Tears, Rage and Results: Season One of ‘Red Pilled America’

It's like NPR for conservatives, and it's making a mark on the podcasting scene

Few conservatives take the late Andrew Breitbart’s words to heart better than Patrick Courrielche.

The media mogul behind Breitbart News famously said politics is downstream from culture.

In 2009 Courrielche exposed the bias behind the National Endowment for the Arts under the Obama administration, embarrassing traditional media outlets in the process.

Courrielche on Hannity

More recently, he produced a three-part series, Tinseltown Travelogue, revealing Hollywood’s “hypocrisy and institutionalized bigotry.”

Late last year, Courrielche and his wife/business partner Adryana Cortez unveiled “Red Pilled America.” The show, similar in tone to an NPR podcast, told stories that highlighted issues most news outlets ignore or devalue. The project showcases his ability to use cultural tools in a manner typically found only on the Left.

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HiT reached out to Courrielche to discuss the podcast’s second season, how the arts will impact the 2020 presidential campaign in much more.

HiT: Season 1 of “Red Pilled America” is in the books. What were the biggest takeaways from the first year, and what surprised you the most about the reaction to it?

Courrielche: When my co-host/wife (Adryana Cortez) and I thought about producing a weekly storytelling podcast for Middle America, one of our concerns was that some conservative organization, with deep pockets, was going to copy what we were doing and quickly put us out of business. But after a few months we realized that wasn’t going to be happening.

The reason why is because producing a compelling weekly storytelling podcast is not easy to do…that was the biggest take away from the first year.

We’ve created a lot of original content and started various businesses throughout our careers…so hard work and long hours are nothing new to us. But the amount of time it takes to produce one episode of “Red Pilled America” came as a bit of a shock to us.

As far as reaction goes, I think we’ve been most surprised by the emotional connection people have with the show. There is something about audio storytelling that sparks a personal connection with the listener. I think it may have something to do with the fact that the listener is told a story without pictures, giving them the freedom to use their own imagination to fill in the blanks…and it’s that element that creates a personal connection.

Perhaps they can place themselves in the story more easily when the visual of an actor isn’t in the way. We get emails and messages all the time about how people felt God was speaking to them through the show, or that they’ve had to pull over from driving because they were sobbing.

Hearing that reaction was a pleasant surprise, but frankly also a big responsibility because you realize that you are touching people in a way that affects them more than just passive listening. So it raises the stakes on getting the story right.

HiT: Do you see the new season as a continuation of what you’ve built, or do you have a slightly different vision for the show now?

Courrielche: I do see us doing a lot of the same type of thing – a mixture of profile episodes on noteworthy figures, stories on everyday Middle Americans that have undergone a trying ordeal, as well as some investigation pieces…but probably with an expansion on the latter.

The job market appears to be booming, but one industry that has suffered is journalism. This past year, Business Insider reported 7,700 job losses in media. In addition to some efficiency shifts due to social media, I think a lot of this is the market’s response to poor reporting.

The mainstream media has largely abandoned investigative journalism, and we’d like to help fill that roll more through our show because the podcast form seems to be the perfect format for deep dives and moving public opinion. After we did our investigative “Lie Detector” series, we got word that the California Innocence Project was taking on a clemency petition for the lead character of our story.

HiT: Tell us a little about that four-part series, tied to The People vs. George Gage. How did creating the series challenge your own views?

Courrielche: For your readers that haven’t heard it yet, the episodes investigate the trial and conviction of a British West Indies born American man named George Gage. He was found guilty of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter and sentenced to 70 years in a California state prison.

Over the years some have suggested that he was wrongfully convicted – including the trial judge. During his appeal, the office of then-Attorney General of California Kamala Harris refused to hand over evidence that was illegally withheld during George’s trial that some felt would have led to a not guilty verdict.

We were hesitant to dig into the case because we didn’t want to politicize a molestation case. But after Tulsi Gabbard called out Harris for her criminal justice record during one of the early primary debates, we decide to investigate the trial.

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To answer your question, the story challenged our views on so many levels. First, we didn’t realize how important storytelling was in a trial. It’s almost entirely narrative…especially when there is little to no evidence.

Imagine a movie where a key plot twist that severely damages the credibility of an accuser in the story is withheld from the film’s narrative – and at the end of the film the audience is asked to judge the villain without knowing the plot twist.

The viewer develops an opinion of the villain without all of the information. That is what happened in this case. We didn’t realize how much power a prosecutor had in defining what was and was not included in the story of a defendant. But the biggest surprise in this story was that someone could be convicted to life in prison with no physical evidence, no witnesses, no prior record and no contemporaneous information that points to the guilt of the defendant.

George Gage was sentenced to 70 years purely on the testimony of the accuser…and we later learned that the accuser had a motive to lie. That was actually a jarring realization, and I think anyone that listens to the series will come away thinking the same thing.

HiT: Podcast listeners might not realize the amount of work that goes into a show like yours. Can you give a quick example of the production process and how it requires considerable care and attention?

Courrielche: We’ve known several showrunners throughout the years – which is the label given to the head writer and producer of a TV show. What I’ve gathered from my conversations with them about their function is that producing a weekly storytelling podcast is similar in many ways.

However in the case of the audio documentary producer, more jobs are rolled into one person because you have much smaller budget to work with.

Our show is not like, for example, Joe Rogan’s podcast where you turn on the cameras and microphone and two or more people just have a conversation for a couple of hours. “Red Pilled America” is much more like a episodic TV show or a documentary series – with a script, archival audio interviews, old news coverage and a narrator and interviews weaved throughout.

I think everyone can appreciate the amount of time that goes into producing a weekly TV show. The same goes for our series.

HiT: Are there any future “Red Pilled America” episodes you’re particularly excited about, and what can you tell us about them?

Courrielche: We have a bunch we’re working on, but one is pretty unique. It’s about a con man that was able to convince a doctor to take over the doctor’s finances and then methodically took everything from him. Someone associated with the doctor ended up losing her life savings because of it and had to fight her way back to solid footing.

It’s a bit of a complicated story to tell so we’re taking our time on it.

HiT: How does your new book, “Awakenings,” expand the mission you started with the podcast?

Courrielche: Like Hollywood, the book publishing industry is almost entirely dominated by the Left. We learned that a few years ago, and it’s actually the premise of an upcoming episode. Conservative authors have very few book publishing options. Earlier this year we did an episode on Bret Easton Ellis – the famed author of best selling novels “Less Than Zero” and “American Psycho.”

He’s a gay man, and for many years kept that under wraps because he didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a “gay author” and have his book manuscripts funneled only to the handful of LGBTQ publishers that exist.

Right-leaning authors have a very similar challenge.

Once a publisher sniffs out that an author is conservative, even if their book has nothing to do with politics, they get funneled to the four or five “conservative” publishers instead of the hundreds geared for the general reader.

If you are a liberal writer, or an author that explores pro-leftwing themes, you have an enormous amount of book publishing options to explore. Conservative authors literally only have about four or five avenues – and those publishers only accept overtly political topics.

So yes, our new book “Awakenings” is our start at creating, like the podcast, a platform for telling stories that Hollywood and the literary industries both ignore.

HiT: Do you see other right-leaning artists embracing your storytelling approach these days, either via podcasts or other mediums?

Courrielche: I had an interesting talk with author and podcaster Andrew Klavan about this topic for an episode we did on him for the show. In the course of our interview I asked him why more conservatives didn’t gravitate to storytelling. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that if I’d asked him that question 10 years ago he would have said that there was nothing different between conservatives and liberals that made one more or less inclined to the arts.

But today he thinks that there is something fundamental about conservatives that make them less inclined to storytelling. And I think the evidence, for now, bares that out.Whatfinger News

There hasn’t been many right-leaning artists using storytelling in the podcast arena. This past September, The Claremont Institute launched a history podcast called “The American Story” that uses storytelling.

Bill Whittle did an interesting miniseries called “Apollo 11” on the anniversary of America’s mission to the moon. Andrew Klavan has done his “Another Kingdom” fiction series in podcast form. I think Glenn Beck has always used storytelling in the video format. And there are fiction writers like Kurt Schlichter doing it in self-publishing.

I hope more pick it up, and I especially hope conservative media begins to understand what you understand, which is the importance of promoting storytellers on the Right.

HiT: What role will the arts play in the 2020 election cycle, and how can fellow conservatives step up in this arena?

Courrielche: I think it’s going to play a big role. As Election Day approaches, more and more films, TV shows, and podcasts will be launched specifically to resist Trump’s re-election. There are multiple podcasts that have launched over the past two years whose sole purpose is to criticize Donald Trump.

No less than five are focused entirely on the impeachment hearings. One is dramatically called Rubicon: The Impeachment of Donald Trump, another by NBC News is called Article II: Inside Impeachment, Vox does Impeachment: Explained, Buzzfeed News does Impeachment Today, and WNYC does Impeachment: A Daily Podcast.

WNYC also does a podcast called Trump Inc. that investigates the financial dealings of everyone around the president…and they’re public radio so they use taxpayer funds for their productions.

The Left’s use of art as a weapon won’t be limited to podcasts. The book “A Higher Loyalty,” by disgraced FBI director James Comey, is being adapted into a miniseries and released before the election. There will be countless films and TV scripts infused with themes designed specifically to steer voters away from Donald Trump. I’ve even seen these messages in Disney movies geared towards pre-teens and younger.

That is why conservatives need to make a long-term commitment to storytelling because it is one of the most powerful persuasion tools mankind has ever created…especially when conveying the truth.

Conservatives are decades behind on this front.

But luckily, technology could allow us to eat away at this gap very quickly if conservative donors shifted their money from think tanks to content creators and content promoters friendly to our mindset. Fellow conservatives can help in this effort by opening their wallets to content creators – subscribe to their subscription services, buy their merch, or support their crowd funding campaigns. And if their finances are tight, they can always share the content that they love with as many people as possible.

You can find out more about “Red Pilled America” at the podcast’s official web site.

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