True Crime fans thrive on their favorite podcast hosts who are MAGA loyalists

The popularity of true crime podcasts like Serial created an explosion of audio content about murders and disappearances. But the true crime boom has also boosted many cranks. For example, Mary, a Baltimore podcast fanatic, was relieved to find a popular true crime podcast last year that actually has a claim to authority: The Prosecutors.

Launched in 2020, in the early months of the pandemic, The Prosecutors stars two real-life prosecutors who go by the names only “Brett and Alice.” In the show’s first episode, the two anonymous hosts pitched the podcast on the idea that they would use their legal backgrounds to offer unique insights into famous real-life mysteries.

Mary enjoyed The Prosecutors for about a month. Unlike other podcast hosts in the true crime industry, Brett and Alice actually seemed to know what they were talking about. That sense of credibility has made The Prosecutors a true crime phenomenon – ranking around 100 on Apple’s true crime podcast rankings, an impressive position in the highly competitive genre.

But Mary couldn’t shake her own questions about why Brett and Alice didn’t use their full names. Their website didn’t offer much more about their identities, as both hosts were looking away from the camera in their pictures. Brett’s biography described him as a “southern gentleman”.

Mary decided to start her own investigation.

“If you don’t want to attach your name to it, there’s a reason for that,” recalled Mary, who asked not to use her last name for fear of online backlash. “Let’s just check on this guy.”

Mary didn’t like what she discovered. A quick online search connected Mary to a thriving community of former fans of The Prosecutors, who have since tuned into the show after discovering that “Brett and Alice” are Brett Talley and Alice Lacour, well-connected members of the conservative right-wing elite and former Trump administration officials.

Most of that fan anger has fallen on Talley, a former Trump nominee for the Bundesbank with a history of anti-abortion and pro-gun remarks. Talley’s nomination exploded in spectacular fashion in 2017 when the American Bar Association took the rare step of declaring him “unqualified.” One Republican senator even called his nomination “embarrassing,” pointing out that Talley had never tried a case in court at the time.

For Mary, the final straw after the Sandy Hook school shooting was the discovery of remarks Talley made defending the founder of the Ku Klux Klan and urging people to join the National Rifle Association. She stopped listening to the prosecutors.

“I actually find him repulsive,” Mary said. “In my opinion, he has no integrity. Listening to a podcast is entertainment for me and I just don’t want to spend my time like that.”

Maria is not alone. While rumors of Talley and Lacour’s identities have been circulating online for at least six months, they were confirmed in May when Apple’s podcasting app added Talley and Lacour’s full names to its podcast profile. Her unmasking sparked a fresh round of criticism from her former listeners, who felt betrayed for spending so many hours listening to members of Trumpworld. As fans of The Prosecutors ponder whether they can stay with the show, the controversy has raised questions about what podcast hosts owe their listeners and whether listeners can separate a host’s political views from their podcast.

On Reddit, a hub for amateur detectives, the main true crime subreddit has started automatically banning posts about The Prosecutors because the debates got too heated. On Apple’s podcast app, the show’s reviews have filled with one-star reviews from fans who have been disappointed in the couple’s connection to Trump and accused them of using their anonymity to obscure it.

“Heartbroken to know who Brett really is,” says a May 30 one-star review of Apple’s podcasting app.

“If you’re a MAGA supporter, at least be honest and say who you are,” wrote another reviewer on May 27. “It’s insidious to hide it on purpose.”

Both Lacour and Talley were serving as assistant US attorneys with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama as recently as this spring, according to court filings in federal cases that list them as attorneys. The US Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

“Our listeners are incredible and we value them greatly,” the hosts wrote in a Twitter direct message to The Daily Beast. “The show is about the cases and the victims, not politics.”

Lacour, who worked as a trial attorney at Trump’s Justice Department, is married to Edmund Lacour, the Alabama Attorney General. Angry fans of her podcast have pointed out that Edmund Lacour, also nominated by Trump for a federal judgeship but not confirmed before Joe Biden took office, used his position in Alabama to push for voting restrictions.

But the vast majority of fan criticism was reserved for Talley, whose botched nomination became a mini-scandal in the fledgling administration in 2017, when even Republican senators slammed Talley’s bid for a lifetime federal judgeship in Alabama.

Talley, then 36, was dogged by accusations that he was too inexperienced to be a judge, with opponents frequently alleging that he had never tried a case. Other critics pointed to his unusual background as a ghostbuster. Talley’s nomination ran into an even more serious snag when he failed to disclose during the nomination process that he was married to then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn’s chief of staff. Talley eventually withdrew his own nomination after being criticized by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fans of The Prosecutors have cited Talley’s failure to disclose his marriage as one of their reasons for turning against him.

“My issue with him is his complete lack of integrity regarding his federal justice nomination,” one Reddit user wrote last year.

“Board is MAGA????” answered another. “Are you kidding me?”

But Talley’s former listeners seem most alienated from his history of controversial online statements. Shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, Talley wrote that his “solution was to stop being pansy-man society.” In a blog post after the shooting, Talley urged his readers to join the NRA.

“I pray that they will be victorious in the coming struggle for our rights,” he wrote.

Mary, the former listener of The Prosecutors who spoke to The Daily Beast, found Talley’s post-Sandy Hook boosterism for the NRA particularly galling.

“Such a delicate time in the country and the fact that he ran for the NRA right after that was despicable,” she said.

James Renner, a true crime writer and podcaster who has covered some of the same cases as Lacour and Talley, praised their work on true crime in an interview with The Daily Beast. Renner said he, too, was initially disappointed by Talley’s political background and initially compared him to conservative musician Eric Clapton. But then Renner changed his mind, deciding instead that Talley was some sort of Renaissance man.

“He’s really more like Jack White,” Renner said, referring to the White Stripes frontman. “He’s prolific, he’s a storyteller, he’s a polymath. He is interested in everything and fascinating to talk to.”

In addition to his work in true crime and ghost hunting, Talley has written a number of well-received horror novels.

“As they’re getting deeply into these cases, I think they’re actually going to get more liberal over time,” Renner said.

But it seems The Prosecutors’ many listeners who unsubscribe from the show are unconvinced. In discussions online, they cite the fact that both Talley and Edmund Lacour are members of the Federalist Society, the right-wing conservative anti-abortion rights group who are staunch conservatives throughout the federal judiciary.

“This isn’t about intolerance,” wrote a Reddit user who compiled a list of articles on Talley and Lacour’s politics. “The point is that Brett and Alice’s husband will be 100% trying to abolish abortion rights and the right to vote if they are made judges.” True Crime fans thrive on their favorite podcast hosts who are MAGA loyalists


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