Kickass News

Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit Thanks for listening!
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Now displaying: 2018
May 21, 2018

Ethan Hawke joins me on the podcast for wide ranging conversation
covering art, politics, spirirtuality, the environment, and more.  He describes working with Robin Williams on Dead Poets Society, why he finds the most creative fullfillment in music not acting, and what he calls the "spiritual marriage" between an actor and director.  He opens up about how his admiration for the work of Thomas Murton, and his thoughts on the social responsibility of religious leaders, and his own spiritual journey influenced his performance as a parish pastor in his latest film First Reformed.  Plus Ethan talks about what he calls the velocity of depression, why he’s not afraid to take long breaks from the silver screen, his work with the YMCA to help kids overcome divisiveness, and his upcoming project about our favorite “mad scientist” Nicola Tesla.

See Ethan Hawke in Paul Schrader's brilliant film First Reformed now playing in theaters.  Today's episode was sponsored by Adiamor Jewelry.

May 17, 2018

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his role in the 2000 Camp David Summit, and his tortured dealings with Yasser Arafat.  He recalls his early years growing up on a kibbutz, how his intelligence and navigating skills lead the physically unimposing young man to become commander of Israel's special forces unit Sayeret Matkal, and the time he lead a daring mission to rescue hostages on a hijacked Sabena Flight in 1972.  He talks about current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who served under his command and later became his political rival, he discusses his own transition from military officer to politician, and reveals what he says was the biggest mistake of his political career.  Plus, Ehud Barak shares how his thinking has evolved on the Iran nuclear agreement.

Order Ehud Barak's book new memoir My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace on Amazon or Audible.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Citizen Watches  and Grasshopper.

May 14, 2018

General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, talks about his concerns over President Trump's attack on the Intelligence Community and objective facts.  He refutes the President’s paranoid narrative of a so called "deep state" operating in the shadows, explains the lasting impact of a damaged relationship between the Intelligence Community and the Commander-in-Chief, and reveals what friends inside the IC are saying about that relationship including how they have to tailor the Daily Intelligence Brief to a President with zero attention span and constantly wonder “do you think he got that?”  General Hayden talks about the lasting impact of the IC’s decision to focus their efforts on cyber instead of information dominance and reveals how one analyst saw the early warning signs 2 years before the Russian attack of the 2016 election.  He weighs in on the President’s nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel, the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and why he believes Kim Jung Un is unlikely to give up his nukes.  Plus General Hayden discusses the advice he gives to those considering a job in the Administration, how the President’s Twitter addiction aids our enemies, and the Russian’s FSB’s nickname for men like Donald Trump..."the useful idiot."

Order Michael Hayden's book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies on Amazon or Audible.  and follow him on twitter at @GenMHayden.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Citizen Watches, US Marker Board, and Grasshopper.

May 10, 2018

CNN political analyst Sally Kohn talks about her investigation into the epidemic of hate all around us and how we can stop it. She discusses what scientists and researchers have learned about the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate, and how incivility can be a gateway to much worse.  She shares some surprising lessons and dramatic stories from her travels to Rwanda, the Middle East, and across the United States engaging with former terrorists, white supremacists, and even her own Twitter trolls.  Plus Sally Kohn opens up about confronting some of her own less than perfect moments such as when she bullied a classmate in school or times when the ugliness of the politics has gotten the best of her.

Order her book The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity on Amazon or Audible.  Subscribe to her podcast The State of Resistance on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.  For more information, visit and follow her on twitter at @sallykohn.  Today's podcast is sponsored by Everquote, US Marker Board, and Zyppah.

May 7, 2018

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment of crisis in American politics by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame hatred and reveals how his latest book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels was born in the dark days following the infamous Charlottesville rally.  He talks about similarities between the current age and the 1920’s, how America during Great Depression could have easily followed the path of Germany into totalitarianism, and what Donald Trump could learn from the fate of red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy.  He discusses moments when Presidents have served as moral leaders for the nation including the day George H.W. Bush handed in his NRA card and an oft forgotten speech by Dwight Eisenhower that is all too relevant today.  Plus George H.W. Bush's biographer shares some candid memories of the late former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Order Jon Meacham's book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels on Amazon or Audible.  Keep up with him at and follow him on Twitter at @jmeacham.  Today's episode was sponsored by Citizen Watches, Grasshopper, Quip, and U.S. Markerboard

May 3, 2018

For six years, journalist Vegas Tenold embedded himself
among the members of three of America's most ideologically extreme white nationalist groups including the KKK, neonazis, and the Traditionalist Workers Party.  He reveals how this self-described Norwegian socialist managed to gain access to some of the worst hate groups in America, and why he says the most dangerous groups aren’t the KKK or neonazis, but a new class of well organized activists seeking to take their hateful ideology mainstream.  He recalls covering the notorious Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville 
and explains why law enforcement was partly to blame for the violence.  He talks about some of the dog whistles that politicians use to signal fidelity with white nationalists, his experience watching the 2016 election returns with the head of the Traditionalist Workers Party, and why he says these groups are ultimately doomed to fail.  Plus the dangers of being a bald white Norwegian at a skinhead rally.

Order Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America on Amazon or Audible and follow Vegas Tenold on twitter at @vegastenold.  Today's episode was sponsored by Everquote, Grasshopper, and Zyppah

Apr 30, 2018

Comedian Paul Rodriguez tells stories from his 40 year career in showbusiness, including his first time on The Tonight Show, why Johnny Carson banned him from the NBC studios, and the "higher power" who intervened on his behalf.  He talks about getting his start as a valet at the Comedy Store and how that led to his being a runner for Richard Pryor, he shares some advice Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore gave him when he started out, and recalls some wild times from his days living in a comedians dormatory above the Comedy Store.  Plus Paul Rodriguez shares his worst gig ever.

Paul Rodriguez's new standup special The Here & Wow
is available May 1 via Comedy Dynamics Network
The album of The Here and Wow comes out May 4.  For Paul’s upcoming shows, visit his website at
and follow him at @ThePaulRod.  Today's episode was sponsored by Intercom, Citizen Watches, Dollar Shave Club, and Policy Genius.

Apr 26, 2018

Journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn discuss Russia’s long simmering plan to undermine American democracy, and how the U.S. Intelligence Community failed to see the warning signs in 2016.  They delve into a rogue’s gallery of Russia enablers from Paul Manafort to Carter Paige and analyze why the Trump campaign and Russian cyberattackers seemed to be so suspiciously in sync.  They talk about President Donald Trump’s strange infatuation with Vladimir Putin, why President Obama didn’t do more to stop Russian interference before it was too late, and what was Donald Trump up to in that infamous Moscow hotel room in 2013.

Order Michael Isikoff and David Corn's book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump on Amazon or Audible.  You can read more by Michael Isikoff on Yahoo News or on twitter at @Isikoff and subscribe to his podcast Skullduggery wherever you listen to podcasts.  You can read David Corn’s articles at and frequently hear his expert political analysis on MSNBC.  Follow David on Twitter at @DavidCornDC.  Today's episode was sponsored by Grasshopper, Untuckit, and Intercom.

Apr 23, 2018

Rerun of 9/5/17 episode w/ guest Bryan Cranston. Actor Bryan Cranston recalls a difficult childhood and the two year road trip that changed his life.  He shares some of his adventures before acting including traveling as a carny, catching shoplifters as security guard, and the time he ended up a suspect in a murder investigation.  He talks about getting a crash course in comedy from Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, landing the role of a lifetime on Breaking Bad, and how he built one of the most iconic characters in the history of television.  Bryan Cranston also gives some advice for aspiring actors, reveals how his life has changed since "Walter White," and why he loves making small talk with old people.

Order Bryan Cranston's bestselling memoir A Life in Parts on Amazon or download the audiobook at  Bryan Cranston stars in Last Flag Flying which opens in theatres November 3.  Follow Bryan on Twitter at @BryanCranston.


Apr 19, 2018

Professor Steven Pinker (Bill Gates' favorite author) discusses the irony that the news media has become measurably more negative at same time as our quality life has dramatically improved.  He outlines how the top 15 objective metrics of human progress indicate that life is getting better not worse, and he says fear of things like globalism and income inequality is greatly exaggerated and largely unfounded.  He calls for the left and the right to stop politicizing science, the embrace of humanism over tribalism, and more critical thinking and less political correctness in our universities.

Order Steven Pinker's book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress on Amazon or Audible.
Keep up with Steven Pinker at or on twitter at @sapinker.  Today's episode was sponsored by Grasshopper, Untuckit, and Adiamor Jewelry.

Apr 16, 2018

Comedian Louie Anderson returns to talk about mining the more poignant moments of his childhood for comedy and some of the comedic expressions he borrowed from his own parents.  He discusses how his mother Ora Zella Anderson inspired his Emmy-winning role on Baskets, he reveals the questions he’d most like to ask his mother if she were still alive, and opens up about learning to forgive his abusive father and also himself.  Plus Louie Anderson on finally learning to eat healthy after 65 years, what he says to fans who fear a skinny Louie won’t be funny anymore, and his curious connection to silent movie star Fatty Arbuckle.

Order Louie Anderson's new book HEY MOM: STORIES FOR MY MOTHER, BUT YOU CAN READ THEM TOO on Amazon or  Watch his new standup special BIG UNDERWEAR on Amazon, Comcast, DIRECTV, AT&T, DISH, iTunes, Charter, Google Play and many other platforms.  Visit for his upcoming standup dates and follow him on Twitter at @LouieAnderson.  Today's episode was sponsored by Policy Genius, Grasshopper, and Adiamor.

Apr 12, 2018

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, says she wants to turn the results of the 2016 election into something empowering for future female leaders and advises the next woman who runs for President to write her own playbook not emulate her male predecessors.  She shares her insider’s perspective on the Clinton campaign, gives some insight into the candidate who she says was reluctant to run for President in 2016 and was all too aware of the slings and arrows that would come her way.  She also shares some wisdom from another famous female mentor of hers the late Elizabeth Edwards, she re-examines the role of former FBI director James Comey in the 2016 election, and explains why Hillary Clinton’s email problem was about way more than just emails.  Plus Jennifer Palmieri responds to all those armchair strategists who asked “where was THAT Hillary?” after her concession speech, she suggests that candidates for office should cry more and nod less, and she casts the Batman version of the 2016 election.

Order Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World on Amazon or download the audio version at  Follow Jennifer Palmieri on twitter at @jmpalmieri.  Today's episode was sponsored by Grasshopper and AppRiver.

Apr 9, 2018

Director Barry Levinson explores the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that ended Coach Joe Paterno’s career in his new film PATERNO on HBO.  He explains why he wanted to present the straight facts of the case without actually taking sides, talks the about the student riots that broke out when Penn State fired Paterno, and reveals what the film has to say about Americans’ views on issues of loyalty, tribalism, and the truth.  Barry Levinson also recalls his early days teaming up with another "coach" Craig T. Nelson to form a nightclub comedy duo, writing sketches for THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, directing his first movie at the urging of his mentor Mel Brooks, and he shares behind-the-scenes stories from some of his classic films including DINER, TIN MEN, RAIN MAN, AVALON, and more.  Plus Barry Levinson talks about why Hollywood doesn’t make films about human beings anymore, whether he’d like to make a sequel to WAG THE DOG for the age of "fake news," and how an infamous drug kingpin got him into his first acting class.

PATERNO is available now on HBO GO, HBO NOW and HBO ON DEMAND.  Today's episode was sponsored by AppRiver, Adiamor Jewelry, and Grasshopper.

Apr 5, 2018

Actor Ed Helms (THE OFFICE, THE HANGOVER) talks about playing Ted Kennedy's best friend in CHAPPAQUIDDICK, why the Chappaquiddick incident is an often forgotten chapter in America’s modern political history, and how making the film led him to reassess his own ideas about "Camelot."  He also reveals how the Kennedy damage control team used the moon landing to distract from the scandal, ponders Chappaquidick’s place in Ted Kennedy’s larger legacy, and wonders how the scandal might have played out differently in the age of 24 hour news and social media.  Ed Helms talks about working with fellow comic Jim Gaffigan on the film,
mining the Kennedy story for moments of dark comedy, and mastering the notoriously tricky Massachusetts accent.  He also discusses his own politics, gleefully recalls exposing hypocrites and bad guys as a correspondent on The Daily Show, remembers his start in entertainment as a cocky sarcastic voiceover guy, and explains why he says it's good to be "a fool at life."

CHAPPAQUIDDICK opens in theatres tomorrow Friday April 6.  Follow Ed Helms on Twitter at @edhelms, check out his website for bluegrass lovers at and visit his own bluegrass band the Lonesome Trio at  Today's episode was sponsored by AppRiver, Adiamor Jewelry, and Grasshopper.

Apr 2, 2018

Actor/director Tim Robbins discusses how his new HBO series HERE AND NOW is tapping into the anxiety of America in 2018 and why his classic political mockumentary BOB ROBERTS is more relevant now than ever.  He says Harvey Weinstein reminds him of the shady operators he knew growing up in New York’s Greenwich Village, he recalls studying real studio execs for his role in Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER, and he remembers Altman's mentoring Tim's leap from actor to director.  He discusses how he funded his first play while he was still a struggling actor, how his latest play THE NEW COLOSSUS is putting personal faces to the immigration issue, and why he’s using The Actors Gang to bring theatre into California prisons.  Plus Tim opens up about turning 60, weighs in on the current struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and recounts the time he heckled Henry Kissinger outside of a famous celebrity restaurant.

THE NEW COLOSSUS is playing now through May 12 at The Actors Gang in Culver City, CA.  Visit for tickets or to learn more.  See Tim in Alan Ball’s excellent new series HERE AND NOW with a subscription to HBO, HBO GO, or HBO NOW.  Keep up with Tim at or on twitter at @TimRobbins1.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Dollar Shave Club and Policy Genius.

Apr 2, 2018

Andie MacDowell discusses why there are so few good roles for actresses over 40 and why she thinks that’s about to change.  She talks about getting thrown into the deep end on her very first movie GREYSTOKE, the hard work she had to do to get from that film to her break-out role in SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE, and what she learned about grief and healing on her latest movie LOVE AFTER LOVE.  She discusses why she’s chosen to live outside of Los Angeles until recently, some of the advice she gives to her two daughters who are now acting, and her perspective on Hollywood's long road to Time's Up.

LOVE AFTER LOVE opens in theaters Friday, March 30.  Follow Andie on twitter at @AndieMacDowell3.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Squarespace, AppRiver Grasshopper, Google Cloud Platform.

Mar 26, 2018

David Mamet discusses how the old gangster stories he heard as a child inspired him to write CHICAGO: A NOVEL.  He talks about his love of classic noir and hot jazz, and dislike of social media, computers, and flowery prose.  He shares why famous figures are better felt than heard in historical fiction, why he says Hollywood is dead, and why he never reads his own reviews.  He teases his latest play about Harvey Weinstein, and reveals his longing to live as a reporter in the 1920’s and die as a whorehouse piano player with a whiskey and a cigarette.

Order David Mamet's new book CHICAGO: A NOVEL on Amazon.
Today's podcast was sponsored by Google Cloud Platform podcast, AppRiver, Breach podcast, Quip, Google Cloud Spanner, and Hair Regrowth from Just for Men.

Mar 22, 2018

Futurist Michio Kaku says sooner or later humanity will face the possibility of extinction, and it’s up to scientists to come up with a plan B whether it’s another planet or even another galaxy.  He explains why it’s important for us to return to the moon, how we would go about terraforming Mars, and what he calls the new "gold rush" that could fund NASA indefinitely.  He shares his theory on why we haven’t encountered alien life and where humans fit in on his hierarchy of civilizations.  Michio Kaku describes the three ways the universe will almost certainly die, but says in the meantime immortality might be just around the corner.  Plus he gives me a progress update on what he calls his life’s work proving Einstein’s Unified Theory of Everything.

Order Michio Kaku's book The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth on Amazon.  Keep up with him at and follow him on Twitter at @michiokaku.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Grasshopper, Policy Genius, Google Cloud Platform, and Hulu's The Looming Tower.

Mar 19, 2018

Andrew Zimmern host of Bizarre Foods on The Travel Channel talks about how he became the man who’ll eat anything and some of the weirdest foods he’s tried over the years.  He reveals some of the strangest delicacies that turned out to be surprisingly good and whether he’s finally learned to love his old nemesis - the infamously stinky durian fruit.  He’ll discuss his broader mission to spread tolerance and understanding because as he puts it, "social change often starts with our stomachs."  He recalls how he went from living on the streets to globe trotting on The Travel Channel, he explains why his newest show The Zimmern List is his most personal one yet, and why he finally decided to share the one special restaurant that he swore he’d never reveal to the public.  Plus, Andrew discusses why freshness matters when eating testicles, the best bird fetus he ever ate, and two words...snake wine.

The Zimmern List airs Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET/PT on The Travel Channel.  To learn more, visit  You can also check out lots of other cool stuff at and follow Andrew on twitter at @AndrewZimmern.
This podcast was sponsored by Grasshopper, ZQuiet, Google Cloud Platform Weekly Podcast, and VMWare Executive Perspective Podcast.

Mar 15, 2018

Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, discusses ICG's annual list of the 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2018.  He cautions against Donald Trump’s bluster about decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal, warns that the stakes in North Korea are too high to be ignored, and speculates on what will happen in Syria once ISIS has been defeated militarily.  He reveals why he thinks a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unlikely and how his childhood practically destined him for a life in crisis resolution.

Visit to learn more about the International Crisis Group, and follow Robert Malley and ICG on twitter at @Rob_Malley and @CrisisGroup.  This podcast was sponsored by Grasshopper, Squarespace, and Google Cloud Platform.

Mar 12, 2018

Comedian Nikki Glaser talks about the worst week of her life, why she’s steering clear of politics for a while, and why she decided to move to NYC rather than get up early. She reveals why she likes long distance relationships, why she prefers to follow really good comedians, and why she’s banned from Urban Outfitters. Plus, how Nikki sorta saved my relationship.

Her new radio show YOU UP WITH NIKKI GLASER airs Monday through Thursday from 10:00 A.M to Noon ET and 7-9A.M. PT to 9:00 A.M. PT on SiriusXM’s Comedy Central Radio Channel 95. Keep up with Nikki at and follow her on twitter at @NikkiGlaser.  This podcast was sponsored by AppRiver, Linked In Jobs, Just for Men Hair Regrowth and Google Cloud Platform.

Mar 8, 2018

The cast and creator of THE DEATH OF STALIN talk about mining one of Russia’s darkest chapters for comedy and some of absurd but true stories that make into THE DEATH OF STALIN. Writer/director Armando Ianucci (VEEP, THE THICK OF IT) talks about how fighting ruthless authoritarians is a family tradition for him, why Russian officials think his movie is part of a western plot destabilize that country, and why the creator of VEEP is finally ready to give politics a break for a while.

Steve Buscemi (BOARDWALK EMPIRERESERVOIR DOGS, FARGO) discusses playing Nikita Kruschev in THE DEATH OF STALIN, his early career in standup comedy, how he says Stalin’s inner circle was more like The Three Stooges, and why his old AOL account is the best insurance against Russia hackers. Andrea Riseborough (BIRDMAN, OBLIVION)who portrays Svetlana Stalina talks about the illusive relationship between the ruthless dictator and his daughter and some of her favorite British comedies.

THE DEATH OF STALIN opens in theaters on Friday, March 9. For more information, visit or Today’s podcast was sponsored by Grasshopper, ZQuiet, Hulu's The Looming TowerGoogle Cloud Platform Podcast, and the VMWare Executive Perspective Podcast.

Mar 5, 2018

Cass Sunstein attempts to answer the question "Can authoritarianism happen in America?"  He discusses a few of America’s past flirtations with authoritarianism, some of the weaknesses in our system that could be exploited by an aspiring strongman, and why if it did happen, it would likely be a very gradual process instead of a bold power-grab.  He talks about the ways that tribalism, nationalism and conspiracy theories create a fertile breeding ground for authoritarianism, he reveals whether he thinks President Trump secretly aspires to that sort of power, and America's most cited legal scholar weighs in on the Trump-Russia investigation.

Order Cass Sunstein's book Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America on Amazon and follow him on Twitter at @CassSunstein. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Big Question with Cal FussmanQuip, AppRiver, and Google Cloud AI.

Mar 1, 2018

Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman, the stars and co-creators of the new Comedy Central series CORPORATE talk about their own experiences in corporate America and the irony doing their new show for corporate conglomerate Viacom.  They discuss why they wanted a darker tone than typical workplace comedies, how they convinced Lance Reddick to play their tyranical boss, and why they took on the one holiday you that can’t make fun of in their season finale.  Plus Matt and Jake talk about development hell, marvel at the modern wonder of a simple banana, and reveal why everyone’s a number at Amazon.

CORPORATE airs Wednesdays at 10/9Central on Comedy Central.  For more information, go to  Follow Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman on Twitter at @mattingebretson and @weismanjake.  Today's podcast was sponsored by Google Cloud AI, The Looming Tower on Hulu, and Grasshopper.

Feb 26, 2018

Attorney Gloria Allred was fighting for women long before anyone ever hashtagged Me Too or Time's Up, and she's the subject of a new Netflix documentary Seeing Allred.  She reveals how her own personal experience inspired to fight for victims assault, harassment, and discrimination.  She addresses critics who say she just does it all for the publicity, and explains that for many of her clients such as the Cosby accusers, a "trial" in the court of public opinion may be the only justice they can get.  She talks about how that's changing with a new California law that extends the statute of limitations for sexual assault, she discusses why she decided to represent the family of Nicole Brown Simpson during the O.J. trial, and she gives an update on her client Summer Zervos’s pending defamation suit against President Donald Trump.  Plus she talks about her surprisingly cordial relationship with defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, the battle of the Friar’s Club steam room, and why so many people call her "Senator."

Watch Seeing Allred on Netflix now, and keep up with Gloria Allred at or on Twitter at @GloriaAllred.  Today's podcast was sponsored by App RiverGrasshopperJust for Men Hair Regrowth, ZQuiet, and Google Cloud Platform podcast.

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