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Citations Needed

Sep 26, 2018

Post-Cold War liberal chauvinism knew no better ideological conduit than the hit NBC series The West Wing. Foreign policy was imperial, staffers were self-satisfied, and Serious Democrats fended off radical leftists and made the Tough Choices needed to run a benevolent superpower. 
The West Wing, created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin, heavily influenced the politics of dozens of high-status Obama-era liberals. By their own admission, we know it had among its superfans Obama staffers Sam Graham-Felsen and Eric Lesser, Vox founders Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, The New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell (who produced and wrote for the show), Democratic party hacks Meredith Shiner and Micah Lasher, and many more. Indeed, it’s fair to say anyone under 40 who came up through the ranks of liberal public relations and politics during the Obama years was either directly impacted by The West Wing or, indirectly, by those under its comforting, Starbucks-color-palette worldview. 
On this week's episode, we discuss how this Sorkinized worldview both informed and reflected prevailing thought in the Democratic Party, promoted smugness as the highest virtue, and––more generally––how ideology is spread through seemingly benign cultural products like schlocky television dramas. 
We are joined by Toronto-based writer and co-host of the Michael and Us podcast Luke Savage.