The Agrigento Interviews: Michael Tracey - White Boy Summer
The Roaming Reporter on last year's #BLM Riots, the failure of Trumpism, Confronting Maxine Waters, Internet Autism, Having Shit Taste in Music & Having a GF
This cocksucker took three fucking months to get back to me with his answers to my questions after agreeing to sit with me for this interview. I had to send him increasingly unhinged threats on a daily basis, sometimes several per day, often violent, before he got off of his fat, lazy Jersey ass to submit a series of low-energy answers to my incisive and probing questions. If you feel that this interview is subpar and below the high standard of quality that you are used to from me, it’s because it is all his fault.
“Pest”, “nuisance”, “annoying little shit”. These are all descriptions of Mikey that I received from his mother when I asked her what she thought of her son. It’s quite an amazing coincidence that this is the general sentiment among the public when it comes to his journalism as well.
Known best for confronting older, female politicians by using physical intimidation, Michael Tracey is not afraid to go anywhere in search of a story that has already lost the attention of the public-at-large. A gumshoe reporter, he has travelled America in search of collecting as many ‘Ackshually’ and ‘Gotcha’ anecdotes as possible that allows him to set himself apart from other mainstream journalists (in his own mind). He has surprisingly managed to find an audience all his own, but whether that is due to his skill as a journalist or simply a condition whereby they are engaged in morbid voyeurism is a subject for debate. Michael joins me in Sicily for this Mediterranean Summer interview.
New York Striploin dinner at the Morton's Steakhouse in Los Angeles and right after we're done I hold Maxine Waters by the arms as you give her body shots to the kidneys and liver.
You are a notorious 'pussy hound'. You have women in cities all across the country (which is why you choose to be a roving reporter) and are reportedly the secret biological father of Anna Khachiyan's son. Yet it was not always this way. Back when you were in your senior year in high school, your first crush rejected you and you went to the manliest man that you could find for advice on how to deal with this devastating blow: your grandfather. You said "Grandpa, she's the love of my life. I can't go on without her. What should I do?" He immediately slapped you in the face and replied: "YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!" Taken aback, you were left speechless. "AT YOUR AGE I WAS BANGING COCKTAIL WAITRESSES TWO AT A TIME!", your grandfather added.
This introductory paragraph you hallucinated may have contributed to why I’ve put off completing your weirdo interview request for quite some time. So let me reiterate my heartfelt apology to you, suspicious internet guy, whose precise identity I’ve never exactly known or cared to discern.
Do you think you have a shot with Tulsi Gabbard? Think about it: she runs in 2024 and chooses you to be her Press Secretary. All that time in close quarters plotting strategy and talking points, and the two of you find a chemistry that neither of you have ever felt with anyone else before. Long walks on the beach on Oahu as she plays the ukelele and the two of you sing "Hanalei Moon" together under the blue moonlight. You move in a for a kiss and she not only welcomes it, she throws herself at you. It's 100% consensual and totally not rape. This is it Mikey, you've made it! How many times have you played this scenario through in your mind?
I’ve played through this scenario in my mind on innumerable occasions -- except with Joy Reid as the beach-walking ukulele-strumming companion. That gives the fantasy a more overtly sadistic dimension, and thus puts it more in alignment with the depraved desires that live inside me. I also view one of my chief responsibilities as providing sick entertainment to the general public, which would no doubt be accomplished by fostering a loving partnership with Joy.
You have shit taste in music. I once caught you making a tweet praising some Lady Gaga song unironically. You're born in '88. Can't you at least be into LCD Soundsystem or something partially-decent? Is this because you're a half-Guido from Jersey? Is your aesthetic sensibility naturally shit because of this? What I'm really asking is: environment vs. genetics?
I’d just note that I attended what may have in fact been the paradigmatic “half-decent” musical event of 2007 -- a balls-to-the-wall outdoor concert featuring LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire at Randall's Island. Sadly, it appears my indulgence in these presumably “half-decent” offerings did not result in my being afforded the appearance of sagely knowingness that so many others in my peer group achieved on account of their “half-decent” musical tastes. Indeed, our generation was taught that being moved to emotion by the chorus of “All My Friends” for the eight thousandth time is indicative of a searingly incisive political intuition. But I was deprived of this accolade, alas, for reasons that defy easy explanation but may have something to do with my alleged affinity for literal Nazism. I thus gravitated to Gaga out of sheer practicality, reasoning that our shared Italian heritage gave me special insights into the strange workings of commercial culture.
The Part of the Interview in Which I Pretend to Take Mikey Seriously as a Journalist
Last year, you made the commendable effort of visiting various towns and cities that were affected by last year's #BLM-inspired riots. Most people simply aren't at all aware of the economic and psychological fallout of what happened to so many communities that were affected as we aren't being told the whole story. What did we miss as it happened?
There was this paradoxical dynamic, where the protests were heralded in mainstream precincts as the largest and most-far reaching “movement” perhaps in all of American history -- and yet simultaneously, it was furiously denied that the riot component could’ve had a similarly large or far-reaching dimension. From the outset, something was conspicuously askew about whatever logical formulation had gone on there. So my instinct to independently seek information was really an elementary journalistic one. Given the unprecedented eruption of media-induced frenzy during that time, combined with the scope of what was purportedly happening, it was clear that simply following along from afar would provide only an extremely filtered view of the actual impact. That happens frequently in journalism and life -- you always want as much primary source info as you get your wet, greasy hands on. But in the case of this story, I had the perhaps unique means, desire, and capacity to simply set out on a trek with the intention of acquiring as much primary source info as possible. No institutional pressures hindered me from doing this, unlike others in media -- many of whom I received exasperated, envious private messages from. Also unlike the generic media member, average citizens kindly send me $$$ with the expectation that I’ll do whatever is reasonably in my capacity to fill informational voids. And so that’s what I did. The simplicity of the endeavour seems incongruous with the amount of attention it received, but that just speaks to the size of the informational void. My peculiar life situation also made it such that there would be no one directly inconvenienced by the fact of me going around the country and chronicling protest/riot fallout. So I autistically spent two months in my car doing that.
While you dicked around in your Mazda Miata, did you get a sense that the authentic grassroots Black community concerns with local policing somehow got shoved aside by bigger and more powerful players who used Chauvin/Floyd for their drive to remove Trump from office? I've seen criticism along these lines from Black community leaders, but usually in media that is nowhere near mainstream.
The foundation-funded nonprofit activism complex produces public figures who claim to speak on behalf of particular constituencies, but by mere fact of having ascended through that complex, the figures become far removed from said constituencies. This was made all the more evident to me in my interactions with “normie” Blacks regarding their attitudes toward the protests/riots. Most were understandably focused on how protest/riot activity had diminished their immediate quality of life, i.e. caused their neighbourhood stores to be shuttered or destroyed. Typically, they were on some level still sympathetic with the underlying cause, but they generally weren’t fans of the attendant chaos, and didn’t convey whatever sympathetic views they held in anywhere near the same kind of zealous terms often on display in the media. Right-wing media also erred in vastly overstating the extent to which disillusionment with the excesses of the protests/riots would automatically translate to support for Trump. Because, as I’ve said many times, Trump was widely viewed as an agent of chaos in his own right. That’s a big reason why his hardcore supporters claimed they backed him in the first place, correct? Accordingly, right-wing pundit dreams of a pro-Trump post-riot groundswell were negated by Minnesota trending substantially more Democratic in the 2020 election, including in counties that were most riot-affected.
#DefundThePolice quickly spread like wildfire but one must ask: what did locals who survived the riots feel about this campaign? What has been the effect of reduced policing in these cities?
I was just in Philadelphia to do a bit of reportorial poking around, given that the city is on track to break its all-time homicide record this year. One thing you hear almost universally when talking to police sources is that there’s been a marked uptick in officer retirements, and that this accounts for much of the homicide surge. That is their primary explanation. Might it be self-serving? Sure -- public sector employees are always likely going to have a built-in motivation to justify their existence, and one way to do that is to insist that your absence produces murderous violence. But it’s also their sincerely held view that diminishing police “visibility” leads to violent and/or disruptive crime, and there’s at least some data which does bear this theory out.
Is there tension within urban communities now? You alluded to some between Black and Somali Americans in Minneapolis. Are there class elements at play as well?
On the last day of a one-year-Floyd-anniversary trip I took to Minneapolis in April, there was a homicide in which a Somali store clerk was shot dead by an “ADOS” black suspect. It was one of those ethnic hub type “General Stores” where you can go in and get almost anything, from sketchy mobile phone plans to information on how to book travel for the Hajj. An old campaign poster of Ilhan Omar was still hanging on the window. It was relayed to me by Somalis that “ADOS” blacks were viewed as having a vendetta against Somalis, because Somalis allegedly receive undue benefits from the government. I think you see similar resentments fester in other ethnic contexts. Alec MacGillis has argued that such tensions emerge within ethnic groups and within classes based on grievances, real or perceived, that certain members of those groups are morally inferior and manipulate programs like disability insurance.
Michael Tracey: Hero to Neo-Nazi Scum and QAnon Insurrectionists
You have attracted a significant right-wing fanbase over these past few years as you have not held firm to the lines within which discourse is accepted. Here is your chance to alienate some of them by criticizing Donald Trump's performance as POTUS. Many of us were aware of his personality and ego prior to his political ascent, but held onto the 5% chance that he might be able to smash enough of the system while in power to allow for necessary reforms. Where in your opinion did he go wrong? And what of Trumpistas post-Trump?
I guess “smashing the system” was never really defined except as an affectation or posture. Approximately 90% of the institutional Republican Party ended up being stalwartly pro-Trump, which was mostly a re-branding exercise with some tentative ideological adjustments around the margins. Why would Republican elites “smash a system” in which they are personally and professionally invested? The biggest tell that this wasn’t going to happen was in how easily the party influence network (donors, lobbyists, operatives, think tanks) accommodated itself to Trump. I think you would’ve needed more genuine intra-party conflict (based on real issues, not personal fidelity to Trump) in order for a bona fide realignment to come about. Instead standard partisanship kicked into overdrive, fuelled in large part by anti-Trump fanaticism (“Resistance”)….and a partisan slugfest is a comfortable place for most politicians, including Trump, to be in. There was a brief window of opportunity for Trump to govern without much care for the priorities of the GOP professional class, given that they opposed him during the 2016 primaries and many even abandoned him on the eve of the general election. But he did his version of a “go along to get along” thing, probably because “smashing the system” in his mind was accomplished by mere fact of him personally being in office and tweeting. Today he bashes Mitch McConnell but with few fleeting exceptions, didn't govern in a way that was at all incompatible with Mitch McConnell’s priorities. To the contrary, McConnell expertly used Trump as a vehicle to enact his priorities.
On the other side, where did Bernie fuck up? It seems that his 2016 campaign was superior to that of 2020. My friend Aimee Terese (she has a solid and sizable rack) insists that it's because it was hijacked by the PMC (Professional Managerial Class). How much truth is there to this?
The post-2016 revolution in social attitudes amongst a class of people one might designate as “PMC” seems to have severely hampered the 2020 Sanders campaign. One example cited in my May 2020 article with Angela Nagle that appeared in American Affairs was how the South Carolina Bernie campaign apparatus ended up crippled by internal dissension relating to a slew of convoluted #MeToo style allegations. “#MeToo style allegations” have gotten so vague that they’ve come to encompass even allegations of general bullying or obstreperousness. If every allegation of this kind must be “Taken Seriously” and “Listened To,” that’s going to decrease the amount of bandwidth dedicated to things like figuring out how to actually win elections. You saw a version of this in miniature with the comically non-specific allegations of abusive conduct which doomed the left-wing NYC mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, and of course Scott Stringer was also felled by comparably dubious accusations. The point is that the new ethos requires giving total credence to the feelings of people with severe personality disorders and bizarre neuroses. How you can run an operable campaign under those circumstances is anyone’s guess.
Neither the left nor the right are monolithic in your country as there are quite a few factions on each side. There is a disaffected right and a disaffected left. Is there potential in your view for cross-aisle collaboration between the two on the national level? Or are the differences between the two simply too great?
There’s long been issue-specific collaboration of this sort. I used to talk to Ralph Nader a lot about it, and that was ten years ago now; I can attest to plenty of private left-right “populist” engagement happening. But whether that kind of cross-factional collaboration could ever materialize into something more formal and tangible, like a political party, seems highly doubtful given the gravitational pull of both Left and Right, wherein everything would inevitably be overshadowed by the latest Culture War bloodletting.
On Today’s Mainstream Journalism
I think that it's fair to say that there has been no greater journalistic malpractice than RussiaGate. It was far, far worse than the run up to the Iraq War which was bad enough itself.
I actually wrote a column for an Indian newspaper in 2019 on the parallels between the media failure associated with the Iraq War and the media failure associated with Russiagate. That it appeared in an Indian newspaper maybe gives some insight into the lack of appetite for any kind of substantial domestic “reckoning” on that issue.
The lack of professional accountability combined with the move from attempted objectivity to out-and-out advocacy journalism bodes ill for the profession. Have we hit the nadir yet? Or is there still a long way to go? We are now in the state where journalists are of the view that harsh criticism of their reporting/writing is tantamount to 'violence'. It's almost as if they seek to create rules (and possibly laws) that will insulate them from criticism and would in effect create another protected class, one that is little more than a stenographer for acceptable social, cultural, and political views.
I only think it bodes ill for the profession when it’s done unethically. Here is a recent Substack article where I outline my views on exactly this question. Please reference that in lieu of a more extensive answer here, so I can finally rid myself of this interview.
Who should we be reading?
The back of cereal boxes.
Michael Tracey Answering More Questions in Between Snorting Lines of Cocaine Paid For By His Substack Subscribers
What about Rania Khalek? I used to think about nailing her all the time before someone on Twitter told me that she's only five feet tall! WTF? Where does she get the balls to be so short??? What a debacle! I would think about taking her out, some top notch restaurant, way above the dives you take your women across the country, and during dinner drink wine with her while I nod along and pretend to take her views on politics seriously. Meanwhile, all I would be actually thinking about is what I would do to her if she was at least 5'6". "Yeah, yeah Rania...you're right. What the CIA did in Guyana...ummm, Bolivia, was just so, so wrong. Yeah. What you're saying is soooo true. Totally. I really, really respect your views on US foreign policy. Oh, I'm sorry....was I not looking at your face? I'm so, so sorry. Can you believe what's going on in Gaza?"
Another hallucinatory outburst on your part which in theory could have dissuaded me from filling out this fake questionnaire. But I press on.
Do you consider yourself somewhat autistic? Are you on the spectrum? You do engage in humour on Twitter but it is rather obvious and somewhat mechanical. Do you have an appreciation for the absurd and silly? Or are you just too much of a rationalist?
Do you ever get the sense that people who routinely accuse others of being autistic are themselves rather odd, and perhaps not the most socially well-adjusted? I think some folx just don’t like their pablum and pieties being dissected online, and when somebody exhibits an adeptness at doing so, they rattle off the “autism” accusation to suggest there’s something psychosomatically abnormal about their antagonist. On the other hand, I did spend an inordinate amount of time on internet forums as an adolescent, and perhaps that’s intrinsically autistic. As penance for my delayed response to your weirdo interview request, I guess I’ll give you the riveting, exclusive scoop that I do have a girlfriend -- so maybe that will scramble widespread presuppositions about my alleged “autism”? Or not. Should I just put Proudly Autistic in my Twitter bio and see what happens?
I definitely think that you should.
There is nothing more mysterious than blood. Paracelsus considered it a condensation of light. I believe that the Aryan, Hyperborean blood is that – but not the light of the Golden Sun, not of a galactic sun, but of the light of the Black Sun, of the Green Ray.
Thanks for this. I will ponder it seriously. By which I mean, I will instantly forget whatever it is you just said here and never think about it again.
All of us are pulling for you, Mikey. You do great work and you so often get soooo close to dangerous thoughts but always pull back from the brink. We're cheering you on.
What I enjoy about you mysterious online multi-layered reactionary guys is that you always seem so highly impressed with yourselves for possessing supposedly “dangerous thoughts,” as though the “dangerous thoughts” of @CryptoFrogPrince69 or whoever aren’t trivially accessible to everyone with an internet connection. You’re aware that most modestly-attuned people in the media, Silicon Valley, etc. know who Moldbug is, right?
I interviewed Moldbug, you shit.
I think the air of a snide “forbidden fruit” mentality you project must function as a useful in-group cohesion mechanism though, so I guess I can’t be too judgmental. We all need some collective social reinforcement. In any event, “all of you” shouldn’t feel obliged to “pull” anything for me, except perhaps my leg, given your predilection for good-natured joshing.
We're on your side, Mikey. Jesus loves you. Accept Christ in your heart and you will become the Edward R. Murrow of the 21st century.
Yep, that’s definitely what I’ll do. Undergo a sudden religious conversion at the behest of the weirdo fake interviewer.