In the new episode of our “educational” series The Audit, Dave, Josh, and their study buddy Senator Nina Turner audit the final lessons of David Axelrod and Karl Rove’s 24-part MasterClass on campaign strategy and messaging. Did they learn anything valuable? Absolutely not. Did they have a great time cutting through Axelrod and Rove’s whitewashed propaganda? Well, that’s a more subjective question.

During the final lessons, Axelrod and Rove discuss the current state of American politics, and the study group breaks down their discussion in real time. You might be surprised to learn which of these two campaign pros actually understands why our politics have become so divisive and which one is completely oblivious to any measurable reality. Actually, you probably won't be.

A rough transcript of this episode is available here.

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In addition to The Audit’s podcast content, their creative team does extensive research on each season’s subject matter. This season, they delved into Axelrod and Rove’s history, even though they certainly, definitely, absolutely, did not want to.

Please enjoy The Audit’s comprehensive bibliography.

For further reading about David Axelrod and Karl Rove:


Alexander, Paul. Machiavelli’s Shadow The Rise And Fall Of Karl Rove. Modern Times, 2008.

Axelrod, David. Believer: My Forty Years in Politics. Penguin, 2016.

Cannon, Carl M., DuBose, Lou, and Reid, Jan. Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Architect of George W. Bush's Remarkable Political Triumphs. ‎ PublicAffairs, 2005.

Issenberg, Sasha. The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. Broadway Books, 2013.

Ivins, Molly and DuBose, Lou. Bushwacked: Life in George Bush’s America. Vintage Books, 2003.

Ivins, Molly. Shrub, The Short but Happy Political life of George W. Bush. Vintage Books, 2000.

Mayer, William G. The Uses and Misuses of Politics: Karl Rove and the Bush Presidency. University Press of Kansas, 2021.

Moore, James and Slater, Wayne. The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power. Crown, 2006.

Rove, Karl. Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight. Threshold Editions, 2010.

Smith, Jean Edward. Bush. Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Unger, Craig. Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power. Scribner, 2012.


Black, Curtis. “The Definitive Guide for Cable Hosts, Bookers, and Editors to the Fraud and Failure That Was Chicago Mayor Rahm EmanuelThe Intercept, May 20, 2019

Featherstone, Liza. “Talk is Cheap: The Myth of the Focus GroupThe Guardian, February 6, 2018

Glasser, Susan B. “Hired Guns Fuel Fundraising RaceWashington Post, April 30, 2000

Green, Joshua. “Karl Rove in a Corner.The Atlantic, November 2004

Green, Joshua. “The Man Karl Rove Couldn’t BeatThe Atlantic, May 13, 2011

Green, Joshua. “The Rove PresidencyThe Atlantic, September 2007

Grim, Ryan and Cohen, Rachel. “The Democratic Party’s Consultant FactoryThe Intercept, April 6, 2021

Grim, Ryan, and Fang, Lee. “The Dead Enders: Candidates Who Signed Up to Battle Donald Trump Must Get Past the Democratic Party FirstThe Intercept, January 23, 2018

Haberman, Maggie. “Rove stumbles, critics pouncePolitico, February 20, 2013

Hart, Patricia. “Brain cancer has put life and politics in perspective for Lena Guerrero.” Texas Monthly, September 2001

Horton, Scott. “Vote Machine: How Republicans hacked the Justice DepartmentHarper’s, March 2008

Horton, Scott. “Six Questions for Paul Alexander, Author of Machiavelli’s ShadowHarper’s, July 1, 2008

Horton, Scott. “Six Questions for James Moore on Karl Rove’s Political ProsecutionsHarper’s, July 19, 2007.

Mugwump Blues. “Political Books: Karl Rove Sociopath? A Review of Rove’s AutobiographyDaily Kos, October 7, 2013

Perlstein, Rick. “The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm EmanuelThe New Yorker, December 31, 2015

Poletti, Jonathan. “Outing John Weaver: An ugly gay Republican storyMedium, January 16, 2021

Purdum, Todd. “Karl Rove’s Split PersonalityVanity Fair, October 30, 2006

Toobin, Jeffrey. “The Shrum CurseThe New Yorker, August 13, 2007

Vogel, Kenneth P. “Karl Rove and the Modern Money MachinePolitico, July/August 2014

Vogel, Kenneth P., Burns, Alexander and Parti, Tarini. “Karl Rove vs. the tea partyPolitico, February 2, 2013

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