I love Walter Masterson's work—here are two of his latest videos, wherein Trump supporters, inexplicably, seem to be in support of teaching critical race theory and repatriating Indigenous land. Wait, aren't both of those things, within the MAGA-verse, considered 'woke' and therefore 'canceled'? I'm so confused.
As a viewer named April commented on the first video, "The thing that kills me about your interviews is that they get SO CLOSE to the point. Every time." And Masterson replies, "I walk them to the river and they almost make the jump."
I really appreciate Masterson's approach to his comedy. He's not really simply making fun of people—that would get tired and old, and be kind of mean. He comes across, to me, as someone who is trying to let folks (usually MAGA and Trump folks) explain their points of view, and he really seems to listen with the intent of trying to understand. And sure, he pokes a little fun, but the overall vibe seems to be to listen and try to make sense of their worldviews. What's also clear to me is that there are some possible entry points for growth and learning—at least for some of the folks he interviews—and as an educator who has often despaired that the task of countering mis- and dis-information seems overwhelming and impossible, this gives me at least a small sliver of hope.
In this interesting piece, Sarah Ashley, writing for CL!CK (a publication from the NYU American Journalism Online Master's Program), explains why his work is so compelling:
The genius of Masterson's journalistic work lies in his ability to highlight the hypocrisy—or absurdity—of a belief by simply restating it . . .
He also gives viewers an inside look at an event many have never attended and therefore cannot fathom . . .
Masterson also excels at making sure the interviewee feels heard and appreciated for sharing their views, regardless of whether or not the views make sense. At the Jan. 6 insurrection, he spoke with a first nation woman from the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She wore a bright yellow t-shirt underneath a fleece jacket that said "Lumbees for Trump." According to her, when Trump visited the tribe's county the year before, he promised "on faith" to federally recognize the Lumbee nation. When Masterson asked if her community has been affected by Covid-19, she softened, saying their numbers are high. The conversation turned into a discussion about how the benefits provided by Medicare for All, a plan Trump emphatically opposed, would help her community thrive. He sympathized with her while exposing a politician's empty promises to a group of people actively suffering because of policies working against them.
"I am not a journalist," Masterson told Newsweek in March. "I come to these rallies to make comedy." While his aim is satire, Masterson gives his followers a front-row seat to events that illuminate the state of the U.S. today. He is a documentarian who captures real moments with real Americans expressing their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. In a sense, he is a war correspondent, delivering updates from the front, even if the front is just two states away.