Slate's The Gist

Slate's The Gist

www.slate.com/thegist
Slate’s The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you’ll be discussing with friends and family tonight. Part of the Panoply Network.
It’s Partisanship, Stupid
Dec 12 • 31 min
On The Gist, the #MeToo movement is only influential insofar as its targets can feel shame and enact accountability. In the interview, biographer Robert Dallek accounts for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ruthless pragmatism. As president, FDR made the decision…
The Abortion Fight Led Us Here
Dec 11 • 28 min
On The Gist, we can have sympathy for all kinds of people—just not the guy who loses all his money on bitcoin. In the interview, Lenora Chu tells the story of her American family’s rude awakening to Chinese education practices. When Chu moved her family…
Drama in Alabama
Dec 8 • 31 min
On The Gist, is President Trump to blame for today’s violence in Gaza? In the interview, columnist John Archibald surveys the Senate race in Alabama, where Doug Jones has become the abortion candidate and Roy Moore has become the Trumpism candidate. In…
Can You Win as the Party of Purity?
Dec 7 • 27 min
On The Gist, Walmart gets a new name. In the interview, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick thought about one thing when Senate Democrats started calling for Al Franken’s resignation: Merrick Garland, which she points to as the beginning in a trend of Democrats…
Next Falls Franken?
Dec 6 • 30 min
On The Gist, Slate’s Jim Newell explains the moral and political case for forcing out Sen. Al Franken. Dozens of Senate Democrats called on Franken to resign after a seventh woman accused him of sexual misconduct on Tuesday. Bob Garfield has spent much of…
The Boys Club on the Bus
Dec 5 • 33 min
On The Gist, why Alabama’s decrepitude is not incidental to Roy Moore’s competitive bid for Senate. In the interview, Russell Shorto tells the stories of six people living through the Revolutionary War—one is George Washington; the other five, you’ve…
Pete Souza’s Photo Synthesis
Dec 4 • 30 min
Before Pete Souza became the most famous troll on Instagram, he was the White House photographer for the duration of the Obama administration. Souza explains his approach to capturing moments and shares why he doesn’t consider his work to be propaganda.…
Bob Saget Doesn’t Think He’s That Raunchy
Dec 1 • 29 min
Bob Saget has long been known as the cuddly, sitcom dad with a surprisingly raunchy side. The comedian talks about the two shows that launched his career and the very first jokes he wrote as a teenager. Bob Saget’s comedy special is Zero to Sixty.In the…
Life Is Like Pachinko
Nov 30 • 30 min
There hadn’t been an English-language novel about ethnic Koreans living in Japan until this year’s Pachinko. Author Min Jin Lee chalks it up to the complicated history of the Korean Japanese. They were colonized by Japan, they were forced or compelled to…
A Founding Fathers Bromance
Nov 29 • 39 min
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were very different guys representing opposing political parties. Jefferson was a wildly popular aristocrat from Virginia; Adams was a middling, dyspeptic lawyer from Massachusetts. But they were fast friends, and their…
The Problem With America’s Rich
Nov 28 • 36 min
Can you move toward greater income equality without asking America’s richest to give something up? In a word, no. On The Gist, Richard Reeves argues that the upper echelons of the U.S. are bogarting wealth that would otherwise go to the middle class. His…
Is Neocon Nation-Building Done For?
Nov 27 • 33 min
Elliott Abrams narrowly missed out on the State Department’s No. 2 job under President Trump, and it wasn’t just because of his sharp criticism of Trump, the candidate. In his book, Realism and Democracy, he argues that the U.S. should stay involved ­in…
Dana Gould’s Take on Horror
Nov 22 • 27 min
Standup comic and writer Dana Gould talks to Mike about growing up in a family of manly hunters and writing a character inspired by his dad. Gould is the creator of IFC’s Stan Against Evil, a show about a small-town New Hampshire sheriff who fights…
The Anti-War Candidate Was Invented in 1968
Nov 21 • 30 min
The anti-war movement of 1968 looks inevitable today, but at the time, it felt “freaking bananas.” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains the charisma of Bobby Kennedy, the fervor of Eugene McCarthy, and the crushing blow they dealt to sitting President…
What’s Next for Zimbabwe?
Nov 20 • 24 min
In his 37 years as president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has learned how to play hardball. While his past methods have invited sanctions for human rights violations, the 93-year-old is staying within the confines of the law to fend off the coup at his…
At Home With Gilbert Gottfried
Nov 17 • 34 min
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is known for his notorious voice and jokes that toe the borderline between daring and tasteless. In the documentary Gilbert, we see his softer side: his wife, Dara, rubs schmutz off his robe, his kids hug him goodbye before…
The Nazi-Busting Woman Erased by History
Nov 16 • 36 min
Elizebeth Smith got her start poring over Shakespearean verse for secret messages that were not there. But she soon used those skills to break codes used by America’s enemies in both world wars. The FBI took credit for her decryptions of Nazi messages,…
People Power Beats the Courts
Nov 15 • 26 min
How can savvy activism topple decades of legal precedent? The ACLU’s David Cole tells us about three issues in which like-minded citizens advanced their agenda: marriage equality, gun ownership, and checking George W. Bush’s war on terror. Cole’s book is…
Putting the Con in Economics
Nov 14 • 39 min
President Trump’s top economics adviser is Kevin Hassett, a guy who has made some very bad calls—most notably, his assertion that the Bush tax cuts would make the U.S. economy recession-proof. New Yorker writer Adam Davidson takes us to economics school…
Prisons of Profit
Nov 13 • 28 min
As America’s prison population surged in the ’80s and ’90s, private prisons were billed as the solution. They were supposed to bring innovations to incarceration and save tax dollars. But as criminal justice expert Lauren-Brooke Eisen tells us, private…
The Family Man
Nov 10 • 31 min
Loudon Wainwright III has been plumbing his personal relationships and dysfunctions for decades in his music. His latest book continues on that theme as he examines the influence of his father. The book is Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes &…
Why Bush 41 Was the Anti-Trump
Nov 9 • 28 min
As the Soviet Union crumbled, George H.W. Bush’s strategy was simple: say nothing. Historian Jeffrey Engel tells us about Bush’s plain oratory and his relationship with the USSR’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Engel says Bush Sr. and Trump scarcely look…
About Last Night
Nov 8 • 28 min
Democrats are feeling triumphant after Tuesday’s state and local elections. But it’s not a referendum on the president until his name is on the ballot, so E.J. Dionne and Thomas Mann are here to explain remains unique about this moment in American…
The Paradox of Black Patriotism
Nov 7 • 28 min
Theodore Johnson caught our attention for his tweets about how the White House reacts to protest from black Americans. He brings an interesting perspective as a black man in the U.S. with two decades of military service under his belt—identities, he…
Lynn Novick on Making The Vietnam War
Nov 6 • 33 min
How do you attempt to document an event as complex and inexplicable as the Vietnam War? Filmmaker Lynn Novick says it helped to prioritize Vietnamese voices as well as people with a flair for speaking. “There’s a poetry in just how people express…
Free to Be You and #MeToo
Nov 3 • 28 min
The #MeToo movement is flushing out clear-cut cases of sexual harassment and assault, but is it helping us judge cases that are far murkier? Erin Gloria Ryan, senior editor for the Daily Beast, wonders whether people will separate into two camps: those…
Get Inside the Brain of Michael Rapaport
Nov 2 • 27 min
The tax plan is out, and New Yorker writer Adam Davidson joins us to play One Question, One Question Only: Is this tax reform? And the voluble Michael Rapaport unleashes his opinions about various “stickmen” (read: athletic Casanovas) and why he’s…
Talk Like a Pirate (Party) Day
Nov 1 • 30 min
Birgitta Jónsdóttir has an unusual background for a politician: she’s a poet and a free speech activist. Since 2013, she’s been a member of the Icelandic parliament representing the anti-establishment Pirate Party. Jónsdóttir talks to Mike about what it’s…
Putting Dr. Seuss on the Couch
Oct 31 • 26 min
Was Dr. Seuss racist? Or did his books just not age well? And what is the appropriate response to a canonical work that seems to be littered with racially charged depictions? Philip Nel takes on all these questions and poses some more of his own in his…
Scared to Death?
Oct 30 • 26 min
Can you be scared to death? Can your hair go white from fear? This sounds like a job for “Is That Bullshit?” with Maria Konnikova, our favorite BS detector. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, the…
Sen. Cory Booker Has a Message for Pot Smokers
Oct 27 • 31 min
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has rolled out the kind of marijuana legalization bill progressives love to fawn over and libertarians love to ridicule. The plan would pressure states to legalize marijuana by withholding federal money. Booker cedes…
Fellas We Frolicked With
Oct 26 • 28 min
Talking about sex makes some people squirm. For everyone else there’s Guys We Fucked, a podcast hosted by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson that started off as a series of interviews with their old partners. Now it’s more of a coffee klatsch between…
Jacob Weisberg on the Steele Dossier
Oct 25 • 27 min
Jacob Weisberg says the Clinton campaign’s links to the Steele dossier matters, but not as much as the veracity of the oppo research itself. Weisberg is host of Trumpcast and editor in chief of the Slate Group.In the Spiel, the death of Fats Domino.
Jeff Bezos Isn’t King
Oct 24 • 30 min
Shareholder returns aren’t the only barometer of CEO success anymore, or else Jeff Bezos would be on top. In recent years, sustainability and diversity have gained importance—and in those areas, European CEOs are lapping their American competitors. Adi…
A Show for Mere Mortals
Oct 23 • 33 min
Kathleen Horan writes obituaries for the living. Her Audible original series, Mortal City, is an anthology of lesser-known New York characters: Douglas the sanitation worker, Serge the barman, Rocky the ambulance commandant. “I just kept feeling like…
Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald
Oct 20 • 36 min
Marc Maron says he “didn’t know anything about anything” when he began working in radio. But producer Brendan McDonald can tell you the moment he knew Maron could be a radio star. It was during a morning show on the ill-fated Air America network, and…
Flags Tell Fibs
Oct 19 • 31 min
Some national flags are created to unify nations, but others are simply based on myths. The Danes believe God threw theirs from heaven, and the Catalonians tell the story of a severed arm dragged across a shield. Vexilloligist and author Tim Marshall…
Falling for the Gambler’s Fallacy
Oct 18 • 28 min
If the roulette wheel keeps stopping on green, it’s bound to stop on red soon, right? It must be time for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” Maria Konnikova returns to debunk our ideas about probability and gambling. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker…
The Stupid Genius of Dexter Guff
Oct 17 • 35 min
Thought-leaders build careers out of TED talks, inspirational quotes, and branded products. Dexter Guff is a big player in that space, teaching his listeners how to crush it every day. But Dexter Guff is not a real guy. His podcast, Dexter Guff Is Smarter…
Sarah Kliff on the Big Questions
Oct 16 • 36 min
You can’t get away from Obamacare news, and with each repeal effort there are familiar, wild-eyed claims from the law’s supporters and detractors. Will chipping away at the Affordable Care Act cause people to die? Did the health care law “bend” the cost…
Why Now With the Weinstein Stories?
Oct 13 • 33 min
Why did it take years of reporting before any news organizations could nail down the Harvey Weinstein story? NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says previously, the allegations received only “twilight” coverage. He considers why NBC might have…
The Shia LaBeouf of Islam
Oct 12 • 32 min
What does it mean to be Muslim in the U.S. right now? Slate’s Aymann Ismail set out to understand, interviewing the founder of right-wing website Gateway Pundit, a former Muslim extremist, and his own family members, among others. What Aymann has learned…
Oklahoma Is Not OK
Oct 11 • 28 min
Things are looking bleak in Oklahoma. Low taxes and slashed state spending mean schools, prisons, and even the state capitol building itself are failing. Russell Cobb, a native Okie, explains how his home state came to be so screwed up. In the Spiel,…
Made-Up Cabaret
Oct 10 • 28 min
Comedian Jason Kravits can write a Broadway hit, on the spot. That’s the premise of his improv cabaret show, where he invents tunes based on audience suggestions, such as “Yom Kippur” or “a Victorian sewer.” The show, Off the Top, is on the second…
Masha Gessen, Putin Whisperer
Oct 6 • 31 min
Masha Gessen returns to The Gist, this time to talk about her latest work, The Future Is History. Gessen uses the book to examine the ways in which post-Soviet Russia failed to process the traumas of totalitarianism. In failing to reckon with its past,…
Facebook’s Data Monopoly
Oct 5 • 29 min
This week, we learned that Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted swing states during the 2016 election. Initially hesitant about sharing information with the government, Facebook finally gave in to avoid a deeper discussion on regulation, but tech…
You Poor Seoul
Oct 4 • 29 min
Has the military become more tolerant of collateral damage under President Trump? Why are there no good military options in North Korea? And who does it hurt when the president goes off-script about Kim Jong-un? Retired Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks has…
The Presidency is Impossible
Oct 3 • 28 min
Before the Cold War, the president spent most of his time focusing on long-term problems facing the nation. But ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president has had to devote more time to immediate crises than overarching strategy. Author Jeremi Suri…
The Rage Was Already There
Oct 2 • 31 min
On The Gist, we’re thinking about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the errors we make when we attempt to explain the motives of an attacker. Author Masha Gessen says it’s all part of our desire to reassure ourselves that we won’t fall victim to a bomb…
Kurt Andersen’s History of American Wackadoodles
Sep 29 • 37 min
Charlatans and magical thinkers aren’t new to this country; they helped shape it. So goes the thesis of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. Author Kurt Andersen joins Mike to consider religious quacks, the wackadoodles of the left and right, and the…
Recentering American Politics
Sep 28 • 31 min
For the past 25 years, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution have been debating the meaning of presidential elections. But in 2016, they found themselves agreeing much more frequently on issues such as…
It’s Time to Rethink Puerto Rico
Sep 27 • 27 min
It’s time for Vexillology Corner: Last month, the city of Pocatello, Idaho, presented a new city flag to replace their previous one, known for being one of the ugliest flags in the United States. But what makes a flag ugly? Vexillologist Ted Kaye…
Mark Lilla’s Advice for Liberals
Sep 26 • 31 min
Mark Lilla made a lot of liberals bristle with his New York Times op-ed, “The End of Identity Liberalism.” But Lilla insists that what he’s suggesting should not make the bleeding hearts clutch their hemp necklaces in horror. His premise is simple: To…
David Litt is D.C. Funny
Sep 25 • 31 min
Working in the White House sounds impressive, but speechwriter David Litt says it’s not like The West Wing. Some days you just find salmon in a toilet, or have to tell the president that he looks like Hitler. Litt shares his experience as a self-described…
2007 Defined the Next Decade In Pop
Sep 22 • 29 min
The chart-topping hits of 2007 featured Beyoncé at peak pop and Kanye West ahead of the curve with electronic dance music. Why do the hits of 2007 have such impressive staying power? Chris Molanphy says it might be because the 2007 Billboard charts were…
Dylan Moran Will Say It to Your Face
Sep 21 • 31 min
Dylan Moran is a comedian from Ireland, a resident of Scotland, and a worried observer of politics in America. He talks to Mike about his way with words and why he thinks satire might bring down the 45th president. Moran is touring the U.S. now with his…
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Sep 20 • 25 min
This much we know: The Equifax data breach is bad. How can the credit bureaus, who have been described as the “plumbing” of our financial system, show so little regard for the people whose data they collect? New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson…
The Frat Doesn’t Have Your Back
Sep 19 • 29 min
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was already the country’s deadliest fraternity when it became famous in 2015 for its racist chants. But Bloomberg News senior editor John Hechinger says SAE’s response to its scandal was unusual, as leaders used his reporting to try to…
Was Booger Really A Nerd?
Sep 18 • 33 min
Why does the movie Revenge of the Nerds continue to resonate today? Because, aside from how funny it is, it stands up for outcasts. Actor Curtis Armstrong explains what he took away from the film playing Booger, who was accepted by the nerds despite not…
Ted Leo’s Hanged-Man Wisdom
Sep 15 • 29 min
On The Gist, Mike talks to one of his favorites: Musician Ted Leo discusses letting his political frustrations fuel his songwriting (see his song, “William Weld in the 21st Century”) and explains how he finds solace in the tarot card image of the hanged…
Which Type Are You?
Sep 14 • 33 min
On The Gist, Gretchen Rubin explains why her system of sorting people into four personality types (Rebel, Obliger, Questioner, and Upholder) will make your life easier. Rubin is the author of The Four Tendencies and host of the podcast Happier. In the…
Chris Gethard Wrestles With Comedy
Sep 13 • 30 min
Late-night talk shows adhere to a form: a host behind a desk, pre-produced interviews, and tightly choreographed bits. Chris Gethard wants to break that form apart. With absurd gags like getting dunked in ice water or staying awake for 36 hours, Gethard…
The Hygiene Hypothesis
Sep 12 • 32 min
Do germaphobic parents doom their kids to a lifetime of allergies and irritable bowels? This sounds like a question for our favorite game, “Is That Bullshit?” Returning champion Maria Konnikova helps us sort good bacteria from bad. Konnikova writes for…
Nnamdi Asomugha’s Drama School
Sep 11 • 31 min
Former NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sees his time in football as a prep course for acting. On The Gist, he explains how he learned to study other people while developing his own style. Asomugha stars in Crown Heights, a film based on the true story of a…
Patricia Williams Isn’t Joking
Sep 8 • 30 min
Standup comic Ms. Pat is used to getting follow-up questions about her jokes. Did your mom really shoot a gun in the house? Did you really get pregnant when you were 13? Did you really have fleas? It’s all true, and now it’s even been fact-checked.…
Three Cheers for Houston
Sep 7 • 29 min
Hurricane Harvey has caused a huge amount of property damage, but so far the death toll remains remarkably low. Why? Mike talks to John Mutter, a Columbia University professor who studies how natural disasters affect the poor. Mutter is the author of The…
Music Is Sex
Sep 6 • 31 min
Did the sexual revolution inspire rock ’n’ roll or vice versa? Was Elvis Presley a knowing sex symbol or a total innocent? Is it true that there are still blue laws on the books against playing “Tutti Frutti” after dark? NPR’s music critic Ann Powers…
Choosing Who Gets Flooded
Sep 5 • 29 min
The nation has weathered another major natural disaster, and the Army Corps of Engineers once again finds itself under scrutiny. NPR’s national desk correspondent Wade Goodwyn says the corps made a choice to open the floodgates of two major reservoirs in…
Is Amazon a Monopoly?
Sep 1 • 33 min
Hosting today’s Gist is Robert Smith from NPR’s Planet Money. On the show, he’ll talk to Lina Khan, whose research encouraging tighter regulations on Amazon caught some heat from the company’s general counsel. Khan works at the Open Markets Program,…
Dan Savage on the Nashville Statement
Aug 31 • 30 min
Today’s guest host is Dan Savage, from the Savage Lovecast. Dan is the internationally syndicated columnist of “Savage Love” and the author of several books. With his husband Terry Miller, he cofounded the It Gets Better project and edited the It Gets…
Shake It Off, Taylor
Aug 30 • 27 min
Question: What’s the best way to take a vacation in a Communist society? Answer: With utmost utilitarian seriousness, and possibly without your family. On this last week before Labor Day, guest host and Slate writer Leon Neyfakh talks to historian Diane…
The Flood Trap That Houston Built
Aug 29 • 24 min
Slate’s Henry Grabar explains how rampant building in the Houston suburbs have made the area worse for wear during Tropical Storm Harvey. And in the Spiel, guest-host Osita Nwanevu breaks his self-imposed moratorium against criticizing columnist David…
Al Letson Became A Human Shield
Aug 28 • 29 min
Al Letson was just trying to cover a demonstration – an anti-hate rally in Berkeley. When he saw a group of balaclava-clad men descend on an apparent right-wing agitator, he jumped into the fray, using his body to defend the man from kicks and punches.…
Mismatch
Aug 25 • 40 min
The hype surrounding the Saturday night fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and MMA fighter Conor McGregor is overtly racially charged. Why? Because people are eating it up, says Wesley Morris, critic-at-large for the New York Times. Morris and Mike…
America Is Weird About Sex
Aug 24 • 28 min
Understanding sexual consent is complicated. Colleges are working to clarify this issue while also policing sexual assault. But when does this cross over into legislating feelings versus facts? Vanessa Grigoriadis helps us understand the current iteration…
Sure, Punching Nazis Feels Good…
Aug 23 • 33 min
The antifa movement is resurging. It started in 1920s Europe to fight Hitler and Mussolini and has returned to oppose the current wave of xenophobia in the United States. Author Mark Bray walks us through the history of the antifa movement. Bray is the…
Russia’s Lab Rat
Aug 22 • 31 min
Filmmaker Bryan Fogel had a simple hypothesis: The worldwide anti-doping system is a joke. To test his theory, Fogel wanted to dope himself and evade detection. A Russian anti-doping lab director agreed to help. Months later, Fogel’s personal doping coach…
The Many Theories of Malcolm Gladwell
Aug 21 • 36 min
Malcolm Gladwell’s hit podcast Revisionist History spits out neat, distilled theories in every episode. Some of them are careful, others are reductive. But Gladwell says his theories aren’t all meant to be airtight: They just help him organize his…
The Year MTV Took Over the Charts
Aug 18 • 32 min
In 1982, MTV started guiding Billboard’s taste in music. The year was filled with elaborate videos and cheesy ballads. Chris Molanphy takes us through all the hand claps and synth vibes of that year’s Billboard hits. Molanphy writes Slate’s Why Is This…
Is This the End of Steve Bannon?
Aug 17 • 35 min
Did Steve Bannon really misunderstand the meaning of off the record during his now-infamous “interview” with the American Prospect? “Yup,” says Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain, a book about Bannon’s influence on the Trump presidency. Green…
The Overreaction Doctrine
Aug 16 • 25 min
Political scientist Moshe Maor says Donald Trump’s policy ideas are very, very over-the-top. But that’s exactly the point. On issues like immigration and transgender service members, bold overreactions are the only kind of policies that speak to cynical…
Why Are Police Unions So Aggressive?
Aug 15 • 27 min
Guest host Leon Neyfakh speaks with retired Boston cop Tom Nolan about the politics of police unions. While unions in other industries put on a progressive face to the world, police unions tend to be defensive of everything from disrespecting the mayor of…
There Is No Order in Congress
Aug 14 • 26 min
Typically Congress has an order to follow when creating bills and passing them into law. There’s committee writing, revisions, and a bipartisan back-and-forth. In recent years that order has broken down and caused major divides inside both parties.…
Brandt Tobler Has a Problem With Authority
Aug 11 • 31 min
Brandt Tobler has had a crazy life. His stand-up comedy is the sum of his stories as a small-town wayward kid busting out of Wyoming. He was the don of a criminal syndicate he called the “mallfia,” he ran the Las Vegas strip placing bets for gambling…
About the Google Memo
Aug 11 • 35 min
Google’s reputation for openness took a tumble when its CEO fired James Damore, the author of a memo questioning the company’s efforts to achieve gender parity. Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, blames the internet. She says easy access to…
Muhammad Ali’s Biggest Fight
Aug 9 • 29 min
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, but he didn’t spend his entire life in the ring. During the Vietnam War, he spent his time trying to avoid the draft as a conscientious objector. Journalist Leigh Montville says the…
Somewheres vs. Anywheres
Aug 8 • 30 min
Over the last few years, the meaningful fault line between political camps has separated people rooted to certain places and people rooted to certain ideas. David Goodhart says the anywheres have become too dominant, and the somewhere have rightly felt…
The Social Experiment on TV
Aug 7 • 31 min
Be bold, but not arrogant. Apologize when wrong, but don’t accept blame. Stay calm in a crisis. These are some of the lessons Mike Richards has learned hosting GSN’s Divided, the social experiment masquerading as a game show. In the Spiel, why the Dow is…
Maria Bamford Wants to See Emotion
Aug 4 • 34 min
Maria Bamford has been making top comedian lists for years, but she knows her stand-up isn’t for everyone: “I can bomb any moment of the week, any day.” On The Gist, she rebuts Mike’s assertion that comics are more likely to struggle with depression.…
The Scaramucci Tapes
Aug 3 • 30 min
It’s a special combo Gist, with an interview and Spiel rolled into one segment: Zoe Chace, producer for This American Life, digs up some old audio from one of her conversations with Anthony Scaramucci. The tape is from 2016, when the Mooch was pondering…
A Video Game Thoreau Might Play
Aug 2 • 30 min
What would you expect from a video game inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s sojourn in the woods? In Walden, a game, players can contemplate the forest, go boating with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and practice civil disobedience. The game was developed by the Game…
No Hard Feelings
Aug 1 • 35 min
Psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett is the grand inquisitor of human emotions. Her book, How Emotions Are Made, inspired a big chunk of the latest season of NPR’s Invisibilia. Barrett says scientific research shows that emotions are…
How to Beat a Casino
Jul 31 • 32 min
A few years ago, an unassuming young woman named Kelly Sun teamed up with Phil Ivey, the world’s most famous poker player. Using some questionable strategies, the two managed to win millions of dollars from casinos across the world. Now the casinos are…
Alan Alda Seeks Clarity
Jul 28 • 29 min
Alan Alda’s new book is called If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? The title comes from his own bad experiences talking to doctors and other science professionals, including one that screwed up his smile for years. “We need to get…
They Called Him Son of Sam
Jul 27 • 29 min
Tom Jennings dug through hours of archival media footage to tell the story of Son of Sam, the serial killer who terrorized New York City in 1976 and 1977. The resulting documentary is part of the Smithsonian Channel’s Lost Tapes series. The Lost Tapes:…
How Democrats Condescend to the White Working Class
Jul 26 • 35 min
According to Joan C. Williams, about a third of the country feels talked down to. These are the white working class folks, the people who went for Trump, the people who feel that terms like disruption just mean more hassle and pain. “We can’t expect…
Why Did Trump and Putin Meet in Secret?
Jul 25 • 30 min
After the G-20 Summit, Ian Bremmer broke the news to Americans about Trump’s secret second meeting with Vladimir Putin. He says he did it because so many American allies were commenting on the rendezvous in private. “The people in the room, they found it…
A Kid in the Hall Tells All
Jul 24 • 28 min
When Kevin McDonald moved to New York, his sketch troupe, Kids in the Hall, had a deal with Lorne Michaels to make a new comedy show. But these were during some lean years for Michaels. “We were in a closet,” says McDonald, “and he was being audited, so…
Al Gore, Ever Hopeful
Jul 21 • 34 min
If things had gone well, America would still be in the Paris Agreement on climate change, green energy would be spreading across the country and Al Gore wouldn’t have needed to make a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. But it didn’t work out that way. With…
Unearthing a Cult Classic
Jul 20 • 29 min
Mike Sacks is not just a comedian; he’s also a comedy historian. This summer, he’s unearthed a rare artifact, the cult classic, Dixie-fried action movie Stinker Lets Loose. “Some famous people have cited this movie as a big influence on them,” says Sacks,…
The Garbage Art of Handwriting Analysis
Jul 19 • 30 min
Maria Konnikova returns to look at a tool prosecutors have used for decades: handwriting analysis, or graphology. Older versions of the practice have used handwriting to predict everything from a person’s mental state to their capacity for murder. “People…
Tyler Cowen Fears for Our Future
Jul 18 • 30 min
Economist Tyler Cowen is disdainful of social media, heartened by recent immigrants, and wary of pot. He thinks that, in our collective desire for comfort, we are postponing big and necessary changes that will sow instability in the years ahead. “Right…
Dan Pashman on the Psychology of Taste
Jul 17 • 26 min
Our friend Dan Pashman from the Sporkful podcast returns to explain the new field of study known as gastrophysics and why our brains have a big influence over how we taste food. For example, research shows we like the taste of food served with heavy…
Haunted By “A Ghost Story”
Jul 14 • 25 min
Director David Lowery has made one of the most remarkable films of 2017 so far, and he’s built it around a ridiculous image: a white sheet with two eye-holes cut out. So what makes “A Ghost Story” feel so epic? And what’s with that 10-minute pie scene?…
At Sea With James Stavridis
Jul 13 • 28 min
Retired Admiral James Stavridis wants to remind us: Despite headlines about the rise of ISIS, there are bigger existential threats to America. “Terrorism is not apocalyptic, it’s a tool,” says Stavridis. He warns that conflicts with Russia and China are…
Look at All the Struggling Democracies
Jul 12 • 29 min
It’s not that things are so terribly bad right now, it’s that circumstances have failed to keep up with expectations. So says Edward Luce, chief U.S. columnist for the Financial Times, whose new book surveys the ensuing crisis of confidence in liberal…
Ben Wittes on the Latest News Bomb
Jul 11 • 29 min
Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes on the latest #ENSH (errant national security horses—-) and the brewing scandal surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s emails. In the Spiel, we’re going back to the event that set all this in motion: the Miss Universe pageant of 2013.
Twitter Should Drop Trump Already
Jul 10 • 25 min
The jobs report has been good, the U.S. isn’t in a shooting war, and the economy is booming. So why is Trump still in the high 30s in terms of popularity? Political scientist Seth Masket says it’s because of Trump’s abrasive presence on Twitter. Masket…
In Defense of Ombudsmen
Jul 7 • 25 min
Daniel Okrent did not have a lot of fun as the first public editor for the New York Times. “I was like internal affairs in a police department,” said Okrent. “Nobody liked to see me coming.” That said, Okrent defends the role ombudsmen play at news…
Centrists Won’t Save Health Care
Jul 6 • 29 min
Conservative Philip Klein doesn’t think the presence of moderate senators means we’ll get better health care policy. “Centrists always get credit and adoration by many elements of the media for talking to the other side and not being ideologically rigid,”…
Chris Christie’s Biggest Mistake
Jul 5 • 27 min
Gov. Chris Christie’s time in the national spotlight has been full of bloopers. But no goof appears as consequential as his call to cancel the ARC project, halting construction of an additional train tunnel between New Jersey and New York City. WNYC’s…
The Incredible Eddie Izzard
Jul 3 • 34 min
Eddie Izzard once thought about playing piano for a living. He’s done one professional show. It was in front of tens of thousands of people. That’s because fans will watch the comedian do pretty much anything, from running marathons, to telling jokes in…
Invisibilia Questions Your Emotions
Jun 30 • 31 min
NPR’s Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel explain what they learned about feelings from their third season of Invisibilia. Society has come around to the idea that emotions are a force to be reckoned with – is that a good thing?In the Spiel, it’s time to name…
Writing Cop Fiction in the Age of Black Lives Matter
Jun 29 • 23 min
Crime writer Don Winslow says writing a novel about cops and cartels involves some pretty serious research. “In researching these books,” says Winslow, “I meet people. I’ve been to the funerals, talked to the cops. I’ve made the sympathy calls!” His…
I Hate This, Don’t Quote Me
Jun 28 • 31 min
Reporter Marc Fisher explains why he called out a classic game of D.C. deceit in the pages of the Washington Post. And Michelle LaRue, the official Gist penguin expert, returns to explain some news about those troublesome birds. In the Spiel, how would a…
Big Turmoil in Big Sky Country
Jun 27 • 30 min
Anne Helen Petersen returns to discuss her new posting—as the Western correspondent for BuzzFeed. Petersen will be reporting on U.S. political culture from her new home, Missoula, Montana. “There’s a reason every newspaper used to have bureaus in every…
The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women
Jun 26 • 26 min
Anne Helen Petersen has made a career on the rigorous, deep, academic study of celebrity culture. In her new book Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Petersen explores the rise of norm-breaking women such as Lena Dunham and Serena Williams and what their…
Do Radicals Change the World?
Jun 23 • 34 min
Author Jeremy McCarter (co-writer of Hamilton: The Revolution with Lin-Manuel Miranda) has written a new book tracing five American radicals from the 1910s and ’20s. “I had thought this was going to be a book about a chapter of progress in history we…
Scaachi Koul on Surviving the Trolls
Jun 22 • 29 min
Scaachi Koul, a writer for BuzzFeed, talks about growing up as a brown girl in Canada’s “Cowtown,” and how she set off a tweetstorm by soliciting job applications from writers who are “not white and not male.” Koul’s book of essays is One Day We’ll All Be…
The Musings of Wallace Shawn
Jun 21 • 31 min
There are two Wallace Shawns. There’s the character actor, known for playing eccentrics in The Princess Bride and The Good Wife and voicing cartoon dinosaurs. (“I don’t get cast as a lot of real people,” he notes.) Then there’s the acclaimed playwright,…
Is Terrorism Coverage Racist?
Jun 20 • 32 min
Tom Shapiro is back to explain the thinking behind the title of his book, Toxic Inequality. What’s so toxic about it? Shapiro is a professor at Brandeis University, where he directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. In the Spiel: Based on the…
Lies vs. BS
Jun 19 • 28 min
The U.S. has a racial wealth gap problem. By one estimate, at current levels of wealth growth it would take 228 years for the average black family to catch up with levels of wealth among white families. Thomas Shapiro explains some of the surprising…
Jon Ronson on Writing the Year’s Wildest Movie
Jun 16 • 29 min
The new movie Okja has pretty much everything. Car chases. Giant mutant pigs. A dystopian future. Jake Gyllenhaal with an outlandish moustache. A subtle social message. Tilda Swinton pretending to be Tony Blair. The movie is written by Korean director…
The Delicate Art of Political Persuasion
Jun 15 • 28 min
A big problem with political arguments, says Robb Willer, is that everyone sees himself or herself as the hero in a zombie movie. “American liberals see themselves as Brad Pitt warding off a zombie horde,” says Willer. “But the problem is conservatives…
He Ate Human Flesh for Science
Jun 14 • 31 min
Bill Schutt says no one from his childhood is surprised to find out he’s been studying cannibalism—after all, he was into vampire bats as a kid. For his new book, he’s investigated the (natural) history of people eating one another and why it’s only been…
Awk-ward!
Jun 13 • 32 min
You’re awkward, but maybe not in the way you think. Psychologist Ty Tashiro explains the hallmarks of social awkwardness, why we’re sensitive to it, and why it’s not such a bad thing. Tashiro is the author of Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially…
Autocrats Can’t Take a Joke
Jun 12 • 26 min
Bassem Youssef hasn’t cut open a chest in six years. And he doesn’t miss it. “Being into medicine for 19 years, it’s a character builder,” says the Egyptian comedian, who says his old job prepped him well for his new one. Youssef went from being a surgeon…
Larry Wilmore is Black on the Air
Jun 9 • 36 min
Last August, Larry Wilmore’s talk show was canceled. The Nightly Show focused on issues like equality, activism, and how racism subtly wormed its way into American life. In hindsight, it feels ahead of its time. Wilmore is out with a new podcast, Black on…
What We Get Wrong About Mass Incarceration, Pt. II
Jun 8 • 25 min
Wednesday on The Gist, John Pfaff refuted the conventional wisdom about mass incarceration. Thursday, Pfaff explains some of the obstacles to reform. Pfaff’s book is Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform. In the…
What We Get Wrong About Mass Incarceration, Pt. I
Jun 7 • 28 min
John Pfaff is on a mission to topple the well-worn myths of the U.S. prison population boom. He says the data tells us to focus on the district attorneys, not the Department of Justice. Pfaff teaches at Fordham University School of Law and is the author…
Why So Morose About Lactose?
Jun 6 • 29 min
There’s almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, soy milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, and milk made from anything that grows, pretty much. But is any of it actually milk? And is it actually healthier than dairy? Our debunker-in-chief, Maria Konnikova,…
O Great Confessor Google
Jun 5 • 32 min
People tell Google things they wouldn’t say to anyone else. That’s the big insight that motivated the research of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. His book, Everybody Lies, is about the stories and secrets he uncovered by digging into internet search data.In the…
You Can’t Say That, Mr. Senator
Jun 2 • 38 min
In 2008, Al Franken was elected to the United States Senate. Since then, he’s become a well-respected member of the upper chamber. But he hasn’t lost his keen eye for satire. After the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, “I wanted to release a…
The Path of Most Resistance
Jun 1 • 30 min
In April, Donald Trump authorized rocket strikes on a military target in Syria. Most Democrats agreed with it. But when Trump makes a decision, does that make it inherently wrong? New Republic editor and Twitter star Jeet Heer offers a critique of the…
A Playwright in the Rust Belt
May 31 • 27 min
Reading, Pennsylvania is the poorest city of its size in the United States. It’s also where Lynn Nottage did most of her research for the Pulitzer-winning Broadway show, Sweat. Nottage talks with guest host Aisha Harris about the different kinds of…
Donald Trump, Body Snatcher
May 30 • 26 min
When can we expect the first tell-all book by a former Trump administration official? David Rosenthal explains the physics of personal memoirs and dishes about what he’s heard around the industry rumor mill. Rosenthal runs the Blue Rider Press imprint at…
The Colony and the Nation
May 27 • 36 min
Richard Nixon once warned of an America cut in two, a colony of poor, disenfranchised people within a nation of wealth. His law-and-order policies went a long way to making that a reality. In his new book, A Colony in a Nation, Chris Hayes looks at how…
Ben Wittes Digs Out
May 25 • 31 min
Ben Wittes has a term for the nonsense justifications he observes coming from the Trump administration. He calls it ENSH: errant national security horseshit. On Thursday’s show, Wittes shovels up some of the larger ENSH dumps of the past two weeks. Wittes…
Everyone Looks Presidential on Air Force One
May 24 • 29 min
Donald Trump looks a lot more comfortable traveling abroad than he ever has in the White House. Josh King says there’s a good explanation for this. “Two Air Force Ones, a beast limousine, all the trappings of the United States government … it’s hard to…
Tom Ricks: “It’s Shakespearean”
May 23 • 33 min
For Tom Ricks, the whiplash-inducing news of the past two weeks has been especially surreal. Ricks explains why he was stunned to see the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster defend President Trump. Ricks is out with a new book about two of his heroes,…
Jon Glaser Is Conflicted
May 22 • 28 min
Jon Glaser makes his triumphant return to The Gist to talk about season two of the Adult Swim series Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter. Glaser has been a part of some of the most acclaimed shows on TV. He’s written for Inside Amy Schumer and Late Night With Conan…
Can We Really Fix College Sports?
May 19 • 23 min
For college athletes, performance bonuses outweigh academic bonuses 15 to 1. That’s not acceptable, says Arne Duncan. Duncan served as Barack Obama’s education secretary. Now, he’s on the Knight Commission, which is trying to lead reforms in college…
Roger Ailes Created This Mess
May 18 • 33 min
Thursday morning, Roger Ailes died. The Fox News impresario changed the conversation in America and created a base of support for the current pPresident, Donald Trump. Isaac Chotiner has reported extensively on Fox News for Slate. His new interview…
Why Things Went South in Alabama
May 17 • 27 min
What’s the matter with Alabama? (You could ask the same thing of tens of other states with sleazy political histories, but we’re going in alphabetical order.) Today, Alabama reporter John Archibald delves into the concentric scandals rocking the…
Encounters With the Very, Very Famous
May 16 • 29 min
One piece of interview advice from Chuck Klosterman: You can’t make a celebrity interview feel like a real conversation. “They know it’s not real. They wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be asking these questions, if it wasn’t for the tape recorder,” says…
Chasing the Bauble With Brooke Gladstone
May 15 • 33 min
Lists of inaccurate statements by Donald Trump are good and satisfying and a little funny. But they aren’t what we need. We need reporting on the issues behind the lies, says Brooke Gladstone. She’s co-host of On The Media and author of a new book, The…
Are Bilinguals Really Smarter?
May 12 • 29 min
A century ago, bilingual children were seen as disadvantaged—a kid speaking English and Spanish was liable to become confused and might not learn properly. Now? Bilinguals are seen as better than the rest of us. They get dementia later. They have bigger…
Clint Watts, Testifier Extraordinaire
May 11 • 33 min
We’re zooming out on Russia’s influencing machine with the help of Clint Watts, the national security expert who had a star turn in March with his soundbite-ready testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Watts explains why the partisan skew on…
The Man Who Wrote the Comey Memo
May 10 • 27 min
Former FBI Director James Comey has been called “rapturous of his own righteousness,” but by most accounts the man who assisted in Comey’s ouster could be described the same way. Rod Rosenstein, No. 2 at the Department of Justice, wrote the memo…
Are We Smart Enough to Be a Direct Democracy?
May 9 • 28 min
Soon, every person on Earth will be connected, via social media, to every other person. So why do we approach policy like it’s the ’70s? In his book The Great Questions of Tomorrow, David Rothkopf asks how we can change our policy outlook to reflect how…
The Formation of Stephen Miller
May 8 • 30 min
Trump adviser Stephen Miller seemed to burst onto the national scene this past February, with his memorable defense of the White House’s travel ban and claims of voter fraud. But New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman says Miller’s education in punditry came…
What’s in the Bill? With Sarah Kliff
May 5 • 27 min
Vox health care writer Sarah Kliff returns to discuss the return of the health care reform bill that just won’t die. In Kliff’s estimation, the new bill, if passed in the Senate, would be great for the rich and terrible for the sick. Kliff is a columnist…
Observing Obscura Day
May 4 • 25 min
A hallowed day is nearly upon us: Obscura Day on Saturday, May 6. Think of it like a worldwide quest to discover all things odd and remarkable. The whole thing was dreamed up by the surveyors and spelunkers at Atlas Obscura. Today, Mike steps in as your…
Sarah Manguso’s Words to Live By
May 3 • 28 min
Only a fire can prove what survives a fire. Well, no, says Sarah Manguso. It only proves what would survive that fire. Manguso, an essayist and poet, offers modern wisdom and witticisms in her new book 300 Arguments. Plus, Donald Trump gets the Ken Burns…
Red Feed, Blue Feed With Cass Sunstein
May 3 • 23 min
Harvard professor Cass Sunstein returns to discuss his new book #Republic, which looks at polarization in the digital age. While America isn’t more polarized than ever, Sunstein says it’s important to focus on how today’s problems are different and new.…
Facing Your Genetic Destiny
May 1 • 29 min
The Baxley family was cursed with a horrible disease—something like mad cow, but for human beings. The younger members of the family might have the disease, and there’s a test that would tell them definitively. But knowing for sure could screw up their…
The Incredible Lucas Brothers
Apr 28 • 31 min
Weeks before the end of their third-year final exams, twins Keith and Kenny Lucas became law school dropouts to pursue careers in comedy. But their whole lives had been about going the other way: Growing up in drug war–ravaged Newark, New Jersey, they…
When Did Late Night Stop Being Fun?
Apr 27 • 30 min
Once upon a time, late-night talk shows were like boozy dinner parties, fun chat-fests where movie stars would reveal a little too much about themselves. Now, they’re marked by anti-septic games of charades and sing-alongs. Comedian Guy Branum wants to…
The Populists Cannot Win
Apr 26 • 30 min
Slate columnist and Harvard University lecturer Yascha Mounk is worried about liberal democracy. He says Marine Le Pen’s second-place finish in France isn’t a cause for relief—it’s a sign she’s closer to power than ever. “It’s easy to be right about the…
The Clinton Campaign Tell-All
Apr 25 • 30 min
Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes set out to write a book about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid long before the home stretch of the campaign. In October, Allen got a note from their editor, who was having trouble reconciling his expectation of a…
Moshe Kasher Is Not an Activist
Apr 24 • 32 min
Comedian Moshe Kasher is a self-professed lefty and a general fan of cultural sensitivity, but he has a big problem with outrage culture. His new talk show, Problematic, takes aim at any unabashed troglodytes, as well as their supposedly enlightened…
When the ’80s Went Pro
Apr 21 • 31 min
It’s 1987, and the breakthrough creativity of the early ’80s is beginning to sour. Also, everyone’s hair is ridiculous, but that’s beside the point. Chris Molanphy is our guide to the year’s Billboard’s hits, which taught us, as he says, that “fairly…
The Secrets of S-Town
Apr 20 • 35 min
In 2012, a man named John B. McLemore wrote an email to This American Life asking the radio show to investigate a murder in his hometown. What resulted is S-Town, a podcast that explores McLemore and the people around him. Producer and host Brian Reed…
Up With Eggheads
Apr 19 • 28 min
Experts have had a rough year. Tom Nichols sees a new fervor in the country’s anti-intellectualism, and he thinks it stems from frustration with elites. Turns out, there’s a difference between the people with expertise and the people with power. Nichols…
What Happened to the Crack Epidemic?
Apr 18 • 25 min
Why are crack users given such long, punishing sentences? It’s because of political gamesmanship around crime in the ’80s. In the new Audible series 100:1 The Crack Legacy, journalist Christopher Johnson looks at how inner-city drug panics led to today’s…
Ariel Levy Was Here
Apr 17 • 34 min
Ariel Levy’s 2013 New Yorker essay about losing her son, “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” was among the most recommended pieces of writing in recent memory. Levy expands on the essay in her memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply. In the book, Levy wonders if, in…
The Gist Presents the Grift
Apr 14 • 26 min
Maria Konnikova has been a special correspondent on The Gist since it began, debunking common myths and pseudoscience. Now, she’s starting her own show, a narrative podcast about cons called the Grift. The first two episodes are available for download on…
The Handmaid’s Fail
Apr 13 • 22 min
If aliens came to Earth looking for a dystopian novel that reflected the current political reality, would you recommend that they read The Handmaid’s Tale? Guest host Alexandra Petri considers this quandary with Mallory Ortberg, Slate’s Dear Prudence…
Improv is Hard, Writing is Harder
Apr 12 • 32 min
Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson have made a couple of can’t-miss indie films in the last few years, including Drinking Buddies, Digging for Fire, and the new poker comedy Win It All. The collaborators talk about improv, making a believable world on-screen,…
Why David Letterman Still Matters
Apr 11 • 28 min
David Letterman was full of contradictions. He hated celebrity, but he hosted a talk show. He was playful, but he never seemed to be enjoying himself. In The Last Giant of Late Night, reporter Jason Zinoman explores the many facets of Letterman’s art, and…
When Protesters Pull the Fire Alarm
Apr 10 • 29 min
Slate’s Osita Nwanevu defended the actions of Middlebury College students to silence visiting speaker Charles Murray last month. If we consider some opinions to be beyond the pale of acceptability, who’s to say that the students were wrong in putting…
Shots Fired. What Now?
Apr 7 • 27 min
What does President Trump want to achieve with Thursday’s escalation of force against Syria? Fred Kaplan considers all the angles, including this one: Ordering a strike against a single Syrian air base was one of the lesser military actions President…
Lovable Losers With Scott Simon
Apr 6 • 28 min
The Chicago Cubs used to be the Susan Lucci of baseball. Now they’re looking more like Meryl Streep. As a fan, how do you become accustomed to winning? Scott Simon has written a memoir about his life as a too-devoted Cubs fan and how he’s adjusting to…
A More Human Kind of Sci-Fi
Apr 5 • 31 min
In The Discovery, director Charlie McDowell imagines a world where the afterlife has been proven, and a man played by Jason Segel is trying to negotiate the emotional consequences. McDowell says he was out to make a kind of “grounded sci-fi,” in the vein…
An Outsider’s Take on America’s Game
Apr 4 • 26 min
Tabitha Soren is not a natural baseball fan. She got interested when her husband, Michael Lewis, was working on his book Moneyball. As Lewis became obsessed with teaching his readers another way to watch the game, Soren focused on showing people how to…
Where Is the Republican Resistance?
Apr 3 • 29 min
Trump was the chaos candidate, but he’s finding little success as the chaos president. He’s turned off Democrats and the Freedom Caucus, failed to pass a new health care law, and faced blockades in the courts against his travel ban. We call up veteran GOP…
The Return of Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mar 31 • 27 min
After a long hiatus, the groundbreaking comedy show Mystery Science Theatre 3000 returns to piteously mock the worst movies ever made. Show creator Joel Hodgson and new head writer Elliott Kalan (The Daily Show) explain how to get some tiny pleasure out…
Russia Doesn’t Have Any Friends
Mar 30 • 27 min
Why does Russia find NATO so deeply offensive? Tom Nichols says it comes down to something quite human. NATO represents all of the successes that Russia couldn’t quite manage to achieve: “Part of the reason Russians hate NATO is because Russia just…
What is Homeopathy, Exactly?
Mar 29 • 31 min
Our resident debunker of nonsense, Maria Konnikova, returns to take on the billion-dollar homeopathy industry. Why aren’t homeopathic remedies regulated in the United States? And what can their dubious history tell us about their effectiveness? Maria…
How Political Parties Collapse
Mar 28 • 29 min
Two Whig presidents were elected by the American people—Zachary Taylor and William Henry Harrison. They lasted a grand total of one year and five months. The Whigs cracked up in the 1850s over intense policy divisions. Now, many historians are drawing…
Step Away From the Screen
Mar 27 • 33 min
How much time did you spend on an anti-boredom gadget today? We watch entire seasons of television in a day, we scroll through infinite streams of social media, and we are transfixed by games designed as deftly as slot machines. Adam Alter says it’s time…
Feet off the Couch, Please
Mar 24 • 27 min
Alyssa Mastromonaco served as White House deputy chief of staff under Barack Obama. Her job was expansive—covering everything from interviewing James Comey to making sure the White House driveway was re-paved[AM1] . Now, she’s written a memoir, Who…
Slobs vs. Snobs
Mar 23 • 26 min
Why does it feel like our political debate was brought to us by the National Lampoon? Sonny Bunch applies his powers of cultural analysis to the changing face of political conservativism. Bunch is executive editor of the Washington Free Beacon, where he…
Health Care! It’s Trump’s Problem Now
Mar 22 • 32 min
With hours to go before the official vote on Trumpcare, the bill is being altered to make sure moderates in Buffalo and Freedom Caucus members in South Carolina stay onboard. [MW1] Any chance this Frankenstein bill will fail? Slate columnists Jim Newell…
James Comey’s Slow Drip
Mar 21 • 31 min
What did we learn from Monday’s public testimony of FBI Director James Comey? National security ace Ben Wittes says Comey’s statements were intriguingly “gentle,” though they should still distress the president. Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a…
Cold, Hard Facts with Wendy Zukerman
Mar 20 • 29 min
Wendy Zukerman isn’t like some other science reporters in that she doesn’t traffic in false equivalencies. “If there’s a 95 percent consensus among scientists, you report the consensus,” says Zukerman. Her podcast, Science Vs., is on its second season.…
What’s Next for Travel Ban 2.0
Mar 17 • 30 min
Slate senior legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick walks us through the next steps for Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. Some judges may not use Trump’s campaign rhetoric in their rulings; however, “Every time Trump opens his mouth, he makes it harder,”…
Dangerous Times With Kelly McEvers
Mar 16 • 35 min
Before Kelly McEvers landed in her current role as host of NPR’s All Things Considered, she was a world-weary conflict-zone reporter. But McEvers says she wasn’t bored upon returning to the states: “I came back to America, and I was like, Whoa, America,…
Stretching the Truth With Maria Konnikova
Mar 15 • 27 min
Like so many dubious health claims, stretching before exercise has its roots in yoga culture. Maria Konnikova explains that stretching is exercise in-and-of itself and shouldn’t be treated like a warm-up. Then why do so many trainers and health nuts…
Todd Barry Would Rather Be Drumming
Mar 14 • 27 min
Todd Barry’s stand-up comedy falls along the lower end of the register: in volume, in speed, in tone. So maybe it makes sense that he’s happiest onstage when he doesn’t have to talk at all. Fans may wonder how Barry translates his dry delivery to the…
See You in Court!
Mar 13 • 28 min
President Donald Trump’s management style has created lots of big, messy legal questions. With his new executive order on immigration, and his calls for a congressional investigation into wiretapping, Trump is plunging the government into uncharted…
Survey Says …
Mar 10 • 29 min
Anthony Salvanto, CBS News’ elections director, explains the CBS Nation Tracker poll and why it’s different from the surveys that tell you if you’re a Jessa. In the Spiel, can you trust the job numbers? Today’s sponsors:Wunder Capital, allowing…
Trump’s Azerbaijan Problem
Mar 9 • 35 min
President Donald Trump has overseen many shady deals, but New Yorker staff writer Adam Davidson thinks he may have found the most questionable one. Davidson says a Trump Organization hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, links the president to some shady oligarchs…
A Beautiful Health Care Plan, Just Terrific
Mar 8 • 28 min
Donald Trump has promised lower costs, broader coverage, and better premiums in his health care plan. Well, the new bill is out, and it’s uniting liberals and conservatives in outright disdain. “I’ve only heard from two outside groups who like this bill,”…
Moneyball for the Israeli Military
Mar 7 • 25 min
In books like Moneyball and The Big Short, Michael Lewis has written about people who think in a completely different way from their colleagues. For his latest, The Undoing Project, Lewis profiles the patron saints of different thinking, Israeli…
The Fonz Talks About Fonts
Mar 6 • 31 min
Henry Winkler is an icon of American comedy. Between roles in Happy Days, Arrested Development, and Parks and Recreation, Winkler has been writing children’s books starring the character Hank Zipzer. Winkler says the stories have helped him come to terms…
The Year “Gangnam” Was Robbed
Mar 3 • 35 min
The Gist’s Billboard charts Sherpa Chris Molanphy returns to hearken back to more recent musical history: the hits of 2012. We learn why Psy’s ubiquitous “Gangnam Style” isn’t technically on the list and how a Swedish stable of songwriters dominated the…
The Bard of Florida
Mar 2 • 28 min
The inexplicable oddness of Florida takes on a sort of logic after you listen long enough to Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist and longtime denizen of the state. On The Gist, Barry provides a mental atlas for the various regions of weird within…
Coming to America With Maeve Higgins
Mar 1 • 31 min
Three years ago, Maeve Higgins left a successful career as an author comedian in Ireland to try her hand at New York City. Since then, she’s been obsessed with fellow immigrants, people who have chosen to make their life in the USA, often against…
A World Disorder Doctrine
Feb 28 • 29 min
China isn’t a boogeyman, North Korea is genuinely frightening, and we could stand to be more diplomatic with Russia. Those ideas come from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who says the U.S. can be a stabilizing force in the…
Gonzo Journalism
Feb 27 • 30 min
Who was Jim Henson, and why did he see something special in a couple googly eyes glued on felt? Best-selling history writer Brad Meltzer says he was inspired to tell Henson’s story not because of The Muppets or Sesame Street, but because of Henson’s…
George Saunders’ American Ghosts
Feb 24 • 31 min
George Saunders’ first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is a bit of a head trip. Half of it takes place in the liminal phase between life and death. It’s about Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, who died at the age of 11, but we almost never hear from him. And it…
An Experiment to Save Local News in Nevada
Feb 23 • 24 min
Jon Ralston has decades of experience covering politics in Nevada, as a columnist for both major Las Vegas newspapers and a host on local TV. But as the major news outlets have cut their politics coverage, Ralston has launched an experiment to save local…
On Saddam Hussein’s Case
Feb 22 • 31 min
John Nixon was the lead CIA analyst tasked with studying Saddam Hussein during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It fell to Nixon to identify Hussein when he was captured, interrogate him while in U.S. custody, and present what he learned to the Bush White…
Facing the News Like a Poker Champ
Feb 21 • 32 min
There’s a term in poker called tilt—when players become overwhelmed by bad news and it starts clouding their decision-making. Poker star Annie Duke talks to guest host Maria Konnikova about the psychological tricks that pro card players use to get through…
Andy Zaltzman Is Back at Exactly the Right Time
Feb 17 • 33 min
For years, Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver took on the powers that be in their influential podcast The Bugle. But the show went on hiatus in 2014 when Oliver became the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Now, Zaltzman is rebooting the show at a most opportune…
Would a Narcissist Do This?
Feb 16 • 29 min
Jedediah Purdy understands President Trump’s supporters better than most champions of the left, having grown up in rural West Virginia (he has the greased-pig award to prove it). But he’s still befuddled by the prospect of peeling away voters from the…
A Late Show for Grown-Ups
Feb 15 • 29 min
Chris Licht is the executive producer for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, which has surpassed its late-night competition since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. On The Gist, Licht explains why he’s not worried about going viral or catering…
John Darnielle Talks About Words and Snakes
Feb 14 • 29 min
John Darnielle has always had a facility with words. As singer and songwriter behind the Mountain Goats, Darnielle has made pop poetry about lonely outsiders and cultural marginalia. Now, in his second novel, Universal Harvester, he explores the lives of…
David Frum Beseeches You to Focus
Feb 13 • 30 min
David Frum has emerged as a leader of the Republican resistance in the months since President Donald Trump’s election. On The Gist, he shares his dismay that the disparate forces opposing the Trump administration can’t seem to get over old squabbles. He…
Oh, How This Feels Like Moscow
Feb 10 • 33 min
On The Gist, guest host Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic talks about the similarities and surprising differences between President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin with Miriam Elder, world editor at BuzzFeed. Elder shares her idea of how the two leaders fit…
Elvis Costello’s High-Fidelity Life
Feb 9 • 29 min
Elvis Costello is one of the most accomplished songwriters of his generation. In his memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, he details his songwriting process, his encounters with everyone from Paul McCartney to Joe Strummer, and his place in a…
Plus Jamais Le Fake News
Feb 8 • 31 min
With elections coming up in France and Germany, Facebook is working with media organizations across Europe to avoid the fake news pox that struck the United States last year. Slate’s senior technology writer Will Ormeus joins us to discuss the strides…
An Obamacare Architect Speaks Out
Feb 7 • 27 min
Before she was the governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius ran the state’s high-risk health care pool, where citizens with serious health problems could get coverage despite their pre-existing conditions. High-risk pools are a favorite idea of the GOP,…
The Business of Corporate Protest
Feb 6 • 25 min
After intense protest toward companies such as Uber, CEOs across America are finding it more and more difficult to stay neutral when it comes to the Trump administration. Adi Ignatius is the editor of the Harvard Business Review, whose most recent issue…
He Left the Hold Steady for Mongolia
Feb 3 • 31 min
Franz Nicolay made his bones playing with big bands, in size and in popularity (The Dresden Dolls, Against Me, the Hold Steady). But Nicolay longed to strike out on his own and master the “practical craft of the old vaudevillian.” So he packed his banjo…
The Case of the Frozen Trucker
Feb 2 • 29 min
This week, Democrats are agonizing over how or whether to oppose Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Emily Bazelon notes that Gorsuch has been very clear in his opposition to doctor-assisted suicide, but his position on abortion…
Inside the Biggest Pyramid Scheme Ever
Feb 1 • 29 min
Steve Fishman is one of the few journalists to received access to notorious scam artist Bernie Madoff. His interviews form the backbone of the new Audible series Ponzi Supernova, which goes deep inside the biggest pyramid scheme in American history.…
The New Queens of Satire
Jan 31 • 27 min
Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo are founding editors of the satirical online women’s magazine Reductress, publisher of such headlines as “8 Sex Positions That Will Blow His Mind and Destroy His Penis.” On The Gist, Newell and Pappalardo discuss their…
Up in the Air
Jan 30 • 29 min
The Trump administration’s executive order restricting travel to the U.S. set off at least four legal challenges, an international contagion of protests, and the harshest Republican rebukes yet to a Trump White House action. But it’s not yet clear how…
Yeah, We’re Scared Too
Jan 27 • 27 min
In one tweet, George W. Bush appointee Eliot Cohen became the face for anti-Trump conservatives: “After exchange with Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.” With the news…
Deregulation Nation
Jan 26 • 25 min
Americans are skeptical of regulation, no matter how much they hate hair in their hot dogs. Why are Republicans winning this argument? Jacob Hacker is director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University and author of the new book…
Don’t Mind Us, We’re Just Collapsing
Jan 25 • 25 min
The Dow hitting 20,000 might sounds like great news to you, but to anthropologist Arthur Demarest, it’s an ominous echo of what he’s seen befall the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca: a spectacular apogee followed by collapse. Demarest studies the decline of…
The Problem With Tracking Hate
Jan 24 • 31 min
The Southern Poverty Law Center rushed to track the surge in reported hate incidents after the election—a surge that appears to have died down. Heidi Beirich explains the SPLC’s plans to weed any hoaxes out of its data and why it’s a bad idea to minimize…
The Truth About Vitamin C
Jan 23 • 25 min
New Yorker staff writer Maria Konnikova returns to play “Is That Bullshit?” This week, the persistent nutritional myth about vitamin C. The actual vitamin, not the singer. Maria’s most recent book is The Confidence Game. Plus, one of Barack Obama’s dreams…
A Bet Against Reality
Jan 20 • 42 min
President Donald J. Trump was voted into office by an impatient electorate that had no ability to measure his rhetoric against a political record. Slate political writer Will Saletan predicts that national impatience will not be kind to Mr. Trump. Saletan…
The 12-Step Program of Highly Effective People
Jan 19 • 29 min
Nick Thune took the long way to stand-up comedy, performing Enrique Iglesias cover songs and making a stop in rehab before graduating from high school. On The Gist, he explains why he’s not scared of silence on stage and what made him ditch his guitar.…
Trial by Firing Line
Jan 18 • 30 min
You didn’t have to agree with William F. Buckley to marvel at his intellect, his swiftness, and his wit. Starting in 1966, Buckley got to show off his skills every week on Firing Line, his pioneering television show devoted to debate. Heather Hendershot…
Can The Democrats Obstruct Everything for Four Years?
Jan 17 • 29 min
On every major piece of legislation in the Obama era, congressional Republicans have thrown up roadblocks and been reluctant to compromise. Can Democrats do the same in the age of Trump? Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and The Atlantic…
Jamelle Bouie on the Trump Cabinet
Jan 13 • 27 min
So, who is Donald Trump’s most troubling Cabinet pick? Is it Jeff Sessions, who received an 11 percent score on civil rights issues from the NAACP? Or Rex Tillerson, who was unprepared for questions about Vladimir Putin’s regime? Or Ben Carson, who didn’t…
How Should We Talk About Whiteness?
Jan 12 • 31 min
This week, race was front and center at the confirmation hearing for Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions. Cory Booker and the head of the NAACP testified that Sessions’ history of alleged racist comments and his voting record suggested he…
Twenty-Four Grueling Hours in Trumpland
Jan 11 • 29 min
Between the shady unverified intelligence dossier, Trump’s strange press conference, and the Rex Tillerson hearings, this has been a head-spinning 24 hours. We called up Slate’s War Stories correspondent Fred Kaplan to make sense of it all. Kaplan is most…
How the Onion Remade Joe Biden
Jan 10 • 24 min
If you’ve been reading the Onion the past eight years, you know that Vice President Joe Biden is a hair metal–loving party machine. He’s set up a fog machine at the State of the Union address. He’s regaled crowds with stories from his historic summer of…
The Secret to Meaningful Work
Jan 9 • 29 min
Are millennials really less money-focused than their forebears were? Do the kings of finance obsess over money because society doesn’t give them another way to measure their success? How can we make ditch-digging meaningful work? On The Gist, behavioral…
Unpacking Peanuts
Jan 6 • 26 min
The National Institutes of Health used to have blanket advice for parents: Don’t give peanuts or peanut products to children under the age of 4. The result? Between 2003 and 2014, it seems likely more Americas were killed by bad advice about peanuts than…
The Paradox of Shaving
Jan 5 • 28 min
New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova returns for another round of everyone’s favorite game, “Is That Bulls—t?” Konnikova takes on a long-held theory about hair growth: The more often you shave, the faster it grows back. Konnikova’s most recent book is The…
Mara Wilson’s Post–Child Star Life
Jan 4 • 23 min
Mara Wilson became iconic in the 1990s, but she hasn’t appeared in a film since the year 2000. In her memoir Where Am I Now? Wilson explores the joys and difficulties of her life after child stardom. Mara’s book was recently named one of the best of 2016…
Ralph Nader’s Animal Instincts
Jan 3 • 30 min
Ralph Nader’s second work of fiction, Animal Envy, imagines a world where animals can talk to people and start demanding rights. Nader says the fable is meant to prompt deeper thinking about our relationship with nature. “We need to talk about what-if,…
Bob Boilen: Tiny Desk, Big Effect
Dec 30, 2016 • 31 min
Bob Boilen, creator and host of NPR’s All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, built his book around something he learned in his nearly 30 years of covering music: Artists are tired of talking about their own work, but ask them about what inspires…
Good Grief
Dec 29, 2016 • 30 min
When comedian Laurie Kilmartin found out her father had advanced lung cancer, she processed it the best way she could: by tweeting jokes about her father’s decline. The real-time mourning gave rise to Kilmartin’s stand-up special, “45 Jokes About My Dead…
The Home Movie That Changed America
Dec 28, 2016 • 30 min
When the Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed in front of cameras by an assassin, Alexandra Zapruder had one thought: “There’s another Zapruder film.” Her new book, Twenty-Six Seconds, looks at how her grandfather’s film of the John F. Kennedy…
LifeAfter’s Mac Rogers
Dec 23, 2016 • 25 min
Movies are out, TV is in, and radio theater is on the rise. Playwright Mac Rogers explains the challenges of creating theater of the mind. Rogers is the writer behind hit podcast dramas LifeAfter and The Message. For the Spiel, The 12 Days of Trumpmas,…
When There Was No Ducking Disco
Dec 22, 2016 • 31 min
On the Gist, Chris Molanphy takes us back to 1976, the year we learned the true meaning of “booty” and the inherent value of shake-shake-shaking it. Molanphy writes the “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column for Slate. For the Spiel, are Christmas songs good or…
The Year of Bill Camp
Dec 21, 2016 • 31 min
Actor Bill Camp specializes in subtlety—whether as an earnest Puritan pastor in the 2016 Broadway revival of The Crucible or a veteran homicide detective in HBO’s The Night Of. On The Gist, Camp talks about preparing for roles, getting hot after age 50,…
We’re Going Into Labor
Dec 20, 2016 • 27 min
Have blue-collar workers fallen for a Republican bait-and-switch? On The Gist, journalist Steven Greenhouse sets aside globalization and turns to the domestic forces suppressing wages and hammering workers: Republican-backed anti-union laws, a feeble…
Thank God for Hedonists
Dec 19, 2016 • 28 min
There is virtue in delight! We chanced upon new building materials, better computer software, and a global economy by frittering away our time. On The Gist, author Steven Johnson says our flights of fancy may have driven most of human progress. Johnson’s…
Our Inflamer-In-Chief
Dec 16, 2016 • 25 min
The current world order is fragile, and President-elect Donald Trump has shown himself to be sensitive, antagonistic, and gleeful about turning existing dynamics upside-down. How could this affect the United States’ role in defusing international…
Do Strict Voter Laws Make a Difference?
Dec 15, 2016 • 27 min
Last summer, the Supreme Court stopped North Carolina from using a strict voter ID law that would likely disadvantage Democrats and “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”Now, the court is facing two more restrictive voter laws that…
We Could Use Jon Stewart Right Now
Dec 14, 2016 • 30 min
Jon Stewart had a rough time hosting The Daily Show. By 2015, he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years. Exposure to Fox News had taken a toll. Writer Chris Smith chronicles Stewart’s reign in a new oral history, which looks at the comedian’s broader…
Putin Plays the Long Game
Dec 13, 2016 • 26 min
As Michael McFaul knows well, sometimes the interests of the United States and the interests of Exxon Mobil don’t line up. “You have to find oil where it is … and that tends to be controlled by autocrats around the world, and you have to do deals with…
Let’s Talk About Rex
Dec 12, 2016 • 26 min
James Osborne writes about energy and politics for the Houston Chronicle. He’s covered Rex Tillerson for years, yet they’ve never spoken directly. During his time as CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has rarely granted interviews and only gives one press…
Don’t Tell Kyle Kinane What To Do
Dec 9, 2016 • 30 min
Kyle Kinane doesn’t want your agreement applause. Or your voting boosterism. In fact, Kinane is quite prepared to disappoint you—he’s kind of built a brand on it. On The Gist, Kinane raises a hand in support of jokes about rich people and racists—just let…
Getting Held Back in Racial Justice Class
Dec 8, 2016 • 28 min
Writer Jeff Chang went to Ferguson, Missouri, on the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown. What he saw there helped inspire his latest collection of essays, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation (a book the Washington Post’s…
Boeing, Get Off My Plane!
Dec 7, 2016 • 25 min
On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump decried the cost of a very important plane, tweeting, “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Boeing then disputed…
It’s Much Bigger Than O.J.
Dec 6, 2016 • 29 min
Ezra Edelman wasn’t planning to make a documentary about O.J. Simpson. But then ESPN offered him five hours of airtime. Edelman’s movie (which eventually grew to nearly eight hours) explores a variety of themes through the lens of Simpson’s life and…
The Blueprint for Trumpcare
Dec 5, 2016 • 31 min
With the nomination of Tom Price for health and human services secretary, it’s clear that Donald Trump wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a more conservative plan. Sarah Kliff has spent weeks looking through the health care plans put forward by…
The Chaos Doctrine
Dec 2, 2016 • 31 min
Tidiness is tyranny, and Tim Harford is here to set you free. The author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives makes the case for routine-busting labor strikes, cluttered desks, and leaving your emails unsorted. He also explains why we’re…
Dissecting the Carrier Deal
Dec 1, 2016 • 28 min
Aaron Renn says the PEOTUS made a smart move by keeping Carrier in the United States. But saving one company is not an economic policy. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He recently argued Trump could fall into a “mayor trap” if he…
What’s Bunk About Brainstorming
Nov 30, 2016 • 26 min
Does brainstorming light a creative fire or smother the sparks of invention? Our regular guest Maria Konnikova looks at the merits of spitballing. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game. For the Spiel, Donald Trump…
Why Working People Left the Democrats
Nov 29, 2016 • 30 min
For years, Thomas Frank has been the Cassandra of the Democratic Party, arguing that it had long since sold out working Americans and was using a socially liberal agenda to paper over its new corporate allegiances. Like Cassandra, he was largely…
Stephen Dubner’s Genre-Busting Game Show
Nov 28, 2016 • 27 min
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is a new podcast game show from Stephen Dubner, the journalist behind Freakonomics. While radio quiz games are nothing new (in fact, Mike has hosted one himself), Dubner wants to do something different with this program,…
Revenge of the Music Nerds
Nov 23, 2016 • 31 min
Our favorite cultural cabal in Cleveland has spoken. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its nominees for induction in 2017—and the picks are incomparable as always, with Chic, Pearl Jam, and Kraftwerk in the running. Chris Molanphy discusses…
A Former Breitbart Star Takes On Steve Bannon
Nov 22, 2016 • 32 min
Ben Shapiro is a pretty conservative guy. He’s written books like Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americansand The People vs. Barack Obama, and he’s a former contributor to Breitbart. But earlier this year, Shapiro quit…
Learning From the Fallout of Brexit
Nov 21, 2016 • 31 min
As Nigel Farage described it, the election of Donald Trump was “Brexit times three.” Comedian Josie Long knows this all too well. The comedian and radio host has a new stage show, Something Better, where she takes on the gloomy nationalist politics of her…
The Incredible Failure of Get-Out-the-Vote
Nov 18, 2016 • 25 min
Hillary Clinton was supposed to have the most sophisticated digital ground game ever, while all Trump had was a ramshackle data bunker in San Antonio. We all know how that turned out. Sasha Issenberg is a Bloomberg contributor and author of The Victory…
Can Jared Kushner Really Get Top-Secret Intel?
Nov 17, 2016 • 28 min
Wait, can Donald Trump really give his entire family national security clearance? It’s complicated, says Fred Kaplan, the author of Slate’s War Stories column. Kaplan also discusses the reasons to be wary of putting your family members in the White House.…
A Show That Watches the Cops
Nov 16, 2016 • 26 min
Dan Abrams is the host of Live PD, a new A&E show that follows police officers, in real time, as they interact with people in cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Abrams says the show is different from Cops—it captures all of the…
The Liberal Hegemony of Pop Culture
Nov 15, 2016 • 24 min
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says the culture has changed drastically in America over the past five years. Daily Show alumni have taken over late night, late night comedy has taken a strongly liberal tinge, and companies like Apple have taken a…
This Is Your Brain on Political Correctness
Nov 14, 2016 • 28 min
Trigger warning: Scrutiny of safe spaces ahead. Jonathan Zimmerman discusses the political-correctness fever sweeping the nation’s elite college campuses. Zimmerman is the author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. In the Spiel, blinded by a…
The Fault in Our Polls
Nov 13, 2016 • 29 min
Did the polls lead us astray in this election, or did we simply fail to heed everything they were telling us? FiveThirtyEight senior political writer Harry Enten says the lesson of 2016 is familiar to any close observer of politics: “There are no…
Solidarity, Sister?
Nov 12, 2016 • 31 min
It’s a rare Saturday Gist, as the show’s post-election interview blitz continues:New York Times columnist Gail Collins explains what we tend to forget about the way women vote, and NPR’s David Folkenflik ponders the media problems exposed by the…
The Autopsy
Nov 11, 2016 • 46 min
On The Gist, another double feature.Evan Osnos explains what Trump’s first term might look like, based on reporting he did before the election for the New Yorker.Reid Wilson, who covers down-ballot politics for the Hill, surveys the Republican gains in…
More Rock, Less Talk
Nov 10, 2016 • 33 min
The Gist isn’t serving up a Spiel today—too many questions, too few answers. Instead, Mike puzzles through the day with a few friends of the show:Jacob Weisberg reacts to the chants of “not my president.” Weisberg is the chairman and editor-in-chief of…
It’s Morning in Trump’s America
Nov 9, 2016 • 31 min
On The Gist, things are getting dark, but at least the show isn’t going dark, which is more than we can say for our friends at the Radio Free GOP podcast. Host Mike Murphy, a longtime GOP strategist and Trump critic, says the show will go on hiatus in…
Jamelle Bouie Sums It Up
Nov 8, 2016 • 21 min
Jamelle Bouie has written about the deep, ugly divides in America that have surfaced during this presidential campaign. In the final hours of election day, Slate’s chief political correspondent approaches the idea of national unity after the most unruly…
The Myth of the Hard-Luck Trump Voter
Nov 7, 2016 • 32 min
Much of the 2016 presidential campaign media coverage has cast Trump fans not as bigoted, but “economically disaffected.” As Slate’s Michelle Goldberg reports, for many supporters, that’s far too charitable. Goldberg has been reporting on issues like…
Harry Enten Explains the FiveThirtyEight Numbers
Nov 4, 2016 • 26 min
If you’re like us, you’ve been checking the FiveThirtyEight election forecast like it’s a weather report before a hurricane. This week, Donald Trump’s chance of victory in the presidential race went from 15 percent to over 30 percent, causing much anxiety…
A Tax on Both Their Houses
Nov 3, 2016 • 24 min
We have (almost) survived a presidential campaign. Are we any smarter about taxes? On The Gist, Adam Davidson considers Donald Trump’s apparent tax practices and explains the biggest barrier to bipartisan compromise on tax policy. Davidson covers business…
Dominate the News, You Lose
Nov 2, 2016 • 34 min
On The Gist, a pair of political heavyweights. Obama administration alumnus Tommy Vietor wonders how the interregnum following this election will be different for Hillary Clinton than it was for President Obama. Vietor co-hosts the Ringer podcast Keepin’…
Spotlight on a (Very) Close Race
Nov 1, 2016 • 31 min
A look inside one of the closest congressional races this year, New York’s 19th. Former Gist guest and Bernie Sanders–favorite Zephyr Teachout takes on Republican state Assemblyman John Faso for an open seat. The race is one of the few that the Cook…
The Problem With Mark Kirk
Oct 31, 2016 • 31 min
Eric Zorn from the Chicago Tribune joins Mike to discuss two contentious races happening in Illinois this year that could swing the balance of power in Congress. Incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk is trailing badly to his Democratic opponent, Tammy…
A Governor You Can Make a Beer With
Oct 28, 2016 • 27 min
Today we’re reaching into The Gist’s vault to bring you two favorite segments from the past year. First, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper explains why he saw the movie Deep Throat with his mother and reflects on his state’s move to legalize marijuana.…
Mike Debates His Former Producer About Dating
Oct 26, 2016 • 36 min
We are dating longer. We are dating differently. Is it making us happier? Mike’s not buying it. Former Gist producer Andrea Silenzi wades into an impromptu debate about dating today. Check out Andrea’s new show, Why Oh Why, a Panoply podcast about dating…
Dan Savage Diagnoses Donald Trump
Oct 25, 2016 • 30 min
Does Trump so need women that he despises them? On The Gist, love and sex advice columnist Dan Savage considers Trump’s misogyny. Savage also clears the air about his withering criticism of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and gives…
Adam Tries to Ruin a Horrible Election
Oct 24, 2016 • 30 min
America’s favorite debunker, Adam Conover, takes on the election in his TruTV special. Conover, famous for “Adam Ruins Everything,” talks to Mike about how comedians can change society, and the limits of satire as an art form. Conover’s special airs…
The Case Against Dropping College Debt
Oct 21, 2016 • 30 min
No to a student loan bailout. No to debt-free state schools. Prepare to be enlightened, if a bit disheartened, as our friend Adam Davidson explains why eliminating college debt falls short of solving the country’s inequality crisis. Davidson is a…
Do the Best and Brightest Ever Become President?
Oct 20, 2016 • 26 min
On The Gist, former Daily Show head writer Elliott Kalan talks about his new Audible series Presidents are People Too! Kalan looks at the reasons so many mediocre candidates make it the White House, and tries to find something to admire in our crappiest…
Rapid Response: Cirque du Debate
Oct 20, 2016 • 11 min
The first fifty minutes felt…strange. Calm. Like a real debate. Then Chris Wallace asked if Trump would recognize the election as legitimate. Mike Pesca was in the spin room after the third and final presidential showdown.
Jill Stein Pitches a Green Foreign Policy
Oct 19, 2016 • 34 min
On The Gist, Green Party candidate Jill Stein lays out her foreign policy. She debates Mike Pesca about Hillary Clinton, Yemen, and America’s use of force. Stein believes the United States is closer to nuclear war than ever, including the Cold War. She…
How Do You Prep to Debate a Dumpster Fire?
Oct 18, 2016 • 29 min
On The Gist, Jonathan Prince has helped candidates such as Bill Clinton and John Edwards prep for high-stakes debates. Now, he’s got some advice for Hillary Clinton as she faces round No. 3 with the most unpredictable candidate of the modern era. Prince…
The Secret Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump
Oct 17, 2016 • 26 min
On The Gist, rhetoric scholar Jennifer Mercieca says that when you dig into his speeches, Donald Trump’s kind of an evil genius when it comes to rhetoric. Whether it’s his use of paralipsis (“I’m not saying, but I’m saying”) or reification (treating…
Inside “Late Night” With Amber Ruffin
Oct 14, 2016 • 30 min
In 2014, Amber Ruffin became the first black woman to write for a late-night network comedy when she joined NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. On The Gist, Ruffin explains the banality of being a trailblazer: “We’re just dicking around in a different…
Why Don’t More Women Run for Congress?
Oct 13, 2016 • 31 min
On The Gist, Jennifer Lawless details the reasons more women don’t run for elected office in the United States. Her research documents a decline in media bias against women running for House seats. Despite that, Congress is still overwhelmingly male.…
Your Food Will Be Ready When You Look Hungry Enough
Oct 12, 2016 • 29 min
If you had to engineer the perfect wait time for a meal, how would you do it? On The Gist, Dan Pashman explains the art of anticipation as applied to food. Pashman is the host of WNYC’s The Sporkful. Check out his show’s new series on food, race, and…
Where Do Republicans Go From Here?
Oct 11, 2016 • 30 min
The implosion of Donald Trump’s campaign shows a party that’s divided on everything from criminal justice reform to immigration. On The Gist, National Review executive editor and Slate columnist Reihan Salam considers the future of the GOP and…
Rapid Response: The Town Hall Debate
Oct 10, 2016 • 8 min
We have seen the limits of debate prep.
Rapid Response: Trump’s Comeuppance?
Oct 8, 2016 • 5 min
Just one question on the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape of Donald Trump with Billy Bush: Are we watching a Greek tragedy or a Saturday morning cartoon?
Phoebe Robinson Will Teach You How to Bae
Oct 7, 2016 • 29 min
Phoebe Robinson recounts the tributes and trolling her book has prompted with its title, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain.On The Gist, Robinson wonders whether dreadlocks have really entered the mainstream (and are they…
Fact-Checking Won’t Stop Trump
Oct 6, 2016 • 30 min
On The Gist, we look at the proliferation of fact-checking in the 2016 campaign. One empirical analysis found that Donald Trump is telling a falsehood every five minutes during his speeches. But why isn’t the aggressive fact-checking of the Republican…
Why Do We Use BMI to Measure Health?
Oct 5, 2016 • 23 min
On The Gist, dig into body mass index with our resident bulls—t debunker Maria Konnikova. Does a healthy BMI actually mean anything? The question came up after Donald Trump’s recent appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, in which his weight and height were…
Rapid Response - The VP Debate
Oct 5, 2016 • 8 min
Mike weighs in on the one and only debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.