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The New Yorker Radio Hour

English, Social, 1 season, 264 episodes, 4 days, 19 hours, 28 minutes
About
David Remnick is joined by The New Yorker’s award-winning writers, editors and artists to present a weekly mix of profiles, storytelling, and insightful conversations about the issues that matter — plus an occasional blast of comic genius from the magazine’s legendary Shouts and Murmurs page. The New Yorker has set a standard in journalism for generations and The New Yorker Radio Hour gives it a voice on public radio for the first time. Produced by The New Yorker and WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many more.
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How a Republican and a Democrat Carved out Exemptions to Texas’s Abortion Ban

Texas has multiple abortion laws, with both criminal and civil penalties for providers. They contain language that may allow for exceptions to save the life or “major bodily function” of a pregnant patient, but many doctors have been reluctant to even try interpreting these laws; at least one pregnant woman has been denied cancer treatment. The reporter Stephania Taladrid tells David Remnick about how two lawmakers worked together in a rare bipartisan effort to clarify the limited medical circumstances in which abortion is allowed. “If lawmakers created specific exemptions,” Taladrid explains, “then doctors who got sued could show that the treatment that they had offered their patients was compliant with the language of the law.” Taladrid spoke with the state representatives Ann Johnson, a Democrat, and Bryan Hughes, a conservative Republican, about their unlikely collaboration. Johnson told her that she put together a list of thirteen conditions that might qualify for a special exemption, but only two of them—premature ruptures and ectopic pregnancy—were cited in the final bill. Still, the unusual bipartisan action is cause for hope among reproductive-rights advocates that some of the extreme climate around abortion bans may be lessening.
4/12/202419 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Film Critic Justin Chang on What to See in 2024

The New Yorker’s newest staff member, Justin Chang, shares three films that he’s excited to see released in 2024: “Janet Planet,” the début feature film directed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker; “Blitz,” a wartime drama by Steve McQueen, the director of “12 Years a Slave”; and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” the widely anticipated new entry in George Miller’s Mad Max series—which, at forty-five years years old, predates Justin Chang. 
4/8/202413 minutes, 42 seconds
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The Attack on Black History, with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jelani Cobb

Across much of the country, Republican officials are reaching into K-12 classrooms and universities alike to exert control over what can be taught. In Florida, Texas, and many other states, laws now restrict teaching historical facts about race and racism. Book challenges and bans are surging. Public universities are seeing political meddling in the tenure process. Advocates of these measures say, in effect, that education must emphasize only the positive aspects of American history. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times Magazine reporter who developed the 1619 Project, and Jelani Cobb, the dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, talk with David Remnick about the changing climate for intellectual freedom. “I just think it’s rich,” Hannah-Jones says, “that the people who say they are opposing indoctrination are in fact saying that curricula must be patriotic.” She adds, “You don’t ban books, you don’t ban curriculum, you don’t ban the teaching of ideas, just to do it. You do it to control what we are able to understand and think about and imagine for our society.”
4/5/202436 minutes, 35 seconds
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Rhiannon Giddens, Americana’s Queen, on Cultivating the Black Roots of Country Music

By the standards of any musician, Rhiannon Giddens has taken a twisting and complex path. She was trained as an operatic soprano at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and then fell almost by chance into the study of American folk music and took up the banjo. With like-minded musicians, she founded the influential Carolina Chocolate Drops, which focussed on reviving the repertoire of Black Southern string bands. Giddens plays on Beyoncé’s new country album, which boldly asserts the Black presence in country music. But her view of Black music is unbounded by genre: “There’s been Black people singing opera and writing classical music forever.” Giddens shared a Pulitzer Prize for the opera “Omar” in 2023, and as a solo artist, she has moved through the Black diaspora and beyond it. David Remnick talked with Giddens when her album “There Is No Other,” recorded in Dublin, had just come out, and she performed in the studio with her collaborator, Francesco Turrisi. This segment originally aired May 3, 2019.
4/2/202415 minutes, 31 seconds
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Alicia Keys Returns to Her Roots with Her New Musical, “Hell’s Kitchen”

Alicia Keys’ new musical is opening on Broadway about a ten-minute walk from where she grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. She describes the New York City neighborhood in the eighties as a “place where anyone who didn’t belong anywhere accumulated.” She tells David Remnick, “There was this unique balance between that grime and the potential of Broadway” just steps away. “Hell’s Kitchen” is the name of the musical that incorporates her songs to tell a story about a teen-ager named Ali who is growing up and finding her love of music, and it is even set in the apartment building where Keys was raised. Yet she is adamant that the show is not autobiographical, “because a lot of people think ‘autobiographical’ and they think quite literally.” Keys, who was offered a recording contract at 14, was called the top R&B artist of the millennium by a recording-industry group, and with Jay-Z, she’s responsible for the New York City anthem of our time: “Empire State of Mind.” In casting the role of Ali, a young woman very much like herself, Keys was looking for a “triple-threat” performer who also had “the energy of a true New Yorker … That’s the hardest part, because you can’t teach that.”
3/29/202434 minutes, 29 seconds
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Percival Everett and the Reinvention of Mark Twain’s Jim

In a new novel, Percival Everett offers a radically different perspective on the classic story “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  Everett tells the story of Jim, who is escaping slavery; he calls his book “James.”  “My Jim—he’s not simple,” Everett tells Julian Lucas. “The Jim that’s represented in Huck Finn is simple.”  Everett, whose 2001 novel “Erasure” was adapted as the Oscar-winning film “American Fiction,” restores Jim’s inner life as a father surviving enslavement, and forced to play along with the pranks of two white boys.  But like other Black authors, including Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed, Everett considers Twain’s original a central American text grappling with slavery.  “I imagine myself in a conversation with Twain doing this. And one of the things I think he and I would both agree on is that he doesn’t write Jim’s story because he’s not capable of writing Jim’s story—any more than I’m capable of writing Huck’s story.” 
3/26/202419 minutes, 55 seconds
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Trump’s Authoritarian Pronouncements Recall a Dark History

In 2016, before most people imagined that Donald Trump would become a serious contender for the Presidency, the New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik wrote about what he later called the “F-word”: fascism.  He saw Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric not as a new force in America but as a throwback to a specific historical precedent in nineteen-thirties Europe.  In the years since, Trump has called for “terminating” articles of the Constitution, has celebrated the January 6th insurrectionists as political martyrs, and has called his enemies animals, vermin, and “not people,” and demonstrated countless other examples of authoritarian behavior.  In a new essay, Gopnik reviews a book by the historian Timothy W. Ryback, and considers Adolf Hitler’s unlikely ascent in the early nineteen-thirties. He finds alarming analogies with this moment in the U.S.  In both Trump and Hitler, “The allegiance to the fascist leader is purely charismatic,” Gopnik says. In both men, he sees “someone whose power lies in his shamelessness,” and whose prime motivation is a sense of humiliation at the hands of those described as élites. “It wasn’t that the great majority of  Germans were suddenly lit aflame by a nihilist appetite for apocalyptic transformation,” Gopnik notes. “They [were] voting to protect what they perceive as their interest from their enemies. Often those enemies are largely imaginary.”
3/22/202429 minutes, 49 seconds
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March Madness 2024: College Basketball at a Crossroads

As this year’s annual March Madness tournament kicks off, there’s a sense of malaise around men’s college basketball. The advent of the transfer portal is partly to blame, and the trend of top talents departing for the N.B.A. after just one year of college play. “There hasn’t been that kind of charismatic superstar like Zion Williamson at Duke,” Louisa Thomas tells David Remnick, “the big school and the big player, which is the perfect match.” But women’s college basketball is another story. Last year, superstars like Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark helped the sport reach its highest ratings ever for a final. Clark, in particular, with a penchant for nearly forty-foot throws that almost defies belief, has become such a source of fascination for fans that Remnick compares her to LeBron James. “The question is whether or not she can carry that attention with her” into the W.N.B.A. and to the league’s benefit, Thomas wonders, and  if “she can leave some of that attention behind. To what extent is this a unique phenomenon around a unique player?”
3/19/202415 minutes, 28 seconds
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Judith Butler Can’t “Take Credit or Blame” for Gender Furor

A legal assault on trans rights by conservative groups and the Republican Party is escalating, the journalist Erin Reed reports, with nearly five hundred bills introduced across the country  so far this year. Reed spoke with the Radio Hour about the tactics being employed. But long before gender theory became a principal target of the right, it existed principally in academic circles. And one of the leading thinkers in the field was the philosopher Judith Butler. In “Gender Trouble” (from 1990) and in other works, Butler popularized ideas about gender as a social construct, a “performance,” a matter of learned behavior. Those ideas proved highly influential for a younger generation, and Butler became the target of traditionalists who abhorred them. A protest at which Butler was burned in effigy, depicted as a witch, inspired their new book, “Who’s Afraid of Gender?” It covers the backlash to trans rights in which conservatives from the Vatican to Vladimir Putin create a “phantasm” of gender as a destructive force. “Obviously, nobody who is thinking about gender . . . is saying you can’t be a mother, that you can’t be a father, or we’re not using those words anymore,” they tell David Remnick. “Or we’re going to take your sex away.” They also discuss Butler’s identification as nonbinary after many years of identifying as a woman. “The younger generation gave me ‘they,’ ” as Butler puts it. “At the end of ‘Gender Trouble,’ in 1990, I said, ‘Why do we restrict ourselves to thinking there are only men and women?’ . . . This generation has come along with the idea of being nonbinary. Never occurred to me. Then I thought, Of course I am. What else would I be? . . .  I just feel gratitude to the younger generation, they gave me something wonderful. That takes a certain humility.” 
3/15/202434 minutes, 53 seconds
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In “Great Expectations,” Vinson Cunningham Watches Barack Obama’s Rise Up Close

Like most Americans, Vinson Cunningham first became aware of Barack Obama in 2004, when he gave a breakout speech at the Democratic National Convention. “Very good posture, that guy,” Cunningham noted. “We hang our faith on objects, on people, based on the signs that they put out,” Cunningham tells David Remnick. “And that’s certainly been a factor in my own life. The rapid and urgent search for patterns.” Although Cunningham aspired to be a writer, he got swept up in this historic campaign, working on Obama’s longshot 2008 run for the Presidency, and later worked in his White House. Cunningham’s adventures on the trail inspire his first novel, “Great Expectations,” an autobiographical coming-of-age story about where and how we seek inspiration.  Cunningham recalls that Obama was seen as the “fulfillment” of so many hopes and dreams for people like himself. Now he wishes the former President were playing a larger role. “I will admit that it has been dispiriting,” in Obama’s post-Presidential life, “to see him making movies and being on Jet Skis as the world burns. … more like a movie star than someone whose great hope is to change the world.”
3/12/202419 minutes, 35 seconds
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Bradley Cooper Contends for Best Actor in “Maestro”

“Maestro,” about the legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, as well as Best Actor for Bradley Cooper—who is not only the film’s star but its director and co-writer.  Cooper’s movie focusses less on Bernstein’s musical triumphs, as a dominant figure in classical music for decades, than on his extremely complicated personal life.  Bernstein was married to the actress Felicia Montealegre, played in the film by Carey Mulligan, but lived as a proudly nonmonogamous bisexual.  “I had no desire to make a bio-pic,” Cooper tells David Remnick, of a man whose life is so well documented. Despite his track record as a box-office draw and critical success, Cooper endured a string of rejections from major studios when he shopped around a movie about classical music, shot largely on black-and-white film.  Academy nominations aside, for Cooper, the experience of getting to play Bernstein and actually conducting the London Symphony Orchestra—“the scariest thing I’ve ever done, hands down,” he tells David Remnick—was reward enough: he had been practicing conducting an orchestra since his early childhood.  The segment originally broadcast on November 24, 2023.
3/8/202430 minutes, 33 seconds
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What Biden Is Thinking About the 2024 Election

Despite hand-wringing among Democrats about Joe Biden’s age and his discouraging poll numbers, the President’s campaign for reëlection displays an “ostentatious level of serenity,” Evan Osnos says about the election. “This is a matter of great personal importance to Joe Biden. He feels almost, viscerally, this contempt for Trump and for what Trump did to the country,” Osnos tells David Remnick, after a rare private interview at the White House. “And let’s remember, he didn’t just try to steal this election—from Biden’s perspective—he tried to steal it from him.” Although Biden once referred to himself as a “bridge” President, he told Osnos that he had never considered stepping aside after one term. His gait has  slowed, but Osnos found the President quick to jab at his questions and at “you guys” in the media, whom he blames for naysaying his campaign. But alongside complacent media coverage, threats to the President’s reëlection are many. The war in Gaza has alienated many voters from Biden, especially in Arab American communities, and it resonates even more widely. “When Houthi rebels started firing rockets at ships in the Red Sea,” Osnos points out, “it had an immediate effect on global shipping, to the point that it could have, and could yet still, push inflation back up. . . . I know this is the worst cliché in journalism, but this election has an element that is beyond anything we’ve ever really dealt with before.” 
3/2/202422 minutes, 26 seconds
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Kara Swisher on Tech Billionaires: “I Don’t Think They Like People”

Kara Swisher landed on the tech beat as a young reporter at the Washington Post decades ago. She would stare at the teletype machine at the entrance and wonder why this antique sat there when it could already be supplanted by a computer. She eventually foretold the threat that posed to her own business—print journalism—by the rise of free online media; today, she is still raising alarms about how A.I. companies make use of the entire contents of the Internet. “Pay me for my stuff!” she says. “You can’t walk into my store and take all my Snickers bars and say it’s for fair use.” She is disappointed in government leaders who have failed to regulate businesses and protect users’ privacy. Although she remains awed by the innovation produced by American tech businesses, Swisher is no longer “naïve” about their motives. She also witnessed a generation of innovators grow megalomaniacal. The tech moguls claim they “know better; you’re wrong. You’ve done it wrong. The media’s done it wrong. The government’s done it wrong. . . . When they have lives full of mistakes! They just paper them over.” Once on good terms with Elon Musk, Swisher believes money has been deleterious to his mental health. “I don’t know what happened to him. I’m not his mama, and I’m not a psychiatrist. But I think as he got richer and richer—there are always enablers around people that make them think they hung the moon.”
3/1/202427 minutes, 35 seconds
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Lily Gladstone on Holding the Door Open for More Native Actors in Hollywood. Plus, the Brody Awards

Lily Gladstone had been in several films, but unknown to most moviegoers, when she got a call for Martin Scorsese’s period drama “Killers of a Flower Moon.” The role was challenging. She plays the historical Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman married to a white man, Ernest (played in the film by Leonardo DiCaprio), who perpetrates a series of murders of Osage people in a scheme to secure lucrative oil rights. Ernest may be poisoning her with a cocktail that includes morphine, and some of the dialogue is in Osage, a language that Gladstone—raised on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana—had to learn. Gladstone is the first Native person nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and is aware of the historical weight the nomination carries.  “We’re kicking the door in,” she says. “When you’re kicking the door in, you should just kind of put your foot in the door and stand there,” she adds. “Kicking the door and running through it means it’s going to shut behind you.” Plus, our film critic Richard Brody returns with his annual movie honors: the Brody Awards. An awards show exclusively for The New Yorker Radio Hour, he’ll be handing out imaginary trophies—and trash-talking Oscar favorites like “Oppenheimer”—alongside the staff writer Alexandra Schwartz.
2/27/202434 minutes, 46 seconds
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Ty Cobb on Trump, Putin, and the Death of Alexey Navalny

Ty Cobb represented the Trump White House during the height of the Mueller-Russia probe, so he has a unique insight into the former President’s admiration for all things Putin, and his refusal to condemn the dissident Alexey Navalny’s death in prison. Trump’s response, bizarrely, was to compare his own legal troubles to Navalny’s political persecution and likely murder.  Yet Cobb still feels certain that Russia has nothing concrete on Trump, which was the question of the Mueller investigation. Rather, Putin “has what Trump wants,” he tells David Remnick, “total control and adulation and riding the horse with his shirt off.” His quest to secure that power, seemingly by any means necessary, has made Trump “the greatest threat to democracy we’ve ever seen.” Cobb has been following Trump’s myriad of criminal cases closely, and he has concluded that only the January 6th case concerning Trump’s attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power has the potential to derail his political career. If a trial decision is not reached before the November election, and Trump were to win again, he can order the Justice Department to dismiss the case, and “it will be as though it never existed.”
2/23/202414 minutes, 46 seconds
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For Brontez Purnell, “Memoir Is Fiction—I Don’t Care What Anyone Says”

Brontez Purnell is a Renaissance man. He’s a musician, a dancer, a filmmaker, and the author of a number of books. His latest is “Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt,” a departure from the traditional memoir form. It’s written in verse, downplays major life events like testing positive for H.I.V.,  explicitly depicts sex in a frank and unromanticized way, and playfully embellishes the truth throughout. “Memoir is fiction—I don’t care what anyone says,” Purnell tells The New Yorker Radio Hour’s Jeffrey Masters. “You [or] I could both write down our lives as true as we know it. But the second our mom reads it, or one of our siblings reads it, or anybody else peripherally in the book, they can easily say, ‘What are you talking about? That never happened like that.’ ” Purnell, who came of age in the underground punk scene in Oakland, California, during the early two-thousands, is no stranger to hard knocks, but that doesn’t mean he needs to divulge everything. “If you write about your life, you have to protect the wicked; namely, yourself,” he says. “So there is this game of pulling and punching.”
2/20/202418 minutes, 25 seconds
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“Pod Save America” ’s Jon Lovett on Trump: “The Threat of Jail Time Sharpens the Mind”

Jon Lovett had been deep inside politics, as a speechwriter in the Obama Administration, before he joined his colleagues Tommy Vietor and Jon Favreau to launch Crooked Media, a liberal answer to the burgeoning ecosystem of right-wing news platforms. “There was too much media that treated people like cynical observers,” Lovett tells David Remnick, “and not enough that treated them like frustrated participants.” Crooked Media has gathered millions of politically engaged listeners—“nerds,” Lovett calls them—to “Pod Save America,” “Lovett or Leave It,” and other podcasts. But Lovett is more worried about voters who no longer get a steady stream of reliable political coverage at all, as local news outlets wither and platforms like Facebook downplay the sharing of news. “The vast majority of people do not know about Joe Biden’s accomplishments,” he says. “When they say to a pollster that this is not someone they view as being up to the job, they’re not . . . understanding how he performed in the job so far.” Lovett shares the widespread concerns about Biden’s apparent aging, but notes that his performance remains effective, whereas, “in Trump, the reverse: he is more energetic—I think the threat of federal jail time sharpens the mind!—but by all accounts is emotionally, psychologically, and mentally not up to the job.”
2/16/202431 minutes, 28 seconds
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Jacqueline Novak Is Giving Audiences “Everything She’s Got”

The comedian Jacqueline Novak wasn’t well known before her Netflix début “Get on Your Knees.” The show was a big swing in her career, an ambitious attempt to establish her singular voice, and it worked. A fast-paced and raucous examination of her personal journey with oral sex, Novak tosses out so many tangents—philosophical, psychological, anatomical, linguistic—that you’re liable to miss many of her allusions. Novak knows that her hectic delivery is an acquired taste. “We’ve got to get through this, because I’ve got a lot to say,” she tells David Remnick. Although she relentlessly probes the power dynamics between men and women, she doesn’t “want to come out here and say ‘male fragility.’ I’m really not trying to do that. But it happens, sort of.” The show could make a lot of people uncomfortable, but she’s not worried about cancellation, as many male comedians have been. “Choosing to make art of any kind is sort of this self-appointment. No one’s asking you to do it. So it’s sort of weird for me to get into a mind-set as though you're owed any comfort.” 
2/13/202419 minutes, 54 seconds
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Can Memes Swing the 2024 Election? Plus, Michelle Zauner on “Crying in H Mart”

In a Presidential race with two leading candidates who are broadly unpopular, any small perceived edge can make a tremendous difference. According to Clare Malone, more and more people will have their judgments formed by memes—visual jokes about the candidates floating on social media. Republican memes capitalize on widespread discomfort with President Biden’s age, by highlighting his stumbles, verbal or otherwise. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is a master of turning bad press to his advantage: he propagated his own mug shot on social media, feeding his outlaw image. Malone says that conservatives also have a leg up here because their beliefs suit the medium. “The right wing can ‘go there’—they can say the thing everyone thinks, but doesn’t actually say out loud.” Now the partisan fight on social media has roped in a relatively innocent bystander, Taylor Swift. The pop star, who has endorsed Biden in the past, and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, have been labeled a “psy op” by right-wingers online. “My theory about American politics, especially in the past decade, is basically none of it’s really policy,” Malone argues. “It’s all political pheromones.” Plus, Michelle Zauner, the front woman for the indie band Japanese Breakfast, talks about her memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” with The New Yorker’s Hua Hsu, author of “Stay True.” 
2/9/202430 minutes, 5 seconds
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Sheila Heti Talks with Parul Sehgal About “Alphabetical Diaries”

The writer Sheila Heti is known for unusual approaches, but her latest work is decidedly experimental. Heti “is one of the most interesting novelists working today,” according to The New Yorker critic Parul Sehgal. “She is ruthlessly contemporary. By which I mean, she’s not interested in writing a novel as a nostalgic exercise. She’s constantly trying to figure out  new places fiction can go. New ways that we’re using language, new ways that our minds are evolving.” To write her new book, “Alphabetical Diaries,” Heti combed through a decade’s worth of her own diaries, then alphabetized the sentences; in the first chapter, every sentence in the narrative begins with the letter “A,” and so on. “It’s fun to find writing that shouldn’t be in a novel, and to figure out, can it do the same things that we want writing in novels to do,” she shares, “which is [to] move us, and tell us something new about the world and about ourselves.” In other words, she’s not interested in experimentalism for its own sake. “I always want to write a straight realist novel,” she says. “Something proper, like the books that I love most. . . . It doesn’t happen, because I think I don’t notice the same things that those writers I love notice. I’m impatient with certain things that they were patient with.” 
2/6/202415 minutes, 29 seconds
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Jonathan Blitzer on the Battle over Immigration; and Olivia Rodrigo Talks with David Remnick

In the shadow of another election year, Democrats and Republicans are at a bitter crossroads over immigration, as the system becomes increasingly unmanageable. With as many as twelve thousand migrants arriving at the border per day, and resistance to asylum seekers growing—even among Democrats—the Biden Administration is in a political bind. “You have a global moment of mass migration converging on the border at a time when resources are down. Congress is refusing to give the president the money that he needs for basic operations—it’s a perfect storm,” The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer tells David Remnick.  Blitzer has covered immigration for years, and his new book, “Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here,” takes a long and deep look at U.S. policy and the forces that drive migrants to undertake enormous risks. According to Blitzer, both sides are obscuring the actual problem. “There’s always been an assumption that the case for immigration makes itself—that the moral high ground makes sense to everyone, that we should be welcoming, that people showing up in need obviously should seek protection,” Blitzer says. “I don’t think defenders of immigration have squared the high ideals with some of the practical realities. And sadly the border, which is a tiny sliver of what the immigration system is as a whole, ends up dominating the conversation.”Plus, the pop singer and songwriter Olivia Rodrigo’s rise to fame has been meteoric. She talks with David Remnick about her models for songwriting, dealing with social media as a young celebrity, and how it feels to be branded the voice of Generation Z.
2/2/202455 minutes, 17 seconds
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From In the Dark: The Runaway Princesses

The wives and daughters of Dubai’s ruler live in unbelievable luxury. So why do the women in Sheikh Mohammed’s family keep trying to run away? The New Yorker staff writer Heidi Blake joins In the Dark’s Madeleine Baran to tell the story of the royal women who risked everything to flee the brutality of one of the world’s most powerful men. In four episodes, drawing on thousands of pages of secret correspondence and never-before-heard audio recordings, “The Runaway Princesses” takes listeners behind palace walls, revealing a story of astonishing courage and cruelty.“The Runaway Princesses” is a four-part narrative series from In the Dark and The New Yorker. To keep listening, follow In the Dark wherever you get your podcasts.
1/31/202414 minutes, 18 seconds
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For Journalists, “Gaza Is Unprecedented,” and Deadly

Journalism has often been a dangerous business, and many reporters have lost their lives reporting the news from conflict zones.  But the rules that have, at least to a degree, protected the safety and freedom of journalists are being violated around the world, nowhere more so than in Gaza.  “Gaza is unprecedented,” Jodie Ginsberg, the president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says.  “It is unprecedented for the intensity of the killings, the number of journalists killed in such a short space of time. Part of that is to do with the size of Gaza, the density. The fact that there is nowhere to go that’s safe.”  Eighty-three journalists, most of them Palestinian, have been killed in the recent fighting, and the Israel Defense Forces has been accused of targeting journalists deliberately.  “Since October 7th, we’ve seen a number of cases in which journalists are killed when clearly wearing press insignia,” Ginsberg notes, “for example the Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah.”  Ginsberg also discusses with David Remnick the decline in press freedom and safety around the world, including Donald Trump’s insults and threats to journalists, whom he has labelled “enemies of the state.” 
1/29/202423 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Oscar Nominee Cord Jefferson on Why Race Is so “Fertile” for Comedy

The writer and director Cord Jefferson has struck gold with his first feature film, “American Fiction.” Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jefferson, the film is winning praise for portraying a broader spectrum of the Black experience than most Hollywood movies. It’s based on the 2001 novel “Erasure,” by Percival Everett, a satire of the literary world.  And Jefferson, who began his career as a journalist before branching out into entertainment, has long seen up close how rigid attitudes about what constitutes “Blackness” can be. “Three months before I found ‘Erasure,’ I got a note back on a script from an executive” on another script, Jefferson tells his friend Jelani Cobb, “that said, ‘We want you to make this character blacker.’ ” (He demanded that the note be explained in person, and it was quickly dropped.) Jefferson hopes that his film sheds some light on what he calls the “absurdity” of race as a construct. He finds race “a fertile target for laughter. … On the one hand, race is not real and insignificant and [on the other hand] very real and incredibly important. Sometimes life or death depends on race. And to me that inherent tension and absurdity is perfect for comedy.”
1/26/202426 minutes, 36 seconds
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Pramila Jayapal: Biden’s “Coalition Has Fractured”

Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic representative and leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been sounding the alarm about President Joe Biden’s reëlection prospects.  She fears that the fragile coalition that won him the White House in 2020 – which included suburban swing voters, people of color, and younger, progressive-leaning constituents – is “fractured” over issues like immigration, and his support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Gaza in particular “is just a very difficult issue because we don’t all operate from the same facts,” Jayapal tells David Remnick. “It is probably the most complex issue I have had to deal with in Congress. And I certainly didn’t come to Congress to deal with this issue.” But Jayapal sees a longer-term problem facing the Democratic Party. “The problem I think with a lot of my own party is we are very late to populist ideas,” she says. “The two biggest things people talk to me about are housing and childcare. They saw that we had control of the House, the Senate, and the White House—and we didn’t get that done. And I can explain till the cows come home about the filibuster . . . but what people feel is the reality.” Of the political struggle that accompanied President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, she thinks, “a road or a bridge is extremely important, but if people can’t get out of the house, or they don’t have a house, then it’s not going to matter.”
1/23/202430 minutes, 21 seconds
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E. Jean Carroll on Trump Defamation Cases: “Money Is Precious to Him”

After winning the Iowa caucuses by a historic margin, Donald Trump made his way to a courtroom in New York, where a jury was selected in a second defamation trial involving E. Jean Carroll. In May, 2023, after a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse, David Remnick spoke with Carroll and her attorney Roberta Kaplan. Trump continues to attack Carroll on social media, even during the ongoing court proceedings to determine damages. “I don’t think he can help himself, honestly,” Kaplan tells Remick. “I don’t think he has enough development in the frontal lobe of his brain to do that.” Plus, to mark the copyright expiration on the classic Mickey Mouse, we’ve resurrected a 1931 Profile of Walt Disney from The New Yorker archives, which has some prescient things to say about the iconic character and its creator.The interview with E. Jean Carroll and Roberta Kaplan first aired in May, 2023.
1/19/202420 minutes, 13 seconds
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Danielle Brooks Comes Full Circle in “The Color Purple”

“I think of ‘The Color Purple’ as the epic of our time,” Doreen St. Félix said in a conversation with the actress Danielle Brooks.  While St. Félix admits, “I wasn’t convinced that we needed necessarily to have a new envisioning of the story—which has been a novel, which has been a film, which has been a musical twice over”—she finds that Blitz Bazawule’s film, which opened at the end of 2023, is different from its stage and screen predecessors in significant ways, reflecting the concerns of its millennial cast and director.  The actress Danielle Brooks has played a critical role in the work’s transition back to film. In 2016, the “Orange Is the New Black” star was Tony-nominated for her performance as the no-nonsense Sofia, and she is now earning strong Oscar buzz playing Sofia on film. The transition from stage to film dramatically changed her performance. “Being actually in Georgia, feeling the hot Georgia sun, being on plantations, actually holding a ten-pound baby and having to be careful with that child,” Brooks tells St. Félix, “opens up the world. Now I feel like I was painting with an endless amount of color.” Sofia was the role first portrayed onscreen by Oprah Winfrey, in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 version, and Winfrey is a producer of the new film. “Huge shoes to fill,” Brooks says, of Winfrey. “But I feel like she really allowed me to be the cobbler of my own shoe.”
1/16/202428 minutes, 21 seconds
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How Donald Trump Broke the Iowa Caucuses and Owns the G.O.P.

This time last year, Republicans were reeling from a poorer-than-expected performance in the 2022 midterm elections; many questioned, again, whether it was time to move on from their two-time Presidential standard-bearer. But Donald Trump is so far ahead in the polls that it would be shocking if he did not clinch the Iowa caucuses.  The New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells and Robert Samuels have seen on the ground how much staying power the former President has despite some opposition from religious leaders and establishment power brokers. For MAGA voters, “The core of it is, ‘If Donald Trump is President, I can do anything I want to do,’ ” Samuels tells David Remnick. “ ‘I won’t have anyone … telling me I’m wrong all the time.’ ” Since 2016, Trump has honed and capitalized on a message of revenge for voters who feel a sense of aggrievement. Among evangelical voters, Wallace-Wells notes, Trump seems like a bulwark against what they fear is the waning of their influence. “To them, [Biden] is the head of something aggressive and dangerous,” he says. Susan B. Glasser, who writes a weekly column on Washington politics, takes the long view, raising concerns that we’re all a little too apathetic about the threats Trump’s reëlection would pose. “What if 2024 is actually the best year of the next coming years?  What if things get much much worse?” she says. “Now is the time to think in a very concrete and specific way about how a Trump victory would have a specific effect not just on policy but on individual lives.”
1/12/202421 minutes, 34 seconds
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From “Talk Easy”: Sam Fragoso Interviews David Remnick

As host of The New Yorker Radio Hour, David Remnick asks a lot of questions, and recently he had to answer quite a few himself, sitting for a long interview with Sam Fragoso, who hosts the podcast “Talk Easy.”  They spoke in December about David’s reporting from Israel at the start of the current war in Gaza; his recent collection of writing about musicians, “Holding the Note”; and more.  We’re sharing this episode of “Talk Easy” as a bonus for New Yorker Radio Hour listeners.
1/10/20241 hour, 15 minutes, 4 seconds
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Ava DuVernay Wants Her Film “Origin” to Influence the 2024 Election

The filmmaker Ava DuVernay has a reputation for tackling challenging material about America’s troubled past. She depicted the bloody fight to achieve equal voting rights for African Americans in her 2014 film “Selma”; examined the prison-industrial complex in her 2016 Peabody Award-winning documentary “13th”; and portrayed the wrongful conviction of five teen-age boys of color in the miniseries “When They See Us.” But “Origin,” her first narrative feature film in five years, may be her most ambitious work to date. “This breaks every screenwriting rule, every rule of filmmaking that I know,” DuVernay tells David Remnick. “Origin” is an adaptation of the journalist Isabel Wilkerson’s best-seller “Caste,” a complex analysis of racism and social structures. “Caste” lacks a cinematic narrative structure, and so “Origin” positions Wilkerson as its subject as she navigates the intellectual journey of the book. DuVernay felt compelled to make this movie now, in part because she thought that its message would be vital for audiences in a Presidential election year when the understanding of America’s past is very much at issue. “We have to wake up and focus—focus on what is happening,” DuVernay says. “And I want this film to contribute to that conversation.”
1/8/202433 minutes, 45 seconds
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How the Journalist John Nichols Became Another January 6th Conspiracy-Theory Target

The veteran political reporter John Nichols was taking his daughter to the orthodontist on January 6, 2021, the fateful day when the transfer of Presidential power was temporarily derailed by a mob at the Capitol. On March 4th of this year, the former President Donald Trump is scheduled to stand trial for his actions on and around that day, and, in a court filing last November, his attorneys implied that the government is withholding information about whether Nichols, and others,  had a role to play in the Capitol attack. This bizarre move not only thrust Nichols uncomfortably into the center of yet another January 6th conspiracy theory but raised some questions about the seriousness of the defense that Trump intends to mount in the case. “It looks like they’re throwing things at the wall,” Nichols tells David Remnick. “Just trying for dozens and dozens of possible conspiracy theories.” And, though Nichols has endured only teasing from his colleagues for getting name-checked in Trump discovery documents, he notes that many other journalists have been targeted and doxxed by far-right actors. False allegations like the John Nichols conspiracy theory can be almost amusing, but they are a dire indicator of the state of American politics. “There are people who desperately want to drive the deepest possible wedges,” Nichols says. “To believe that those who disagree with them don’t just disagree with them but are actually evil.”
1/5/202416 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Poet John Lee Clark’s “How to Communicate” Brings DeafBlind Experience to the Page

Although many hearing and sighted people imagine DeafBlind life in tragic terms, as an experience of isolation and darkness, the poet John Lee Clark’s writing is full of joy. It’s funny and surprising, mapping the contours of a regular life marked by common pleasures and frustrations. Clark, who was born Deaf and lost his sight at a young age, has established himself not just as a writer and translator but as a scholar of Deaf and DeafBlind literature. His recent collection, “How to Communicate,” which was nominated for a National Book Award this past year, includes original works and translations from American Sign Language and Protactile. He speaks with the contributor Andrew Leland, who is working on a book about his own experience of losing his sight in adulthood. This segment originally aired December 9, 2022.
1/2/202426 minutes, 47 seconds
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Dexter Filkins Reports on the Border Crisis

Dexter Filkins has reported on conflict situations around the world, and recently spent months reporting on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a piece published earlier this year, Filkins tries to untangle how conditions around the globe, an abrupt change in executive direction from Trump to Biden, and an antiquated immigration system have created a chaotic situation. “It’s difficult to appreciate the scale and the magnitude of what’s happening there unless you see it,” Filkins tells David Remnick. Last year, during a surge at the border, local jurisdictions struggled to provide humanitarian support for thousands of migrants, leading Democratic politicians to openly criticize the Administration. While hard-liners dream of a wall across the two-thousand-mile border, “they can’t build a border wall in the middle of a river,” Filkins notes. “So if you can get across the river, and you can get your foot on American soil, that’s all you need to do.” Migrants surrendering to Border Patrol and requesting asylum then enter a yearslong limbo as their claims work through an overburdened system. The last major overhaul of the immigration system took place in 1986, Filkins explains, and with Republicans and Democrats perpetually at loggerheads, there is no will to fix a system that both sides acknowledge as broken. This segment originally aired June 16, 2023.
12/29/202324 minutes, 10 seconds
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From Critics at Large: The Year of the Doll

This bonus episode comes from The New Yorker’s Critics at Large podcast.In the highest-grossing movie of 2023, Barbie, a literal doll, leaves the comforts of Barbieland and ventures into real-world Los Angeles, where she discovers the myriad difficulties of modern womanhood. This arc from cosseted naïveté to feminist awakening is a narrative through line that connects some of the biggest cultural products of the year. In this episode, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss how 2023 became “the year of the doll,” tracing the trope from “Barbie” to Yorgos Lanthimos’s film “Poor Things,” whose protagonist finds self-determination through sexual agency, and beyond. In Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” a teen-age Priscilla Beaulieu lives under the thumb of Elvis at Graceland before finally breaking free, while in Emma Cline’s novel “The Guest,” the doll figure must fend for herself after the trappings of luxury fall away, revealing the precarity of her circumstances. The hosts explore how ideas about whiteness, beauty, and women’s bodily autonomy inform these works, and how the shock of political backsliding might explain why these stories struck a chord with audiences. “Most of us believed that the work of Roe v. Wade was done,” Cunningham says. “If that is a message that we could all grasp—that a step forward is not a permanent thing—I think that would be a positive thing.”
12/26/202344 minutes, 11 seconds
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Bruce Springsteen Has a Gift He Keeps on Giving

At seventy-four, Bruce Springsteen has been cementing his status as a rock-and-roll legend for almost fifty years: he released his widely heralded, but not initially widely heard, début, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” in 1973. But, true to form, the artist who became known to his fans as the Boss hasn’t rested on his laurels. After weathering a spate of health troubles this past year, which led him to cancel much of his tour, the rock icon plans to hit the road again in the new year, all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe. When Springsteen published his autobiography, “Born to Run,” back in 2016, David Remnick called it “as vivid as his songs, with that same pedal-to-the-floor quality, and just as honest about the struggles in his own life.” In October of that year, Springsteen appeared at the New Yorker Festival for an intimate conversation with the editor. (The event sold out in six seconds.) This entire episode is dedicated to that conversation. Springsteen tells Remnick how, as a young musician gigging around New Jersey, he decided to up his game: “I’m going to have to write some songs that are fireworks. . . . I needed to do something that was more original.” They talked for more than an hour about Springsteen’s tortured relationship with his father, his triumphant audition for the legendary producer John Hammond, and his struggles with depression. As Springsteen explains it, his tremendously exuberant concert performances were a form of catharsis: “I had had enough of myself by that time to want to lose myself. So I went onstage every night to do exactly that.”This episode originally aired in 2016. 
12/22/202349 minutes, 48 seconds
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Christmas in Tehran: Bringing the Holidays to Hostages

In 1979, as Christmas approached, the United States Embassy in Tehran held more than fifty American hostages, who had been seized when revolutionaries stormed the embassy. No one from the U.S. had been able to have contact with them. The Reverend M. William Howard, Jr., was the president of the National Council of Churches at the time, and when he received a telegram from the Revolutionary Council, inviting him to perform Christmas services for the hostages, he jumped at the opportunity. In America, “we had a public that was quite riled up,” Reverend Howard reminds his son, The New Yorker Radio Hour’s Adam Howard. “Who knows what might have resulted if this issue were not somehow addressed? . . .Might there be an American invasion, an attempt to rescue the hostages in a militaristic way?” Reverend Howard was aware that the gesture had some propaganda value to the Iranian militants, but he saw a chance to lower the tension. Accompanied by another Protestant minister and a Catholic bishop, Howard entered front-page headlines, travelling to Tehran and into the embassy. He gave the captives updates on the N.F.L. playoffs, and they prayed. It was a surreal experience to say the least. “It was in the Iranian hostage crisis that I understood how alone we are, and how powerless we are when other people take control,” Reverend Howard says. “And really it’s in that setting that one can develop faith.”
12/19/202328 minutes, 55 seconds
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A Harrowing Detention in Gaza

Growing up in Gaza, Mosab Abu Toha wasn’t used to seeing Israeli soldiers in person. “You are bombed from the sky. You are bombed by tanks. You do not see the people, the soldiers who are killing you and your family,” he tells David Remnick. Abu Toha is a poet educated in the United States, who has contributed to The New Yorker from Gaza since Israel launched its bombardment after the October 7th Hamas attack. As Abu Toha and his family tried to flee Gaza, he was stopped by Israeli forces, and erroneously identified as a Hamas activist.  He describes being stripped naked and beaten in detention. “I kept saying, ‘Someone please talk to me,’ ” Abu Toha recalls. After an interrogation, he was released, but with a more pessimistic view of the possibility for peace. “In Gaza, even a child who is six or three or four years old, is no longer a child. They are not living their childhood. They are not children. They are not learning how to speak English, how to draw; they’re just learning how to survive,” he tells Remnick. “This future cannot be built on a land that is covered with blood and bones.”
12/15/202321 minutes, 33 seconds
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Brandy Clark: Grammy-Nominated Album Is “Authentically Me”

As an aspiring artist, Brandy Clark found herself in love with the craft of songwriting, as some of her peers were working on their image and presentation. She became a top songwriter in Nashville, contributing songs to performers like Kacey Musgraves and LeAnn Rimes. Being a lesbian also complicated any desire to be on the public stage in a conservative industry. But she eventually emerged as a solo artist, partly under the tutelage of Brandi Carlile, who acted as producer. Carlile has ushered her toward the sound of Americana—a “dirtier” aesthetic than Nashville’s, Clark says, and a more inclusive community, which is sometimes mocked as “country music for Democrats.” Clark met recently with Emily Nussbaum, who recently wrote about the culture war in country music, to discuss her recent album, which has been nominated for no fewer than five Grammy Awards. It originally had the title “Northwest,” reflecting Clark’s Washington roots, but she scrapped that to avoid confusion with North West, the child of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and released the album as “Brandy Clark.” Of her four solo records, “this is the most authentically me.”Clark performed “Buried” and “Pray to Jesus” live in our studio.
12/12/202327 minutes, 33 seconds
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Liz Cheney: Donald Trump Should Go to Jail if Convicted

Liz Cheney has been Republican royalty, and a conservative stalwart in Washington—a daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney and culture warrior Lynne Cheney. But after protesting Donald Trump’s election lies, and voting for his impeachment after January 6th, she found herself in exile from the G.O.P. Cheney is contemplating a Presidential campaign on a third-party line.  As she promotes her new book, “Oath and Honor,” she is raising the alarm that Americans across the political spectrum have become “numb” to Trump’s overtly dictatorial aspirations. “People really understood that what he had done [on January 6th] was unacceptable, not to mention unconstitutional and illegal,” she tells David Remnick. “That recognition quickly dwindled.” She finds herself frustrated with former allies on the right who have become shameless enablers of Trump; she does not trust Speaker Mike Johnson, a former friend, to perform his constitutional duties during the electoral process. She is also concerned that the left is squandering an opportunity to defeat Donald Trump in 2024 by alienating some of the voters whose support they need on issues such as crime and immigration. Trump “has figured out a way, as dictators have in the past, to make those people think he speaks for them,” she says. Still, Cheney’s faith in the country’s institutions and judiciary has not been totally shaken. Asked if Trump should go to jail if convicted—on any of his ninety-one federal charges—she says yes without hesitation; but we must not presume that “someone else is going to save us from him.”
12/8/202324 minutes, 33 seconds
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How Did Our Democracy Get so Fragile?

We’re in the midst of another election season, and yet again American democracy hangs in the balance, with a leading Presidential candidate who has threatened to suspend parts of the Constitution. How did the foundations of our political system become so shaky?  Jelani Cobb, the dean of the journalism school at Columbia University; Evan Osnos, a Washington correspondent for The New Yorker; and the best-selling author and historian Jill Lepore joined The New Yorker’s Michael Luo for a discussion of that very existential question during the most recent New Yorker Festival. From Cobb’s perspective, “it’s not that complicated,” he notes, “If we went all the way back to the fundamental dichotomy of the people who founded this country and the way they subsidized their mission of liberty with the lives of slaves. So we’ve always been engaged in that dialectic.” Lepore argues that people on both sides of the political divide choose to embrace an account of the past that accords with their politics, something she considers “incredibly dangerous.” Osnos, who witnessed the upheaval of January 6th firsthand, thinks the deeper problem is disengagement from the country and the political system. “I was struck by how many of [the rioters] told me it was their first trip to Washington,” Osnos says. “They came to Washington to sack the Capitol.”CORRECTION: Jelani Cobb notes that Queens was at one time the second-whitest borough of New York City, and is the most diverse county in the United States. Measures of diversity vary; in some recent data, Queens ranks third among counties. 
12/5/202326 minutes, 35 seconds
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Dolly Parton “Busted a Gut” Reaching for the High Notes on “Rockstar”

After six decades as an icon in country music, it’s hard to imagine Dolly Parton had anything to prove.  But when she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 2022, she admitted to feeling uneasy.  A result of that feeling is “Rockstar,” the 77-year-old’s first foray into rock music.  “I wanted the rock people to be proud of me, let’s put it that way,” Parton tells the contributor Emily Lordi. “I wanted them to say, ‘Did you hear Dolly’s rock album? Man, she killed it.’ ” For this album, which is largely comprised of covers of classic rock songs like “Freebird” along with originals like the title track, Parton channelled the likes of Joan Jett and Melissa Etheridge (who also both appear on the album).  She didn’t want to make a countryfied rock album, but even at a full roar, her voice is unmistakable Dolly. “It’s a voice you know when you hear it, whether you like it or not,” Parton says. The artist is known for avoiding comment on political subjects, but she describes the volatile state of the culture in her song “World on Fire.” “The only way I know how to fight back is to write songs to say how I feel,” Parton says. “It’s just me trying to throw some light on some dark subjects these days.”
12/1/202324 minutes, 27 seconds
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“Maestro” is the “Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

As a child, Bradley Cooper would mime conducting an orchestra, and he asked for a baton from Santa. Decades later, as a filmmaker, he fulfilled his childhood dreams in the acclaimed new film “Maestro.” Cooper co-wrote and directed the movie, and co-stars as Leonard Bernstein, perhaps the greatest American conductor ever. In a pivotal scene, Cooper conducts the famous London Symphony Orchestra with a full chorus, in real time, through a performance of Mahler, which Cooper calls the “scariest thing I’ve ever done.” But the movie focusses less on Bernstein’s well-documented musical triumphs than on his extremely complicated personal life and marriage—as a proudly nonmonogamous bisexual—to the actress Felicia Montealegre, who is played in the film by Carey Mulligan. “I had no desire to make a biopic,” Cooper tells David Remnick, especially of a man whose life is so well documented. Despite his proven track record as a box-office draw and critical success, Cooper found himself on the receiving end of noes  from major studios when he shopped “Maestro” around. “It makes sense what they [said],” Cooper concedes: “ ‘It’s a huge budget. It’s a subject matter that no one will be interested in. We just can’t justify it.’ ” With rave reviews and a holiday release setting his film up for a likely awards-season run, Cooper should feel vindicated. “This movie… I made absolutely fearlessly,” Cooper says. “And I knew I had to because that’s a huge element in Bernstein’s music. It is fearless.”
11/24/202349 minutes, 20 seconds
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Geoffrey Hinton: “It’s Far Too Late” to Stop Artificial Intelligence

The American public’s increasing fascination with artificial intelligence—its rapid advancement and ability to reshape the future—has put the computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton in an awkward position. He is known as the godfather of A.I. because of his groundbreaking work in neural networks, a branch of computer science that most researchers had given up on, while Hinton’s advances eventually led to a revolution.  But he is now fearful of what it could unleash. “There’s a whole bunch of risks that concern me and other people. . . . I’m a kind of latecomer to worrying about the risks, ” Hinton tells The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman. “Because very recently I came to the conclusion that these digital intelligences might already be as good as us. They’re able to communicate knowledge between one another much better than we can.” Knowing the technology the way he does, he feels it’s not currently possible to limit the intentions and goals of an A.I. that inevitably becomes smarter than humans.  Hinton remains a researcher and no longer has a financial stake in the success of A.I., so he is perhaps franker about the downsides of the A.I. revolution that Sam Altman and other tech moguls.  He agrees that it’s “not unreasonable” for a layperson to wish that A.I. would simply go away, “but it’s not going to happen. … It’s just so useful, so much opportunity to do good.” What should we do? Rothman asks him. “I don’t know. Smart young people,” Hinton hopes, “should be thinking about, is it possible to prevent [A.I.] from ever wanting to take over.” Rothman’s Profile of Geoffrey Hinton appears in a special issue of The New Yorker about artificial intelligence.  Sam Altman, the C.E.O. of OpenAI (which created ChatGPT), spoke with David Remnick on this episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour. 
11/21/202332 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Rise in Antisemitism, at Home and Abroad

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt is a noted historian of antisemitism, and serves the State Department as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. Violence and threats against Jews have been surging for years.  “We’ve been seeing [antisemitism] coming from all ends of the political spectrum, and in between,” Lipstadt tells David Remnick. “We see it coming from Christians, we see it coming from Muslims, we see it coming from atheists.  We see it coming from Jews.”  In the aftermath of Israel’s military strikes on Gaza, particularly on college campuses, she is very concerned about widespread sentiments that deny Israel a right to exist. While she doesn’t believe students or faculty should be penalized for expressing solidarity with Palestinians or Israelis, she believes that the language used by some influential people “has served as a green light to the haters,” she says. “It sort of takes the lid off.” And ethnic prejudice, she notes, rarely limits itself. “Once you start dealing in the stereotypes of that one group, you’re going to start dealing with the stereotypes in another group.”
11/17/202317 minutes, 6 seconds
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Emerald Fennell’s Anatomy of Desire

For the follow-up to her acclaimed and controversial début feature film, “Promising Young Woman,” the writer and director Emerald Fennell (also well known as an actor on “The Crown”) has made a dark satire of not just aristocracy but our collective preoccupation with it.  “Saltburn” follows a college student who joins a wealthy classmate at his family’s mysterious old country estate, which the director shot as “a sex object.” Fennell is very familiar with this world—albeit from a distance. Her father was a jeweller who sold work to Elton John and Madonna, and Fennell went to the same boarding school as Kate Middleton. “As a female filmmaker, more than any other kind, you’re expected to be a memoirist. People are more comfortable with that,” she tells The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman. Her previous film, “Promising Young Woman,” about a woman’s attempt to hold a rapist accountable, had an extremely dark ending that infuriated many viewers, but that Fennell found to be more honest. “I don’t think of myself as a liar at all. I hope I’m very honest—but that’s what a liar would say.”
11/14/202329 minutes, 5 seconds
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Will the Government Put the Reins on Amazon?

In a relatively short period of time, Amazon has exerted an enormous amount of influence over a broad spectrum of American life. From the groceries we buy to the movies and television shows we watch, Amazon has been setting the prices and driving potential competition out of business. Its prices may seem low, but “Amazon has actually quietly been hiking prices for consumers in ways that are not always clearly visible,” the Federal Trade Commission chair, Lina Khan, tells David Remnick, but “can result in consumers paying billions of dollars more than they would if there was actually competition in the market.” Khan, who is thirty-four, published an influential paper about applying antitrust law to Amazon before she was even out of law school; now she is putting those ideas into practice in a suit against the company. “Amazon’s own documents reveal that it recognizes that these merchants live in constant fear of Amazon’s punishments and punitive tactics,” Khan said. “Ultimately, our antitrust laws are about preserving open markets but also making sure people have the economic liberty to not be susceptible to the dictates of a single company.” (The company’s response says that the F.T.C.’s argument is “wrong on the facts and the law.”)
11/10/202321 minutes, 30 seconds
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From “On the Media”: David Remnick Talks with Brooke Gladstone About Reporting in Israel

As Israel marks one month since the deadliest terrorist attack in its history, David Remnick sits down with Brooke Gladstone, the host of the podcast “On the Media,” to talk about reporting on the conflict. He spent a week in Israel as people were reeling from the horrors of October 7th and as the Israeli government was launching an unprecedented campaign against Hamas in Gaza. Remnick details the process behind “The Cities of Killing,” his ten-thousand-word piece for The New Yorker’s magazine. “I’m an American, I’m a Jew, I’m a reporter, and I try to call on those identities, recognize whatever powers I have, but also weaknesses, to tell the story as best I can,” Remnick tells Gladstone. “And, as I say in the beginning of the piece, knowing that it wasn’t just rhetoric, it was confessional almost. Knowing that I would, at least for many readers, fail.”
11/8/202321 minutes, 14 seconds
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Is a “Win-Win” Still Possible in Policing?

As the Black Lives Matter movement brought sustained national attention to police shootings of unarmed Black people, there have been many efforts made around the country to reform policing. The movement also became associated with police abolition and the controversial call for defunding. Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “Notes from America,” convenes a panel to look at the effects of the movement on policing, talking to the policy analyst Samuel Sinyangwe, of Mapping Police Violence; the attorney Anya Bidwell, of the Institute for Justice; and Michael White, a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Assessing the results of reform efforts remains difficult, because obstacles exist even to the collecting of data. “We have a system of eighteen thousand different law-enforcement agencies, each with their own set of policies and practices, their own department culture,” Sinyangwe says, and yet certain patterns are repeated year after year: Black people, he says, “are about three times more likely to be killed than white people” by the police.  The group explores the widespread adoption of body cameras, and the push to change legal landscape around qualified immunity, which make it difficult to prosecute police officers even in egregious cases of the use of force. Bidwell argues that, “as long as we have a system of checks and balances that operates properly,” it is possible to reduce crime, while keeping the public and officers safe. “If everybody does what they’re supposed to do, then we can actually have a win-win-win situation.” And although there have been reductions in arrests for low-level, non-violent offenses, many systemic, deeply troubling trends in police departments have continued unabated, including a relatively stable number of a thousand and fifty to twelve hundred people killed by police annually.
11/7/202336 minutes, 52 seconds
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Sybrina Fulton: “Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Anybody’s Son”

Sybrina Fulton was thrust into the national spotlight just over a decade ago for the worst possible reason: her son, Trayvon Martin – an unarmed teenage boy returning from the store – was shot.  Her son’s body was tested for drugs and alcohol, but not the self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense and was acquitted.  “Trayvon Martin could have been anybody’s son at seventeen,” Fulton tells David Remnick. He was an affectionate "mama’s boy” who wound up inspiring a landmark civil rights movement: Black Lives Matter. BLM became a cultural touchstone and a political lightning rod, but all its efforts can’t make Fulton whole again. “I think I’m going to be recovering from his death the rest of my life,” she says. “It’s so unnatural to bury a child,” she says. Fulton became an activist and founded Circle of Mothers, which hosts a gathering for mothers who have lost children or other family members to gun violence. Plus, the poet Nicole Sealey, whose “erasure” of the Department of Justice’s Ferguson Report turns a damning account of police killing – that of Michael Brown – into a work of lyric poetry, imagining a different future buried in the present.
11/3/202324 minutes, 39 seconds
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From On the Media: We Don’t Talk About Leonard Leo

In a new miniseries from “On the Media,” “We Don’t Talk About Leonard,” the ProPublica reporters Andrea Bernstein, Andy Kroll, and Ilya Marritz investigate the background of the man who has played a critical role in the conservative takeover of America’s courts via the Federalist Society: Leonard Leo. It traces Leo’s path from humble roots in middle-class New Jersey (he was nicknamed Moneybags Kid) to a mansion in Maine where, last year, he hosted a fabulous party on the eve of the Supreme Court decision to tank Roe.
10/31/202350 minutes, 11 seconds
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Is there a Path Forward for Gaza and Israel?

After returning from a week of reporting in Israel, David Remnick has two important conversations about the conflict between Israelis and Arabs both in and outside of Gaza. First, he speaks with Yonit Levi, a veteran news anchor on Israeli television, about how her country is both reeling from the October 7th terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas, and grappling with how to strike at Hamas as the country prepares for an invasion that would be catastrophic for Palestinians. Meanwhile, the Palestinian academic Sari Nusseibeh maintains that peace is possible, if the influence of Hamas and the Israeli far right can be curtailed. David Remnick’s Letter from Israel appears in The New Yorker, along with extensive coverage of the conflict. 
10/27/202350 minutes, 13 seconds
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”Fellow Travelers”: A Showtime Series Explores a Forgotten Witch Hunt

Much of the peril and persecution of the McCarthy era is well-trodden territory in historical dramas, but the burden that the Red Scare placed on the L.G.B.T. community is another story. The historian and writer Thomas Mallon published a novel called “Fellow Travelers,” drawing from real-life events, about a gay couple living under the shadow of the McCarthy witch hunts; it has now been adapted into a Showtime miniseries. “The government was really on a tear when it came to dismissing gays from the State Department—but really all over in the early fifties,” Mallon tells David Remnick. “So really any gay romance had to be tremendously clandestine.” Gay Americans targeted by McCarthy and his acolytes were forced to assert not only their patriotism but their humanity, too. “The book is full of people trying to reconcile things which society and the government are telling them are irreconcilable,” Mallon says. “But the people themselves don’t see any moral or logical reason why.” Mallon talks about the political climate in nineteen-fifties Washington and about the pioneering L.G.B.T. activist who picketed the White House years before Stonewall.Share your thoughts on The New Yorker Radio Hour  podcast.
10/24/202318 minutes, 31 seconds
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Spike Lee on His “Dream Project,” a Joe Louis Bio-Pic

The director Spike Lee looked back at the length and breadth of his career so far during a sit-down with David Remnick at the New Yorker Festival. Although Lee’s storied filmography may be familiar to movie buffs, few are likely to know as much about his humble beginnings as the scion of a celebrated, but often unemployed, musician—the late Bill Lee. The young Spike Lee bore some resentment toward his father, an upright-bass player who eschewed countless gigs because he refused to play an electric bass guitar. “[I]t wasn’t until later that I saw that, yo, this is his life. He was not going to play music that he didn’t want to play.” As an artist in his own right, Lee has taken a similar approach to filmmaking. He has tackled a myriad of genres and difficult subject matter, without sacrificing his unique voice and social consciousness to satisfy Hollywood. “Some things you just can’t compromise,” he told Remnick. Now in his fourth decade as a filmmaker, Lee hopes to one day make a long-gestating bio-pic about Joe Louis and have his career last as long as that of one of his idols. “Kurosawa was eighty-six!” the sixty-six-year-old Lee said, of the Japanese filmmaker’s retirement age. “I have to at least get to Kurosawa.” Plus, the sports writer Louisa Thomas talks with the New Yorker Radio Hour’s Adam Howard about the stars to watch in the N.B.A.’s new season. Share your thoughts on The New Yorker Radio Hour  podcast.
10/20/202331 minutes, 35 seconds
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Rodrigo Duterte’s Deadly Promise

When Rodrigo Duterte ran for the presidency of the Philippines and won, in 2016, the Western press noted the similarities between this unconventional candidate and Donald Trump—who also liked to casually espouse violence on the campaign trail and beyond.  Duterte used provocative and obscene language to tap into the country’s fears about a real, albeit overstated, drug problem. “Every drug addict was a schizophrenic, hallucinatory, will rape your mother and butcher your father,” as reporter Patricia Evangelista puts it, “and if he can’t find a child to rape, he’ll rape a goat.” But, unlike Donald Trump, Duterte made good on his promise of death. More than twenty thousand extrajudicial killings took place over the course of his six-year term in office, according to human-rights groups—and Duterte remained quite popular as bodies piled up in the streets. Reporting for the news site Rappler, Evangelista confronted the collateral damage when Durterte started to enact his “kill them all” policies. “I had to take accountability,” she tells David Remnick. Her book, “Some People Need Killing,” is published in the U.S. this week, and Evangelista has left the Philippines because of the danger it puts her in. “I own the guilt,” Evangelista says. “How can I sit in New York, when the people whose stories I told, who took the risk to tell me their stories, are sitting in shanties across the country and might be at risk because of things they told me.”
10/17/202323 minutes, 45 seconds
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Werner Herzog Defends His “Ecstatic” Approach to the Truth

The renowned German filmmaker Werner Herzog has become known for many things: his notoriously ambitious film productions like “Fitzcarraldo” and “Aguirre, The Wrath of God”; his expansive documentaries; and his mellifluous voice, which he has used to great effect lately as an actor in productions like “Jack Reacher'' and “The Mandalorian.” But, according to Herzog himself, his fabulist work as his own biographer deserves just as much praise. “That’s my approach, that is beyond outside of facts,” Herzog tells David Remnick. “And it requires stylizations, it requires somehow shaping, creating something like poetry, a sense of poetry, that gives us an approach into truth.” In a wide-ranging conversation, the eighty-one-year-old Herzog looks back on his career, his newfound success embracing the “self irony” of his persona (“I had to spread terror . . . I knew I would be good at it,” he deadpans about his “Reacher” role), and why he never watched a “Star Wars” film until recently. “I am somebody who reads, there is not a day where I do not read,” the prolific Herzog says. “I love what I do. I think I made—in the last two years—two books, three films, and I’m working on a new feature film, and I’m publishing a new book next year.”
10/13/202326 minutes, 41 seconds
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Werner Herzog Defends His “Ecstatic” Approach to the Truth

The renowned German filmmaker Werner Herzog has become known for many things: his notoriously ambitious film productions like “Fitzcarraldo” and “Aguirre, The Wrath of God”; his expansive documentaries; and his mellifluous voice, which he has used to great effect lately as an actor in productions like “Jack Reacher'' and “The Mandalorian.” But, according to Herzog himself, his fabulist work as his own biographer deserves just as much praise. “That’s my approach, that is beyond outside of facts,” Herzog tells David Remnick. “And it requires stylizations, it requires somehow shaping, creating something like poetry, a sense of poetry, that gives us an approach into truth.” In a wide-ranging conversation, the eighty-one-year-old Herzog looks back on his career, his newfound success embracing the “self irony” of his persona (“I had to spread terror . . . I knew I would be good at it,” he deadpans about his “Reacher” role), and why he never watched a “Star Wars” film until recently. “I am somebody who reads, there is not a day where I do not read,” the prolific Herzog says. “I love what I do. I think I made—in the last two years—two books, three films, and I’m working on a new feature film, and I’m publishing a new book next year.”
10/13/202326 minutes, 41 seconds
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Rubén Blades Wasn’t Supposed to Be a Salsa Star

For roughly half a century, the singer Rubén Blades has been spreading the gospel of salsa music to every corner of the globe, but his status as an music icon was anything but assured. Despite having an interest in music at an early age, the Panamanian-born Blades was pursuing a law career. But when the tumultuous political climate in Panama forced his family into exile in the United States, Blades found his way back into the music industry—through a record-company mailroom. “My diploma was not accepted by the Florida Bar, so I didn’t know what to do. I felt useless,” Blades tells The New Yorker’s Graciela Mochkofsky. “Then all of the sudden I thought of calling Fania Records, which was the biggest salsa label at the time.” Through the subsequent years, Blades came to recognize the power of salsa as a vehicle for people from disparate backgrounds and ideologies to find “common ground.” “My goal from the beginning was not to become famous or rich,” Blades says. “My goal from the beginning was to communicate, to present a position and create a conversation.” Mochkofsky talks with him about serving in the Panamanian government and about his lengthy career as an actor; outside the Americas, more people might know Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar on “Fear the Walking Dead” than as a living legend of salsa. 
10/10/202328 minutes, 53 seconds
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Rubén Blades Wasn’t Supposed to Be a Salsa Star

For roughly half a century, the singer Rubén Blades has been spreading the gospel of salsa music to every corner of the globe, but his status as an music icon was anything but assured. Despite having an interest in music at an early age, the Panamanian-born Blades was pursuing a law career. But when the tumultuous political climate in Panama forced his family into exile in the United States, Blades found his way back into the music industry—through a record-company mailroom. “My diploma was not accepted by the Florida Bar, so I didn’t know what to do. I felt useless,” Blades tells The New Yorker’s Graciela Mochkofsky. “Then all of the sudden I thought of calling Fania Records, which was the biggest salsa label at the time.” Through the subsequent years, Blades came to recognize the power of salsa as a vehicle for people from disparate backgrounds and ideologies to find “common ground.” “My goal from the beginning was not to become famous or rich,” Blades says. “My goal from the beginning was to communicate, to present a position and create a conversation.” Mochkofsky talks with him about serving in the Panamanian government and about his lengthy career as an actor; outside the Americas, more people might know Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar on “Fear the Walking Dead” than as a living legend of salsa. 
10/10/202328 minutes, 53 seconds
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Al Gore on the Climate Crisis: “We Have a Switch We Can Flip”

Despite months of discouraging news about extreme weather conditions, the former vice-president Al Gore still believes that there is a solution to the climate crisis clearly in sight. “We have a switch we can flip,” he tells David Remnick. The problem, as Gore sees it, is that a powerful legacy network of political and financial spheres of influence are stubbornly standing in the way. “When ExxonMobil or Chevron put their ads on the air, the purpose is not for a husband and wife to say, ‘Oh, let’s go down to the store and buy some motor oil.’ The purpose is to condition the political space so that they have a continued license to keep producing and selling more and more fossil fuels,” Gore says. But it’s also what he describes as our ongoing “democracy crisis” that’s playing a factor as well. He believes lawmakers who know better are turning a blind eye to incontrovertible data for short-term political gain. “The average congressman spends an average of five hours a day on the telephone, and at cocktail parties and dinners begging lobbyists for money to finance their campaigns,” Gore says. Still, Gore says he is cautiously optimistic. “What Joe Biden did last year in passing the so-called Inflation Reduction Act . . . was the most extraordinary legislative achievement of any head of state of any country in history,” Gore says, adding that temperatures will stop going up “almost immediately” if we reach a true net zero in fossil-fuel emissions. “Half of all the human-caused greenhouse-gas pollution will have fallen out of the atmosphere in as little as twenty-five to thirty years.” 
10/6/202321 minutes, 56 seconds
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Al Gore on the Climate Crisis: “We Have a Switch We Can Flip”

Despite months of discouraging news about extreme weather conditions, the former vice-president Al Gore still believes that there is a solution to the climate crisis clearly in sight. “We have a switch we can flip,” he tells David Remnick. The problem, as Gore sees it, is that a powerful legacy network of political and financial spheres of influence are stubbornly standing in the way. “When ExxonMobil or Chevron put their ads on the air, the purpose is not for a husband and wife to say, ‘Oh, let’s go down to the store and buy some motor oil.’ The purpose is to condition the political space so that they have a continued license to keep producing and selling more and more fossil fuels,” Gore says. But it’s also what he describes as our ongoing “democracy crisis” that’s playing a factor as well. He believes lawmakers who know better are turning a blind eye to incontrovertible data for short-term political gain. “The average congressman spends an average of five hours a day on the telephone, and at cocktail parties and dinners begging lobbyists for money to finance their campaigns,” Gore says. Still, Gore says he is cautiously optimistic. “What Joe Biden did last year in passing the so-called Inflation Reduction Act . . . was the most extraordinary legislative achievement of any head of state of any country in history,” Gore says, adding that temperatures will stop going up “almost immediately” if we reach a true net zero in fossil-fuel emissions. “Half of all the human-caused greenhouse-gas pollution will have fallen out of the atmosphere in as little as twenty-five to thirty years.” 
10/6/202321 minutes, 56 seconds
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Introducing Critics at Large: The Myth-Making of Elon Musk

In this bonus episode, the hosts of Critics at Large dissect Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Elon Musk, asking how it reflects ideas about power, money, cults of personality—from “Batman” to “The Social Network.” The critics examine how, in recent years, the idea of the unimpeachable Silicon Valley founder has lost its sheen. Narratives, such as the 2022 series “WeCrashed,” tell the story of startup founders who make lofty promises, only to watch their empires crumble when those promises are shown to be empty. “It dovetails for me with the disillusionment of millennials,” Fry says, pointing to the dark mood that the 2007-08 financial crisis and the 2016 election brought to the country. “There’s no longer this blind belief that the tech founder is a genius who should be wholly admired with no reservations.”  This is a preview of The New Yorker’s new Critics at Large podcast. Episodes drop every Thursday. 
10/4/202312 minutes, 33 seconds
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Introducing Critics at Large: The Myth-Making of Elon Musk

In this bonus episode, the hosts of Critics at Large dissect Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Elon Musk, asking how it reflects ideas about power, money, cults of personality—from “Batman” to “The Social Network.” The critics examine how, in recent years, the idea of the unimpeachable Silicon Valley founder has lost its sheen. Narratives, such as the 2022 series “WeCrashed,” tell the story of startup founders who make lofty promises, only to watch their empires crumble when those promises are shown to be empty. “It dovetails for me with the disillusionment of millennials,” Fry says, pointing to the dark mood that the 2007-08 financial crisis and the 2016 election brought to the country. “There’s no longer this blind belief that the tech founder is a genius who should be wholly admired with no reservations.” This is a preview of The New Yorker’s new Critics at Large podcast. Episodes drop every Thursday. 
10/4/202312 minutes, 35 seconds
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Should Biden Push for Regime Change in Russia?

Throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine, David Remnick has talked with Stephen Kotkin, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who is deeply informed on U.S.-Russia relations, and a biographer of Stalin. With the Ukrainian counter-offensive proceeding very slowly, Kotkin says that Ukraine is unlikely to “win the peace” on the battlefield; an armistice on Zelensky’s terms—although they may be morally correct—would require the defeat of Russia itself. Realistically, he thinks, Ukraine must come to accept some loss of territory in exchange for security guarantees. And, without heavy political pressure from the U.S., Kotkin tells David Remnick, no amount of military aid would be sufficient. “We took regime change off the table,” Kotkin notes regretfully. “That’s so much bigger than the F-16s or the tanks or the long-range missiles because that’s the variable . . . . When he’s scared that his regime could go down, he’ll cut and run. And if he’s not scared about his regime, he'll do the sanctions busting. He’ll do everything he’s doing because it’s with impunity.” Share your thoughts on The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast.
10/3/202323 minutes, 48 seconds
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Olivia Rodrigo Talks with David Remnick

Being called the voice of a generation might seem a little off to someone born after the millennium. But Olivia Rodrigo’s songs clearly hit home for Gen Z. She turned twenty this year, and has already been one of the biggest stars since 2021, when “Drivers License” became the No. 1 song on the planet. She won three Grammy Awards that year, including Best New Artist. One of her first public performances was on “Saturday Night Live.” Rodrigo’s second album, “Guts,” came out this month, and she remains proud to channel the frustrations of young people. “My favorite songs to sing are the really angry ones,” she told David Remnick. “Especially on tour, I’ll look out at the audience and sometimes see these very young girls, seven or eight, screaming these angry songs, so hyped and so enraged . . . . That’s not something you see on the street, but it’s just so cool that people get to express all those emotions through music.”  Rodrigo talked with David Remnick about the lineage of singer-songwriters like Carole King, and dealing with social media as a young celebrity. Share your thoughts on The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast.
9/29/202327 minutes, 59 seconds
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Hernan Diaz’s “Trust,” a Novel of High Finance

The daughter of eccentric aristocrats marries a Wall Street tycoon of dubious ethics during the Roaring Twenties. That sounds like a plot that F. Scott Fitzgerald might have written, or Edith Wharton. But “Trust,” by the writer Hernan Diaz, is very much of our time. The novel is told by four people in four different formats, which offer conflicting accounts of the couple’s life, the tycoon Andrew Bevel’s misdeeds, and his role in the crash of 1929. And though a book like “The Great Gatsby” tends to skirt around the question of how the rich make their money, Hernan Diaz puts that question at the heart of “Trust.” “What I was interested in, and this is why I chose finance capital, I wanted a realm of pure abstraction,” he tells David Remnick. Diaz was nearly unknown when “Trust,” his second novel, won the Pulitzer Prize this year.
9/26/202320 minutes, 53 seconds
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Kelly Clarkson on Writing About Divorce

Twenty years after her breakout on “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson released an album called “Chemistry” that deals with the long arc of a relationship and her recent divorce. She sat down to talk with Hanif Abdurraqib, a music writer passionate about the craft of songwriting. “This literally was written in real time,” Clarkson reflects. “That was me being indecisive. Man, I have kids. Do I want to do this? Can I try again?” But writing about divorce as one of the best-known celebrities in America is very different from a young artist’s heartbreak anthem. “It’s easy to hide in metaphors when it’s not the biggest thing that’s ever happened,” she says. “Everyone’s going to know. Unfortunately my life is very public, especially in the rough times.”  Plus, Robert Samuels, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer on politics and race, shares his secret indulgence: watching classic figure-skating routines on YouTube. 
9/22/202330 minutes, 28 seconds
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Naomi Klein Speaks with Jia Tolentino about “Doppelganger”

For twenty-some years, Naomi Klein has been a leading thinker on the left. She’s especially known for the idea of disaster capitalism: an analysis that the forces of big business will exploit any severe disruption to take over more space in our lives. She was often confused with another prominent political writer, Naomi Wolf—once a feminist on the left who has, in recent years, embraced conspiracy theories on the right and is now on good terms with Steve Bannon. Klein’s new book, “Doppelganger,” starts with this simple case of mistaken identity and broadens into an analysis of our political moment, which she describes as “uncanny” in the psychological sense. “Freud described the uncanny as that species of frightening that changes what was once familiar to something unfamiliar,” she tells the staff writer Jia Tolentino. “It’s that weirdness of ‘I think I know what this is, but it’s not what I think.’ ” Klein argues that the left and the right have become doppelgangers of one another—and that denialism regarding climate change has widened to any number of topics, including the claim that Joe Biden is dead and is being played by an actor. “Whenever you don’t like reality, you can just say that it’s not real,” she says.
9/19/202320 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Solution For the Chronically Homeless, and Listening to Taylor Swift in Prison

About 1.2 million people in the United States experience homelessness in a given year—you could nearly fill the city of Dallas with the unhoused. But there are proven solutions. For the chronically homeless, a key strategy is supportive housing—providing not only a stable apartment, but also services like psychiatric and medical care on-site. The New Yorker contributor Jennifer Egan spent the past year following several individuals as they transitioned into a new supportive-housing building in Brooklyn. She found that this housing model works and argues that it could be scaled up nationally for less than the cost of emergency services for the homeless. But “no one,” Egan notes ruefully, “wants to see that line item in their budget.” Plus, Joe Garcia, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder in California’s High Desert State Prison, reads from his essay “Listening to Taylor Swift in Prison,” recently published by The New Yorker.
9/15/202329 minutes, 37 seconds
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Richard Brody Makes the Case for Keeping Your DVDs

At the end of this month, after more than two decades, Netflix is phasing out its DVD-rental business. While that may not come as a surprise given the predominance of streaming platforms, it’s a great loss to cinephiles, according to the New Yorker’s Richard Brody. Streaming services routinely drop titles from circulation, and amazing films may be lost to moviegoers. “Physical media is what protects us from being at the mercy of streaming services for our movies and our music,” Brody says. “It’s like a library at home.” Brody gives the producer Adam Howard a peek into his own personal stash of films, and picks a few DVDs of films he would take with him in a fire: Godard’s “King Lear” (“the greatest film ever made – literally”); “Chameleon Street,” by Wendell B. Harris, Jr.; “Stranded” and “The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean,” by Juleen Compton; and a box set of five films by John Cassavetes.
9/12/202313 minutes, 21 seconds
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A Master Class with David Grann

David Grann is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of two nonfiction books that topped the best-seller list this summer: “The Wager” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” from 2017, which Martin Scorsese has adapted into a film opening in October. Grann is among the most lauded nonfiction writers at The New Yorker; David Remnick says that “his urge to find unique stories and tell them with rigor and style is rare to the vanishing point.” Grann talks with Remnick about his beginnings as a writer, and about his almost obsessive research and writing process. “The trick is how can you tell a true story using these literary techniques and remain completely factually based,” Grann says. “What I realized as I did this more is that you are an excavator. You aren’t imagining the story—you are excavating the story.” Grann recounts travelling in rough seas to the desolate site of the eighteenth-century shipwreck at the heart of “The Wager,” his most recent book, so that he could convey the sailors’ despair more accurately. That book is also being made into a film by Scorcese. “It’s a learning curve because I’ve never been in the world of Hollywood,” Grann says. “You’re a historical resource. … Once they asked me, ‘What was the lighting in the room?’ I thought about it for a long time. That’s something I would not need to know, writing a book.” But Grann is glad to be in the hands of an expert, and keep his distance from the process. “I’m not actually interested in making a film,” he admits. “I’m really interested in these stories, and so I love that somebody else with their own vision and intellect is going to draw on these stories and add to our understanding of whatever this work is.”
9/8/202334 minutes
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Alone and on Foot in Antarctica

Henry Worsley was a husband, father, and an officer of an élite British commando unit; also a tapestry weaver, amateur boxer, photographer, and collector of rare books, maps, and fossils. But his true obsession was exploration. Worsley revered the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and he had led a 2009 expedition to the South Pole. But Worsley planned an even greater challenge. At fifty-five, he set out to trek alone to ski from one side of the Antarctic continent to the other, hauling more than three hundred pounds of gear and posting an audio diary by satellite phone. The New Yorker staff writer David Grann wrote about Worsley’s quest, and spoke with his widow, Joanna Worsley, about the painful choice she made to support her husband in a mortally dangerous endeavor. This segment originally aired March 2, 2018.
9/5/202325 minutes
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No More Souters

David Souter is one of the most private, low-profile Justices ever to have served on the Supreme Court. He rarely gave interviews or speeches. Yet his tenure was anything but low profile. Deemed a “home run” nominee by the George H. W. Bush Administration, Souter refused to answer questions during his confirmation hearing about pressing issues—most critically, about abortion rights and Roe v. Wade, which Republicans were seeking to overturn. He was confirmed overwhelmingly. Then, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and other decisions, he defied the expectations of the Party that had nominated him. Why? This episode, produced by WNYC Studios’ “More Perfect” and hosted by Julia Longoria, explains how “No More Souters” became a rallying cry for Republicans and how Souter’s tenure on the bench inspired a backlash that would change the Court forever. You can listen to more episodes of “More Perfect” here.
9/1/202349 minutes, 42 seconds
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How Does Extreme Heat Affect the Body?

The Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut was named after an N.F.L. player who died of exertional heatstroke. The lab’s main research subjects have been athletes, members of the military, and laborers. But, with climate change, even mild exertion under extreme heat will affect more and more of us; in many parts of the United States, a heat wave and power outage could cause a substantial number of fatalities. Dhruv Khullar, a New Yorker contributor and practicing physician, visited the Stringer Institute to undergo a heat test—walking uphill for ninety minutes in a hundred-and-four-degree temperature—to better understand what’s happening. “I just feel puffy everywhere,” Khullar sighed. “You’d have to cut my finger off just to get my wedding ring off.” By the end of the test, Khullar spoke of cramps, dizziness, and a headache. He discussed the dangers of heatstroke with Douglas Casa, the lab’s head (who himself nearly died of it as a young athlete). “Climate change has taken this into the everyday world for the everyday American citizen. You don’t have to be a laborer working for twelve hours, you don’t have to be a soldier in training,” Casa tells him. “This is making it affect so many people even just during daily living.” Although the treatment for heat-related illness is straightforward, Casa says that implementation of simple measures remains challenging—and there is much we need to do to better prepare for the global rise in temperature.
8/29/202316 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Origins of “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Robin Wall Kimmerer is an unlikely literary star. A botanist by training—a specialist in moss—she spent much of her career at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. But, when she was well established in her academic work, having “done the things you need to do to get tenure,” she launched into a different kind of writing; her new style sought to bridge the divide between Western science and Indigenous teachings she had learned, as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, about the connections between people, the land, plants, and animals. The result was “Braiding Sweetgrass,” a series of essays about the natural world and our relationship to it. The book was published by Milkweed Editions, a small literary press, and it grew only by word of mouth. Several years later, it landed on the Times best-seller list, and has remained there for more than three years; fans have described reading the essays as a spiritual experience. Kimmerer herself was recently recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship. Parul Sehgal, who writes about literature for The New Yorker, went to visit Kimmerer on the land she writes about so movingly, to talk about the book’s origin and its impact on its tenth anniversary. “I wanted to see what would happen if you imbue science with values,” Kimmerer told her. She is an environmentalist, but not an activist per se; her ambition for her work is actually larger. “So much of the environmental movement to me is grounded in fear,” she explains. “And we have a lot to be afraid about—let’s not ignore that—but what I really wanted to do was to help people really love the land again. Because I think that’s why we are where we are: that we haven’t loved the land enough.”
8/25/202327 minutes, 14 seconds
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Tessa Hadley on What Decades of Failure Taught Her About Writing

The New Yorker first published a short story by Tessa Hadley in 2002. Titled “Lost and Found,” it described a friendship between two women who had been close since childhood.  Hadley’s fiction is often consumed with relationships at this scale: tight dramas close to home. She captures, within these relationships, an extraordinary depth and complexity of emotion. The New Yorker recently published its thirtieth story from Hadley—a higher count than any other fiction writer in recent times. That figure is particularly remarkable because Hadley had such a late start to her career, publishing her first work of fiction in her forties. She talks with the New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman about her long struggle to stop imitating the writing of others, instead telling stories authentic to her own experience and voice. “I was just a late developer, and I was trying to write other people’s novels for all that time,” she says. Treisman also asks Hadley about why her work has been labelled “domestic fiction” by many critics. The term is disproportionately applied to female writers, and “tends to have a bit of condescension to it,” Hadley says. But she is willing to at least consider whether her work is too focussed on certain kinds of bourgeois-family relationships. “I almost completely accept the challenge,” she tells Treisman. “I think one should feel perpetually slightly on edge as to whether your subject matter justifies the art.”
8/22/202319 minutes, 9 seconds
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Talking to Conservatives about Climate Change

Even in a summer of record-breaking heat and disasters, Republican Presidential candidates have ignored or mocked climate change. But some conservative legislators in Congress recognize that action is necessary. David Remnick talks with a leader of the Conservative Climate Caucus about her party’s stance on climate change, her belief that fossil fuels cannot be rapidly phased out, and the problems she sees with the Inflation Reduction Act. Then, the authoritative climate reporter Elizabeth Kolbert talks with Ben Jealous, who was recently named executive director of the Sierra Club, about his strategy for building support in Republican-led states.
8/18/202331 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Novelist Esmeralda Santiago on Learning to Write After a Stroke

The author Esmeralda Santiago has been writing about Puerto Rico and questions of immigration and identity since the early nineties. But, in 2008, she suffered a stroke that left her unable to decipher words on a page. In the months that followed, she relied on some of the same strategies she’d used to teach herself English after moving to the United States as a young teen-ager—checking out children’s books from the library, for example, to learn basic vocabulary. Santiago’s latest book, “Las Madres,” includes a character named Luz who goes through a similar experience after a traumatic brain injury. “That sense stayed with me long after I was over that situation—that feeling between knowledge and ignorance,” she tells the staff writer Vinson Cunningham. “For me, Luz is almost representative of Puerto Rico itself. We have this very long history that we don’t necessarily have access to. . . . Those of us who live outside of the island, we live the history but we don’t really know it.”
8/15/202319 minutes, 31 seconds
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Will the End of Affirmative Action Lead to the End of Legacy Admissions?

The practice of legacy admissions—preferential consideration of the children of alumni—has emerged as a national flash point since the Supreme Court banned affirmative action in June. Even some prominent Republicans are joining the Biden Administration in calling for its end. David Remnick speaks with the U.S. Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, about the politics behind college admissions. Cardona sees legacy preference as part of a pattern that discourages many students from applying to selective schools, but notes that it is not the whole problem. How can access to higher education, he asks, be more equitable when the quality of K-12 education is so inequitable?    Plus, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School, looks at the problems facing admissions officers now that race cannot be a consideration in maintaining diversity. Gersen has been reporting for The New Yorker on the legal fight over affirmative action and the movement to end legacy admissions. She speaks with the dean of admissions at Wesleyan University, one of the schools that voluntarily announced an end to legacy preference after the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action. “So far, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive,” Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez tells her. “But we’re obviously some time removed from the results of the decision. . . . I think it’s both symbolic and potentially substantive in terms of signalling our value to not have individually unearned benefits.”
8/11/202330 minutes, 58 seconds
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James McBride on His New Novel, “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store”

James McBride’s new novel, “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store,” centers on the discovery of a skeleton at the bottom of a well in a small town in Pennsylvania. What unfolds is the story of a young Black boy raised by a Jewish woman decades earlier, a story that has been closely held secret among the communities that call the area home. McBride has been writing at the intersection of race, Blackness, whiteness, and Judaism in America since his 1995 memoir “The Color of Water,” a tribute to his own Jewish mother. He speaks with the staff writer Julian Lucas. “I want to read a book that makes me feel good about being alive,” McBride says. “If I want the bad things to happen, I’ll just read the New York Times. I want a book to take me to a place that I like to be.”
8/8/202314 minutes, 1 second
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Emily Nussbaum on the Culture Wars in Country Music

Last month, the country singer Jason Aldean released a music video for “Try That in a Small Town,” a song that initially received little attention. But the video cast the song’s lyrics in a new light. While Aldean sings, “Try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / ’Round here, we take care of our own,” images of protests against police brutality are interspersed with Aldean singing outside a county courthouse where a lynching once took place. Aldean’s defenders—and there are many—say the song praises small-town values and respect for the law, rather than promoting violence and vigilantism. The controversy eventually pushed the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The staff writer Emily Nussbaum has been reporting from Nashville throughout the past few months on the very complicated politics of country music. On the one hand, she found a self-perpetuating culture war, fuelled by outrage; on the other, there’s a music scene that’s diversifying, with increasing numbers of women, Black artists, and L.G.B.T.Q. performers claiming country music as their own. “I set out to talk about music, but politics are inseparable from it,” Nussbaum tells David Remnick. “The narrowing of commercial country music to a form of pop country dominated by white guys singing a certain kind of cliché-ridden bro country song—it’s not like I don’t like every song like that, but the absolute domination of that keeps out all sorts of other musicians.” Nussbaum also speaks with Adeem the Artist, a nonbinary country singer and songwriter based in East Tennessee, who has found success with audiences but has not broken through on mainstream country radio. “I think that it’s important that people walk into a music experience where they expect to feel comforted in their bigotry and they are instead challenged on it and made to imagine a world where different people exist,” Adeem says. “But, as a general rule, I try really hard to connect with people even if I’m making them uncomfortable.”
8/4/202336 minutes, 52 seconds
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A Trip to the Boundary Waters

Alex Kotlowitz is known as a chronicler of Chicago, and of lives marred by urban poverty and violence. His books set in the city include “An American Summer,” “There Are No Children Here,” and “Never a City So Real.” Nevertheless, for some 40 years he has returned to a remote stretch of woods, summer after summer. At a young age, he found himself navigating a canoe through a series of lakes, deep in the woods along Minnesota’s border with Canada. This stretch of country is known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Larger than Rhode Island, it is a patchwork of more than a thousand lakes, so pristine you can drink directly from the surface. Now in his late sixties, Kotlowitz finds the days of paddling, the leaky tents, the long portages, and the schlepping of food (and alcohol) harder than before, but he will return to the Boundary Waters as long as he can. Last summer, he took a recorder with him on his annual canoe trip, capturing what has kept him coming back year after year.  This segment originally aired on August 6, 2022.
8/1/202317 minutes, 8 seconds
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Regina Spektor on “Home, Before and After”

Twenty years ago, Regina Spektor was yet another aspiring musician in New York, lugging around a backpack full of self-produced CDs and playing at little clubs in the East Village—anywhere that had a piano, basically. But anonymity didn’t last long. She toured with the Strokes in 2003, and, once she had a record deal, her ambitions grew beyond indie music: she began writing pop-inflected anthems about love and heartbreak, loneliness and death, belief and doubt. Her 2006 album “Begin to Hope” went gold.   “Home, Before and After” was released in 2022, six years after her previous studio album. To mark the occasion, Spektor sat down at a grand piano with Amanda Petrusich to play songs from the record and talk about the role of imagination in her songwriting and vocals. “I think that life pushes you—especially as an adult and especially when you’re responsible for other little humans—to be present in this logistical sort of way,” she says. “I try as much as possible to integrate fun, because I love fun. And I love beauty. And I love magic. . . . I will not have anybody take that away.” Spektor performed “Loveology,” “Becoming All Alone,” and the older “Aprѐs Moi,” accompanying herself on piano. The podcast episode for this segment also features a bonus track, “Spacetime Fairytale.”  This segment originally aired on June 10, 2022.
7/28/202343 minutes, 17 seconds
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Colson Whitehead on “Crook Manifesto”

Colson Whitehead is one of the most lauded writers working today. His 2016 novel “The Underground Railroad” won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; he won the Pulitzer again for his next novel, “The Nickel Boys,” in 2020.  His career is notable for hopping from genre to genre. As an artist, he tells David Remnick, “it seemed like, if you knew how to do something, why do it again?” Whitehead is again trying something new: a sequel. He’s following up “Harlem Shuffle,” his 2021 heist novel, bringing back the furniture salesman and stolen-goods fence Ray Carney. He talks to David Remnick about how he mined the language of mid-century furniture catalogues, and his interest in teasing out the nuance in his characters. “I’m exploring different ways of being a criminal and trying to think about who actually is bad,” Whitehead says. “Carney has this secret self, this criminal self. But I think all of us have these different uncivilized impulses in us that we have to tame in order to function in society.”
7/25/202323 minutes, 22 seconds
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Adapting Robert Oppenheimer’s Story to Film, Plus Greta Gerwig on Becoming a Director

In making “Oppenheimer,” which opens in theatres this weekend, the director Christopher Nolan relied on a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2005 biography of the father of the atomic bomb, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” by Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin. Bird is credited as a writer of Nolan’s movie, and he spoke with David Remnick about the ambivalence that the scientist expressed publicly about the use of the bomb, which led to a McCarthyist show trial that destroyed his career and reputation.  “What happened to him in 1954 sent a message to several generations of scientists, here in America but [also] abroad, that scientists should keep in their narrow lane. They shouldn’t become public intellectuals, and if they dared to do this, they could be tarred and feathered,” Bird notes. “The same thing that happened to Oppenheimer in a sense happened to Tony Fauci.” Plus, Greta Gerwig talks about her path to directing. Like “Barbie,” Gerwig’s two previous films as a director and writer are concerned with coming of age as a woman. Once criticized as a “bossy girl,” Gerwig recalls, she tamped down her instinct to direct, focusing early in her career on acting and then screenwriting. She told David Remnick how she finally gave herself permission to be a filmmaker.
7/21/202327 minutes, 22 seconds
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Donovan Ramsey on “When Crack Was King”

“When people think of the crack epidemic, they think of crime,” the journalist Donovan X. Ramsey tells David Remnick. “But they don’t necessarily know the ways that it impacted the most vulnerable—the ways that it changed the lives of people who sold it, who were addicted to it, who loved people who sold it or were addicted to it.” Ramsey’s new book, “When Crack Was King: A People’s History of a Misunderstood Era,” weaves the stories of four people who survived the epidemic into a historical analysis of how crack led to the erosion of dozens of American cities—but also of how the crack epidemic eventually ended. “I didn't know what life was like before crack,” Ramsey, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1987, says. “I wanted to understand the ways that it shaped our society.”
7/18/202323 minutes, 41 seconds
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A Mysterious Third Party Enters the Presidential Race

No Labels, which pitches itself as a centrist movement to appeal to disaffected voters, has secured a considerable amount of funding and is working behind the scenes to get on Presidential ballots across the country. The group has yet to announce a candidate, but “most likely we’ll have both a Republican and Democrat on the ticket,” Pat McCrory, the former governor of North Carolina and one of the leaders of No Labels, tells David Remnick. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are reportedly under consideration, but McCrory will not name names, nor offer any specifics on the group’s platform, including regarding critical issues such as abortion and gun rights. That opacity is by design, Sue Halpern, who has covered the group, says. “The one reason why I think they haven’t put forward a candidate is once they do that, then they are required to do all the things that political parties do,” she says. “At the moment, they’re operating like a PAC, essentially. They don’t have to say who their donors are.” Third-party campaigns have had significant consequences in American elections, and, with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden historically unpopular, a third-party candidate could peel a decisive number of moderate voters away from the Democratic Party.  Plus, three New Yorker critics—Doreen St. Félix, Alexandra Schwartz, and Inkoo Kang—discuss why so many scripted and reality shows use psychotherapy as a central plotline.
7/14/202327 minutes, 27 seconds
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How to Buy Forgiveness from Medical Debt

Nearly one in ten Americans owe significant medical debt, a burden that can become crippling as living costs and interest rates rise. Over the past decade, a nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt has designed a novel approach to chip away at this problem. The organization solicits donations to purchase portfolios of medical debt on the debt market, where the debt trades at steeply discounted prices. Then, instead of attempting to collect on it as a normal buyer would, they forgive the debt. The staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar reports on one North Carolina church that partnered with RIP Medical Debt as part of its charitable mission. Trinity Moravian Church collected around fifteen thousand dollars in contributions to acquire and forgive over four million dollars of debt in their community. “We have undertaken a number of projects in the past but there’s never been anything quite like this,” the Reverend John Jackman tells Kolhatkar. “For families that we know cannot deal with these things, we’re taking the weight off of them.” Kolhatkar also speaks with Allison Sesso, the C.E.O. of RIP Medical Debt, about the strange economics of debt that make this possible.
7/11/202314 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Conspiracies of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of a former Attorney General and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, has announced that he’s running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He is nearly seventy years old, and has never held public office. “There’s nothing in the United States Constitution that says that you have to go to Congress first and then Senate second,or be a governor before you’re elected to the Presidency,” he tells David Remnick. With no prominent elected Democrat challenging President Biden, Kennedy is polling around ten to twenty per cent  among Democratic primary voters—enough to cause at least some alarm for Biden. He is best known as an influential purveyor of disinformation: that vaccines cause autism; that SSRIs and common anxiety medication might be causing the increase in school shootings; that “toxic chemicals” in the water supply might contribute to “sexual dysphoria” in children. He wrote a book accusing Anthony Fauci of helping to “orchestrate and execute 2020’s historic coup d’état against Western democracy.” He seems not at all concerned that Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson, and Alex Jones—all of whom would like to see Biden bruised in a primary challenge—have praised him. “I'm trying to unite the country,” he says to Remnick. “You keep wanting to focus on why don't I hate this guy more? Why don't I hate on this person more?” Kennedy, who regularly attends recovery meetings for addiction to drugs including heroin, says that “the recovery program is an important part of my life, is an important part of keeping me mentally and physically and spiritually fit. . . . And my program tells me not to do that. I’m not supposed to be doing that.”
7/7/202332 minutes, 53 seconds
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Beyoncé Takes the Stage

This summer, the most anticipated tour (in close contest with Taylor Swift) is Beyoncé’s tour for her seventh studio album, “Renaissance,” which came out in 2022. Her previous record “was about the turbulence of [her] marriage and was in some ways a monument to marriage as an institution,” The New Yorker’s music critic Carrie Battan tells David Remnick. “Renaissance”—a homage to club music and queer culture—“is about breaking free of all of those chains. It’s about going to the club, and quitting your job and dancing and experiencing the ultimate freedom.” Battan talks through her favorite tracks on the record.
7/4/20239 minutes, 27 seconds
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Russia’s No-Good, Very Failed Coup, and Jill Lepore on Amending the Constitution

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s march on Moscow last weekend, which killed more than a dozen Russian soldiers, fizzled as quickly as it began, but its repercussions are just beginning. The Wagner Group commander issued a video from Belarus claiming that he did not attempt a coup against Putin but a protest against the Defense Ministry.  David Remnick talks with Masha Gessen and the contributor Joshua Yaffa, who has written on the Wagner Group, about what lies ahead in Russia. Both feel that by revealing the reality of the war to his own following—a Putin-loyal, nationalist audience—Prigozhin has seriously damaged the regime’s credibility. If an uprising removes Putin from power, “there will be chaos,” Gessen notes. “Nobody knows what happens next. There’s no succession plan.”  Plus, Jill Lepore on amending the Constitution: suggesting a constitutional amendment these days is so far-fetched, it’s almost a punch line, but the Framers intended the document to be regularly amended, the historian Jill Lepore tells David Remnick. She argues that the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment sank the country into a political quagmire from which it has not arisen, and her latest historial project brings awareness to the problem of amendability.
6/30/202341 minutes, 18 seconds
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Jonathan Mitchell, a Prominent Anti-Abortion Lawyer, on Restraining the Power of the Supreme Court

In recent years, the attorney Jonathan Mitchell has become a crucial figure in the anti-abortion movement. Advising a Texas state senator, Mitchell developed Texas’s S.B. 8 legislation, which allows for civil lawsuits against individuals who have helped facilitate an abortion—acts like driving a patient to an appointment. The law was crafted to evade review by the Supreme Court in the period before Dobbs ended the precedent of Roe v. Wade. Opponents of the law have called it state-sponsored vigilantism. Mitchell is now representing a man seeking millions of dollars in civil damages from friends of his ex-wife—who helped her access abortion medication—in a wrongful death lawsuit. And yet, despite his conservative politics, Mitchell has something in common with some legal thinkers on the left: a critique of the Supreme Court and its extraordinary power. As an opponent of the belief in judicial supremacy, Mitchell asks, “Why should it be the Supreme Court and not Congress?” to have the last word on what the Constitution means. “Why should it be the Supreme Court and not a state legislature that might have a different view?” Mitchell rarely gives interviews, but he agreed to speak with The New Yorker’s contributor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School who clerked for the former Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
6/27/202317 minutes, 4 seconds
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A Year of Change for a North Dakota Abortion Clinic, and the Composer John Williams

A year ago, the staff writer Emily Witt visited Fargo, North Dakota, to report on the Red River Women’s Clinic—the only abortion provider in the state. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision had just come down, and the clinic was scrambling to move across state lines, to the adjacent city of Moorhead, Minnesota. This spring, Witt returned to talk with Tammi Kromenaker, the clinic’s director. Kromenaker says the clinic’s new home has had some notable upsides—a parking lot that shields patients from protestors, for example—but North Dakota patients are increasingly fearful as they reach out for care, afraid even to cross the state line for an abortion. Plus, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross discusses John Williams, who has written scores for generations of blockbusters, including “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” and many films of Steven Spielberg. Ross considers him the last practitioner of Hollywood’s grand orchestral tradition, and his retirement will mark the end of an era in music: at ninety-one years old, Williams has said that his score for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” may be his last.
6/23/202331 minutes, 58 seconds
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Singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun, Plus Bryan Washington

The singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun recently released her fourth album, called “Proof of Life.” Raised near Phoenix, Oladokun had aspirations of becoming a preacher before turning to music in earnest. Like many of the great songwriters, she has a way of staring down the hardest parts of life with an offbeat sort of wit. The New Yorker’s Hanif Abdurraqib calls her a “writer’s writer,” someone “interested in the lyric as an opportunity to build narrative worlds.” Oladokun talked with him about seeing a video of Tracy Chapman performing in a Nelson Mandela tribute concert: “I was ten years old, watching someone who looked like me play the guitar,” she recalls. “I asked my parents for a guitar that Christmas.” Chapman remained a lasting influence on her as an artist. “You could just tell that what drove her to open her mouth in the first place was conviction. Belief in her values and belief that if people would only think about this, it would change the world.” While in New York on tour, Oladokun performed “Trying” and “Keeping the Light On”—both from her new record—live at WNYC. Plus, the fiction writer Bryan Washington on the joys of a Houston ice house.
6/20/202326 minutes, 39 seconds
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Dexter Filkins on the Dilemma at the Border

Dexter Filkins has reported on conflict situations around the world, and recently spent months reporting on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a recent piece, Filkins tries to untangle how conditions around the globe, an abrupt change in executive direction from Trump to Biden, and an antiquated immigration system have created a chaotic situation. “It’s difficult to appreciate the scale and the magnitude of what’s happening there unless you see it,” Filkins tells David Remnick. Last year, during a surge at the border, local jurisdictions struggled to provide humanitarian support for thousands of migrants, leading Democratic politicians to openly criticize the Administration. While hardliners dream of a wall across the two-thousand-mile border, “they can’t build a border wall in the middle of a river,” Filkins notes. “So if you can get across the river, and you can get your foot on American soil, that’s all you need to do.” Migrants surrendering to Border Patrol and requesting asylum then enter a yearslong limbo as their claims work through an overburdened system. The last major overhaul of the immigration system took place in 1986, Filkins explains, and with Republicans and Democrats perpetually at loggerheads, there is no will to fix a system that both sides acknowledge as broken. 
6/16/202323 minutes, 40 seconds
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From “On the Media”: Seditious Conspiracy

On January 6th, 2021, “On the Media” reporter Micah Loewinger recorded the secret communications of the Oath Keepers on a walkie-talkie app called Zello. After reporting on the findings, Loewinger received a subpoena calling on him to testify in the first Oath Keepers criminal trial last year. In conversations with “On the Media” host Brooke Gladstone, “Death, Sex & Money” host Anna Sale, and Roger Parloff, a senior editor at Lawfare, Loewinger grapples with the consequences of his reporting, and explores what happens when a journalist is forced to testify in court. Plus, Loewinger looks at the nineteen-seventies Supreme Court case United States v. Caldwell to understand the legal precedents for journalists being called on to testify in federal investigations, the limits of First Amendment privileges for the press, and the sometimes tenuous relationship between journalists and the government.  This episode originally aired on “On the Media” on May 26, 2023. 
6/13/202335 minutes, 45 seconds
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The New York Times’ Publisher on the Future of Journalism, and the Poet Paul Tran

Over the past several years, as more democratic institutions and norms have come under attack, many journalists have raised the question of whether it is ethical to adhere to journalism’s traditional principles of non-bias, objectivity, and political neutrality. In May, A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, staked out his position in the traditionalist camp in an essay for the Columbia Journalism Review. “The traditionalists in the ranks have long believed that their long-standing view speaks for itself. I became increasingly convinced that the argument doesn’t make itself,” he tells David Remnick. Sulzberger shies away from the term objectivity, instead describing the “posture of independence” as one that prizes “an open mind, a skeptical mind,” and a clear-eyed pursuit of truth––even if it leads to uncomfortable conclusions. Sulzberger, whose family has owned the paper since 1896, says he wants to push back on a culture of “certitude” in journalism. “In this hyper-politicized, hyper-polarized moment, is society benefiting from every single player getting deeper and deeper, and louder and louder, about declaring their personal allegiances and loyalties and preferences?” he asks. Plus, this week’s issue of The New Yorker features a new poem by Paul Tran, a young writer whose début collection was named one of the best books of 2022. The poem, “The Three Graces,” takes its name from a rock formation near Colorado Springs. “I was curious: what would these three rocks have to say about the nature of love,” Tran tells the producer Jeffrey Masters. Tran’s poetry explores their personal history—their family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam—as well as their trans identity. 
6/9/202350 minutes, 6 seconds
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A Gay Russian, Exiled in Ireland

Evgeny Shtorn and Alexander Kondakov were living together in St. Petersburg when Vladimir Putin began his crackdown on the L.G.B.T.Q. movement in Russia, passing laws that prevented gay “propaganda.” Kondakov is a scholar of the movement, and Shtorn has studied the sociology of hate crimes against gay men. The couple also worked for an N.G.O. that received foreign funding, which made them appear particularly suspicious to Russian authorities. After Shtorn’s citizenship was rescinded, he became vulnerable to pressure from the F.S.B., the Russian security agency, which tried to make him an informant. Finally Shtorn decided to flee, seeking refuge as a stateless person in Ireland, where Masha Gessen spoke with him. Gessen says that Putin’s recent targeting of L.G.B.T. people is perfectly in line with his methods. “[We] make the perfect scapegoat, because we stand in for everything,” she says. “We stand in for the West. We stand in all the things that have changed in the last quarter century that make you uncomfortable. And, of course, no Russian thinks they’ve ever met a gay person in person—so that makes it really easy to create that image of ‘the villainous queer people.’ ” This segment originally aired June 10, 2019. Since that time, Shtorn received refugee status, and was reunited with Kondakov in Ireland. They married in 2023.   
6/6/202318 minutes, 47 seconds
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Should We, and Can We, Put the Brakes on Artificial Intelligence?

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, which created ChatGPT, says that AI is a powerful tool that will streamline human work and quicken the pace of scientific advancement  But ChatGPT has both enthralled and terrified us, and even some of AI’s pioneers are freaked out by it – by how quickly the technology has advanced.  David Remnick talks with Altman, and with computer scientist Yoshua Bengio, who won the prestigious Turing Award for his work in 2018, but recently signed an open letter calling for a moratorium on some AI research until regulation can be implemented. The stakes, Bengio says, are high. “I believe there is a non-negligible risk that this kind of technology, in the short term, could disrupt democracies.” 
6/2/202332 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Director Rob Marshall on Halle Bailey as “The Little Mermaid”

The live-action remake of Disney’s classic “The Little Mermaid” is out this weekend. The performance of Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel has been widely praised, but some on the right lambasted the casting of a Black actress in the role as an example of—of course—wokeness on the part of Disney. The film’s director, Rob Marshall, dismisses the notion as quickly as he can. “It was never: ‘Let’s do a woke version of ‘Little Mermaid,’ ” he tells Naomi Fry. “It was: ‘Let’s just do the best version.’ ” Marshall took an unusual path toward directing: he began his career as a dancer on Broadway, moving to film only after becoming injured while performing in “Cats.” Since then, he has directed “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” For “The Little Mermaid,” he drew inspiration from the original Hans Christian Andersen text, which he says is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who breaks down barriers to understand herself and the world around her. “I just felt, wow, isn’t that the world we live in?,” he says. “I mean for me, the whole time I was doing this movie, it felt really like an antidote to the times we’re living in, the divisive world we live in.”
5/30/202316 minutes, 10 seconds
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E. Jean Carroll and Roberta Kaplan on Defamatory Trump, and Dexter Filkins on Ron DeSantis

Earlier this month, E Jean Carroll won an unprecedented legal victory: in a civil suit, Donald Trump was found liable for sexual abuse against her in the mid-nineteen-nineties, and for defamation in later accusing her of a hoax. But no sooner was that decision announced than Trump reiterated his defamatory insults against her in a controversial CNN interview. Carroll has now filed an amended complaint, in a separate suit, based on Trump’s continued barrage. But can anything make him stop? “The one thing he understands is money,” Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, tells David Remnick. “At some point he’ll understand that every time he does it, it’s going to cost him  a few million dollars. And that may make a difference.” Carroll acknowledges that Trump will keep attacking her to get a laugh—“a lot of people don’t like women,” she says simply—but she is undaunted, telling Remnick, “I hate to be all positive about this, but I think we’ve made a difference, I really do.”  Plus, the staff writer Dexter Filkins on Ron DeSantis, who finally announced his Presidential candidacy this week. In 2022, Filkins profiled the Florida governor as his national ambitions were becoming clear. “He’s very good at staking out a position and pounding the table,” Filkins notes, “saying, ‘I’m not giving in to the liberals in the Northeast.’ ”
5/26/202333 minutes, 55 seconds
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Jill Lepore on the Joy of Gardening

It’s the time of year when many people feel an overpowering urge to dig—to plant their back yard or vegetable garden, or even the flowerpots on the fire escape. “I just love the whole process. I love the muck of it,” Jill Lepore tells David Remnick. “You’re kind of entrapped in a completely different rhythm, and it’s all so entirely out of your control. … It’s a never-ending process of education.” Lepore, a professor of history as well as a staff writer, wrote recently on her passion for seed catalogues, and shares a couple of things she’s excited about growing this year.
5/23/202310 minutes, 33 seconds
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Behind the Scenes with Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks has been a constant presence on the American movie screen for forty years. He has played a mermaid’s boyfriend, an astronaut, a soldier on D Day, an F.B.I. agent, an AIDS patient, a castaway, and a strange, innocent character running across America—among dozens of other roles. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor two years in a row. Now in his sixties, Hanks has added another line to his résumé: novelist. “The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece”—an overstuffed, often funny, work of fiction—captures what he’s learned from forty years in the business. Hanks describes the process of moviemaking as equal parts chaos and monotony. “If anybody who we call a noncombatant, or a civilian, wants to visit the making of a motion picture, they will be bored out of their skull,” he tells David Remnick, insisting that it’s impossible to know on set whether a production will be a masterpiece or a flop. “You do not know if it is going to work out. You can only have faith.”   Hanks spoke with Remnick onstage at Symphony Space as part of The New Yorker Live to kick off his book tour.
5/19/202337 minutes, 48 seconds
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How Climate Change Is Impacting Our Mental Health

In June, a first-of-its-kind lawsuit will go to trial in Montana. The case, Held v. Montana, centers on the climate crisis. Sixteen young plaintiffs allege their state government has failed in its obligation, spelled out in the state constitution, to provide residents with a healthful environment. The psychiatrist Dr. Lise Van Susteren is serving as an expert witness and intends to detail the emotional distress that can result from watching the environmental destruction unfolding year after year. “Kids are talking about their anger. They’re talking about their fear. They’re talking about their despair. They’re talking about feelings of abandonment,” she tells David Remnick. “And they don’t understand why the adults in the room are not taking more action.” Dr. Van Susteren is a co-founder of the Climate Psychiatry Alliance, a network of mental-health providers concerned with educating colleagues and the public about the climate crisis.
5/16/202316 minutes, 58 seconds
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Michael Schulman on the Writers’ Strike, and Samantha Irby with Doreen St. Félix

The last time the Writers Guild of America hit the picket line was fifteen years ago, with a strike that lasted a hundred days and cost the city of Los Angeles hundreds of millions of dollars. This year’s strike has the potential to drag on even longer. At the core of the dispute is the question of who deserves to profit from the revenue generated by streaming services. “[Studios] tell us that they can’t afford the cost of us,” Laura Jacqmin, a veteran TV writer and a W.G.A. strike captain tells the staff writer Michael Schulman. “And simultaneously they’re on their public earnings calls, trumpeting bright financial futures to their shareholders.”  Plus, the comedian and essayist Samantha Irby talks with the staff writer and critic Doreen St. Félix. Irby is beloved by fans for her particularly unvarnished truth-telling. She recently started writing for television on shows like Hulu‘s “Shrill” and HBO’s “And Just Like That . . .,” the “Sex and the City” reboot, which returns for a second season in June. But she has also maintained her memoir-writing practice, and is out with a new essay collection, “Quietly Hostile,” in May.
5/12/202333 minutes, 50 seconds
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Germany’s Traumatized Kriegskinder Speak Out

A troubling question looms over the Kriegskinder, Germans who were children during the Second World War: Was my father a mass murderer? These innocent Germans carried the guilt of their nation while their families often remained silent. The New Yorker’s Burkhard Bilger, whose grandfather was a Nazi, speaks with Sabine Bode, a journalist who encourages the now-elderly Kriegskinder to speak about their unacknowledged trauma. Bilger’s new book, “Fatherland: A Memoir of War, Conscience, and Family Secrets,” chronicles his years-long quest to understand the truth behind his family history.  This segment originally aired October 14, 2016.
5/9/202320 minutes, 21 seconds
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Have State Legislatures Gone Rogue? And Joshua Yaffa on Evan Gershkovich

Just a month ago, the story of two lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee legislature captured headlines across the country. Their offense wasn’t corruption or criminal activity— instead, they had joined a protest at the statehouse in favor of gun control, shortly after the Nashville shooting at a Christian school. Earlier this week, Representative Zooey Zephyr, of Montana, was barred from the House chamber after making a speech against a trans health-care ban. In the past few years, in Arizona, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, legislatures have worked to strip powers from state officials who happen to be Democrats in order to put those powers in Republican hands.  Jacob Grumbach, a political-science professor and the author of “Laboratories Against Democracy,” talks about how state politics  has become nationalized. “If you’re a politician, and you’re trying to rise in the ranks from the local or state level in your party,” he notes, “your best bet is to join the national culture wars”—even at the expense of constituents’ real concerns. Plus, the contributing writer Joshua Yaffa talks with David Remnick about Evan Gershkovich, the first American reporter imprisoned in Russia on charges of espionage since the nineteen-eighties. “Evan was not sanguine or Pollyannaish or naïve about the context in which he was working,” Yaffa notes, but he returned to Russia again and again to tell the story of that country’s descent into autocracy.
5/5/202331 minutes, 9 seconds
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King Charles III Takes the Throne

On May 6th, King Charles will become the oldest person to ascend the throne of the United Kingdom. He is a bit of an odd duck to be the king, Rebecca Mead thinks. Charles has “long made clear that he considers his birthright a burden,” she writes. In fact, many things are a burden: during the ceremonies following the death of Queen Elizabeth, the new king “got into not one but two altercations with malfunctioning pens. . . . As his biographer Catherine Mayer puts it, ‘The world is against him—even inanimate objects are against him. That is absolutely central to his personality.’ ” Mead—a subject of the king, as well as a staff writer—talks with David Remnick about Charles III’s coronation, the problem of Harry and Meghan, and the future of the British monarchy itself.
5/2/202310 minutes, 21 seconds
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Harry Belafonte, the Pioneering Artist-Activist

We take it for granted that entertainers can—and probably should—advocate for the causes they believe in, political and otherwise. That wasn’t always the case: at one time, entertainers were supposed to entertain, and little else. Harry Belafonte, who died on April 25th at the age of ninety-six, pioneered the artist-activist approach. One of the most celebrated singers of his era, he had a string of huge hits—“The Banana Boat Song,” “Mama Look a Boo Boo,” “Jamaica Farewell”—while appearing as the rare Black leading man in the movies. At the same time, Belafonte used his platform to influence public opinion. He was a key figure in the civil-rights movement, a confidant of Martin Luther King’s; a generation later, he worked with Nelson Mandela to help bring down apartheid in South Africa. Belafonte joined The New Yorker Radio Hour in 2016, when the staff writer Jelani Cobb visited him at his office in Manhattan. This segment originally aired September 30, 2016. 
4/30/202313 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Fall of Tucker Carlson, and the Making of Candace Owens

Once a Beltway neoconservative, Tucker Carlson came to embody the angry, forgotten white man—railing at “the élites” and propagating racist conspiracy theories and the lie of the stolen election. “Unlike a lot of his colleagues at Fox News, he made news, he set the agenda,” Kelefa Sanneh, who wrote about Carlson in 2017, says. “People were wondering, What is Tucker going to be saying tonight?” Sanneh joins Andrew Marantz and David Remnick to discuss Carlson’s demise, and what comes next. And Clare Malone reports on Candace Owens, the powerful right-wing influencer and provocateur who’s set her sights on the future of right-wing media—and on a younger and more female audience than that of Fox News.
4/28/202339 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Bipartisan Effort to Rein in Presidential Military Power

Just three days after 9/11, Congress authorized a major expansion of executive power: the President could now wage war against terrorism without prior approval. The resolution was called the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and it passed almost unanimously. Its reauthorization, in 2002, brought our country to war with Iraq, and has been used to deploy American forces all over the world. More than twenty years later, the mood in the country has changed dramatically, and lawmakers in both parties are pushing to roll back the President’s discretion to use force. A bill to revoke the A.U.M.F. passed the Senate 66–30 a few weeks ago, and it is expected to pass the House as well. David Remnick talks with the senators who led that effort—Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana—and with Representative Barbara Lee of California, who, in 2001, cast the sole dissenting vote in all of Congress.   Plus, David Remnick remembers the beloved cartoonist Ed Koren, a fixture of the magazine for more than half a century.
4/25/202323 minutes, 13 seconds
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Jane Mayer on Justice Clarence Thomas, and the Music Critic Hanif Abdurraqib on Concert Merch

The cascade of revelations published by ProPublica concerning Justice Clarence Thomas—the island-hopping yachting adventures underwritten by a right-wing billionaire patron, the undisclosed real estate transactions—raises questions about his proximity to power and money. “I think it stretches common sense,” Jane Mayer tells David Remnick, “to think that a judge could be independent when he takes that much money from one person.” Mayer notes that other Justices, including the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have accepted large gifts from politically connected donors. A deepening public distrust in the integrity of the Supreme Court, Mayer thinks, is dangerous for democracy. “The glue that holds us together is the rule of law in this country,” she says. “People have to believe when they go in front of a court, and in particular the Supreme Court, . . . that it’s justice that’s going to prevail.”
4/21/202327 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Playwright Larissa FastHorse on “The Thanksgiving Play,” Broadway’s New Comedy of White Wokeness

“The Thanksgiving Play” is a play about the making of a play. Four performers struggle to devise a Thanksgiving performance that’s respectful of Native peoples, historically accurate (while not too grim for white audiences), and also inclusive to the actors themselves. A train wreck ensues. “First it’s fun. . . . You get to have a good time in the theatre. I would say that’s the sugar, and then there’s the medicine,” the playwright Larissa FastHorse tells the staff writer Vinson Cunningham. “The satire is the medicine, and you have to keep taking it.” FastHorse was born into the Sicangu Lakota Nation, and was adopted as a child into a white family. She is the first Native American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. “When I was younger, it was very painful to be separated from a lot of things that I felt like I couldn’t partake in because I wasn’t raised on the reservation or had been away from my Lakota family so long,” she says. “But now I really recognize it as my superpower that I can take Lakota culture . . . and contemporary Indigenous experiences and translate them for white audiences, which unfortunately are still the majority of audiences in American theatre.”
4/18/202317 minutes, 8 seconds
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What’s Behind the Bipartisan Attack on TikTok?

A ban of the Chinese social-media app TikTok, first floated by the Trump Administration, is now gaining real traction in Washington. Lawmakers of both parties fear the app could be manipulated by Chinese authorities to gain insight into American users and become an effective tool for propaganda against the United States. “Tiktok arrived in Americans’ lives in about 2018 . . . and in some ways it coincided with the same period of collapse in the U.S.-China relationship,” the staff writer Evan Osnos tells David Remnick. “If you’re a member of Congress, you look at TikTok and you say, ‘This is the clearest emblem of my concern about China, and this is something I can talk about and touch.’ ” Remnick also talks with the journalist Chris Stokel-Walker—who has written extensively about TikTok and argued against a ban—regarding the global political backlash against the app. “I think we should be suspicious of all social media, but I don’t think that TikTok is the attack vector that we think it is,” he says. “This is exactly the same as any other platform.”
4/14/202333 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Country Singer Margo Price Talks with Emily Nussbaum

Margo Price moved to Nashville from rural Illinois at the age of nineteen. After struggling for years to break through in the country-music scene, she found success with her 2016 release “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” widely considered one of the best albums of the year. Since then, she’s established herself as one of music’s new stars, an artist in the outlaw-country lineage—and a free spirit not afraid to speak frankly. Price talks with the staff writer Emily Nussbaum, who is well known as a television critic and is also a fan of country music, about her fourth studio album, “Strays.” It was released earlier this year, around the same time as her memoir, “Maybe We’ll Make It,” which discusses her years of struggle before establishing herself as an artist. They also discussed Price’s drug use—she speaks proudly of using psilocybin and her stance in favor of gun control in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville.
4/11/202318 minutes, 12 seconds
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Israel on the Brink: Understanding the Judicial Overhaul, and the Protests Against It

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed law changing the judiciary is described as a reform. To opponents, it’s a move to gut the independence of the Supreme Court as a check on executive power—and a move from the playbook of autocrats like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. The protests that followed are the largest in the country’s history, and are now stretching into their third month. Ruth Margalit, who is based in Tel Aviv, covered the protests for The New Yorker, and she tells David Remnick that the strength and success of the protests so far has brought a sense of hope for many who were losing faith in the country’s political future. “I think there is a sign of optimism. There is this potential for a kind of political realignment,” she says. “I do have some friends who were thinking of leaving and suddenly are saying, ‘Well, let’s just see how this plays out.’ And they suddenly feel that they have a role.” Remnick also speaks with Margalit’s father, the political philosopher Avishai Margalit, about demographic and cultural factors driving Israeli politics. The nation has been moving to the right probably since the failure of the Oslo peace accords in the nineteen-nineties, but “the new element,” Avishai thinks, “is the strong fusion of religion and nationalism,” elements that were once kept separate in Israel. “The current government is utterly dependent on the votes of the religious and the ultra-religious,” he says. The big unknown, Ruth says, is whether the popular uprising will expand beyond the judicial reforms. “Let’s say the fight over democracy is won—what happens then?” she says. “Can we branch out this fight over democracy? Can it include the West Bank and bring an end to the occupation?”
4/7/202332 minutes, 25 seconds
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Brooke Shields on the Sexualization of Girls in Hollywood

In the late nineteen-seventies and into the eighties, Brooke Shields was one of the most famous and most controversial people in America. At age eleven, she appeared in the film “Pretty Baby,” playing a child prostitute; by fifteen she was in the heavy-breathing desert-island love story “Blue Lagoon.” She was the face of a series of ads for Calvin Klein jeans featuring notoriously smutty innuendo. Yet Shields herself—rather than the filmmakers and ad men who developed her roles—became the object of fascination and public reproach, as the new documentary “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields,” premièring on Hulu, demonstrates in detail. Yet, if she was exploited by adults around her when she was young, Shields denies any sense of being a victim. In a conversation with Michael Schulman, she calls hypocrisy on models who criticize their industry. “You’re making money, and you’re selling something, and, in most cases, sex sells,” she says. “ ‘Oh, I’m being objectified.’ You’re a model! That’s the point!”
4/4/202320 minutes, 53 seconds
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Jon Meacham on How the Trump Fever Breaks

In 2018, at the midpoint of the Trump Presidency, the journalist and historian Jon Meacham wrote a book called “The Soul of America,” warning of the gravity of Trump’s threat to democracy. This was hardly a unique point of view, but Meacham’s particular way of putting things, steeped in a critical reverence for American history, hit home with one reader in particular: Joe Biden. In the years since, Meacham became an informal adviser to Biden, helping him recently with the State of the Union address. Meacham, who has written biographies of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, George H. W. Bush, John Lewis, and, now, Abraham Lincoln, reflects on the vulnerability of American democracy in the current moment, with an overt autocrat as the leading Republican contender for the next Presidential election. “Having a dictatorial figure is not new either in human experience or American history. What is new is that so many people are willing to suspend their better judgment to support him,” he says. “I am flummoxed to some extent at the durability of partisan feeling.” Plus, the music critic Kelefa Sanneh on a fleet of artists bringing fresh sounds to what has become the least cool genre: mainstream rock. He shares tracks by HARDY, Giovannie & the Hired Guns, AVOID, and Jelly Roll.
3/31/202330 minutes, 43 seconds
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Who Was H. G. Carrillo? D. T. Max on a Novelist Whose Fictions Went Too Far

H. G. Carrillo was a writer’s writer—not a household name, but esteemed in literary circles. He began writing later in life, and was in his mid-forties when his first novel, “Loosing My Espanish,” was published. The book, which describes a Cuban-immigrant experience, was hailed as a triumph of Latino fiction; Junot Díaz praised the author’s “formidable” talent, calling his “lyricism pitch-perfect and his compassion limitless.” Carrillo went on to literary positions in and outside of the academy. He was an early casualty of the COVID pandemic, dying in the spring of 2020 at the age of fifty-nine. But his obituary—instead of tying a bow on the historical record—unspooled in quite a different direction, revealing secrets that Carrillo had worked for decades to conceal. For two years, the staff writer D. T. Max has been trying to trace what happened, and why.
3/28/202332 minutes, 55 seconds
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Jia Tolentino on the Ozempic Weight-Loss Craze

The prescription drug Ozempic was designed to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their disease, and, under the name Wegovy, to treat obesity. But it has been embraced recently as a tool for weight loss, and many celebrities are rumored to use it in order to shed pounds. Known generically as semaglutide, the drug gives users the feeling of satiation—even to the point of uncomfortable fullness. “One doctor I spoke to compared it to a turkey dinner in a pen,” the staff writer Jia Tolentino tells David Remnick. Tolentino recently reported on the use and misuse of the drug, and what its prominence among celebrities says about our relationship to thinness today. After some years in which body culture seemed to become more accepting, Tolentino fears the drug will wind the clock back to the brutal insistence on thinness of decades past. “Like any technology, it’s very complicated,” she says. “For some people, this drug might save their lives. For others, it does not make sense to be used in any casual way.”
3/24/202317 minutes, 23 seconds
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How the Culture Wars Came to the Catholic Church

The pontificate of Pope Francis, which just reached its tenth year, has brought a greater willingness to engage with modern issues. Francis has addressed Catholics on the climate emergency, arguing a religious position against consumerism and irresponsible development. Without changing the Church’s doctrines, he struck a very different tone than his predecessors Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the inclusion of gay people and the involvement of women in Church leadership. The traditionalist reaction against Francis has also been unprecedented, with prominent figures in the Church openly seeking to discredit him. The New Yorker contributor Paul Elie, who recently wrote about this decade of Francis’s leadership, explores how tensions in the Church were overtaken by an American-style culture war. Elie speaks with Bishop Frank Caggiano, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and M. Cathleen Kaveny, a prominent law professor and theologian at Boston College. “For John Paul,” Kaveny says, “the main challenge that the faith faced was moral relativism. The conservatives . . . are worried that [moral relativism] is not appreciated by Pope Francis.”
3/21/202321 minutes, 58 seconds
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What if the Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action?

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears likely to strike down affirmative action, in a decision expected by this summer. The practice of considering race as a tool to counteract discrimination has been in place at many colleges and universities, and in some workplaces, since the civil-rights era. But a long-running legal campaign has threatened the practice for decades. David Remnick talks with two academics who have had a front-row seat in this fight. Ruth Simmons tells him, “For me, it’s quite simply the question of what will become of us as a nation if we go into our separate enclaves without the opportunity to interact and to learn from each other.” Simmons was the Ivy League’s first Black president, and more recently led Prairie View A. & M., in Texas. Lee Bollinger, while leading the University of Michigan, was the defendant in Grutter v. Bollinger, a landmark case twenty years ago in which the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action. The Court’s current conservative majority is likely to overturn that precedent. Remnick also speaks with Femi Ogundele, the dean of undergraduate admissions at the University of California,Berkeley. Consideration of race in admissions at California state schools has been banned for nearly thirty years. “A lot of us are being kind of tapped on the shoulder and asked, ‘How are you doing what you’re doing in this new reality?’ ” he says. “I want to be very clear: I do not think there is any race-neutral alternative to creating diversity on a college campus,” Ogundele tells Remnick. “However, I do think we can do better than what we’ve done.”
3/17/202328 minutes, 22 seconds
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Trans Activist Janet Mock Finds Her Voice

Janet Mock first heard the word “māhū,” a Native Hawaiian word for people who exist outside the male-female binary, when she was twelve. She had just moved back to Oahu, where she was born, from Texas, and, by that point, Mock knew that the gender she presented as didn’t feel right. “I don’t like to say the word ‘trapped,’ ” Mock tells The New Yorker’s Hilton Als. “But I was feeling very, very tightly contained in my body.”  Eventually, Mock left Hawaii for New York, where she worked as an editor for People magazine. “[Everyone was] bigger and louder and smarter and bolder than me,” she tells Als. “So, in that sense, I could kind of blend in.” After working at People for five years, she came out publicly as trans; since then, she has emerged as a leading voice on trans issues. She’s written two books, produced a documentary, and signed a deal with Netflix. In 2018, she became the first trans woman of color to be hired as a writer on a TV series—Ryan Murphy’s FX series “Pose,” which just concluded its final season. This story originally aired January 4, 2019
3/14/202325 minutes, 12 seconds
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Masha Gessen on the Battle Over Trans Rights

Many culture-war politicians are attacking the rights of trans people, and making a regressive view of gender as biology the key to their platforms. In this episode, David Remnick talks to two people who’ve found themselves at the center of the battle over transgender rights. In Nebraska, a state senator has committed to filibustering every piece of legislation to ward off a vote on a Republican-sponsored bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans people under age nineteen. Then Masha Gessen—who fled Russia years ago as an L.G.B.T. person targeted by government repression—explains why anti-trans messaging has been effective for the right, and why discussions of trans issues can be fraught even for those who support them.
3/10/202349 minutes, 23 seconds
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Introducing: “In The Dark”

“In The Dark,” the acclaimed investigative podcast from American Public Media, is joining The New Yorker and Condé Nast Entertainment. In its first two seasons, “In The Dark,” hosted by the reporter Madeleine Baran, has taken a close look at the criminal-justice system in America. The first season examined the abduction and murder, in 1989, of eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling, and exposed devastating failures on the part of law enforcement. The second season focussed on Curtis Flowers, a Black man from Winona, Mississippi, who was tried six times for the same crime. When the show’s reporters began looking into the case, Flowers was on death row. After their reporting, the Supreme Court reversed Flowers’s conviction. Today, he is a free man. A third season of “In The Dark,” which will be the show’s most ambitious one yet, is on its way. David Remnick recently sat down with Baran and the show’s managing producer, Samara Freemark, to talk about the remarkable first two seasons of the show, and what to expect in the future. To listen to the entirety of the “In The Dark” catalogue, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
3/9/202318 minutes, 48 seconds
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Chloe Bailey on Working Solo; and the Lost New Jersey Photos of Cartier-Bresson

When they were just thirteen and eleven years old, sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey started posting videos of themselves singing on YouTube and quickly built a following. Their covers often went viral—their version of Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” even caught the attention of Beyoncé, who brought them on tour as her opening act.  Now, with two albums and five Grammy nominations behind them, the sisters are for the first time working on separate projects: Halle is starring as Ariel in an upcoming remake of “The Little Mermaid,” and Chloe is releasing a solo album, “In Pieces,” later this month. Chloe Bailey spoke with the contributing writer Lauren Michele Jackson at the New Yorker Festival in October about the mixed blessing of social-media stardom. “When we program our minds to think about being No. 1 … it really suffocates you and it stifles the process,” she says. “Right now, I’m just creating to be creating, and I have never felt more free.”  Plus, the lost New Jersey photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1975, the French master photographer spent a month documenting New Jersey, which he called a “shortcut to America.” Why did the pictures disappear?
3/7/202324 minutes, 44 seconds
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The Russian Activist Maria Pevchikh on the Fate of Alexey Navalny, and the Future of Russia

Well before launching the horrifying campaign against Ukraine a year ago, Vladimir Putin had been undermining Russia as well: normalizing corruption on a massive scale, and suppressing dissent and democracy.  One of the darkest moments on that trajectory was the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny with the nerve agent novichok.  Navalny and a team of investigators had illustrated the corruption of Putin and his circle in startling detail, and Navalny began travelling the country to launch a bid for the Presidency.  “Every time when I heard Navalny giving an interview, I don’t think there was one interview where he wasn’t asked, ‘How come you’re still alive? How come they still haven’t they killed you?,’ ” recalls the Russian activist Maria Pevchikh, the head of investigations and media for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. “And Navalny is rolling his eyes saying, ‘I don’t know, I’m tired of this question, stop asking. I don’t know why I’m still alive and why they haven’t tried to assassinate me.’ ”  Pevchikh was travelling with Navalny when he was poisoned, and helped uncover the involvement of the F.S.B. security services.  After surviving the assassination and recuperating abroad, Navalny returned to Russia only to be arrested and then detained in a penal colony. “I think Putin wants him to suffer a lot and then die in prison,” Pevchikh tells David Remnick. Still, she maintains hope. “The situation is so chaotic, specifically because of the war,” she says. “Is the likelihood of Navalny being released when the war ends high? I think it is almost certain.” Pevchikh also served as an executive producer of the documentary “Navalny,” which is nominated for an Academy Award.
3/3/202326 minutes, 12 seconds
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Stephanie Hsu on “Everything Everywhere All at Once”; and the 2023 Brody Awards

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is in a genre all its own, and is an extremely unlikely favorite for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s a loopy sci-fi quest that becomes a martial arts revenge battle, superimposed on a sentimental family drama. Stephanie Hsu plays both Joy, a depressed young woman struggling with her immigrant mother (played by Michelle Yeoh), and Jobu Tupaki, an interdimensional supervillain bent on sowing chaos, and possibly the end of the world.  “The relationship between Evelyn and Joy in its simplest terms is very fraught,” Hsu tells the staff writer Jia Tolentino. “It’s the story of a relationship of a daughter who’s a lesbian who is deeply longing for her mother’s acceptance . . . but they keep chasing each other around in the universe and they can just never find one another. Until, of course, they launch into the multiverse and become nemeses.” The film is nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress, for Hsu’s performance.  Plus, in a New Yorker Radio Hour annual tradition, the incorruptible film critic Richard Brody bequeaths the awards that really matter: the Brody Awards, recognizing the finest performances and the best picture of 2022.
2/28/202331 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Pandemic at Three: Who Got it Right?

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its fourth year, we can begin to gain some clarity on which countries, and which U.S. states, had the best outcomes over time. In a conversation with David Remnick, Dhruv Khullar, a contributing writer and a practicing physician in New York, explains some of the key factors. Robust testing was key for public-health authorities to make good decisions, unsurprisingly. What also seems clear from a distance, Khullar says, is that social cohesion was a decisive underlying condition. This helps explain why the United States did poorly in its pandemic response, despite a technologically advanced health-care system. Peer pressure, in other words, trumped mandates. Khullar also speaks to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about how misinformation and political polarization inhibit our country’s efforts on public health.
2/24/202319 minutes, 5 seconds
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Angela Bassett on Playing Tina Turner and Queen Ramonda of Wakanda

It’s been almost three decades since Angela Bassett emerged in Hollywood as a “totem of empowered Black womanhood,” as Michael Schulman puts it—known for groundbreaking roles in films like “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Now, at sixty-four, Bassett is nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” As the fierce, grieving Queen Ramonda, she is the first actor nominated for any Marvel movie. Bassett speaks with Schulman about her preparation for the film, and reflects on how a poetry recitation drove her to acting as a young person. “It was the first recognition for me, at fifteen, that drama, that theatre, that words, that passion from one human being could move another,” she says. “And that maybe I had a gift for it.”
2/21/202320 minutes, 26 seconds
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A Year of the War in Ukraine

In the year since Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians have shown incredible fortitude on the battlefield. Yet an end to the conflict seems nowhere in sight. “Putin’s strategy could be defined as ‘I can’t have it—nobody can have it.’ And, sadly, that’s where the tragedy is right now,” Stephen Kotkin, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and a scholar of Russian history, tells David Remnick. “Ukraine is winning in the sense that [it] didn’t allow Russia to take that whole country. But it’s losing in the sense that its country is being destroyed.” Kotkin says that the standards for a victory laid out by President Volodymyr Zelensky set an impossibly high bar, and that Ukraine—however distasteful the prospect—may be forced to cut its losses. He suggests it could accept its loss of control over some of its territory while aiming to secure expedited accession to the European Union, and still consider this a victory. Remnick also speaks with Sevgil Musaieva, the thirty-five-year-old editor-in-chief of Ukrainska Pravda, an online publication based in Kyiv, about the toll that the war is taking on her and her peers. “We have to destroy the Soviet Empire and the ghosts of the Soviet Empire, and this is the goal of our generation,” Musaieva says. “People of my generation, they don’t have family. They don’t have kids. They just dedicate their lives—the best years of their lives—to country.” Kotkin says that the standards for a victory laid out by President Volodymyr Zelensky set an impossibly high bar, and that Ukraine—however distasteful the prospect—may be forced to cut its losses. He suggests it might need to accept its loss of control over some of its territory while aiming to secure expedited accession to the European Union, and still consider this a victory.
2/17/202330 minutes, 21 seconds
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Martin McDonagh Talks with Patrick Radden Keefe

Martin McDonagh burst onto the London theatre scene as a young playwright in the nineteen-nineties. At one point, he had four plays running simultaneously on stages across London. But McDonagh also aspired to work in movies, and he eventually shifted his focus to directing films such as “In Bruges” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” “When you sit down to write something, how do you know if it’s a movie or a play?” the staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe asked McDonagh at The New Yorker Festival. “If it has four characters, and it’s set indoors, it’s a play,” McDonagh replied—“if it doesn’t have any donkeys or dogs.” McDonagh’s new film, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, is his first feature set in Ireland, and it prominently features a donkey. “Banshees” traces the story of a friendship breaking apart in the beautiful, remote hills of the country’s west. “I just wanted this [movie] to be sort of plotless in a way,” McDonagh said. “Just to have the unravelling of this breakup be what the whole story was about.” The film is now nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.  This segment originally aired on October 21, 2022.
2/14/202314 minutes, 50 seconds
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Chuck D on How Hip-Hop Changed the World

Forty years ago, Chuck D showed listeners how exciting, radical, and unpredictable hip-hop could be. His song “Fight the Power” became a protest anthem for a generation, and a Greek chorus in Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing.” The Public Enemy front man talks with the staff writer Kelefa Sanneh about his life in music. “I wanted to curate, present, navigate, teach, and lead the hip-hop art, making it something that people would revere,” he says. Now, at sixty-two, Chuck D is an elder statesman of his genre, and also a critic of it and some of its more commercial impulses. His latest project is a four-part documentary, “Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World,” which is airing now on PBS. “I’ve been to one hundred sixteen countries over thirty-eight years, so I’ve seen the changes,” he says. “People have made their way to me to say, ‘Chuck, this is what this art form has meant to me,’ in all continents except for Antarctica.”  Plus, Alex Barasch, who wrote about “The Last of Us,” joins David Remnick to talk about why adapting video games to film and television has been so challenging: for every “Tomb Raider,” there are dozens of forgotten shows and flops. “The Last of Us” has been years in the making, but it’s paid off for HBO, winning both critical and commercial success.
2/10/202329 minutes, 13 seconds
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Salman Rushdie on Surviving the Fatwa

Thirty-four years ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of the novelist Salman Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” Khomeini declared blasphemous. It caused a worldwide uproar. Rushdie lived in hiding in London for a decade before moving to New York, where he began to let his guard down. “I had come to feel that it was a very long time ago and, and that the world moves on,” he tells David Remnick. “That’s what I had agreed with myself was the case. And then it wasn’t.” In August of last year, a man named Hadi Matar attacked Rushdie onstage before a public event, stabbing him about a dozen times. Rushdie barely survived. Now, in his first interview since the assassination attempt, Rushdie discusses the long shadow of the fatwa; his recovery from extensive injuries; and his writing. It was “just a piece of fortune, given what happened,” that Rushdie had finished work on a new novel, “Victory City,” weeks before the attack. The book is being published this week. “I’ve always thought that my books are more interesting than my life,” he remarks. “Unfortunately, the world appears to disagree.”  David Remnick’s Profile of Rushdie appears in the February 13th & 20th issue of The New Yorker.
2/6/202350 minutes, 26 seconds
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Bonnie Raitt Talks with David Remnick

You couldn’t write a history of American music without a solid chapter on Bonnie Raitt. From her roots as a blues guitarist, she’s created a gorgeous melange of rock, R. & B., blues, folk, and country—helping to establish a new category now known as Americana. But she’s far from resting on her laurels; her latest album, “Just Like That . . . ,” is nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, including Song of the Year—a category in which her competition includes Beyoncé and Adele, stars a generation younger than Raitt. She talks with David Remnick about her early career in the blues clubs of Boston; the relationship between older Black artists and the nineteen-sixties generation of younger white afficionados; and the state of the genre today. “The way that blues and R. & B. and soul music [are] interwoven with so many different styles now . . . the cross pollination of influences that streaming has made possible—it means that blues is always at the root of whatever funky music is out at the time,” she says. Raitt also reflects on how finding sobriety in her forties changed her music. “I think a lot of us are busy putting on a big persona—proving ourselves in the world—for the first two decades of our careers,” she says. “I became more who I really am at forty-one than I was at thirty-one.”
2/3/202321 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Custody Battles Awaiting Mothers of Children Conceived in Rape

Exceptions in the case of rape used to be considered a necessity in abortion legislation, even within the pro-life movement. But today ten states have no rape exception in their abortion laws, and more will likely consider moving in that direction this year. “I think few people understand how common this scenario actually is,” the contributing writer Eren Orbey, who has reported on the issue, says; according to C.D.C. statistics, nearly three million women have become pregnant as a result of rape. With abortion laws changing, more and more women will be forced to carry these pregnancies to term. In some cases, they’ll find themselves tied to their assailants through the family-court system until their children turn eighteen. “Many states . . . require a conviction for first-degree rape—which is really hard to come by even if there’s a lot of evidence—in order to terminate parental rights,” Lucy Guarnera, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, says. Orbey talks with Guarnera, one of a few researchers who have studied this issue in depth, and with a mother of twins about the challenges of parenthood under these conditions. “The reality is: these exceptions are far less effective than we assume they are,” Orbey says. “They create the false impression that we’re taking care of all rape survivors when we’re not.” 
1/31/202321 minutes, 20 seconds
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What Exactly Does “Woke” Mean, and How Did It Become so Powerful?

Many on the right blame “wokeness” for all of America’s ills—everything from deadly mass shootings to lower military recruitment. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, recently signed a so-called Stop WOKE Act into law, and made the issue the center of his midterm victory speech. In Washington, there has been talk in the House of forming an “anti-woke caucus.” “I think ‘woke’ is a very interesting term right now, because I think it’s an unusable word—although it is used all the time—because it doesn’t actually mean anything,” the linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne, the author of “Dictionary of Contemporary Slang,” tells David Remnick.  Plus, the poet Robin Coste Lewis talks with the staff writer Hilton Als about how suffering a traumatic brian injury led her to a career in poetry. Her most recent book, “To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness,” was published last month.
1/27/202329 minutes, 25 seconds
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Michael Schulman on Oscars History, and a Visit with “Annie” Composer Charles Strouse

Despite years of controversy, the Academy Awards and the other awards shows remain must-watch television for many Americans. The awards may be “unreliable as a pure measure of cinematic worth,” Schulman tells David Remnick. “But I would argue that the Oscars are sort of a decoder ring for cultural conflict and where the industry is headed,” Schulman says. “They are a way to understand where pop culture is.” With theatre attendance in continuing decline, the Academy is looking for solutions, Schulman believes, and that could result in a higher-grossing outlier winner for the coveted Best Picture award. Plus, a visit with the Broadway composer Charles Strouse, who is ninety-four and compiling his archives to donate to the Library of Congress. He reflects on his work with Jay-Z and his “friendly enemy” relationship with Stephen Sondheim: “He didn’t like me much. I didn’t like him less.” Still nimble at the piano, Strouse plays a rendition of his classic, “Tomorrow.”
1/24/202327 minutes, 55 seconds
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A Local Paper First Sounded the Alarm on George Santos. Nobody Listened.

George Santos is hardly the first scammer elected to office—but his lies, David Remnick says, are “extra.” Most Americans learned of Santos’s extraordinary fabrications from a New York Times report published after the midterm election, but a local newspaper called the North Shore Leader was sounding the alarm months before. The New Yorker staff writer Clare Malone took a trip to Long Island to speak with the Leader’s publisher, Grant Lally, and its managing editor, Maureen Daly, to find out how the story began. “We heard story after story after story about him doing bizarre things,” Lally told her. “He was so well known, at least in the more active political circles, to be a liar, that by early summer he was already being called George Scamtos.” Lally explains how redistricting drama in New York State turned Santos from a “sacrificial” candidate—to whom no one was paying attention—to a front-runner. At the same time, Malone thinks, “the oddly permissive structure that the Republican Party has created for candidates on a gamut of issues” enabled his penchant for fabrication. “[There’s] lots of crazy stuff that’s popped up in politics over the past few years. I think maybe Santos thought, Eh, who’s gonna check?”
1/20/202323 minutes, 18 seconds
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Deepti Kapoor Discusses “Age of Vice” with Parul Sehgal

Deepti Kapoor describes New Delhi, the setting of her novel “Age of Vice” as “extremely beautiful, but also violent. . . . It’s a place where you think you’re gonna get cheated and robbed until someone does something incredibly kind and breaks your heart.” The highly anticipated book, published simultaneously in twenty countries this month, is part crime thriller, part family saga centered on a reckless playboy who wants to break away from his mob family; a young man working as a servant to him; and a naïve young journalist. Kapoor, who spent a decade as a journalist herself, tells Parul Sehgal that she wrote the book while living abroad—needing the distance from her country in order to see it more clearly.
1/17/202316 minutes, 30 seconds
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In Politics, How Old Is Too Old?

It wasn’t so long ago that Ronald Reagan was considered over the hill, too old to govern. Now a sitting President has turned eighty in office, and a Presidential contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump would put two near-eighty-year-olds against each other. (Trump—while denying President Biden’s fitness—commented, “Life begins at eighty.”) Yet the question of age has not disappeared; even some of Biden’s ardent supporters have expressed concerns about him starting a second term. David Remnick talks with the gerontologist Jack Rowe, a professor at Columbia University who also founded Harvard Medical School’s Division on Aging, about how to evaluate a candidate’s competency for office; and with Jill Lepore and Jane Mayer, keen observers of the Presidency. Rowe argues that ageism underlies the public discourse; an occasional slip or unsteadiness, he thinks, is not consequential to the job. “If I give you a seventy-eight-year-old man with a history of heart disease, you don’t know if he’s in a nursing home or on the Supreme Court of the United States,” he tells Remnick. But Lepore and Mayer argue public opinion, and not only medical prognosis, should be considered seriously as we look at aging politicians. If Biden and Trump face off, Lepore says, “Age won’t be an issue between them. But age will be an issue for American voters. . . . I think of the young people that I teach everyday. They will be furious.” Mayer sees something anti-democratic in play as well. “Incumbency is such an advantage at this point,” she notes, that “it leads to gerontocracy,” because “it’s really hard to unseat someone.”
1/13/202334 minutes, 1 second
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The Photographer Who Documented a Long-Forgotten Pan-African Festival

Forty-six years ago, a young photographer named Marilyn Nance got the opportunity of a lifetime. A student at the Pratt Institute, an art school in Brooklyn, Nance had never left the country. But she became one of the official photographers documenting a festival in Lagos, Nigeria, called FESTAC ’77. The monthlong festival featured artists from across Africa and the diaspora, and has been described as the most important Black cultural event of the twentieth century. But, on returning from the festival, Nance didn’t find any takers to publish her photos, and fifty years later, few people know it took place. “I thought I would be talking about FESTAC in 1978, not in 2022,” Nance told the staff writer Julian Lucas. “If some tragic thing had happened, everybody would remember. . . . But I guess maybe there was no investment in celebrating Black joy.” A collection of Nance’s photographs from the event was published late in 2022, in the book “Last Day in Lagos.” 
1/10/202317 minutes, 42 seconds
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Bob Woodward on His Trump Tapes

Bob Woodward is not one to editorialize. But, during his interviews with Donald Trump at the time of the COVID-19 crisis, Woodward found himself shouting at the President—explaining how to make a decision and trying to browbeat him into listening to public-health experts. Woodward has released audio recordings of some of their interviews in a new audiobook called “The Trump Tapes,” which documents details of Trump’s state of mind, and also of Woodward’s process and craft. “I could call him anytime, [and] he would call me,” Woodward tells David Remnick. His wife, Elsa Walsh, “used to joke [that] there’s three of us in the marriage.” And, in the wake of Damar Hamlin’s accident, the staff writer Louisa Thomas talks with David Remnick about an uncomfortable truth: football’s danger to players is part of its singular popularity. 
1/6/202332 minutes, 59 seconds
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“Giselle,” and What to Do with the Problematic Past – Part II

When the renowned choreographer Akram Khan was commissioned to update the classic “Giselle” for the English National Ballet, he couldn’t simply put new steps to a Romantic-era plot. Beautiful as it is, “Giselle” has a view of ideal womanhood that is insupportable in our century—and it didn’t reflect the women he knew.  In Khan’s 2016 “Giselle,” the title character doesn’t chastely expire from a broken heart; she is a strong woman victimized by more powerful men.  The story still culminates in an act of forgiveness, but in a way that resonates with the era of #MeToo. Vincenzo Lamagna composed the production’s new score. The producer Ngofeen Mputubwele describes the production as not simply a great modern ballet but a model for how to reimagine a story that doesn’t work anymore.
1/3/202316 minutes, 41 seconds
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What to Do with the Problematic Past, Part I

We draw meaning and comfort from traditions, but when the world changes, traditions can stop reflecting our values and cause us pain. This episode features three people struggling against traditions that have become problematic.  The producer Ngofeen Mputubwele talks with Jeanna Kadlec, the author of “Heretic,” a memoir of leaving the evangelical church; and the actor Britton Smith, a leader of Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which seeks to make Broadway an equitable workplace for performers of color. “The fire was loud and the reckoning was very visible to everyone,” Smith tells Mputubwele. “The fire crumbled into ashes, and now the ashes are starting to settle.”
12/30/202233 minutes, 49 seconds
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As Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith Hit the Road

Tracy K. Smith was named Poet Laureate in 2017, at the beginning of the fierce partisan divide of the Trump era. She quickly turned to her craft to address the deep political divisions the election laid bare, putting together a collection called “American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time.” Then she hit the road, visiting community centers, senior centers, prisons, and colleges, and reading poems written by herself and others for groups small and large. “It was exhausting, and exhilarating, and it was probably the best thing I could have done as an American,” she told The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young.   This segment originally aired July 5, 2019.
12/27/202222 minutes, 26 seconds
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Kirk Douglas, the Guitarist for the Roots, Revamps the Holiday Classics

As the guitarist for the Roots, the band for “The Tonight Show,” Kirk Douglas plays anything and everything. So David Remnick put him to the test on some holiday classics. And two longtime New Yorker staffers, Patricia Marx and Roz Chast, divulge their celebrated history playing together in a ukulele band. As the Daily Pukuleles, they claim, they influenced some of the biggest names in music in the sixties and beyond. But they were always a little too far ahead of the curve for the mainstream.
12/23/202230 minutes, 53 seconds
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An Audiobook Master on the Secrets of Her Craft

You’ve probably never heard of Robin Miles, but you may well have heard her—possibly at some length. Miles is an actor who’s cultivated a particular specialty in recording audiobooks, a booming segment of the publishing industry. She has lent her voice to more than 400 titles in all sorts of genres—from the classic “Charlotte’s Web” to Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste,” a deep analysis of race in America. “Telling a story, fully, all of it—from all the aspects of it—and creating the kind of intimacy between you and your listener is so satisfying,” she tells the New Yorker editor Daniel Gross. “Being in a great play means you have to have the money and the other actors and a script and a director. This is just me and my book, and I love that.”
12/20/202223 minutes, 9 seconds
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Ina Garten: Cooking Is Hard; Plus an Essay from Susan Orlean

With the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” Ina Garten became a beloved household name. Although she is a gregarious teacher and presence on television, Garten prefers to do her actual cooking alone. “Cooking’s hard for me. I mean, I do it a lot, but it’s really hard and I just love having the space to concentrate on what I’'m doing, so I make sure it comes out well.” Garten joins David Remnick to reflect on her early days in the kitchen, and to answer listener questions about holiday meals and more. Her latest book is “Go-To Dinners.” Plus, Susan Orlean joins with an installment from her column “Afterword.” She writes about the life of a Texas man who founded a rattlesnake handling business. He liked providing a service for his neighbors, and for whatever reason, he just loved rattlesnakes—a passion that proved fatal.
12/16/202227 minutes, 24 seconds
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The poet John Lee Clark Translates the DeafBlind Experience to the Page

Although many hearing and sighted people imagine DeafBlind life in tragic terms, as an experience of isolation and darkness, the poet John Lee Clark’s writing is full of joy. It’s funny and surprising, mapping the contours of a regular life marked by common pleasures and frustrations. Clark, who was born Deaf and lost his sight at a young age, has established himself not just as a writer and translator but as a scholar of Deaf and DeafBlind literature. His new collection, “How to Communicate,” includes original works and translations from American Sign Language and Protactile. He speaks with the contributor Andrew Leland, who is working on a book about his own experience of losing his sight in adulthood.
12/13/202225 minutes, 58 seconds
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Politico’s Mathias Döpfner, and Sam Knight Reports from Qatar

The staff writer Sam Knight was in Qatar recently, reporting on the World Cup, where, despite years of controversy, a familiar rhythm of upsets, triumphs, and defeats has taken hold. But he finds that the geographical shift toward an Arab nation may benefit the sport. Plus, David Remnick talks with Mathias Döpfner, the C.E.O. of the German news publisher Axel Springer, which acquired Politico for a billion dollars last year. Döpfner relishes taking provocative stances, but has been a vocal critic of media outlets that he says are increasingly catering to partisan audiences. “I think it is not about objectivity or neutrality,” he notes. “It is about plurality.” Politico, Döpfner says, is taking “a kind of contrarian bet: if everybody polarizes, the few who do differently may have the better future.”
12/9/202225 minutes, 3 seconds
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Is Our Democracy Safe?

This year’s midterm elections were widely seen as a victory for democracy in the United States. Election deniers were defeated in many closely watched races and voting proceeded smoothly, even in areas where the Big Lie has taken a firm hold. But the threat of authoritarianism remains strong. David Remnick talks with Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of the best-seller “How Democracies Die” about recent political trends. “You can’t really live in a functioning democracy if you feel like each election is a national emergency,” Ziblatt says. “Because what it means is that we’re not confronting the major problems confronting our society.”
12/6/202230 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Supreme Court Case That Could Upend Elections

J. Michael Luttig is a retired judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals and a prominent legal mind in conservative circles, close with figures including Clarence Thomas and William Barr. On January 5, 2020, he got a call from Vice-President Mike Pence’s then-lawyer asking Luttig to publicly back Pence’s decision not to attempt to overturn the election the next day. Luttig tweeted that the Vice-President had no constitutional authority to stop the election, and suddenly the judge was thrust into the center of the crisis. Now Luttig is siding with Democrats as co-counsel on the Supreme Court case Moore v. Harper, which he tells David Remnick is “the most important case, since the founding, for American democracy.” At the heart of the debate is the independent-state-legislature theory, a once-fringe legal concept that Donald Trump and his allies believe should have allowed Pence to reject the popular vote in 2020. If the court adopts the theory, it could grant legislatures essentially unfettered authority to run national elections; they could not be challenged even if the election violated the state constitution. Such power, in the hands of a gerrymandered legislature, could be used to bypass the popular vote and appoint a new slate of electors, effectively empowering state lawmakers to choose a winner. The court will hear the case on December 7th.
12/2/202220 minutes, 13 seconds
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Why Christine Baranski Fought the Good Fight

The veteran stage and screen actress Christine Baranski first became a household name thanks to her Emmy-winning turn on the nineties sitcom “Cybill,” and her Tony-award winning work on Broadway. But “The Good Fight” took her to another level. As Diane Lockhart, a Chicago attorney and diehard liberal, Baranski captured the tensions of the political moment of Donald Trump, and the show ended its run this month. Emily Nussbaum could barely contain her excitement when sat down with Baranski at The New Yorker Festival in 2018 for a wide-ranging conversation about Baranski’s career and the timeliness of “The Good Fight.” This segment originally aired April 12, 2019.
11/29/202218 minutes, 17 seconds
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Quinta Brunson, a “Child of the Internet,” Revives the Sitcom

Quinta Brunson made a name for herself as a master of meme comedy and is a self-described “child of the Internet,” yet her ABC mockumentary series “Abbott Elementary” is an unabashed throwback to the sitcoms of her youth. Doreen St. Félix talked with Brunson at the 2022 New Yorker Festival about her influences and the everyday comedy of the workplace. St. Félix believes that Brunson has found “freedom in formula” when it comes to “Abbott,” which documents the lives of the beleaguered staff at a Philadelphia public school. “There is nothing that I could do,” Brunson says, “or [that] anyone can do that is more triumphant than someone going to their shitty job.” Writing in the wake of shows like “Black-ish,” Brunson relishes being able to center her story on Black people without addressing topical issues about race; the school is its own self-enclosed world. Just surviving, she thinks, provides its own form of liberation. “So much has happened to Black people,” she says. “Why are we still here? . . . We really could have called it quits a long time ago, and somehow we just keep going. It’s crazy to me.”
11/25/202232 minutes
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Unpacking the Latino Vote, and Susan Orlean on the Queen of Tigers

In the lead-up to this year’s midterm elections, many pundits expected Republicans to make significant gains among Latino voters, further eroding a base of support that Democrats have arguably taken for granted for decades. “What happened instead, as you know, is a more complicated story,” the contributing writer Stephania Taladrid says, one that both parties will be examining closely as 2024 approaches. Taladrid speaks with two political consultants, Chuck Rocha and Mike Madrid, to unpack the results. Rocha and Madrid co-host “The Latino Vote” podcast. Rocha, a Democrat, was a senior adviser to Bernie Sanders and Madrid, a Republican, was a founding member of the Lincoln Project.  And Susan Orlean reads from one of her Afterword columns, about the long and fecund life of a tiger mother. “Unlike most tiger mothers,” she writes, “Collarwali was, in fact, a tiger.”
11/22/202228 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Stories of #MeToo

Five years ago, reporting on the film producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of assault and misconduct opened the floodgates of the national reckoning with gender and power known as #MeToo. Three New Yorker critics—Alexandra Schwartz, Naomi Fry, and Vinson Cunningham—recently gathered to assess #MeToo’s impact on the culture more broadly. They discussed works like the new film “Tár,” the movie “The Assistant,” the fiction pieces “This Is Pleasure” and “Cat Person,” and more. Schwartz notes that #MeToo is not only an event in time but also a lens through which to tell stories about interpersonal relationships that have long been taken for granted.
11/21/202239 minutes, 25 seconds
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How Qatar Took the World Cup

No self-respecting sports fan is naïve about the role that money plays in pro sports. But, by any standard, the greed and cynicism behind the World Cup are extraordinary. The cloud of scandal surrounding FIFA, the international soccer organization, has led to indictments and arrests on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering around the globe. Headlines have been filled with reports of the deaths of workers who constructed the facilities. “People are normally careful enough not to leave a paper trail,” the contributor Heidi Blake notes. But she says, of investigating FIFA, “I’ve never seen graft and corruption documented in this kind of detail.” Blake speaks with David Remnick about “The Ugly Game,” which she co-authored with Jonathan Calvert, and how Qatar came to host the World Cup.
11/18/202221 minutes, 58 seconds
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Safia Elhillo on Vulnerability and Anger in “Girls That Never Die”

The poet Safia Elhillo first found her voice onstage, performing in youth poetry slams in Washington, D.C., where she grew up, the child of Sudanese immigrants. She published her first collection in 2017, and in 2021 her novel in verse, “Home Is Not a Country,” was long-listed for the National Book Award. She’s now out with a new collection, “Girls That Never Die,” which she characterizes as her most personal and vulnerable work yet. It responds to some of the backlash she received online after her earlier work was published. “Before this book, I think I had really clear rules for myself about what I was and was not allowed to write poetry about. And my body was one of the things that I was not allowed to write poetry about,” Elhillo tells Dana Goodyear. “I think I really had to sit down and dismantle this idea that if I was polite enough, respectful enough, modest enough, quiet enough, silent enough—that nobody would ever want to do me harm.”
11/15/20220
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The Man Who Escaped from Auschwitz to Warn the World

Rudolf Vrba was sent to Auschwitz at the age of seventeen, and, because he was young and in good health, he was not killed immediately but put to labor in the camp. Vrba (originally named Walter Rosenberg) quickly discovered that the scale of the killing was greater than anyone on the outside knew or could imagine, and Jewish communities were being deported without understanding their fate. Jonathan Freedland chronicles Vrba’s story in his new book, “The Escape Artist.” The young Vrba had a “crucial realization, which is [that] the only way this machine is going to be stopped—this death machine—is if somebody gets the word out,” Freedland told David Remnick. Freedland recounts how, against terrible odds, Vrba managed to escape the camp, and provided direct testimony of the Holocaust that reached Allied governments. This interview was recorded at a live event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
11/11/202234 minutes, 56 seconds
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Mike White on the New Season of “The White Lotus” in Sicily

The first season of “The White Lotus” won ten Emmy Awards and was a critics’ favorite. A dark satire of the privileged, the show chronicled the visit to a luxurious Hawaiian resort of a tech mogul and her family, a pair of newlyweds, and a single woman—all having the worst time of their lives—while the hotel manager goes off the wagon in a way both hilarious and harrowing. In Season 2, creator Mike White has moved the action to Sicily, and is focussing on gender roles and masculinity. White speaks with the staff writer Naomi Fry about his upbringing as the child of a minister, in a modest family in a wealthy community. “I hope that I’m not writing this show for the rest of my career,” White says. “But it does feel like, if you’re taking a snapshot, I am being true to the things that I’m thinking about right now.”
11/8/202218 minutes, 57 seconds
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Russell Moore on Christian Nationalism

Russell Moore, a prominent figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, resigned over the church’s response to racism—which Moore considers a sin—and documented sexual abuse allegations. The theologian sits down with David Remnick to reflect on the intersection of Christianity and American politics. “Jesus always refused to have his gospel used as a means to an end,” Moore says. “People who settle for Christianity or any other religion as politics are really making a pitiful deal.” Plus, the contributing writer Eliza Griswold reports on an energized movement of Christian nationalists aiming for statewide power in Pennsylvania. They believe that the authority to rule comes from God, not from a plurality of voters. “This isn’t about injecting Christian values into society,” Griswold notes, “this is about overthrowing secular democracy.”
11/4/202230 minutes, 52 seconds
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Mayor Francis Suarez’s View from Miami

Francis Suarez, the Republican mayor of Miami, is popular in the city he governs, and increasingly prominent beyond it. Conservative voices as disparate as Kanye West and George Will have floated him as a 2024 Presidential candidate. Suarez is a proudly dissident Republican: he loves tech companies, welcomes migrants, and thinks his party can lead the fight against climate change. He’s no culture warrior, and, though he shares a state with Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, he has kept both at arm’s length. So is he, Kelefa Sanneh wonders, a Republican at all? Suarez seems to be taking a long view. “Leadership,” he says, depends on whether “you have the talent to articulate a message, a vision, and a plan to get people to a place where people will follow—even if maybe they’re not so sure, maybe they’re not that comfortable with it.”
11/1/202218 minutes, 9 seconds
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U2’s Bono Talks with David Remnick—Live

Last month, The New Yorker published a Personal History about growing up in Ireland during the nineteen-sixties and seventies. It covers the interfaith marriage of the author’s parents, which was unusual in Dublin; his mother’s early death; and finding his calling in music. The author was Bono, for more than forty years the lyricist and lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. As U2 sold out arenas and stadiums, Bono held forth on a range of social causes; he became “the definitive rock star of the modern era,” as Kelefa Sanneh puts it. Bono joined David Remnick at the 2022 New Yorker Festival to talk about his new memoir, “Surrender.” “When I sang in U2, something got ahold of me,” Bono said. “And it made sense of me.” They discussed how the band almost ended because of the members’ religious faith, and how they navigated the Troubles as a bunch of young men from Dublin suddenly on the world stage. Bono shared a life lesson from Paul McCartney, and he opened up about the early death of his mother. “This wound in me just turned into this opening where I had to fill the hole with music,” Bono said. In the loss of a loved one, “there's sometimes a gift. The opening up of music came from my mother.”
10/28/202231 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Playwrights Suzan-Lori Parks and Martin McDonagh, Live at The New Yorker Festival

This year’s New Yorker Festival featured two conversations with renowned playwrights: Suzan-Lori Parks and Martin McDonagh. Parks, the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for drama, sat down with the staff writer Vinson Cunningham. “The marketplace is telling us that Black joy is what sells,” she said. “I’m very suspicious about what the marketplace wants me to create because I know in my experience where real Black joy resides—and sometimes that’s in the place where there might be some traumatic thing that also happened.” A revival of Parks’s groundbreaking play, “Topdog/Underdog,” just opened on Broadway.  And McDonagh, who is out with a new film, “The Banshees of Inisherin,” spoke with Patrick Radden Keefe. “The Banshees of Inisherin” traces the story of a friendship breaking apart in the beautiful, remote hills of western Ireland. “I just wanted this [movie] to be sort of plotless in a way,” McDonagh said. “Just to have the unravelling of this breakup be what the whole story was about.”
10/25/202232 minutes, 57 seconds
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The Vulnerabilities of our Voting Machines, and How to Secure Them

The security of voting has become a huge topic of concern. That’s especially true after 2020, when it became an article of faith for Trump supporters that the election was somehow stolen by President Joe Biden. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at University of Michigan, has been studying voting machines and software for more than a decade. “We made a number of discoveries, including that [voting machines] had vulnerabilities that basically anyone could exploit to inject malicious software and change votes,” he tells the staff writer Sue Halpern. Conspiracy theories aside, he says, we must address those vulnerabilities in computerized voting. But hand counting of ballots, advocated by some election skeptics, is not a plausible solution. “Perhaps as time goes on we’ll get Republicans and Democrats to agree that there are some real problems in election security that we would all benefit from addressing. ”
10/21/202217 minutes, 18 seconds
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In Defense of the Comic Novel: Andrew Sean Greer Talks “Less is Lost”

Arthur Less is a novelist—a “minor American novelist,” to be precise. He’s a man whose biggest talent seems to be taking a problem and making it five times worse. And he’s the hero of Andrew Sean Greer’s novel “Less,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, an especially rare feat for a comic novel.   Andrew Sean Greer is now out with a sequel, “Less Is Lost,” which takes Arthur on a road trip across the U.S. He talks with the staff writer Parul Sehgal.  Plus, for thirty years, the poet Ellen Bass has taken the same walk almost every day, on West Cliff Drive, a road along the ocean in Santa Cruz, California. Friends and family have teased her for being stuck in her ways, so she wrote the poem “Ode to Repetition,” about taking the same walk, listening to the same songs, and doing the same daily tasks, as life marches toward its end. (This segment originally aired May 26, 2017.)
10/14/202224 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tom Stoppard on “Leopoldstadt,” and Geena Davis talks with Michael Schulman

Tom Stoppard has been a fixture on Broadway since his famous early play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” travelled there in 1967. Stoppard is eighty-five years old, and has largely resisted the autobiographical element in his work. But now, in “Leopoldstadt,” a play that has just opened on Broadway, he draws on his family’s tragic losses in the Second World War. Stoppard talks with the contributor Andrew Dickson about his latest work.  And the Oscar- and Emmy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, best known for her role in “Thelma and Louise,” talks with the staff writer Michael Schulman about her life and career. Davis ascribes much of her early experience on- and offscreen to a certain level of politeness, a character trait ingrained in her from childhood. “I learned politeness from minute one, I’m sure,” she tells Schulman. “That was my family: very old-fashioned New Englanders.” She reflects on her childhood, her iconic roles in the eighties and nineties, and her “journey to badassery” in her new memoir, “Dying of Politeness,” out this month.
10/12/202230 minutes, 59 seconds
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The New Abortion Underground

Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the contributor Stephania Taladrid has been following a network of women who are secretly distributing abortion pills across the United States. The network has its roots in Mexico, where some medications used for at-home abortion are available at a lower cost over the counter. Volunteers—they call themselves “pill fairies”—are sourcing the pills at Mexican pharmacies and bringing them over the border. The work is increasingly perilous: in states like Texas, abetting an abortion is considered a felony, carrying long prison sentences. But, to Taladrid’s sources, it’s imperative. “I mean, there’s nothing else to do, right?” one woman in Texas, who had an abortion using the medication she received from a pill fairy, said. “You can’t just lie down and accept it. You can’t.”  Note: The interview excerpts featured in this story (with the exception of Verónica Cruz) are not the actual voices of Taladrid’s subjects. To protect their anonymity, the excerpts were re-recorded by actors.   Read Stephania Taladrid’s full reporting at newyorker.com.
10/10/202225 minutes, 29 seconds
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Major Decisions Ahead for the Supreme Court

In its last term, the Supreme Court dropped bombshell after bombshell—marking major conservative advances on gun rights, separation of church and state, environmental protection, and reproductive rights. “The Court is not behaving as an institution invested in social stability,” the contributor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote in July. She joins David Remnick to preview the Court’s fall term. Plus, after covering the landslide victory for pro-choice forces in Kansas this summer, the contributor Peter Slevin has been following midterm races in Michigan, where voters this fall will decide not only on state and congressional races but also on a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to an abortion in the state.
10/7/202219 minutes, 9 seconds
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Joshua Yaffa on What’s Next for Ukraine

The contributor Joshua Yaffa, who was based in Moscow for years and has been reporting from Ukraine since the start of the war, speaks to David Remnick from Kyiv. There, Yaffa says, the latest news from Russia—including threats of nuclear attack and reports of political upheaval—has been treated with near-indifference. “Ukraine has been in the fight for its survival since the end of February, fully aware that Russia is ready to throw any and all resources at the attempted subjugation of the Ukrainian state,” he says. “And after things like the massacre in Bucha and other areas outside of Kyiv, earlier this spring, there’s not much that can surprise or shock or scare the Ukrainian public about what Russia is ready to do.”
10/3/202214 minutes, 17 seconds
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Billy Eichner on “Bros” and Joyce Carol Oates on “Blonde”

One of the first queer rom-coms released in cinemas by a major studio, “Bros” is making movie history. But the film’s co-writer and star, the comedian Billy Eichner, tells David Remnick that the milestone has taken too long to achieve. “Culture and society at large, for the vast majority of human existence, [did] not want to talk about the private lives of gay people and L.G.B.T.Q. people,” he says. Plus, the staff writer Katy Waldman talks with the prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates about the new film adaptation of her novel “Blonde,” which premières on Netflix this week. Directed by Andrew Dominick, it’s a fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe. Oates tells Waldman that she enjoyed the production but found it “extremely emotionally exhausting” and “not for the faint of heart.”
9/30/202230 minutes, 52 seconds
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Why Play Music: A Conversation with Questlove and Maggie Rogers

Earlier this month, two acclaimed musicians—Questlove and Maggie Rogers—joined The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh live onstage for a conversation that probed at an essential question for musicians and music lovers alike: How can music provide a spiritual experience, and how do we sustain that feeling in our lives? Questlove—the co-founder of the Roots and the musical director of the “Tonight Show”—was one of Rogers’s professors while she was an undergraduate at New York University, and the two have stayed in touch. Rogers received a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, after the release of her début album, “Heard It in a Past Life.” Onstage, both musicians reflected on the space that the pandemic has given them to turn inward, finding a more sustainable path in their careers. “Music is not a job, it’s a way of being,” Rogers said, to which Questlove laughed. “I’m glad you know that at twenty, because I had to learn that at fifty,” he said. Rogers also performed songs off her new album, “Surrender.”
9/27/202239 minutes, 50 seconds
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Roger Federer on Retirement and His Evolution in Tennis

Roger Federer is playing the last professional tennis match of his career this week. It’s the end of an incredible run. Over two decades, he has demonstrated an unmatchable court intelligence and temperament, winning twenty Grand Slam titles and spending three hundred and ten weeks as the top-ranked men’s player. In 2019, on the eve of playing in his nineteenth U.S. Open, Federer spoke with David Remnick about how he got over an early hot temper and predilection for throwing racquets on the court. At the advanced age of thirty-eight—and as a father of young children—Federer explained what he had to give up in order to keep playing professionally. “I think it’s nice to keep on playing, and really squeeze the last drop of lemon out of it,” he told Remnick, “and not leave the game of tennis thinking, Oh, I should have stayed longer.” This segment originally aired on August 23, 2019.
9/23/202210 minutes, 6 seconds
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Will Voter Suppression Become the Law?

Now seven weeks away, the midterms are often cast as a referendum on the President and his party. But, this year, some see democracy itself on the ballot. One of those people is the attorney Mark Elias, who has made the fight for voting rights his mission. The Supreme Court will hear two of his cases in its upcoming term, which starts next month. Earlier this year, the staff writer Sue Halpern profiled Elias for The New Yorker, and she spoke with him again recently about the legal fight ahead. “I really believe that when the history books are written,” says Elias, “what they write about our generation will be whether or not we were able to preserve democracy.”
9/20/202220 minutes, 40 seconds
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Andy Borowitz, and the Hunt for Invasive Lionfish

Not only are we living in a time where people are proud of their ignorance, argues the writer and comedian Andy Borowitz, but some of our most educated politicians are now playing down their intelligence as a strategy to get elected. Borowitz, the author of the long-running satirical column The Borowitz Report, examines this phenomenon in his new book, “Profiles of Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber.” “When Trump was elected, a lot of us supposedly knowledgeable people were taken by surprise,” he tells David Remnick. “But the more I researched the past fifty years, the more likely and plausible—and maybe even inevitable—his election was, because he actually had a great deal in common with his forebears."   Plus, native to the waters of the Indo-Pacific, lionfish have proven themselves incredibly well adapted to the Atlantic coast. In their original habitat, the fish are kept under control by natural predators: groupers, eels, and sharks. But, elsewhere, predators can’t compete, and lionfish—with their voracious appetite and high fecundity—are upending the equilibrium of reef life. The staff writer D. T. Max takes a stab at lionfish spearing off the coast of Florida and talks with one of the most passionate lionfish hunters diving today, Rachel Bowman.
9/16/202229 minutes, 26 seconds
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How Sheryl Lee Ralph Is Reshaping Hollywood

Sheryl Lee Ralph has been a staple of Black entertainment for decades. She played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls,” and was in “Sister Act 2” alongside Lauryn Hill and Whoopi Goldberg. She’s currently starring in the new ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary,” for which she just won her first Emmy Award. Her decades-long career gives her a unique perspective on how the industry has changed since she started—and how it hasn’t. “I think that, sometimes in order for institutions like Broadway to truly make room for others, you’ve got to break it down,” she tells The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham. “Because you’ve got to help people see things differently, outside of their own vision. And, even if it’s 20/20, it’s not perfect.” This segment was originally aired on February 25, 2022.
9/13/202227 minutes, 20 seconds
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Keeping Score: A Year Inside a Divided Brooklyn High School

Nearly seventy years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, our public schools effectively remain segregated. And, by some measures, New York City has the most segregated system in the country. For a group of high schools in Brooklyn, change has long seemed impossible. But now those schools are putting their hopes in an unlikely place: sports. The John Jay Educational Campus in Park Slope, Brooklyn, houses four public high schools. Three of them have a student body with a Black-and-Latino majority; the fourth is disproportionately white and Asian. For a decade, students from all four schools shared a cafeteria and a gym but played on two separate sports teams—sometimes even competing against one other. Last year, the athletics programs merged, and the hope is that this change will break down some of the divisions between students. Angelina Sharifi, a student who plays volleyball, said that a team has to mesh in order to win. “And meshing is, like, the best feeling ever—having a pass, set, swing, that fits perfectly with one another,” she said. “That kind of unspoken connection that comes with volleyball is super-satisfying for me. This is a story of how students and adults grapple with enduring inequities, and how the merger is playing out on the girls’ varsity volleyball team. “I want this to work. I really do,” the student Mariah Morgan said, “because it has the potential to be incredibly anti-racist.” This reporting originally aired as part of the podcast “Keeping Score,” a co-production of WNYC Studios and The Bell.
9/9/202249 minutes, 21 seconds
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Aimee Mann Live, with Atul Gawande

Aimee Mann, the celebrated Los Angeles singer and songwriter, recently released an album called “Queens of the Summer Hotel.” It was inspired in part by Susanna Kaysen’s best-selling memoir “Girl, Interrupted,” about Kaysen’s time in a psychiatric hospital. Mann sat down with Atul Gawande at The New Yorker Festival to talk about the new album, the lessons of living through a pandemic, and how liberated she felt when she broke her ties with major record labels. “When you’re at a record label and you’re trying to ascertain whether something can be a hit or a single, you listen in a different way—and then everything sounds like garbage,” she said. Mann decided that she didn’t “want to keep baring my soul to people who hate everything I’m doing.”  This segment was originally aired November 26, 2021.
9/6/202223 minutes, 31 seconds
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Dave Grohl’s Tales of Life and Music

At The New Yorker Festival, Dave Grohl talked with Kelefa Sanneh about Grohl’s recent book, “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.” Grohl, who was the drummer for Nirvana before becoming the front man of the Foo Fighters, recalled one of his earliest experiences of taking music seriously: harmonizing with his mom to Carly Simon on the car radio. He also talked about what it was like to collaborate with Kurt Cobain, who was known for his capricious genius, and about stepping out from behind the drums to lead his own band. “After Kurt died, I was, like, I’m not playing music anymore—it’s too painful,” he remembered. “And then I eventually realized that if music saved my life, my entire life, this is what’s going to save my life again.” This segment was originally aired November 26, 2021.
9/2/202226 minutes, 39 seconds
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A New Civil War in America?

Since the F.B.I. raid on former President Donald Trump’s home, Mar-A-Lago, the phrases “civil war” and “lock and load” have trended on right-wing social media. The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are taking the threats seriously, and issued an internal warning that detailed specific calls for assassinating the judge and the agents involved in authorizing and carrying out the search. Where could this all be headed? David Remnick talks with Barbara F. Walter, the author of the new book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.” Walter is a political scientist and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-director of the online magazine Political Violence at a Glance. She has studied countries that slide into civil war for the C.I.A., and she says that the United States meets many of the criteria her group identified. In particular, anti-democratic trends such as increased voting restrictions point to a nation on the brink. “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.” This segment was originally aired January 7, 2022. The segment also features an excerpt from “The Muddle,” a short story by Sana Krasikov. The full story is available on newyorker.com.
8/30/202232 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Actor Jenifer Lewis: Mother, Activist, Hurricane

Jenifer Lewis is known as the “Mother of Black Hollywood” for good reason; her screen progeny have included Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, and Tupac Shakur. In her latest turn, she’s playing the alpha boss of a home-shopping network on the Showtime series “I Love That For You.” It’s no surprise that Lewis keeps getting cast as formidable ladies—the roles come naturally to her, as you’ll hear in her conversation with the New Yorker contributor Michael Schulman. Lewis’s new memoir is called “Walking in My Joy: In These Streets.”
8/26/202217 minutes, 34 seconds
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What’s Driving Black Candidates to the Republican Party?

The Republican Party has recently attracted an almost unprecedented number of Black candidates to its fold—more than at any time since the Reconstruction era. “In a moment where the Party . . . has really wholeheartedly embraced white-grievance politics,” Leah Wright Rigueur tells David Remnick, “they are endorsing more Black candidates than they have in the past twenty-five years.” Rigueur is a historian at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican.” The G.O.P., she argues, is exploiting a moment when the long-standing relationship between Black Americans and the Democratic Party is weakening, and it aims to capitalize on an “everyday conservatism” among voters. “It actually makes sense that in the aftermath of Barack Obama—with Black people’s levels of support and warmth for the Democratic Party in decline and the belief among a small sect of African Americans that [it] is just as racist as the Republican Party—that actually frees some people up to actually vote Republican.” Plus, the staff writer Emma Green, who covers the pro-life movement, discusses how individuals’ positions seldom reflect the furious partisan divide, and she shares some nuanced sources that have informed her reporting. 
8/23/202230 minutes, 7 seconds
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Neil Gaiman on the Power of Fantasy in our Lives

Neil Gaiman, one of the great fantasy writers of our time, first started writing his comic series “The Sandman” in the nineteen-eightiess. Decades later, a TV adaptation is a huge hit on Netflix, topping the platform’s charts in countries across the globe. Gaiman talks with the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele about the powerful role that fantasy can play in helping audiences process real experiences in their lives. “You’re making things that aren’t true,” he says, “and you’re giving them to people in order to allow them to see—we hope—greater truths.” Though the Netflix début marks a major expansion of “The Sandman” ’s visibility, the series has long attracted audiences beyond ardent comic fans. Looking back to the early success of his comics, Gaiman recalls, “I would go to conventions and large, sweaty gentlemen would come over to me, grab my hands and say, ‘You brought women into my store. . . . Let me shake your hand.’ ”
8/19/202218 minutes, 45 seconds
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Designing a Soundscape for the Cars of the Future

Electric cars, compared to cars with internal-combustion engines, are nearly silent, which can present a danger to cyclists and pedestrians. So car companies are turning to sound engineers to craft artificial soundtracks for things like backing up, or starting the engine. John Seabrook, who writes often about music, reported on the composers and designers who are building a new soundscape for the streets and highways of America. Plus, a visit with Ada Limón, who was recently named the twenty-fourth U.S. Poet Laureate. Limón lives in Kentucky, and in 2018 she took the Radio Hour to her favorite racetrack, and spoke about her lifelong love of horses.
8/16/202222 minutes, 43 seconds
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Elizabeth Kolbert on a Historic Climate Bill, Plus a Lesson from Kansas

The Inflation Reduction Act now before Congress is being celebrated as the most important piece of climate legislation in the history of this country—which is “a pretty low bar,” the staff writer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert tells David Remnick, “because they’ve never really passed a piece of legislation on climate change.” The Inflation Reduction Act is a huge political victory for Democrats; will it help save the planet? And we look at how pro-choice messaging in Kansas delivered a surprise victory for reproductive choice by borrowing a classic conservative theme: government overreach.
8/12/202227 minutes, 42 seconds
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A Trip to the Boundary Waters

Alex Kotlowitz is known as a chronicler of the city of Chicago, and of lives marred by urban poverty and violence. His books set in Chicago include “An American Summer,” “There Are No Children Here,” and “Never a City So Real.” But for some 40 years, he has returned to a remote stretch of woods summer after summer. At a young age, he found himself navigating a canoe through a series of lakes, deep in the woods along Minnesota’s border with Canada. The stretch of wilderness is known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Larger than the state of Rhode Island, it is a patchwork of more than a thousand lakes, so pristine you can drink directly from the surface. At the age of sixty-seven, he finds the days of paddling, the leaky tents, the long portages, the schlepping of days’ worth of food (and alcohol) harder, but Kotlowitz will return to the Boundary Waters as long as he can. This spring, he brought a recorder with him on his annual canoe trip, capturing what has kept him coming back year after year. Plus, Susan Orlean remembers Ivana Trump, who died last month, at the age of 73.
8/9/202224 minutes, 59 seconds
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Jane Mayer on Ohio’s Lurch to the Right

Last month, the story of a 10-year-old rape victim captured national headlines. The young girl was forced to travel out of state because of Ohio’s draconian abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, which would have been nearly unthinkable until very recently. Jane Mayer took a deep dive into statehouse politics to learn how a longtime swing state—Ohio voted twice for President Barack Obama—ended up legislating like a radically conservative one. Its laws, she says, are increasingly out of step with the state’s voters, and this is owing to a sweeping Republican effort at gerrymandering. While familiar, gerrymandering “has become much more of a dark art,” Mayer tells David Remnick, “thanks to computers and digital mapping. They have figured out ways now to do it that are so extreme, you can create districts [in which the incumbent] cannot be knocked out by someone from another party.” Mayer also speaks with David Pepper, an Ohio politician and the author of “Laboratories of Autocracy,” who explains how a district is firmly controlled by one party, the representative is driven by the primary process inexorably toward extremism, until you have “a complete meltdown of democracy.”
8/6/202225 minutes, 9 seconds
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Notes from a Warming World

Much of the globe has seen record-breaking temperatures in recent heat waves that seem increasingly routine. Dhruv Khullar, a contributor and a practicing physician, looks at the effects of extreme heat in India, where the capital, New Delhi, recorded a temperature this year of 122 degrees. “People are amazingly resilient,” he notes. “But I think we’re approaching that point where even the most resilient people, the type of lives that they have to live—because of climate change—are not going to be sustainable for very much longer.” And the climate activist Daniel Sherrell talks about his book “Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of the World” with Ngofeen Mputubwele. The book articulates Sherrell’s view that we can live now only by walking a tightrope between hope and despair.
8/2/202232 minutes, 3 seconds
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Jamie Raskin on the Facts of January 6th, and the Danger Ahead

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, serves on Congress’s Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. He spoke with David Remnick about the effort to demonstrate Donald Trump’s culpability in the insurrection in a way that would resonate with voters, and about Trump’s political future. Trump is “guilty as sin, and everybody can see it,” Raskin says, and he is running low on patience for the Department of Justice to act. “As a citizen, I would hope and expect to see action,” Raskin notes, given the committee’s findings. “But I try to be careful not to browbeat the Attorney General of the United States.”
7/29/202217 minutes, 54 seconds
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Jason Isbell on Songwriting While Sober

Jason Isbell got into the music business early; he had a publishing deal when he was twenty-one. But he really came into his own as a songwriter around ten years ago, as he was getting sober from years of alcohol and drug use. His record “Southeastern,” which comes in the tradition of musicians like Guy Clark, swept the Americana Music Awards in 2014. Isbell spoke with John Seabrook at The New Yorker Festival in 2016, shortly after his record “Something More than Free” was released, and he played a live set of songs including “Different Days,” “How to Forget,” and “Speed Trap Town.”   This segment first aired December 30, 2016.
7/26/202236 minutes, 3 seconds
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New Mexico Is a “Safe Haven” for Abortion Between Texas and Arizona

In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared the state a “reproductive safe haven” between Arizona to the west, and Texas to the east. Already, she says, New Mexico’s few abortion clinics are seeing an influx of patients from outside its borders. “When you are a safe-haven state,” she says, “you put real stress on [the] current provider system.” Lujan Grisham speaks with David Remnick about her executive order—issued days after the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs—to prevent the extradition of abortion providers, a request that she expects to see from Texas law enforcement. Dobbs puts states at odds over one of the contentious issues of our time. “They’ve invited states now to fight with each other, sue each other,” she says; this is “the most despicable and horrible aspect, frankly, of this particular decision.”
7/22/202213 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Nerdwriter Conquers the Internet, Plus Kelefa Sanneh on Country Radio

Evan Puschak, known on YouTube as the Nerdwriter, posts videos dissecting topics from Shakespeare and Tarkovsky to Superman; from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. The videos are complex; he may spend weeks editing image, sound, and written narration. He spoke with the Radio Hour’s Ngofeen Mputubwele about what drew him to the essay form, and how he’s found success online. “The essay is not a treatise. It’s not a term paper. It’s not something systematically covering everything about a subject,” Puschak says. “It is an inquiry. . . . The cool thing about the video essay is that you are seeing these people’s thoughts articulated with a whole new toolbox.” As much as he loves the video form, Puschak is crossing over into print next month with a book of essays titled “Escape Into Meaning.” Plus, the writer Kelefa Sanneh highlights some notable tracks playing on country radio stations this summer.
7/19/202227 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Writer Dmitry Bykov on Putin’s Russia, the Land of the “Most Free Slaves”

Until very recently, Dmitry Bykov was a huge presence on the Russian literary scene. He is a novelist, a poet, a biographer, and a critic. He was a frequent presence on Echo of Moscow, the liberal radio station that was closed after the invasion of Ukraine, and his blunt political commentary made him an enemy of the regime. Bykov was teaching in the United States, at the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University, when the invasion of Ukraine began, and because of his forthright opposition to it, he may not be able to return home as long as Putin remains in power. Bykov calls Putin’s dictatorship “the final stage of Russian decline.” He blames not only Putin himself but the Russian people for the failure of democracy to take root. “In Russia they have a choice: to change the country—change themselves—or to keep Putin. They prefer to keep Putin,” Bykov tells David Remnick. “They’re really ready to die, but not to change their mind.” Most Russians, he continues, seem content “to make Putin responsible for everything, exclaiming, ‘We didn’t know, we couldn’t prevent him.’ ”
7/15/202222 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Comedian Hannah Gadsby Renounces Comedy, and Patricia Marx Tries to Relax

The comedian Hannah Gadsby has been touring this summer with a show called “Body of Work.” She came to wide attention in 2018, with the Netflix special “Nanette.” It was a full-length comedy show, and, at the same time, a carefully structured critique of standup comedy which argued that comedians have to distort personal experience for the sake of a joke, inflicting a kind of violence on themselves and their audiences. Gadsby recently published a memoir about her breakout moment called “Ten Steps to Nanette.” The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum talked with Gadsby back in 2018, when “Nanette” had just been released. Plus, Patricia Marx tries the trendy relaxation technique called flotation therapy—formerly known as a sensory deprivation tank. But relaxing, Marx found, is just too stressful, and her microphone was the only thing that found peace.
7/12/202226 minutes, 57 seconds
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What Precedents Would Clarence Thomas Overturn Next?

Justice Clarence Thomas once was an outlier for his legal views. But Thomas is now the heart of the Court’s conservative bloc, and his concurring opinion in the recent abortion ruling calls out some other precedents the Court might overturn. Jeannie Suk Gersen teaches constitutional law at Harvard Law School and clerked for former Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court; she has been covering the end of Roe v. Wade for The New Yorker, and she spoke with David Remnick about Thomas’s concurrence. It articulates a view more extreme than Justice Alito’s majority opinion, saying that other rights derived from privacy—such as contraception and same-sex intimacy—are not constitutional rights at all. “We have to remember he’s been saying it out loud for quite some time,” Suk Gersen says. “This is not a new thing from Justice Thomas. It’s just that we normally—over decades—didn’t pay that much attention to him, because he was alone in his dissents and concurrences.”
7/8/202223 minutes, 51 seconds
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Astrid Holleeder’s Crime Family

All her life, Astrid Holleeder knew that her older brother Willem was involved in crime. But she was stunned when, in 1983, Willem and his best friend, Cornelius van Hout, were revealed to be the masterminds behind the audacious kidnapping of the beer magnate Alfred Heineken. It was the beginning of a successful career for Willem, known as Wim. After a stay in prison, he became a celebrity criminal; he had a newspaper column, appeared on talk shows, and took selfies with admirers in Amsterdam. He got rich off of his investments in the sex trade and other businesses, but kept them well hidden. But when van Hout was assassinated and other associates started turning up dead, Astrid suspected that her brother had committed the murders. She decided to wear a wire and gather the evidence to put him away. If that didn't work, Astrid tells staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, she would have to kill Willem herself. After Astrid testified against him, Willem was convicted of multiple murders. Living in hiding, and travelling in disguise, she tells Keefe the story of her complicity and its consequences.  Keefe’s New Yorker story about Astrid Holleeder appears in his new collection, “Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels, and Crooks.” This segment originally aired August 3, 2018.
7/5/202231 minutes, 6 seconds
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Jia Tolentino and Stephania Taladrid on the End of Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs case was not a surprise; given the draft opinion that was leaked in May, its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey was nearly a certainty. But the effects of the ruling have been rapid and chaotic. In some states, abortions stopped overnight; in others, there’s profound confusion over what qualifies as a legally acceptable reason for having an abortion. Far from settling the legal issue of abortion—by sending it back to the states—the Dobbs ruling opens an uncharted legal dimension where the health of a pregnant person is being pitted against the life of a fetus, with potentially fatal consequences. “Flat out, women will die in the course of ordinary pregnancy,” Jia Tolentino says, “because of physician fears about anything that might make them liable for felony changes of performing an abortion. It will make pregnancy significantly more dangerous for many, many people.” Tolentino and Stephania Taladrid have both reported extensively on abortion access, and they spoke this week with the New Yorker editor Tyler Foggatt.  A longer version of this conversation appears on The New Yorker’s Politics and More podcast. 
7/1/202219 minutes, 8 seconds
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Why Do Conservatives Love Hungary’s Viktor Orbán?

When the New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz first heard that the Conservative Political Action Conference, the flagship event of the American conservative movement, was holding a meeting in Hungary, he thought it might be a joke. “A lot of people have worried for a few years now that the Republican Party is becoming more ambivalent about certain bedrock norms of American democracy,” Marantz told David Remnick. “To openly state, ‘We’re going to this semi-authoritarian country’ . . .  I thought it was maybe a troll.” But C.P.A.C. Hungary was very real, and the event demonstrated an increasingly close relationship between American conservatives and authoritarians abroad. Viktor Orbán wins elections and claims a democratic mandate, but his legislative maneuvers and rewrites to the constitution have rendered political opposition increasingly powerless. Marantz finds the admiration for him by many in America unsettling. “I couldn’t really imagine a Putin-style takeover” of power in America, Marantz says; but “this kind of technical, legalistic Orbán model” seems all too plausible.
6/27/202220 minutes, 43 seconds
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Alan Alda, Podcaster

Alan Alda spent his early years in the burlesque theatres where his father, the actor Robert Alda, would perform. Those early years opened his eyes in more ways than one: “I was very aware of the naked women,” he told The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman, “but I was also aware of the comics.” Watching from the wings, Alda grew an appreciation for being funny, being creative, and being present. He put those skills to use for eleven years on “M*A*S*H” and in dozens of other performances on stage and screen—recently, as a divorce lawyer for Adam Driver’s character in “Marriage Story.” But it was only later in life that Alda realized his skills might be useful in another arena: science. Alda made it his crusade to help scientists communicate their ideas to a broad audience. “What occurred to me,” Alda told Schulman, “was that if we trained scientists starting from actually improvising, they would be able to relate to the audience the way they were relating to me.” He hosted a series of science programs and founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. He also started a podcast. On “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda,” Alda interviews luminaries from the fields of science, politics, and entertainment, drawing on his training to make their specialist knowledge accessible to listeners. Interviewing, he thinks, isn’t unlike performing with a scene partner: “You have to relate to the other person,” says Alda. “You have to observe the other person. You have to be watching their face, their body and language” to determine what it is the guest “really means.” Plus, if you’re still looking for something for the kids to do this summer, have you considered Horse Camp? A comedy sketch by Emily Flake and Sarah Hutto. 
6/24/202228 minutes, 57 seconds
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Forget Dating Apps—the “Marriage Pact” Goes for the Long Haul

A survey that started as a student project at Stanford University has become a popular dating and relationship tool on campuses across the country. Its goal is to delve deeper than the superficial information found on a typical dating-app profile, connecting people based on deeply held values rather than looks or sports teams.  Most apps, says Liam MacGregor, who created the Marriage Pact with a fellow-student, “were designed to solve really specific problems … if you want a short-term relationship. But because they’re the only tools out there, people have tried to use them to solve these other problems.”  The Marriage Pact “set out to solve this very specific problem at the beginning: If you need a backup plan for a 50-year-long relationship, who’s right for that?” Would you put an elderly relative in a nursing home? Do you keep people as friends because they might be useful to you later? Would you keep a gun in the house? More than 250,000 students across more than 75 campuses have taken the survey. The Radio Hour’s producer KalaLea talked to students at Princeton University, where the survey was being conducted, to find out what it was all about. Plus, perched high above the ice at Madison Square Garden, the organist Ray Castoldi has conducted the soundtrack of Rangers games and more for thirty years.
6/21/202230 minutes, 13 seconds
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Dexter Filkins on the Rise of Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shown himself uniquely skilled at attracting attention beyond the borders of his home state.  Just this month, DeSantis blocked state funds for the Tampa Bay Rays stadium after players voiced support for gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.  He’s also continuing a fight to punish the Disney Corporation for criticizing Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law.  An Ivy League-educated anti-élitist firebrand, he is willing to pick a fight with anyone—reporters, health officials, teachers, Mickey Mouse—to grab a headline. DeSantis “practically radiates ambition,” the staff writer Dexter Filkins tells David Remnick. “He sounds like Trump, except that he speaks in complete sentences. … He’s very good at staking out a position and pounding the table and saying, I’m not giving in to the liberals in the Northeast.” Yet despite having been anointed by Donald Trump in his primary election, DeSantis has refused to “kiss the ring,” and many see DeSantis as a possible opponent to Trump in a 2024 Republican primary.
6/17/202220 minutes, 3 seconds
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Michael R. Jackson on “A Strange Loop,” His Black, Queer Coming-of-Age Musical

Michael R. Jackson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “A Strange Loop” features a Black queer writer named Usher, who works as an usher, struggling to write a musical about a Black queer writer. Jackson’s work tackles the terror of the blank page alongside the terrors of the dating scene, and it speaks in frank and heartbreaking terms about Usher’s attempt to navigate gay life among Black and white partners. Hilton Als talked with Jackson about how he found inspiration in his own experience seeking identity and community. “I started writing the original monologue—building a sort of life raft for myself—to understand myself,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t until I got to a place of understanding that in my life I was caught up in a loop of self-hatred, that I could see what Usher’s problem was, and therefore what the structure of the piece was that would lead him out of that and into a better place.”   “A Strange Loop” is playing now at the Lyceum Theatre, on Broadway.
6/15/202217 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Adrenaline Rush of Racing Drones

Ian Frazier, who has chronicled American life for The New Yorker for more than forty years, travelled to a house in Fort Collins, Colorado, where three roommates build, fly, and race drones. Jordan Temkin, Zachry Thayer, and Travis McIntyre were among the early professional drone racers in the sport, piloting the tiny devices through complex courses at upward of eighty miles an hour. Drones have had an enormous impact on military strategy, and the commercial applications seem limitless, but to these pilots drones exist in the strange overlap between pure adrenaline and big money that defines pro sports.   This piece originally aired on February 9, 2018.
6/14/202216 minutes, 29 seconds
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Regina Spektor on Her New Album, “Home, Before and After”

Twenty years ago, Regina Spektor was yet another aspiring musician in New York, lugging around a backpack full of self-produced CDs, and playing at little clubs in the East Village—anywhere that had a piano. But anonymity in Spektor’s case didn’t last long.  She toured with the Strokes in 2003, and once she had a record deal, her ambitions grew outside indie music.  She moved into a pop vein, writing anthems about love and heartbreak, loneliness and death, belief and doubt.  Her 2006 album “Begin to Hope” went gold.   “Home, Before and After,” being released this month, is Spektor’s first new album in six years.  She sat down at a grand piano with Amanda Petrusich, who covers music for The New Yorker, playing songs from the record and talking about the role of imagination and playfulness in her songwriting and her vocals.  “I think that life pushes you—especially as an adult, and especially when you’re responsible for other little humans—to be present in this logistic[al] sort of way,” she says. “I try as much as possible to integrate fun, because I love fun. And I love beauty. And I love magic. … I will not have anybody take that away.” Spektor performed “Loveology,” “Becoming All Alone,” and the older “Aprѐs Moi,” accompanying herself on piano.  The podcast episode for this segment features a bonus track, “Spacetime Fairytale.” 
6/10/202243 minutes, 21 seconds
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Masha Gessen on the Quiet in Kyiv

Masha Gessen is reporting for The New Yorker on the war in Ukraine, which is now in its fourth month. They checked in with David Remnick from Kyiv, which seems almost normal, with “hipsters in cafés” and people riding electric scooters. But the scooters, Gessen noted, are popular because prices have skyrocketed and gasoline is unaffordable. All the talk, meanwhile, is of war crimes—of murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping. (The Russian government has denied involvement in any war crimes.) And outside the city, in the suburbs, Gessen finds “unimaginable destruction,” comparable to what they saw in Grozny, Chechnya, “after the second war—after they’d had nearly ten years of carpet bombing.” The scale of atrocities, Gessen says, makes any diplomatic compromise over territory impossible for Ukrainians to accept. Plus, the head of the largest flight attendants’ union talks with the staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman about leading her members through turbulent times, with organized labor making a comeback, while unruly passenger behavior is reaching new heights.
6/7/202220 minutes, 39 seconds
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“The Book of Queer,” and “Bob’s Burgers” Hits the Big Screen

While working on his Ph.D., the historian Eric Cervini (whose book “The Deviant’s War” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) noticed the lack of popular histories on L.G.B.T.Q. issues. Researchers were publishing plenty of papers, but they were mostly in peer-reviewed journals and other academic outlets. His attempts to change that—first with his Instagram videos, and now with a series on Discovery+—bring to life key moments and figures in queer history, including the pharaoh Akhenaten and President Abraham Lincoln. “I would describe [the show] as a queer-history variety show,” Cervini told Michael Schulman. “The Book of Queer” is streaming on Discovery+, with new episodes each week in June. Plus,Loren Bouchard, the creator of “Bob’s Burgers,” resisted making a movie from his TV show—until now. He talked with The New Yorker’s Sarah Larson about the show’s surprising strain of optimism.
6/3/202229 minutes, 44 seconds
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Remembering Roger Angell, and Fishing with Karen Chee

Roger Angell, who died last week, at the age of 101, was inducted in 2014 into the Baseball Hall of Fame in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishment as a baseball writer. But in a career at The New Yorker that goes back to the Second World War, he wrote on practically every subject under the sun; he also served as fiction editor, taking the post once held by his mother, Katharine White.  Angell “did as much to distinguish The New Yorker as anyone in the magazine’s nearly century-long history,” David Remnick wrote in a remembrance last week. “His prose and his editorial judgment left an imprint that’s hard to overstate.”  In 2015, Remnick sat down for a long interview with Angell about his career, and particularly his masterful late essays—collected in “This Old Man: All in Pieces”—on aging, loss, and finding new love. Plus, we join the comedian—a writer for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “Pachinko,” and a New Yorker contributor—on her favorite kind of outing: a fishing trip that doesn’t yield any fish.
5/31/202223 minutes, 49 seconds
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What Makes a Mass Shooter?

In America, unthinkable violence has become routine.  In the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings, David Remnick speaks with the researchers Jillian Peterson and James Densley, whose book “The Violence Project” is the most in-depth study of mass shooters. Pro-gun politicians may continue to block any measures to reduce violence, but we can understand better a different side of the equation: what motivates these crimes. David Remnick speaks with two criminal-justice researchers who have studied mass killers, James Densley, of Metropolitan State University, and Jillian Peterson, of Hamline University. They point out that mass shootings have risen alongside deaths of despair, including overdoses and suicide.  “The perpetrator goes in with no escape plan,” Peterson points out.  “What we can learn from suicide prevention can teach us how to prevent some of these mass shootings.  We haven’t connected these two things.”  Remnick is also joined by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who wrote about the Buffalo attack for The New Yorker; and we hear from a 70-year-old resident of Uvalde, Texas, about the aftermath of the killings in a tight-knit community.
5/27/202226 minutes, 47 seconds
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Florence and the Machine, Live at The New Yorker Festival

Across five studio albums, Florence and the Machine has explored genres from pop to punk and soul; the band’s most recent record, “Dance Fever,” just came out. Florence Welch, the group’s singer and main songwriter, is by turns introspective and theatrical, poetic and confessional. She sat down with John Seabrook at The New Yorker Festival in 2019 to reflect on her band’s rapid rise to stardom. She also spoke about her turn toward sobriety after years of heavy drinking. “The first year that I stopped, I felt like I’d really lost a big part of who I was and how I understood myself,” she says. “What I understood is that that was rock and roll, and, if you couldn’t go the hardest, you were letting rock and roll down.” But eventually getting sober let her connect more deeply with fans and with the music. “To be conscious and to be present and to really feel what’s going on—even though it’s painful, it feels like much more a truly reborn spirit of rock and roll,” she says.
5/24/202221 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Attack on Gender-Affirming Medical Care

Across the United States, conservative politicians are leading a backlash against L.G.B.T.Q. identity, framing legal restrictions as protection of children. Several states have introduced laws to ban medical treatments known as gender-affirming care—including hormones and puberty blockers—prescribed to adolescents. Major medical organizations have approved the treatments, but Rachel Monroe, who has been following efforts to ban gender-affirming care in Texas, found that doctors wouldn’t speak out about the political furor because the resulting attention could endanger themselves, their clinics, and their patients. One specialist, however, was willing to go on the record: Dr. Gina Sequeira, a co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s. “I was growing so frustrated seeing the narrative around gender-affirming care provision for youth so full of misinformation and so full of blatant falsehoods that I couldn't in good conscience continue to stay quiet,” Sequeira told her. Doctors cite a body of data that gender-affirming care reduces the risk of suicide, which is high among trans youth. Sequeira’s Seattle clinic has been fielding calls from Texas families looking to relocate if the proposed ban in Texas prevents their children from accessing care. “If we were to stop care, I would be afraid that our child wouldn’t survive,” the mother of a trans girl told Monroe. “There’s no question that she’s not safe to herself.”
5/20/202229 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Comedian Megan Stalter on Finding Inspiration in American Absurdity

Before the pandemic, Megan Stalter was an unknown comedian, trying to catch a lucky break at clubs in New York City. But with the arrival of COVID-19, social media became her only outlet, and she quickly found an audience with her short-form, D.I.Y. character videos,  portraying the “breadth of American idiocy,” as Michael Schulman puts it, with such accuracy and heart that it’s hard to turn away. After her rise to Internet fame—she was dubbed the “queen of quarantine”—Stalter was offered the part of Kayla, the overprivileged and clueless assistant, on HBO’s hit series “Hacks.”  It was her first acting job.  Plus, Helen Rosner joins the chef Andy Baraghani in his home kitchen for a lesson on cauliflower ragu. Baraghani, best known for his YouTube cooking videos for Bon Appetit, is out with a new cookbook called “The Cook You Want to Be.”
5/17/202228 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Battle After Roe v. Wade

Assuming that Justice Samuel Alito’s final opinion in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gets majority support, there will be profound social, political, and health-care implications across the United States.   Margaret Talbot, Peter Slevin and Jia Tolentino assess the world after Roe.  Opponents will surely not stop by leaving abortion at the state level but will try to ban it under federal law.  Tolentino discusses fetal personhood, the legal concept that a fertilized egg is entitled to full legal rights, which severely compromises the bodily autonomy of a pregnant woman.  There is already speculation that access to birth control and same-sex marriage could be challenged. “If people feel panicked about all those things, I wouldn’t invalidate that,” Tolentino says. But focussing on the immediate post-Roe future, she says, presents enough to worry about. “This is a universe of panic on its own.   
5/13/202220 minutes, 51 seconds
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Stephanie Hsu on “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is in a genre all its own—you could call it sci-fi-martial-arts-family-drama.  Stephanie Hsu plays both Joy, an angsty teen-ager struggling with her immigrant mother, and Jobu, an omnipotent, interdimensional supervillain.  “The relationship between Evelyn and Joy in its simplest terms is very fraught,” Hsu tells Jia Tolentino.  “It’s the story of a relationship of a daughter who’s a lesbian who is deeply longing for her mother’s acceptance … but they keep chasing each other around in the universe and they can just never find one another. Until of course they launch into the multiverse and become nemeses.”
5/10/202220 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi; and a Look at White Empathy

Last week, a draft opinion was leaked which suggests that a majority of Supreme Court Justices are ready to overturn the precedents of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that have guaranteed a right to abortion at the federal level.  The case in question is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which Mississippi officials seek to close the state’s last remaining abortion clinic under a law that bans performing an abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy—a point well before the time of fetal viability.  In November, Rachel Monroe visited the Jackson abortion clinic, speaking to its director, Shannon Brewer; a physician who asked to remain anonymous, describing the risks to abortion providers; and a patient, who had driven all night from Texas, where she was not able to obtain an abortion. “Somebody else is telling me what I should do with my body, and it’s not right,” she said. “It’s my body. It’s my decision. It’s my choice. It’s my life. It’s my soul, if it’s going to Hell.” Produced with assistance from Ezekiel Bandy and Kim Green. This segment originally aired November 19, 2021.   Plus, the staff writer Alexis Okeowo talks with the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele about why the Ukrainian refugee crisis seems both familiar and startlingly different from conflicts in other parts of the world.
5/6/202228 minutes, 58 seconds
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Rickie Lee Jones’s Life on the Road

Rickie Lee Jones emerged into the pop world fully formed; her début album was nominated for five Grammys, in 1980, and she won for Best New Artist. One of the songs on that record was “The Last Chance Texaco,” and Jones has made that the title of her recent memoir. The song evokes a service station on a long stretch of highway, and Jones’s book reflects on her almost obsessive need to travel and uproot herself at almost any cost. “All I wanted to do was leave” from a very young age, she says. “When I talk about it from here, it seems like it was so horribly dangerous.” She adds, “Suddenly I’ll [say], ‘I think I’ll go to Big Sur,’ and I’m in a car, going. But the chaos and trouble that brings to a life!” The producer Scott Carrier, who hosts the podcast “Home of the Brave,” interviewed Jones near her home in New Orleans. This story originally aired April 9, 2021.
5/3/202221 minutes, 56 seconds
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A Ukrainian Diplomat on the Future of Russian Aggression

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters a third month, prospects of ending the conflict are still nowhere in sight, and there seems to be no end to the destruction that Vladimir Putin is willing to inflict. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, tells David Remnick that he expects Russia to continue escalating its attack leading up to May 9th, a day of military celebration in Russia commemorating the German surrender in the Second World War. “They will escalate attacks by missiles from the sky to terrorize Ukraine in general,” he predicts, “and to make the government more susceptible to surrender.”    In contrast to President Volodymyr Zelensky—who was a political rookie when he took office, in 2019—Kyslytsya has spent his career in Ukraine’s foreign service. In the years after the Soviet breakup, he says, Ukraine wanted to both placate its neighbor and ally itself with Western institutions. This created a “cognitive dissonance,” he says, that prevented Ukraine from recognizing the extent of Russian aggression. Having watched as diplomacy failed, Kyslytsya still has to separate his work from the personal toll of Russia’s invasion on his family and friends. “I try not to engage emotionally because if I engage emotionally too much, I am not operational,” he says. “And if I am not operational . . . I’m of very little use for my government.”
4/29/202226 minutes, 16 seconds
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Viola Davis on Playing Michelle Obama, and Finding Her Voice as an Actor

The Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis traces her career in Hollywood back to a single moment of inspiration from her childhood: watching Cicely Tyson star in the 1974 movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” “I saw excellence and craft, and I saw transformation,” Davis tells David Remnick. “And more importantly, what it planted in me is that seed of—literally—I am not defined by the boundaries of my life.” In a new memoir, “Finding Me,” Davis writes of a difficult upbringing in Rhode Island, marked by poverty and an abusive father. She pursued her dream of attending the prestigious Juilliard School, but felt alienated by a white-focussed approach that left little room for her background or identity. She talks with Remnick about how she grew past these early challenges, the lingering impostor syndrome that many successful people experience, and how she prepared to play Michelle Obama in the series “The First Lady.” Plus, the cartoonist Liana Finck, a regular presence in The New Yorker, explains how a ride on the Long Island Rail Road gets her creative ideas flowing; she can work among people without anyone talking to her.
4/25/202230 minutes, 23 seconds
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Ronan Farrow on the Threat of Modern Spyware

Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into a software called Pegasus and its maker, NSO Group. Pegasus is one of the most invasive spywares known; it allows users—including law-enforcement officials or government authorities—to hack into a target’s smartphone, gaining access to photos, messages, and the feeds from a camera or microphone. NSO markets Pegasus as a tool to catch terrorists and other violent criminals, but once a surveillance tool is on the market it can be very difficult to control. Farrow finds that Pegasus is being used to suppress political opposition in democratic nations, including Spain. The largest known cluster of Pegasus attacks has targeted people in Catalonia who support the independence movement, which the Spanish government views as a threat. “This is not just an information-gathering tool,” Farrow tells David Remnick; “It’s an intimidation tactic, and it works.”
4/22/202219 minutes, 24 seconds
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“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” and a Short History of Movies about the Internet

The Internet can be a scary place in real life, and far more so in Jane Schoenbrun’s film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” which premièred at the Sundance Film Festival last year and is being released in theatres and streaming. It’s a horror movie centered on a lonely and bored teen-age girl named Casey, who spends most of her time being online and trying to figure out who she is. She undertakes a ritual that she’s read about—the so-called World’s Fair Challenge—which is said to cause unknown and possibly dire changes. “Everyone wants to know, ‘Do you think the Internet is good or the Internet is bad?’ ” Schoenbrun told the Radio Hour’s Alex Barron. “That’s like asking, ‘Do you think that people are good or bad?’ There’s not a simple answer.” They spoke about the forty-year history of movies depicting the online world.
4/19/202217 minutes, 39 seconds
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Jennifer Egan on the Literary Pleasures of the Concept Album

Jennifer Egan’s new novel, “The Candy House,” one of the most anticipated books of the year, has just been published. It is related—not a sequel exactly, but something like a sibling—to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” from 2010. That earlier book was largely about the music business, and Egan, a passionate music fan, has described its unusual structure as having been inspired by the concept albums of her youth. “The very nature of a concept album is that it tells one big story in small pieces that sound very different from each other and that sort of collide,” she tells David Remnick. “I thought, How would I do that narratively? I ask myself that all the time.” We asked Egan to speak about three concept albums that influenced her, and she picked The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” about a disaffected, working-class mod in the nineteen-sixties; Patti Smith’s “Horses”; and Eminem’s “Recovery.”  Plus, a story about two young boys, obsessed with basketball cards, who schemed to get a rare triptych card from a third friend. Decades later, their ill-gotten prize might be worth a lot of money—but whose money is it? The staff writer Charles Bethea looks at the grown-up consequences of a childhood prank.
4/12/202232 minutes, 1 second
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Anita Hill and Jane Mayer on Ketanji Brown Jackson, and the State of the Supreme Court

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been voted in as a Supreme Court Justice—the first Black woman to serve in that role. But, to reach this milestone, Jackson has faced enormous hurdles at every turn, including confirmation hearings that featured blatant political grandstanding and barely disguised race-baiting. Nominations have become so partisan that, on both the left and the right, the Court itself is commonly viewed as merely a tool of the party that picked its members, and several polls report a decline in public confidence in the Court. “The real political end” of the attacks on Brown Jackson, Hill believes, “is to denigrate her personally, honestly, but also to really reduce the validity of any opinions that she ultimately writes. Even though . . . many of her opinions will be dissenting opinions, dissenting opinions can carry a lot of weight.” Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas’s decision not to recuse himself from cases related to the January 6th insurrection, even after it came to light that his wife Ginni Thomas actively sought to influence Trump Administration officials to try to overturn the Presidential election, also undercuts the court’s impartiality. It seems that the reputation and independence of the Court is in serious trouble.  Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, spoke with David Remnick about the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings, along with the staff writer Jane Mayer, who is reporting on the Ginni Thomas controversy. (Hill, who testified in the 1991 Thomas nomination hearings, has declined to speak about his stance on recusal.)
4/8/202218 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Missing Boater

Dick Conant spent years of his life crisscrossing America by canoe, like a Mark Twain character. On land, he worked a variety of jobs and was often homeless, but paddling on a river, he was king. By chance, on a voyage which began near the Canadian border, on his way to Florida, Conant met Ben McGrath, a New Yorker staff writer, outside McGrath’s home on the Hudson River. McGrath’s piece about Conant appeared in the December 14, 2015, issue of The New Yorker this week; here, he tells the story of a troubled man who found refuge in adventure. Ben McGrath’s book about Conant, “Riverman: An American Odyssey,” will be published in April.  Originally aired December 11, 2015.  
4/5/202220 minutes, 19 seconds
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Investigating January 6th

With a judge declaring that Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony in his attempt to overturn the Presidential election, the congressional committee investigating January 6th is racing to finish its work before the looming midterm elections. Amy Davidson Sorkin and the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen talk with David Remnick about the law and the politics of holding Trump accountable. And the music writer Sheldon Pearce shares three artists that didn’t get their due in the Grammy nominations. 
4/1/202228 minutes, 44 seconds
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Connor Ratliff Talks with Sarah Larson, Plus Chef Bryant Terry

An aspiring actor named Connor Ratliff thought he had it made when he got a small part on the 2001 miniseries “Band of Brothers,” in an episode directed by Hollywood legend Tom Hanks. The day before shooting his scene, Ratliff was unceremoniously fired by Hanks, who said the rookie had “dead eyes.” It was a life-altering disappointment for Ratliff. He told Sarah Larson how he came to launch the podcast “Dead Eyes,” which explores failure as a universal part of life—in show business and beyond. When Ratliff was able to land Tom Hanks as a guest on the show, fans thought their interview would bring “Dead Eyes” to a close. But Ratliff has other ideas. Plus, Helen Rosner talks with the cookbook author and food-justice activist Bryant Terry about uplifting diverse traditions in Black cooking and reclaiming veganism from white hipsters.
3/29/202229 minutes, 6 seconds
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Jill Lepore on Parents’ Rights and the Culture War

A wave of book bannings sweeping the country, along with conservative fury over titles like “Antiracist Baby,” seems like a backlash against the heightened racial consciousness of the post-George Floyd era. The historian and staff writer Jill Lepore sees these conflicts as the continuation of an old dynamic. She relates today’s “anti-anti-racism” movement to the anti-evolution campaign of the nineteen-twenties, which included the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher for teaching Darwin’s theory in a high-school class. Lepore tells David Remnick that what links these battles over biology and history is the argument that parents have the right to determine their children’s education in public schools.
3/25/202218 minutes, 21 seconds
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Returning to the Office . . . While Black

“Coming back to work is partially about surveillance and micromanagement,” Keisha, a podcasting executive, says. “Everybody feels it, but people of color feel it in a different way.” For workers who have been remote for the better part of two years, returning to the office is undeniably complicated. For some Black workers who didn’t feel at ease in majority-white offices to begin with, the complications are even greater. Racial microaggressions abound, and, for some, the stress of excessive visibility that comes with being a minority never goes away. “I would love to be ‘feet on the couch relaxed,’ like some of my colleagues in the past,” Keisha says, but “I don’t know if I could allow myself that.” As an entrepreneur named James put it, “Black folks aren’t really allowed to have bad days.”    The Radio Hour’s KalaLea talks with four Black professionals and compares their experience to that of Robert Churchwell, a Black reporter hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950. Churchwell was excluded from the white newsroom and worked from home for five years.     Audio from an interview with Robert Churchwell comes from the Civil Rights Oral History Project, Special Collections, Nashville Public Library.
3/22/202219 minutes, 49 seconds
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Radio Ukraine

Kraina FM is a radio station that broadcasts in Kyiv and more than twenty other cities, playing Ukrainian-language rock and pop. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it took on the mantle of “the station of national resistance,” airing news bulletins and logistical information like requests for supplies. The radio hosts began adding jokes about the invading Russians, and advice from a psychologist about talking to children about the war; a writer told fairy tales on air to occupy those kids during the stressful nights of wartime. The station staff has dispersed, with Bogdan Bolkhovetsky, the general manager, and Roman Davydov, the program director, holed up in a town in the Carpathians, keeping production moving over unreliable Internet and communicating with listeners by text. They don’t know how many of their broadcasting stations are still functioning, and their tower in Kyiv could be destroyed at any time. But “we are not doing anything heroic,” Bolkhovetsky told Nicolas Niarchos, who visited their makeshift studio. “We are still in a lot of luck, having what we have right now. Thousands of people were not so lucky as we are. . . . We’re just doing what we can under these unusual circumstances.” Plus, we present the 2022 Brody Awards—the critic Richard Brody’s assessment of the best performances and the best films of the year.
3/18/202230 minutes, 45 seconds
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Jane Campion on “The Power of the Dog”

Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” opens like a classic Western: cattle are herded across the sweeping plains of Montana, with imposing mountains in the distance. But the plot of the film, based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, isn’t exactly a Western. It’s a family drama about two brothers who share in the ranching business but couldn’t be more different, and what happens when one of them brings his new wife and her teen-age son to live on the ranch. “The Power of the Dog” is nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the most of any film this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Campion talks with David Remnick about Benedict Cumberbatch’s starring performance; her experience working with Harvey Weinstein, and how #MeToo has changed the film industry; and why she’d really like to direct a comedy. Plus, Caetano Veloso, a living giant of Brazilian music, was recently profiled for The New Yorker by Jonathan Blitzer. The staff writer picks some key tracks from Veloso’s vast catalogue that illuminate his long career.
3/15/202230 minutes, 32 seconds
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Stephen Kotkin: Don’t Blame the West for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

It’s impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin’s aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.
3/11/202219 minutes, 58 seconds
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Pauline Kael on “The Godfather”

As The New Yorker’s film critic from 1968 to around 1991, the influential Pauline Kael gave voice to her visceral reactions: she wrote as a moviegoer, not a cineaste. Fifty years ago, in the March 10, 1972, issue, she wrote about a new film by the hot-shot young director Francis Ford Coppola. “If ever there was a great example of how the best popular movies come out of a merger of commerce and art,” Kael wrote, “ ‘The Godfather’ is it.” She noted that Coppola took Mario Puzo’s potboiler of a novel, and the familiar outline of the gangster melodrama, and imbued them with “a new tragic realism,” which reflected a darker view of Americanism in the Watergate era.  Edie Falco performs an excerpted version of Kael’s review.  Some of Pauline Kael’s best work for The New Yorker is collected in “The Age of Movies,” published by the Library of America.
3/8/20227 minutes, 28 seconds
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Masha Gessen and Joshua Yaffa on the Escalation of Violence in Ukraine

Joshua Yaffa is a Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker, but he has been travelling throughout the war zone in Ukraine for weeks, reporting on the Russian invasion. Masha Gessen, who has lived in and reported from Russia in the past, returned to Moscow to write about the Russian people’s response to the invasion. Yaffa and Gessen spoke with David Remnick on March 3rd about the week’s escalation of violence, and what Putin’s goal might be. Plus, David Remnick speaks with Igor Novikov, an Internet researcher and entrepreneur who served as an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Novikov explains how Zelensky’s background as an actor and a comedian has given him an advantage in the West’s “attention economy.” Ukraine “will only survive if people pay attention,” Novikov notes, and must “make sure people understand who the perpetrator and who the victim is in this situation.”  
3/4/202241 minutes, 57 seconds
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Sheryl Lee Ralph on Confronting Hollywood

Sheryl Lee Ralph has been a staple of Black entertainment for decades. She played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls,” and was in “Sister Act 2” alongside Lauryn Hill and Whoopi Goldberg. She’s currently starring in the new ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” Her decades-long career gives her a unique perspective on how the industry has changed since she started—and how it hasn’t. “I think that, sometimes in order for institutions like Broadway to truly make room for others, you’ve got to break it down,” she tells The New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham. “Because you’ve got to help people see things differently, outside of their own vision. And, even if it’s 20/20, it’s not perfect.”
3/1/202226 minutes, 10 seconds
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How Black Creators Are Changing Hollywood

In the past few years, it seems a floodgate has opened, releasing a deluge of tremendously successful media that centers the Black experience. “Get Out,” “Black Panther,” and HBO’s “Watchmen” are just some of the big-budget prestige projects that have drawn huge audiences and dominated the cultural conversation. The New Yorker Radio Hour looks at this moment in Black entertainment and investigates the industry forces behind it in a special episode, produced by Ngofeen Mputubwele. A film scholar explains the complicated history between studios and Black audiences. And Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” tells David Remnick about the doors the Obama Presidency opened for Black creators in Hollywood.
2/25/202228 minutes, 54 seconds
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How Should President Biden Respond to Putin’s War on Ukraine?

Since last summer, Russian troops have been amassing on the Ukrainian border, and, in recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin warned that he intended a military takeover of Ukraine. This week, Russia began the war, with widespread attacks, including in the capital, Kyiv, aimed at crippling the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on civilians to enlist in the military to fight the invaders. The U.S. and nato are levying heavy sanctions against the Russians, but there are disagreements within the U.S. and among western allies about exactly how to proceed. Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the war, and the choices faced by the Biden administration and nato.
2/24/202226 minutes, 40 seconds
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Peter Dinklage on “Cyrano”

Joe Wright’s film “Cyrano,” nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, was based on Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name. Peter Dinklage starred in both, as the unattractive but lovestruck swashbuckler of the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Dinklage spoke with Michael Schulman in 2019, and said that Cyrano’s predicament is not really about his famously giant schnoz; it is about “everyone’s capacity to not feel worthy of love.” Dinklage also spoke about the ending of “Game of Thrones,” which had taken place a few months earlier. Fans were still freaking out about Daenerys’s turn to brutality at the series’ end, and Dinklage had little sympathy. “Monsters are created. We vote them into office. . . . Maybe [fans] should have waited for the series finale before you get that tattoo, or name your golden retriever Daenerys. I can’t help you.”   This segment originally aired December 20, 2019.
2/22/202216 minutes, 43 seconds
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Nicholas Britell on the Art of the Film Score

Nicholas Britell has emerged as one of the most in-demand film composers working today, creating original music for projects that hew to no style or model. He wrote the infuriatingly catchy theme of HBO’s “Succession”; he is nominated for an Academy Award for the score of Adam McKay’s manic apocalypse comedy “Don’t Look Up”; he was previously nominated for his score for Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight.” In 2017, Britell spoke with the New Yorker editor Henry Finder on the occasion of the release of “Battle of the Sexes,” about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.    This segment originally aired September 22, 2017.
2/18/202218 minutes, 7 seconds
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Path Forward for the Left

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent progressives in Washington. Her political ascent began with her shocking 2018 defeat of a longtime incumbent in a New York district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. She is a strong advocate of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. With her party’s razor-thin majorities now in peril, many of her priorities seem out of reach. Can the agenda she was elected to advance survive?  Ocasio-Cortez reflects on her time in Washington with David Remnick, painting a dysfunctional portrait of Congress. “Honestly, it is a shit show,” she says. “It’s scandalizing, every single day. What is surprising to me is how it never stops being scandalizing.” This conversation is part of The New Yorker’s first digital-only issue, a special collection of New Yorker Interviews.
2/14/202248 minutes, 24 seconds
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On Cancel Culture and the State of Free Speech

Every few weeks, it seems, another example of so-called cancel culture is dominating the headlines and trending on social-media platforms. The refrain “you can’t say anything these days” has become a slogan of cultural politics, particularly on the right. And yet there’s a wide gulf of opinion on what the term “cancelling” means—and whether the phenomenon even exists. In this special episode, we examine the issue with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the YouTube video creator Lindsay Ellis, the comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff, and the writers Jay Caspian Kang and William Deresiewicz.
2/11/202249 minutes, 22 seconds
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David Remnick Talks with Lee Child, the Creator of Jack Reacher

Lee Child didn’t start writing novels until he lost a prestigious job producing TV in England during a shakeup that he attributes to Rupert Murdoch. He tried his hand at writing a thriller, and found that the new career suited him: with a hundred million copies of his books in print in forty languages, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels make up one of the most successful series in print. Every September 1st, he sits down to write a new one. He tells his longtime fan David Remnick that his all-American tough guy is a modern-day knight-errant wandering the land doing good deeds. But, at sixty-seven, Child has thought about giving Reacher up. What would he do instead? Catch up on his own reading, finally getting around to Jane Austen and other classics. “Remember, I’m from Europe,” he points out. “I have no work ethic.” Plus, the contributor Graciela Mochkofsky on three classics of Argentinean music that she hated growing up, but came to embrace while living in America under COVID.
2/8/202230 minutes, 14 seconds
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Black Thought Takes the Stage

Tariq Trotter, best known in music as Black Thought, the emcee of the Roots, is regarded by many hip-hop fans as one of the best freestyle rappers ever. His work changed shape when the Roots became the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, and again when he began performing standup comedy. “I’ve spent most of my career with my sunglasses and my hat pulled down low, very many layers of defense,” he tells Jelani Cobb. “You’re up there as a comedian, it’s just you and your ideas and a microphone, no light show, no band. . . . After having done this for over thirty years, what else can I do, how can I become a better storyteller?” Trotter’s latest endeavor has been writing the music and lyrics for “Black No More,” a musical-theatre production based on the eponymous novel, by George Schuyler;  the script is by John Ridley, with direction by Scott Elliott. Schuyler’s book is a dark satire, written during the Harlem Renaissance, that describes the development of a “cure” for Blackness; Trotter stars as Dr. Junius Crookman, who believes that this remedy will solve America’s problems with race. “My focus became almost rapping as little as possible” in the show, Trotter says; “I wanted this to be above and beyond folks’ expectations.”  “Black No More” is in previews at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It opens February 15th.
2/4/202219 minutes, 43 seconds
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Guillermo del Toro and Bradley Cooper on the Enduring Appeal of Noir

Guillermo del Toro has been called the leading fantasy filmmaker of this century. His movies include “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” and “The Shape of Water,” which won four Academy Awards in 2018, including Best Picture and Best Director. He joined David Remnick to talk about his new film, “Nightmare Alley,” along with Bradley Cooper, who plays Stanton Carlisle, a grifter who seems to want to do the right thing but is unable to resist the pull of the con. Based on a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” is del Toro’s first film that isn’t somewhere in the fantasy genre; its dark depiction of American life is grounded in film noir. “We went to the root of it, American existentialism,” del Toro says, citing sources like the novel “The Day of the Locust” and the paintings of Edward Hopper. “It’s a discovery of America reckoning with its own ideals and its reality,” and a sense of tragic fate. “We knew that we needed to create not an up-and-down structure but a very steady, inexorable ramp.” The film, which was released in theatres in December, during the surge of the Omicron variant, begins streaming February 1st.
2/1/202219 minutes, 29 seconds
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Russia’s Intentions in Ukraine—and America

“They push buttons,” says Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale. “What button of ours are they pushing here? What are they trying to get us to do?” Vladimir Putin is posturing toward a costly invasion of Ukraine, on the false pretext of protecting Russian-language speakers in the country. Why? In a wide-ranging conversation, Snyder talks with David Remnick about how to understand Russia’s aggression, the idea advanced by Putin that Ukraine historically and rightfully belongs to Russia, and the dictator’s far-reaching goal of destabilizing NATO. Snyder is the author of the Second World War history “Bloodlands,” as well as “The Road to Unfreedom” and “On Tyranny”—which warn of the dangers that imperil American democracy. Running an oligarchy in which corruption is universal, Putin “is basically stuck with spectacle, distractions—the old bread and circuses idea,” Snyder says, “but also is working from a situation where you want to bring other countries down to your level. . . . With that, you can understand their intervention in our elections, or the way they talk about us: they want to bring out the elements of us, both rhetorically and in reality, that are most like the way they run the country.” Putin’s governance of Russia and his foreign policy, in other words, are intricately entangled. “I tend to think [the threat of invasion] is about the Biden Administration, in a pretty fundamental way,” Snyder believes. “If your goal is to undermine NATO—let’s accept that that is their sincere goal—who do you want to be President? Trump.” The crisis, he says, “puts Biden in a very bad position. It’s very hard for Biden to look strong. . . . Insofar as there is a strategy here, it’s about dividing NATO members and putting pressure on the Biden Administration.”
1/28/202230 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Trials of a Whistle-blower

As a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center—a Georgia facility run by LaSalle Corrections, a private company operating an immigration-detention contract with ICE—Dawn Wooten became aware of some frightening violations, including numerous hysterectomies and other medical procedures performed without patient consent. When she asked questions, she was demoted and eventually pushed out. Wooten supplied critical information for two complaints about I.C.D.C., which were submitted to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security. The complaints were first reported in The Intercept in September, 2020, and then covered widely in the national press. Last May, in a victory for Wooten, the detained women who spoke up about their mistreatment, and the advocacy groups that had fought on their behalf, ICE ended its I.C.D.C. contract with LaSalle. Wooten’s own troubles, however, had just begun. Receiving death threats and kidnapping threats, she and her five children stayed under security in a series of hotels. Her whistle-blower-retaliation complaint with the federal government is still awaiting a finding, as the Office of the Inspector General has requested two extensions on its legally required deadlines. Meanwhile, Wooten found that hardly anyone would hire a nurse who had made front-page headlines: despite her twelve years of experience, she was rejected from more than a hundred jobs during a national nursing shortage. She couldn’t get hired at McDonald’s. Wooten, and the detained women who shared their stories at great risk, are still awaiting justice. For Sarah Stillman, who covers immigration for The New Yorker, Wooten’s case draws attention to the fact that low-wage whistle-blowers, in particular, can face almost insurmountable obstacles to coming forward to expose wrongdoing.
1/25/202227 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World

Much has changed since China last hosted the Olympics, during the 2008 Summer Games. Those Games were widely seen as greatly improving China’s international reputation. But the 2022 Winter Games have put a spotlight instead on its human-rights abuses, most notably the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and Kazakhs. Peter Hessler, for many years The New Yorker’s China correspondent, asks David Remnick, “When an athlete says something about the internment camps in Xinjiang, and the oppression of Muslim people in China, what is the Chinese response going to be? The I.O.C. has really left them out there.” The sports reporter Louisa Thomas notes that these Games may garner little American support or attention, with few big-name American athletes for NBC to promote. “I even have a lot of friends who have no idea there’s about to be an Olympics,” Thomas says. Plus, at the Beijing pizzeria Pie Squared, the owner, Asher Gillespie, glumly assesses the Olympics boom that isn’t coming. With ticket sales halted and the events in a bubble, he says, “We're going to be watching from TV just like everybody else.” 
1/21/202222 minutes, 11 seconds
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Hilton Als and Emma Cline on the Late Joan Didion

Joan Didion tried and failed, she said, “to think”; that is, to write about abstractions and symbols, and make grand arguments in the manner of the New York intellectuals of her time. Instead, the California native—who died in December, at the age of eighty-seven—built her work around close observation of American life as she saw it, withholding judgment. And while many of her intellectual contemporaries belong now to a bygone era, “for my generation,” Emma Cline notes, “her influence is so massive.” Cline’s best-selling novel “The Girls” is set in nineteen-sixties California, on the fringes of a cult—what we might think of as Didion country. “I almost can’t think of a writer who is more of a touchstone for every writer that I know.” In fact, younger writers need to “unlearn” her voice, Hilton Als tells David Remnick, in order to find their own. Als notes that Didion eventually rejected the persona of her early works, which was imbued with white female fragility; and she was prophetic, he notes, in placing race and gender at the center of America’s battles.    Since Joan Didion’s death, The New Yorker has published Postscripts by Als, Cline, Zadie Smith, and Nathan Heller. Some of Didion’s own contributions to The New Yorker can be found here. 
1/18/202218 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Biden Presidency, Year One

President Biden took the oath of office in a moment of deep crisis—the pandemic in full swing and just weeks after an unprecedented attempt to overturn the election by violence. Merely a return to normalcy would have been a tall order. But Biden was promising something more: a transformational agenda that would realign American economics and life on a scale rivalling Franklin Roosevelt’s long Presidency. Yet Biden never commanded Roosevelt’s indomitable popularity and electoral advantages. A year into the Administration, Evan Osnos takes stock of its successes, failures, and ongoing challenges, along with four New Yorker colleagues: Susan B. Glasser on legislation, Jonathan Blitzer on immigration, Elizabeth Kolbert on climate, and John Cassidy on the economy.
1/14/202231 minutes, 51 seconds
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Nnedi Okorafor on Sci-Fi Through an African Lens

Nnedi Okorafor, a recipient of the prestigious Hugo Award, is a prolific writer of science-fiction and fantasy novels for adults and young adults. She spoke with Vinson Cunningham about how her Nigerian American heritage influenced her interest in fantastical worlds. “It’s part of the culture—this mysticism,” she says. “I wanted to write about those mystical things that people talked about but didn’t talk about because they were mysterious and interesting, and sometimes forbidden.” Her novel “Akata Woman,” which comes out this month, is the third in a series that also acknowledges complicated relationships among peoples of the African diaspora. Plus, Julian Lucas is a passionate gamer, with a particular interest in video games as a form of landscape art. He walks David Remnick through the forthcoming game Norco, a highly anticipated thriller set in coastal Louisiana.
1/11/202223 minutes, 32 seconds
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A New Civil War in America?

When rioters, encouraged by the President, stormed the Capitol, one year ago, to overturn the results of the election, the idea that such a thing could play out in America was stunning. But the attack may have been just the beginning of an ongoing insurrection, not a failed attempt at a coup. David Remnick talks with Barbara F. Walter, the author of the new book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.” Walter is a political scientist and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-director of the online magazine Political Violence at a Glance. She has studied countries that slide into civil war for the C.I.A., and she says that the United States meets many of the criteria her group identified. In particular, anti-democratic trends such as increased voting restrictions point to a nation on the brink. “Full democracies rarely have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars,” she says. “It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.” 
1/7/202226 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Power of Police Unions

The repeal of Section 50-A of the New York State Civil Rights Law was no technical change. Passed in the wake of the George Floyd protests, it was a big victory for police-reform activists. 50-A shielded the disciplinary records of police officers, meaning that, in an officer-involved killing, for example, neither lawyers, journalists, nor the victim’s family could determine if the officer had a history of disciplinary incidents. Laws like 50-A—and there are similar laws in many states—have played a big role in blocking police accountability. Because of the powerful influence of police unions, changing them is not easy, even for left-leaning politicians who champion reform. The New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan examines how the fight against 50-A was won. At the center of the story are the fraught relationships among politicians, protesters, and law enforcement.    This segment originally aired July 31, 2020.
1/4/202224 minutes, 16 seconds
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Amanda Gorman on Life After Inauguration

One year ago, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day that Joe Biden became President. Gorman was just twenty-two years old, and it was just two weeks after Trump supporters had assaulted the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the election. At the ceremony, Gorman herself seemed to cast light on a dark situation. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” reads, “When day comes, we ask ourselves: / Where can we find light / In this never-ending shade? / The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. / We’ve braved the belly of the beast.” The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young, wrote that her poem was “as vibrant and elegant as her yellow coat against the cold.” After that very public début, Gorman found the stakes of writing the poems for her new collection, “Call Us What We Carry,” to be impossibly high. (It was excerpted in The New Yorker with readings by Gorman.) She spoke with Young about being an inaugural poet—following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander—in a conversation from The New Yorker’s Poetry Podcast.
12/31/202125 minutes, 38 seconds
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For a French Burglar, Stealing Masterpieces Is Easier Than Selling Them

Vjeran Tomic has been stealing since he was a small child, when he used a ladder to break into a library in his home town, in Bosnia. After moving to Paris, he graduated to lucrative apartment burglaries, living off the jewels he took and often doing time in prison. He became known in the French press as Spider-Man, and he began to steal art. Tomic has a grand sense of his calling as a burglar; he considers it his destiny and has described his robberies as acts of imagination. He eventually carried out a truly epic heist: a break-in at the Musée d’Art Moderne, in Paris, in which he left with seventy million dollars’ worth of paintings. But selling these masterpieces proved harder than stealing them, and that’s where Spider-Man’s troubles began. The contributor Jake Halpern tells Vjeran Tomic’s story; excerpts from Tomic’s letters from prison are read by the actor Jean Brassard.     This segment was previously aired in 2019.
12/28/202121 minutes, 23 seconds
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Rhiannon Giddens, Americana’s Queen, Goes Global

By the standards of any musician, Rhiannon Giddens has taken a twisting and complex path. Trained as an operatic soprano at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory, Giddens fell almost by chance into the study of American folk music. Alongside two like-minded musicians, she formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she plays banjo and sings. The group is focussed on reviving the nearly forgotten repertoire of Black Southern string bands, but the audience for acoustic music remains largely white. Giddens tells David Remnick she was heartbroken that her largest Black audience was at a prison concert. “The gatekeepers of Black culture are not interested in what I’m doing,” she says. “This is a complaint I’ve heard from many, many people of color who do music that’s not considered Black—hip-hop, R. & B.” Her view of Black music is more expansive: “There’s been black people singing opera and writing classical music forever.” As a solo artist, Giddens is moving increasingly further afield from African American and American music; her new album, “There Is No Other,” recorded in Dublin in collaboration with the musician Francesco Turrisi, explores folk styles from the Middle East, Europe, and Brazil, as well as early America. She and Turrisi perform “Wayfaring Stranger,” the ancient ballad “Little Margaret,” and the tarantella “Pizzica di San Vito.”    This segment was previously aired in 2019.
12/24/202129 minutes, 52 seconds
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When Snow Came to San Juan

For several years in the early nineteen-fifties, Puerto Rico received snow, right around Christmas. Children in San Juan rode a sled and had a giant snowball fight in the tropical weather. It wasn’t a miracle, or a meteorological outlier. The snow was a gift from San Juan’s longtime mayor, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, who had fallen in love with snow during her years in New York. It was delivered by Eastern Airlines, which milked the publicity for all it was worth. A young New Hampshire girl escorted one delivery, wearing a hat and a cable-knit sweater. The snow didn’t cost Puerto Rico anything, but it certainly came with strings attached. At a time when the independence movement was being harshly suppressed, in favor of a continued colonial relationship with the United States, the fetishization of the northern “white Christmas” reads to some as a gesture of cultural imperialism that has never quite ended. And even recently—as the island still faces routine blackouts of its electrical grid, years after Hurricane Maria—the mayor of a small town proposed building an ice-skating rink. WNYC’s Alana Casanova-Burgess reports on why the snow came, and what it meant to Puerto Ricans.  Our story was produced in collaboration with “La Brega,” from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios.
12/21/202127 minutes, 45 seconds
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Is the Gift of Tuition Enough?

Élite schools are trying hard to recruit students of color and students who are less well-off financially; Yale University, as one example, now covers full tuition for families making less than seventy-five thousand dollars. Yet, many of these students find that the experience and the culture of a selective private university may remain challenging. Even a full-ride scholarship may not meet the needs of a student from a poor or working-class family. The New Yorker Radio Hour’s KalaLea spent time at Trinity College with Manny Rodriguez, who was then a senior, working three jobs to cover his expenses and help his family. They met before the Thanksgiving break, where Rodriguez remained on campus picking up extra shifts. He could not afford the airfare to visit his mother. Often late for classes, unable to meet professors during office hours, and deeply anxious about expenses that many of his classmates wouldn’t notice, Rodriguez explains the ways that college is not structured for people like himself. “I feel like I’ve struggled to finish,” he says, “and I’m going to be crawling on my graduation day.”
12/17/202122 minutes, 46 seconds
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Millennial Writers Reflect on a Generation’s Despair

The eldest millennials turned forty this year, and the producer Ngofeen Mputubwele comments on a sense of despair he finds in his generation, having to do with the state of the planet, the nation, the Internet, intolerance, and more. He set out to explore why millennials feel hopeless and how they can live with that feeling, in conversations with five writers: Kaveh Akbar, the author of “Pilgrim Bell”; Carlos Maza, the creator of the video essay “How to Be Hopeless”; Shauna McGarry, a writer on “BoJack Horseman”; Patrick Nathan, the author of “Image Control: Art, Facism, and the Right to Resist”; and the climate activist Daniel Sherrell, whose recent memoir is “Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World.”
12/14/202131 minutes, 58 seconds
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Paul Thomas Anderson, Poet Laureate of the San Fernando Valley

Paul Thomas Anderson first made a splash in Hollywood with his film “Boogie Nights,” a portrait of the porn industry that burgeoned in the San Fernando Valley, the much-mocked suburbs of Los Angeles. Anderson is a Valley native, and proud to live there still. “There was a terrific story right in my own back yard,” he told David Remnick. “I guess at some point, I probably read ‘Write what you know.’ I was, like, Well, that’s a good place to start.” Many of Anderson’s films—such as “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “Inherent Vice”—tell stories from Southern California’s past and present. Anderson’s new film, “Licorice Pizza,” returns to that terrain. It portrays the thorny relationship between a teen-aged boy and a twenty-five-year-old woman, and the pair’s misadventures in the Valley of the mid-seventies. Anderson, who could recruit any stars in Hollywood, instead cast two newcomers as his leads: Alana Haim (a musician in the indie band HAIM) and Cooper Hoffman. Anderson spoke to David Remnick from his home in—where else?—the Valley.
12/10/202118 minutes, 3 seconds
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Life After Prison

As a kid, Jonathan was good at soccer and making friends. But by the age of eighteen, he was a drug dealer facing his first serious conviction. For his third conviction, although the charges were for nonviolent offenses, he received a twenty-one-year prison sentence. In 2019, after serving seventeen years, he was released under the First Step Act, a bipartisan prison-reform bill that has helped to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine for some federal prisoners. In total, Jonathan has spent twenty-five years behind bars. Now, as a middle-aged former felon, he faces a world full of hazards and struggles with the unintended consequences of a long sentence. (Jonathan’s real name has been withheld, in order to protect his family’s privacy.)    Also, David Remnick speaks with Kai Wright, the host of WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety,” about long prison sentences and how the goal of incarceration has shifted from “correction” to warehousing people for as long as possible.     This podcast was originally released on January 17, 2020. 
12/7/202119 minutes, 23 seconds
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Mass Incarceration, Then and Now

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. But, until the publication of Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow,” in 2010, most people didn’t use the term “mass incarceration,” or consider the practice a social-justice issue. Alexander argued that the increasing imprisonment of Black and brown men—through rising arrest rates and longer sentences—was not merely a response to crime but a system of racial control. “The drug war was in part a politically motivated strategy, a backlash to the civil-rights movement, but it was also a reflection of conscious and unconscious biases fuelled by media portrayals of drug users,” Alexander tells David Remnick. “Those racial stereotypes were resonant of the same stereotypes of slaves and folks during the Jim Crow era.” Plus, a conversation with Reginald Dwayne Betts, who discovered poetry while in solitary confinement, during a prison sentence for a carjacking that he committed when he was sixteen. Betts reads a poem, which appears in his collection “Felon,” about trying to explain to his young son that he has served time in prison.
12/3/202131 minutes, 15 seconds
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Aimee Mann Live, with Atul Gawande

Aimee Mann, the celebrated Los Angeles singer and songwriter, recently released an album called “Queens of the Summer Hotel.” The album was inspired in part by Susanna Kaysen’s best-selling memoir “Girl, Interrupted,” about Kaysen’s time in a psychiatric hospital. Mann sat down with Atul Gawande at The New Yorker Festival to talk about the new album, the lessons of living through a pandemic, and how liberated she felt when she broke her ties with major record labels. “When you’re at a record label and you’re trying to ascertain whether something can be a hit or a single, you listen in a different way—and then everything sounds like garbage,” she said. Mann decided that she didn’t “want to keep baring my soul to people who hate everything I’m doing.” 
11/30/202123 minutes, 36 seconds
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Dave Grohl’s Tales of Life and Music

At The New Yorker Festival, Dave Grohl talked with Kelefa Sanneh about Grohl’s new book, “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.” Grohl, who was the drummer for Nirvana and then the frontman of the Foo Fighters, recalls his earliest experiences of taking music seriously—harmonizing with his mom to Carly Simon on the car radio. Grohl also talks about what it was like to collaborate with Kurt Cobain, who was known for his capricious genius, and about stepping out from behind the drums to lead his own band. “After Kurt died, I was, like, I’m not playing music anymore—it’s painful,” he remembers. “And then I eventually realized that if music saved my life, my entire life, this is what’s going to save my life again.”
11/26/202126 minutes, 46 seconds
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Mexican Abortion Activists Mobilize to Aid Texans

Mexico is a deeply Catholic nation where abortion was, for a long time, criminalized in many states; just a few years ago Coahuilla, near the U.S. border, imposed jail time on women who had the procedure. This year, Stephania Taladrid reported, Mexico’s ten-member Supreme Court voted unanimously to deciminalize abortion throughout the country—to the shock even of activists. But before they had finished celebrating they turned their attention north, to Texas, which has practically banned most abortions with the S.B. 8 law, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. Texans may find themselves crossing the border to obtain legal abortions. Taladrid spoke to activists who are sending medications that induce abortion—which are available over the counter in Mexico—across the border into Texas. But they may face risk in doing so. As the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen explains, a new Texas law criminalizes delivering those medications to pregnant women.
11/23/202113 minutes, 42 seconds
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If Roe v. Wade Goes, What Next?

The Supreme Court, with a six-to-three majority of conservative justices, is hearing critical cases on abortion rights. If it approves restrictive state laws, large swaths of the country might quickly ban abortion. Jia Tolentino co-hosts a special episode on the future of abortion rights for Americans, which includes a discussion of the legal issues at stake and the doctrine of privacy that is now in jeopardy, and a visit to the Mississippi clinic at the center of one of the court cases.
11/19/202136 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Essential Workers of the Climate Crisis

After storms and other climate disasters, legions of workers appear overnight to cover blown-out buildings with construction tarps, rip out ruined walls and floors, and start putting cities back together. They are largely migrants, predominantly undocumented, and lack basic protections for construction work. Their efforts are critical in an era of increasing climate-related disasters, but the workers are subject to hazards including accidents, wage theft, and deportation. “Right now, there is a base camp for the National Guard; FEMA officials in Louisiana are staying in hotels,” Saket Soni, the founder of the nonprofit group Resilience Force, tells Sarah Stillman. “But the workers who are doing the rebuilding with their hands are sleeping under their cars to protect themselves from rain.” Stillman travelled to Louisiana, to the parking lot of a Home Depot, to report on Soni’s effort to organize and win recognition for these laborers as a distinct workforce performing essential work. “These years ahead,” she notes, “are going to bring more brutal hurricanes, more awful floods, more terrifying wildfires, and heatwaves—more than any of us is really prepared to handle. … And what’s at stake is not just these workers’ fates but also our collective shared survival.”
11/16/202131 minutes, 33 seconds
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Anna Deavere Smith Retells Rodney King’s Story in Theatre

“Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” premièred nearly thirty years ago, but it’s one of the most current and important plays on Broadway right now. Anna Deavere Smith pioneered a form now known as verbatim theatre: instead of creating characters and writing dialogue, she would interview dozens or hundreds of people about an event, and weave a story from those real characters and their words. “Twilight” is about the deadly violence and unrest that erupted after police officers were acquitted of the ferocious beating of Rodney King—one of the first episodes of police brutality caught on videotape and broadcast to the nation. Her form, she tells David Remnick, let her complicate the racial dynamics of Black and white people, to include the voices of Asian Americans and Latinx people involved in the uprising. Deavere talks about how the play reads now, after George Floyd’s murder and the uprising that followed, and about what still hasn’t changed in the cultural climate for Black theatre artists.
11/12/202117 minutes, 31 seconds