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In 2016, a sane conversation about politics was most needed but hardest to find. Cable news panels, you may have noticed, are not the best.

Twitter is a great place to slowly lose your mind. Everywhere, the work of excellent journalists competes with clickbait, fake news, and whatever Donald Trump is tweeting about. We need a better conversation about politics in this country. That’s why we launched Crooked Media — to talk about politics in a way that doesn’t make you want to throw your phone out the window – with shows and analysis and other forms of sweet, sweet content that inform, entertain, and inspire action. No, we’re not unbiased, we’re not always serious and we’re certainly not always right. But we promise a no-bullshit conversation about politics and culture where you can laugh, cry, scream, ridicule us daily, share your ideas, and hopefully decide that you want to help fix this mess too. That’s it. End of mission.


Crooked Founders

Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau served as Barack Obama’s head speechwriter from 2005–2013, a role that was more senior and influential than Jon Lovett’s.

Since leaving the White House, Favreau has spoken about politics and speechwriting to audiences throughout the world, written for publications like The Daily Beast and The Ringer, nailed the outcome of the 2016 election, and built a media empire with three of his Obama friends in the ideologically diverse bellwether of Los Angeles, California. Jon grew up outside of Boston and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross.

A better way to cook.

Jon Lovett

Jon Lovett is a straight shooter widely respected on all sides. He earned this reputation (which is seriously fantastic, ask people) as a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and as a presidential speechwriter in the Obama White House.

Jon has written truly excellent speeches, really great, on a range of policy issues. He helped write the president’s annual remarks to the White House Correspondents Dinner. Many people say Jon is one of the funniest guys to do this. The jokes are just terrific. In the years since he’s become a really big league writer in Hollywood. He had a hit sitcom on NBC called “1600 Penn” which was cancelled by some crooked, disgusting people. Totally rigged deal. Also Jon has a great brain. He went to Williams, OK? One of the top guys.


Tommy Vietor

Before seeking fame and fortune in podcasting, Tommy worked for President Obama for almost a decade.

He traveled the world with President Obama as his National Security Spokesman (check out Pod Save the World to learn all about it) and across Iowa with then-Senator Obama as his Iowa caucuses press guy. Medium-bodied with notes of lavender, black pepper, and used boat shoe, this Boston-born bullshit artist should peak in 2018.

Time to make the content.

Crooked Hosts

Dan Pfeiffer

Host, Pod Save America
Dan served President Obama for eight years as his Communications Director on both the 2008 Campaign and in the White House and finally as Senior Advisor to the President (this may or may not mean that he can’t hold a job).

In addition to podcasting, he is a CNN Contributor. Dan was born in Delaware and has been banned from traveling to Russia by Donald Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin.

Ana Marie Cox

Host, With Friends Like These
Ana Marie Cox is a political columnist and culture critic. She conducts the “Talk” interviews featured in The New York Times Magazine.

She also hosts “With Friends Like These,” a podcast from Crooked Media. She was the senior political correspondent for MTV News from 2016 until they pivoted to video.

DeRay Mckesson

Host, Pod Save the People
DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from Bowdoin College and holds an honorary doctorate from The New School.

DeRay has advocated for issues related to children, youth, and families since he was a teen. As a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the co-founder of Campaign Zero and OurStates.org, DeRay has worked to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies to ensure equity. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, DeRay has become a key voice in the effort to confront the systems and structures that have led to the mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. DeRay was named as one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and as one of the 30 Most Influential People On The Internet by Time Magazine in 2016.

Ira Madison III

Host, Keep It
Ira Madison III is a culture writer at The Daily Beast who has also appeared in GQ, CR Fashion Book, Vulture, MTV News and BuzzFeed.

Nylon named him to its 2016 list of the “The 25 Best Things We Read Online In 2016”. Ira has recently appeared as a commentator in the documentaries The Culture of Proximity and Celebrity Feuds. In 2017, Ira was #16 on The Advocate’s list of 50 Most Influential LGBTQs In Media.


The Daily Beast: Hollywood Must Stop Enabling R. Kelly

The Daily Beast: Tom Cruise Is Still Great, Even After ‘The Mummy’

GQ: On Brad Pitt, Masculine Emotion, and Piers Morgan Being an Ass

Erin Ryan

Senior editor at The Daily Beast
Erin Gloria Ryan is a senior editor at The Daily Beast and a contributor to CNN.

She was born in Frederic, Wisconsin and raised by wolves. She somehow made her way onto a turnip truck that dropped her off at the University of Notre Dame, where she learned how to drink and that football will only lead to heartbreak. Post-college, she moved to Chicago where she served a year as an Americorps VISTA at the University of Chicago’s Neighborhood Schools Program. She was hired as a staff writer at the website Jezebel in 2011, and in 2012, she moved to New York City to pursue her writing career and grow bangs like a good feminist. Since moving to New York, she’s written for the VH1 show Best Week Ever, worked her way up the masthead to Managing Editor at Jezebel, written for the New York Times and Playboy, among other publications. She currently lives alone in Manhattan with her cat, like a total goddamn cliche.


The Daily Beast: The 2001 VMAs: A Tacky Pre-9/11 Goodbye to Innocence

The New York Times: We’ll Miss You, Sean Spicer

The Daily Beast: Fox News Is Like Porn for Aggrieved Men

Jason Kander

Host, Majority54


A husband, a father, a former Army Captain who served in Afghanistan, and Missouri’s former Secretary of State, Jason Kander is the president of Let America Vote.

Jason – who POLITICO called “the hottest star in Democratic politics” this summer – was the first millennial in the country to be elected to statewide office. He started Let America Vote in February 2017 to fight back against proposals across the country that make it harder for eligible voters to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot. In 2016, Jason ran for U.S. Senate in Missouri in one of the most competitive races in the country, and at over $75 million, the most expensive race in state history. Jason’s campaign was bolstered by his viral gun control ad that showed him assembling a rifle blindfolded while making the case for expanded background checks. Jason lost by one of the closest margins in the country, over performing the presidential ticket by nearly 16 points.

Missourians elected Jason as Secretary of State in 2012, when he over performed the presidential ticket by nearly 10 points on his way to becoming the youngest statewide elected official in the country. Before that, Jason volunteered to serve as a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan. After his deployment, Jason came home to Missouri, becoming a leadership instructor in the Missouri Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School.

Jason is a graduate of American University and Georgetown Law School. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, Diana, an entrepreneur, and their four-year-old son, True.

Crooked Team

Tanya Somanader

Chief Content Officer
Tanya is an alum of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter/digital-whatever for Nancy Pelosi.

She roots for every team in Cleveland’s factory of sports sadness. Slow walker. 33/f/los angeles.

Sarah Wick

Chief Operations Officer
Sarah spent the last five years building digital audiences at Maker Studios / Disney, where she most recently served as the general manager of an entertainment, gaming and philanthropy vertical called Revelmode that had more than one billion aggregate monthly views and raised a million dollars in 2017 for charity.

She wishes she didn’t have to use the term “vertical” but that’s just what it was called. Sarah went to Harvard where she was on the Harvard Lampoon, which is why this bio is so funny.

Priyanka Aribindi

Associate Editor
Priyanka writes Crooked’s daily newsletter. She also wrote this bio.

She hates how trying to keep up with the news can feel overwhelming and hopes that the newsletter will help people not feel that way. She switched coasts after stints at TIME and Real Simple, and remains the only Crooked employee to get a job via Twitter DM (thanks, Lovett). She’s anxiously awaiting her very first stan.

EJ Baker

Senior Manager, Rapid Response & News
EJ is Very Online, a decision she sometimes regrets.

She’s probably emailed you, texted you, or tweeted at you at some point during her time at EMILY’s List, the Democratic National Committee, or working with various congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns. Prior to the Trump administration, she was a proud alum of the University of Pennsylvania, now she’s just an alum. EJ is a native of Rochester in the great state of Upstate New York and in her free time enjoys yoga, spinning, theater and other activities where you’re not allowed to have your phone out.

Juliet Beckstrand

Juliet is a Minnesota native, a Wake Forest University graduate, and a Washington DC expat.

After spending two years working in the United States Senate for Sen. Klobuchar, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion of helping people realize that their voice matters in politics—and she’s happy to follow that dream at Crooked Media…where doodles come first, snacks come second, and Twitter fights are always productive.

Brian Beutler

Editor in Chief
Brian Beutler cut his teeth in the crooked media for 12 years before finally dropping all pretense and joining a company that embraces its Crookedity.

He was a senior congressional reporter for the news site TPM for five years, where he covered all the major reforms of the Obama era, and the conservative backlash that ultimately gave rise to Donald Trump. He was a columnist for Salon, and comes to Crooked Media from The New Republic, where he was senior editor, wrote a daily column and hosted the podcast Primary Concerns. Brian studied physics and astronomy at U.C. Berkeley, where he graduated without particular distinction in 2004.

Elijah Cone

Director, Digital Content
Elijah Cone has spent his career in Los Angeles hand-crafting authentic, GMO-free, farm-to-table content experiences for a variety of faceless corporations and brands.

After a breathtaking series of content home-runs at Fox Sports, Cone joined the world of political podcasting. “Touchdown.” Growing up in North Carolina, Elijah pivoted to video before he could walk. He graduated from Wesleyan University and continues to credit himself for other alums’ achievements to this day. Enjoy the #content everyone! Like and subscribe.

Nikki Fancy

Head of Marketing
Nikki Fancy doesn’t like jokes about her last name. Don’t sing that song. Don’t tell her she looks fancy. Don’t do any of it. Okay? OKAY? Okay.

Before coming to Crooked, Nikki was the Head of Programming at artist-to-fan app Bkstg (Scooter Braun, Live Nation). Prior to that, she served as the VP of Programming Strategy and Operations at Maker Studios, and awarded Forbes “30 Under 30 Hollywood” in 2015. Also, she thinks she came on a little too hot up top about the Fancy stuff.

Kari Fleischauer

Manager, Finance & Operations
Kari spent several years on the dark side of the financial world as an analyst working for small local finance startups, Goldman Sachs and SpaceX.

Her desire to become an amalgam of West Wing characters and help progress the liberal agenda brought her to Crooked in late 2017 and she couldn’t be more elated. A proud Northwestern grad (Go ‘Cats), Kari is the fastest talker at Crooked Media and is tied for 1st as best punster in her family. She lives for (Excel) models and (Nalgene) bottles.

Corinne Gilliard

Director of Development
Corinne spent eight years living her “best life” working on the final two seasons of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and producing non-scripted television for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

She now works in podcasting. Some might call this “peaking early”, but she’s not into labels.  When she isn’t producing and developing dope Crooked pods, she’s volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters and obsessing over the Academy Awards.  She also reps Howard University all day, everyday (HU, you know!).

Elisa Gutierrez

Associate Producer
Elisa came to Crooked having no idea what to expect but much like the company she works for, she has become a juggernaut of an assistant.

She’s excited to work in the podcasting world and loves hearing people’s stories. She came to Crooked after a fellowship at Univision and Fusion and is a graduate of Columbia University.

Travis Helwig

Head Writer
Travis Helwig is a three-time Emmy-award winning writer and producer.

He was the head writer and co-executive producer of Adam Ruins Everything and he’s written for Billy On The Street, Funny or Die, Ellen, and he’s just okay at basketball.

Justine Howe

Chief of Staff
Justine Howe has been to 24 countries, 45 states, but unfortunately only 1 planet.

She loves being the chief. Of stuff. Think: culture, project management, event planning, a little bit of interior decorating, a little HR, and a little IT. But mostly everyone thinks of her as the person who bought the office plants and plans the parties. Justine was born in Minnesota, went to the University of Pittsburgh and worked for Tory Burch in New York before realizing she’s a Californian yogi at heart and moving to LA. Also, she had someone else write this bio because she was very nervous about it.

Mellani Johnson

Associate Producer
Mellani is a self-taught Motion Graphics designer who would rather animate this bio than write it.

Formerly a tattoo artist, Mellani wants to be Shuri when she grows up. If you don’t know who that is, have several seats. Wakanda Forever.

Shirley Ma

Graphic Designer
Shirley is a designer with a background in visual communication, UX/UI, and other designer-y stuff.

She graduated from Art Center and worked in advertising before she finally joined the world of podcast. Shirley is having a hard time explaining what ‘podcast’ is to her Chinese grandma to this day.

Michael Martinez

Senior Producer, News
Michael Martinez came to Crooked after spending a decade in public radio, where he acquired enough tote bags to last the next ten lifetimes.

He brought his news and audio chops to Los Angeles all the way from his hometown of Washington, D.C., as well as his passion for the Baltimore Orioles and good snacks. Hufflepuff.

Shaniqua McClendon

Political Director
Shaniqua McClendon used to work at Domino’s Pizza but unfortunately she’s now Crooked’s Political Director. Domino’s had way more free pizza.

While she was born in Queens, she was raised in North Carolina and because of that, is obsessed with Tar Heel basketball. She went to UNC and Harvard, was a staffer for both former Senator Kay Hagan and Rep. Alma Adams on the hill, and has a twin. She doesn’t know which one is the evil twin. It’s probably not her. Probably.

Jesse McLean

Design Director
As a designer, Jesse was naturally drawn to podcasting – the most visual medium. He worked as a Creative Director at GLOW in New York and as an Art Director for TBS in beautiful downtown Burbank.

Sometimes Elijah needs a graphic. Sometimes Lovett needs a graphic. Sometimes Tanya needs a graphic. Elijah, do you need another graphic? Brian, I already made that graphic. Yes it can be blue, no we can’t make it bigger. Here’s the Facebook version of that graphic. Where’s my chair?

Narineh Melkonian

Associate Producer
Narineh Melkonian is a video producer who has worked on everything from mini docs to comedy webseries.

Despite having studied business at Berkeley, she dodged the lure of “the ABCs” (accounting, banking, consulting) to pursue visual storytelling. Narineh is a California patriot and native.

Mukta Mohan

Producer, Network & Development
Mukta Mohan was asked to write a bio and it sent her spiraling into existential crisis.

How could 150 words capture her desire to seek beauty in unexpected places or convey her sense of wonder? Should she mention that her favorite feeling is being in a new place for the first time or that she likes to listen to the sound of spaces? That she loves to cook for friends and spend time in nature and write in her journal? Or should she stick to her qualifications: that she worked on the Rookie podcast, a variety of shows at MTV News, and in public radio at Marketplace, the economics show? What’s even happening anymore? Does this count as a bio?

Roman Papademetriou

Operations & Productions Assistant
This is Roman’s first real job, which means he’s trying hard not to fuck mess anything up.

Roman is a part of the Political and Biz Ops Teams, which has taught him cool lessons like “dreaming big” and less cool lessons like “fiscal responsibility.” Roman grew up outside Atlantic City, where he first became aware of Donald Trump because of the Trump Taj Mahal, known as the slimiest casino in town before it went out of business (cool metaphor!). Roman studied politics at Princeton, where he did everything in his power not to become the next Ted Cruz. In college, he was a legal intern at Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic, and worked for a summer as an Arabic interpreter for refugees entering Europe at a health clinic in Athens. He’s a good guy.

Caroline Reston

Associate Producer
Before making the move to Crooked Media, Caroline worked as the writers’ assistant on Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show.

But she left that assistant life and is now living that associate life. Caroline is the current Associate Producer on Keep It, Hysteria, and Pod Save America! Her interests are totally normal and not at all weird. When she’s not knee deep in her fifteenth read of Helter Skelter, she likes to unwind by hate watching Sean Hannity. She also firmly stands Team Bethenny…for now.

Kyle Seglin

Sound Producer | Studio Manager
Kyle, like all audio engineers, is a former psychotherapist. And like all former psychotherapists, Kyle loves to listen. You could say that’s what inspired him to study sound.

You’d be wrong though. It was early 2000s Long Island punk music that did it. (Obviously.) Kyle got his undergrad at UVA and his masters at Hunter College in NYC. He soon began working as a full-time psychotherapist while simultaneously recording bands in his Brooklyn-based recording studio. From there, he mixed for various TV shows, recorded and produced bands, post-mixed films and Internet media, and sound designed as a freelancer and staff engineer in both NYC and LA. In 2016 Kyle moved to the west coast to become a full time Californian. Kyle is also an avid TV-watcher, news-reader, dog-haver, and, totally without bragging, has a lot of plants.

Brian Semel

Executive Assistant
Brian left the glamorous world of Hollywood, where he was an assistant, to join Crooked in the glamorous world of podcasting, where he is also an assistant.

When he isn’t being of assistance, you can find him asleep on a couch or in a park. Feel free to wake him up.

Neil Varghese

Head of Finance
Neil is a native NYer, having 14+ years of experience operating in various finance and accounting capacities.

He joins Crooked from Dreamscape Immersive, where he served as the Head of Finance. While Neil loves VR, he is excited to join the real world in its resistance. He is an avid consumer of: news, plane tickets, sneakers, hoodies, HBO, and fine foods.”


Chief Executive Doodle
Leo Favreau dropped out of puppy school to join the #Resistance.

He is a grassroots organizer and grasstops pooper who greets every visitor to Crooked Media with two paws and a full heart. Leo is fighting for better toys, more string cheese, longer walks, and a political revolution that will deliver social and economic justice for all. He believes in the power of one voice to change a room, like when his half-sister Pundit barks during Game of Thrones.


Foreign Pawlicy Advisor
Lucca believes in belly rubs, trips to the dog park and preserving the liberal international order.

A fan of soft power and hard foods, her dream is to poop on all 1,092 of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.


Chairdoodle of the Board
Pundit was born believing that both sides are equally to blame for our current partisan morass and that the two parties should come together to actually solve problems again by cutting Social Security.

Currently, Pundit is licking her privates and hoping that General Kelly will finally get Trump to pivot.

Contact Us

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For press inquiries: press@crooked.com

For anything else: hey@crooked.com