PopPolitics: Trump and the Politics of Mass Distraction (Listen)

Plus: Joe Mantegna on the Memorial Day Break from the Partisan Fray; FCC's Gigi Sohn on the Battle Over the Set-Top Box

Donald Trump Indiana Primary Ratings
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Donald Trump actually delivered a speech on energy policy this past week, but it was overshadowed by coverage of protests outside his rallies and his own invoking of ’90s scandals involving Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Does a news environment of discord and disarray still work in his favor?

On the latest edition of Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel, political consultant Mathew Littman and Alexander Heffner, the host of “The Open Mind” on PBS, talk about the challenge that Clinton will face if she goes up against Trump in November.

“Trump keeps talking about Whitewater and all these other things. Part of this is just meant to distract, because when people look at his policy positions, which is where the media is going to have to hold him accountable, his policy positions are basically against what he is telling people he stands for.”

Heffner says that there has been this “incest with Shakespearean narrative and ratings and they go hand in hand in terms of the disarray and dysfunction.” He added that he didn’t think Bernie Sanders “was helping himself or his message when he kind of preempts Trump’s faux debate invitation.” He says that “at a certain point you don’t win either way.”

Listen below:

Joe Mantegna: ‘The Country Will Get What It Wants, and We’ll Get Through It’

Joe Mantegna co-hosts the National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday on PBS, and tells “PopPolitics” that despite the “sideshow” of this year’s campaign, “We’ll get through it with the ups and the downs and the good sides and the bad sides. I believe our Constitution is strong enough, our system of government is strong enough, that we will ultimately weather whatever happens.”

The concert, which he co-hosts with Gary Sinise, focuses on veterans and veterans’ families, and will feature performers including Renee Fleming, the Beach Boys and Katharine McPhee. From the West Lawn of the Capitol, it also will be a break from partisanship.

Listen below:

The Battle Over the Set-Top Box

The cable industry, Hollywood studios and some showbiz guilds have lined up against an FCC proposal to “open up” the set-top box, warning that it could undermine the industry’s economic model and jeopardize copyright and privacy.

The FCC’s Gigi Sohn refutes those claims, and instead says that the proposal is rather simple — akin to the way that TiVo unleashed a new era of the digital video recorder. She says that the proposal would allow manufacturers to make competing cable and satellite boxes, allowing consumers to purchase an alternative to the monthly rental from their multichannel provider.

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety‘s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It is also available on demand.