Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit Thanks for listening!


Kickass News

Philip Mudd on the CIA after 9/11

Former deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center Philip Mudd talks about the radical transformation that the intelligence community underwent in the first 90 days after 9/11, why CIA was never intended to be in the business of housing and interrogating prisoners, and how the CIA reached the decision to outsource the job to America's allies at so-called black sites in what came to be known as "the Program."  He discusses some of the 13 enhanced interrogation methods that were approved by the U.S. Justice Department, how they delineated between aggressive interrogation and torture, and which techniques worked and which ones did not.  He says CIA operators express few regrets about what they did in "the Program," and many still feel they were thrown under the bus by members of Congress and also by former President Barack Obama.   Order Philip Mudd's book Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold and keep up with Philip at  This episode is sponsored by Capella University, White Castle, and PuroTrader.  
00:40:35 8/18/2019

Past Episodes

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary begins as a profile on a uniquely deranged magician, who built a career out of shock and deception in the 1980s, but it quickly becomes the bizarre story about the unravelling of his documentarian Ben Berman.  Johnathan Szeles and Ben Berman join me at the world famous Magic Castle to talk about the crazy experience of making this film. Johnathan discusses the heart condition that lead to his retirement in 2014, what his doctors say 5 years after giving him a year to live, and why Johnathan believes the secret to his survival is either stem cells, meth, or both! Ben talks about having to relinquish some control as a director and follow the Amazing Johnathan wherever this wild ride took him including having to contend with a second crew filming a totally different documentary about Amazing Johnathan.  Plus the psychology of magic, the gamesmanship of elaborate pranks, why David Copperfield and Chris Angel hate each others' guts, and Johnathan knows a lot about faking your own death! The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is available on Hulu and in select theaters beginning Friday, August 16.  Keep up with the Amazing Jonathan at or on Twitter at @TheAmazingJ, and follow Ben Berman on Twitter at @LipsBerman.  This episode is sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
00:44:24 8/14/2019
Long before Star Trek, a very young George Takei was one of 145,000 Japanese Americans held in internment camps during World War II, and now he returns to this formative experience in his life as a historical consultant and star in the second season of AMC's horror anthology series The Terror: Infamy.  He talks about the painful experience of having his whole family uprooted by their own government, the eerie sense of déjà vu that he got when he first arrived on the set of The Terror: Infamy, and how he served as a link to the past for the other actors on the show.  He recalls being forced to live in a horse stall at a California race track for two months and then getting shipped across the country to an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas, but that it all just seemed like a great adventure to an innocent boy who was oblivious discrimination and injustice.  George explains why he takes issue with the term "Japanese internment camps," why his parents were nearly deported over a citizenship questionnaire, and why he fears that history might be repeating itself under President Donald Trump.  Plus he reveals how an early experience in the camps partly inspired him to go into acting, and we talk a little Star Trek. The Terror: Infamy premieres on Monday, August 12 at 9/8 Central on AMC.  Order George Takei's new graphic novel They Called Us Enemy on Amazon or wherever books are sold and follow him on Twitter at @GeorgeTakei.  This episode is sponsored by Bank of America's The Academy for Consumer and Small Business, Kronos HR Solutions, and BetterHelp.
00:36:22 8/11/2019
Actor Wyatt Russell is the star of the most original show on television AMC's Lodge 49.  We discuss the allure of ancient fraternal orders, the importance of embracing everyday "magic," and getting curious about the places and the people we all too often drive past.  He talks about how the show speaks to the isolation of modern social media culture and our longing for fellowship.  Wyatt reminisces about previous career as a professional hockey player and the injury that sidelined him from hockey, but opened the door to a career in film and television.  He recalls getting his first big break just when he was ready to give up on acting, following in the steps of his famous parents Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and what they taught him about keeping celebrity in perspective. Season 2 of Lodge 49 premieres on Monday, August 12 at 10/9C on AMC.  Visit for more information..  This episode is sponsored by Bank of America's The Academy for Consumer and Small Business.  
00:46:31 8/7/2019
Terry McAuliffe was Governor of Virginia at the time of the infamous Unite the Right rally that left three dead and many injured in Charlottesville, VA.  He offers a behind-the-scenes account of this infamous chapter in our history and shows how we can prevent other Charlottesvilles from happening in the future.  He shares his biggest worries in the weeks leading up to the infamous Unite the Right rally, why local authorities didn't take his concerns nearly seriously enough, and why he believes that the ACLU shares some of the blame for failing to prevent the violence.  He opens up about the tragic loss his own family suffered on that fateful day and voices his anger at the out-of-state agitators who gave Virginia a bad name.  He discusses his phone call with President Trump on the day of the rally and his outrage when the President later made a wildly offensive public statement on the issue.  Terry McAuliffe also talks about running for Governor and recalls his efforts to bring Virginia into the 21st Century.  Then the former chairman of DNC weighs in on the Democratic debates and what he thinks Democrats are looking for in 2020. Order Terry McAuliffe's book Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  Follow him on Twitter at @TerryMcAuliffe.  This episode is sponsored by Capella University, The Life Is Good Ping Podcast, and Magoosh online test prep.  
00:47:41 8/4/2019
Walton Goggins and Jim Gaffigan talk about getting over their fear of snakes to portray Pentecostal snake handlers in their new film Them That Follow.  They discuss the beliefs behind the religion, why members of these Pentecostal sect live in fear of the law, and why they took particular care not to reinforce negative stereotypes about the people of rural Appalachia.  We talk about what attracts Walton to religious roles from The Apostle to Them That Follow, and how he manages to move so effortlessly between drama and comedy.  Then Jim Gaffigan discusses his own transition from comedy to drama, how his acting and standup inform each other, and what it's been like hit the film festival circuit.  He goes into how his experience as a devout Catholic informed his portrayal in the film, his upcoming standup special for Amazon, and how his wife Jeannie's recovery from a brain tumor has inspired him to get more personal in his act. Them That Follow opens in theaters this Friday, August 2.  Also look for Walton Goggins in HBO's new limited series The Righteous Gemstones August 18 and Jim's new comedy special Quality Time on Amazon Prime Video beginning August 16.  This episode is sponsored by Anchor.  Anchor is a Spotify-owned company that makes it easy for anyone to make a podcast, for free. Get started at  We're also sponsored by BetterHelp Online Counseling and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
00:45:57 7/31/2019
Diallo Riddle and and Bashir Salahuddin channeled their nostalgia musical variety shows like SoulTrain and Solid Gold into a hilarious new parody series Sherman's Showcase on IFC.  They reveal how they lured artists like John Legend to the show and why all musicians are secretly aspiring comedians.  They recall drinking with Lorne Michaels, writing sketches for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and how Sherman's Showcase gave them an opportunity to do all the sketches that were too risky for network television.  They reminisce meeting at Harvard, starting their own sketch group just to get better parts, and being on the ground floor of the Youtube comedy boom.  Plus Frederick Douglass sells hair products! Watch Sherman's Showcase starting Wednesday, July 31st at 10PM ET on IFC, and also be sure to catch Bashir and Diallo's other new show South Side on Comedy Central.  Visit for more fun stuff about Sherman's Showcase, and follow Diallo Riddle on Twitter at @diallo.  
00:44:44 7/28/2019
Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake have served as the top cyber security experts to three Presidents, and they discuss their new book The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats.  They discuss Russia's interference in the 2016 election and say that Russia will almost certainly try it again in 2020.  They warn against the folly of continuing to allow local state bureaucrats to ensure the integrity of America's electronic voting machines and suggest that Russia's 2015 shutdown of Ukraine's power grid might have been a dry run for a similar attack on the grid here in the US.  Clarke predicts that the next war that America enters will likely be triggered by a cyber attack.  They discuss the offensive and defensive potential of new technology like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G.  They advocate for private companies to take greater ownership of their own data security instead expecting the government to protect them from attacks.  Plus they offer a few steps that every listener should take to protect themselves from cyber crime. Order The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  This episode is sponsored by Bank of America's The Academy for Consumer and Small Business and Capella University's Doctoral Degree Program.
00:44:55 7/24/2019
#1 Bestselling spy novelist Daniel Silva's books closely mirror world events, and he reveals how the murder of journalist Jamal Kashogi led him to toss out 250 pages of his latest novel and start over.  The New Girl is the 19th book in his wildly successful Gabriel Allon series, and he says he never imagined that his most popular character would last more than one book.  Daniel discusses the similarities and differences between his fictional Saudi Prince and the brutal Mohammed bin Salman and why he believes that Russia may have had something to do with President Trump's decision to give bin Salman a pass on the Kashogi murder.  Daniel recalls his start as a journalist working at CNN in the early days of 24-hour news, being there the night when the network brought Operation Dessert Storm into America's living rooms, and meeting his wife and fellow journalist Jamie Gangel during the Iran-Iraq War.  Plus Daniel talks about his unique writing process, his fascination with art restoration, and more.  Order Daniel Silva's latest thrilling novel The New Girl on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  Visit his website at and follow him on Twitter at @DanielSilvaBook.  This episode is sponsored by TruGreen Mosquito Defense.
00:36:17 7/21/2019
Joy-Ann Reid is the host of MSNBC's A.M. Joy and she discusses her new book The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story.  She says only a New Yorker who lived in the city during the turbulent 70s and 80s can truly understand the rise of Donald Trump.  She likens that era to the lawlessness of Gotham City, and says that if NYC is Gotham than Trump is the Joker sowing chaos at every opportunity.  She tells the story of her parents' immigration from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and suggests that America could learn something about healing racial divides from post-Apartheid South Africa.  Looking ahead to 2020, Joy believes that unregistered voters are a potential goldmine for Democrats.  She explains that the hungriest constituencies win elections and women will be very hungry this time.  Plus she weighs in the first Democratic debate, shares her daughter's nickname for Beto O'Rourke, and predicts that 2020 will be the craziest election yet! Order Joy's book The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story on Amazon, Audible or whever books are sold.  Watch her show A.M. Joy on Saturdays and Sundays at 10am Eastern on MSNBC and follow her on twitter at @JoyAnnReid.  This episode is sponsored by Anchor.  Anchor is a Spotify-owned company that makes it easy for anyone to make a podcast, for free.  Get started at
00:50:59 7/17/2019
Silicon Valley icon Guy Kawasaki recalls his childhood in Hawaii, his start in the jewelry business, and how his skills at jewelry sales came in surprisingly handy when he became chief evangelist for Macintosh. He talks about personally witnessing the genius and dark side of Apple founder Steve Jobs, he shares some rules that he calls "the Gospel According to Steve," and opens up about the argument that led him to quit Apple in the 90s.  He talks about honor and honesty in the tech industry, his litmus test for doing business with someone, and why many of his best deals are done on a handshake.  He shares plenty of of sage marketing advice including what he calls "Guy's Golden Rule" and gives me a crash course in how to be a social media influencer without letting it dominate your life.  Plus Guy discusses the costly mistake Hillary Clinton made with her Silicon Valley supporters, a cost/benefit analysis of standing up to Donald Trump, and the two asian celebrities for whom Guy always gets mistaken! Order Guy Kawasaki's book WISE GUY: LESSONS FROM A LIFE on Amazon, Audible, and wherever books are sold.  Keep up with him at, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter at @GuyKawasaki.  Today's episode was sponsored by Kronos and Ben & Jerry's.
00:43:02 7/14/2019

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