The New Yorker Radio Hour

The New Yorker Radio Hour

By WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.


Julián Castro on the Biden Problem, and What the Democratic Party Got Wrong

The panic that gripped Democrats during and after President Biden’s performance in the June debate against Donald Trump didn’t come out of nowhere. In January of last year, the Radio Hour produced an episode about President Biden’s age, and the concerns that voters were already expressing. But no nationally prominent Democratic politician was willing to challenge Biden in the primaries. After the debate, Julián Castro was one of the first prominent Democrats to say that Biden should withdraw from the race, and he went on to tell MSNBC’s Alex Wagner that potential Democratic rivals and even staffers “got the message” that their careers would be “blackballed” if they challenged him. Castro—who came up as the mayor of San Antonio, and then served as President Obama’s Secretary for Housing and Urban Development—ran against Biden in the Presidential primary for the 2020 election. He talks with David Remnick about how we got here, and what the Democratic Party should have done differently.
12/07/2428m 36s

Florence Welch Talks About Life on the Road

Across five studio albums, Florence and the Machine has explored genres from pop to punk and soul. 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.  Welch wrote the music and the lyrics for “Gatsby: An American Myth,” which opened in June at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.This segment originally aired on May 24, 2022. 
09/07/2420m 15s

Robert Caro on the Making of “The Power Broker”

Fifty years ago, in July, 1974, The New Yorker began publishing a lengthy excerpt of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker.” When the book appeared, it ran more than twelve hundred pages and won a Pulitzer Prize. In vivid, astonishing detail, it shows how a city planner named Robert Moses gained power over New York City that dwarfed that of any mayor or governor, and radically changed the city. “The Power Broker” became a landmark of political reporting and biography, and made Caro one of the most celebrated writers in America. David Remnick sat down with Caro at the McCarter Theatre, in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2019, when “Working”—a collection of short pieces about Caro’s methods—had been published. Their discussion encompassed Caro’s early years as a newspaper reporter, his interviewing techniques, and his determination to tackle huge projects, including his chronicle of the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, four volumes of which have been published to date.This segment originally aired on June 18, 2019. 
05/07/2430m 49s

The New Yorker’s Political Writers Answer Your Election Questions

At the beginning of 2021, it seemed like America might be turning a new page; instead, the election of 2024 feels like a strange dream that we can’t wake up from. Recently, David Remnick asked listeners what’s still confounding and confusing about this Presidential election. Dozens of listeners wrote in from all over the country, and a crack team of political writers at The New Yorker came together to shed some light on those questions: Susan B. Glasser, Jill Lepore, Clare Malone, Andrew Marantz, Evan Osnos, Kelefa Sanneh, and Benjamin Wallace-Wells. Some years ago, the poet Ada Limón moved from New York City to Lexington, Kentucky. In a book called “Bright Dead Things,” she writes about adjusting to a new home, and the constant talk of thoroughbreds. “People always asking, ‘You have so many horses in your poems—what are they a metaphor for?’ ” she told the Radio Hour. “I think they’re not really a metaphor. Out here, they’re just horses.” Limón, who’s the current Poet Laureate of the United States, took us on a tour of Keeneland racecourse, in Lexington, and read her poem “How to Triumph Like a Girl.”This segment originally aired on April 13, 2018. 
02/07/2431m 12s

John Fetterman’s Move to the Right on Israel

Many Democrats saw John Fetterman as a progressive beacon: a Rust Belt Bernie Sanders who – with his shaved head, his hoodie, and the zip code of Braddock, Pennsylvania – could rally working-class white voters to the Democratic Party. But at least on one issue, Fetterman is veering away from the left of his party, and even from centrists like Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: Israel’s war in Gaza. Fetterman has taken a line that is not just sympathetic to Israel after the October 7th attack by Hamas; he seems to justify the civilian death toll Israel has inflicted on Gaza.  “When you have that kind of an evil, or that kind of a movement that came out of a society,” he told Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “whether it was Nazi Germany or imperial Japan or the Confederacy here in the South, that kind of movement has to be destroyed. . . . that’s why Atlanta had to burn.” Wallace-Wells shares excerpts from his interviews with Fetterman in a conversation with David Remnick, and they discuss how Fetterman’s support for Israel is driving a wedge among Pennsylvania voters, who will be critical to the outcome of the Presidential election. John Fetterman’s War was published in the June 24, 2024, issue.
28/06/2419m 47s

Emily Nussbaum on the Beginnings of Reality TV

Reality television has generally got a bad rap, but Emily Nussbaum—who received a Pulitzer Prize, in 2016, for her work as The New Yorker’s TV critic—sees that the genre has its own history and craft. Nussbaum’s new book “Cue the Sun!” is a history of reality TV, and roughly half the book covers the era before “Survivor,” which is often considered the starting point of the genre. She picks three formative examples from the Before Time to discuss with David Remnick: “Candid Camera,” “An American Family,” and “Cops.” She’s not trying to get you to like reality TV, but rather, she says, “I'm trying to get you to understand it.”
25/06/2416m 30s

Kevin Costner on “Yellowstone,” “Horizon,” and Why the Western Endures

Kevin Costner has been a leading man for more than forty years and has starred in all different genres of movies, but a constant in his filmography is the Western. One of his first big roles was in “Silverado,” alongside Kevin Kline and Danny Glover; he directed “Dances with Wolves,” which won seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture; more recently, Costner starred as the rancher John Dutton in the enormously successful “Yellowstone.” Perhaps no actor since Clint Eastwood is more associated with the genre. Throughout his career, Costner has also been working on a project called “Horizon: An American Saga.” Too lengthy and expensive for studios (Costner put up tens of millions of dollars to fund it), “Horizon” evolved over decades into a series of four films about the founding of a town in the West. Part 1, which involves the destruction wrought on Native communities by white settlement, comes out next week. While the politics of the genre have evolved, “there were certain dilemmas that [Westerns] established,” he tells David Remnick, that were timeless. “They talked to me about character and just as important, lack of character.”
21/06/2432m 35s

Paul Scheer Picks the Very Best of the Very Worst Movies

Paul Scheer is a noted actor and comedian, and the author of the new memoir “Joyful Recollections of Trauma.” Off the screen, his true obsession is bad movies—even terrible movies. With his wife, the actor and comedian June Diane Raphael, and their friend Jason Mantzoukas, he presents the podcast “How Did This Get Made?,” picking apart all manner of bombs. David Remnick met Scheer at the Brooklyn Brewery and asked him for his top five of the very worst movies, and why they deserve recognition. Scheer discusses “The Room,” “Miami Connection,” “Samurai Cop,” “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” and “The Apple.” “When I hear a director go ‘passion project,’ I’m in,” he says.  Plus, Francis Ford Coppola invested much of his personal fortune in a passion project, “Megalopolis.” It was mocked as a colossal failure before it even premièred. But the New Yorker film critic Justin Chang was at that première, and he thinks the chatter is wildly off base. 
18/06/2414m 42s

Is Being a Politician the Worst Job in the World?

On July 4th—while the U.S. celebrates its break from Britain—voters in the United Kingdom will go to the polls and, according to all predictions, oust the current government. The Conservative Party has been in power for fourteen years, presiding over serious economic decline and widespread discontent. The narrow, contentious referendum to break away from the European Union, sixty per cent of Britons now think, was a mistake. Yet the Labour Party shows no inclination to reverse or even mitigate Brexit. If the Conservatives have destroyed their reputation, why won’t Labour move boldly to change the direction of the U.K.? Is the U.K. hopeless? David Remnick is joined by Rory Stewart, who spent nine years as a Conservative Member of Parliament, and now co-hosts the podcast “The Rest Is Politics.” He left the government prior to Brexit and wrote his best-selling memoir, “How Not to Be a Politician,” which pulls no punches in describing the soul-crushing sham of serving in office. “It’s not impostor syndrome,” Stewart tells Remnick. “You are literally an impostor, and you’re literally on television all the time claiming to understand things you don’t understand and claiming to control things you don’t control.”
14/06/2436m 24s

After Serving Decades in Prison for Murder, Two Men Fought to Clear Their Names

For years, the staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman has reported on the case of Eric Smokes and David Warren. When they were teen-agers in Brooklyn, in 1987, Smokes and Warren were convicted of second-degree murder during the mugging of a tourist; the papers called them “the Times Square Two.” It was the testimony of another teen-ager, who received a reduced sentence in a separate case for his coöperation, that sent them to prison. Ever since, Warren and Smokes have protested their innocence, and Walker later acknowledged that he had lied. But in requesting parole, after years in prison, the two men had to take responsibility for their crime, and four years ago, a judge denied their appeal. Gonnerman tells the story of their long fight for justice, and how it finally came to pass. 
11/06/2428m 1s

Senator Raphael Warnock on America’s “Moral and Spiritual Battle”

When Raphael Warnock was elected to the Senate from Georgia in the 2020 election, he made history a couple of times over. He became the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the Deep South. At the same time, that victory—alongside Jon Ossoff’s—flipped both of Georgia’s Senate seats from Republican to Democrat. Once thought of as solidly red, Georgia has become a closely watched swing state that President Biden can’t afford to lose in November, and Warnock is a key ally. He dismisses polls that show younger Black voters are leaning toward Trump in higher numbers than older voters; Biden’s record as President, he thinks—including a reported sixty per cent increase in Black wealth since the pandemic—will motivate strong turnout. Warnock returns to Atlanta every Sunday to preach at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he remains senior pastor, and he thinks of the election as a “moral and spiritual battle.” “Are we a nation that can send from the South a Black man and a Jewish man to the Senate?” he asks. “Or are we that nation that rises up in violence as we witness the demographic changes in our country and the struggle for a more inclusive Republic?” 
07/06/2422m 38s

The Trans Athletes Who Changed the Olympics—in 1936

In “The Other Olympians: Fascism, Queerness, and the Making of Modern Sports,” the journalist Michael Waters tells the story of Zdeněk Koubek, one of the most famous sprinters in European women’s sports. Koubek shocked the sporting world in 1935 by announcing that he was transitioning, and now living as a man. The initial press coverage of Koubek and another prominent track star who transitioned, Mark Weston, was largely positive, but Waters tells the New Yorker sports columnist Louisa Thomas that eventually a backlash led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics instituting a sex-testing policy for women athletes. Any female athlete’s sex could be challenged, and cisgender women who didn’t conform to historical gender standards were targeted as a result. These policies slowly evolved to include chromosome testing and, later, the hormone testing that we see today. “And so as we talk about sex testing today,” Waters says, “we often are forgetting where these policies come from in the first place.”
04/06/2419m 47s

Cécile McLorin Salvant Finds “the Gems That Haven’t Been Sung and Sung”

When the jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was profiled in The New Yorker, Wynton Marsalis described her as the kind of talent who comes along only “once in a generation or two.” Salvant’s work is rooted in jazz—in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and Abbey Lincoln—and she has won three Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album. But her interests and her repertoire reach across eras and continents. She studied Baroque music and jazz at conservatory, and performs songs in French, Occitan, and Haitian Kreyòl.  “I think I have the spirit of a kind of a radio D.J. slash curator,” she tells David Remnick. “It’s almost like making a mixtape for someone and only putting deep cuts.” And even when singing the standards, she aims “to find the gems that haven’t been sung and sung and sung over and over again.” During a summer tour, she visited the studio at WNYC to perform “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” made famous by Barbra Streisand; “Can She Excuse My Wrongs,” by John Dowland, the English composer of the Elizabethan era; and “Moon Song,” an original from Salvant’s album “Ghost Song.”
31/05/2431m 7s

Ilana Glazer on Motherhood and Friendship, On- and Off-Screen

In their breakout comedy series, “Broad City,” Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson played raucous and raunchy best friends who were the glue in each other’s lives. In “Babes,” the new movie co-written by Glazer and directed by Pamela Adlon (fresh off her own series, “Better Things”), friendship is, again, a life force. Glazer plays Eden, a yoga teacher who gets pregnant unexpectedly and becomes a single mom. This time Glazer plays opposite Michelle Buteau, whom Glazer calls a “muse” for the film. Even though it didn’t take long to get the script green-lit, Glazer says some of the more graphic realities of pregnancy and having children were taken as somewhat “blue.” That assessment, she tells The New Yorker’s Naomi Fry, makes her wonder, “Perhaps we’ve been so disembodied from our own life force, from our own origin stories, that we find it disgusting. But it’s not disgusting. It’s hilarious, it’s beautiful, it’s also ugly, it’s sweet and soft, it’s hard and intense, but the way women talk still really rubs people the wrong way.” Glazer also talks with Fry about what Jacobson taught her about being an artist, going to therapy three times a week, and being wild about her daughter.
28/05/2423m 14s

Love Is Blind, and Allegedly Toxic

On the reality-TV dating show  “Love Is Blind,” the most watched original series in Netflix history, contestants are alone in windowless, octagonal pods with no access to their phones or the Internet. They talk to each other through the walls. There’s intrigue, romance, heartbreak, and, in some cases, sight-unseen engagements. According to several lawsuits, there’s also lack of sleep, lack of food and water, twenty-hour work days, and alleged physical and emotional abuse. New Yorker staff writer Emily Nussbaum has been reporting on what these lawsuits reveal about the culture on the set of “Love Is Blind,” and a push for a new union to give reality-TV stars employee protections and rights. “The people who are on reality shows are a vulnerable class of people who are mistreated by the industry in ways that are made invisible to people, including to fans who love the shows,” Nussbaum tells David Remnick. Nussbaum’s forthcoming book is “Cue the Sun! The Invention of Reality TV.”
24/05/2427m 22s

Miranda July’s New Novel Takes on Marriage, Desire, and Perimenopause

Some time in her forties, something shifted in Miranda July. She started having “this new, grim feeling about the future, which was weird, because I’m, like, a very excited, hopeful person,” she tells New Yorker staff writer Alexandra Schwartz, who recently profiled July for the magazine. July attributes some of that “feeling” to the disparity between all the information there was about her reproductive years, and how little there was about middle age and perimenopause. “If it’s stories that we need, you know, dibs. Dibs on menopause,” she tells Schwartz. July’s explorations and conversations with other women made their way into her new novel, “All Fours,” about a woman who upends her life and her marriage, and her sense of who she is and who she’ll be in the second half of her life. Miranda July is fifty now, and she is taking some pages from her own book.  
21/05/2420m 36s

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Isn’t Going Away

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has never held elected office but is related to many people who have, is emerging as a potential threat to Democrats and Republicans in the 2024 Presidential race. “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 told David Remnick, in July, when he was running as a Democrat. Now, as a third-party Presidential candidate, his numbers have grown in the polls—enough to push votes away from both Biden and Trump in November, especially, it seems, among younger voters. Besides his name, the seventy-year-old environmental lawyer is known as an anti-vaccine activist and a proponent of conspiracy theories. This election season, we’re eager to hear from you. What questions do you have? Let us know at: newyorkerradio@wnyc.orgThis interview originally aired on July 7, 2023.
17/05/2429m 58s

How a Tech Executive Lobbied Lawmakers for the TikTok Ban

David Remnick talks with a proponent of the TikTok ban that just passed in Washington. Jacob Helberg, an executive with the data giant Palantir who serves in a government agency called the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission, was all over Capitol Hill in the run-up to the vote on TikTok, convincing legislators that it was an urgent matter of national security. The bill will remove TikTok from distribution in U.S. app stores unless its owner, ByteDance, sells it to some other entity—or unless TikTok prevails in its lawsuit against the U.S. government. With a China-based company, Helberg asserts, attempts to safeguard Americans’ data from the Communist Party are futile: “The Chinese government has a master backdoor into everything,” he says. “TikTok is a vehicle for Chinese propaganda, and it’s also a vehicle for Chinese surveillance, which is a major national-security threat to this country.” For another perspective on the TIkTok ban, listen to David Remnick’s conversation with the journalist Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine.
14/05/2417m 34s

Wired’s Katie Drummond: The TikTok Ban Is “Rooted in Hypocrisy”; Plus, Hannah Goldfield on Culinary TikTok

David Remnick talks with Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine, about the TikTok ban that just passed with bipartisan support in Washington. The app will be removed from distribution in U.S. app stores unless ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, sells it to an approved buyer. TikTok is suing to block that law. Is this a battle among tech giants for dominance, or a real issue of national security? Drummond sees the ban as a corporate crusade by Silicon Valley to suppress a foreign competitor with a superior product. The claim that TikTok is a national-security threat she finds “a vast overreach that is rooted in hypotheticals and that is rooted in hypocrisy, and in … a fundamental refusal to look across the broad spectrum of social media platforms, and treat all of them from a regulatory point of view with the same level of care and precision.” Plus, the food writer Hannah Goldfield on salmon cooked in the dishwasher, and other highlights of culinary TikTok videos.
10/05/2433m 4s

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Could Swing the Election. Who Should Be More Worried—Biden or Trump?

When Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., appeared on this show back in July, it was early in his run for President, and he was considered a fringe candidate. He had the name recognition, obviously, and not much else. Now the question seems to be not whether Kennedy is going to be a spoiler in the election but which side he’s more likely to spoil. On The Political Scene, the New Yorker podcast, Washington correspondents Jane Mayer, Evan Osnos, and Susan B. Glasser gather to talk about Kennedy’s candidacy and his potential impact. “He’s not a serious threat in terms of being able to win,” Mayer says, “but he is potentially a serious threat in being able to spoil this election for one side or the other.”  
07/05/2429m 3s

Israel, Gaza, and the Turmoil at One American University

From Cambridge to Los Angeles and at dozens of schools in between, campuses are roiled by protest against American financial and military support for Israel’s war in Gaza—and by university actions, including mass arrests, to suppress the protesters. There hasn’t been a college protest movement as widespread since the Vietnam War. Apart from the violence in the Middle East, the protests also engage crucial issues of speech and academic freedom in the context of America’s culture war. David Remnick looks at the turmoil and its reverberations through the lens of one campus, Harvard University, where much of the furor began. He speaks with a protester whose statement justifying the October 7th Hamas attack became a political flashpoint; two student journalists who covered the resignation of the university’s president Claudine Gay; the law-school professor Randall Kennedy; and the former Harvard president Lawrence Summers. 
03/05/2449m 40s

Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger, Who Refused to “Find” Votes for Donald Trump, Prepares for Another Election

Brad Raffensperger, who holds the usually low-profile office of secretary of state in Georgia, became famous after he recorded a phone call with Donald Trump. Shortly after the 2020 election, Trump demanded that Georgia officials “find 11,780 votes” so that he could win the state. The recorded phone conversation is a linchpin in the Fulton County racketeering case against Trump. Refusing that demand, Raffensperger—a lifelong Republican—received death threats from enraged Trumpists, and the state senate still wants to investigate him for it. But the politician tells David Remnick that he hasn’t lost faith in his party. He believes he can convince election deniers of the fairness of Georgia’s methods. And, by the way, that story line on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about the Georgia crime of giving a person water while they wait in line to vote? Raffensperger has a suggestion for Larry David.
30/04/2415m 18s

Jerry Seinfeld on Making a Life in Comedy (and Also, Pop-Tarts)

Jerry Seinfeld used to have a comedy bit about the invention of the Pop-Tart, but when his friend Spike Feresten—who wrote the famous “Soup Nazi” episode of “Seinfeld”—suggested it as a topic for a movie, even Seinfeld said “There’s no movie here.” But they workshopped the story, turning the invention of the Pop-Tart into a nutty postwar epic. Seinfeld has written films before, including “Bee Movie,” but this time he’s making his début as a director with “Unfrosted.” (The production did not, he says, have permission from Kellogg’s.) The comic talks with David Remnick about making a life in comedy, and why he continued to work so hard on his craft after retiring his massively successful sitcom. “This is a writer’s game. If you can write, you succeed. If you can't, you will not make it. . . . Any comedian can be funny onstage, but the bullets are the writing.”  And he offers thoughts on old age, as he turns seventy. “God is like, ‘I'm with you up to about thirty-eight,’ ” Seinfeld posits. After that, God says, “ ‘if you want to stay, you can stay. But I’m moving on.’ ”
26/04/2435m 30s

Judi Dench on Bond and Shakespeare

Probably far more people have now seen Judi Dench as M—the intelligence chief who’s the boss of James Bond—than anything she’s done in Shakespeare.  With that unmistakably rich voice, she played royalty in “Mrs. Brown” and in “Shakespeare in Love.”  But it is in Shakespeare’s plays, onstage, that Dench made her home as an actor, performing nearly all the major female roles in a stage career of some 60 years.  It’s not just that the language is beautiful, she thinks; Shakespeare “understood about every single emotion that any of us might feel at any time.”  Dench has distilled that body of knowledge into a book called “Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent,” a collaboration with the actor Brendan O’Hea that delves into each role in each production she performed in.  Having trained as a stage designer, Dench decided to “have a go” at acting, and made her début at a young age as Ophelia at one of the most prestigious theatres in Britain.  She talks with David Remnick about what’s hard—and not hard—in performing Shakespeare, and why she considers M in James Bond just as challenging. 
23/04/2421m 1s

Jonathan Haidt on the Plague of Anxiety Affecting Young People

Both anecdotally and in research, anxiety and depression among young people—often associated with self-harm—have risen sharply over the last decade.  There seems little doubt that Gen Z is suffering in real ways.  But there is not a consensus on the cause or causes, nor how to address them.  The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt believes that enough evidence has accumulated to convict a suspect.  Smartphones and social media, Haidt says, have caused a “great rewiring” in those born after 1995.  The argument has hit a nerve: his new book, “The Anxious Generation,” was No. 1 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list.  Speaking with David Remnick, Haidt is quick to differentiate social-media apps—with their constant stream of notifications, and their emphasis on performance—from technology writ large; mental health was not affected, he says, for millennials, who grew up earlier in the evolution of the Internet. Haidt, who earlier wrote about an excessive emphasis on safety in the book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” feels that our priorities when it comes to child safety are exactly wrong.  “We’re overprotecting in [the real world], and I’m saying, lighten up, let your kids out! And we’re underprotecting in another, and I’m saying, don’t let your kids spend nine hours a day on the Internet talking with strange men. It’s just not a good idea.” To social scientists who have asserted that the evidence Haidt marshals does not prove a causative link between social media and depression, “I keep asking for alternative theories,” he says. “You don’t think it’s the smartphones and social media—what is it? … You can give me whatever theory you want about trends in American society, but nobody can explain why it happened so suddenly in 2012 and 2013—not just here but in Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Northern Europe. I’m waiting,” he adds sarcastically, “for someone to find a chemical.” The good news, Haidt says, is there are achievable ways to limit the harm.  Note: In his conversation with David Remnick, Jonathan Haidt misstated some information about a working paper that studies unhappiness across nations. The authors are David G. Blanchflower, Alex Bryson, and Xiaowei Xu, and it includes data on thirty-four countries. 
19/04/2430m 3s

Maya Hawke on the Fear of “Missing Out,” and Jen Silverman on “There’s Going to Be Trouble”

At a band rehearsal in Brooklyn, Rachel Syme talks to Maya Hawke about switching gears between acting and music. In “Stranger Things,” Hawke plays Robin Buckley, a band geek who cracks a Russian code in her spare time; she also recently appeared in films including “Asteroid City” and “Maestro.” “When I’m acting, I inhabit the character that I’m playing,” Hawke says, whereas when fronting a band, “I feel like I’m me… But sometimes I have to screw my courage to the sticking place, and that’s a bit of a character. It’s me, [but] willing to stand up onstage.” Hawke discusses the inspiration for her single “Missing Out”: a visit to her brother at college, where she came to terms with some of her own choices. Plus, the playwright and novelist Jen Silverman, whose new book “There’s Going to Be Trouble” deals with the excitement and uncertainty of getting caught up in a protest.  
16/04/2431m 36s

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.
12/04/2419m 8s

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. 
08/04/2413m 42s

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.”
05/04/2436m 35s

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.
02/04/2415m 31s

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.”
29/03/2434m 29s

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.” 
26/03/2419m 55s

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.”
22/03/2429m 49s

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?”
19/03/2415m 28s

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.” 
15/03/2434m 53s

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.”
12/03/2419m 35s

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.
08/03/2430m 33s

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.” 
02/03/2422m 26s

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.”
01/03/2427m 35s

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.
27/02/2434m 46s

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.”
23/02/2414m 46s

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 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.”
20/02/2418m 25s

“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.”
16/02/2431m 28s

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.” 
13/02/2419m 54s

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.” 
09/02/2430m 5s

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.” 
06/02/2415m 29s

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.
02/02/2455m 17s

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. Listen here:
31/01/2414m 18s

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.” 
29/01/2423m 28s

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.”
26/01/2426m 36s

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.”
23/01/2430m 21s

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.
19/01/2420m 13s

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.”
16/01/2428m 21s

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.”
12/01/2421m 34s

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.
10/01/241h 15m

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.”
08/01/2433m 45s

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.”
05/01/2416m 58s

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.
02/01/2426m 47s

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.
29/12/2324m 10s

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.”
26/12/2344m 11s

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. 
22/12/2349m 48s

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.”
19/12/2328m 55s

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 accused of being 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.”An earlier version of this article misstated the location where Abu Toha was stopped by Israeli forces. It was also updated to clarify what is known about the circumstances surrounding his detention.
15/12/2321m 33s

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.
12/12/2327m 33s

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.”
08/12/2324m 33s

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. 
05/12/2326m 35s

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.”
01/12/2324m 27s

“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.”
24/11/2349m 20s

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. 
21/11/2332m 49s

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.”
17/11/2317m 6s

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.”
14/11/2329m 5s

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.”)
10/11/2321m 30s

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.”
08/11/2321m 14s

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.
07/11/2336m 52s

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.
03/11/2324m 39s

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.
31/10/2350m 11s

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. 
27/10/2350m 13s

”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.
24/10/2318m 31s

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.
20/10/2331m 35s

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.”
17/10/2323m 45s

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.”
13/10/2326m 41s

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. 
10/10/2328m 53s

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.” 
06/10/2321m 56s

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. 
04/10/2312m 35s

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.
03/10/2323m 48s

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.
29/09/2327m 59s

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.
26/09/2320m 53s

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. 
22/09/2330m 29s

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.
19/09/2320m 49s

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.
15/09/2329m 37s

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.
12/09/2313m 21s

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.”
08/09/2334m 0s

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.
05/09/2325m 0s

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.
01/09/2349m 49s

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.
29/08/2316m 57s

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.”
25/08/2327m 14s

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.”
22/08/2319m 9s

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.
18/08/2331m 13s

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.”
15/08/2319m 31s

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.”
11/08/2330m 58s

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.”
08/08/2314m 1s

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.”
04/08/2336m 52s

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.
01/08/2317m 8s

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.
28/07/2343m 17s

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.”
25/07/2323m 22s

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.
21/07/2327m 22s

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.”
18/07/2323m 41s

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.
14/07/2327m 27s

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.
11/07/2314m 31s

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.”
07/07/2332m 53s

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.
04/07/239m 27s

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.
30/06/2341m 18s

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.
27/06/2317m 4s

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.
23/06/2331m 58s

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.
20/06/2326m 39s

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. 
16/06/2323m 40s

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. 
13/06/2335m 45s

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. 
09/06/2350m 6s

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.   
06/06/2318m 47s

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.” 
02/06/2332m 39s

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.”
30/05/2316m 10s

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.’ ”
26/05/2333m 55s

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.
23/05/2310m 33s

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.
19/05/2337m 48s

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.
16/05/2316m 58s

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.
12/05/2333m 50s

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.
09/05/2320m 21s

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.
05/05/2331m 9s

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.
02/05/2310m 21s

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. 
30/04/2313m 28s

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.
28/04/2339m 28s

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.
25/04/2323m 13s

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.”
21/04/2327m 54s

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.”
18/04/2317m 9s

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.”
14/04/2333m 4s

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.
11/04/2318m 12s

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?”
07/04/2332m 25s

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!”
04/04/2320m 53s

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.
31/03/2330m 43s

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.
28/03/2332m 55s

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.”
24/03/2317m 23s

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.”
21/03/2321m 58s

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.”
17/03/2328m 22s

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
14/03/2325m 12s

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.
10/03/2349m 30s

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.
09/03/2318m 51s

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?
07/03/2324m 44s

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.
03/03/2326m 13s

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.
28/02/2331m 55s

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.
24/02/2319m 5s
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