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Riz Ahmed became the first actor of South Asian descent and the first Muslim to win an Emmy last year when he picked up the award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series for his starring role in the HBO drama, “The Night Of.” In the new Marvel movie “Venom,” he plays the villainous Carlton Drake opposite Tom Hardy’s titular anti-hero. Off the big screen, Ahmed uses his unique platform to bring attention to issues, from the lack of minority representation on TV to Islamophobia and racism. He’s also an old schoolmate of Mehdi Hasan’s, and this week on Deconstructed the two discuss their complex identities and the difficulty of being the only Muslim in the room.

Deconstructed will be putting on a live show on October 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the National Union Building in downtown Washington, D.C., with special guests Sen. Jeff Merkley, Our Revolution President Nina Turner, Rep. Ro Khanna, and CNN analyst Symone Sanders. To purchase tickets, click here.


Mehdi Hasan:
 Hello! Before we start the show today, I just want to let you all know that next Wednesday, October the 10th here in Washington, D.C. Deconstructed, will be putting on it’s very first live show. Woohoo! We have an amazing panel of guests: Senator Jeff Merkley, Our Revolution president Nina Turner, Congressman Ro Khanna, and CNN analyst and former Bernie Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders.

I’ll be interviewing them all in front of a live audience about the future of the left and whether the Democrats in Congress will actually get radical if they come out on top after the midterms. To get tickets and be in that audience, head to The Intercept’s Facebook page and click on the events section. Doors open at six o’clock on the 10th of October at the National Union Building in downtown D.C.

Okay, that’s done, time to start the show.

Riz Ahmed: It’s not so much a question of am I going to do this thing to upset people? My mere existence upsets certain people. It’s not that I’m deciding to be political. I’m deciding to be me.

MH: My guest today has been on the front cover of Time Magazine which included him in their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The New York Times magazine put them on their front cover last month calling him “The Everyman.” Twenty years ago, he and I were in school together in North London, but these days Riz Ahmed is an actor, a musician, and activist whose new film Venom, a Marvel movie, is out this week.

[movie clip]

MH: That was the voice of Riz Ahmed, playing evil billionaire genius Colton Drake in Venom. Last year, Riz became the first actor of South Asian descent and the first Muslim to win an Emmy when he picked up the award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series for his starring role in the hugely powerful HBO drama The Night Of. But it’s not just his acting that’s earned him plaudits.

He hasn’t been afraid to speak out on issues ranging from the lack of representation on screen, to ISIS and radicalization, to the refugee crisis in Syria. Earlier I caught up with him while he was in LA in the middle of an exhausting press tour for Venom and we talked politics, religion, art, identity.

[musical interlude]

Riz thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

RA: Thank you, man. Thanks for having me.

MH: Let me begin by asking you something that I’ll admit, Riz, has been at the back of my mind for a long time. You and I were both born in the UK to South Asian immigrant parents. We both grew up in North London. Both went to the same school, acted in the same place, went to the same University.

How did you end up as an Emmy Award winning actor with Kate Hudson as your love interest and a role in Star Wars, and I end up as a journalist who has to cover Donald Trump for a living? Where did I go wrong, Riz?

RA: I wish I could tell you, man. I guess — I guess you’re better at speaking your own mind and I’m better at kind of hiding in other characters. Maybe that’s what it is.

MH: Yeah, good save. Talking of other characters, you are doing amazingly in your acting career. Well done. A lot of us are very proud of your achievements. I want to touch on some provocative subjects with you today — politics, identity, religion. But before I do, you’ve got a new movie out — that’s why you’re in LA. I’m talking to you in LA. I’m in DC. Venom is a Marvel movie and as a Marvel fan-boy, I’m very excited to see you in a Marvel movie now. You’re the villain opposite Tom Hardy, who’s in the anti-hero title role. You’re playing a billionaire evil genius, again, because weren’t you a billionaire evil genius in the last Jason Bourne movie too?

RA: Well, it’s interesting you should say that because I don’t see either of those characters are being evil. And I’d say particularly the character in Bourne, which doesn’t take place in a kind of comic book universe which is, you know, even more nuanced and grounded than even this one, which I think, you know, Venom is quite uncharacteristically kind of gritty and focuses on the shades of gray.

MH: But you’re not a good guy in any of those films?

RA: Well, I don’t know if I buy that. For me, I think that I am the good guy. To play a character is to want to be able to defend them, you know, and I honestly think that my character’s got good intentions. Look, we’ve ruined this planet. We’ve brought it to the brink of ecological collapse. It’s going to get to a point when humanity can’t survive here, so we’ve got to find another home.

MH: And that’s what your character Colton Drake, I believe his name is, Colton Drake is trying to do.

RA: Colton Drake is trying to do that. Exactly. So he’s just trying to look for another planet we can all live on. And obviously there’s lots of real life examples of people that are doing similar things and you know, lots of billionaire industrialists sending rockets into space to try and explore it and enhance our life or extend the potential for our species’ existence.

So, you know, is that bad? I don’t even know if that’s bad. Yeah.

MH: If we’re going to get into discussion about Elon Musk, that’s a whole different discussion about what bad is. Talking of Bourne and spy movies, you said recently in a GQ Magazine interview that you’d be up for playing the first brown Bond.

RA: I actually didn’t say that.

MH: Did you not say that?

RA: No, no.

MH: I thought it was put to you and you said you’d be up for that.

RA: Yeah. No, I mean if not to kind of – listen, I’m down for playing.

MH: If they came knocking on your door, you wouldn’t say no, would you?

RA: You know, I just feel like I am game to play any character that is three-dimensional, fully formed, nuanced, that kind of stretches the mold, that subverts people’s expectations. And the interesting thing about being a South Asian actor is that — the gift and the curse — is that there are many roles which would be able to subvert people’s expectations, because if you belong to a group or a minority that’s often not been very visible been a little bit marginalized in terms of indominant culture and in our storytelling, then there are many roles you can play that make people sit up and go: “Oh, it wasn’t sure I’d see a brown dude in that role.”

So yeah, one of those is maybe James Bond, another one is Hamlet, another one is Colton Drake in Venom. So I guess for me, it’s more about does it challenge me and push me as an actor? And secondly, does it challenge the culture and does it push the culture forwards?

MH: If you did do Bond — the reason I mentioned Bond is, would you do Bond as Bond and you just have to do brown dude —

RA: I would do it as you, Mehdi. There is no one that I know who is more suave and deadly.

MH: I’m on my way to defeating the baddies. I will debate you. Because I thought of Jamal Bond, who wouldn’t be able to do like the shaken-not-stirred martini, he’d be like getting a juice or a mock-tail.

RA: I can tell you spend hours in the mirror practicing this and developing this character.

MH: I’m living through you, vicariously.

RA: Double-O Hasan. I like it.

MH: We’re all — all the brown men are living through you, Riz. That’s the point. And let’s just talk seriously about the progress you’ve made in your career. Black and brown actors from the UK constantly and rightly complain about the lack of roles. Great line by you just now about the gift and the curse.

The barriers for entry to them in in the UK television and film industry, many of them flee to the U.S. You’ve done very well in the U.S. Why do you think that is? It’s not as if America doesn’t have its own problems of racism, discrimination, glass ceilings — both across the board and specifically in Hollywood.

RA: I think it’s a factor of a couple of things: one is about the myths and stories that we tell ourselves as countries, and the other one is just about the scale of the two countries. So, I think the industry in America is just bigger. It’s a bigger population. You can support lots of different niche industries and also just has more opportunities, just has more jobs, right? So, there’s just a kind of, in absolute terms, in just you know, raw numbers, there are more roles to go up for. So, even if the proportion of roles that could be played by say anything — a minority or a woman or a disabled person — are the same in the U.K. and in the U.S., there’s just a greater number of them in the U.S. The one’s just about scale.

I think the other reason for it is America’s kind of idea of itself. Its national story is one of, you know, we’re an immigrant nation. It’s inclusive. It’s the salad bowl, the melting pot, whatever you want to call it. You know, it’s a multicultural nation. It’s a migrant nation and although the reality in terms of how different groups may be treated under that one flag, it can be, you know, very patchy and inconsistent, but the myth, the story, you know, that America tells about itself is very multicultural. And so that means that the stories that get told in America and come out of America often make a bit more room for that.

Whereas in Britain, I find actually London — I think it’s the most multicultural city in the world. But in Britain, I think the national story is in dire need of updating. And the story we tell is about you know, lords and ladies kind of running around in bonnets and top hats and the landed gentry and the time —

MH: In the wrong way. In the Brexit era, it’s going backwards it feels like. Every time I’m back in the U.K. that’s what it feels like.

RA: I don’t know. I think it’s a very mixed picture actually. I don’t think you can generalize. I think you know, in some senses there’s more visibility than ever for marginalized groups. And there’s also a backlash against that you know, as we see the kind of death rattles of white supremacy. In many ways, it’s how people explain, you know, these rising tides of xenophobia and patriotism.

MH: And on that note, I want to talk about what you call code-switching. Explain to us what that is exactly.

RA: What I think code switching is, you know, like we’re talking to each other on the phone like this and we both grew up in similar neighborhoods and there’s a kind of ease in which how we were able to talk to each other. But if you were to speak to your mom or if I was speaking to my dad, we might speak in a different language altogether. We’d certainly change our behavior when we speak about different things. And again, if we found ourselves in a different kind of setting, you know, we would change our behavior and our vocabulary in a slightly different way. And something that you know, we all do from day to day, you know, whether you’re in parent mode or husband mode, the different sides of Mehdi Hasan come out. I like to think you’re in husband mode with me right now.

MH: Yeah. Definitely.

RA: I’m definitely feeling very taken care of.

MH: I wish we weren’t so far apart physically.

RA: Well, you’re right. You’re very close to me in my ear and there’s a microphone very close to me as well, so you’re closer than you think. And so, code switching is just about adapting and you know, from one context to another. And it’s something that certainly I did a lot growing up, you know. Growing up in one kind of part of London and going to school in a very different part of London —

MH: You and I went to a very posh private school, I should say just to be very clear for the listeners. We want to a posh white-majority private school, which was switching to become very brown as we got there.

RA: Yeah, yeah we did. I mean, to speak for myself, but I didn’t come from a very posh white neighborhood, or background or social circle. And so, there was certainly a big, you know, amount of code switching that happened between home and school, and there was code switching again as I would kind of skip classes in school to go and hang out with my kind of rude boy mates who, you know, in Harrow, or wherever and so yeah, there’s certainly a lot of code switching. And for me it was as extreme as even changing costumes, you know wearing a shalwar kameez at home, school uniform, and changing to your Reebok Classics.

MH: Were you one of those kids who was embarrassed to wear shalwar kameez outside the house, like if you went to a wedding, you didn’t want any of your white friends to see you?

RA: No, it wasn’t so much that. There was just — it was just a different culture altogether outside of the house or at home — the Pakistani culture was shalwar kameez, but outside of the home, hanging out with Pakistani guys of my own age, yeah, we might wear shalwar kameez, but we’d wear it with Reebok Classics, you know, and a fake Versace jacket or something. So yeah, it was certainly a lot of code switching from one context to the next.

MH: So just sticking with that — in the recent New York Times Magazine interview that you did recently — and I would urge everyone listening to us to read it, it’s a fascinating profile of Riz — you mentioned code switching. You talk about how we and I changes and shifts constantly, especially when we talk about the West versus the so-called mother countries, the Asian or African countries our parents immigrated from. You say in that piece, “We are the inheritors of the scars of empire but also the spoils of empire, and that kind of inside-outside state is totally ingrained in us, which is why, at a time like now where everybody’s being asked to pick a side, everything is binary. It’s a confusing time to be us.”

And Riz, that really resonated with me because, not surprisingly, it’s exactly how I feel too. And, in fact, isn’t it the case that it’s not just that we’re asked to pick a side, but both sides, both parts of our identity, call them East or West for simplicity, are insisting we pick them and are suggesting that we would be betraying our identity if we don’t pick one over the other? And that’s quite disorienting and frustrating for a lot of us.

RA: Yeah, I think that kind of simplistic, binary perspective is one that is propagated by the loudest voices on both sides.

MH: Yeah.

RA: I think you start getting in this situation where, you know, some of the louder voices and some of the narrators we hear more often are about pick a side and you know, actually that’s the opening line of my — I’m releasing some music next week and that’s the first line — it’s “Pick a side do or die.”

MH: That’s your new single, Mogambo.

RA: That’s right. Yeah.

MH: Why did you pick Mogambo as a title? , as a child of the 80s, you watched Mr. India growing up. Mogambo was the famous villain played by the late, great Amrish Puri. Why pick his name for the title?

RA: Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, I felt like … Well, first of all, I thought, there’s just a moment in a track where I say “Mogambo kush hua,” which means “Mogambo is happy.” And I just like this idea of like, you know, unleashing a kind of villainy and reveling in allowing yourself to be a bit, you know, irresponsible. I think there’s a pressure on a lot of us, as minorities, you know, to be the good immigrant. And I don’t know. I just kind of think that there’s something kind of like liberating about allowing yourself to be a bit bad, maybe that was part of it. When I was recording the track, I just said “Mogambo kush hua” because it’s just a very well-known catchphrase, right? And it’s something that people say kind of ironically, which means “Mogambo is very happy,” and this is what the super villain would say when, I don’t know, one of his loyal soldiers would jump into a bath of acid just to, you know, show Mogambo that he’s loyal.

[show clip]

RA: And I just said it in a kind of throw away a sense, but then when I thought about naming the track, I realized that the film the Mogambo is from is called Mr. India. It’s about the search for an invisible formula, a formula that renders you invisible. And I just thought, there’s something kind of interesting about this idea of visibility, right? Because in some senses minorities are more visible now than ever, you know, in culture, but there’s also this rising kind of calls to try and make us all disappear, you know, to vanish us. So I don’t know. I just thought this is interesting, this kind of dichotomy and this double-edged sword of everything’s happening around the idea of visibility right now and I just thought, “Oh, well, maybe it wasn’t a throwaway word. Maybe my subconscious threw that up because this whole track is about how, you know, people want to get rid of us, but we won’t disappear.”

MH: No, we won’t disappear and you’ve not been someone who’s ever done any kind of disappearing acts no matter what stage of your career. You wrote a Guardian essay about being constantly stopped at passport control, which everyone I know who looks like you or me, read and identified with. You also gave a lecture to the U.K. Parliament on the need for diversity in which you made some pretty provocative remarks about the need for young men to have an alternative narrative to the ISIS narrative. You also did some very political rapping on Jimmy Fallon’s show, remember, after the Charlottesville killing, which upset a lot of conservatives

[show clip]

MH: What has made you, over the years, decide to stick your neck out time and time again in this very political way, when other actors, other musicians are keeping their heads down? Is this part of your creative process, or just that you’re a very political person?

RA: You know, it’s interesting you say this because I don’t think that there’s so much of a decision that’s been made about being political. First of all, the idea that there is any art that isn’t political is one that I take issue with. Any story that you tell, any piece of art is putting forward perspective and a point of view on the world. And that’s what politics is, it’s just a point of view in the world. If you are telling a story about — where it’s only men who have speaking roles in the story, you know, that’s offering a perspective. You’re prioritizing certain points of view of others.

MH: I guess a small bit political, but you know what, I mean. There are a lot of actors or celebrities who won’t take a position. They won’t take a position on what’s in the news. They wouldn’t go and say anything.

RA: I was going to move on to that. So one, in terms of the work and in terms of this idea that some work is political and some is not political, I strongly take issue with that. I think that that’s a really kind of sneaky strategy to try and marginalize any pieces of art that subvert, you know, dominant narratives. And actually, that’s what the role of art is. I wouldn’t say that there’s art and then there’s political art. I’d say there’s entertainment and then there’s art and the role of art is to challenge our lazy assumptions.

MH: I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying. What I am pushing back against is — but there are artists who I’ve interviewed who will not comment on anything in the news because they don’t want to upset their fans. They know they’ve got conservative and liberal fans and they don’t want to say anything that might be interpreted. You’re not that kind of person. You go out and say, I’m going to do a rap about you know, two days after Charlottesville — that’s clearly going to alienate the conservative viewers of Jimmy Fallon’s show. So I’m just wondering, what drives you when you do that?

RA: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because again, I do think that some people don’t actually have a choice. That politics chooses you. If you’re born into a certain body, in a certain place, in a certain time, it’s not so much a question of am I going to do this thing to upset people. My mere existence upsets certain people. So what am I going to do? Just stop existing? So it’s not so much that I’m trying to, like, throw a fist up and stick it to the man. I’m just trying to stand up tall with dignity and just look people in the eye, you , and say I’m here, I’m a human being and that means I get to talk about my experience.

And now, if you’re a wealthy, middle class girl from the suburbs and you’re releasing music about being taken to prom in a limousine that your dad’s paid for and partying with your friends, that’s your reality. My reality is different to that. My reality is getting stopped at airports. My reality is also getting to be in big movies. My reality is the kind of dichotomy and the contradiction of getting, you know, searched before I get on an airplane and when I get on the airplane, I’m on the cover of the in-flight magazine. So that’s — that is no less valid than going to prom. That’s no less valid as something to make art about. So for me, it’s not that I’m deciding to be political. I’m deciding to be me and politics chose me, politics chose you, politics chooses anyone who feels that their very existence is questioned as whether it’s valid or not.

[show clip]

MH: Sadiq Khan often says he’s not the Muslim mayor of London or a Muslim politician. He’s a politician or a mayor who happens to be Muslim. Is that how you describe yourself? You’re not a Muslim actor, you’re an actor who happens to be South Asian, happens to be Muslim? And the reason I ask is because it’s easy to say — and I do this, people say to me: “Oh, you’re Muslim journalists.” Well, sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m just a journalist.

It’s easy to say you don’t want to be pigeonholed by your race or your religion, but when there’s so few people like us around in public life, we can’t help but pigeonhole ourselves, can we? There’s so much pressure on us to be the spokesperson for all the people who look like us or share our beliefs or backgrounds, but don’t have the public platforms that you and I do.

RA: Depends whether it’s about, you know, being pigeonholed or just owning who you are. If being described as a Muslim actor means I’m only allowed to play characters who are explicitly Muslim or tell stories that are interesting to, you know, the headlines when it comes to Islam, then I don’t want to be described as a Muslim actor. If it is if it feels like a kind of qualifier, if it is a qualifying adjective and it somehow limits me in some way, and, you know, allows me to be less than fully complicated and fully human and to just be an actor without being encumbered by that, then I don’t wanna be described in that way. But if it’s just something that, you know, describing me in that way without kind of limiting me in that way, then I’ve got no problem with it, to be honest.

MH: What about the pressure side? Do you feel pressure now that you’re the first Muslim male actor to win the Emmy of South Asian descent? Do you get this pressure that, okay, now I have to deliver for all those people who either identify — you know, I was interviewing on the show Ilham Omar recently, who’s going to become the first Muslim woman congresswoman in January when she gets elected in November, the first woman in a headscarf in, the first Somali-American in Congress.

She was talking about, you know, how many different communities lay claim to her. Do you feel pressure that, you know, you are one of these few people from these communities doing well in this walk of life?

RA: I feel privileged, man, that there are people who connect to my work beyond just being entertained by it. I feel privileged that there’s been occasions where I’ve made work and it’s been moving for people and entertaining for people, but it’s also somehow more than that. It’s affirming them on a quite fundamental level, which it shouldn’t have to, really, but, you know, it’s this idea that like if I see you out there, then somehow I feel like my experience is valid. Which it’s kind of tragic in a way that people need to be reminded that.

But that’s the reality of this kind of this quite hostile kind of environment that we can live in at times. So, I feel really proud of that, man. And I feel really privileged that there are people who connect to my work on that level and it inspires people and it feels exciting, to be honest, to be part of something new, to be part of change. It feels good to not be someone who is just perpetuating the status quo. I feel like excited to be part of a shift that is happening in our culture, in our societies, and I feel proud of that.

MH: They do feel that way, Riz. When I mentioned to friends of mine that I was interviewing you for this podcast, people who never listen to this podcast because they’re not interested in politics, were like “Oh, I got to hear Riz.” Because they do identify with you. And let me ask you this then on that note. I interviewed Francis Fukuyama recently for my Al Jazeera English show. He’s got a new book out on identity politics. He’s very critical of identity politics. And I decided — it’s not out yet. It’s coming out shortly. I decided to ask the guy who wrote The End of History about Crazy Rich Asians. I asked him, you know, does he think that’s a good thing? A lot of people in the Asian American media are loving it, and he basically said, no, he didn’t ever grow up needing any Asian role models on the screen. It didn’t help shape his life. Why do you think he’s wrong? Why do you think diversity on screen in public life is so important?

RA: You know, it’s interesting. I think many people are kind of fearful of identity politics because they think it breeds tribalism. And I think the reality is that it can. I think there is a danger of that, but what we’re starting to see, you know, with the democratization of like media tools and the fragmentation of the media landscape and, you know, the shift, this wide demographic shift, that’s happening in a lot of societies, is lots of people are saying, “Well, I want my story to be told. My story deserves to be told and I can tell it now as well. I don’t need to ask permission. There aren’t as many gatekeepers to tell my story.” That’s a great thing. I think it can start to become a slightly limiting thing if it’s approach to the perspective of like, “Okay, I want my team to win. We’re winning right now.” You know, if it starts to feel quite kind of insular.

MH: But if it’s just celebrating the movie with an all-Asian cast. That’s a good thing. Right?

RA: That is a good thing and I think the problem — it only becomes problematic if you assume that Moonlight is only a win for black people and that Crazy Rich Asians is only a win for Asian people, right? Then that becomes a problem because then it starts to become a strange kind of zero sum game and you’re like, well, everyone can’t have a piece of this pie because no one’s going to have another pie. But if you start to think of in terms of Crazy Rich Asians being a massive hit, as a win for all of us, then there’s nothing. There’s no problem there. And in the reality I believe, is that it is a win for all of us because the more, like, the wider range of stories that are out there being told, the greater diversity of stories that are out there being told, the more opportunity we have to recognize ourselves in people who we may have previously thought of ourselves as being different to.

MH: That’s very true.

RA: And really, you know, this comes back to spirituality again in a weird way. I think that that’s the key to happiness — is realizing you’re not alone, you’re connected. We’re all connected to each other. No one ever really dies. The ripples of your actions will reverberate on after you’re gone. You know, every time you touch someone in life, you know, it stays with them and it shifts the cause of the universe on an irreversible and molecular level, right?

So kind of this opportunity of realizing that like, “Wow, that’s me on screen. That’s me on screen in Moonlight. Me and that kid are the same person. The circumstances were just different. And they’re circumstances, I didn’t choose. When I watch Crazy Rich Asians I go, “Wow, that’s me. That’s my story.”

And it’s sad, in a way, that we have to remind ourselves that we’re all the same, but I think any opportunity of dislodging this misconception that we’re not all the same is a welcome one. And I think one of the most effective ways of doing that is telling universally relatable stories, but with the specificity that might not have previously been seen before that can invite people into this realization that, “Oh shit, we’re all the same.”

MH: One last question because we’re out of time — one last question: Where do you see yourself five, ten years from now? What will Riz Ahmed be doing a decade from now? Where will you be living? Do you have a master plan?

RA: Hopefully in five years’ time and in ten years’ time we’re back here talking to you, bro.

Keep in touch.

MH: Oh, what a lovely last answer, Riz. It brings back childhood memories. Thank you so much for taking time out. That was a fascinating conversation as I knew it would be, Riz. Take care. Good luck with the movie and with the single.

RA: Thank you, brother. Take care, man. Bye.

[music]

That was the Emmy-award-winning Riz Ahmed. And let me just add this: He talked a bit about how for him, being brown, being non-white in the acting world has been both a blessing and a curse. And I happen think that applies across the board: even in journalism, in my own career, I’ll be honest: there have been times when I’ve got so tired of always having to be the brown Muslim commentator who has to explain ISIS or extremism or the Middle East to my white colleagues or white critics, and I want to say “Y’know what, I can talk about other things!” But there have also been times where it’s undeniable that I’ve been afforded opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have been afforded were it not for the fact that I stood out from the crowd — that I dispelled or subverted some lazy stereotype of theirs.

So being a minority in the media or in politics or in the creative industries, yeah, it’s both a blessing and it’s a curse.

And good for Riz for making these arguments, for doing these interviews, for not being afraid to stick his neck out. More power to him, and I wish we could have more actors and artists like him.

[music]

That’s our show.

Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept and is distributed by Panoply.  Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. The show was mixed by Bryan Pugh. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw and Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to the show so you can hear it every Thursday. Go to theintercept.com/deconstructed to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever.  If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review – it helps new people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Podcasts@theintercept.com. Thanks so much!

See you next week.