‘Justice Takes a Long Time’: A Conversation with the Team Behind the Popular Podcast ‘Mueller, She Wrote’
Robert Mueller’s Wednesday testimony before Congress felt like the culmination of something, but the last few years have been such a whirlwind of executive crime that it can be hard to remember exactly what that something was. Luckily, there is Mueller, She Wrote, the podcast that has been following Mueller’s investigation for almost as long as he has been conducting it. The award-winning podcast has provided both clarity and humor to those of us who have been losing sleep over the investigation and what it means for our nation.
We were lucky enough to sit down with two of the wonderful women of Mueller, She Wrote to digest Mueller’s testimony. We also talked next steps and heard some (encouraging) words about the nature of the community that has formed around the podcast. Jordan Coburn and A.G. (a pseudonym, as she works in a senior executive branch agency and must keep her identity hidden to avoid violating the Hatch Act), who with their colleague Jaleesa Johnson form the Mueller, She Wrote team, said a lot of things we need to hear.
We started on a happy note by discussing the large online community that centers around Mueller, She Wrote, brought together by their social media presence and by their Patreon, where the team has over 7,000 patrons. That’s their close circle of fans, a large community by any standard.
We asked what it was like to be at the center of a community whose shared interest is in the Mueller investigation. A.G. enthusiastically replied that it was “Amazing!” saying, “The people who follow us are socially aware, intelligent, conscious, liberal people.” Calling it “an incredible community of support,” she reflected on why that support was needed. “Justice takes a long time, and it’s affecting people’s mental health . . . we laugh if we don’t cry.”
Jordan added, “It’s almost like we instantly gained a group of friends. At our meet and greets, people have instant friends developed through our community on Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon.” For Jordan, this is close to home. “My mom came to a DC show and she met one of our patrons, and now they’re best friends. They hang out all the time!”
A.G. also pointed out that, due to the outpouring of Patreon support, they have been able to offer health benefits to their staffers, including the part-time ones. That’s what we call a good cause.
Hearts thoroughly warmed, we were ready to dive into Wednesday’s testimony. We asked what the people have to gain from the testimony, which, as most expected, stuck very close to the contents of the report. A.G. immediately pointed out, “What we gain is: fewer than three per cent of Americans have read the Mueller report. There are members of Congress who haven’t. FBI director Christopher Wray . . . said he hasn’t. There’s this quote that’s going around so much, I don’t even know who to attribute it to: ‘people don’t read the book, they watch the movie.’ A lot of people are complaining about the movie.” To illustrate her concerns about this line of thinking, A.G. shared a recent Tweet she posted to the Mueller, She Wrote Twitter account:
Stop with the “optics” & “performance” criticisms of Mueller. If you require your facts to be delivered by a young, handsome celebrity, you’re the shallow trash Childish warned about in “This is America”. Russia attacked us. Trump is a criminal. Care about what matters. #Mueller
— Mueller, She Wrote Podcast (@MuellerSheWrote) July 25, 2019
“I’m pretty mad about that,” she added. “It didn’t sink in yesterday, but now it’s really bothering me.”
“It bothers me as well,” Jordan agreed. “One of the first things Jake Tapper commented on was Mueller not seeming as sharp…the main point is at least to get page references out there [rather than to read or perform the report]. Just the fact that he could sit there and be a human face on the investigation was huge.” She added, “Congress should never be a movie.”
In light of this take, we asked where the podcast would go as the Mueller investigation split into its tributary investigations. To illustrate just how much there was to follow up on, A.G. referred us to this recent video:
She assures us that Mueller, She Wrote will follow the numerous congressional investigations, as well as the “huge” counterintelligence investigation, that are gearing up in the wake of the Mueller report. She added that the Mueller, She Wrote women have recently debuted a new podcast, The Daily Beans, “a 30-45 minute morning news podcast,” promising to continue their work “as long as people are tuning in and engaged.”
Jordan emphasized the essentially integrated quality of the two podcasts. “We’re trying to craft it so we can have huge transfer from Mueller, She Wrote to The Daily Beans.” She added that, because of the political lens the podcasts share, they can “pretty seamlessly transfer [their] following.”
“One of the huge successes in building our Patreon community,” said A.G., “is that if you’re a patron of one [of the podcasts], you’re a patron of both. You get two podcasts for the price of one.” The Mueller, She Wrote team has been incredibly prolific, so it’s safe to say this strategy is working for them so far.
Since some of our readers may not be Mueller, She Wrote listeners, both podcasters had some introductory words to share with those tuning in for the first time.
“We laugh, and we swear,” warned A.G.–not usually a dealbreaker for Contemptor readers. She added that, for those who like their news more drily delivered, there are “plenty of other podcasts.” Approaching the news with feeling and humor, she said, is “important to what we do.”
“We are incredibly fair,” said Jordan. “Even if you don’t align with us politically, we’re a good place to get centralized facts! Don’t get scared away!” She cited the podcast’s full support of indicting former White House Counsel, the Democrat Greg Craig, “to the full extent of the law” for failing to register as a foreign agent. “If a Democrat breaks the law, send them to jail!” We agree.
Speaking of things we all agree on, the podcasters stressed as a final takeaway that more Americans should read the Mueller report. Mueller, She Wrote is helping listeners along with this by reading the report in segments, translating it into layman’s terms and providing context as well as much-needed humor to the dry and often upsetting text. Not everyone has the time and inclination to sit down with a more than four-hundred-page legal document, but we know you have time to listen to an analysis of it on your morning commute. Come on. You already have your motivational music playlist memorized. Change it up a little.