Hell & High Water with John Heilemann

By The Recount

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Subscribers: 675
Reviews: 5

Marie D.
 May 15, 2022
Heilemann is a great interviewer, and while he is best known for his coverage of politics, his wide and deep interest in music and culture ensures this podcast has something for everyone. Always interesting, informative, and entertaining!

Andy
 Mar 1, 2022
top shelf


 Feb 1, 2022


 Apr 15, 2021

Amy Williams
 Nov 3, 2020
You cannot beat the combination of John and Nicole. Great insight into politics and political campaigns. I could listen to them all day!

Description

Living in America these past few years has been like living in a movie—a mashup of Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, and Idiocracy, that is. The never-ending pandemic, the routine mass shootings, the climate literally and figuratively on fire; the economy first battered by recession, then ravaged by inflation; an angry electorate, armed to the teeth and addled by conspiracy theories, as our democracy teeters on the brink, with Donald Trump still working overtime to push the whole thing off a cliff. On Hell and High Water, John Heilemann — host of Showtime's The Circus, co-author of Game Change, and national affairs analyst for MSNBC — explores this apocalyptic-seeming moment with seminal figures in politics, entertainment, business, tech, the media, and beyond. The conversations are deep, rich, and bracingly real, but also hopeful, as Heilemann and his guests grapple with the fact that, to quote Bob Dylan, “Everything is broken,” and try to figure out how to fix it … together.




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Episode Date
Adam Scott
1:07:10
In which John Heilemann talks with actor Adam Scott, best known for his roles in beloved sitcoms including Parks and Recreation and The Good Place. Heilemann and Scott discuss his latest role in Severance, the new Apple TV+ sci-fi series directed by Ben Stiller; why the comedy veteran was eager to take part in the psychological drama; and how the backdrop of Covid-19 and the Trump presidency contributed to the dystopian nature of the show. They also reflect on Scott’s career – from his decade-plus as a struggling actor, his breakout role in Step Brothers, and his penchant for playing wanton assholes to hilarious effect – and look ahead to Scott’s highly anticipated return as Henry Pollard in the forthcoming reboot of the cult comedy classic STARZ series Party Down.

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Nov 22, 2022
Jon Meacham
1:13:37
In the aftermath of the Democratic Party's successful showing in last week's midterm elections, John Heilemann welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham, author of the recent presidential biography, And Then There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle. Heilemann and Meacham, a friend of President Joe Biden, discuss Biden's buoyant mood after the midterms and how he'll determine whether he'll run again in 2024; Meacham's belief that Americans voted to support Democrats over Republicans in key swing states because they dislike having rights taken from them; that the ability of Democrats to put democracy on the ballot was a key determinant in their favor; how Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's next governor, has become an an ascendant political star; and why presidents and vice presidents never have close relationships. They also talk about Ron DeSantis' recent deeply narcissistic political ad and why his anti-woke message may not play well on the national scene if he tries to be the Republican's presidential nominee in two years; debate Donald Trump's chances of becoming president again; and weigh the potential for election chaos if Republicans don't support the rational rule of law in 2024.

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Nov 15, 2022
Joe Scarborough
1:17:34

With Election Day upon us, John Heilemann welcomes Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, to talk through the big themes, large lessons, and lasting takeaways from the 2022 midterm campaign. Heilemann and Scarborough discuss the high degree of uncertainty around the outcome of the contests for control of Congress and 36 governships across the country, and why these midterms might not produce the kind of resounding wave favoring one party or the other; the importance of the Hispanic vote in determining the final results and why Republicans have been able to capture a larger share of these voters; how Barack Obama in the election's final days put on a master class in messaging that Democrats would do well to learn from, and why Joe regards Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow and Pennsylvania attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro as two the party's most promising rising stars. S Scarborough also explains why he'll never return to his one-time home in the Republican Party (which he describes as "irredeemable") and Donald Trump will never (and can never) win another election.




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Nov 08, 2022
Jordan Klepper
1:32:59
John Heilemann welcomes The Daily Show's Jordan Klepper on the eve of his new election special, Jordan Klepper Fingers the Midterms -- America Unfollows Democracy, which premieres on November 1, and on the heels of of his turn as a guest host on Heilemann's Showtime series The Circus. Heilemann and Klepper dig into the all-important Pennsylvania Senate race and the eagerly awaited, much-discussed debate last week between John Fetterman and Dr. Oz; Klepper's comedy heroes, from British icons such as Monty Python, Chris Morris, and Steve Coogan to his Daily Show forerunners Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee; his career on The Daily Show, including his trademark interviews with MAGA voters at Trump rallies; his new special, and how the election denialism he encountered in places such as Michigan and Arizona fed his fear that the midterms could be the beginning of the end for American democracy. Klepper also explains why he sees Bob Dylan (yes, Bob Dylan) as a comic genius— and the first verse of his song Highway 61 Revisited as the greatest joke in the history of rock lyricism.

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Nov 01, 2022
David Axelrod
1:38:04
With just two weeks to go before Election Day, John Heilemann welcomes former Obama strategic and message maestro (and bff of the podcast) David Axelrod back to #HHW for his third time in the fire pit/splash zone. Axelrod — director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, host of The Axe Files podcast and co-host of Hacks on Tap, and senior political commentator for CNN — discusses the state of the midterm battlefield across the country, along with detailed analyses of key Senate races (AZ, GA, NV, OH, PA, WI) and gubernatorial contests (AZ, GA, OR, TX) that everyone will be watching on November 8; whether Democrats over-emphasized abortion rights at the expense of economics in their communications this fall; the impact of Republican demagoguery on crime in races such as Ron Johnson v. Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Dr. Oz v. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania (including his view that Fetterman has more to worry about in his debate with Oz related to that topic that concerning his health); whether Axe's former boss, 44, was right when he told Pod Save America that Democrats were doing themselves no favors politically with their ardent woke-ism and propensity for being a "buzzkill;" and the perils posed in the realm of international security by a Republican takeover of the House, as it becomes clearer every day that the likeliest next Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, is ready and willing to sign on to a foreign policy inspired by Marjorie Taylor Greene. Axelrod also waxes lyrical about a prominent New York politician who is currently waging war against the booming rat population in Manhattan — and whom Axe suggests might run for president one day, branding himself The Verminator.

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Oct 25, 2022
Matthew Dowd and Jennifer Palmieri
1:30:44
Three weeks out from Election Day, John Heilemann kicks off the Hell & High Water Midterm Homestretch Scramble with Matthew Dowd, chief strategist on George W. Bush's 2004 and Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2006 reelection campaigns (and now a prominent #NeverTrumper), and Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Barack Obama's White House from 2013 to 2015 and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign (and now co-host of Showtime's The Circus alongside Heilemann). Heilemann, Dowd, and Palmieri discuss several of the key Senate races, all within the margin of error per current polling, that will likely determine which party controls the upper chamber in 2023: Herschel Walker v. John Warnock in Georgia, John Fetterman v. Dr Oz in Pennsylvania, Mandela Barnes v. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Tim Ryan v. JD Vance in Ohio. They also discuss some intriguing gubernatorial contests — including in Arizona, where election-denier Kari Lake has momentum against Democrat Katie Hobbs, and in South Dakota, where Dowd believes MAGA darling Kristi Noem is more vulnerable than most realize -— as well as Trump’s subpoena from the 1/6 committee, Nancy Pelosi’s badassery during the attack on the Capitol, and the politics of weed.

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Oct 18, 2022
Maggie Haberman, Part 2
1:02:48
John Heilemann sits down with the New York Times's Maggie Haberman — the dominant/defining reporter on the Donald Trump beat for the past decade and the author of the instant best-seller Confidence Man — for an epic, two-part episode of the podcast. Haberman discusses her most recent scoop that the Justice Department believes the Former Guy still has classified documents in his possession and how it might increase his degree of legal peril; her long history of covering Trump and what it's taught her about how the outer borough, 1970-80s New York milieu from which he emerged shaped his essential character; what Trump most loves and hates about his media coverage; his performance as a candidate, president, insurrectionist, and potential future criminal defendant — and whether he will run for president again in 2024. Haberman also addresses the criticism that she withheld critical news about Trump for her book; provides an exclusive, never-before-heard audio clip from one of her book interviews with Trump on his handling of Covid; and explains why the Herschel Walker abortion scandal may prove to be a replay of Trump's own Access Hollywood imbroglio.

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Oct 12, 2022
Maggie Haberman, Part 1
1:27:30
John Heilemann sits down with the New York Times's Maggie Haberman — the dominant/defining reporter on the Donald Trump beat for the past decade and the author of the instant best-seller Confidence Man — for an epic, two-part episode of the podcast. Haberman discusses her most recent scoop that the Justice Department believes the Former Guy still has classified documents in his possession and how it might increase his degree of legal peril; her long history of covering Trump and what it's taught her about how the outer borough, 1970-80s New York milieu from which he emerged shaped his essential character; what Trump most loves and hates about his media coverage; his performance as a candidate, president, insurrectionist, and potential future criminal defendant — and whether he will run for president again in 2024. Haberman also addresses the criticism that she withheld critical news about Trump for her book; provides an exclusive, never-before-heard audio clip from one of her book interviews with Trump on his handling of Covid; and explains why the Herschel Walker abortion scandal may prove to be a replay of Trump's own Access Hollywood imbroglio.

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Oct 11, 2022
Jennifer Psaki
1:20:48
John Heilemann sits down with President Biden's first White House press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, who recently left the administration to join MSNBC as a political analyst and host of a new show that will launch next year on Peacock. Psaki discusses how it feels to be free of the burdens of discussing current events from the podium in the White House briefing room, with the eyes of the world scrutinizing every word; her take on the biggest stories of last week, from Hurricane Ian to Iranian women cutting their hair as a form of protest; Psaki's tangles with Vladimir Putin and the degree to which he seems to be losing control of the narrative over the war in Ukraine; the moment in nearly a decade of working for Barack Obama that moved her the most and she knew instantly she'd remember forever; and Psaki's struggles with imposter syndrome — her recurring worry that she wasn't really qualified for any of the jobs she's done so well. Psaki also admits that no one was more surprised than her to see her regular smackdowns (aka, #psakibombs) of reporters trading in bullshit or bad faith turn into a social-media sensation.

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Oct 04, 2022
Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson
1:31:14
Six weeks out from midterm Election Day and on the eve of what may be the January 6 committee's final public hearing, John Heilemann sits down with Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens, co-founder and senior adviser (respectively) at The Lincoln Project and two of the savviest and most savage #NeverTrump ex-Republican strategists in the political universe. Wilson and Stevens discuss the myriad legal threats Trump is facing and whether, at long last, accountability may be at hand for him; how and why Trump's chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 would actually improve were he indicted on federal criminal charges; the possibility that, rather than challenging Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis could wind up being his running mate; and the degree to which fears of physical (in addition to political) harm animates the slavish obeisance to Trump by Republican elected officials. Heilemann also asks Wilson and Stevens about the controversies that engulfed The Lincoln Project last year, including the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by one of its co-founders, and the five-part Showtime docu-series about the group set to premiere on October 7.

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Sep 27, 2022
Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
1:26:03

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser join Heilemann for a discussion of their new book The Divider: Trump in The White 2017-2021, which aims to be the first soup-to-nuts account of the 45th president's tenure in the Oval Office. Baker and Glasser — both long-time, much-admired Washington reporters, spouses, and co-authors of previous books on Vladimir Putin's Russia and the life of James A. Baker III — discuss their thesis that Trump is the sole POTUS in history who never saw national unity as a goal, and in fact sought to profit politically from dividing the country; how Trump's 2017 inaugural address, with its invocation of "American carnage," augured the darkness (and strangeness) that would follow; Trump's disregard and disdain for democratic and institutional norms, from his politicization of the Justice Department and efforts to co-opt the military to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election; how his foreign policy came closer than anyone knew to leading to armed (even nuclear) conflict and diplomatic chaos (including a U.S. exit from NATO) abroad; the transactional nature of Trump's relationship with his wife, Melania; and the mind-bending experience of interviewing Trump for the book and finding his mental stability as questionable as many of his top advisers did. They also assess the various investigations currently encircling Trump, along with the very real prospect that he could run for president in 2024 while under federal indictment ... and win.




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Sep 20, 2022
Amy Walter and David Wasserman
1:30:28
Eight weeks out from Election Day, John Heilemann welcomes The Cook Political Report's publisher and editor-in-chief, Amy Walter, and its senior editor, House of Representatives, Dave Wasserman, for a preview of what may be the most consequential midterm election of our lifetime. Walter and Wasserman assess the prospects of both parties at the House, Senate, and gubernatorial levels; the marked shift in the national political environment that has given Democrats an outside chance of retaining control of the House and picking up seats in the Senate; the factors that still favor Republicans, from the persistence of inflation to President Biden's approval ratings; the impact of Donald Trump (in light of both his success as a king-maker in the GOP primaries and his metastasizing legal woes) on the fall campaigns; and the potentially game-changing electoral fall-out from the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v Wade. They also offer analysis of some of the country's most closely watched races — John Fetterman v. Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Raphael Warnock v. Herschel Walker and Stacey Abrams v. Brian Kemp in Georgia; Tim Ryan v. J.D. Vance in Ohio; Beto O'Rourke v. Greg Abbott in Texas; and more!

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Sep 13, 2022
Allen Hughes, Part 2
52:09
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with visionary film and television director Allen Hughes about Dear Mama — the sprawling, spellbinding documentary series about the lives and times of hip hop icon Tupac Shakur and his mother, Afeni, a prominent member of the Black Panther Party in the Sixties and Seventies — that Hughes has been working on for much of the past three years. The first episode of Dear Mama premieres on September 15 at the Toronto International Film Festival, with the entire five-part series airing on F/X later this year; Hughes's conversation with Heilemann is the first time he has spoken in detail about the project. They discuss the director's tumultuous relationship with Tupac in both of their early years in show business, which led to Hughes being brutally beaten by gang associates of the young rapper; how the relationship between Tupac and his mother shaped his outlook, politics, and attitude toward violence; the hot-eyed feud between hip hop's East Coast and West Coast factions in the Nineties; and the still much-debated circumstances surrounding Tupac's murder in Las Vegas in 1996. In second part of the episode, Hughes and Heilemann explore the director's groundbreaking career, from Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, and The Book of Eli to the game-changing HBO doc series, The Defiant Ones, about music-industry titans Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, as well as Hughes's tantalizing next undertaking: a biopic of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, entitled What's Going On.

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Sep 07, 2022
Allen Hughes, Part 1
1:11:07
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with visionary film and television director Allen Hughes about Dear Mama — the sprawling, spellbinding documentary series about the lives and times of hip hop icon Tupac Shakur and his mother, Afeni, a prominent member of the Black Panther Party in the Sixties and Seventies — that Hughes has been working on for much of the past three years. The first episode of Dear Mama premieres on September 15 at the Toronto International Film Festival, with the entire five-part series airing on F/X later this year; Hughes's conversation with Heilemann is the first time he has spoken in detail about the project. They discuss the director's tumultuous relationship with Tupac in both of their early years in show business, which led to Hughes being brutally beaten by gang associates of the young rapper; how the relationship between Tupac and his mother shaped his outlook, politics, and attitude toward violence; the hot-eyed feud between hip hop's East Coast and West Coast factions in the Nineties; and the still much-debated circumstances surrounding Tupac's murder in Las Vegas in 1996. In second part of the episode, Hughes and Heilemann explore the director's groundbreaking career, from Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, and The Book of Eli to the game-changing HBO doc series, The Defiant Ones, about music-industry titans Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, as well as Hughes's tantalizing next undertaking: a biopic of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, entitled What's Going On.

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Sep 06, 2022
Jeremy Allen White and Christopher Storer
1:48:10
John Heilemann goes all-in on The Bear — the FX series set in the fictional sandwich shop The Original Beef of Chicagoland that came out of nowhere (Yes, chef) to become the breakout show of the summer (Heard, chef), the source of a jillion Internet memes (Hands!), and a full-blown cultural phenomenon (all day) — with its star, Jeremy Allen White, and creator, Chris Storer. White and Storer discuss the show's surprising runaway success; their passion for and commitment to creating the first scripted series ever to capture the realities of the world of restaurant kitchens accurately and authentically; their many, varied, and unlikely inspirations for The Bear, from The Panic in Needle Park to Terms of Endearment, Taxi, and Rounders; and how the rapturous reception of the show has changed both of their lives almost overnight. White, heretofore best known for his 11 seasons and 10 years playing Lip Gallagher (a gifted kid from a dysfunctional working-class Chicago family) in the signature Showtime series Shameless, reflects on his wariness about taking on the superficially similar character Carmen Berzatto in The Bear, and his approach to the seven-minute, show-stopping soliloquy in the show's finale that could make him a mortal lock for an Emmy Award next year — while Storer teases some elements of Season Two of The Bear that the show's legions of newly minted, hyper-obsessive super-fans (including Heilemann) are sure to find deliciously tantalizing.

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Aug 31, 2022
Dan Pfeiffer
1:26:14
John Heilemann welcomes former Obama campaign and White House communications guru and Pod Save America co-host Dan Pfeiffer back to the podcast just two months after his last visit — when the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade preempted a proper discussion of Pfeiffer’s new book, Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America. This time, John and Dan go deep on that subject: the right-wing disinformation and propaganda machine, how it works, why it's so powerful, and what we can do to fight back; how Donald Trump’s birther conspiracy theory bedeviled Obama in his first term; and the moment in Obama's second term when Pfeiffer realized Facebook had turned into "Trump on steroids." They also discuss last week's headlines — from Liz Cheney's drubbing in Wyoming to Joe Biden's biggest legislative win of 2022 to Dr Oz's ill-fated visit to a supermarket with cameras rolling, and how Dan and his Pod Save America pals helped Crudité-gate go viral ... a behind-the-scenes story that's just one of many reasons that you do NOT want to sleep on this week's episode.

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Aug 23, 2022
George Conway and Asha Rangappa
1:21:06
John Heilemann goes deep with two leading voices at the intersection of law, national security, and Trumpworld – George Conway and Asha Rangappa — into the fallout from the FBI’s search-and-seizure operation at Mar-a-Lago and the Justice Department’s investigation of Donald Trump for illegally being in possession of classified documents, including top secret material ... some of which may pertain to nuclear weapons. Conway, an erstwhile conservative superstar litigator and one of the sharpest and most savage Never Trump Republicans – and also, ahem, husband to Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway — and Rangappa, senior lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale and a former FBI special agent focusing on counterintelligence, discuss the severity of the crimes that Trump appears to have committed; why, despite the continuing probe of Trump's culpability for the January 6 insurrection and an array of other legal threats, the document case now represents, as Conway puts it, "the shortest distance between Trump and an orange jumpsuit;" why, even so, Attorney General Merrick Garland might choose not to prosecute him; the appalling chorus of Republican elected officials and media magpies demonizing the FBI and stirring up animus, threats, and actual violence against federal law enforcement officials; and Trump’s bizarro-world (but not necessarily errant) belief that, despite the imminent legal jeopardy he faces, last week’s events were actually a boon to him politically.

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Aug 16, 2022
Derrick "D-Nice" Jones
1:16:30
On the 100th episode of the podcast, John Heilemann welcomes hip hop veteran, DJ extraordinaire, and one of the inspirations for Hell & High Water: Derrick "D-Nice" Jones, fresh off a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. Heilemann and D-Nice discuss Club Quarantine, the experiment in Instagram Live DJing that D-Nice began in the darkest early days of Covid, and how his socially distanced dance parties exploded into an overnight sensation, with hundreds of thousands of housebound partiers around the world logging on to find community and solace (and fun!) in the face of the extreme isolation imposed by the pandemic; his musical philosophy and what he's learned from other elite DJs, including Q-Tip, Mark Ronson, and Questlove; and his experiences spinning for Barack and Michelle Obama both inside and outside the White House. They also explore D-Nice's storied history in rap music, starting with his role as as founding member of the legendary old-school hip-hop collective Boogie Down Productions, his self-reinvention as a DJ after his solo career fizzled in the 1990s, and what the future holds for D and Club Quarantine. It’s a centenary saturnalia that you won’t want to miss!

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Aug 09, 2022
Mark Leibovich and Tim Miller, Part 2
49:25
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with Mark Leibovich, former chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, current staff writer for The Atlantic, and author of This Town, the iconic skewering of the culture of pre-Trump Washington, DC; and Tim Miller, former Republican strategist, current #NeverTrump gadfly-cum-firebrand, writer-at-large for The Bulwark, and host of Not My Party on Snap. Leibovich and Miller are also the authors of a pair of hot new books — Thank You For Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission and Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell, respectively — that tell essentially the same tale from different sides of the looking glass: the story of "the supplicant fanboys" and "parasitic suck-ups" who "permitted Donald Trump's depravity to be inflicted on the rest of us" (Leibovich); of "the army of [GOP] consultants, politicians, media figures" who "recognized all the risks but still climbed aboard for a ride on the SS Trump Hellship" (Miller). Heilemann and the authors discuss the dom-sub nature of the relationship between Trump and Mike Pence, Lindsey Graham's soulless craving for proximity to power, Miller's own flirtation with the dark side, and the broader pattern of Republican complicity, corruption, and cowardice that enabled Trump's rise, his rule, and his violent plot to overturn a presidential election and trash American democracy ... all of which, terrifyingly, persists unabated to this day. 

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Aug 03, 2022
Mark Leibovich and Tim Miller, Part 1
57:44
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with Mark Leibovich, former chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, current staff writer for The Atlantic, and author of This Town, the iconic skewering of the culture of pre-Trump Washington, DC; and Tim Miller, former Republican strategist, current #NeverTrump gadfly-cum-firebrand, writer-at-large for The Bulwark, and host of Not My Party on Snapchat. Leibovich and Miller are also the authors of a pair of hot new books — Thank You For Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission and Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell, respectively — that tell essentially the same tale from different sides of the looking glass: the story of "the supplicant fanboys" and "parasitic suck-ups" who "permitted Donald Trump's depravity to be inflicted on the rest of us" (Leibovich); of "the army of [GOP] consultants, politicians, media figures" who "recognized all the risks but still climbed aboard for a ride on the SS Trump Hellship" (Miller). Heilemann and the authors discuss the dom-sub nature of the relationship between Trump and Mike Pence, Lindsey Graham's soulless craving for proximity to power, Miller's own flirtation with the dark side, and the broader pattern of Republican complicity, corruption, and cowardice that enabled Trump's rise, his rule, and his violent plot to overturn a presidential election and trash American democracy ... all of which, terrifyingly, persists unabated to this day. 

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Aug 02, 2022
Jonathan Lemire
1:09:55
John Heilemann talks with Jonathan Lemire, White House Bureau Chief at Politico, host of Way Too Early on MSNBC, and author of the new book, The Big Lie: Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American Politics After 2020. Heilemann and Lemire discuss the January 6 select committee's final hearing of the summer; the scandal over the Secret Service's purge of text messages from the day of the Capitol riot; and the growing impatience among top White House officials with Attorney General Merrick Garland's Justice Department over its apparent lethargy around bringing criminal charges against former President Trump related to the insurrection. Lemire also unpacks the history of Trump's Big Lie as an idea; recalls what it was like to see his face on every TV screen in the world for days after asking the question at the 2018 Helsinki summit that led Trump to declare that he sided with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence officials regarding Russia's interference in 2016; and discusses various 2024 scenarios, from a Biden v Trump rematch to potential presidential runs by Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom, the ultra-thirsty governors of Florida and California.

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Jul 26, 2022
Lis Smith, Part Two
51:49
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with Lis Smith, the Democratic communications guru best known for her role in guiding Pete Buttigieg's long shot presidential campaign, and now author of a new memoir, Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story. In Part 1 of the podcast, Heilemann and Smith discuss the 1/6 committee hearings and their potential impact on Donald Trump's political future; the early years of Smith's career working on campaigns; the saga of her romantic involvement with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and the furor that erupted when the relationship became tabloid fodder. In Part 2, Lis looks back fondly on her time with Mayor Pete and much less fondly on her role as a member of former New York governor Andrew Cuomo's kitchen cabinet as he faced a wave of sexual harassment charges that ultimately forced him to resign. Lis also waxes (unaccountably) rhapsodic about her beloved Cincinnati Bengals, and explains why she refers to herself as a "competitive motherfucker."

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Jul 20, 2022
Lis Smith, Part One
1:08:36
In a special two-part episode, John Heilemann talks with Lis Smith, the Democratic communications guru best known for her role in guiding Pete Buttigieg's long shot presidential campaign, and now author of a new memoir, Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story. In Part 1 of the podcast, Heilemann and Smith discuss the 1/6 committee hearings and their potential impact on Donald Trump's political future; the early years of Smith's career working on campaigns; the saga of her romantic involvement with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and the furor that erupted when the relationship became tabloid fodder. In Part 2, Lis looks back fondly on her time with Mayor Pete and much less fondly on her role as a member of former New York governor Andrew Cuomo's kitchen cabinet as he faced a wave of sexual harassment charges that ultimately forced him to resign. Lis also waxes (unaccountably) rhapsodic about her beloved Cincinnati Bengals, and explains why she refers to herself as a "competitive motherfucker."

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Jul 19, 2022
Marie Brenner
1:20:58
John Heilemann talks with Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair writer-at-larger and author of the new book, The Desperate Hours: One Hospital's Fight to Save a City on the Pandemic's Front Lines. The book provides a detailed account of the struggle of New York’s largest hospital system, New York Presbyterian, to combat the brutal Covid-19 surge in the initial months of the pandemic. Heilemann and Brenner discuss the divide between the corporate side of New York Presbyterian, which put a gag order on its personnel, and the medical professionals who wanted to tell the truth about the city’s, the state's, and the federal government's unpreparedness in the fight against COVID; the difficulties New York Presbyterian faced because of the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric; and the heroism of hospital employees as the pandemic raged on. John also takes Marie for a walk down memory lane and through her storied career in journalism, focusing on three stories she wrote that were adapted into critically acclaimed films (The Insider, Richard Jewell, A Private War); her experience writing about the late Marie Colvin, the legendary war correspondent; and Brenner's run-in decades ago with Donald Trump, who was so enraged by a profile she wrote about him that he took revenge on her in a public, scene-making, cowardly, incompetent -- all of which is to say, perfectly Trumpian -- fashion.

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Jul 12, 2022
Jason Kander
1:15:37
John Heilemann talks with Jason Kander, an army veteran and former secretary of state of Missouri who was one of the Democratic Party's brightest young rising stars ... until his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder caused him to walk away from politics four years ago. Heilemann and Kander discuss the latter's new book, Invisible Storm: A Soldier's Memoir of Politics and PTSD, along with the blockbuster testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson before the House Janary 6 committed. Kander lays out his long and torturous battle with PTSD and how it affected every aspect of his life; his decision to turn away (at least temporarily) from public life and seek help in 2018; how his recovery has progressed and what he's learned about living with the disorder; and whether he might ever run for office again. Kander also assesses the 1/6 committee hearings and their potential impact on the midterms in November; the worldwide struggle between democracy and authoritarianism; and the flat-footed response by Democrats to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And he shares his experience meeting with Barack Obama, who called Kander "the natural" and encouraged him to run for president ... while Kander was still in his thirties.

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Jul 06, 2022
Dan Pfeiffer and Alyssa Mastromonaco
1:19:37
John Heilemann talks with Alyssa Mastromonaco and Dan Pfeiffer, both former senior advisers to Barack Obama in the White House and on his two presidential campaigns, both best-selling authors, and both members of the Crooked Media team. Heilemann spoke with Mastromonaco and Pfeiffer just hours after the historic Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson that overturned Roe v. Wade. They discuss the political implications of the decision and how Democrats might combat its effects; the possibility that Republicans ultimately aim to ban abortion nationwide; the profound erosion of the public legitimacy of the Supreme Court and Mitch McConnell's role in that development; and the apparent lies by Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh regarding Roe during their Senate confirmation hearings. They also assess the impact of the January 6 committee's hearings and Matthew McConaughey's emotional remarks at the White House about the Uvalde school massacre. And Pfeiffer gets in a few words (too few ... he'll be back on the pod with more) about his new book, Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America.

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Jun 28, 2022
Liev Schreiber
1:14:41
John Heilemann talks with Liev Schreiber, the acclaimed actor, director, and narrator who recently co-founded the non-profit BlueCheck Ukraine to identify, vet, and fast-track financial support to humanitarian groups on the ground in that war-torn country. Heilemann and Schreiber discuss the actor's close bond with his maternal grandfather, a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant, and how that relationship and his Ukrainian roots helped motivate him to start BlueCheck; Schreiber's experience feeding refugees in Poland with chef and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés; and his assessment of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukraine's prospects in the war with Russia. Schreiber, who earned three Emmy Award nominations for his performance in the title role in the Showtime series Ray Donovan, also reflects on the emotional toll that inhabiting that dark and violent role for seven seasons took on him; what it was like to play newspaper legend Marty Baron in the renowned film Spotlight; and his unique working relationship with director Wes Anderson, in whose forthcoming movie, Asteroid City, Schreiber co-stars -- and about which he spills some beans, along with uncorking an unforgettable tale involving his big screen debut, the foxtrot, and the embarrassing form that Schreiber's excitement took during one dance rehearsal with Steve Martin.

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Jun 21, 2022
Symone D. Sanders
1:09:44
John Heilemann talks with Symone Sanders, former senior adviser and spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, top aide on Joe Biden's 2020 campaign and Bernie Sanders's 2016 bid, and now host of a new weekend show on MSNBC, Symone. Heilemann and Sanders discuss the launch of the January 6th House Select Committee's televised hearings, the strength of Liz Cheney's performance, and the shocking evidence of Donald Trump's dereliction of duty on 1/6; Symone's memories of being at the DNC that day with VP Harris when they learned that a bomb had planted there; her assessment of whether Trump will run again in 2024, whether President Biden will do the same, and whether Biden would support Harris if he doesn't run and she does. Symone also reminisces about growing up Black in Omaha, Nebraska, how she convinced Bernie Sanders to hire her (at just 24 years old, with no presidential-campaign experience) as his campaign press secretary, and a childhood spent acting out (with the help of an imaginary alter ego named Donna Burns) the very role she's playing now as a TV host.

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Jun 14, 2022
Denver Riggleman, Part 2
56:43
In this special two-part episode previewing the forthcoming hearings of House Select Committee on January 6, John Heilemann talks with Denver Riggleman, former Republican congressman from Virginia, and, until recently, 1/6 committee staffer. Heilemann and Riggleman discuss the staggering scope of what the committee has learned since its inception (including the explosive text messages to and from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, which Riggleman helped uncover) about the involvement of Donald Trump and his inner circle in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election; how the story of the pressures placed on Mike Pence to prevent Joe Biden from taking office will be among the key facets of the hearings; and Riggleman’s assessment of the case for bringing criminal charges against Trump for his role in the 1/6 insurrection. They also discuss the part Q-Anon played in ending Riggleman's career in Congress, the centrality of conspiracy theories to the identity of today's GOP, and strange tale of how Riggleman's interest in Bigfoot became part of his public profile.

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Jun 08, 2022
Denver Riggleman, Part 1
1:07:45

In this special two-part episode previewing the forthcoming hearings of House Select Committee on January 6, John Heilemann talks with Denver Riggleman, former Republican congressman from Virginia, and, until recently, 1/6 committee staffer. Heilemann and Riggleman discuss the staggering scope of what the committee has learned since its inception (including the explosive text messages to and from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, which Riggleman helped uncover) about the involvement of Donald Trump and his inner circle in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election; how the story of the pressures placed on Mike Pence to prevent Joe Biden from taking office will be among the key facets of the hearings; and Riggleman’s assessment of the case for bringing criminal charges against Trump for his role in the 1/6 insurrection. They also discuss the part Q-Anon played in ending Riggleman's career in Congress, the centrality of conspiracy theories to the identity of today's GOP, and strange tale of how Riggleman's interest in Bigfoot became part of his public profile.





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Jun 07, 2022
Eric Holder and Sam Koppelman
1:28:11
John Heilemann talks with former Attorney General Eric Holder and speechwriter Sam Koppelman, co-authors of the new book Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote — A History, a Crisis, a Plan. Heilemann, Holder, and Koppelman discuss the importance of the right to vote and why it has been under siege since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act; their wide-ranging prescriptions for saving the American democratic process, including not just protections of voting rights but fundamental reforms to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, congressional redistricting, and the Electoral College; and Holder’s reluctant embrace of the arguments in favor of indicting former President Donald Trump for his actions related to the January 6 insurrection. They also discuss the fatal shooting of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, the Republican Party’s intransigence on the Second Amendment, and what might be required to shock voters and their representatives in Congress into reforming the nation's gun laws.

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May 31, 2022
Mallory McMorrow
1:17:25
John Heilemann talks with Mallory McMorrow, the 35-year-old Democratic state senator in Michigan whose fiery, 5-minute floor speech last month denouncing the Republican Party's divisive rhetoric and demagogic tactics on cultural issues (and its targeting of LGBTQ Americans in particular) went wildly viral .... turning her into an overnight national political sensation. Heilemann and McMorrow discuss her decision to speak out after being baselessly accused of "grooming” children by a GOP colleague; how Democrats can and should fight back against the Republican culture war and reclaim the language of faith from those using it as a weapon; why the recent racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo is connected to the rising trend of hate speech on the right; how the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact the midterm elections; and why the future of American democracy may be decided this fall in places like Michigan. McMorrow also explains why she agrees with James Carville that Democrats have a "wokeness problem" — and why her method of arguing in favor of progressive goals in language suited to the factory floor, not the faculty lounge, is the solution.

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May 24, 2022
Hasan Minhaj
1:37:22
John Heilemann talks with two-time Peabody Award-winning comedian Hasan Minhaj, best known for hosting six seasons of the Netflix series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj and his widely acclaimed Netflix special, Homecoming King. Heilemann and Minhaj discuss his early career as a comic and the centrality of his background as a first-generation Indian- and Muslim-American to his work; his breakout stint as a correspondent for The Daily Show and how it shaped his political and social commentary; his 2017 performance at the White House Correspondents dinner and his return to the capital two years later to testify before Congress on the student loan crisis; and the embrace of Homecoming King as a "calling card for a new brown America." They also discuss The King’s Jester, Minhaj's current one-man show and the subject of his next Netflix special, in which he examines his pursuit of fame and social media clout — and the unexpected risks it ultimately posed both to him and his family.

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May 17, 2022
Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin
1:21:20
John Heilemann talks with Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, national political correspondents for the New York Times, political analysts for CNN, and authors of the newsmaking account of the 2020 election This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future. Heilemann, Burns, and Martin discuss revelations in their book about the chaotic days following the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, including secret audio recordings of House minority leader Kevin McCarthy telling colleagues that he planned to urge President Trump to resign; the depth of the private disdain for Trump among other GOP stalwarts such as Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell; why the moment in which Republicans seemed determined to purge Trump from the party proved so fleeting; how President Biden's ambitions to be the next FDR or LBJ blinded him to his own team's warnings of the political peril he faced due to inflation, immigration, and crime; the thinly veiled rivalry between Biden and President Obama; the tenuous relationship between Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and its potential implications for the 2024 Democratic ticket.  They also unpack the stunning leak of a draft opinion suggesting that Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, and what it might mean for this year's midterm elections — and beyond.

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May 10, 2022
Bob Crawford
1:32:23
John Heilemann talks with Bob Crawford, bassist for The Avett Brothers and creator of Concerts of Change: The Soundtrack of Human Rights, a new audio docu-series on SiriusXM. Through conversations with artists including U2's Bono, Bob Geldof, and Joan Baez, historian Douglas Brinkley, and civil rights icon Andrew Young, Crawford explores the surge in humanitarian and political activism by musicians -- particularly focused on Africa -- in the seventies and eighties. Heilemann and Crawford discuss the rise of star-studded benefit shows from George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh to Live Aid; the genesis and behind-the-scenes stories of the chart-topping charity singles "Do They Know It’s Christmas?" and "We Are The World"; the singular influence of Geldof in launching Band Aid and Live Aid; the role played by Steven Van Zandt's "Sun City" in ending apartheid in South Africa; and how Bono institutionalized his activist impulses to help combat poverty and AIDS in Africa. They also reflect on Crawford’s career with The Avett Brothers, and how his daughter Hallie's battle with cancer changed him and his band.

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May 03, 2022
Andrew Ross Sorkin
1:33:10
John Heilemann talks with Andrew Ross Sorkin, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” columnist and assistant editor at the New York Times and founder and editor-at-large of the paper’s financial news franchise, DealBook, and author of the best-selling book Too Big to Fail.  Heilemann and Sorkin discuss the two enormous business stories dominating headlines in the past week: the stunning $44 billion acquisition of Twitter by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose roughly $275 billion net worth makes him the world’s richest person, and the Walt Disney Company’s increasing embroilment in the culture wars, particularly as a whipping boy for Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida. They also reflect on Sorkin’s precocity as a young journalist at the Times, his role as co-creator of the hit Showtime series Billions, and the apparently insatiable appetite for movies and TV shows about the one percent — from Succession to WeCrashed to Super Pumped.

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Apr 26, 2022
Mike Birbiglia and Alex Edelman
1:26:25
John Heilemann talks with comedians Mike Birbiglia, best known for his acclaimed one-man shows Sleepwalk With Me, Thank God for Jokes, and The New One, and Alex Edelman, whose buzzy new monologue Just For Us, produced by Birbiglia, is one of New York's hottest tickets.  Heilemann and the two performers discuss why Birbiglia took Edelman under his wing and how their mentor-pupil relationship works; what Just for Us — in which Edelman unfurls an extended, acutely observed, often hilarious yarn about the night he crashed a meeting of white nationalists in Queens — says about broader questions of identity in American culture; and what drove Edelman’s decision to focus the show on his Judaism, which has long been central to his sense of self but not his comedy. They also assess the arc of Birbiglia’s career from stand-up to storytelling; his biggest influences, from Mitch Hedberg to Steven Wright; the personal experiences that have inspired him to be vulnerable on stage and take emotional risks; and why, for both Birbiglia and Edelman, a pair of comics who readily and repeatedly land killer jokes, there’s a lot more to comedy than making people laugh.

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Apr 19, 2022
Michael Beschloss
1:15:24
John Heilemann talks with Michael Beschloss, NBC News Presidential Historian, host of Fireside History with Michael Beschloss on Peacock/MSNBC, and author of ten books focusing on occupants of the Oval Office – Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and more. Heilemann and Beschloss discuss Joe Biden’s handling of Russia-Ukraine war, and why Biden isn’t benefitting politically from his leadership on the world stage; the ongoing risk of Russia deploying nuclear weapons and the lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis; and how foreign policy crises have reshaped American presidencies from World War II's effect on the legacies of FDR and Truman to Vietnam's on LBJ's. They also discuss the historic dimensions of Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation to the Supreme Court, along with Mitch McConnell’s hint that, if Republicans take control of the Senate, he might take the unprecedented step of denying Biden the opportunity to put another justice -- any justice, under any circumstances -- to SCOTUS. 

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Apr 12, 2022
Nicolle Wallace, Part 2
1:12:43
In this special two-part episode, Heilemann talks with his pal Nicolle Wallace, host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC, about the battle between democracy and autocracy at home and abroad. In Part One, Heilemann and Wallace focus on recent developments surrounding the House 1/6 committee: the seven-plus hour gap in Donald Trump’s White House phone logs from the day of the attack on the Capitol; Ginni Thomas’s text messages with Trump’s chief of staff advocating the overturning of the 2020 election, and the subsequent failure of her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to recuse himself from cases involving the insurrection; the ruling of a federal judge endorsing the theory that Trump is likely guilty of committing federal crimes related to 1/6; the pressure on the Department of Justice to indict him; and how the same struggle against authoritarianism is playing out in both Ukraine and the U.S. In Part Two, Heilemann and Wallace focus on the rot afflicting the GOP, Wallace's former party: how Republicans went from embracing her former boss, George W. Bush, to worshipping Trump; the role of Fox News and Tucker Carlson in particular in turning the right into a movement fueled by conspiracy theories and anti-democratic impulses (with Wallace averring that Trump, Carlson, and Vladimir Putin comprise a new “axis of evil"); and how the radicalization of the GOP establishment is, says Wallace, “the most underreported story in America.” Plus: Wallace reacts to the return of Sarah Palin — her bête noire as a staffer for John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, as famously recounted in Heilemann's book and film, Game Change — as a candidate for Congress in Alaska.

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Apr 06, 2022
Nicolle Wallace, Part 1
1:02:26
In this special two-part episode, Heilemann talks with his pal Nicolle Wallace, host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC, about the battle between democracy and autocracy at home and abroad. In Part One, Heilemann and Wallace focus on recent developments surrounding the House 1/6 committee: the seven-plus hour gap in Donald Trump’s White House phone logs from the day of the attack on the Capitol; Ginni Thomas’s text messages with Trump’s chief of staff advocating the overturning of the 2020 election, and the subsequent failure of her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to recuse himself from cases involving the insurrection; the ruling of a federal judge endorsing the theory that Trump is likely guilty of committing federal crimes related to 1/6; the pressure on the Department of Justice to indict him; and how the same struggle against authoritarianism is playing out in both Ukraine and the U.S. In Part Two, Heilemann and Wallace focus on the rot afflicting the GOP, Wallace's former party: how Republicans went from embracing her former boss, George W. Bush, to worshipping Trump; the role of Fox News and Tucker Carlson in particular in turning the right into a movement fueled by conspiracy theories and anti-democratic impulses (with Wallace averring that Trump, Carlson, and Vladimir Putin comprise a new “axis of evil"); and how the radicalization of the GOP establishment is, says Wallace, “the most underreported story in America.” Plus: Wallace reacts to the return of Sarah Palin — her bête noire as a staffer for John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, as famously recounted in Heilemann's book and film, Game Change — as a candidate for Congress in Alaska.

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Apr 05, 2022
Neal Katyal and Robin Lenhardt
1:09:53
In which John Heilemann talks with Neal Katyal and Robin Lenhardt, two of the sharpest legal minds of their generation, about the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Katyal is a former acting solicitor general and professor at Georgetown Law Center, where he sits on the faculty with Lenhardt, the co-director of Georgetown's Racial Justice Institute. Both are longtime friends of Judge Jackson, with whom they share a formative bond as members of the elite club of former clerks to retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat KBJ is all but certain to fill. Heilemann, Katyal, and Lenhardt discuss Jackson's historic status as the first Black woman ever chosen to sit on the high court; how the culture-war preening of a handful of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee turned the proceedings into something more venal and ugly than mere Kabuki; and the degree to which the hearings will further undermine public confidence in the court's distance from petty partisanship and naked ideological warfare. They also reflect on Justice Breyer’s legacy and whether Jackson will take up his mantle as a consensus-builder on a sharply divided court.

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Mar 29, 2022
Tom Nichols, Part 2
46:38
A special two-part episode in which John Heilemann talks with international affairs and national security guru Tom Nichols, contributing writer at The Atlantic, longtime senior faculty member at the U.S. Naval War College, and author of eight books on foreign policy and politics, including, most recently, Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy. Heilemann and Nichols assess the state of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s calculations in the face of the Russian military's inability to win a swift and decisive victory, and the emerging consensus in the West that war has reached what could prove to be a protracted and bloody stalemate; how President Zelenskyy has wielded a masterful media strategy to galvanize support around the world and dominate the information battlefield; and the difficult decisions facing Joe Biden and the NATO alliance as Zelenskyy warns that we may already have entered World War III. Nichols also discusses his proud status as a five-time, undefeated Jeopardy champion, and his well-known – and well-deserved – reputation for having indefensibly and inexplicably bad taste in music.

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Mar 23, 2022
Tom Nichols, Part 1
1:17:41
A special two-part episode in which John Heilemann talks with international affairs and national security guru Tom Nichols, contributing writer at The Atlantic, longtime senior faculty member at the U.S. Naval War College, and author of eight books on foreign policy and politics, including, most recently, Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy. Heilemann and Nichols assess the state of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s calculations in the face of the Russian military's inability to win a swift and decisive victory, and the emerging consensus in the West that war has reached what could prove to be a protracted and bloody stalemate; how President Zelenskyy has wielded a masterful media strategy to galvanize support around the world and dominate the information battlefield; and the difficult decisions facing Joe Biden and the NATO alliance as Zelenskyy warns that we may already have entered World War III. Nichols also discusses his proud status as a five-time, undefeated Jeopardy champion, and his well-known – and well-deserved – reputation for having indefensibly and inexplicably bad taste in music.

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Mar 22, 2022
Adam Scott
1:04:07
In which John Heilemann talks with actor Adam Scott, best known for his roles in beloved sitcoms including Parks and Recreation and The Good Place. Heilemann and Scott discuss his latest role in Severance, the new Apple TV+ sci-fi series directed by Ben Stiller; why the comedy veteran was eager to take part in the psychological drama; and how the backdrop of Covid-19 and the Trump presidency contributed to the dystopian nature of the show. They also reflect on Scott’s career – from his decade-plus as a struggling actor, his breakout role in Step Brothers, and his penchant for playing wanton assholes to hilarious effect – and look ahead to Scott’s highly anticipated return as Henry Pollard in the forthcoming reboot of the cult comedy classic STARZ series Party Down.

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Mar 15, 2022
John Avlon
1:27:59

In which John Heilemann talks with John Avlon, senior political analyst and anchor at CNN and author of the new book, Lincoln and the Fight for Peace. Heilemann and Avlon discuss the escalation of Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine, the staggering scale and velocity of the Ukrainian refugee crisis and the implications for neighboring countries, and whether Biden is right to predict that Putin’s invasion will leave “Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.” They also unpack Abraham Lincoln’s view that to win the Civil War would require also winning the peace through reconciliation and reuniting the nation — a plan foiled by his assassination — and the lessons his approach holds for presidential leadership, especially in times of extreme polarization.


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Mar 08, 2022
Julia Ioffe and Michael McFaul
55:15

In which John Heilemann discusses the Russia invasion of Ukraine -- and its far-reaching implications for Europe, Joe Biden's presidency, Vladimir Putin's place in history, and the global security writ large -- with former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Puck News correspondent Julia Ioffe. Heilemann, McFaul, and Ioffe talk about Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified assault on Ukraine; Putin’s miscalculations regarding the strength of the NATO alliance, internal Russian opposition to the war, and the resolve of the Ukrainian people; and what’s at stake for an already shaky international order. They also marvel at how elements of both the American right and left have improbably become full-fledged Putin apologists ... and even Putin admirers.


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Mar 01, 2022
W. Kamau Bell
1:19:52
In which John Heilemann talks with comedian W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN's Emmy-winning series United Shades of America and the writer, director, and executive producer of the new Showtime documentary series We Need to Talk About Cosby. Heilemann and Bell unpack America’s fraught relationship with Cosby, the legendary entertainer and stand-up comic who was once known as “America’s Dad” and is now almost universally reviled, after being credibly accused of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, battery, and/or misconduct by at least 60 women and convicted and imprisoned for aggravated indecent assault (before being freed from prison on the basis of due process violations). They discuss Cosby's role in integrating primetime television, on screen and off, and more broadly as a progressive force in American race relations; his unexpected late-career pivot into a hectoring, respectability politics scold; why Bell decided to take on a project he describes as a “third-rail conversation" among many African Americans; and Bell's assessments of some of today's greatest working stand-up comics, including Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.

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Feb 22, 2022
Kara Swisher
1:13:13
In which John Heilemann talks with Kara Swisher, arguably the preeminent chronicler (and frequent critic) of the companies, personalities, and culture of Silicon Valley and the technology world writ large. Heilemann and Swisher, a protean reporter and pundit whose vast array of endeavors includes hosting the New York Times podcast Sway and serving as a contributing opinion writer at the paper, discuss Spotify’s handling of the Joe Rogan controversy, how the pandemic has shifted the tech landscape, the recent stock plunge that erased more than $200 billion from the market value of Meta, and what to make of two of the most powerful — and maddening — hyper-capitalists of the age: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. They also look back at their parallel paths covering Silicon Valley during the first Internet boom (and bubble, and bust) in the late 1990s; how Swisher's lesbian identity affected her ability to cover the Valley's notorious tech bro culture; and how her restlessness, entrepreneurial itch, and proud status as a self-described "bad employee" sets her apart from the journalistic herd.

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Feb 15, 2022
Brian Cox
1:13:26
In which John Heilemann talks with the Emmy, Golden Globe, and Olivier Award-winning actor Brian Cox, whose buzzy performance as billionaire media tycoon Logan Roy in the HBO series Succession has turned him into a pop culture phenom at age 75. Heilemann and Cox dissect the hit show and how the struggles of Logan and his scheming, hapless progeny reveal the corrosive effects of money, power, and privilege; Cox’s delightful and at times dishy new memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, and some of his most famous roles on stage and screen (from Titus Andronicus and King Lear to the first cinematic incarnation of Hannibal Lecktor in Michael Mann's Manhunter); his withering disdain for method acting and mischievous pride in being a "good old-fashioned shit-stirrer"—as demonstrated by the well-publicized shade-throwing in his book at Johnny Depp, Edward Norton, and Quentin Tarantino. Cox also discusses his performances as big historical figures such as Churchill, Goering, and LBJ, and whether he'd ever be keen to play Donald Trump (spoiler alert: nope).

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Feb 08, 2022
Mike Murphy
1:19:29
In which John Heilemann talks with #NeverTrump Republican political strategist Mike Murphy, co-director of the USC Center for the Political Future, co-host of the Hacks on Tap podcast, and NBC News political analyst. Heilemann and Murphy discuss the two biggest stories in politics right now — the pending retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and the escalating crisis around Russia's aggression toward Ukraine — and the opportunities and challenges each present for President Biden and his beleaguered administration; the outlook for Democrats and Republicans in the November midterm elections; whether Trump really plans to seek his party's presidential nomination in 2024, and the implications if he does ... or doesn't. Murphy also reminisces about his storied career as a Svengali to the type of conservative candidates (John McCain, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger) for whom today's GOP has vanishingly little use.

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Feb 01, 2022
Andy Slavitt
1:15:17
In which John Heilemann talks with Andy Slavitt, former senior adviser to the Biden administration’s COVID response team, the man who led the turnaround of the botched rollout of the Obamacare website, and author of Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response, a withering indictment of the Trump administration's handling of the greatest public-health crisis of our lifetime. On the two-year anniversary of the first Covid-19 case detected in America, Heilemann and Slavitt discuss the past, present, and future of the pandemic; the Biden administration's successes (in particular its aggressive distribution of vaccines) and missteps (on testing, messaging, dealing with vaccine resistance, and preparedness for new variants such as Omicron); and whether we are on the cusp of a new era, in which Covid morphs from pandemic to endemic, and a new normal.

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Jan 25, 2022
Patrick Gaspard
1:22:04
In which John Heilemann talks with the longtime Democratic strategist Patrick Gaspard, currently president and CEO of The Center for American Progress and previously president of George Soros's Open Society Foundations, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, and political director for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and in his first term in the White House. Heilemann and Gaspard discuss President Biden’s push for voting rights legislation and filibuster reform in the Senate, and the political realities standing in the way of both; the prospects for Democrats heading into the 2022 midterm elections, and why Gaspard remains optimistic despite the enormous headwinds facing Biden and his party; and how the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Frederick Douglass have shaped Gaspard's philosophy and approach to politics.

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Jan 18, 2022
Jeff Goldblum
1:26:06
In which John Heilemann talks with Jeff Goldblum, venerable and venerated actor, chart-topping jazz musician, and enigmatic cultural icon. From roles in star-making blockbusters Jurassic Park and Independence Day to revered performances in smaller films such as The Fly; from turns on network TV staples such as from Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Will & Grace to new streaming series such as Search Party; and from his late-life role as leader of The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra to his online ubiquity in Internet memes, Goldblum has one of the most diverse and beloved oeuvres of the past 50 years in American life. In this special episode, Heilemann and Goldblum discuss the state of Hollywood, the second season of The World According to Jeff Goldblum on Disney+, his side hustle as a jazz pianist, and why the 69-year-old believes he is (finally) peaking creatively.

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Jan 11, 2022
Anne Applebaum and Brian Klaas
1:21:24
In which John Heilemann talks with Anne Applebaum and Brian Klaas on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and staff writer for The Atlantic, and Klaas, an associate professor at University College London and columnist for The Washington Post, are experts on the breakdown of democratic institutions and the rise of autocratic movements in America and around the world. Heilemann, Applebaum, and Klaas look back on what took place a year ago at the U.S. Capitol and what we know about it now; gauge the progress and prospects of the House Select Committee investigating those events; and assess what the potency of Donald Trump's Big Lie and the embrace of political violence on the right could portend for America’s increasingly fragile democracy. They also discuss Klaas’s new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, and Applebaum’s latest, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.

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Jan 04, 2022
LZ Granderson and Will Leitch
1:14:56
In which John Heilemann talks with sports commentators and writers LZ Granderson and Will Leitch, co-hosts of The Long Game with LZ and Leitch, a new podcast from The Recount covering the intersection of sports, culture, and society. Looking back at the most consequential stories of 2021 on that terrain, the trio goes deep on Covid’s impact on the sports industrial complex; the groundbreaking stances of Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka with respect to mental health; and two high-profile film/tv projects (“King Richard” and “Colin in Black and White”) tackling race in sports. They also dive into LZ and Will’s personal biographies and the professional paths that brought them together as partners on The Long Game — which you can and should check out wherever you get your podcasts!

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Dec 28, 2021
David Axelrod
1:14:16

In which John Heilemann talks with David Axelrod, former senior White House adviser and top campaign strategist for Barack Obama, and currently director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, senior political commentator for CNN, and host of The Axe Files podcast.


As 2021 comes to an end, Heilemann and Axelrod sit down together in New York City for a look back at the year in politics, from the Biden administration’s successes and mishaps, Covid-19, the polarization and paralysis in Washington, and Donald Trump’s continued stranglehold on the Republican Party. Axelrod reminisces about his storied career as a political reporter, Democratic strategist, and architect of Barack Obama's rise to the White House. Looking ahead to 2022, Axelrod lays out what he sees as the greatest challenges ahead for Democrats — and American democracy.



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Dec 21, 2021
Cecile Richards
1:01:01
In which John Heilemann talks with Cecile Richards, co-chair of the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, co-founder of the women’s rights advocacy group Supermajority, and, from 2006 to 2018, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Heilemann and Richards discuss Roe v Wade's uncertain future in the wake of the recent Supreme Court arguments around restrictive abortion laws in Mississippi and Texas, and the effects that Roe's potential demise might have on women and politics in America; how Richards's mother, Ann, the former governor of Texas, propelled her towards a lifetime of activism; and how her broader agenda in favor of "women's equity" is faring in the Biden era.

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Dec 14, 2021
Rep. Karen Bass
54:51
In which John Heilemann talks with Karen Bass, the six-term California Democratic congresswoman, former speaker of the State Assembly, and current frontrunner in next year’s mayoral election in her home town of Los Angeles. Heilemann and Bass discuss the Omicron variant and the politics behind vaccine resistance in the US; Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis and why it’s the single most important issue motivating Bass to run for mayor; why her party’s messaging isn’t always resonating with voters; and her view that the Biden administration isn’t doing enough to fight for voting rights.

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Dec 07, 2021
Gary Ginsberg
1:15:43
In which John Heilemann talks with Gary Ginsberg, the author of First Friends: The Powerful, Unsung (And Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents. Heilemann and Ginsberg discuss the bestselling book, Ginsberg’s innovative approach to writing about the presidency (via the presidents’ relationships with their best friends), and how his role as corporate consiglieri to powerful men, such as JFK Jr., Rupert Murdoch, and former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, helped him find this new angle. Ginsberg also dishes on Murdoch’s behind-the-scenes dalliance with Barack Obama in the run-up to the 2008 election, and he discusses how Donald Trump’s friendlessness affected his presidency.

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Nov 30, 2021
Chris Krebs
1:14:54
In which John Heilemann talks with Chris Krebs, founding director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the last Donald Trump appointee to be fired by tweet (after he declared that the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history”). Heilemann and Krebs discuss his work as a co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder and its recently released final report, which focuses on the root causes of America’s mis- and disinformation crisis and its proposals to combat it, his tumultuous experience in the Trump administration, and his fears that 2022 and 2024 could propel the country into an "anti-democratic death spiral."

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Nov 23, 2021
Danny Strong
1:11:34
In which John Heilemann talks with Danny Strong, the creator, showrunner, and writer of Dopesick, the eight-part Hulu miniseries chronicling the Oxycontin epidemic and the broader opioid crisis it unleashed on America. Heilemann and Strong explore the human costs of that crisis, along with the corporate malfeasance of Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, who relentlessly, deceptively, and indeed criminally marketed Oxycontin as non-addictive; Strong's early work as an actor on popular TV shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls; and his career transition to acclaimed screenwriter on movies including Recount and Game Change (his Emmy Award-winning adaptation of Heilemann's book about the 2008 election), co-creator and executive producer of the runaway hit series Empire, and director of the final two episodes of Dopesick as well as the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye. Strong also discloses his own addiction to the recent HBO series White Lotus.

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Nov 16, 2021
John Doerr
1:13:16

In which John Heilemann talks with John Doerr, the billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist who financed Google, Amazon, and other household names of the digital age, about his transformation into a greentech pioneer and environmental policy advocate. Heilemann and Doerr discuss the sweeping agenda laid out in Doerr's new book Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now and his takeaways from the UN climate summit COP26 taking place in Glasgow, Scotland; the evolution of Doerr’s career from engineer at Intel to one of prime movers behind the PC boom of the 1980s and the Internet explosion in the Valley from the mid-1990s through today; his relationships with high-tech titans such as Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs; how Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth sent his career in a new direction; the critical role that the private sector can and must play in tackling climate change; and why Doerr believes it’s far cheaper to save the planet than to destroy it. Doerr also explains why he finds himself agreeing with Greta Thunberg more often than you might imagine of one of the world's richest men. 


For more details on Doerr's ambitious plan for solving the climate crisis, click here.



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Nov 09, 2021
Introducing: The Long Game with LZ & Leitch
3:04

The intersection of sports, culture, and politics is at the heart of the new weekly podcast from The Recount, "The Long Game with LZ & Leitch", premiering Wednesday, November 3rd. Hosted by LZ Granderson, formerly of ESPN, now an op-ed columnist for the L.A. Times and a political contributor to ABC News, and Will Leitch, founder of the late website Deadspin, a contributing editor at New York Magazine and the author of "How Lucky", "The Long Game" dives into the most relevant sports topics of the week to not only break down the games, but the games people play. From vaccination hesitation, to online betting, to all of the wonderful "isms" and "phobias" we've come to know and love, sports not only reflect our culture, they drive our culture. Join Will and LZ as they explore the events on and off the field that collide with the political, business, and social concerns that captivate the American conversation.


Listen to new episodes every Wednesday: https://therecount.com/podcasts/the-long-game-with-lz-and-leitch



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Nov 03, 2021
Paul Begala and James Carville
1:21:00
In which John Heilemann talks with Paul Begala and James Carville, the fabled Democratic strategists who famously led Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. Heilemann, Begala, and Carville discuss the travails of Joe Biden’s ambitious domestic legislative initiatives as they hit repeated roadblocks in Congress; this week's bellwether Virginia gubernatorial election and what its outcome might foreshadow for both parties in next year's midterm elections; the implications of the fierce infighting between moderate and progressive Democrats for the party's future prospects; what lies behind Biden's eroding approval ratings and the intense backlash against his agenda in some parts of the electorate – and what, if anything, he can do about it. Heilemann also takes Begala and Carville, longtime partners and best friends, on a trip down memory lane, in the process achieving the host's true objective: making the Ragin' Cajun cry on air.

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Nov 02, 2021
Fiona Hill
1:12:04
In which John Heilemann talks with Fiona Hill, the former national security official in Donald Trump's White House who made headlines with her testimony in the hearings over the Ukraine scandal that led to his first impeachment. Heilemann and Hill discuss her new memoir, There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century, including her reluctant decision to join the Trump administration, what she learned about his character, and his envious admiration for authoritarian leaders around the world and Vladimir Putin in particular; how Trump’s disregard for the rule of law and democratic norms led not only to his first impeachment but also his attempted coup in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election and culminating with the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6; and why it's no exaggeration to say that Trump is setting the stage for another attempt to subvert American democracy in 2024. Hill also discusses her unlikely journey from a working-class mining town in northeastern England to the rarified academic realm at Harvard, the inner sanctum of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and upper reaches of political and policy-making power inside the White House.

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Oct 26, 2021
Maya Wiley
1:19:41
In which John Heilemann talks with Maya Wiley, the longtime progressive activist and civil rights lawyer who waged a spirited campaign for mayor of New York City earlier this year. Heilemann and Wiley discuss her entry in the race, the highs, lows, and surprises of the campaign, and what the victory of centrist Eric Adams means for NYC and the future of the Democratic Party; the fragile state of American democracy and the threat posed by Trump, the Republican Party, and their perpetuation of the Big Lie about the 2020 election; the Jan. 6 Committee and the stakes of getting to the bottom of the Capitol insurrection; whether Democrats are doing enough to enact voting rights legislation; and the mounting frustrations among Black voters that Biden is falling short on delivering on his campaign promises. Wiley also discusses her plans for the future and ways people can mobilize and fight for change.

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Oct 19, 2021
John Dickerson
1:19:55
In which John Heilemann talks with CBS News chief political analyst and CBS Sunday Morning contributor John Dickerson. The former moderator of Face the Nation, co-host of CBS This Morning, and correspondent for 60 Minutes, Dickerson is also the author of three books, a former writer for Slate and Time, and a co-host of Slate Political Gabfest. Heilemann and Dickerson discuss Republican and Democratic wrangling over the debt ceiling, the controversial Texas abortion law, the Facebook whistleblower, Donald Trump's Big Lie, and whether Joe Biden is doing enough to push back against the threats to American democracy; the evolution of Dickerson’s career from print to television and his relationship with his mother, Nancy Dickerson, CBS News's first female correspondent. Heilemann and Dickerson also discuss their mutual grief over the deaths of their dogs last summer, Dickerson's recent piece in The Atlantic about coping with that loss, and what both men believe that humans can learn from their canines about empathy, loyalty, and unconditional love.

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Oct 12, 2021
Brian Koppelman, Part 2
51:42
In which John Heilemann talks with Brian Koppelman, co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the hit Showtime series Billions. Heilemann and Koppelman discuss the genesis of Billions and why Brian was drawn to the world of hedge funds; the fifth season of the show (its finale aired on October 3) and the challenges posed by a months-long, Covid-imposed break in production; the feud between megalomaniacal financial titan Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Machiavellian lawman Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), and why the addition of rival master of the universe Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) this season is central to the show's future—as Koppelman and his partner, David Levien, explore whether a "good billionaire" is a contradiction in terms. Making a drop-in appearance on the podcast, Billions co-star David Costabile talks about playing Axelrod aide-de-camp and fan favorite Mike "Wags" Wagner; Costabile's history with Koppelman, with whom he went to college; and the evolution of their relationship and Wags's character over six years on the show. Koppelman also reminisces about his early career in the music business and his discovery of Tracy Chapman while he was still an undergraduate; his decision to pursue screenwriting with Levien and their first film, Rounders; Koppelman's struggles with ADHD and the career setbacks he faced before the runaway success of Billions; and the new series he and Levien are making for Showtime, which chronicles the rise and fall of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick.

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Oct 06, 2021
Brian Koppelman, Part 1
1:11:34
In which John Heilemann talks with Brian Koppelman, co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the hit Showtime series Billions. Heilemann and Koppelman discuss the genesis of Billions and why Brian was drawn to the world of hedge funds; the fifth season of the show (its finale aired on October 3) and the challenges posed by a months-long, Covid-imposed break in production; the feud between megalomaniacal financial titan Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Machiavellian lawman Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), and why the addition of rival master of the universe Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) this season is central to the show's future—as Koppelman and his partner, David Levien, explore whether a "good billionaire" is a contradiction in terms. Making a drop-in appearance on the podcast, Billions co-star David Costabile talks about playing Axelrod aide-de-camp and fan favorite Mike "Wags" Wagner; Costabile's history with Koppelman, with whom he went to college; and the evolution of their relationship and Wags's character over six years on the show. Koppelman also reminisces about his early career in the music business and his discovery of Tracy Chapman while he was still an undergraduate; his decision to pursue screenwriting with Levien and their first film, Rounders; Koppelman's struggles with ADHD and the career setbacks he faced before the runaway success of Billions; and the new series he and Levien are making for Showtime, which chronicles the rise and fall of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick.

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Oct 05, 2021
Stevie Van Zandt, Part 2
1:06:17
In which John Heilemann talks with Stevie Van Zandt, a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, co-star of The Sopranos, and author of a new memoir, Unrequited Infatuations. In this special two-part episode, Heilemann and Van Zandt discuss his early musical influences, the foundations of his best friendship with Springsteen, the extraordinary albums they made together in the 1970s—Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River—and the painful breakup that caused Van Zandt to commit "career suicide" by leaving the band on the brink of its becoming the biggest rock act in the world; his solo career as a musician and political activist, in particular his crucial part in the movement to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa; his unlikely emergence as a beloved actor in the role of Silvio Dante opposite James Gandolfini in David Chase's acclaimed HBO mobster series; and his reconciliation with Springsteen and return to the E Street Band two decades after his departure. Van Zandt also explains why he fought The Boss over calling his group The E Street Band — and still considers it a piss-poor name — and Van Zandt's view that the debate over "sways" versus "waves" in the lyrics of "Thunder Road" is no debate at all. 

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Sep 29, 2021
Stevie Van Zandt, Part 1
1:06:27
In which John Heilemann talks with Stevie Van Zandt, a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, co-star of The Sopranos, and author of a new memoir, Unrequited Infatuations. In this special two-part episode, Heilemann and Van Zandt discuss his early musical influences, the foundations of his best friendship with Springsteen, the extraordinary albums they made together in the 1970s—Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River—and the painful breakup that caused Van Zandt to commit "career suicide" by leaving the band on the brink of its becoming the biggest rock act in the world; his solo career as a musician and political activist, in particular his crucial part in the movement to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa; his unlikely emergence as a beloved actor in the role of Silvio Dante opposite James Gandolfini in David Chase's acclaimed HBO mobster series; and his reconciliation with Springsteen and return to the E Street Band two decades after his departure. Van Zandt also explains why he fought The Boss over calling his group The E Street Band — and still considers it a piss-poor name — and Van Zandt's view that the debate over "sways" versus "waves" in the lyrics of "Thunder Road" is no debate at all. 

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Sep 28, 2021
Ken Burns
1:14:29
In which John Heilemann talks with documentarian Ken Burns, whose new four-part series, Muhammad Ali, premiered this week on PBS. Heilemann and Burns discuss Ali's life and legacy as the most important athlete of the 20th century, in particular how his story transcends sports, intersecting with the defining issues of his era (race, religion, politics, protest) and illuminating much about the American experience in the convulsive Sixties and Seventies; Burns's prodigious body of work, which has earned him two Academy Award nominations, 15 Emmys, and two Grammys, and has made him the dominant practitioner of his art form over the past 40 years; the landmark films within his oeuvre — multi-part television events such as The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and The Vietnam War, some running nearly 20 hours in length — and how Burns found himself imbued with the power to get such sprawling projects made; and the central role that race has occupied in his work, and in the American story. Burns also reflects on his childhood and how it inspired his career, and what it was like to co-direct the Ali series with his oldest daughter Sarah and her husband. 

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Sep 21, 2021
Frank Figliuzzi
1:08:21
In which John Heilemann talks with Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, author of The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau's Code of Excellence, and current MSNBC and NBC News national security contributor. Heilemann and Figliuzzi discuss the upcoming “Justice for J6” protest in Washington by those who consider the January 6 insurrectionists "political prisoners" and why, especially in the wake of President Biden's vaccine mandate, law enforcement and intelligence officials are bracing for violence in the capital and elsewhere around the country; far-right domestic extremism and the central role of white nationalist movements in fomenting it; how Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election and the culture wars he ignited over Covid have created an especially toxic and volatile atmosphere in America today; Figliuzzi's views regarding the need to regulate social media platforms to curb their role in spreading mis- and disinformation; and how Figliuzzi recognizes a similar pattern in the radicalization of the far right at home to what occurred abroad around the spread of Islamic fundamentalism before and after 9/11. Figliuzzi also reflects on his 25-year career in the FBI, and the ways in the which the bureau has—and hasn't—adapted to the new threats the United States faces from within.

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Sep 14, 2021
George Packer
1:23:41
In which John Heilemann talks with George Packer, staff writer for The Atlantic and National Book Award-winning author of The Unwinding, The Assassin's Gate, Our Man, and, Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal. Heilemann and Packer discuss Joe Biden's handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and how it spurred the first foreign policy crisis of his presidency; the twentieth anniversaries of 9-11 and the global war on terror, and how they changed America in ways large and small; and Packer's argument in Last Best Hope that, over the past forty years, the two dominant national narratives of the post-war era—the stories espoused by Democrats and Republicans to explain the country's identity and aspirations—have subdivided into four: Free America, Smart America, Real America, and Just America. Heilemann and Packer also discuss the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and whether it represents an even greater threat to the country than the horror at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.

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Sep 07, 2021
Derek DelGaudio
1:11:31
In which John Heilemann talks with magician and performance artist Derek DelGaudio, best known for his Off-Broadway one-man show turned Hulu special. In & Of Itself. Heilemann and DelGaudio discuss the difficulty of discussing the show, which Derek has described as "a theatrical existential crisis," to anyone who hasn't seen it; his attempts to transcend the stereotypes associated with being identified as a magician; his evolution from a student of sleight-of-hand to a card mechanic (aka, a dealer who fixes hands) at a high-stakes poker game in LA, which he recounts in his recent memoir, AMORALMAN: A True Story And Other Lies; and his time as as assistant to the renowned illusionist Ricky Jay. DelGaudio also reflects on how his insights about rigged games apply to our current political situation.

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Aug 31, 2021
Dr. Michael Osterholm
50:02

In which John Heilemann talks with renowned epidemiologist Dr Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a former member of Joe Biden's Covid-19 presidential transition advisory board. Heilemann and Osterholm discuss the past, present, and future of the pandemic as the Delta variant lays waste to the sense, just weeks ago, that America had gained the upper hand against Covid; the ways politicians have misjudged the virus and mismanaged our response to it; the Biden administration's scramble to employ tougher tactics to incentivize vaccination and quash the anti-mask crusade; the dangers posed by alarmingly low rates of vaccination in many countries around the world; and the likelihood of a new variant emerging that is even worse than Delta. Osterholm also reflects on his reputation in some quarters as Dr. Doom, and suggests one reason for continued optimism about the future no matter how grim the news on the Covid front may be: dogs. (Duh.)




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Aug 24, 2021
Claire McCaskill
1:16:22

In which John Heilemann talks with Claire McCaskill, former two-term Missouri Democratic senator and current political analyst for MSNBC. Heilemann and McCaskill discuss the Senate passage of Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill and its outlook in the House, along with his proposed $3.5 trillion expansion of the social safety net; whether Biden is doing enough to press for voting rights legislation in the face of a slew of GOP efforts to curtail them; an array of gender-tinged topics, from Andrew Cuomo's resignation and McCaskill's own #MeToo experiences as a young state legislator to the epidemic of sexual assault in the military (an issue she sought relentlessly to address in her time in the Senate); and politics in the Show Me State, including the futures of ultra-conservative Senator Josh Hawley (who defeated McCaskill in 2018) and ultra-progressive St. Louis congresswoman Cori Bush. McCaskill also waxes hopeful about the playoff prospects of her beloved but underperforming St. Louis Cardinals, and professes her (as yet unrequited) love for Charles Barkley.






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Aug 17, 2021
Chris Matthews, Part 2
44:03

In which John Heilemann talks with Chris Matthews, the longtime MSNBC commentator and host for more than 20 years of one of the network's flagship programs, Hardball. Matthews, whose career before becoming a cable news fixture included stints as a speechwriter in Jimmy Carter's White House and an aide to former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, is also the author of nine best-selling books, the most recent of which, This Country: My in Politics and History, was published in June. Heilemann and Matthews discuss This Country and how Matthews's work in government informed his analysis as a TV host; Joe Biden's presidency and the tensions between progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party; the sexual misconduct allegations against New York governor Andrew Cuomo; and the long-run implications of the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election for America's future as a democratic republic. Matthews, who served for a time as a member of the Capitol police force, also reflects on the heroism of the officers who risked their lives on January 6 and the appalling disparagement of them by many on the right.






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Aug 11, 2021
Chris Matthews, Part 1
1:00:09

In which John Heilemann talks with Chris Matthews, the longtime MSNBC commentator and host for more than 20 years of one of the network's flagship programs, Hardball. Matthews, whose career before becoming a cable news fixture included stints as a speechwriter in Jimmy Carter's White House and an aide to former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, is also the author of nine best-selling books, the most recent of which, This Country: My in Politics and History, was published in June. Heilemann and Matthews discuss This Country and how Matthews's work in government informed his analysis as a TV host; Joe Biden's presidency and the tensions between progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party; the sexual misconduct allegations against New York governor Andrew Cuomo; and the long-run implications of the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election for America's future as a democratic republic. Matthews, who served for a time as a member of the Capitol police force, also reflects on the heroism of the officers who risked their lives on January 6 and the appalling disparagement of them by many on the right.






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Aug 10, 2021
Roger Bennett and Jon Wertheim
1:28:56

In which John Heilemann talks with Roger Bennett, cohost of Men in Blazers on NBC Sports, and Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated. Heilemann, Bennet, and Wertheim discuss the Tokyo Summer Olympics, how the games have been affected by our deeply polarized politics (with conservatives trashing Team USA for excessive wokeness), and the controversy around Simone Biles's decision to prioritize her mental health over winning at all costs. They go deep on recently published books by the two guests: Bennett's Reborn in the USA: An Englishman's Love Letter to His Chosen Home and Wertheim’s Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever, both of which explore the lasting impact of the 1980s on sports and culture—from the birth that year of the modern NBA (Magic v. Bird in the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan joining the Chicago Bulls, David Stern becoming the league's commissioner) to the triumph of 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Bennett and Wertheim also reflect on the legacy of 1985-86 Chicago Bears, and in particular the cultural landmark that was “The Super Bowl Shuffle."





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Aug 03, 2021
Cey Adams and Shepard Fairey
1:21:03

In which John Heilemann talks with the visual artists and graphic designers Cey Adams and Shepard Fairey. Heilemann, Adams, and Fairey discuss the artists' common roots in the graffiti and street art scenes of the 1980s; Cey's seminal role as founding creative director at Def Jam Recordings—where his collaborations with the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Jay-Z defined the look and feel of hip hop in its formative stages—and his more recent work with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Shepard's evolution from the breakthrough "Obey Giant" sticker campaign and the iconic HOPE poster for the 2008 Obama campaign to his grand-scale public murals around the world, three covers for Time magazine, Obey Clothing line, and recent redesign of the official logo for the city of Los Angeles; Adams's and Fairey's takes on politics, propaganda, and art; and their shared appreciation of the anti-establishment power at the nexus of music and street art. Also, unsurprisingly, Heilemann, Adams, and Fairey find common ground in their mutual worship of Public Enemy.






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Jul 27, 2021
Kurt Andersen
1:33:15

In which John Heilemann talks with Kurt Andersen, the host, writer, and co-producer of the podcast series "Nixon at War," a seven-part exploration of Richard Nixon's downfall through the less of Vietnam. Heilemann and Andersen discuss Andersen's thesis that the war in Southeast Asia and the Watergate scandal, the twin disasters of Nixon's time in office, are not separate stories but deeply entwined; the astonishing archival audio, much of it from Nixon's White House taping system, that makes the series come alive; the striking similarities between Nixon and Donald Trump, personal (insecurity, paranoia, resentment) and political (us versus them divisiveness, appeals to white grievance, demonization of the press); and the direct line between Nixon's criminality and disregard for democratic norms and today's Republican Party. Andersen also reminisces about growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, during the Vietnam era, and his transformation from a Nixon-supporting eighth-grader to a pot-smoking, McGovern-backing, Abbie Hoffman-loving high schooler.






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Jul 20, 2021
Michael Bender, Part 2
57:26

In which John Heilemann talks with Mike Bender, senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, for a special two-part episode of the podcastHeilemann and Bender discuss the latter's new book and its news-making account of Trump's cataclysmic final year in office and doomstruck reelection campaign; how the president mishandled the series of crises that beset the country in 2020, from Covid to the protests after the murder of George Floyd; his contraction of the coronavirus and obsession with Hunter Biden in the campaign's waning days; his actions behind the scenes and motivations in fanning the flames before and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol; the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the national media; Trump's continued post-presidential hold on the Republican Party; and both his and his party's future. Bender also discusses his career in journalism, his daily battle with his father for rights to the sports page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when he was growing up, and the special challenges of writing about a White House filled with unreliable narrators.






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Jul 14, 2021
Michael Bender, Part 1
53:03

In which John Heilemann talks with Mike Bender, senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, for a special two-part episode of the podcastHeilemann and Bender discuss the latter's new book and its news-making account of Trump's cataclysmic final year in office and doomstruck reelection campaign; how the president mishandled the series of crises that beset the country in 2020, from Covid to the protests after the murder of George Floyd; his contraction of the coronavirus and obsession with Hunter Biden in the campaign's waning days; his actions behind the scenes and motivations in fanning the flames before and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol; the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the national media; Trump's continued post-presidential hold on the Republican Party; and both his and his party's future. Bender also discusses his career in journalism, his daily battle with his father for rights to the sports page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when he was growing up, and the special challenges of writing about a White House filled with unreliable narrators.

 

Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this special edition of Hell & High Water.






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Jul 13, 2021
Introducing: The Recount Daily Pod
1:33

Every morning on The Recount Daily Pod, host journalist Reena Ninan will break down the most important news of the day, both domestically and abroad. In 5 minutes or less, you’ll walk away feeling smarter and more in sync with the world. Then, tune in for an interview with journalists who are on the forefront of the stories that affect us all. 

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

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Jul 06, 2021
Best Of Hell & High Water: Entertainment Edition
1:17:33

On a special episode of Hell & High Water, John Heilemann revisits some his favorite interviews with guests from the entertainment industry, whose work was honored during this past awards season. Aaron Sorkin discusses the pandemic-related challenges of wrapping and releasing The Trial of the Chicago 7, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and won the Golden Globe for best original screenplay. Daveed Diggs, Ethan Hawke, and James McBride recount their collaboration on The Good Lord Bird, the Showtime limited series about the legendary abolitionist John Brown, for which Hawke was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award. And Academy Award-nominated screenwriters (and standup comics) Kenny and Keith Lucas describe the challenges of creating Judas and the Black Messiah, which tells the story of the assassination of Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, in 1969.


To listen to the full episodes from which these highlights were drawn, you can download them here: https://therecount.com/podcasts/hell-and-high-water






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Jun 22, 2021
SNEAK PREVIEW: Elie Mystal on “Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir"
40:34

In which Hell & High Water is pleased to introduce you to another podcast in the Recount family: Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir. 

 

Battleground episodes normally drop on Thursdays, but we're giving you a sneak preview of this week's edition, which features Elie Mystal – justice correspondent for The Nation and a frequent guest on MSNBC.


If you're interested in the future of the Democratic Party — or American democracy — you're going to love Battleground. Amanda Litman is a co-founder and executive director of Run For Something, an organization that recruits young progressives to seek elective office and helps them do it. Faiz Shakir has been a leading progressive voice for more than a decade, most recently serving as campaign manager for Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential bid. Every week, Litman and Shakir and their guests — reporters, activists, operatives — explore the internal debates and external strategies of Democratic Party and the issues facing America's fragile democratic process through a progressive lens. Whether you're left-leaning, a political junkie, or simply care about the country, Battleground is essential listening.

 

Subscribe to “Battleground” with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir here: recount.co/BAT






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Jun 15, 2021
Christopher Jackson
1:10:44

In which John Heilemann talks with Christopher Jackson, the Tony award-nominated and Grammy and Emmy award-winning actor, singer, musician, and composer best known for playing George Washington in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. Heilemann and Jackson discuss his journey from growing up in Cairo, Illinois to becoming a bona fide theater and television star; how the traumas of Covid-19 and the post-George Floyd racial reckoning impacted the creative community; how Broadway is faring as it prepares for its long-awaited reopening in September; how Hamilton reflected the political zeitgeist of the Obama era but remains relevant today, and how it felt to perform at the White House for the first Black president; and his pride at seeing the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, in which he played a key role (Benny), turned into a splashy Hollywood film that is among the first to be widely released in movie theaters in the wake of the pandemic. Jackson also discusses his relationship with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind both In The Heights and Hamilton, and why their friendship is one of the most important in his life. 






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Jun 08, 2021
Rick Doblin
1:12:30

In which John Heilemann talks with Rick Doblin, the pioneering champion of psychedelics who has waged a decades-long crusade to bring about mainstream acceptance of psychoactive drugs for therapeutic and recreational use. Heilemann and Doblin have known each other for more than 30 years, and they discuss Doblin’s path-breaking work at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which he founded and has turned into a multimillion dollar research and advocacy group employing 130 neuroscientists, pharmacologists, and regulatory specialists; his focus on paving the way for MDMA (aka Ecstasy or Molly) to be used in clinical settings as a treatment for depression, addiction, PTSD, and other maladies; how the cultural acceptance of marijuana (first as a medicine and then more broadly) is a leading indicator of where things are headed with MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and other mind-altering compounds; the future of psychedelic medicine, now that FDA approval is on the horizon; and the coming psychedelics investment bubble. Doblin also describes his personal experiences with psychedelics and how they changed his life, as well as the potential for backlash to the psychedelic renaissance, especially from fundamentalist groups, as social mores change. 






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Jun 01, 2021
Will Leitch
1:11:10

In which John Heilemann talks with writer Will Leitch, sports columnist for MLB.com and New York magazine, founder of Deadspin, and author of a new novel, How Lucky. Heilemann and Leitch discuss the inspiration for How Lucky, including a friend of his young son with spinal muscular atrophy, the genetic disorder that Leitch gives to Daniel, the book's hero; Leitch's love for Athens, Georgia, where he and his family now live and where the book is set; how a complimentary tweet from Stephen King is tantamount to an Oprah's Book Club seal of approval; Leitch's time at Deadspin, including a famous televised confrontation with Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger; the real reason for Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta; and how the NBA is leading the way in political activism in sports. Leitch also discusses his hesitation about getting too excited about the recent success of the New York Knicks, with villainous team owner Jimmy Dolan forever lurking in the wings.






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May 25, 2021
Steven Johnson
1:16:13

In which John Heilemann talks with Steven Johnson, New York Times best-selling writer on science, technology, and their intersection with human behavior. Heilemann and Johnson discuss his latest book, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, and the new four-part PBS documentary series of the same title based on the book, which explore what Johnson calls "one of our greatest achievements: the doubling of global life expectancy over the past century;" the historical roots of the anti-vax movement; the importance of networks of collaboration in discovery and what he regards as the myth of the "lone genius;" the cholera epidemic in London in the mid-1800s and what we can learn from it today; and the rarely examined environmental consequences of our great strides in public health. Johnson also shares his qualms about the possibility that medical advances might—just might—allow us to live forever.






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May 18, 2021
News Items Podcast with John Ellis and Rebecca Darst
1:12:48

In which John Heilemann talks with John Ellis and Rebecca Darst, co-hosts of "News Items Podcast," a new daily show from The Recount. "News Items Podcast" is based on the influential "News Items" daily newsletter founded and run by Ellis, a longtime veteran of the news business. Both the podcast and newsletter focus on three big topic areas, with occasional forays into a fourth: (1) World in Disarray; (2) Financialization of Everything; (3) Advances in Science and Technology; (4) Electoral politics in the US and around the world. On this special episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann, Ellis, and Darst discuss these topics, including the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic in India; the importance of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and their potential effects on the global economy; the forces shaping this moment in American politics, from Joe Biden's ambitious agenda to the trajectory of Fox News; and the massive near-term impacts of the arrival of quantum computing and rapid progress on artificial intelligence. They also mull over recent research suggesting that too little sleep may lead to dementia, with Ellis comforting Heilemann—who, if the research is right, is in serious trouble—with the news that, by the time he reaches seventy, there will likely be a drug that cures Alzheimer's. (Phew.)


Subscribe to “News Items Podcast with John Ellis” here: http://recount.co/NewsItemsPodcast






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May 11, 2021
BONUS: Mika Brzezinski on "Just Something About Her" Podcast with Jennifer Palmieri
44:46

Hell & High Water brings you a bonus episode from another podcast in the Recount family: "Just Something About Her" with Jennifer Palmieri.

Palmieri spent more than two decades as a big-time political and communications strategist, serving as communications director for Barack Obama's White House and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. “Just Something About Her" was born out of Jennifer's experience working for Hillary, when she kept hearing people say, "I don't know, there’s just something about her I don’t like...". With her podcast, Palmieri is flipping that script, interviewing women who made it to the top of their fields on their own terms.

This week's guest is Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," a best-selling author, and the founder of "Know Your Value," a movement in partnership with NBCUniversal that empowers women to recognize their worth and endeavor to get paid accordingly. Mika recently partnered with Forbes to create its first "50 Over 50" list to highlight women who have achieved success later in life.

Palmieri and Brzezinski discuss how Mika "walks the walk" when it comes to supporting women. They discuss common mistakes they have made during pay negotiations, what women can learn from men about how to behave at the bargaining table, and what it might take for women to make a comeback from setbacks during the pandemic. Plus, Mika shares a traumatic experience from when her daughter was a newborn that taught her to slow down and focus on what matters.

Subscribe to "Just Something About Her" with Jennifer Palmieri here: https://therecount.com/podcasts/just-something-about-her






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May 06, 2021
Don Lemon
1:18:13

In which John Heilemann talks with Don Lemon, host of CNN Tonight and author of the new book, “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism." Heilemann and Lemon, who opens his book with a letter to his nephew describing his emotional response to George Floyd's murder, discuss his reaction to the Derek Chauvin trial and the spate of police shootings during and after the proceedings; Lemon's place in the media landscape as the only Black male anchor in primetime cable news; his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the challenges he faced as he rose in the news business due to being both Black and gay; how Lemon sees the role of journalists at a time when democratic institutions are under threat; and his famously contentious relationship with Donald Trump. 






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May 04, 2021
Introducing: News Items Podcast with John Ellis
2:42

Ninety percent of the news out there tells you nothing about where the world is going — ten percent of it tells you everything. On the News Items Podcast with John Ellis, John and Rebecca Darst dissect news items that help you understand where the world is going. Tune in every Monday through Thursday afternoon to hear decades of journalistic experience packed into 20 minutes of insight, plus guest interviews on finance, U.S. politics, foreign affairs, science and technology.

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

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Apr 28, 2021
Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen
1:05:06

In which John Heilemann talks with Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen, two public health rising stars who have emerged as influential and indispensable voices on Covid-19 in the past year. Heilemann, Gupta, and Wen discuss the Biden administration’s response to the pandemic and whether its success in exceeding its vaccination goals portends victory in the fight against Covid; the controversies over the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines in America and Europe, respectively; the factors behind vaccine hesitancy and what measures might be taken to overcome it; and the imperative of restarting the economy and why vaccine passports may be a big part of the solution. Drs. Gupta and Wen also share their fears about the future, especially on the international front, where new variants of the virus are springing up all the time; their views about whether Covid will ever be eradicated and what the new normal might look like; and what they would do if granted god-like powers to implement any regime they wished to combat the pandemic.






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Apr 27, 2021
The Lucas Brothers
1:25:04

In which John Heilemann talks with Kenny and Keith Lucas, the 35-year-old identical twin comedians, actors, producers, and writers who share a 2021 Oscar nomination (with Will Berson and Shaka King) for Best Original Screenplay for "Judas and the Black Messiah." Heilemann and the Lucas Brothers discuss their decade-long quest to persuade Hollywood to green-light the story of Fred Hampton, the precocious and charismatic chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the late Sixties, and his assassination by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI; Keith and Kenny's unlikely rise from rough family circumstances and the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey through elite law schools (from which they both dropped out days from graduation) to acclaim in the world stand-up comedy, culminating in their 2017 Netflix special, "On Drugs"; the role of illicit substances in their art and lives; their mutual struggles with PTSD, addiction, depression, and suicide; their out-front, at times hilarious, codependency; their passions for politics and philosophy; and how "Seinfeld" saved their lives.






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Apr 20, 2021
Senator Cory Booker
49:22

In which John Heilemann talks with Cory Booker, Demoratic senator from New Jersey. In the first single-topic episode of the podcast, Heilemann and Booker do a deep dive into an issue that's been central to Booker's career: criminal justice reform and racial equity. They discuss the Derek Chauvin trial and their fears if justice isn't served; the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, just recently passed by the House, and the criticism it has received from Black Lives Matter and others on left for not going far enough; the legalization of marijuana and the need to address the widespread inequities in America's drug laws; and Booker's view of Biden as ally in the cause of police, prison, and sentencing reform despite Biden's checkered history on these issues.






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Apr 13, 2021
Nicolle Wallace, Part 2
1:03:12

In which John Heilemann talks with Nicolle Wallace, the host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC. Heilemann and Wallace discuss Joe Biden’s first 11 weeks in office and the striking boldness of the agenda he's pursuing; the state of the Covid-19 pandemic amid the vaccination boom and the series of moving COVID eulogies (Lives Well Lived) that Wallace has delivered on her show each day for the past year; the Republican Party as it struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era; the aftershocks from the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd and America's ongoing racial reckoning; and the wave of voter suppression measures in Georgia and elsewhere and their implications for our democracy. Wallace also shares what she’s missed most during the pandemic and is most eager to recover when things return to normal ... whatever that means.






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Apr 06, 2021
Nicolle Wallace, Part 1
49:19

In which John Heilemann talks with Nicolle Wallace, the host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC. Heilemann and Wallace discuss Joe Biden’s first 11 weeks in office and the striking boldness of the agenda he's pursuing; the state of the Covid-19 pandemic amid the vaccination boom and the series of moving COVID eulogies (Lives Well Lived) that Wallace has delivered on her show each day for the past year; the Republican Party as it struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era; the aftershocks from the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd and America's ongoing racial reckoning; and the wave of voter suppression measures in Georgia and elsewhere and their implications for our democracy. Wallace also shares what she’s missed most during the pandemic and is most eager to recover when things return to normal ... whatever that means.






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Apr 06, 2021
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
1:09:01

In which John Heilemann talks with Michigan congresswoman Debbie Dingell, co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Heilemann and Dingell discuss the continuing fallout from the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and ongoing violent extremist threats; her recent grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the role of social media in spreading misinformation and disinformation; her view of President Biden's first ten weeks in office and the major items on his agenda going forward, including infrastructure, climate change, and voting rights. Dingell also addresses her experiences with domestic violence and drug abuse in her family growing up, as well as her late husband—the legendary Michigan congressman John Dingell, who held the seat his wife now occupies for 59 years before she succeeded him—and his evolution regarding gun control, in the context of the renewed debate over new gun safety measures following the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado.






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Mar 30, 2021
Franklin Leonard
1:12:46

In which John Heilemann talks with Franklin Leonard, the founder and CEO of The Black List, a company best known for its annual survey of the most popular screenplays among Hollywood executives that remain unproduced. Heilemann and Leonard discuss this year's Oscar nominations, and in particular the historic levels of diversity among the slate of nominees, as well as the epic fail that was the recent Globe Globes; filmmaking amid the continuing threat of Covid-19, the explosion of streaming fueled by the pandemic, and what it might mean for the future of the industry; the story of how and why Leonard started the Black List and the long-term effects he hopes that his work and other democratizing influences will have on the entertainment industry; structural racism in Hollywood and new initiatives, including one led by Leonard, designed to combat it; and the powerful legacy of the late Chadwick Boseman.






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Mar 23, 2021
Clint Watts
1:20:12

Clint Watts has built his career around the study of extremism: online and off, foreign and domestic, from Russian disinformation campaigns and cyberwarfare to homegrown conspiracists, militia movements, and white supremacists. A former Army infantry officer and FBI special agent, he has served on the bureau's Joint Terrorism Task Force and consulted for its National Security Branch. Currently a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-resident fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and a national security contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, Watts is the author of “Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.”


Watts first came to national prominence as one of the first experts to raise concerns about Russian online activity during the 2016 presidential campaign. But in the run-up to 2020, even as he kept an eye on the nefarious cyber exploits of foreign actors, Watts focused increasingly on the domestic front, where MAGA-fueled extremist activity was proliferating online and coalescing into a tangible terror threat. Watts warned that the threat would come to a head on or before Election Day — a fear that proved prescient, albeit ever so slightly premature. On this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Watts discuss the developments and dynamics that led to the insurrection at the US Capitol, with Watts laying out a taxonomy of extremism and suggesting that what lies ahead may prove even more violent, chaotic, and destabilizing than what took place on January 6. To read Watts's new "Selected Wisdom" Substack, subscribe here: https://clintwatts.substack.com/






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Mar 16, 2021
Andrew Ross Sorkin
1:08:17

Andrew Ross Sorkin is arguably the country's most important and influential financial and business journalist — and, without doubt, its most plugged in. Having started his career at the New York Times as intern when he was still in high school, he now presides over DealBook, which began its life in 2001 as a newsletter about Wall Street and the mergers and acquisitions game, but over the past 20 years has grown into a sprawling finance, business, and economic news fiefdom within the larger Times empire. At the same time, Sorkin is a co-anchor of Squawk Box, the daily CNBC morning show avidly watched by titans of industry and hopped-up day traders alike. He is also the author of "Too Big To Fail," the definitive chronicle of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which was adapted into a star-studded movie of the same name by HBO; a co-creator of the hit Showtime series "Billions"; and is currently developing another film for HBO on the GameStop/Robinhood meme-stock saga.


On this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Sorkin discuss how big business sees the new political era dawning in Washington, DC: from President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and economic recovery legislation to the possibility of raising the minimum wage to the deep polarization that continues to hobble American politics in the wake (and still under the influence) of Donald Trump. They also dive into the many speculative manias currently gripping the financial markets, whether this latest Big Casino moment presages a long-predicted crash, and what if anything regulators might do about the stunning power being amassed by Big Tech. Finally, Heilemann asks Sorkin to list his top five Wall Street films, and the two men riff on the unique place that the financial masters of the universe occupy in popular culture — as objects of fascination, fetishism, reverence, and revulsion in roughly equal measure.






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Mar 02, 2021
Daveed Diggs, Ethan Hawke, and James McBride
1:09:47

The story of John Brown and Harpers Ferry is a pivotal piece of American history that's neither well-known nor well-understood — to the extent it's known or understood at all. In 1859, Brown, a militant white abolitionist and religious zealot, led a raid on the federal armory in that small Virginia (now West Virginia) town to acquire weapons and spark a slave revolt to end the peculiar institution and cleanse America of its original sin. The raid was a debacle, failing utterly in its immediate objectives, but ultimately helped to set in motion the chain of events that led to the Civil War. In 2013, the writer and musician James McBride published a novel, "The Good Lord Bird," that was a heavily fictionalized but also historically rooted account of Brown's life. The book went on to win the National Book Award for Fiction that year, and, last fall, spawned a seven-part Showtime mini-series, produced by Blumhouse Television, starring and co-created by the celebrated actor Ethan Hawke as Brown (a performance for which Hawke has been nominated for a Golden Globe this year) and Grammy and Tony Award-winning "Hamilton" phenom Daveed Diggs as the Black abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass.


The TV incarnation of "The Good Lord Bird" is an incendiary, irreverent, at times hilarious, at times moving entertainment — beautifully written, gorgeously shot, studded with standout performances. But it's also something more than a stellar costume drama. In its treatment of racism not as an individual moral failing but a system of oppression; its examination of white guilt, ally-ship, and redemption; its illustration of the arguments between incrementalism and radicalism; and its forcing of the question of nonviolence versus by-all-means-necessary-ism, "The Good Lord Bird" is, as Matt Zoller Seitz put it in his review for Vulture, “a historical epic of real vision ... [that] speaks to the present as well as the past ... lead[ing] us to connect what happened back then with what’s happening on American streets right now.” As Black History Month comes to a close, Heilemann sits down with Diggs, Hawke, and McBride to discuss the series, their collaboration, and what Hawke has called the "dangerous" territory where art and race intersect — and that "The Good Lord Bird" illuminates so incandescently.






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Feb 23, 2021
Jaime Harrison
1:06:15

Jaime Harrison is one of the brightest young rising stars in the Democratic Party. Born and raised by a single mother in Orangeburg, South Carolina, educated at Yale and Georgetown Law, and mentored by legendary Palmetto State congressman Jim Clyburn, Harrison became the first African American chairman of his home state's Democratic Party in 2013, at the age of 37. After a stint as an Associate Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Harrison launched a campaign to topple incumbent South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham — a bid widely seen as a distant longshot at the outset, but that ultimately turned into one of the marquee races of the 2020 election cycle, with Harrison shattering all South Carolina fund-raising records with a $133 million haul. In the end, Graham beat back the upstart challenge, but Harrison's emergence as a national figure left no one surprised when President Biden chose him in January to be the new chairman of the DNC.


In a conversation recorded as the Senate was rendering its verdict in Trump's historic second impeachment trial, Heilemann and Harrison delve into the short and long-term implications of Trump's acquittal for Republicans and Democrats alike, the existential questions it raises about our constitutional republic, and the inescapable racial dynamics at play in the terrible events of January 6. They discuss Harrison's youthful infatuation with politics, his quasi-filial relationship with Clyburn, and his ambitious plans for the DNC — from grassroots organizing to combating voter suppression to crafting a true 50-state strategy — as the national party gears up for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.






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Feb 16, 2021
Joyce White Vance and Jill Wine-Banks
1:18:19

Joyce White Vance and Jill Wine-Banks entered the Trump era with gold-plated resumes and sterling reputations in the legal world but modest public profiles outside it. Today, however, they are widely known as two members of a cadre of MSNBC legal analysts who conducted a four-year national civics lesson about the rule of law when it was being tested in unprecedented ways — a cadre notably dominated by women, many of them pioneers in their profession.


Wine-Banks earned that status in the 1970s, when, after serving as one of the first female attorneys in the Department of Justice's organized crime section, she joined the staff of Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski; she later became the first female General Counsel of the U.S. Army and first female executive director of the American Bar Association. Vance, too, is a trailblazer: the first woman appointed U.S. Attorney (for the Northern District of Alabama) by President Obama, she established for the first time a civil-rights enforcement unit in that office, prosecuted numerous high-profile public corruption cases, and launched a statewide investigation into inhumane conditions in Alabama's prisons.


Along with two other female legal analysts. Vance and Wine-Banks recently launched a new podcast, #SistersInLaw. And with Trump's second impeachment trial commencing this week, Heilemann invites his friends and colleagues to discuss the case against Trump and why it matters so much — even if Trump, as most expect, is ultimately acquitted. They also delve into the wave of defamation lawsuits and legal threats aimed at right-wing media companies and the former president's lawyers, the degree of legal peril facing Trump as a private citizen, and the challenges facing Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland in repairing the damage wrought by Trump at the Justice Department.






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Feb 09, 2021
Sean Penn
1:00:39

If you looked up the hyphenate "artist-activist" in an illustrated dictionary, next to the entry would likely be a picture of Sean Penn. In a film career spanning forty years, Penn has appeared in more than 50 features, received five Best Actor Oscar nominations and won the award twice — for his leading roles in "Mystic River" and "Milk" — and staked a plausible claim to being the preeminent actor of his generation. He has directed five films, three of which he wrote, as well as publishing two novels. At the same time, Penn has courted political controversy with high-profile trips to Iraq, Iran, and Cuba, and in particular with his friendship with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

 

But alongside his controversial forays on the world stage, much of Penn's time and energy in the past decade has been devoted to humanitarian relief efforts. In 2010, he founded a non-profit now known as CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) to mobilize emergency workers and distribute aid in Haiti after a devastating earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince that January. CORE did the same in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, and in Florida after Hurricane Michael. When COVID struck, CORE responded by opening 49 testing sites in the US, including the largest in the country at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. That facility has now been converted into a massive Covid vaccination center — without a dollar from the federal government. On this week’s episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann brings Penn on to discuss the fight against COVID, Penn’s activism and acting career, and the lasting cultural significance of Jeff Spicoli, his character in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High."


To learn more about CORE or make a donation to support their work, please visit coreresponse.org.






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Feb 02, 2021
Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell
1:12:51

Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell first met 46 years ago as undergraduates at Harvard, forming a friendship that’s flourished alongside their careers as two of their generation’s most incisive, insightful observers of American politics and culture. Andersen made his mark in the 1980s as co-founder of the iconic Spy magazine, then went on to serve as editor-in-chief of New York magazine, host of the Peabody Award-winning radio program “Studio 360,” and best-selling novelist and non-fiction author. O’Donnell cut his teeth in Washington as staff director of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and protege to legendary New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then transitioned to the TV business — first as an Emmy Award-winning writer on “The West Wing” and currently as host of “The Last Word” on MSNBC. On this week’s Hell & High Water, Heilemann, a friend of both Andersen and O’Donnell, brings the two men together for their first-ever joint interview. They discuss the performances of Joe Biden and Amanda Gorman on inauguration day, O’Donnell’s insider’s perspective on the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, and Andersen’s “grand unified theory” of modern American life, as sketched out in his recent companion volumes, “Fantasyland” and “Evil Geniuses.”






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Jan 26, 2021
Robert Reich
1:05:53

Over the course of the past four decades, Robert Reich has worn a multitude of hats: professor and professional idea merchant; federal official in three presidential administrations, candidate for governor of Massachusetts, and economic adviser to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders; author of 18 books, creator of heralded documentaries, and wildly popular social media dynamo. But in all these roles — including the one for which he's best known, Clinton's first secretary of labor — Reich has staked out a unique and uniquely influential position at the nexus of policy and politics. All of which makes Reich an ideal guest to help sort through the cataclysmic events that have shaken Washington, DC, this month. Conveniently, Reich also happens to be so close to Heilemann that he officiated the host's wedding. So on this, the final Hell & High Water episode of Donald Trump's tenure, these two old friends come together to discuss the insurrection at the Capitol and Trump's second impeachment, how big business has reacted and how, more broadly, it has undermined our democracy, and whether the arrival of Joe Biden holds out hope of fundamental economic change.






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Jan 19, 2021
The Lincoln Project, Part 1
52:19

The Lincoln Project launched in late 2019 with an op-ed in The New York Times under a headline that made the group’s identity and intentions clear: “We are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated.” Since then, the group has established itself as a leading force in the fight against Trumpism, becoming a household name in the process. Led by an array of lapsed Republican operatives including Heilemann’s guests this week, Jennifer Horn and Rick Wilson, the Lincolners have raised tens of millions of dollars, cranked out a stream of memorable ads and viral videos, and waged a devilish campaign to get inside Trump’s head. In this two-part episode, Heilemann talks with Horn and Wilson about Trump’s role in one of most terrible weeks in modern American political history, in which the US Capitol was stormed by far-right insurrectionists; the move to impeach him for a second time or remove him from office via the 25th Amendment; his banishment from Twitter (news that broke while the episode was being recorded); and the clear and present danger he poses to the country in final days as president.






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Jan 12, 2021
The Lincoln Project, Part 2
43:32

The Lincoln Project launched in late 2019 with an op-ed in The New York Times under a headline that made the group’s identity and intentions clear: “We are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated.” Since then, the group has established itself as a leading force in the fight against Trumpism, becoming a household name in the process. Led by an array of lapsed Republican operatives including Heilemann’s guests this week, Jennifer Horn and Rick Wilson, the Lincolners have raised tens of millions of dollars, cranked out a stream of memorable ads and viral videos, and waged a devilish campaign to get inside Trump’s head. In this two-part episode, Heilemann talks with Horn and Wilson about Trump’s role in one of most terrible weeks in modern American political history, in which the US Capitol was stormed by far-right insurrectionists; the move to impeach him for a second time or remove him from office via the 25th Amendment; his banishment from Twitter (news that broke while the episode was being recorded); and the clear and present danger he poses to the country in final days as president.






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Jan 12, 2021
Shannon Watts
1:15:35

Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America — a self-described “accidental activist” who, in less than a decade, went from being a stay-at-home mother in Indiana to the face of a national grassroots movement with more active members than the National Rifle Association. When Watts launched her advocacy group as a simple Facebook page in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, she had just 75 friends on the site but grand ambitions, boundless energy, and infinite chutzpah. Today, Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown For Gun Safety and a political juggernaut, deploying tens of thousands of volunteers and tens of millions of dollars to support candidates, legislative campaigns, and corporate reform efforts. Heilemann and Watts discuss the ways her group has changed the game on gun control, the role of women and young people in the movement, the crisis at the NRA, and why Watts believes the Biden administration will be “the strongest gun safety administration in history.”






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Jan 05, 2021
Tenacious D
1:12:43

When Jack Black and Kyle Gass formed the mock-rock band Tenacious D in 1994, they were just a pair of unknown members of The Actors' Gang in LA with a spiritual and satirical kinship with Spinal Tap, a penchant for R-rated lyrics about their sexual prowess and prodigious cannabis consumption, and surprisingly serious musical chops. Twenty-six years later, Tenacious D has accumulated a large and passionate following, released three platinum albums and a feature film, and won a Grammy Award — and Black, of course, has become a movie star. In this final 2020 episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann talks with Black and Gass about the group's turn towards the political following Donald Trump's election, from its "South Park"-flavored album/YouTube series/graphic novel "Post-Apocalypto" to its viral, celebrity-studded, get-out-the-vote video cover of "Time Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (which included Heilemann) ... as well as Black's breakout role in "High Fidelity," his wildly popular quarantine videos on TikTok, and Tenacious D's top five records for celebrating the end of the Trump era.






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Dec 29, 2020
Aaron Sorkin
49:55

Over the past three decades, Aaron Sorkin has staked a claim as America’s most renowned film and television writer. With a list of credits that runs from "A Few Good Men," "The American President, "The Social Network," and "Moneyball" on the big screen to "Sports Night," "The Newsroom," and his crowning achievement, "The West Wing," on TV, Sorkin's work has achieved vast popular success, critical acclaim, and cultural resonance. On this week’s episode, Hell & High Water continues its year-end review, with Heilemann and Sorkin discussing how COVID-19, Trump's final year in office, and the racial justice movement affected Hollywood in general and three of Sorkin's projects in particular: his stage version of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the reunion episode of "The West Wing," and his film "The Trial of the Chicago 7." Sorkin also offers his lists of top TV shows and movies of the year — and his favorite political films of all time.






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Dec 22, 2020
Rich Eisen
1:19:56

Rich Eisen has been a fixture in the sports media firmament for a quarter century. Sharp and funny, as well-versed in pop culture as in the prevent defense or the pick-and-roll, Eisen was still in his twenties when he first lit up ESPN during its heyday in the 1990s, before becoming the face of the NFL Network and his eponymous talk show and podcast. But what sets Eisen apart from many of his peers is his comfort in the place where top-flight athletics collide with broader social and political dynamics — which set him up perfectly to cover the traumas and dramas of 2020, as the sports world was shaken by a raging pandemic and the upheaval spawned by the killing of George Floyd. With our annus horribilis finally coming to a close, Heilemann and Eisen reflect on the lessons that players, owners, and leagues have learned from grappling with COVID-19, the unprecedented wave of sports activism unleashed by Black Lives Matter, and the media's response to it all.





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Dec 15, 2020
Joe Scarborough
1:23:07

Joe Scarborough is a rare figure in the news business: a broadcaster who has known both Donald Trump and Joe Biden well for years and will be as influential in the political era now dawning as the one quickly coming to a close. Though he first came to prominence in the 1990s as a firebrand Republican congressman from Florida, Scarborough is best known as the co-host and namesake of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" — and an outspoken GOP refugee and relentless critic of President Trump. On this week's episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann, a regular "Morning Joe" panelist since its launch in 2007, invites Scarborough to assess the 2020 election, Trump's efforts to overturn its results, and the future of the Republican Party. They also discuss Scarborough's new book, “Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization," and what Biden can learn from Truman's presidency.



Le



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Dec 08, 2020
Killer Mike, Part 2
40:39

Michael Santiago Render, aka Killer Mike, is one of the most vital figures in the worlds of both hip hop and progressive activism. Best known as one half of the acclaimed rap duo Run The Jewels, Render gained notoriety in the political realm as a prominent backer of Bernie Sanders and a fierce advocate for Black economic empowerment. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Render delivered a tearful televised plea to protestors not to torch his beloved home city of Atlanta; the video went viral and earned him a new legion of admirers around the country. A few days later, Run the Jewels released its fourth album, “RTJ4”, which captured the anger, despair, and calls for racial justice echoing from coast to coast and was widely hailed as the dystopian soundtrack of 2020. In this first-ever two-part episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Render discuss race and police violence, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Georgia's outsized role in the 2020 election, Ice Cube, Kanye West, Dave Chappelle, and much, much more. 






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Dec 01, 2020
Killer Mike, Part 1
1:02:30

Michael Santiago Render, aka Killer Mike, is one of the most vital figures in the worlds of both hip hop and progressive activism. Best known as one half of the acclaimed rap duo Run The Jewels, Render gained notoriety in the political realm as a prominent backer of Bernie Sanders and a fierce advocate for Black economic empowerment. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Render delivered a tearful televised plea to protestors not to torch his beloved home city of Atlanta; the video went viral and earned him a new legion of admirers around the country. A few days later, Run the Jewels released its fourth album, “RTJ4”, which captured the anger, despair, and calls for racial justice echoing from coast to coast and was widely hailed as the dystopian soundtrack of 2020. In this first-ever two-part episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Render discuss race and police violence, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Georgia's outsized role in the 2020 election, Ice Cube, Kanye West, Dave Chappelle, and much, much more. 






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Dec 01, 2020
Lawrence Lessig & Laurence Tribe
1:05:23

Lawrence Lessig and Laurence Tribe are among the most important and influential legal minds of this or any era. Lessig, a pioneer in the field of cyber-law, is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and founder of Equal Citizens, a non-profit focused on the cause of electoral reform. Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard, is arguably the preeminent constitutional scholar of his generation, has argued 35 cases before the US Supreme Court, and was a key member of Al Gore's legal team in the 2000 Florida recount. Heilemann invites the Legal Larrys, as he calls them, to discuss Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election, how his efforts have revealed serious weaknesses in our democratic processes, and the increasingly urgent arguments for scrapping the Electoral College.






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Nov 24, 2020
Laurie Garrett
1:06:37

Laurie Garrett has been tracking epidemics and outbreaks since the early 1990's. She is the author of The Coming Plague, Betrayal of Trust, and I Heard the Sirens Scream and has won a Pulitzer Prize, a George Polk Award (twice), and a Peabody Award. With Thanksgiving approaching, and Covid-19 infection rates shooting up in all 50 states, Heilemann turns to Garrett, one of the foremost science journalists in the world, for her incisive and unflinching look at the pandemic.






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Nov 17, 2020
Jon Meacham & Maya Wiley
1:07:51

Maya Wiley is a nationally recognized racial justice and equity advocate. She is the former Counsel to the Mayor in New York City, the former Chair of the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board, and she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory on universal and inclusive broadband at The New School. Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer, a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor of Time magazine, and he holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, lives in Nashville. Heilemann brings these two brilliant mind together in order to step back and look at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris election victory through the lens of history, civil rights, and the upcoming fights to keep America democratic.






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Nov 10, 2020
The Recount's Election Bonus Episode
1:07:13

For the first time ever, all four of The Recount podcast hosts team up for a bonus episode. Jennifer Palmieri, host of "Just Something About Her," David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt, hosts of "Battleground," and John Heilemann, Executive Editor of The Recount and host of "Hell & High Water," discuss the collision of expectations and reality, poll trouble, what may have held Democrats back from bigger wins, and what's next for the country.






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Nov 07, 2020
Nicolle Wallace
55:02

Nicolle Wallace is a journalist, author, and the host of "Deadline: White House" on MSNBC. But, most importantly for the purposes of this podcast, she’s a dear friend of Heilemann’s. Their friendship began when Nicolle was the White House Communications Chief to George W. Bush and deepened after Heilemann published "Game Change." The book chronicles the 2008 Presidential campaign and, with it, Nicolle's role as a senior advisor to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. In this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Nicolle discuss the Biden campaign, how Sarah Palin was a harbinger of what was to come for the GOP, and what America might look like after the election.






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Nov 03, 2020
Axe, Plouffe, and Mastromonaco
1:11:32

As former President Barack Obama hits the campaign trail, Heilemann chats with the crew that helped Obama get elected: David Axelrod, chief strategist for the '08 and '12 Obama campaigns and currently Director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics; David Plouffe, the '08 Obama campaign manager, former Senior Advisor to the President, and host of the podcasts Battleground (also from The Recount) and Campaign HQ; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling and Advance for the Obama '08 campaign and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff. Or, as Heilemann calls them, "the Obama Brain Trust." The three of them discuss the state of the race and President Obama's role in it, before taking a trip down memory lane and reliving some of the most emotional moments from Obama’s ’08 and ’12 campaigns.






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Oct 27, 2020
Mike Murphy & Stuart Stevens
1:01:43

Mike Murphy and Stuart Stevens are two of the most storied consultants in Republican history. Before 2016, they competed against Democrats in races and against each other for clients. Their combined list of clients includes all three Bushes, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, Bob Dole, and many more. But for these Republican stalwarts, Donald J. Trump was a bridge too far. Both are actively involved in the fight to defeat him – Murphy with the group Republican Voters Against Trump and Stevens with The Lincoln Project. They join Heilemann to discuss their take on the state of the race, and use Stuart's new book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, as a jumping-off point for exploring what happened to the GOP. Finally, the two look forward and imagine what a post-Trump party looks like – and what Trump may do as he fights to hold onto power.






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Oct 20, 2020
James Carville
49:50

James Carville is one of the most famous political strategists of all time. Known around the world as the "Ragin' Cajun," Carville came to national attention in 1992 as the presiding guru behind the campaign of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Since then, his hot temper, southern-fried charisma, and theatrical squalls of fury at the media have turned him into a cable news celebrity. Carville has never been shy about expressing his opinion, and in this episode of Hell & High Water, he expounds on his theory that Trump is running to stay out of jail, discusses his disdain for activists, and predicts a Biden landslide.






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Oct 13, 2020
Ashley Parker & Jennifer Palmieri
42:45

Ashley Parker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning White House reporter for The Washington Post. Jennifer Palmieri is a best-selling author and the former White House Communications Director for President Obama and Director of Communications for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Heilemann, Parker, and Palmieri discuss the unsurprising – nonetheless, jaw-dropping – news that President Donald J. Trump has contracted COVID-19 and its implications for the election.






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Oct 06, 2020
Neal Katyal
43:02

Neal Katyal is the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States under Barack Obama, a distinguished lawyer who has argued 41 cases before the Supreme Court and the Paul Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University. In this episode, Heilemann and Katyal explore all things SCOTUS. They discuss the late RBG, the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the high stakes at play and why Neal is still optimistic about the future of the Supreme Court.






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Sep 29, 2020
Jeff Daniels
46:02

Jeff Daniels is a celebrated film, television, and stage actor, who stars as former FBI director James Comey in the forthcoming Showtime mini-series “The Comey Rule.” Heilemann and Daniels discuss how the actor approached playing the controversial Comey, a rare public figure despised equally by the left and the right. They explore the motivations of the man who presided over the FBI's investigations of both Hillary Clinton's email and Russia's interference in the 2016 election and its ties to Donald Trump – and was later fired by Trump after refusing his demands of loyalty. Finally, they turn to Daniels's assessment of the existential stakes of the election, and his predictions of a bleak and dark future should Trump be reelected.






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Sep 22, 2020
Dave Chang
41:30

Dave Chang is one of the most influential restaurateurs of the 21st century. He's the presiding genius behind the Momofuku empire, the star of “Ugly Delicious” and “Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner” on Netflix, the host of The Dave Chang Show podcast, and the author of a new memoir called Eat a Peach. John talks to Dave about the new role he’s taken during the course of the pandemic, as a leading voice talking about the restaurant apocalypse brought on by COVID-19. They discuss how the industry is threatened with extinction, not just because of the virus and its implications, but because of structural flaws that existed even before the pandemic. Dave also tells John about his fears and motivations around the writing of a bracingly, brutally honest memoir about his mental health struggles and addiction to rage, and what he hopes people take away from the book. 






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Sep 16, 2020
Marques Johnson
40:57

In the first episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann talks to Marques Johnson, legendary point forward for UCLA and the Milwaukee Bucks in the seventies and eighties, now a broadcaster for the Bucks. They talk about race, sports, and the NBA playoff boycott, led by the Bucks, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI.

Johnson discusses his experiences with racism growing up in Louisiana and Los Angeles, how a new generation of players is embracing social activism, and Donald Trump's efforts to politicize sports with his attacks on LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick.






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Sep 08, 2020
Introducing: Hell & High Water with John Heilemann
2:00


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Sep 01, 2020