In this week’s episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate the standoff at Standing Rock, the political role of the FBI, and the role of political pundits.
- The Standing Rock Sioux and activists are protesting the possible construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux. Natalia situated the controversy in a long history of broken treaties between the federal government and Native Americans going back to the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. Niki situated Standing Rock in a history of Native American protest, including Alcatraz and Wounded Knee. Neil commented on how Americans were using Facebook to “check in” to Standing Rock. Natalia also recommended Jill Lepore’s The Name of War and Philip Deloria’s Playing Indian for how white Americans fetishized Native Americans as “Noble savages.”
- FBI director James Comey has informed Congress that new emails found in an unrelated investigation might be related to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server. Neil argued that both Republicans and Democrats were outraged with Comey’s letter because of their belief that the FBI is an apolitical agency, but history does not show that to be the case. Niki recommended a recent Backstory podcast interview with Beverly Gage who discussed the history of the FBI as a political institution. Natalia commented on the how the FBI had positioned its own history on the agency’s website.
- CNN has placed Donna Brazile on leave after it was revealed the political commentator had slipped the Clinton campaign team questions during the primary season town halls. Niki mentioned the Slate writer Ben Mathis-Lilley had argued all paid pundits should be removed from cable news, and she recommended David Greenberg’s book Republic of Spin.
In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
- Natalia discussed Jonathan Zimmerman’s op-ed, “The Other School Bathroom Issue That Nobody is Talking About.”
- Neil commented on Patient Zero.
- Niki talked about the book A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression.