The New Yorker: Politics and More

By WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

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 Apr 8, 2021
More "both sides are bad" centrist horseshit

Alejandro
 Dec 12, 2020
Insightful journalism.

Joe DaSilva
 Mar 4, 2019
Outstanding, really good podcast!

awake
 Mar 3, 2019
More Political Propaganda. Disgusting.

Wesley boz
 Jul 22, 2018
no yelling, no name calling, just insightful, thoughtful reporting. Worth a listen.

Description

A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.

Episode Date
Abortion and the Potential “Criminalization of Pregnancy” in the U.S.
39:09

Last week, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Although this outcome had been anticipated for months—for years, even—it has had an immediate, visceral effect on abortion providers, those seeking abortions, and the nation at large. In some states, abortions stopped overnight; in others, there’s widespread confusion over what qualifies as legally acceptable circumstances for having an abortion. As states move to either outlaw abortion or codify it, the larger political question of “What next?” looms. The New Yorker contributing writer Stephania Taladrid and staff writer Jia Tolentino have both reported extensively on abortion access in the United States. They join the New Yorker senior editor and Politics and More guest host Tyler Foggatt. “Flat out, women will die in the course of ordinary pregnancy because of physician fears of doing anything that might make them liable for felony changes of performing an abortion,” Tolentino says. “It will make pregnancy significantly more dangerous for many, many people.”

Jun 29, 2022
Why Do Conservatives Love Hungary’s Viktor Orbán?
19:34

When the New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz first heard that the Conservative Political Action Conference, the flagship event of the American conservative movement, was being held in Hungary, he thought it might be a joke. “A lot of people have worried for a few years now that the Republican Party is becoming more ambivalent about certain bedrock norms of American democracy,” Marantz told David Remnick. “To openly state, ‘We’re going to this semi-authoritarian country’ . . .  I thought it was maybe a troll.” But C.P.A.C. Hungary was very real, and the event demonstrated an increasingly close relationship between American conservatives and authoritarians abroad. Viktor Orbán wins elections and claims a democratic mandate, but his legislative maneuvers and rewrites to the constitution have rendered political opposition increasingly powerless. Marantz finds the admiration for him by many in America unsettling. “I couldn’t really imagine a Putin-style takeover” of power in America, Marantz says; but “this kind of technical, legalistic Orbán model” seems all too plausible.

Jun 27, 2022
What the January 6th Committee Uncovered This Week
30:43

Two hearings this week laid out the stark implications of President Trump’s efforts to stay in office. On Tuesday, members of the House Select Committee on January 6th heard testimony about attempts to deliver “fake” slates of electors to Congress. State election officials and poll workers spoke, in powerful terms, about the intense vitriol and harassment they were subjected to by Trump supporters, simply for doing their jobs. On Thursday, the Committee explored President Trump’s pressure campaign at the Justice Department to get top officials to go along with false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. As Evan Osnos wrote for The New Yorker, “Trump’s political formula has rested on a dark genius at leveraging the powerful against the vulnerable, a tribe against a dissenter, the mob against the foe—and he nearly succeeded in using that recipe to overturn the election that he lost.” In the third installment of a special series for the Politics and More podcast, three members of The New Yorker’s Washington bureau—Osnos, Susan B. Glasser, and Jane Mayer—take us through the big developments at the hearings this week.

Jun 24, 2022
Dexter Filkins on the Rise of Ron DeSantis
18:59

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shown himself uniquely skilled at attracting attention beyond the borders of his home state. Just this month, DeSantis blocked state funds for the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium after players voiced support for gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. He’s also continuing a fight to punish the Disney corporation for criticizing Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. An Ivy League-educated anti-élitist firebrand, he is willing to pick a fight with anyone—reporters, health officials, teachers, Mickey Mouse—to grab a headline. DeSantis “practically radiates ambition,” the staff writer Dexter Filkins tells David Remnick. “He sounds like Trump, except that he speaks in complete sentences. . . . He’s very good at staking out a position and pounding the table and saying, I’m not giving in to the liberals in the Northeast.” Yet, despite having been anointed by Donald Trump in his primary election, DeSantis has refused to “kiss the ring,” and many see DeSantis as a possible opponent to Trump in a 2024 Republican primary.

Jun 21, 2022
The Bombshell Moments at the Second Week of the January 6th Hearings
26:24

This week, the House select committee held two more hearings to review its astonishing findings on the events of January 6, 2021, featuring testimony from onetime enablers of President Donald Trump: Bill Barr, the former Attorney General, and Bill Stepien, Trump’s former campaign manager. These hearings are revealing the extraordinary drama that was unfolding that day, not just on the Capitol lawn but also in the top ranks of the government, where Vice-President Mike Pence was being coerced to overturn the election. As Susan B. Glasser put it in her column for newyorker.com this week, “On Thursday, the House committee devoted its hearing to attempting to explain Trump’s scheme to pressure Pence—which unfolded in a series of inflammatory Presidential tweets, angry phone calls, and bizarre White House meetings that were a mix of constitutional-law seminars and live reënactments of ‘The Godfather.’ ” In the second installment of a special series for the Politics and More podcast, three members of The New Yorker’s Washington bureau—Glasser, Evan Osnos, and Jane Mayer—take us through the big developments at the hearings this week.

Jun 17, 2022
Putting the Backlash Against Progressive Prosecutors in Perspective
31:52

A widespread view that cities have become less safe in recent months is transforming local politics. Eric Adams became Mayor of New York City on a tough-on-crime platform. Anxiety about public safety has also played a significant role in the ongoing Los Angeles mayoral race. In San Francisco, Chesa Boudin—a reform-minded district attorney—was recalled by voters by a significant margin last week. Boudin had instituted a number of progressive reforms, from liberalizing bail policies to reducing jail populations through diversion programs. But those changes were buried by the perception that the city had descended into a state of chaos. His recall has been cast as a referendum on crime and on the public’s attitudes toward progressive criminal-justice policies. What were the voters in San Francisco blaming on Boudin? The New Yorker staff writer Benjamin Wallace-Wells recently wrote about Boudin’s recall. He speaks with the New Yorker senior editor Tyler Foggatt.

Jun 16, 2022
Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos on the New January 6th Revelations
26:14

For months, the House Select Committee on January 6th has examined Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and cling to power. Roughly a thousand witnesses have been interviewed—including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Tens of thousands of documents have also been reviewed, such as text messages from the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The committee held its first public hearing last night and presented some of what it has learned. Representative Jamie Raskin had promised that the findings would “blow the roof off the House.” The New Yorker’s Washington correspondents Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos join guest host Susan Glasser to discuss the revelations.

Jun 10, 2022
Sara Nelson on the Drive to Unionize Delta Flight Attendants
13:41

Before the pandemic, Sara Nelson had emerged as one of the most visible leaders in the labor movement. The Association of Flight Attendants represents some fifty thousand workers and nearly twenty airlines, and, as the union’s international president, Nelson made regular appearances on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox Business. During the pandemic, she became a critical voice amid reports of unruly and abusive passengers, urging Congress to pass greater protections for airline staff and pushing for restrictions on the sale of alcohol in airport terminals. “We’ve got a lot more work to do to get things under control,” Nelson tells Jennifer Gonnerman, who profiled her last month, “and make sure that people don’t think that when you get on a plane you get to punch the flight crew.” Organized labor is newly resurgent, with recent drives at Amazon making headlines. Nelson speaks about the push to unionize flight attendants of Delta Air Lines, which—if successful—would be one of the largest union wins in recent history, covering almost twenty-four thousand workers.

Jun 06, 2022
Why a Weakened N.R.A. Still Gets What it Wants
24:49

The National Rifle Association has been one of the most feared groups in Washington, D.C., for decades. It profoundly reshaped the conversation around guns in America through a combination of financial prowess, lockstep messaging, and an ability to motivate its membership. But, in recent years, multiple lawsuits—including one from the New York State attorney general—have drained the organization's finances, and membership and revenue have declined precipitously. In light of this, and in the wake of several horrific mass shootings, the guest host and New Yorker staff writer Susan B. Glasser seeks out the root of our political gridlock on gun violence. She talks with Mike Spies, a reporter for The Trace and a contributor to The New Yorker who has reported extensively on the N.R.A. He argues that it’s time to stop attributing the Republican Party’s stance on the Second Amendment to the gun lobby. “I don’t think there is anything the N.R.A. can do to any federal lawmaker right now,” Spies says. “They don’t have the money to spend, they don’t have the contractors who are responsible for the messaging to help them carry out the rhetoric and campaigns that would have previously resonated with voters.”

Jun 02, 2022
What Makes a Mass Shooter?
19:01

In America, unthinkable violence has become routine.  In the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings, David Remnick speaks with the researchers Jillian Peterson and James Densley, whose book “The Violence Project” is the most in-depth study of mass shooters. Pro-gun politicians may continue to block any measures to reduce violence, but we can understand better a different side of the equation: what motivates these crimes. David Remnick speaks with two criminal-justice researchers who have studied mass killers, James Densley, of Metropolitan State University, and Jillian Peterson, of Hamline University. They point out that mass shootings have risen alongside deaths of despair, including overdoses and suicide.  “The perpetrator goes in with no escape plan,” Peterson points out.  “What we can learn from suicide prevention can teach us how to prevent some of these mass shootings.  We haven’t connected these two things.” We also hear from a 70-year-old resident of Uvalde, Texas, about the aftermath of the killings in a tight-knit community.

May 31, 2022
Normalcy Returns to Kyiv as Russia Doubles Down in Eastern Ukraine
28:01

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds on into its third brutal month, with no end in sight. But, in ways large and small, the conflict has shifted. At the start of the war, the Russian military hoped to seize Kyiv and decapitate the Ukrainian government—but then quickly retreated in the face of sustained resistance. The fiercest fighting is now in the eastern Donbas region, but Russian troops have also occupied the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol since February, upending civilian life in other ways. The New Yorker contributing writer Joshua Yaffa, formerly the magazine’s Moscow correspondent, has been reporting from Ukraine throughout the war. He spoke to the guest host Susan Glasser from Kyiv about the state of the conflict. “This is a war against the totality of a country, against the totality of a people, and, even if there is a moment of relative peace in the capital, that doesn’t mean that Russia’s aims have in any way narrowed in their ambition, narrowed in their scope,” Yaffa says. “And if Russia is able to cleave off the Donbas, as seems to be its major or central military goal at the moment, that doesn’t mean the war ends there.”

May 26, 2022
The Attack on Gender-Affirming Medical Care
27:16

Across the United States, conservative politicians are leading a backlash against L.G.B.T.Q. identity, framing legal restrictions as protection of children. Several states have introduced laws to ban medical treatments known as gender-affirming care—including hormones and puberty blockers—prescribed to adolescents. Major medical organizations have approved the treatments, but Rachel Monroe, who has been following efforts to ban gender-affirming care in Texas, found that doctors wouldn’t speak out about the political furor because the resulting attention could endanger themselves, their clinics, and their patients. One specialist, however, was willing to go on the record: Dr. Gina Sequeira, a co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s. “I was growing so frustrated seeing the narrative around gender-affirming care provision for youth so full of misinformation and so full of blatant falsehoods that I couldn't in good conscience continue to stay quiet,” Sequeira told her. Doctors cite a body of data that gender-affirming care reduces the risk of suicide, which is high among trans youth. Sequeira’s Seattle clinic has been fielding calls from Texas families looking to relocate if the proposed ban in Texas prevents their children from accessing care. “If we were to stop care, I would be afraid that our child wouldn’t survive,” the mother of a trans girl told Monroe. “There’s no question that she’s not safe to herself.”

May 23, 2022
The Other Kind of Racism in Buffalo
35:37

Last weekend, an eighteen-year-old white man killed ten people and injured three in a Tops grocery store located in Buffalo’s majority-Black East End. It was a deliberately planned attack, motivated by white-supremacist ideology; the gunman searched by Zip Code to find the highest concentration of Black people in his area, and then he drove two hundred miles to reach them. This segregation of Black people in an underserved neighborhood, in the third poorest city in the nation, is reflective of a more commonplace and more pervasive form of American racism. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and a professor of African American Studies at Princeton. She joins the guest host Evan Osnos to discuss the politics of housing, policing, and education in Buffalo, and how these structural forces relate to the rise of violent right-wing extremism. “We are so enamored with the idea of racism as explicit, as you most certainly know it when you see it,” Taylor says. “But these other manifestations—that mean that forty per cent of Black children in Buffalo live under the poverty line, that thirty-eight per cent of Black adults live under the poverty line, that the quality of housing on the East Side of Buffalo is wood-based and deteriorating compared to the brick houses of the West Side of the city—these kinds of insidious forms of racism are allowed to continue unaddressed for decades.”

May 19, 2022
The Battle After Roe v. Wade
19:24

Assuming that Justice Samuel Alito’s final opinion in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gets majority support, there will be profound social, political, and health-care implications across the United States. Margaret Talbot, Peter Slevin and Jia Tolentino assess the world after Roe. Opponents will surely not stop by leaving abortion at the state level but will try to ban it under federal law. Tolentino discusses fetal personhood, the legal concept that a fertilized egg is entitled to full legal rights, which severely compromises the bodily autonomy of a pregnant woman. There is already speculation that access to birth control and same-sex marriage could be challenged. “If people feel panicked about all those things, I wouldn’t invalidate that,” Tolentino says. But focussing on the immediate post-Roe future, she says, presents enough to worry about. “This is a universe of panic on its own.”

May 16, 2022
How COVID Strengthened Authoritarianism in China
28:00

China’s “zero COVID” strategy has brought the bustling metropolis of Shanghai to a standstill, with many of its twenty-five million residents sealed in their homes. These exceptionally strict measures are being met with some public resistance, but Xi Jinping’s government has largely doubled down on its approach. Peter Hessler has been in and out of China for twenty-five years. He recently returned from two years of teaching and writing in Sichuan Province. His experience led him to a conclusion that may surprise some Americans: that, for many young people in China, the experience of the pandemic has reinforced “a general idea that the benefits of the Chinese system greatly outweigh its flaws.” And, even if people resent heavy-handed government control, they also bristle when outsiders criticize it. Hessler joins guest host Evan Osnos to talk about teaching in China and how the pandemic has reshaped the public’s views about the government.

May 12, 2022
The Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi: Rebroadcast
12:14

Last week, a draft opinion was leaked which suggests that a majority of Supreme Court Justices are ready to overturn the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that have guaranteed a right to abortion at the federal level.  The case in question is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which Mississippi officials seek to close the state’s last remaining abortion clinic under a law that bans performing an abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy—a point well before the time of fetal viability.  In November, Rachel Monroe visited the Jackson abortion clinic, speaking to its director, Shannon Brewer; a physician who asked to remain anonymous, describing the risks to abortion providers; and a patient, who had driven all night from Texas, where she was not able to obtain an abortion. “Somebody else is telling me what I should do with my body, and it’s not right,” she said. “It’s my body. It’s my decision. It’s my choice. It’s my life. It’s my soul, if it’s going to Hell.”

Produced with assistance from Ezekiel Bandy and Kim Green. 

This segment originally aired November 19, 2021.  

May 10, 2022
The Fate of Abortion After the Supreme Court Leak
30:53

For nearly fifty years, conservative groups have been laser focused on overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision which legalized abortion. In that time, they’ve made significant inroads, chipping away at access to abortion in a number of states. But now they seem on the cusp of near total victory. The recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, indicates that a majority of the justices seem ready to overturn Roe completely. It would be the biggest reversal of personal rights in the United States in more than a generation, and access to abortion in nearly two dozen states would end overnight. Other rights—from access to contraception to gay marriage, could face serious legal challenges. Guest host Evan Osnos speaks with the New Yorker contributing writer and Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk Gersen about what the draft ruling means for reproductive rights in America, and about just how far this Supreme Court might go in the future. “That is what I see in this opinion: that there is a roadmap for litigants immediately after this case comes down to try to pursue a constitutional right to fetal life,” Gersen says. “A right to fetal life, protected by the Constitution as a fundamental right, could have the effect of making abortion illegal in every state.”

May 05, 2022
A Ukrainian Diplomat on the Future of Russian Aggression
24:01

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters a third month, prospects of ending the conflict are still nowhere in sight, and there seems to be no end to the destruction that Vladimir Putin is willing to inflict. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, tells David Remnick that he expects Russia to continue escalating its attack leading up to May 9th, a day of military celebration in Russia commemorating the German surrender in the Second World War. “They will escalate attacks by missiles from the sky to terrorize Ukraine in general,” he predicts, “and to make the government more susceptible to surrender.”

In contrast to President Volodymyr Zelensky—who was a political rookie when he took office, in 2019—Kyslytsya has spent his career in Ukraine’s foreign service. In the years after the Soviet breakup, he says, Ukraine wanted to both placate its neighbor and ally itself with Western institutions. This created a “cognitive dissonance,” he says, that prevented Ukraine from recognizing the extent of Russian aggression. Having watched as diplomacy failed, Kyslytsya still has to separate his work from the personal toll of Russia’s invasion on his family and friends. “I try not to engage emotionally because if I engage emotionally too much, I am not operational,” he says. “And if I am not operational . . . I’m of very little use for my government.”

May 02, 2022
Can Liberal Democracy Survive?
40:03

The past fifteen years have been among the most tumultuous in our history. The tumult is driven by a question whose answer could determine our future: What kind of country do we live in? A buffeted but resilient democracy, or a nation increasingly known among its own citizens for its divisions rather than for its shared commitment to tolerance, equality, and freedom? Evan OsnosSusan B. Glasser, and Jane Mayer join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the past, present, and future of the democratic ideal worldwide.

Apr 28, 2022
Ronan Farrow on the Threat of Modern Spyware
18:40

Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into a software called Pegasus and its maker, NSO Group. Pegasus is one of the most invasive spywares known; it allows users—including law-enforcement officials or government authorities—to hack into a target’s smartphone, gaining access to photos, messages, and the feeds from a camera or microphone. NSO markets Pegasus as a tool to catch terrorists and other violent criminals, but once a surveillance tool is on the market it can be very difficult to control. Farrow finds that Pegasus is being used to suppress political opposition in democratic nations, including Spain. The largest known cluster of Pegasus attacks has targeted people in Catalonia who support the independence movement, which the Spanish government views as a threat. “This is not just an information-gathering tool,” Farrow tells David Remnick; “It’s an intimidation tactic, and it works.”

Apr 25, 2022
Can Democrats Win Back Rural Voters?
28:15

In a few weeks, primary elections for the midterm races will be fully under way. The electoral map is stacked against Democrats, and the country is as divided than ever. But a new generation of progressive organizers and activists, spurning the advice of expensive consultants and the fund-raising tactics of seasoned politicians, are developing strategies to encourage accord within the Party, and to win over Independents and work with Republicans, from the ground up. Chloe Maxmin is a state senator in Maine, and the author, with her former campaign manager, Canyon Woodward, of the forthcoming book “Dirt Road Revival.” Maxmin and Woodward join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the Democratic Party lost touch with rural voters, and what Democrats must do to recapture their loyalty.

Apr 21, 2022
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” and a Short History of Movies about the Internet
17:01

The Internet can be a scary place in real life, and far more so in Jane Schoenbrun’s film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” which premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year and is being released in theatres and streaming. It’s a horror movie centered on a lonely and bored teen-age girl named Casey, who spends most of her time being online and trying to figure out who she is. She undertakes a ritual that she’s read about—the so-called World’s Fair Challenge—which is said to cause unknown and possibly dire changes. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Do you think the Internet is good or the Internet is bad?’ ” Schoenbrun told the Radio Hour’s Alex Barron. “That’s like asking, ‘Do you think that people are good or bad?’ There’s not a simple answer.” They spoke about the forty-year history of movies depicting the online world.

Apr 18, 2022
How Biden Stumbled on Immigration Reform
27:04

This month, the C.D.C. announced plans to end Title 42, a public-health order, issued by the Trump Administration at the start of the pandemic, that gives the federal government broad authority to turn away migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. Public-health experts and some Democrats have pressured President Biden to repeal the order, but others, including several of his own top advisers, argue that the repeal will substantially increase the number of migrants at the southern border, further straining a chaotic immigration system, and hand Republicans a campaign issue for the midterms: a “migrant surge” approved by the Administration. Jonathan Blitzer joins Dorothy Wickenden to talk about how immigration is becoming another political liability for the Biden Administration.

Apr 15, 2022
Anita Hill and Jane Mayer on Ketanji Brown Jackson, and the State of the Supreme Court
16:49

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been voted in as a Supreme Court Justice—the first Black woman to serve in that role. But, to reach this milestone, Jackson has faced enormous hurdles at every turn, including confirmation hearings that featured blatant political grandstanding and barely disguised race-baiting. Nominations have become so partisan that, on both the left and the right, the Court itself is commonly viewed as merely a tool of the party that picked its members, and several polls report a decline in public confidence in the Court. “The real political end” of the attacks on Brown Jackson, Hill believes, “is to denigrate her personally, honestly, but also to really reduce the validity of any opinions that she ultimately writes. Even though . . . many of her opinions will be dissenting opinions, dissenting opinions can carry a lot of weight.” Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas’s decision not to recuse himself from cases related to the January 6th insurrection, even after it came to light that his wife Ginni Thomas actively sought to influence Trump Administration officials to try to overturn the Presidential election, also undercuts the court’s impartiality. It seems that the reputation and independence of the Court is in serious trouble. 

Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, spoke with David Remnick about the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings, along with the staff writer Jane Mayer, who is reporting on the Ginni Thomas controversy. (Hill, who testified in the 1991 Thomas nomination hearings, has declined to speak about his stance on recusal.)

Apr 11, 2022
Can Genocide Be Prevented?
23:58

Last week, Russian troops withdrew from Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukrainians returning to the city discovered the horrific aftermath. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, more than three hundred civilians in the city were killed. Investigators have found evidence of torture, rape, beheading, dismemberment, and the intentional burning of corpses. A mass grave was dug to accommodate the bodies. Zelensky has referred to the massacre as evidence of genocidePhilip Gourevitch, a New Yorker staff writer, has written for the magazine about the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. He joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss his past reporting, why the “never again” discourse around genocides has failed to prevent them, and whether further war crimes in Ukraine are inevitable.

Apr 07, 2022
Investigating January 6th
15:24

With a judge declaring that Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony in his attempt to overturn the Presidential election, the congressional committee investigating January 6th is racing to finish its work before the looming midterm elections. Amy Davidson Sorkin and the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen talk with David Remnick about the law and the politics of holding Trump accountable. But criminal conviction, they agree, does not equal accountability—and might only have inflammatory effects on a drastically divided nation. “There’ve been ideas thrown around about … conviction, [that] maybe we could just disqualify him from running again,” Davidson Sorkin says. “I strongly believe that that’s not the answer.  This has to be accomplished by democratic means. And, ultimately, it has to be done on Election Day.”

Apr 04, 2022
An Ivy League Student Accused of Lying About Her Past
23:35

Mackenzie Fierceton grew up in a middle-class suburb of St. Louis. Her mother was a doctor, and she attended a prep school. But she was allegedly abused at home, and she ended up in foster care, with no financial support from her family. She won a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, and a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. Then the father of one of Fierceton's high school peers contacted Penn, saying that the news coverage of Fierceton's past was inaccurate. Rachel Aviv, a New Yorker staff writer, joins me to discuss how Fierceton lost her Rhodes Scholarship, and what her story tells us about the internal politics of universities as they seek to diversify their student bodies.

Apr 01, 2022
Jill Lepore on Parents’ Rights and the Culture War
17:20

A wave of book bannings sweeping the country, along with conservative fury over titles like “Antiracist Baby,” seems like a backlash against the heightened racial consciousness of the post-George Floyd era. The historian and staff writer Jill Lepore sees these conflicts as the continuation of an old dynamic. She relates today’s “anti-anti-racism” movement to the anti-evolution campaign of the nineteen-twenties, which included the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher for teaching Darwin’s theory in a high-school class. Lepore tells David Remnick that what links these battles over biology and history is the argument that parents have the right to determine their children’s education in public schools.

Mar 28, 2022
The Good News About Renewable Energy
18:37

Historically, the high cost of renewables has been one of the greatest hurdles in breaking our dependency on oil and gas. But recent research indicates that advances in renewable-energy production have made it cheaper than fossil fuelsBill McKibben, a contributing writer to The New Yorker and the founder of the environmental group 350.org, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the new economic realities of renewable energy, and how they could affect the global battle against climate change.

Mar 24, 2022
Radio Ukraine
15:56

Kraina FM is a radio station that broadcasts in Kyiv and more than twenty other cities, playing Ukrainian-language rock and pop. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it took on the mantle of “the station of national resistance,” airing news bulletins and logistical information like requests for supplies. The radio hosts began adding jokes about the invading Russians, and advice from a psychologist about talking to children about the war; a writer told fairy tales on air to occupy those kids during the stressful nights of wartime. The station staff has dispersed, with Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, the general manager, and Roman Davydov, the program director, holed up in a town in the Carpathians, keeping production moving over unreliable Internet and communicating with listeners by text. They don’t know how many of their broadcasting stations are still functioning, and their tower in Kyiv could be destroyed at any time. But “we are not doing anything heroic,” Bolkhovetsky told Nicolas Niarchos, who visited their makeshift studio. “We are still in a lot of luck, having what we have right now. Thousands of people were not so lucky as we are. . . . We’re just doing what we can under these unusual circumstances.”

Mar 21, 2022
How Do We Know When Someone Is a Spy?
27:22

In 2019, Franklin Tao, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas, was arrested on suspicion of spying for the Chinese government. Tao’s case was the first under a program called the China Initiative, a collaboration between the Justice Department, the F.B.I., and other federal agencies to combat what was perceived as a growing vulnerability to Chinese espionage, particularly in the realms of economics, technology, and academia. But Tao was never charged with espionage, and his became one of many controversial cases undertaken by the China Initiative, whose critics accuse it over pursuing unsubstantiated and overblown cases, and of stoking anti-Asian sentiment. Gideon Lewis-Kraus joins the guest host Evan Osnos to discuss Tao’s case, the origins and impacts of the China Initiative, and the complexities of battling international espionage.

Mar 17, 2022
Stephen Kotkin: Don’t Blame the West for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
18:43

It’s impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin’s aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.

Mar 14, 2022
The West Wages Economic War on Russia
20:35

Facing enormous pressure to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine but fearing the consequences of a hot war between Russia and the West, the European Union, the United States, and several other nations have levied heavy sanctions. These have caused the ruble to lose forty per cent of its value against the U.S. dollar and forced the closure of the Moscow stock exchange. But will the sanctions have any effect on Putin’s war? John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the Russian President’s economic miscalculations, the effects of sanctions on Russia’s economy, and the political and environmental opportunities for the Biden Administration.

Mar 10, 2022
Igor Novikov on Standing His Ground in Ukraine
15:32

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has emerged as a potent and savvy communicator during the Russian invasion of his country. His emotional appeal to a recent E.U. meeting—videoconferencing from the battlefield—has been credited with spurring European leaders to impose tougher sanctions on Russia, such as banning Russian financial institutions from the international SWIFT banking system. Ukraine seems to be winning the information war, despite the Russian government’s previous focus on and success in propaganda and disinformation campaigns. Igor Novikov is an Internet researcher and entrepreneur who served as an adviser to President Zelensky. He spoke with David Remnick on March 2nd about how Zelensky’s background as an actor and a comedian has given him an advantage in the West’s “attention economy.” Ukraine “will only survive if people pay attention,” Novikov notes, and must “make sure people understand who the perpetrator and who the victim is in this situation.”

Mar 07, 2022
What Does China Think of Putin’s War?
21:11

In the week since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have effectively cut off Russia from the international banking system, frozen Russian assets abroad, and cancelled partnerships with Russian companies. The ruble is in free fall, and inside the country, opposition to the war is reportedly increasing. Chinese President Xi Jinping is a well-known admirer of Putin, and China and Russia share an autocratic world view, but China has neither condemned Russia’s actions nor rushed to its defenseEvan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the history of Russia-China relations, China’s current economic and diplomatic calculations, and what the war in Ukraine may tell us about the changing international balance of power.

Mar 03, 2022
Hollywood’s Fraught History with Black Audiences
11:55

There has been an explosion of popular and acclaimed work from Black creators on film and television in recent years. This is no fluke—it’s the latest instance in a pattern that has repeated across film history. As the film scholar Aymar Jean Christian tells the Radio Hour’s Ngofeen Mputubwele, industry players “always use the Black audience to draw people back into theaters when they’ve lost the audience in some other way.” Christian points to Blaxploitation films, which in the nineteen-seventies pulled the industry out of a viewership slump, and to the so-called ghetto pictures, which brought audiences back into movie theaters, despite the growing appeal of television. So what accounts for the current surge of Black stories coming out of Hollywood? “I really think it was ‘Django Unchained,’ ” Christian says. After studio consolidation limited opportunities for Black creators in the early two-thousands, Christian believes, Tarantino’s film reminded Hollywood that “Black people like movies, that we deserve movies.” But, for as much progress as there has been, Christian argues that there is something missing in today’s film landscape: stories about the Black experience beyond trauma. “I think we also need stories about solidarity, about how to love each other, about how to heal,” Christian says. “And I just don’t think that this hyper-capitalist, hypercompetitive environment is really incentivizing that kind of storytelling.”

Feb 28, 2022
How Should President Biden Respond to Putin’s War?
26:58

Since last summer, Russian troops have been amassing on the Ukrainian border, and, in recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin warned that he intended a military takeover of Ukraine. This week, Russia began the war, with widespread attacks, including in the capital, Kyiv, aimed at crippling the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on civilians to enlist in the military to fight the invaders. The U.S. and nato are levying heavy sanctions against the Russians, but there are disagreements within the U.S. and among Western allies about exactly how to proceed. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the war, as well as the choices faced by the Biden Administration and NATO.

Feb 24, 2022
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Path Forward for the Left
33:55

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent progressives in Washington. Her political ascent began with her shocking 2018 defeat of a longtime incumbent in a New York district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. She is a strong advocate of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. With her party’s razor-thin majorities now in peril, many of her priorities seem out of reach. Can the agenda she was elected to advance survive? 

Ocasio-Cortez reflects on her time in Washington with David Remnick, painting a portrait of a dysfunctional Congress. “Honestly, it is a shit show,” she says. “It’s scandalizing, every single day. What is surprising to me is how it never stops being scandalizing.”

This conversation is part of The New Yorker’s first digital-only issue, a special collection of New Yorker Interviews.

Feb 21, 2022
What Putin Is Really After in Ukraine
20:52

Since last summer, Russia has been heavily building up its military forces on Ukraine’s border. In the past few weeks, several countries have attempted to forestall military action, but U.S. officials have warned that a Russian invasion is imminent and have accused the Russian government of lying about its claim that it is drawing down its troops. Masha Gessen, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the recent history of Russian-Ukrainian relations, and what the Western media gets wrong about Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, and the current conflict.

Feb 17, 2022
Free Speech in Comedy Clubs and on Campus
22:42

The author William Deresiewicz, who formerly taught English at Yale University, describes what he sees as essential threats to free speech—and ultimately to the process of education—on campuses across the country. Students, he says, are afraid to speak their minds, in fear of a backlash. Deresiewicz sees the impact of cancel culture extending well beyond newsworthy cancellations of prominent people. “For every high-profile cancellation . . . there are a hundred, say, low-profile cancellations that don’t get picked up,” Deresiewicz tells David Remnick. “And, even more importantly, for every one of those, there are a thousand people . . . who just keep their mouth shut.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, argues that cancel culture isn’t real. It’s largely, she says, an excuse made by those on the political right to lodge their own restrictions on what can be said in the public sphere. Kliph Nesteroff, a historian of comedy, agrees with that assessment. “There used to be this conceit, a few years ago—‘They’re going to take your guns away,’ ” he says; now the refrain is “ ‘They’re going to take your jokes away. They’re going to take your comedians!’ It’s the same sort of element driving the narrative.” Pushback to jokes at the expense of marginalized people is nothing new, Nesteroff explains. He offers the example of Native Americans protesting insulting portrayals in silent films more than a century ago. But social media has brought these criticisms into the public consciousness. “It’s not even cancel culture. It’s just culture,” Nesteroff says. “The history of America is a tug-of-war between opposing forces—powerful forces versus weak forces.”

Feb 14, 2022
What the Beijing Olympics Reveal About China
23:07

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing are often referred to as China’s “coming-out party”—presenting China to foreign visitors as a political, economic, and cultural superpower, committed to the rule of law and human rights. Fourteen years later, Xi Jinping, China’s paramount leader, is using the Winter Olympics to make a different statement. Last week’s opening ceremonies projected a message of Chinese unity and strength at a time when the country’s relationship with the West is more antagonistic than it’s been in decades. Several Western nations, including the U.S., staged diplomatic boycotts to protest China’s human-rights violations, citing its persecution of Uyghurs in the province of Xinjiang. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what the 2022 Beijing Olympics tell us about China’s rising authoritarianism and its vision of the future.

Feb 10, 2022
Black Thought Takes the Stage
19:09

Tariq Trotter, best known in music as Black Thought, the emcee of the Roots, is regarded by many hip-hop fans as one of the best freestyle rappers ever. His work changed shape when the Roots became the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, and again when he began performing standup comedy. “I’ve spent most of my career with my sunglasses and my hat pulled down low, very many layers of defense,” he tells Jelani Cobb. “You’re up there as a comedian, it’s just you and your ideas and a microphone, no light show, no band. . . . After having done this for over thirty years, what else can I do, how can I become a better storyteller?” Trotter’s latest endeavor has been writing the music and lyrics for “Black No More,” a musical-theatre production based on the eponymous novel, by George Schuyler;  the script is by John Ridley, with direction by Scott Elliott. Schuyler’s book is a dark satire, written during the Harlem Renaissance, that describes the development of a “cure” for Blackness; Trotter stars as Dr. Junius Crookman, who believes that this remedy will solve America’s problems with race. “My focus became almost rapping as little as possible” in the show, Trotter says; “I wanted this to be above and beyond folks’ expectations.” 

“Black No More” is in previews at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It opens February 15th.

Feb 07, 2022
The Joe Rogan Controversy and Spotify’s Stranglehold on the Music Industry
20:31

Earlier this week, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists removed their work from Spotify, protesting the company’s relationship with Joe Rogan, a podcaster who has broadcast misinformation about COVID-19. Spotify paid Rogan one hundred million dollars in 2020 for exclusive rights to his podcast. The boycott has also highlighted another serious complaint by musicians: the company's low royalties, which are fractions of a penny for each stream of a song. Will these protests make any difference? Alex Ross joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the influence of big tech on culture, and the future of music, for artists and listeners.

Feb 03, 2022
Russia’s Intentions in Ukraine—and America
29:03

“They push buttons,” says Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale. “What button of ours are they pushing here? What are they trying to get us to do?” Vladimir Putin is posturing toward a costly invasion of Ukraine, on the false pretext of protecting Russian-language speakers in the country. Why? In a wide-ranging conversation, Snyder talks with David Remnick about how to understand Russia’s aggression, the idea advanced by Putin that Ukraine historically and rightfully belongs to Russia, and the dictator’s far-reaching goal of destabilizing NATO. Snyder is the author of the Second World War history “Bloodlands,” as well as “The Road to Unfreedom” and “On Tyranny”—which warn of the dangers that imperil American democracy. Running an oligarchy in which corruption is universal, Putin “is basically stuck with spectacle, distractions—the old bread and circuses idea,” Snyder says, “but also is working from a situation where you want to bring other countries down to your level. . . . With that, you can understand their intervention in our elections, or the way they talk about us: they want to bring out the elements of us, both rhetorically and in reality, that are most like the way they run the country.” Putin’s governance of Russia and his foreign policy, in other words, are intricately entangled. “I tend to think [the threat of invasion] is about the Biden Administration, in a pretty fundamental way,” Snyder believes. “If your goal is to undermine NATO—let’s accept that that is their sincere goal—who do you want to be President? Trump.” The crisis, he says, “puts Biden in a very bad position. It’s very hard for Biden to look strong. . . . Insofar as there is a strategy here, it’s about dividing NATO members and putting pressure on the Biden Administration.”

Jan 31, 2022
Does America Still Trust the Supreme Court?
24:16

Supreme Court Justices often portray themselves as beyond the reach of partisan politics, but it’s increasingly hard to make that argument: recall the fights over the nominations of Merrick Garland and Brett Kavanaugh, and recent rulings in cases involving abortion access and vaccine mandates. Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision to retire this year is itself a political move, and the Biden Administration is preparing for strong Republican resistance to whomever the President nominates. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker’s chief Washington correspondent, wrote recently about Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia Thomas, who is deeply involved in right-wing groups and causes that have had, or will likely have, business before the Court. Mayer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Ginni Thomas’s career and the dwindling public trust in the impartiality of the Court.

Jan 27, 2022
The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World
17:09

Much has changed since China last hosted the Olympics, during the 2008 Summer Games. Those Games were widely seen as greatly improving China’s international reputation. But the 2022 Winter Games have put a spotlight on its human-rights abuses, most notably the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and Kazakhs. The U.S. government and other nations are boycotting the games in a limited way, leaving government officials home while allowing their athletes to compete, to avoid a bitter disappointment like that in 1980, when America didn’t compete in Moscow. The effect of these actions on China may be limited, but the tensions may be very difficult for athletes to navigate. Peter Hessler, for many years The New Yorker’s China correspondent, asks David Remnick, “When an athlete says something about the internment camps in Xinjiang, and the oppression of Muslim people in China, what is the Chinese response going to be?” “The I.O.C. has really left them out there. The I.O.C. … basically just washed their hands of it. It’s really up to the athletes,” he notes. “A lot of people I’ve talked to are very concerned about this.” At the same time, the sports reporter Louisa Thomas notes that these Games may garner little American support or attention. The delayed Tokyo Games last year “were already the least-watched Games in history,” and there are few big-name American athletes for NBC to promote. “I even have a lot of friends who have no idea there’s about to be an Olympics,” Thomas says. “Which is extraordinary.”

Jan 24, 2022
Can “Partygate” Bring Down Boris Johnson?
20:15

Late last year, the British press reported that, at the height of the COVID lockdowns in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of his staff hosted a series of parties and gatherings at 10 Downing Street, defying the strict protocols instigated by Johnson’s own government. What seemed at first like a tabloid story has erupted into a crisis of confidence in Johnson’s leadership, and some believe that he could be ousted by his party and removed from power. Rebecca Mead, a New Yorker staff writer based in London, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the turmoil in the British government, the future of Boris Johnson’s political career, and how the pandemic has changed the way we think about our elected leaders.

Jan 21, 2022
The Biden Presidency, Year One
30:33

President Biden took the oath of office in a moment of deep crisis—the pandemic in full swing and just weeks after an unprecedented attempt to overturn the election by violence. Merely a return to normalcy would have been a tall order. But Biden was promising something more: a transformational agenda that would realign American economics and life on a scale rivalling Franklin Roosevelt’s long Presidency. Yet Biden never commanded Roosevelt’s indomitable popularity and electoral advantages. A year into the Administration, Evan Osnos takes stock of its successes, failures, and ongoing challenges, along with four New Yorker colleagues: Susan B. Glasser on legislation, Jonathan Blitzer on immigration, Elizabeth Kolbert on climate, and John Cassidy on the economy.

Jan 17, 2022
Can Biden Revive Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s Vision of Voting Rights?
22:58

Since the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection, nineteen states have passed laws that restrict access to voting. Two bills currently before Congress could overturn some of those laws, but neither seems likely to make it through a divided Senate. Earlier this week, President Biden and Vice President Harris travelled to Atlanta to speak about the urgency of protecting voting rights. Jelani Cobb joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the urgent threats to American democracy.

Jan 14, 2022
A New Civil War in America?
25:48

When rioters, encouraged by the President, stormed the Capitol, one year ago, to overturn the results of the election, the idea that such a thing could play out in America was stunning. But the attack may have been just the beginning of an ongoing insurrection, not a failed attempt at a coup. David Remnick talks with Barbara F. Walter, the author of the new book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.” Walter is a political scientist and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-director of the online magazine Political Violence at a Glance. She has studied countries that slide into civil war for the C.I.A., and she says that the United States meets many of the criteria her group identified. In particular, anti-democratic trends such as increased voting restrictions point to a nation on the brink. “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.” 

Jan 10, 2022
The Great Resignation and the New Office Politics
26:57

This week, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 4.5 million people left their jobs in November—the most since the government began collecting data, two decades ago. A major reason is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed the relationship between office workers and their workplaces, and exacerbated challenges faced by workers in health, hospitality, education, and other sectors. Some also argue that the Great Resignation is part of a larger movement against employers who ask more of their employees while providing less in terms of work satisfaction. Cal Newport, a New Yorker contributing writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the Great Resignation, the future of work across professions, and how employees and managers can ease burnout.

Jan 06, 2022
Amanda Gorman on Life After Inauguration
24:16

One year ago, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day that Joe Biden became President. Gorman was just twenty-two years old, and it was just two weeks after Trump supporters had assaulted the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the election. At the ceremony, Gorman herself seemed to cast light on a dark situation. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” reads, “When day comes, we ask ourselves: / Where can we find light / In this never-ending shade? / The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. / We’ve braved the belly of the beast.” The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young, wrote that her poem was “as vibrant and elegant as her yellow coat against the cold.” After that very public début, Gorman found the stakes of writing the poems for her new collection, “Call Us What We Carry,” to be impossibly high. (It was excerpted in The New Yorker with readings by Gorman.) She spoke with Young about being an inaugural poet—following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander—in a conversation from The New Yorker’s Poetry Podcast.

Jan 03, 2022
Year-End Special: Don’t Despair
25:53

The year 2021 has seemed like a cavalcade of disasters, from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th through the resurgence of COVID-19. Calamities are catnip for the media, but the year has shown some signs of promise. This week, four New Yorker writers discuss the political stories that give them hope. Jane Mayer explores the Biden Administration’s accomplishments, and why they might be undervalued. John Cassidy makes a case for a strong economy in 2022. Bill McKibben explains how the excitement over increasingly inexpensive renewable energy crosses party lines. And Evan Osnos, examining how pessimism can skew political reporting, offers a way for combating toxic political polarization.

Dec 23, 2021
When Snow Came to San Juan
26:18

For several years in the early nineteen-fifties, Puerto Rico received snow, right around Christmas. Children in San Juan rode a sled and had a giant snowball fight in the tropical weather. It wasn’t a miracle, or a meteorological outlier. The snow was a gift from San Juan’s longtime mayor, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, who had fallen in love with snow during her years in New York. It was delivered by Eastern Airlines, which milked the publicity for all it was worth. A young New Hampshire girl escorted one delivery, wearing a hat and a cable-knit sweater. The snow didn’t cost Puerto Rico anything, but it certainly came with strings attached. At a time when the independence movement was being harshly suppressed, in favor of a continued colonial relationship with the United States, the fetishization of the northern “white Christmas” reads to some as a gesture of cultural imperialism that has never quite ended. And even recently—as the island still faces routine blackouts of its electrical grid, years after Hurricane Maria—the mayor of a small town proposed building an ice-skating rink. WNYC’s Alana Casanova-Burgess reports on why the snow came, and what it meant to Puerto Ricans. 

Our story was produced in collaboration with “La Brega,” from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios.

Dec 20, 2021
Will the Mark Meadows Revelations Change the January 6th Investigation?
21:48

On January 6th, as rioters attacked the United States Capitol, many people attempted to communicate with the President through his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. Some of those messages are among the thousands of documents that Meadows handed over to the House select committee investigating the events of January 6th. They reveal that Meadows was in touch with the organizers of the Stop the Steal Rally—which precipitated the riot—as well as with several Fox News personalities, conservative activists, and Donald Trump, Jr, who told Meadows that his father “has to lead now.” After surrendering the documents, Meadows suddenly announced that he would not testify before the panel. On Tuesday night, the House voted to recommend holding Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress, and referred his case to the Justice Department for prosecution. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what we’ve learned in recent weeks about the involvement of President Trump and his inner circle in the events of January 6th, and what those revelations might tell us about the future of Trump’s relationship with his party.

Dec 16, 2021
Millennial Writers Reflect on a Generation’s Despair
30:42

The eldest millennials turned forty this year, and the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele comments on a sense of despair he finds in his generation, having to do with the state of the planet, the nation, the Internet, intolerance, and more. He set out to explore why millennials feel hopeless and how they can live with that feeling, in conversations with five writers: Kaveh Akbar, the author of “Pilgrim Bell”; Carlos Maza, the creator of the video essay “How to Be Hopeless; Shauna McGarry, a writer on “BoJack Horseman”; Patrick Nathan, the author of “Image Control: Art, Facism, and the Right to Resist”; and the climate activist Daniel Sherrell, whose recent memoir is “Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World.”

Dec 13, 2021
Lina Khan vs. Big Tech
26:39

Lina Khan first became known for a 2017 article she wrote for the Yale Law Journal, called "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox." Then a twenty-seven-year-old law student, she made strong arguments in favor of regulating big tech companies. The article established Khan as a central figure in a new generation of antitrust activists, who charge the government with complicity in corporate consolidation, and see the lack of regulation as contributing to social and economic disparities. Earlier this year, President Biden appointed Khan to be chair of the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces federal antitrust law. Sheelah Kolhatkar joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the history of monopolies in the U.S., how Lina Khan is aggressively pursuing malefactors in Silicon Valley, and the challenges she faces.

Dec 09, 2021
The Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi
18:53

The Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could lead to the closure of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic. A law in the state bans most abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy—well before the time of fetal viability, which is the Supreme Court’s standard. The case asks the justices directly to overturn the precedents of Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade. At the center of it is the abortion clinic in Jackson. Rachel Monroe spoke to its director, Shannon Brewer; a physician, who described the risks to abortion providers; and a patient, who had driven all night from Texas, where she had been unable to obtain an abortion. “Somebody else is telling me what I should do with my body, and it’s not right,” she said. “It’s my body. It’s my decision. It’s my choice. It’s my life. It’s my soul, if it’s going to Hell.”

Produced with assistance from Ezekiel Bandy and Kim Green.

Dec 06, 2021
How to Respond to the Omicron Variant
18:23
Last weekend, just as many Americans were returning from Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends, reports of a new coronavirus variant, called Omicron, began to proliferate worldwide. Though there is some preliminary evidence that Omicron may be more transmissible and less responsive to the current COVID-19 vaccines than previous variants, the scientific community has been clear that more data are needed before any conclusions can be drawn about the threat Omicron poses. Still, several countries, including the U.S., have instituted new travel restrictions and recommended increased masking and social distancing. Dhruv Khullar, a contributing writer for The New Yorker and a practicing physician, joins Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what is known about Omicron, how world leaders should respond to the discovery of new variants, and how we can learn to live with COVID.
Dec 02, 2021
Rachel Held Evans and Her Legacy
32:04

Growing up, Rachel Held Evans was a fiercely enthusiastic evangelizer for her faith, the kind of kid who relished the chance to sit next to an atheist. But when she experienced doubt, that sense of certainty began to crumble. “We went to all these conferences about how to defend your faith, how to have an answer for what you believe,” her sister Amanda Held told Eliza Griswold. “That’s why it was particularly unsettling to have questions, because we were taught to have answers.” Held Evans began to blog and then wrote a string of best-sellers about her faith, beginning with “Evolving in Monkey Town,” in which she separated the Jesus she believed in from the conservative doctrine she was raised with. Her work spoke to the millions of Christians who have left evangelical churches since 2006. “There’s this common misperception that either you are a conservative evangelical Christian or . . . you become agnostic or atheist,” Griswold explains, but many Christians were turning away from politics and still retaining their faith. She calls Held Evans “the patron saint of this emerging movement.” After Held Evans died, at thirty-seven, after a sudden illness, her final, incomplete manuscript was finished by a friend, Jeff Chu. Griswold travelled to Held Evans’s home town of Dayton, Tennessee, to meet with her widower, Dan Evans, as well as Chu and others. “I think people resonate so much with her work [because] she was giving words that people couldn’t say themselves,” Evans says. “It’s not going to stop for them just because Rachel died. There’s going to be one less traveller. One less person to translate for them. But there’s more people born every day.”

Nov 29, 2021
Mexican Abortion Activists Mobilize to Aid Texans
12:50

Mexico is a deeply Catholic nation where abortion was, for a long time, criminalized in many states; just a few years ago, Coahuila, near the U.S. border, imposed jail time on women who underwent the procedure. But, this year, as Stephania Taladrid reported, Mexico’s ten-member Supreme Court voted unanimously to decriminalize abortion throughout the country—a decision that shocked even longtime activists. Before Mexican pro-choice advocates had finished celebrating, though, they turned their attention north to Texas, which has, with Senate Bill 8, essentially banned most abortions. (The law is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.) Texans may now find themselves crossing the border to obtain legal abortions. Taladrid spoke to activists who are sending medications that induce abortion—which are available over the counter in Mexico—across the border into Texas. As the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen explains, however, a new Texas law criminalizes delivering those medications to pregnant women, potentially placing these activists at risk.

Nov 22, 2021
Britney Spears, Free from the Conservatorship, but Not from the Public Eye
27:02

This month, Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship that had overseen her finances, communications, and professional and personal life for more than thirteen years. The details of the arrangement were shrouded in mystery and poorly covered by the media. But over the past two years, things started to change, as the #FreeBritney movement, as it was known, increasingly advocated for her autonomy, publicizing such restrictions as Spears’s inability to choose her own lawyer. Journalists and documentarians began to look into such abuses, and chronicled Spears’s attempts to get out from under the conservatorship’s control. In September, Spears’s father, Jamie, was removed, and this month the conservatorship was dissolved. Jia Tolentino, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the media shaped Spears’s life and the role of online movements in effecting change.

Nov 18, 2021
The Essential Workers of the Climate Crisis
29:53

After storms and other climate disasters, legions of workers appear overnight to cover blown-out buildings with construction tarps, rip out ruined walls and floors, and start putting cities back together. They are largely migrants, predominantly undocumented, and lack basic protections for construction work. Their efforts are critical in an era of increasing climate-related disasters, but the workers are subject to hazards including accidents, wage theft, and deportation. “Right now, there is a base camp for the National Guard; FEMA officials in Louisiana are staying in hotels,” Saket Soni, the founder of the nonprofit group Resilience Force, tells Sarah Stillman. “But the workers who are doing the rebuilding with their hands are sleeping under their cars to protect themselves from rain.” Stillman travelled to Louisiana, to the parking lot of a Home Depot, to report on Soni’s effort to organize and win recognition for these laborers as a distinct workforce performing essential work. “These years ahead,” she notes, “are going to bring more brutal hurricanes, more awful floods, more terrifying wildfires, and heatwaves—more than any of us is really prepared to handle. … And what’s at stake is not just these workers’ fates but also our collective shared survival.”

Nov 15, 2021
Politics and Justice at the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial
15:23

In August, 2020, during a period of civil unrest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two and maiming the third. Rittenhouse’s actions ignited a political firestorm. To some, he was a right-wing vigilante radicalized by conservative rhetoric about the threat posed by progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter. To others, he had exercised his constitutional right to defend himself from violent attackers. Rittenhouse became an obsession for pundits and politicians on the left and the right. This month, a jury in Kenosha has been hearing testimony in Rittenhouse’s trial, and—barring a mistrial—will rule on his culpability in one of the most publicized and politicized killings in recent memory. Paige Williams joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the case, and the intersection of politics and justice.

Nov 11, 2021
Will the Office Survive the Pandemic?
15:20

Cal Newport, the author of “A World without Email” and other books, has been writing about how the shutdown has affected businesses and the culture of work. Remote operation, he says, has raised fundamental questions about the purpose of work, its role in our lives, and how productivity is measured. While most companies are asking employees to return to the office as the pandemic eases, Newport predicts that economic forces will eventually drive an exodus toward permanent remote work. Tech companies that launched as fully remote operations, he thinks, have a head start on the economic advantages of ditching the office for good.

Nov 08, 2021
Was Last Week Really So Bad for the Democrats?
22:05

This week, the Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated the Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become the next governor of Virginia. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the Democrat Phil Murphy narrowly won a gubernatorial race he was expected to dominate. The results further destabilize a Democratic Party struggling to find consensus on the infrastructure and social-spending bills, which are the backbone of President Biden’s legislative agenda. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss tensions within the Democratic Party, and what this week’s election results portend for the 2022 midterms and beyond.

Nov 04, 2021
The Nobel Prize Winner Maria Ressa on the Turmoil at Facebook
13:30

The roughly ten thousand company documents that make up the Facebook Papers show a company in turmoil—and one that prioritizes its economic interests over known harms to public interest. Among other things, they catalogue the company’s persistent failure to control disinformation and hate speech. David Remnick spoke with Maria Ressa, an investigative journalist, in the Philippines, who runs the news organization Rappler. She has been the target of hate campaigns by supporters of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and in October Ressa (along with the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov) received the Nobel Peace Prize for working to protect freedom of expression. Ressa is also a co-founder of what’s called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of expert observers and critics who are not affiliated with Facebook’s own quasi-independent Oversight Board.  She doesn’t see easy tweaks to ameliorate the damage; the fundamental approach of steering content to users to maximize engagement, she feels, is inherently destructive. “We’ve adapted this hook, line, and sinker: ‘personalization is better,’ ” Ressa points out. “It does make the company more money, but is that the right thing? Personalization also tears apart a shared reality.”

Nov 01, 2021
Is the Virginia Governor’s Race a Preview of the 2022 Midterms?
16:47

Next Tuesday, Virginia voters will go to the polls to elect a new governor, choosing between the Democrat Terry McAuliffe and the Republican Glenn Youngkin. Pundits have been describing the race as an indicator for the 2022 midterm elections across the country. Both candidates have seized on the broader messages of their parties. Youngkin has used the culture wars to woo voters; McAuliffe has recruited former President Barack Obama to campaign with him. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Virginia’s close gubernatorial race, and what it could mean for 2022 and beyond.

Oct 28, 2021
How a Girls’ School Fled Afghanistan as the Taliban Took Over
18:01

In the summer, Shabana Basij-Rasikh came on the Radio Hour to speak with Sue Halpern about founding the School of Leadership Afghanistan—known as SOLAwhich was the country’s only boarding school for girls. She and those around her were watching the Taliban’s resurgence in the provinces anxiously, but with determination. “It’s likely that Taliban could disrupt life temporarily here in Kabul,” one woman told Basij-Rasikh, “but we’re not going to go back to that time. We’re going to fight them.” 

 

In fact, Basij-Rasikh had already been forming a plan to take her girls’ school abroad, and soon settled on Rwanda. When the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan led to a precipitous collapse of the government, she suddenly had to sneak nearly two hundred and fifty students, staff, faculty, and family members to the airport to flee as refugees. She seems traumatized by the terror of that experience. “That thought still haunts me—it suddenly takes over all my senses in a way, just this idea of ‘what if’? What if we lost a student?” She spoke with Halpern about the evacuation to Rwanda, and what she hopes for as the school resettles.

Oct 25, 2021
The Complicated Legacy of Colin Powell
19:49
Oct 21, 2021
Jon Stewart: “That’s Not Cancel Culture”
21:20

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” defined an era. For more than sixteen years, Stewart and his many correspondents skewered American politics. At the 2021 New Yorker Festival, Stewart spoke with David Remnick about his new show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart”; the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House; and the controversy around cancel culture in comedy. “What do we do for a living?” Stewart asks, of comedians. “We criticize, we postulate, we opine, we make jokes, and now other people are having their say. And that’s not cancel culture, that’s relentlessness.”

Oct 18, 2021
The U.K.’s “Funkapolitan” Conservative Party Struggles with the Effects of Brexit and the Pandemic
20:52

The United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020. On that day, the first cases of COVID-19 were officially confirmed in Britain. Like every other country, the U.K. has had trouble containing the pandemic—the economic devastation, the implementation of lockdowns, the distribution of vaccines. But it has had another challenge, as it tries to redefine its place in the international diplomatic order and in the global economy. All of this has come at a time of deep division in the country’s politics: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to address Brexit-related shortages of workers and supplies, and of mismanaging the government’s response to the pandemic. And the Labour Party, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has failed to mount a popular or effective opposition. Sam Knight, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Brexit has affected conditions in the U.K., and the state of the Conservative and Labour Parties as the country faces a winter of food and fuel shortages.

Oct 14, 2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland, Interviewed by Jane Mayer
16:53

At the 2021 New Yorker Festival, the investigative journalist Jane Mayer sat down for a conversation with Merrick Garland, the longtime federal judge now serving as President Biden’s Attorney General. Mayer asked about the central role that the Department of Justice plays in some of the most critical issues of our time: racial justice, domestic terrorism, threats to voting rights and abortion access, and the looming power of big tech companies.

Oct 11, 2021
How Many Scandals Can Facebook Survive?
20:12

Last month, the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of reports called “The Facebook Files.” Based on leaked internal documents, the series highlights how Facebook has stoked fear, anger, and division in order to increase user engagement—and how it then failed to effectively fight the spread of misinformation and the use of its platform to exploit and abuse vulnerable communities around the world. This week, Frances Haugen, a former data engineer at Facebook, revealed herself to be the whistle-blower who leaked the documents to the Journal, and on Tuesday she provided explosive testimony before a Senate subcommittee. The company has announced no significant plans to change its operating structure. Andrew Marantz joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the latest uproar over Facebook, and what can be done to drastically change its practices.

Oct 07, 2021
Jonathan Franzen Talks with David Remnick About “Crossroads”
26:58

Jonathan Franzen’s sixth novel, “Crossroads,” is set in 1971, and the title is firmly on the nose: the Hildebrand family is at a crossroads itself, just as the America of that moment seemed poised to come apart. In the course of his career, Franzen has evolved away from an early postmodernist sensibility that highlighted “bravura” writing, and “with this book I threw away all the po-mo hijinks and the grand plot elements,” he tells David Remnick. “It’s really only in the course of writing ‘Crossroads’ that I have said to myself, What I am is a novelist of character and psychology. . . . It’s not about formal experimentation and it’s certainly not about changing the world through my social commentary.” Franzen also discusses the complex ethics behind writing a character of another race, and takes issue with the belief of some in the academy (and much of the political right) that leftist sensibilities are stifling free expression; he declined to sign the “Harper’s Letter” last year. Despite political polarization, Franzen says, “It’s a much better time to be an American writer than I would have guessed twenty-five years ago.”

Oct 04, 2021
Recurring Nightmares on Rikers Island
21:23

The first jail on Rikers Island opened in 1932, and the complex has since expanded to include ten jails holding thousands of inmates every day. Violence among Rikers inmates is common, and there are accusations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse by correction officers and the facility’s administrators. Despite promises by city and state officials to reform Rikers, this year alone twelve people held there have died—two in the past week and at least five by suicide. Jennifer Gonnerman joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the history of Rikers, why this year is proving particularly deadly, and what the detention center reveals about the incarceration system in the U.S. today.

Sep 30, 2021
Andreas Malm on the Environmental Movement and “Intelligent Sabotage”
21:04

Andreas Malm, a climate activist and senior lecturer at Lund University, in Sweden, studies the relationship between climate change and capitalism. With the United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow rapidly approaching—it begins on October 31st—Malm tells David Remnick that he believes environmentalists should not place too much faith in talks or treaties of this kind. Instead, he insists that the climate movement rethink its roots in nonviolence. His book is provocatively titled “How To Blow Up A Pipeline,” though it is not exactly an instruction manual. Malm advocates for “intelligent sabotage” of fossil-fuel infrastructure to prevent more carbon from being emitted in the atmosphere. “I am in favor of destroying machines, property—not harming people. That’s a very important distinction,” he tells Remnick.

Sep 27, 2021
Biden’s Big Economic Gamble
26:26

Even before his election, Joe Biden described the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to reform the American economy. Now, after months of negotiations, Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan will soon come up for a vote in the House, and Democrats expect to pass an enormous social-safety-net package through budget reconciliation. At the same time, the federal government is approaching the debt ceiling, and a government shutdown could occur as soon as next week if a stopgap funding bill isn’t passed. The New Yorker staff writer John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s attempt to create a more equitable economy amid some strong opposition within his own party.

Sep 23, 2021
Jelani Cobb on the Kerner Report, an Unheeded Warning about the Consequences of Racism
18:55

In 1967, in the wake of a violent uprising in Detroit, President Lyndon B. Johnson assembled the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate what had happened. This seemed futile: another panel to investigate yet another uprising. “A lot of people felt that way—‘We don’t need more studies, nothing’s going to come out of that commission,’ ” Fred Harris, a former senator from Oklahoma and the commission’s last surviving member, tells Jelani Cobb. But the conclusions were not typical at all. In the final analysis, known as the Kerner Report, the commission named white racism—no euphemisms—as the root cause of unrest in the United States, and said that the country was moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.” The report called for sweeping changes and investments in jobs, housing, policing, and more; the recommendations went so far beyond Johnson’s anti-poverty programs of the nineteen-sixties that the President shelved the report and refused to meet with his own commission. The Kerner Report, Cobb says, was “an unheeded warning,” as America still struggles today to acknowledge the reality of systemic racism. 

Jelani Cobb co-edited and wrote the introduction to “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” which was published this year.

Sep 20, 2021
American Rage
27:26

Over the past year, public meetings have become scenes of chaos. Debates about the results of the 2020 election, race, abortion, voting access, and the COVID-19 vaccine have erupted in displays of frustration, rage, and sometimes in violence. This week, Evan Osnos, a New Yorker staff writer, published “Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury.” It’s a portrait of a country in political and moral crisis. Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the roots of American fear and anger, and what the current manifestations of such emotions reveal about dangerous fault lines in the U.S.

Sep 16, 2021
What’s the Future of the Taliban?
11:37

The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began less than three weeks after the September 11th attacks, and forces finally withdrew just weeks before the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. The Taliban are once again in power, and claim to have adopted more permissive stances on issues like women’s rights and education. “We should be very skeptical of these sorts of claims,” Anand Gopal, who has reported extensively on the group, says. While Taliban senior leadership and diplomats may crave foreign recognition and investment, many supporters feel “that the Taliban should be trying to return to the nineteen-nineties,” Gopal tells David Remnick. “There’s a minority of the movement who say all the right things, who are a little more polished, who’ve spent time outside the country. But they don’t really have the power on the ground.”

Sep 13, 2021
In Texas, a Cruel and Ingenious Plan to Sidestep Roe v. Wade
23:42

Texas Senate Bill 8, known as the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” allows private citizens in Texas to sue anyone who aids in an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law effectively outlaws the vast majority of abortions in Texas, but its supporters argue that it does not violate the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, because individuals, not the state, are enforcing the ban. The United States Supreme Court chose not to block the new law from going into effect, but, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called S.B. 8 “a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny.” Margaret Talbot joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the Texas law and the ongoing effort to erode abortion rights.

Sep 09, 2021
The Child Tax Credit: One Small Step Toward Universal Basic Income?
21:32

The child tax credit, received by more than thirty-five million families, isn’t entirely new. But the way it’s distributed is almost a revolution in American politics: instead of showing up once a year at tax time, the government also provides money ahead of time, in predictable monthly payments. Wide-scale, direct cash payments are anathema to Reagan-era austerity economics. Is this policy the first sign that that consensus may be coming to an end? David Remnick talks with Senator Michael Bennet, of Colorado, who campaigned for the Presidency on this issue in 2020, and is now fighting to extend the tax credits indefinitely. 

For Sheelah Kolhatkar, who covers economics and business, the child tax credit can be seen as a kind of scale model of universal basic income. She moderates a conversation between two academics on different sides of the issue: Michael Strain, a senior fellow and the director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Amy Castro, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Castro leads the Stockton Experiment, a small-scale U.B.I. project in the California city that, she says, has surprisingly robust results.

Sep 06, 2021
Will Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan Be a Haven for Terrorism?
25:17
Sep 03, 2021
Kim Stanley Robinson on “Utopian” Science Fiction
18:18

One of the premier writers of thinky sci-fi, Kim Stanley Robinson opened his book “The Ministry for the Future” with an all too plausible scenario: a lethal heat wave descends on India, with vast, horrifying consequences. It’s a sobering read, especially after July, 2021, was declared the hottest month on record. And yet Robinson tells Bill McKibben that his work is not dystopian; his central concern is how the globe could respond to such a disaster and begin to halt the momentum of global warming. “That whole dystopian postapocalyptic strain—it doesn’t serve as a warning, it doesn’t make you change your behavior,” Robinson notes. “I reject all that. I write as a utopian science-fiction writer.” But, “at the moment we’re at right now in world history,” he admits, “I have to set a pretty low bar for ‘utopia.’ If we dodge a mass-extinction event in this century, that’s utopian writing. That’s the best we can expect from where we are right now. Having put that story on the table as being possible, it suggests that we ought to be trying for it.”

Aug 30, 2021
Jiayang Fan on Navigating Her Mother’s Illness While Becoming a Target for Chinese Nationalists
25:29

Jiayang Fan immigrated to the United States from China at age seven. Her mother, who had been a doctor, cleaned houses in Greenwich, Connecticut, so that Fan could attend good schools. In 2011, Fan’s mother was diagnosed with A.L.S., and Fan oversaw her care as her condition worsened. When the COVID-19 lockdown threatened to separate her mother from the health aides who kept her alive, Fan spoke out on social media. In response, she received a torrent of threats against her life and that of her mother. Fan joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how she and her mother struggled to adjust to American culture, and how she became a target for anti-American sentiments in China.

This episode originally aired on September 10, 2020.

Aug 26, 2021
Dexter Filkins on the Fall of Afghanistan
16:36

Dexter Filkins covered the American invasion of Afghanistan when he was a reporter for the New York Times, and has continued to report on conflicts in the region for The New Yorker. Filkins’s best-seller from 2008 carried the resonant title “The Forever War.” Thirteen years after the book’s publication, the forever war is over, but its end has been the chaotic worst-case scenario that many feared. Filkins talks with David Remnick about whether it had to go this way, and whether twenty years of war changed America more than it did Afghanistan.

Aug 23, 2021
Trying to Save U.S. Allies in Afghanistan
20:06

Twelve years ago, David Rohde, then a reporter for the New York Times, was kidnapped by the Taliban outside of Kabul. Seven months later, he escaped confinement alongside the Afghan journalist Tahir Luddin. Luddin subsequently immigrated to the U.S., and has become an American citizen, but his family—including his wife and several of his children—still live in Kabul. With the announcement of the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and the growing influence of the Taliban in the country, Rohde has worked with Luddin to bring his family to the United States. But, despite their efforts and the assurances of the U.S. State Department, Luddin’s wife and children remain in Afghanistan, and now fear Taliban reprisal for their attempts to leave. David Rohde joins Carla Blumenkranz, filling in for Dorothy Wickenden, to discuss the plight of Afghans who are trying to flee the country, and what the Biden Administration can do now to save the lives of its allies in Afghanistan.

Aug 19, 2021
A Progressive Parent Confronts Segregated Schooling
19:50

As a new arrival in Oakland, California, Courtney Martin wondered why there were no white kids on the playground of her nearby elementary school. That school, other white parents told her euphemistically, was “not a good fit” for their children; she found that the school had received a score of one out of ten on a school-data Web site. Martin began looking into the vexed racial dynamics in urban public schools. “Here we all are,” she said, in a conversation with Andrew Marantz. “Progressive people who have moved [to Oakland] . . . to live in multiracial, urban community. And then we’re going to very specifically try not to go to the school with kids of color.” Integration, according to educational research, aids outcomes for children of color. But her child’s Black teacher told Martin that she was skeptical of how this finding created the notion that white students are needed to “save” a public school. Martin wrote about these complex moral choices in “Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter’s School.”

Aug 16, 2021
The “Unequivocal” Human Effect on the Climate
22:37

This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report confirming what a summer of wildfires, floods, and record temperatures had suggested: the planet is warming fast, and human are unquestionably responsible. However, the window to take action to fight climate change is not yet closed. Elizabeth Kolbert joins Evan Osnos, filling in for Dorothy Wickenden, to discuss the I.P.C.C. report; the politics of climate change; and her recent reporting from the Utah-Arizona border, where climate change has had a surprising effect on a national landmark.

Aug 12, 2021
Atul Gawande Discusses the COVID-19 Resurgence
14:23

For a few brief moments this summer, in places where the vaccination rate was high, we could imagine life after COVID-19: restaurants and theatres were filling up, gatherings of all kinds were taking place, and many businesses were planning to return to their offices after Labor Day. Then the story changed, as the highly contagious Delta variant began sweeping the nation. Atul Gawande, a professor of medicine and an internationally recognized expert on public health, tells David Remnick that the Delta surge has also caused a vaccination surge, which is promising. They discuss the idea of booster shots and the possibility of a future variant that would resist the vaccine and cause more severe breakthrough infections. The Lambda variant, Gawande says, has already reached the U.S., but little is known yet about how it responds to the vaccines in use here. 

 

(Gawande has been nominated by President Biden to lead global health development, including COVID-19 efforts, for the United States Agency for International Development. The appointment awaits confirmation in the Senate.)

Aug 09, 2021
How Arizona Became Ground Zero for Conservative Disinformation About Voter Fraud
21:20

After Joe Biden won Arizona in 2020, Donald Trump began complaining, contrary to fact, that voter fraud took place there and across the country, stealing the election from him. Four audits have since taken place in Arizona, upholding Biden’s victory, but donors are funding yet another ballot count, this time run by the firm Cyber Ninjas. Jane Mayer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the long-running drama in Arizona, and the dark money behind efforts to stoke distrust in the voting system and to undermine the 2024 election.

Aug 05, 2021
John Kerry on the Battle Against Climate Change
14:37

With the world overheating, glaciers melting, and landscapes in flames, it’s difficult to think of a harder or more important job than John Kerry’s. The former senator and Secretary of State is now the special Presidential envoy for climate, a Cabinet-level post created by President Biden. Kerry talks with David Remnick about reasserting the United States’ fitness to lead on global climate action in the wake of Trump Administration policies, and about how to get allies and adversaries to engage in the battle together. He is heading to Glasgow for talks that aim to hold the warming level to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “Imagine what happens at 1.5, if you already see what’s happening at 1.2,” Kerry exclaims. “Is that what we want? You would think not!” 

Aug 02, 2021
Can “Alternative Facts” Survive the January 6th Investigation?
21:47

In the immediate aftermath of January 6th, politicians from both parties vilified the mob’s assault. But Republicans scuttled plans for an independent commission to investigate the riot, and the select committee organized by House Democrats has been repeatedly attacked by Republicans. Still, this week, on the first day of hearings, several officers who attempted to defend the building and members of Congress inside painted a vivid, agonizing picture of what took place. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the hearings and how some prominent conservatives are beginning to defy Trump on vaccination and on a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Jul 29, 2021
Eric Adams Talks with David Remnick
23:02

The New York City mayoral primary, which culminated in a vote held in June, was full of surprises, including the introduction of ranked-choice voting to a confused electorate, and the presence of Andrew Yang, a newcomer to municipal politics who quickly attained front-runner status. But the winning Democrat was no surprise. Eric Adams is the borough president of Brooklyn and a former state senator, making him an establishment favorite. He was also, for more than two decades, a police officer. With policing at the center of public attention since last year’s uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, Adams occupies a unique position in the debate. He was a firebrand in the N.Y.P.D. and an advocate for Black officers; and he was, as a teen-age boy, a victim of police abuse himself. But Adams is also a strong defender of the police department. He has spoken about the correct way to implement stop-and-frisk policies, which have been previously carried out in ways that were ruled unconstitutional. He rebuked candidates to his left who talked about defunding the force. And he made the national spike in violent crime part of his candidacy, when others focussed their platforms elsewhere.  

 

The nation’s cities face a budgetary crisis, the COVID crisis, a crisis of confidence in policing, and more. Adams doesn’t seem fazed. “We need to be very honest that our city is dysfunctional. And it always has been for a large number of New Yorkers,” he told David Remnick. “I could take you throughout the city where the conditions have remained the same through mayor after mayor. What I must do is stop the dysfunctionality of a city that has normalized being dysfunctional.” Remnick spoke with Adams on July 21, 2021.

Jul 25, 2021
A Former Olympian Discusses the Tribulations of Tokyo 2020
21:52

The opening ceremony for the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, is scheduled for Friday. With COVID{:.small}-19 cases spiking worldwide, and Japan under a state of emergency, many wonder whether the Olympics should be cancelled. Angela Ruggiero competed in four Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, winning a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, in Nagano. Ruggiero has since served on the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee, and helped to organize Los Angeles’s successful bid to host the 2028 summer games. She joins the New Yorker staff writer Louisa Thomas to discuss the challenges in Tokyo and what these Games could mean for the future of the Olympics.

 

Jul 22, 2021
Afghanistan’s Only All-Girls Boarding School Fears for the Return of the Taliban
17:23

Since the U.S. withdrawal began, Taliban forces have re-captured more than a quarter of Afghanistan’s districts. Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the co-founder of the country’s only all-girls boarding school, and she is anxiously waiting to see if the Taliban—which brutally opposes the education of girls and women—will make inroads in Kabul. At SOLA, the School of Leadership Afghanistan, students are free from the threats and violence that is commonly suffered in villages, and the expectations of housework that interfere with studying. Basij-Rasikh told the staff writer Sue Halpern how she was educated secretly, during the Taliban’s rule, and about her belief that Kabul will not fall to the group’s resurgence. “I was speaking with a young woman and she said, ‘Yes, sure, the Taliban will kill more of us. The Taliban will kill a lot more of us. But they will never, ever rule over us.’ ”

Jul 19, 2021
Tough Tests in Cuba and Haiti for Biden’s Foreign Policy
26:13

This week, protests erupted in cities and towns across Cuba as people responded to food and medicine shortages, and to a gutted economy made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, Haiti is facing widespread instability after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. President Biden's foreign policy thus far has focused on the threats posed by Russia and China, but now Biden finds himself confronting immediate challenges only ninety miles south of the U.S. border. Jon Lee Anderson joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Cuba, Haiti, and the past and future of American foreign policy in the region.

Jul 15, 2021
Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino on Britney Spears’s Conservatorship
31:40

Britney Spears has been one of the world’s most prominent pop stars since her début, in the late nineteen-nineties. But, since 2008, she’s been under a court-ordered conservatorship—a form of legal guardianship—which has restricted nearly all aspects of her life. Details about the arrangement have been kept out of public view, all while Spears has continued to turn out records and perform lucrative shows, earning millions of dollars for those around her. But the pop star is now directly confronting the people and structures that have ruled her life for the past decade. In recent court testimony, Spears openly detailed her experience under the conservatorship for the first time. She demanded her liberty and expressed her anger, profound sadness, and frustration. She even alleged that her conservatorship, which is led by her father, prevented her from getting an IUD removed from her body, which the family denies. The staff writers Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino have investigated how Spears wound up in this situation, in the article “Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Nightmare.” They speak with David Remnick about Spears’s life under relentless public scrutiny, her cultural significance, and the thorny legal problems posed by conservatorships. “Conservatorships essentially deem someone incapacitated,” Tolentino says. “And from that point, because they do remove your rights by necessity, they sort of foreclose the possibility of proving or gaining capacity to anyone under it.”

 

Jul 12, 2021
The Newspaperman Who Documented Black Tulsa at Its Height
34:08

In the years leading up to the horrific Tulsa massacre of 1921, the Greenwood district was a thriving Black metropolis, a city within a city. Buoyed by money from Oklahoma’s oil boom, it was home to the original Cotton Club and to one of the first Black-owned daily newspapers in the United States, the Tulsa Star. The Star’s founder and editor was A. J. Smitherman, a lawyer and the Alabama-born son of a coal miner. He addressed his eloquence and his ire at local nuisances like prostitution and gambling halls, as well as the gravest injustices of American life. The Radio Hour’s KalaLea is the host of “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning.” She looks in this story at how Smitherman documented Greenwood at its height, and how he tried to prevent its destruction. 

“Blind Spot: Tulsa Burning” is a six-part podcast co-produced by the History Channel and WNYC Studios, in collaboration with KOSU and Focus Black Oklahoma. The team includes Caroline Lester, Alana Casanova-Burgess, Joe Plourde, Emily Mann, Jenny Lawton, Emily Botein, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Bracken Klar, Rachel Hubbard, Anakwa Dwamena, Jami Floyd, and Cheryl Devall. The music is by Hannis Brown, Am’re Ford, Isaac Jones, and Chad Taylor. The executive producers at the History Channel are Eli Lehrer and Jessie Katz. Raven Majia Williams is a consulting producer. Special thanks to Herb Boyd, Kelly Gillespie, Shelley Miller, Jodi-Ann Malarbe, Jennifer Lazo, Andrew Golis, Celia Muller, and Andy Lanset. Maurice Jones was the voice of A. J. Smitherman. Additional voices: Terrance McKnight, Dar es Salaam Riser, Javana Mundy, John Biewen, Jack Fowler, Tangina Stone, Emani Johnston, Danny Wolohan, and Jay Allison.

Jul 05, 2021
The New Culture Wars Over American History
23:14
In September, 2020, the writer Christopher Rufo appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss the threat posed by “critical race theory.” Rufo had come across the term while looking into the origins of the anti-racism movement, and saw its potential as a conservative target. In the months since, critical race theory has been condemned by President Trump, outlawed by several state legislatures, and endlessly debated in town halls and school-board meetings. The uproar, largely manufactured by Rufo and amplified by conservative activists in government and in the media, goes hand in hand with the controversies around the Times’ 1619 Project, and with the resistance to the movement to take down Confederate monumentsBenjamin Wallace-Wells, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the furor over critical race theory, and how to understand the current rethinking of the country’s past.
Jul 02, 2021
The Unhoused House Sitters of Los Angeles
18:43

More than half a million people in America today lack housing. Some sixty-six thousand live in Los Angeles County alone. Among them is Augustus Evans, whose desire for steady work was thwarted by a felony record for bank robbery. Evans has been homeless for about a decade, but, for more than seven years, he’s kept a roof over his head and put some money in his pocket by house-sitting, as a form of gig work. A company called Weekend Warriors pays him eight hundred dollars a month to provide twenty-four-hour security for temporarily vacant properties in and around Los Angeles, most of which are in the process of being flipped. Evans has lived in more than twenty houses; he often has to chase off squatters—other unhoused people, and sometimes drug addicts, seeking shelter in the same places. Though he appreciates what he calls “shelter with pay,” he understands all too well how the real-estate industry is exploiting people. “They know the people going to default on a loan, they’ll go into foreclosure, and they’re going to take it back so the people lose,” Evans told the New Yorker contributor Francesca Mari, who wrote about him. “What it comes down to is, what kind of compassion do they have in the heart of the people who are running things? People don’t have sympathy on you when you ain’t got no place to go, and ain’t got the money to pay for it.”

Jun 28, 2021
Stonewall Manchin
24:13

Over the first five months of Biden's presidency, with the Democrats holding the slimmest possible majority in the Senate, President Biden has consistently run into the resistance of one man: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Biden's policy agenda requires cooperation from every Democrat in the Senate, but Manchin, a moderate who values bipartisanship above almost all else, has broken with the president on staff appointments, raising the corporate tax rate, and eliminating the filibuster, and he has forced the Democrats to change legislation on COVID-relief and election reform. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Manchin's emergence as the most powerful man in the Senate, and how Biden is attempting to get him on board. 

Jun 24, 2021
Naftali Bennett and the New Hard Line in Israeli Politics
13:17

In 2013, David Remnick published a profile of Naftali Bennett.  He wrote that Bennett was something new in Israeli politics, a man who would “build a sturdy electoral bridge between the religious and the secular, the hilltop outposts of the West Bank and the start-up suburbs.” Though religiously observant, Bennett was cosmopolitan: fluent on Facebook, and as quick to quote Seinfeld as he was the Talmud. He had been a leader of the settler movement, and, although he lived in a modern house in a well-to-do Tel Aviv suburb, there was no ambiguity about Bennett’s hard-line stance on the Palestinian question. He disdained the peace process of an earlier time. “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state,” he told Remnick. “No more illusions.”


Bennett has now unseated his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister of Israeli. Remnick spoke with two writers in the region about this political upheaval. Raja Shehadeh, who is based in Ramallah, says that the changing of the guard will mean little on the West Bank, where the recent bloody conflict was a propaganda victory for Hamas. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, says that, while the peace movement seems all but dead, the changing of a political epoch, and the presence of the first Arab-Israeli party ever represented in the Knesset, has to be seen as an opportunity for change.

Jun 21, 2021
Merrick Garland's Impossible Job
17:38

Merrick Garland made his legal reputation as a temperate moderate dedicated to keeping politics out of the justice system. Yet in the past few years, he has found himself at the center of two of the most fiercely partisan episodes in recent history. First, his nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by obstructionist Republicans. And now, as Attorney General, he has to craft a legal response to the excesses of the Trump Administration. He has already become a target for conservatives, who are portraying him as Joe Biden’s lackey, and progressives, who view him as insufficiently tough on the former President. David Rohde, an executive editor of NewYorker.com, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the minefield that Garland is navigating, and how his decisions will affect the country in the coming months and years.

Jun 17, 2021
A Rift over Racism Divides the Southern Baptist Convention
15:42

Next week, the Southern Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting. It’s the largest Protestant denomination in the country, and, as the group gathers to elect a new president, it is facing a crisis of identity. At issue is critical-race theory, which the presidential candidate Pastor Mike Stone and many other conservatives have called an extra-Biblical and even demonic source of division and strife. Eliza Griswold has been reporting on a moral crisis within the S.B.C. and emerging fissures between American evangelicals. In 2017, the Reverend Dwight McKissic put forward a resolution condemning alt-right white supremacy, which failed twice before being passed. “It was a feeling of shock. I was stunned, actually,” he told Griswold. “Black pastors were coming to me saying, ‘We’re out. We feel like the Other here.’ ”

Jun 14, 2021
Naomi Osaka and the Rights of Professional Athletes
20:44

Last month, Naomi Osaka, the second-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, announced that she would not speak to the press during the French Open. The referee fined her fifteen thousand dollars, and the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments threatened her with harsher penalties. In response, Osaka dropped out. Her withdrawal has brought further attention to the power dynamics of professional sports, where wealthy league bosses, the media, and fans exert tremendous pressure on players. Louisa Thomas joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how athletes are using their fame and visibility to reshape professional sports.

Jun 11, 2021
The Early Days of ACT-UP, and Its Lessons for Today’s Activists
17:01

Sarah Schulman is a novelist and playwright as well as a well-known activist and documentarian. She was an early member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, and, for twenty years, she and the filmmaker Jim Hubbard have run the ACT UP Oral History Project, interviewing surviving members of the group. Out of that work comes a new history of ACT UP in its early days, “Let the Record Show: A Political History of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, New York, 1987-93.” Schulman talks with David Remnick about the group’s successes, its lessons for young activists, and also its greatest failing. “We were able to defeat H.I.V.,” she said. “But we couldn’t defeat capitalism. And we still don’t have a workable health-care system in this country.”

Jun 07, 2021
Biden’s Plan to Reshape the American Economy
19:45

A semblance of pre-pandemic life has resumed across the country, but the economic signs are mixed, even after the strong jobs report for May. Supply chains are bottlenecked, unemployment is just under six per cent, and fiscal conservatives warn about inflation. President Biden has stated to Congress, in defense of his stimulus plans and of his six-trillion-dollar budget, that “trickle-down economics has never worked,” and that the best way to strengthen the economy is from the bottom up, not the top down. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the political perils and promise of Bidenomics.

Jun 04, 2021
How Will the Biden Administration Deliver on Racial Justice?
13:05

Joe Biden has spoken clearly about the reality of systemic racism in America, and he’s said that racial justice would be a defining element of his Presidency. Such a statement would have been unlikely before the movement that followed the death of George Floyd, or before the overt white supremacy that was on display during the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which Biden has said convinced him to run in 2020. 

Vanita Gupta will be one of the key people guiding the Administration’s response. She was confirmed in April as Associate Attorney General, the No. 3 position at the Department of Justice, overseeing the Civil Rights Division. David Remnick spoke with Gupta about how Biden intends to make good on his promises, and whether criminal-justice reform is still possible in bitterly divided Washington.

May 31, 2021
The Democratic Party, Reimagined by Young Progressives
23:16

Over the past four years, progressive insurgents have defeated moderate incumbents in Democratic primaries across the country. These politicians have aggressively pursued policies such as the Green New Deal and have been credited with pushing the Biden Administration’s policy priorities to the left. Much of this work is fuelled by grassroots youth movements such as Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement. Some worry that the shift will alienate moderate Democrats, and put the Party’s electoral fortunes at risk. Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the progressive movement within the Democratic Party, and the groups that have helped it gain traction.

May 27, 2021
Can We Finally End School Segregation?
45:33

By many accounts, American schools are as segregated today as they were in the nineteen-sixties, in the years after Brown v. Board of Education. WNYC’s podcast “The United States of Anxiety” chronicled the efforts of one small school district, Sausalito Marin City Schools, in California, to desegregate. Fifty years after parents and educators there first attempted integration, the state’s attorney general found that the district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained a segregated system, violating the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. The district’s older public school, which served mostly Black and Latino students, suffered neglect; meanwhile, a new charter school, though racially diverse, enrolled virtually all the white children in the district. The reporter Marianne McCune explored how one community overcame decades of distrust to finally integrate.

This episode was edited from “The United States of Anxiety” ’s “Two Schools in Marin County” and “Desegregation by Any Means Necessary.”

May 26, 2021
A Predictable yet Shocking Eruption of Violence in Israel
20:57

Following seven years of relative peace, violence has erupted in Israel in recent weeks. Hamas has fired rockets into Jerusalem, Israel has bombarded Gaza, and Israelis and Palestinians are fighting in the streets. The international community has its eyes on Israel, with activists using social media to rally support, and world leaders interceding to bring an end to the violence. Ruth Margalit, a New Yorker contributor based in Tel Aviv, joins Carla Blumenkranz to discuss the fighting and what it means for the future of both Israel and Palestine.

May 20, 2021
Joe Biden Wants to Be Like Roosevelt. But Can He Get the Votes?
19:13

When, on the campaign trail, Joe Biden compared his platform to the New Deal—and, by extension, himself to F.D.R.—who really believed him? Certainly not the left of his party. For a generation, the “end of big government” has been near-consensus in Washington, attested to even by Democrats like Bill Clinton, as well as by Republicans who ran up gigantic deficits. In his hugely ambitious, multi-trillion-dollar plans, Joe Biden argues for big government—very big government—as a force for positive change. Those plans may well fail to win the votes he needs in Congress, because the contemporary United States no longer resembles the country that embraced the New Deal. “You can’t put F.D.R. in Dr. Who’s phone booth and bring him to 2021 and he’ll address the American people,” the historian Jill Lepore says. David Remnick discusses the promise and challenges he faces with Lepore, Susan Glasser, Jelani Cobb, and John Cassidy.

May 17, 2021
Liz Cheney’s Thought Crime
24:14

On Wednesday morning, Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, was ousted from her position as the House Republican Conference chair. Cheney was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection, and her expulsion from the chair position is seen as a move by the Republican leadership to unify the Party behind the former President. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Trump’s continued stranglehold over the G.O.P. and what to expect from the immediate future of both parties.

May 13, 2021
Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee on the State of the Pandemic
18:32

After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. Atul Gawande tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who reported on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.

May 10, 2021
A High-School Cheerleader, the Supreme Court, and the First Amendment
20:12

In 2017, Brandi Levy, a junior-varsity cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School, in Pennsylvania, was denied a spot on the school’s varsity squad. That weekend, off campus, Levy posted a furious, profanity-filled photo and message about the decision on Snapchat. A student who saw the message showed a screenshot to her mother—the cheer coach. Levy was barred from cheerleading for the rest of the year. The A.C.L.U. helped Levy’s parents file suit against the school in federal court, claiming that Brandi’s First Amendment right to free speech had been curtailed. Last week, four years after that pivotal snap, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Jeannie Suk Gersen joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss this contentious case and what it means for free speech in the digital age.

May 06, 2021
Three Women Who Changed the World
18:08

“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden, tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”

May 03, 2021
#MeToo, 2021
25:31

This week, W. W. Norton announced that it would take two books by the writer Blake Bailey out of print, after accusations that Bailey has had a long history of sexual misconduct and assault. The case has helped bring the struggle against sexual misconduct back into the cultural spotlight. The New Yorker staff writers Alexandra Schwartz, who wrote about Bailey, and Jane Mayer, who has reported on sexual misconduct by powerful men, join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the state of the #MeToo movement in 2021.

Apr 29, 2021
The Children of Morelia
30:09

Refugees arriving at the southern border of the United States, and especially the unaccompanied children among them, are again in the headlines. A parent’s decision to send his or her chiId on an extremely perilous journey is difficult to comprehend, but war, violence, and hunger can be decisive factors. Nearly a century ago, a group of Spaniards put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. They were escaping the extraordinary brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and few ever saw their parents again. When they arrived, the conditions in the Mexican orphanage where they were placed were bleak. The youngest of those children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, just three years old; her first memory is of throwing her shoes overboard on the ship, because she thought the fish would need them. The writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, who is Martinez’s granddaughter, tells her grandmother’s story and explains how the impact of the trauma she suffered resonated during her life and down through the generations.

Apr 26, 2021
The Politics of the Pandemic Oscars
21:04

This Sunday is the ninety-third Academy Awards. It’s been a trying year for the film industry, with the pandemic shuttering theatres and halting film productions. But the unusual circumstances have contributed to a remarkable crop of Oscar nominees. For years, the Academy has struggled with diversity and inclusion, but this year’s nominees are among the most diverse in Oscar history. Some have suggested that this year might be a turning point for Hollywood, though others have cautioned against assuming that a permanent change has occurred. Michael Schulman, a New Yorker staff writer, joins the guest host Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what the 2021 Oscars tell us about the politics of pandemic-era Hollywood, and what the future of the movie business might look like.

Apr 22, 2021
Why Has China Targeted Minorities in Xinjiang?
20:29

Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang” is a expansive and detailed account of Xi Jinping’s policies against ethnic Uyghurs and Kazhaks in China’s northwestern region, which culminated in the detainment of a group estimated to number more than a million, in the largest civilian internment since the Holocaust. The staff writer Raffi Khatchadourian tells David Remnick how Xi Jinping’s government used an obsession with what it calls stability, and a fear of separatism and terrorism, to justify a campaign of genocide. It involves forced cultural assimilation, mass imprisonment, and coercive measures to reduce the birth rate.

Apr 19, 2021
Enemies, Foreign and Domestic
23:14

This week, for the first time in more than two years, the directors of the D.N.I., C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., and D.I.A. appeared before Congress to testify about “worldwide threats” to the United States. They discussed Russia, China, Iran, and domestic extremists—and warned about the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and climate change. On the same day, President Biden announced the withdrawal of the final U.S. troops from Afghanistan, closing a twenty-year chapter in the  War on Terror. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the matrix of threats facing the country, and how the Biden Administration is responding to them.

Apr 15, 2021
Louis Menand on “The Free World”
12:03

The postwar years were a true flowering of American culture. Even as the United States was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union, which culminated in the terrifying doctrine known as mutually assured destruction, the country evolved from a military and economic powerhouse into a cultural presence at the center of the world. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the globe. Painters came out of the long shadow of war-torn Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Thinkers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. This period, in all its complicated glory, is the subject of “The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War,” by Louis Menand. Menand is a professor at Harvard University and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Metaphysical Club,” from 2001. Menand talks with David Remnick about a time, as he writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”

Apr 12, 2021
Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending
20:51

Joe Biden promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These two bills propose to fundamentally reorder the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. John Cassidy, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real Trojan horse of the Administration.

Apr 08, 2021
Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
11:49

The investigative reporter Jane Mayer recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we discussed in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.

Apr 05, 2021
In Minneapolis and Georgia, the Fight for Racial Justice Continues
22:41

This week, testimony began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, in May of 2020. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests across the country and something like a new reckoning with systemic racism in America. But, while the Chauvin trial gets under way, sweeping new voting policies have been signed into law in Georgia, which critics say are designed to make it hard for people of color to cast their votes. Jelani Cobb joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, and how to think about the current wave of voter-suppression efforts across the country.

Apr 01, 2021
Will the Most Important Voting-Rights Bill Since 1965 Die in the Senate?
16:34

No sooner had Joe Biden won the Presidential election than Republican state legislatures began introducing measures to make voting more difficult in any number of ways, most of which will suppress Democratic turnout at the polls. Stacey Abrams, of Georgia, has called the measures “Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” Congress has introduced the For the People Act, known as H.R. 1. Jelani Cobb looks at how the bill goes beyond even the 1965 Voting Rights Act in its breadth, and how it will likely fare in the Senate. And Jeannie Suk Gersen speaks with David Remnick about the Supreme Court’s views on voting rights. The Court is currently weighing an Arizona case that will help decide what really counts as discrimination in a voting restriction.

Mar 29, 2021
What the Atlanta Shootings Reveal About Racism and Misogyny in the U.S.
19:12

On March 16th, a gunman killed eight people—six of them women of Asian descent—in a series of shootings in Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors. Although the shooter has not been charged with committing a hate crime, he told the police that the women were “temptations” that he needed to “eliminate.” Jiayang Fan, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the surge in anti-Asian violence over the past year, and what many of these hate crimes reveal about the commonality between racism and misogyny.

Mar 25, 2021
“2034,” a Cautionary Tale of Conflict with China
14:35

American naval vessels routinely patrol the South China Sea. It is a shared maritime space, but China claims much of the area as its own. That much is true. What if one of the ships was torpedoed? The retired admiral James Stavridis teamed up with Elliot Ackerman, a journalist and former Marine, to write about how, in the shadow of an increasingly tense relationship between the U.S. and China, such an incident could spiral into catastrophe. The result is “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.” The book is a thriller, and also a cautionary tale; Stavridis cites Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel “On the Beach” as an inspiration. The writers tell Evan Osnos that they intend to deliver in fiction an ingredient that’s missing in military planning: “We have plenty of intelligence, we have plenty of hardware,” Ackerman notes, but “what we often lack is imagination.”

Mar 22, 2021
Joe Biden's Crisis at the Border
23:04

Donald Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy, and the resulting images of migrant children being wrenched from their parents arms, were defining moments of his administration. On Biden’s first day in office, he proposed a raft of changes to America’s immigration policy, including an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and a plan for an orderly resettlement of refugees. But over 4,200 migrant children are currently being held in custody, and the process to deal with them has fallen into chaos.Jonathan Blitzer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the surge in border crossings, and Biden’s options for addressing the migrants’ plight.

Mar 18, 2021
Can the Royal Family Withstand Oprah’s Scrutiny?
17:08

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry, the Duchess and Duke of Sussex, was riveting celebrity television, but it may also be a significant turning point in the history of the British royal family. Revelations about racism and about Meghan’s struggles with mental health are already reshaping public perception of the powerful institution. The interview also touched on racism and mental health, issues that are familiar to many families. “In the future, we will look to this interview as a real touchstone marking the change of who it is we see as authorities of their own experience,” says Doreen St. Félix. In conversation with St. Félix and the eminent historian Simon Schama, the author of a three-volume history of Britain, David Remnick discusses how the interview plays into culture wars in the U.K. and in American.

Mar 15, 2021
Andrew Cuomo, from Pandemic Hero to Political Pariah
22:55

Last spring, as the federal government seemed unable or unwilling to concoct a national plan to confront the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo became something of a hero to people looking for stable leadership. But, recently, Cuomo’s profile has changed. Accusations that his administration misreported the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes were followed by accusations that Cuomo had personally threatened elected officials to cover up those discrepancies in the data. And, in the past four months, six women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassmentNick Paumgarten, who wrote a profile of Cuomo for The New Yorker, joins guest host Eric Lach to discuss the failures and successes of Cuomo’s administration, and whether he can hold on to power in New York.

Mar 11, 2021
Daniel Kaluuya Plays “the Black Messiah”
15:00

In 1969, Fred Hampton, a young leader in the Black Panther Party, was shot in his bed by Chicago police in a predawn raid. The raid was facilitated by an informant, a teen-ager by the name of William O’Neal. The half-century quest for justice by activists, lawyers, and Hampton’s family has revealed the extent of the F.B.I.’s role in what happened—all the way up to J. Edgar Hoover, who wanted to prevent the rise of what he called a “messiah” who could unify the Black community. Daniel Kaluuya, the British actor known for “Get Out” and “Black Panther,” plays Hampton in the new film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The film follows Hampton in the last year of his life as he works to found the Rainbow Coalition, a movement that would bring together Black, Latinos, and working-class whites. Kaluuya talked with Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety,” about how the F.B.I. and many whites saw Hampton’s affirmation of Black people as tantamount to terrorism.

Mar 08, 2021
Is the Forever War in Afghanistan Coming to an End?
20:59

American troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years. Every President since George W. Bush has promised an imminent end to the fighting and a U.S. withdrawal, but none has succeeded. The Trump Administration brokered a deal with the Taliban which planned to end the American military presence in the country this May, and peace talks are under way in Doha, Qatar. But, in recent months, hundreds of Afghans have been killed in a series of assassinations apparently orchestrated by the Taliban—and some, perhaps, by the government in Kabul. Dexter Filkins joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the difficulties faced by the Biden Administration.

Mar 04, 2021
Clubhouse Opens a Window for Free Expression in China
14:02

Clubhouse is an audio-only social-media platform offering chat rooms on any subject, allowing thousands of people to gather and listen to each other. Jiayang Fan, who often reports on China, tells David Remnick that the chance to talk in private and without a text trail has opened a window of free expression for Chinese users. (Recently, some questions have been raised about whether the app is as secure as its makers claim.) Suddenly, in chat rooms with names like “There is a concentration camp in Xinjiang?,” Chinese users are able to address politically taboo subjects out loud in large groups. A Clubhouse chat-room moderator explains to Fan that for Han Chinese, who are the beneficiaries of the government’s persecution of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, the app offers a space for reckoning and protest comparable to America’s Black Lives Matter movement. The government has clamped down on Clubhouse, but tech-savvy young people are used to finding workarounds.

Mar 01, 2021
Are There Politics on Mars?
20:53

This week, after a six-month, 292.5-million-mile journey, NASA{:.small}’s Perseverance rover touched down on the surface of Mars. The United States is the only country to have successfully landed on the Red Planet, but spacecraft from China and the United Arab Emirates recently arrived in Mars’s orbit. In the fifty years since the Cold War space race was at its peak, other governments and private businesses have launched ambitious space programs. How long can the United States remain the leader in space exploration? Adam Mann joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the Perseverance mission and the past and future of America’s space program.

Feb 25, 2021
Congressman Jamie Raskin on Impeaching Donald Trump—Again
17:05

Tommy Raskin, a twenty-five-year-old law student, took his own life on New Year’s Eve, after a long battle against depression. His family laid him to rest on January 5th, and, the next day, his father went to the United States Capitol, where he serves in Congress. Representative Jamie Raskin, who represents Maryland’s Eighth District, had an enormous task ahead of him: he was mounting the defense of the Electoral College vote. When a violent mob incited by Donald Trump breached the building, Raskin’s life was in danger, along with the lives of his daughter and son-in-law, who had joined him that day for support. Just weeks later, when the House impeached Donald Trump for his role in inciting that insurrection, Raskin was the lead manager prosecuting the case. Raskin told David Remnick about the devastation of a suicide in the family, his condolence calls from President Biden and Vice-President Harris, and how he believed the entire Senate would unite to convict Donald Trump.

Feb 22, 2021
How Did a Mob’s Attack on the Capitol Become Part of the Free-Speech Debate?
22:05

After the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, several social-media companies banned a host of far-right figures, as well as President Trump. The move provoked an outcry among conservatives, many of whom accused those companies of violating users’ First Amendment rights. The country’s ever-present disagreements over what, exactly, constitutes free speech have taken on new urgency in this era of little-regulated social media, disinformation, exhortations to violence, and so-called cancel culture. Andrew Marantz joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the future of free speech in our splintered nation.

Feb 18, 2021
The Supreme Court of Facebook
37:50

Facebook is at the center of the hottest controversies over freedom of speech, and its opaque, unaccountable decisions have angered people across the political spectrum. Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to this mess is to outsource: Facebook recently created and endowed a permanent body it calls the Oversight Board—like a Supreme Court whose decisions will be binding for the company. And Facebook immediately referred to the board a crucial question: whether to reinstate Donald Trump on the platform, after he was banned for inciting the January 6th riot at the Capitol. In this collaboration between the New Yorker Radio Hour and Radiolab, the producer Simon Adler explores the creation of the Oversight Board with Kate Klonick, whose reporting appears in The New Yorker. What they learn calls into question whether Zuckerberg’s fundamentally American-style view of free speech can be exported around the world without resulting in sometimes dire consequences. 

Feb 15, 2021
Joe Biden’s Plan to Save the American Economy
22:18

Throughout his general-election campaign, Joe Biden promised that his first order of business as President would be to deliver COVID{:.small}-19 relief for Americans. This week, as Donald Trump faces his second impeachment in the Senate, Biden is negotiating the American Relief Plan, a $1.9 billion bill designed to stimulate the economy and organize the federal government’s response to the pandemic. Although Biden has long preached the importance of working across party lines, he intends to pass the bill despite opposition from Republicans. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s relief plan and his determination to prove that faith in American democracy can be restored.

Feb 11, 2021
Trump Closed the U.S. to Asylum Seekers. Will Biden Reopen It?
22:30

Immediately after Inauguration, the Biden Administration began trying to unwind some of Donald Trump’s most notorious policies on immigration. But, over four years, Trump’s advisers made more than a thousand seemingly bureaucratic, technical rule changes that have had profound consequences. Sarah Stillman reports on the case of a mother and daughter who arrived at the southern border from Honduras. After the family ran afoul of local politicians and crime figures, the father was assassinated and an older daughter was raped in the presence of a police officer. Yet their appeal for asylum was rejected by a Trump-appointed judge, who went to unusual lengths to explain her reasoning. Replaying a recording of the hearing, Stillman walks through the series of legal barriers designed to send the women back into severe danger. “In order to qualify for asylum,” Stillman remarks, you almost have to have been murdered to show that you could be murdered.”  


(Many of the Trump Administration policies were driven by Stephen Miller, the ultra-hard-line immigration adviser; The New Yorker Radio Hour reported in 2020 on Miller’s influence.)

Feb 08, 2021
Will the Pandemic Be the End of Office Life as We Know It?
23:00

For most of the twentieth century, the office was one of the centers of American life, and the joys and annoyances of life there have inspired works of art, from Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” to NBC’s “The Office.” But, last spring, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, several businesses closed their offices and asked employees to work from home. Nearly a year later, many companies’ spaces remain closed to their staffs; it is unclear when they’ll be able to reopen, and how many workers can expect to return when they do. John Seabrook joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the past and future of office life—and the personal, economic, and demographic ramifications of remote work.

Feb 04, 2021
Joe Biden, the Second Catholic President
11:07

Joe Biden is only the second Catholic out of forty-six Presidents. Paul Elie, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, considers whether that faith may shape Biden’s policies or his leadership. Elie points out that, though prominent Catholics in government, such as William Barr or Amy Coney Barrett, are associated with groups that oppose modern reforms in the Church, Biden aligns with Pope Francis’s “openness, his informality, his flexibility, his confidence that Catholicism is relevant and lack of anxiety about its place in any culture war.” After decades of sex-abuse scandals in the Church, Elie believes that many Catholic voters “are yearning for some good news,” and that Biden, though not in the Church hierarchy, “suggest[s] that there is some moral authority left in this tradition.”  

Feb 01, 2021
How Alexey Navalny Survived an Assassination Attempt and Reignited Protests in Russia
23:26

Over the past decade, the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny has become one of the most influential opponents to President Vladimir Putin. Last August, he was poisoned by Putin’s secret police, and he spent five months recovering in Berlin. Last week, on his return to Moscow, he was detained by Russian authorities. Since then, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to protest his arrest. Masha Gessen joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Navalny repeatedly outwits the Kremlin, and what these protests could mean for him, and for Putin’s regime.

Jan 28, 2021
Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos on the Balance of Power at the Start of the Biden Administration
28:58

With Donald Trump rated the least popular President in the span of modern polling, President Biden might feel confident in claiming a mandate to advance his progressive agenda. Yet Democratic majorities in Congress are slim in the House of Representatives, and razor-thin in the Senate. That gives a small number of Democratic conservatives and moderate Republicans outsized influence over what legislation can pass. Senator Mitch McConnell, in a power-sharing arrangement with the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, remains a force to be reckoned with. What will this balance of power mean for the new Administration? David Remnick poses this question to Jane Mayer, who has reported on McConnell’s tenure as a political operator, and to Evan Osnos, who covered Biden’s campaign and wrote a biography of the new President.

Jan 25, 2021
Can the Biden Administration Lead a Revolution to Avert Catastrophic Climate Change?
19:09
On his first day in office, President Biden signed seventeen executive orders, including orders for the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement; to cancel the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline; and to impose new restrictions on emissions, drilling, and many other threats to the environment. During Biden’s campaign, he promised a climate-change revolution. Two-thirds of the American public expresses support for government action on global warming, Democrats now control both houses of Congress, and activists are making significant headway in the fossil-fuel-divestment movement and other actions. Bill McKibben joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how to shift the Zeitgeist and save the planet.
Jan 21, 2021
President Trump’s Last Stand
21:02

After the President incited a shocking attack against the Capitol, members of Congress made the unprecedented decision to impeach him a second time—during his last week in office. But as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to assume office, the threat of violence hovers over the Inauguration, and Washington seems girded for warfare. David Remnick talks with The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent Susan B. Glasser about the response from Congress, and with Luke Mogelson, who reported from inside the Capitol as it was stormed by the violent mob.

Jan 19, 2021
Big Tech Turns on Trump
18:33

In late 2019, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. This week, the President was impeached a second time, for inciting the January 6th insurrection against the government. Perhaps as significantly, several tech companies, including the biggest social-media platforms, have severed ties with the President, suspending or eliminating his accounts, and many of the country’s largest corporations have halted donations to the Republican members of Congress who objected to certifying the election of Joe Biden. Sheelah Kolhatkar joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Big Tech’s new opposition to Trump’s rhetoric and the role that social-media platforms play in government.

Jan 14, 2021
Lawrence Wright on How the Pandemic Response Went So Wrong
33:20

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine mark what we hope will be the beginning of the end of the global pandemic. The speed of vaccine development has been truly unprecedented, but this breakthrough is taking place at a moment when the U.S. death toll has also reached a new peak—over three thousand per day. How was the response to such a clear danger mismanaged so tragically? The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright—who has reported on Al Qaeda and the Church of Scientology—has followed the story of the pandemic unfolding in the United States since the first lockdowns in March. Wright walks David Remnick through key moments of decision-making in the Trump White House: from the response to the first reports of a virus to botched mask mandates and testing rollouts, up through the emergency-use authorization of the vaccine. The Trump Administration bears much responsibility for the bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic, but Wright also finds ample evidence of larger, systemic breakdown. “The magnitude of our failure,” he tells David Remnick, “is unparalleled.”

Jan 11, 2021