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Sopel's Soapbox Podcast Profile

Sopel's Soapbox Podcast

English, Political, 1 season, 16 episodes, 5 hours, 14 minutes
Follow this year’s extraordinary US presidential race with the BBC’s Jon Sopel in Washington.
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The Final Sopel's Soapbox

President Donald Trump has just completed his first week in the Oval Office. He's been busy - swiftly signing a handful of executive orders, undoing some of President Barack Obama's policies, and picking fights with the press over reports of inaugural crowd sizes. What other challenges does Donald Trump face? Political author Henry Olsen contributes. Also on the programme: the reasons for the Women's March on Washington. Politics reporter Anthony Zurcher presents the final episode of Sopel's Soapbox. We might be back at some stage in the future - but for now, our elections coverage is over as we concentrate on the new administration. Thank you all for listening!
1/27/201721 minutes, 26 seconds
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If you listen to Donald Trump's speeches, it's all about deals. So how will this play out in the world of international diplomacy? Jon Sopel talks to Steven Erlanger, New York Times London bureau chief, about how the world is bracing for a Trump presidency, and who says,"Everyone is very anxious and some countries are angry and in general everyone is holding their breath and saying to themselves, oh it'll be all right, because he's just a Twitter nut and it's not policy yet." Also on the programme: can Donald Trump unite the United States?
1/20/201717 minutes, 45 seconds
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Out With the Old

Barack Obama leaves with a squeaky clean reputation - in terms of personality, at least. In terms of policy President Obama himself says "The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient commonsense gun safety laws even in the face of repeated mass killings." Jon Sopel visits Charlestown, South Carolina, to meet religious leader and civil rights organiser Elder James Johnson to find out whether things had changed for African Americans over the last eight years. Elder Johnson says, "When he said he's the President for all the people, and we ask ourselves here in South Carolina are we better off now than we were eight years ago. And I think things still the same. I'm disappointed, but I'm glad to see a black President in my lifetime, but I'm very disappointed in some of the things he said and some of the things that he did." Also on the programme: the dramatic scenes at President elect Donald Trump's first press conference.
1/13/201716 minutes, 40 seconds
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Adversaries... Continued

President-Elect Donald Trump made it clear throughout his campaign that he’s no lover of the press – he banned the Washington Post from attending rallies, threatened to expand libel laws, and has even ditched the media pool. One of his recurring rallying cries called journalists the most dishonest people he’s ever encountered. Some are wondering how – and whether – he’s going to co-operate with the White House Press Corps as President. "No president since Nixon has been so open in their contempt and hatred for the news media," says former investigative correspondent Mark Feldstein, author of Poisoning the Press. This week Jon Sopel talks to Feldstein about the last president who was open about his loathing for the media – President Richard Nixon. Also on the programme: former ABC White House correspondent Ann Compton on presidential transparency.
1/6/201721 minutes, 22 seconds
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Conflicts of Interest and Russia

"Mr Trump is choosing to be wilfully ignorant of events around the world," says Tim Weiner, a journalist specialising in security issues and author of Legacy of Ashes, a history of the CIA. He speculates about Russia's influence on the US election and how it sought to disrupt American democracy, as well as gathering intelligence to use against Hilary Clinton and to discover information about Donald Trump to save for later use. He adds, "If we have a president of the United States living in a state of vincible ignorance, then the world will be more dangerous than it already is." Also on the programme: with its close proximity to Russia, Alaska's residents share what they think of the idea of the nation affecting the US election.
12/23/201619 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Supreme Court

"The Supreme Court ends up having the last word on a lot of issues that people care deeply about that affect their religious beliefs and moral beliefs," says law professor Kermit Roosevelt III at the University of Pennsylvania. This week Jon Sopel finds about the court's influence over America, the appointment of a new Chief Justice and who the candidate is likely to be. Social issues such as gun control and immigration reform are decided by the Supreme Court as the highest judicial authority in the US, it interprets the constitution and can undo past decisions made by the Supreme Courts including those on abortion. There's a vacancy on the panel and other members are elderly. It is now President-elect Donald Trump who will be choosing the next candidates. Also on the podcast is Claudia from Bolivia who moved to the US when she was 11 and Kevin Johnson, Dean of Davis School of Law, who talk about the immigration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
12/16/201620 minutes, 1 second
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Populism - With Guest Tony Blair

"It's only if centre ground, and the centre left particularly, are changemakers not guardians of the status quo, that we'll succeed. Otherwise... the person who comes along and represents change will take the laurels." Is populism just about being popular or is it a matter of saying what the public want to hear even if a politician is not sure how to deliver it? Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair joins Jon Sopel to talk about populism, globalisation, social media and centrist politics. Also on the programme: the fake story 'pizzagate', and Anthony Zurcher on how - and why - Donald Trump uses Twitter.
12/9/201620 minutes, 25 seconds
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"I want admirable, intelligent, prudential people in important slots, because we're not playing tiddlywinks here. This is the Presidency of the United States and there's an enormous amount that rests on how well the President acts." Peter Wehner, an establishment Republican, reflects on how Donald Trump will fit in with traditional, conservative Republicans, when "He won and he's now President". What do Donald Trump's choice of appointments indicate about his priorities for his administration? Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn shares her thoughts. Presented by Anthony Zurcher.
12/2/201621 minutes, 22 seconds
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Why the Democrats Fared as They Did

"This is the worst situation that Democrats have been in in my entire life. Not only have they lost the Presidency, both houses of Congress, Trump immediately gets to name a Supreme Court Justice. It's the biggest wipeout I've ever seen," says Thomas Frank author of the book Listen, Liberal. Is it time for the Democratic Party to reassess what it stands for and where it wants to go? Thomas Frank and Jon Sopel discuss how the Democratic Party have lost touch with their roots, the errors Clinton and Obama made, and they speculate how Bernie Sanders would have fared in the US Election had he had been a Presidential candidate. Speaking from Youngstown, Ohio, Karen George, a long-time Democrat who switched to the Republican party after Bill Clinton's administration, describes how she's feeling positive about the election of Donald Trump, "This is the first time I'm feeling very excited about a President," she says.
11/25/201620 minutes, 12 seconds
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Hopes and Fears

"I think a lot of the backlash is against the uncertainty. We have no idea what's coming," says one student protester. An increase in hate crimes has been reported, with many blaming the election for creating bitterness across the United States. Donald Trump has begun choosing members of his cabinet, including Steve Bannon - a media executive from the right-wing outlet Breitbart - as his chief strategist. Jon speaks to Kurt Bardella about the “new alternative right” and what that will mean when the "President... is being guided by people who share a very different view of America and what America should look like and what that composition should be." Meanwhile Allan Lichtman, who was correct when he predicted Donald Trump's win, reflects on his prediction and says that Trump will not serve out his Presidential term.
11/18/201618 minutes, 55 seconds
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What a Week

People scoffed, the pollsters dismissed it, the media thought better, the world is shocked - Donald Trump is President elect of the United States. But as one Trump voter put it "He's done something amazing. He has turned the establishment on its end: is a man who never ran for political office, decided he was going to do it, beat the odds. I feel like it's a huge statement." Jon Sopel and Katty Kay, presenters of World News America, talk about how people voted in the US elections. They discuss sexism in politics and how Donald Trump’s choice of who he brings in to the White House will influence the direction of his presidency. Also on the programme, how the world has reacted to his election - we hear from BBC correspondents, in China Russia and Turkey.
11/11/201623 minutes, 59 seconds
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A Hard Race

"The FBI is not to be used for political purposes and he should realise he was being used for just that." Jon Sopel speaks to Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W Bush, about whether FBI Director James Comey broke the law by disclosing a new development so close to the election. The FBI Director turned the US election on its head when he announced a new discovery of emails related to Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. FBI insiders are reported saying that Comey was concerned about appearing secretive and partisan had he not exposed the new information. Also in this episode: Anthony Zurcher on the African American voter turnout.
11/4/201618 minutes, 59 seconds
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Divided States of America

This week marked the start of early voting for many key states, and millions of Americans visited their local polling station to cast their votes for president. With less than two weeks to go before election day, many Americans are feeling tense, emotional and divided. Jon Sopel got a first-hand look as he travelled with Clinton's campaign to Florida and New Hampshire - two important swing states. On one of those legs he spoke with Time columnist Joe Klein on the challenges this election season has posed to America's democracy, and whether things are as bad as they seem.
10/28/201620 minutes, 2 seconds
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This week Jon Sopel looks at how a video of Donald Trump bragging about groping women and accusations of sexual assault in a New York Times article have changed the dynamics of the presidential campaign. As one voter said "100% it matters. I don't want anybody in the White House that is accused of something like that. It's unforgivable and indefensible." Though the core Trump supporters seem unmovable, there is anguish among Republicans having to choose whether to stand by him or not. Jon Sopel talks to conservative radio host Charlie Sykes and former Republican congressman Bob Walker. While Anthony Zurcher and Jon discuss the most preposterous, jaw dropping, surprising and embarrassing moments of the week.
10/14/201620 minutes, 33 seconds
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A Taxing Week

"On a dozen counts you would say Donald Trump should be out of this race, but he's not." Donald Trump’s week was marked by a New York Times story about his near billion-dollar business losses in 1995 and further questions about his tax returns. But even so, Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted the winner of every election for three decades, says forecasting this year’s race is still the most puzzling and difficult yet. Also on the programme what millenials think, and Anthony Zurcher on the vice presidental debate. Don't forget to send in your questions for next week's programme via direct message or email [email protected]
10/7/201616 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Psychology of the Presidential Debate

Light-hearted and deeply analytical, this podcast is both. "Lord help us. We need prayer. Cos we're in trouble," says one voter on the programme. Just what is going on in the US? Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post shares her thoughts on the psychology going on in the Presidential debate. And the BBC's Jon Sopel and Anthony Zurcher talk about Libertarian Gary Johnson's bad week and how it's still up for grabs as to who could be voted in as President. Don't forget to send in your questions for next week's programme via
9/30/201616 minutes, 56 seconds