It's time to introduce PolicyMic's politics guru and editor extraordinaire Michael Luciano. As part of our editors' blog, we continue to introduce each one of our awesome editors, so you can get to know PolicyMic's awesome team. Check out my interview with Chris Miles here, Elena Sheppard here, Sam Meier here, and Alex Marin here. Ask Mike more questions in the comments below, or test his political knowledge with a trivia question.
Jake Horowitz: What’s in your daily news diet? What are the sites, blogs, or outlets where you go to get your coverage of politics?
Working at PolicyMic, it has been a myriad of sites. We wouldn't be very good at our jobs if we weren't on at least 30 different news sites or blogs a day. But personally, I enjoy reading Salon, Slate, Buffalo Beast, and the Guardian. I especially enjoy reading David Sirota and Glenn Greenwald.
You’re a big fan of Matt Taibbi, who has recently written a lot about the problems with the U.S. media’s horse race coverage of this election. What do you see as the biggest flaw in mainstream media coverage of the Obama vs. Romney race?
Taibbi is obviously a great writer -- a sort of Gonzo version of H.L. Mencken -- but he doesn't get nearly enough credit as a journalist because people are put off by his colorful language. He deserves a lot of props for his work on the financial crisis, especially his pieces on the giant speculative casino that is today's derivatives market and the massive foreclosure fraud undertaken by major financial institutions.
The biggest flaw in the media's coverage of the election is just what you said -- the horse race aspect that now dominates the discussion and all of the bullshit that comes with it. Good luck finding out what the candidates think about regulating the aforementioned derivatives market, or what kind of leverage the nation's largest banks should be playing with. These aren't sexy topics, but these issues were at the heart of the financial crisis, and they're likely to be at the center of the next one. And yes, there will be a next one.
How can PolicyMic avoid this problem? What can PolicyMic do differently to advance the discussion?
PolicyMic hasn't been immune from falling into this, and I include myself. To grow as a site, we've had to "feed the monster," as Alex Marin says. When we run stories on polls, it's because people are searching for it -- lots of people -- so we give them what they want. But on PolicyMic, there's also a lot of great in-depth coverage of the more substantive policy issues involved, so it's good we've found a balance.
You’re practically a walking politics encyclopedia. Is there a Congressional race you don’t know about? No, but seriously, how did you develop such a passion for politics?
I've always had a good memory, especially when it comes to things I'm interested in -- politics, history, baseball, whatever. Politics has just always interested me because it's the process that determines who gets what, why, and how. It inherently lends itself to conflict, and conflict is endlessly fascinating.
In college, I was definitely passionate about politics, but these days I follow politics more as a disinterested observer looking to satisfy a morbid curiosity -- like a motorist who slows down to check out a car wreck. And that's what our political system has become -- one huge car wreck unfolding in slow motion over several decades.
Your political leaning is no secret. You’ll probably never vote for a Republican, but name three Republicans in Congress who you respect.
Actually, I'm going to make a confession that will rock the PolicyMic world. In 2002, I voted for Mitt Romney for governor of Massachusetts. I was one of those left-leaning Massachusetts residents who thought it was a good idea to stick with the state's tradition of voting in moderate Republicans as governor to act as a counterweight to the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature. That was a mistake. Then in 2008 I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. Those are the only times I voted Republican.
As for three Republicans in Congress I can respect, Representatives Ron Paul and Walter Jones, and Senator Rand Paul.
Being a Massachusetts native, what is the number one most under-reported thing you’d like people to know about Mitt Romney and his time as governor of your state?
It's hard for the media to under-report anything about Romney's record when he's been running for president since 2007. Romney has a well-deserved reputation as a flip-flopper, but I encourage people to actually see it for themselves. There are YouTube clips out there from Romney's U.S. Senate run against Ted Kennedy in 1994, where he says abortion should be safe and legal, and where he alludes to a federal universal health care system. Similar clips can be found from his 2002 gubernatorial debates. I mean, it's one thing to accept the narrative of Romney as a flip-flopper, but I encourage people to check this stuff out. It's just unbelievable to see how Romney's positions have dramatically changed based on what's politically expedient. Politicians are always altering their positions, but Mitt Romney is on a whole other level. The guy is the ultimate political chameleon.
You’re running a PolicyMic Digital Media Bootcamp, to teach people how to go viral. Tell me more about it, why it works, and how people can get involved.
We have two programs. The Digital Media Bootcamp is for PolicyMic users who want to hone their writing skills while also learning how to write for an online audience. It's a great way to learn the ins and outs of online media content creation while getting their writing some exposure. Then there's our new Writing Internship for College Credit, which is based on the same idea, but the program is more intensive and open to those who can receive course credit for writing for PolicyMic.
Now, for some fun (four quick hits): Best Stewie Griffin quote from the Family Guy:
Any of those scenes where Stewie is mocking Brian for his novel. You know, the one he was working on three years ago. I also do Stewie impressions upon request.
Drink of choice on election night:
I'm working that night, so beer. Probably Sam Adams. But if Romney wins, I'm going to have to switch to the hard stuff -- vodka-sodas or Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks.
Year that the Red Sox will win the World Series again:
Who knows? Let's say 2018. They're going to need a few years to recover from this season. I mean, did you see that lineup they finished with this season? Hey Red Sox, your minor league affiliates called. They want their players back.
What you’ve liked most about NYC since moving here:
There's always something to do and people to talk to, no matter what day or time it is. Contrary to its reputation, the people in New York are generally very cool and open -- probably because many of them aren't originally from here, so they're up for meeting new people.
Finally, when you’re not writing and editing at PolicyMic, where can people find you having fun?
I'm a big fan of the night-life in New York, and I'm becoming fast-acquainted with the city's restaurants and bars. When I'm not wreaking havoc on my internal organs I can be found running along the West Side highway or at the gym. It's a strange combination of unhealthy and healthy living habits, but I think I've found a good balance. Worst case scenario, the drinking and exercising should cancel each other out.