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The Cream of the Crop – Media and Culture in 2019

The very best that 2019 had to offer.

This last year has been a series of highs and lows, ups and downs, and, of course, a fair mix of good and bad. Instead of focusing on the bad, we want to present you with the best of the best. It’s sometimes tough to get a good recommendation, so our Liberty Nation authors have whittled down exactly what they consider the very cream of the crop in certain entertainment categories. We hope you get some inspiration and, if so, share it around.

BEST TV Program of 2019

Leesa K. Donner – Editor-in-Chief

Yellowstone – The Paramount Network

Anything that the critics hate America seems to love. Such is the case with Yellowstone. A tour-de-force for actor Kevin Costner, Yellowstone Season 2 did not disappoint. Though it can be a bit bawdy at times (not a good one for the kiddies due to a few overt sexual scenes and language), Yellowstone is the story of a Western homesteading family trying to keep their way of life from disintegrating in an ever-changing world. Native American casino corruption, unsolved murders, characters with PTSD, and developers battling it out are all part of the Yellowstone experience.

While Yellowstone has overtones of a modern-day Dallas, it has much more than the old J.R. Ewing story. This includes breathtaking photography, outstanding character development, and plotlines with more twists than the Blue Ridge Parkway. John Dutton (Costner) is a fading patriarch with a fabulously dysfunctional family to which anyone with siblings can relate. Then there’s a bit of the Downton Abbey undercurrent with the juxtaposition of the ranch hands versus life in the big house. Not to mention “life on the rez” complete with powwows and sweat lodges.

Yellowstone is first-rate television that you don’t want to miss. Program groupies already anxiously count down to the premiere of Season 3.

BEST Album of 2019

Andrew Moran – Economics Correspondent

Seven Days Walking – Ludovico Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi, a contemporary classical music composer who is a shining light in our chaotic world, released his new album Seven Days Walking this year. A unique studio release, the project comprises seven volumes. One volume was released each month, the first made available to the public in March.

The compositions are a real treat, whether you are a classical music freak or someone interested in other genres. Without being cliched, pianist Einaudi, alongside Federico Mecozzi on violin and viola and Redi Hasa on cello, brings his compositions to life. More than a listening experience, his music represents all the elements of our existence, from emotions to matter. You can check out the tracks on his YouTube page, and these songs should be first on your list:

  • “Gravity (Day One)”
  • “Low Mist (Day One)”
  • “The Path of the Fossils (Day One)”
  • “Birdsong (Day Two)”

BEST Political Book of 2019

Tim Donner – Washington Political Columnist

Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency – Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy

The best political book of the year is a relatively easy choice, not for lack of strong candidates but for the widely acknowledged excellence of our winner and the significance of his assiduous research. As author Andrew McCarthy described in his appearance on Liberty Nation Radio, the inescapable conclusion of his Ball of Collusion turns the left’s narrative upside down. It proves that the real collusion in the 2016 election was not between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin but between the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration. The book unmasks the plan to lure Trump campaign operatives, starting with George Papadopoulos, into a trap that led to surveillance of the Trump campaign by Obama’s FBI and ultimately the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation.

A well-earned runner-up is Mollie Hemingway and her typically rock-solid analysis of the Brett Kavanaugh debacle, Justice on Trial. It is the definitive insider’s account of Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, based on extraordinary access to more than a hundred key figures including the president, justices, and senators involved in that disgraceful political drama that all but ruined a man’s reputation based on zero evidence.

Best Podcast of 2019

Scott D. Cosenza – Legal Affairs Editor

A Varied Mix

The best podcasts for 2019 include comedy, current events, and Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself. If you want to check in with what progressives are messaging to each other, the Democracy Now podcast gives you the best rundown. Surely Greta doesn’t miss an episode. I love listening to what people I vehemently disagree with are saying to each other. With that in mind, NPR’s Code Switch presents a fantastical journey into the world of identity politics, revealing that no decision is truly made absent the race factor. The funniest storytelling podcast is Ryan Sickler’s HoneyDew, named for the leftovers in a fruit-cup, where they highlight the lowlights. The accessibility of podcast production allows for so many flowers to bloom. The Jeffrey Epstein case represents a great example where several podcasts have sprung up to discuss and dissect the story. These are not episodes of existing podcasts, but stand-alone podcasts designed to immerse the listener in the topic fully. BROKEN: Jeffrey Epstein, and EPSTEIN: Devil in the Darkness both succeed in providing those of us consumed with a certain story a great deal to consider.

BEST Book of 2019

Mark Angelides – Managing Editor

The Body – Bill Bryson

Don’t be put off by the macabre title; this is neither a horror nor a grim detective novel. It is, in fact, a fascinating journey around the human body. Answering all the questions that you never even thought to ask, Bryson leaves no follicle unturned to demonstrate not only how weirdly fascinating we are but also how incredible it is that we don’t die every single day.

In Bryson’s usual style, he both educates and entertains by retelling the forgotten stories of the men and women of science who often risked their own lives in the pursuit of knowledge of the human body. Far from being a dry study in human anatomy, it is a captivating book of wonder that had me literally laughing raucously at bizarre tales of science and humanity. Well worth a read.

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