The people in the crowd were angry, and “Chapo Trap House” wanted them to stay that way. The five hosts of the popular socialist podcast wanted everyone to know they had all been lied to. About everything.
The media they consumed was fake news aimed to distract them from the only war worth fighting: the class war. Politesse, civility, even pleasure — those were tools of the neoliberal oppressor. The right answer is rage.
“That joy,” the Chapo co-host Will Menaker said to the crowd gathered in Iowa City on the eve of the Iowa caucus. “That’s good but it’s not as good a motivator when you’re really going to war as spite.”
“Let the hate feed you,” the co-host Amber A’Lee Frost added as the audience roared.
And it does. Especially toward other Democrats.
Supporters of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are “gelatinous 100-year-olds.”
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is “a bloodless asexual.”
“The gayest thing about him is he descends from an ethnic group that’s like a little toy dog,” Ms. A’Lee Frost said.
When Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name came up, the crowd made the sound of a snake hissing. She had accused Senator Bernie Sanders of saying that a woman could not beat President Trump, and so she is a snake.
“Yes, my sssssoldiers,” Mr. Menaker said.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s run appalls them. “Beat him so badly that this midget gremlin won’t even have a shot even with a trillion dollars,” Mr. Menaker said.
“Kill him,” someone shouted from the audience. These were jokes, of course. Everyone was laughing.
As Mr. Sanders rises in the polls and claims strong showings in early states, a new set of media stars is on the rise, too. Leading the pack are the hosts of “Chapo Trap House,” the Pied Pipers of the candidate’s online movement.
In their rowdy, vulgar weekly podcast, they are stoking the fires of a political insurgency led by their 78-year-old idol. The man stands for the movement, the movement is the man.
“Our boy Bernie” they call him.
The fivesome of “Chapo Trap House" are not the only bards of the new American left — there is “Red Scare” and another whose name cannot be printed — but they have led the way for a movement that together generates millions of dollars a year. They are on their way to becoming the socialist’s answer to right-wing shock jock radio. Their primary targets, in evidence at that show in Iowa, are not the Republican Party or even Mr. Trump but rather centrist liberals, whom they see as the major obstacle to a workers’ revolution.
The main draw of the show is their banter, the hosts distilling the news of the week and checking in on their favorite and least favorite characters. But they have had major guests, including Mr. Sanders himself.
“These people on top are so powerful that the only way we bring them down, the only way we make the kinds of transformation this country absolutely requires is when millions of people are prepared to stand up and fight back,” Mr. Sanders said during his interview.
And the Sanders campaign maintains a close relationship with the podcast. His senior adviser, David Sirota, and his national press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray, have also been on the podcast. At the Iowa show, a Sanders volunteer stood at the door with fliers and pins to hand out and an email list to gather names.
Their followers — on the night in Iowa City more than 700 strong — come to hear them rage for three hours against the student debt, the high rent, the dead-end creative class jobs, and the feeling of hopelessness fighting against a liberal political establishment that seems polite when they are angry.
They were promised a better life, a more dignified life, and they are done waiting for it.
An additional challenge is that as the free-floating anger they stoke finds community, it is escalating and souring into sometimes violent and ugly rhetoric — the kind of rhetoric that other Democratic contenders have fashioned into a major critique of Mr. Sanders.
On Monday, the Sanders campaign fired a campaign organizer, Ben Mora, after his private Twitter feed was revealed to include derogatory comments about 2020 candidates. The Chapo hosts publicly supported Mr. Mora, praising his organizing work and saying, “I hope the campaign doesn’t cave to these whiners and losers.”
For the hosts and their fans, those sort of tweets and the podcast language are all jokes. The audience understands the difference, they argue, and anyway the real problem with the Democrats is that they’re overly sensitive. A bunch of self-serious P.M.C.s (members of the professional-managerial class).