conservatives and Trump supporters. [17]

The Wilderness, hosted by Jon Favreau, is a podcast docuseries about the Democratic Party as it seeks to regain the presidency. [18]

Crooked Media’s additional podcast productions include With Friends Like These, hosted by political journalist Ana Marie Cox; Hysteria, a feminist podcast hosted by Erin Ryan; and Majority 54, hosted by former Missouri Secretary of State and Democratic politician Jason Kander focused on “how Democrats can talk to Trump voters about divisive issues.” [19]

Online News and Commentary

In October 2017, Crooked Media launched Crooked.com, a text journalism site helmed by Brian Beutler, a former senior editor at the left-leaning publication The New Republic. The company also announced the ‘Crooked Contributors’ network, comprised of journalists, activists, organizers, policy experts, campaign veterans, and comedians who would write for crooked.com and be featured in Crooked Media’s podcasts and other productions. [20]

Live Events

Crooked Media held a live tour, billed as “Pod Tours America,” in the fall of 2017. The tour featured live versions of Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It, recorded in front of audiences in music halls and large auditoriums including Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The recordings were released as podcast episodes. [21]

A second tour, “Pod Tours the World,” was held in 2018, with live shows in Stockholm, Oslo, Amsterdam, and London, where the hosts discussed their opposition to President Trump in front of international audiences. [22]

References

  1. Johnson, Eric. “Crooked Media’s founders aren’t paying themselves anything.” Recode. Mar 15, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.recode.net/2017/3/15/14926278/crooked-media-pod-save-america-jon-favreau-tommy-vietor-jon-lovett-sxsw-recode-podcast ^
  2. Zengerle, Jason. “The Voices in Blue America’s Head.” The New York Times. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/magazine/the-voices-in-blue-americas-head.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ^
  3. Owen, Laura. “Crooked Media expands from podcasts to text, with a new site and plans for investigative reporting.” Nieman Lab. October 5, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.niemanlab.org/2017/10/crooked-media-expands-from-podcasts-to-text-with-a-new-site-and-plans-for-investigative-reporting/ ^
  4. Zengerle, Jason. “The Voices in Blue America’s Head.” The New York Times. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/magazine/the-voices-in-blue-americas-head.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ^
  5. Rutenberg, Jim. “Opposition and a Shave: Former Obama Aides Counter Trump.” The New York Times. March 20, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/business/media/rutenberg-trump-opposition-pod-save-america.html ^
  6. Johnson, Eric. “Crooked Media’s founders aren’t paying themselves anything.” Recode. Mar 15, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.recode.net/2017/3/15/14926278/crooked-media-pod-save-america-jon-favreau-tommy-vietor-jon-lovett-sxsw-recode-podcast ^
  7. “’Keepin’ It 1600’ Hosts Launch New Podcast ‘Pod Save America.’” All Access. January 9, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/161370/keepin-it-1600-hosts-launch-new-podcast-pod-save-a ^
  8. “’Keepin’ It 1600’ Hosts Launch New Podcast ‘Pod Save America.’” All Access. January 9, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/161370/keepin-it-1600-hosts-launch-new-podcast-pod-save-a ^
  9. Rutenberg, Jim. “Opposition and a Shave: Former Obama Aides Counter Trump.” The New York Times. March 20, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/business/media/rutenberg-trump-opposition-pod-save-america.html ^
  10. Zengerle, Jason. “The Voices in Blue America’s Head.” The New York Times. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/magazine/the-voices-in-blue-americas-head.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ^
  11. Garofoli, Joe. “‘Pod Save America’ about to take its next step.” San Francisco Chronicle. Dec. 9, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Pod-Save-America-about-to-take-its-next-step-12418780.php#photo-14676290 ^
  12. Zengerle, Jason. “The Voices in Blue America’s Head.” The New York Times. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/magazine/the-voices-in-blue-americas-head.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ^
  13. Zengerle, Jason. “The Voices in Blue America’s Head.” The New York Times. November 22, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/magazine/the-voices-in-blue-americas-head.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ^
  14. Thompson, Alex. “Can you hear me now? Podcasts are becoming the left’s right-wing talk radio.” August 31, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/a3jadk/podcasts-are-becoming-the-lefts-right-wing-talk-radio ^
  15. “Pod Save the World.” Art19. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://art19.com/shows/pod-save-the-world ^
  16. Sands, Darren. “DeRay Mckesson Is Going To Host A Crooked Media Podcast.” Buzzfeed. April 25, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/darrensands/deray-mckesson-is-going-to-host-a-crooked-media-podcast ^
  17. Verdier, Hannah. “Lovett or Leave It: the Pod Save America crew take the political panel show and make it funny.” The Guardian. March 30, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2017/mar/30/lovett-or-leave-it-podcast-trumps-america-obama-scriptwriter ^
  18. Larson, Sarah. “‘The Wilderness,’ Reviewed: Can a Partisan Podcast Save the Democratic Party?” The New Yorker. July 25, 2018. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/podcast-dept/the-wilderness-reviewed-can-a-partisan-podcast-save-the-democratic-party ^
  19. “Podcasts.” Crooked.com. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://crooked.com/ ^
  20. Owen, Laura. “Crooked Media expands from podcasts to text, with a new site and plans for investigative reporting.” Nieman Lab. October 5, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.niemanlab.org/2017/10/crooked-media-expands-from-podcasts-to-text-with-a-new-site-and-plans-for-investigative-reporting/ ^
  21. “Pod Save America announces nationwide tour.” Consequence of Sound. August 16, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/08/pod-save-america-announces-nationwide-tour/ ^
  22. “Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It are coming to London in January, here’s how to get tickets.” The List. December 1, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. https://www.list.co.uk/article/97781-pod-save-america-and-lovett-or-leave-it-are-coming-to-london-in-january-heres-how-to-get-tickets/ ^
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