What Conservative Author’s Viral Flub Taught Us About ‘Woke’



Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/The Hill


Conservative critic Bethany Mandel was the physical embodiment of a deer in the headlights this week.

On this episode of The New Abnormal, hosts Danielle Moodie and Andy Levy discuss the viral moment Mandel criticized “woke” culture—but completely floundered when asked to define the term.

“She wasn’t asked some obscure question, it wasn’t a gotcha question. She was asked to define a word she will not stop using,” Levy says.

“To me that’s like if she kept saying ‘the sky is blue and the clouds are in the sky,’ and someone said to you, ‘what do you mean by sky?’ You don’t need to give a scientific definition of the atmosphere, but you can at least say it’s the blue thing above your head.”

Despite the flub, we still have learned a thing or two about what it means to be “woke,” along with the fact that more than half of Americans actually support “wokeness,” according to a recent USA Today-Ipsos Poll.

Subscribe to The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or Overcast.

Then, Mehdi Hasan, host of the Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC and author of the new book Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading and Public Speaking joins the show to reveal that in December a federal judge in Florida asked one of Governor Ron DeSantis’ lawyers to define “woke”—and their definition wasn’t half bad.

“He didn’t do what Bethany Mandel did and, freeze, which was embarrassing and revealing enough. But he said something else even more revealing,” Hasan says.


“He actually did define it and he said, and I quote: ‘The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.’ Wow. That’s actually a really good definition. I actually agree with that definition. I would argue the majority of Americans would support that definition.”

How the Silicon Valley Bank Implosion Leads Back to Trump

Plus! Heather McGhee, former co-chair of the systemic risk task force with Americans for Financial Reform that helped shape key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, discusses the fall of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank—and how we got here.

Listen to this full episode of The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon and Stitcher.

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