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President Trump blames the “deep state” for his impeachment. But what is the American deep state, and does it really exist? Journalist David Rodhe takes us into the heart of the debate over the deep state with reporting from his book In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America’s “Deep State.” He reveals how the spectre of the deep state has been evoked to embody different intangible fears and crises by America’s different ideological factions. To conservatives it is a government bureaucracy that relentlessly encroaches on the individual rights of Americans, while Liberals fear the “military-industrial complex”—a cabal of generals and defense contractors who they believe routinely push the country into endless wars.
In conversation with radio host Steve Scher, Rohde presents a sweeping exploration of the presidential power struggles and CIA and FBI scandals of the past fifty years―from the Church Committee’s exposure of Cold War abuses, to false intelligence about Iraq’s WMDs, to NSA mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden. Rodhe investigates the claims and counterclaims of the Trump era and the relentless spread of conspiracy theories both online and on-air. While Trump says he is the victim of the deep state, Democrats accuse the president and his allies of running a de facto deep state of their own that operates outside official government channels and smears political rivals. Through dozens of interviews with career CIA operatives and FBI agents, Rodhe shines a light on fraught the trends of mistrust of the politicians, unelected officials, and journalists who many believe unilaterally set America’s agenda.
David Rohde is an executive editor of The New Yorker website and a former Reuters, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor reporter. He is also a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
Steve Scher is a podcaster, broadcaster, writer, interviewer, and teacher. He is the former host of KUOW-FM’s “Weekday” and has taught interviewing at the University of Washington since 2009.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.