Slate

The Gist

Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight. Part of the Panoply Network.
The Gist

Description

Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.

Link: www.slate.com/thegist

Episodes

Leave George Washington’s Thighs Alone

Feb 22, 2020 1866

Description:

On the Gist, Russia is at it again. In the interview, Mike chats with historian Alexis Coe, author of the new book You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington. They discuss the founding-father's height, dentures and that awkward obsession male historians have about the man's thighs. In the spiel, a lobstar of the antentwig. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Bloomberg’s Defenseless Debate

Feb 21, 2020 1875

Description:

On the Gist, stop the racism. In the interview, Mike talks about the democrats with director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver Seth Masket. They discuss the way the debate went, and what could happen at the convention with all the delegates so spread out. In the spiel, what Bloomberg could’ve said.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Ye Olde Bloomberg Soundbite Shoppe

Feb 20, 2020 1918

Description:

On the Gist, birtherism and deatherism. In the interview, Mike chats with Daily Beast reporters, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsang about their new book, Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington. They discuss how they used their so-called "omni-shambles beat" to write the book and why there is nothing tempered about Trump's administration. In the spiel, visiting Ye Olde Bloomberg Soundbite Shoppe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Pardon the Crime

Feb 19, 2020 1942

Description:

On the Gist, critiquing Bloomberg critiques. In the interview, we’ve got the second part of our conversation with journalist Andrea Bernstein on her new book, American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. She and Mike went deep on Trump the first part, and now they’re digging into Michael Cohen and the Kushners. In the spiel, Trump’s pardons. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Why Iran-Contra Hardly Rings a Bell

Feb 15, 2020 1792

Description:

On the Gist, the Houston Astros cheating scandal is like the US Democracy. Mike and former host of Slow Burn, and current host of Luminary Podcast network's Fiasco, Leon Neyfakh get into the details of the Iran-Contra Affair. They discuss the key players in the saga, why this story was such a fiasco and the new Slow Burn TV-show. In the spiel, let's just go with Caucus debacle avoidance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Unpacking the Buttigieg CIA Conspiracy

Feb 14, 2020 2311

Description:

On the Gist, what Bloomberg said about redlining. In the interview, Mike talks to former host of Slow Burn and current host of Luminary Podcast network's Fiasco, Leon Neyfakh. In the first part of their conversation, they talk about what the Iran-Contra Affair was and who the key players were. In the spiel, the Pete Buttigieg CIA conspiracy theory from Chapo Trap House. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Bloomberg’s Bad Racial Math

Feb 13, 2020 2024

Description:

On the Gist, why Vindman wasn’t fired. In the interview, journalist Andrea Bernstein is here to talk about her new book, American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. She and Mike discuss how Trump bullied his way through New York real estate, why he puts his name on everything, and how he’s used the presidency for his own personal income. In the spiel, Bloomberg doubled down on stop-and-frisk for far too long. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

What Hurt Warren

Feb 12, 2020 1777

Description:

On the Gist, the little ones. In the interview, Mike talks to journalist and public health researcher Katherine Rowland about her new book, The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution. They discuss why American women are reporting dissatisfaction with their sexual lives despite the current climate of sex positivity, and the debates surrounding the female Viagra. In the spiel, the future for Warren.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Are Essential Oils Essentially Bunk?

Feb 11, 2020 2087

Description:

On the Gist, talking is hard. In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for her usual game of “Is That Bullshit?” Today she and Mike tackle essential oils, talking through the history of using essential oils, modern studies, and the potential uses they might have. Maria’s most recent book is The Confidence Game. In the spiel, weak arguments about political opponents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Moshe Kasher Surfs the Crowd

Feb 8, 2020 2016

Description:

On the Gist, Central Casting strikes again. In the interview, comedian Moshe Kasher is here to talk about his new comedy album Crowdsurfing. He and Mike discuss the difference between crowd work and prepared material, and the history of Moshe’s family. In the spiel, Nancy ripping his speech.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Iowa Was Lost in Translation

Feb 7, 2020 1750

Description:

On the Gist, we went through hell. In the interview, Mike talks with linguist Dennis Baron about his new What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She. The two analyze the history of English language pronouns and debate whether or not language is meant for communicating "correctly" or simply for communicating. In the spiel, translating the Iowa results. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Unsurprising Acquittal of Donald Trump

Feb 5, 2020 1872

Description:

On the Gist, Donald Trump slurred his way through the State of the Union. In the interview, Mike talks with public education advocate Diane Ravitch about her most recent book, Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools. They discuss why she left the “dark side” of advocating for charter schools, and why schools should stop testing the children to death. In the spiel, the acquittal of Donald Trump. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Lesson of Iowa’s Chaos

Feb 5, 2020 1756

Description:

On the Gist, the Iowa caucuses was created to disenfranchise babysitters. In the interview, Mike talks with NPR’s Steve Inskeep about his new book, Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War. They discuss the ways in which the Frémonts navigated their world, and the modern currents found in their story. In the spiel, the Iowa caucuses were a mess. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Oregon, Lab for Democracy

Feb 4, 2020 1761

Description:

On the Gist, how Elizabeth Warren inspires her supporters before the Iowa caucuses. In the interview, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon is here to discuss how the state has the highest voter-turnout rate, the possibility of granting 16-year-olds the vote, rent-control, and her favorite sketch from the show Portlandia. In the spiel, the kingdom of the Kansas City Chiefs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Jon Favreau’s The Wilderness

Feb 1, 2020 1958

Description:

On the Gist, Bloomberg will join the debate stage. In the interview, Crooked Media’s Jon Favreau is here to talk about the new season of his series The Wilderness, where he goes to different parts of the country and explores politic tastes with focus groups. He and Mike discuss the four types of voters he targeted, what people want from a Democratic candidate, and the importance of the upcoming election. In the spiel, landmines and military. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Deep Doo-Doo of Dershowitz

Jan 31, 2020 1633

Description:

On the Gist, Pam Bondi at the impeachment trial. In the interview, journalist Ezra Klein is here to discuss his new book Why We’re Polarized. They debate if extremism and polarization are related, and talk about the increasing difficulty of compromise, and if there’s a solution to this problem. In the spiel, Alan Dershowitz’s terrible argument. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Could Bernie Take Iowa?

Jan 30, 2020 2085

Description:

On the Gist, could Bernie Sanders win in Iowa? In the interview, humorist and numbers ninja Matt Parker is here to discuss his new book Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World. He and Mike discuss the peculiarities of his page numbers, how he kept math fun, and a detailed exploration of what a decade is. In the spiel, impeachment continues. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Nuclear Power of the Presidency

Jan 29, 2020 1780

Description:

On the Gist, Mike Pompeo and Mary Louise Kelly. In the interview, Fred Kaplan is back and this time he and Mike are talking about nuclear bombs. They discuss the history of nuclear weapons in the US, why it’s concerning that Trump holds the detonator, and how these bombs factor into modern day peacekeeping. Kaplan’s new book is The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War. In the spiel, Trump team’s closing arguments. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Kobe Bryant, Transcendent Athlete

Jan 28, 2020 1867

Description:

On the Gist, the likely acquittal of Trump. In the interview, we're back with political reporter and host of Stranglehold, Lauren Chooljian. We discuss how the New Hampshire primaries are likely to shake out, which candidates will remain after many of them have strategically camped out in the state, and the difference between the polls and the actual feelings of New Hampshire voters. In the spiel, the artistry and athleticism of Kobe Bryant. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Hits of 1983

Jan 25, 2020 2071

Description:

On the Gist, Wells Fargo strikes again. In the interview, Chris Molanphy is back to talk Mike through the hits of 1983. Enjoying vegemite sandwiches, the rains in Africa, and a bunch of sweet dreams, they indulge in the pop mainstays that continue to persist on the radio and at the karaoke bar. Molanphy is the host of Hit Parade and writes the “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column for Slate. In the spiel, too many thoughts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Monstrous Monotony of Mitch McConnell

Jan 24, 2020 1903

Description:

On the Gist, the how the senators are occupying themselves. In the interview, writer Will Self is here to talk with Mike about his new memoir Will. They discuss addiction, how Will accesses memory, and the difficulty of his name. In the spiel, Mitch’s monotone. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

A Bunch of Dopes and Babies

Jan 23, 2020 1952

Description:

On the Gist, revisiting the travel ban. In the interview, we talk with Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, the editors of Lawfare, about their new book, Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office. They discuss the precedents that Trump has broken as POTUS and paint a stark picture of the future of the executive office if he is re-elected. In the spiel, “a bunch of dopes and babies.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Was Killing Soleimani Worth It?

Jan 22, 2020 1833

Description:

On the Gist, the New York Times endorsement. In the interview, senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Matthew Levitt is here to talk about the killing of Qasem Soleimani. What calculus went into the decision, whether it was worth it, and what this means for the future of the US and Iran. In the spiel, the beginning of the Senate impeachment trial. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Journalists Aren’t Activists

Jan 18, 2020 1839

Description:

On the Gist, Joe Biden and the New York Times. In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for another episode of “Is That Bullshit?” This time she and Mike tackle whether or not we’re currently experiencing the latest mass extinction event. We may not have noticed, but the insects certainly have. In the spiel, the difference between journalism and activism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Dave Eggers and the Struggle of Satire

Jan 17, 2020 1684

Description:

On the Gist, Donald Trump and Devin Nunes know Lev Parnas. In the interview, Mike talks with author Dave Eggers about his new book, The Captain and the Glory, a story about the clownish captain of a great ship. Eggers discusses how satire can help us admit the absurdities of our times and how writing the book helped him process our current political climate. In the spiel, bunging a bob for a big ben bong. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Wasted Debate

Jan 16, 2020 2061

Description:

On the Gist, cats will eat you. In the interview, economist Daniel Susskind is here to discuss his new book A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond. They talk about the future of work, how technology is shifting, and the effectiveness of Andrew Yang’s proposal of universal basic income. In the spiel, the debate was lackluster.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Forgiveness by Fiat

Jan 15, 2020 1980

Description:

On the Gist, the latest debate and Corey Booker. In the interview, John Tierney is here to talk about his and Roy F. Baumeister’s new book The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It. They discuss why the bad is always more memorable than the good, and the real uses of such negativity. In the spiel, Elizabeth Warren’s plan to forgive student debt by executive order. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Issue With Oscar Noms

Jan 14, 2020 2112

Description:

On the Gist, Trump lying about embassies and Iran. In the interview, New America’s Lee Drutman is here to discuss his new book Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America. He and Mike talk about why we need more than two parties in the US, how the two-party system came about, and what the way forward could be like. In the spiel, the Oscars need affirmative action. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Marianne Williamson Teleports Away

Jan 11, 2020 1928

Description:

On the Gist, Marianne Williamson is out. In the interview, Adam Davidson is back, this time talking to Mike about his new book The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century. They discuss the case studies Adam used to illustrate this positive aspect of the economy in recent years, and how people have turned their passions into professions. In the spiel, Elizabeth Wurtzel and Don Imus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Final Great Jeopardy! Game

Jan 10, 2020 1805

Description:

On the Gist, accusing people of writing eulogies. In the interview, Slate’s Lizzie O’Leary and Justin Peters talk with Mike about Jeopardy!’s “Greatest of All Time” tournament. With Justin as a previous Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? contestant, and Mike and Lizzie both as Jeopardy! alums, the three discuss how this tournament stacks up to the standard fare, who they think will win, and what their own experiences were like on TV. In the spiel, the governmental vacancies thanks to Trump. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

What’s John Bolton’s Game?

Jan 9, 2020 1760

Description:

On the Gist, the Iran story isn’t over yet. In the interview, Slate’s Jim Newell is here to talk with Mike about John Bolton. They discuss why Bolton has announced he’s available to be subpoenaed by Congress, how this might play out, and where the Senate and the House stand. In the spiel, Jim Acosta’s commentary. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The World’s Worst Extortion Racket

Jan 8, 2020 1813

Description:

On the Gist, Trump’s letters to Iraq. In the interview, journalist Lauren Chooljian is here to talk about her podcast series Stranglehold. It focuses on the New Hampshire primary, how it continues to be first primary in the nation, and what long-running New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has to do with it. In the spiel, trying to get paid to leave Iraq. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Trump’s Iranian Connection

Jan 7, 2020 2337

Description:

On the Gist, Kellyanne Conway and unnecessary clarifications. In the interview, New Yorker writer Adam Davidson is here to talk about Trump’s business dealings in Iran. Based on his past reporting, Davidson discusses with Mike how Trump became financially involved with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, a military force in Iran, and what impact that has had on recent events. In the spiel, movies and TV. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Starting a War

Jan 4, 2020 1772

Description:

On the Gist, the Quds force. In the interview, Slate’s Fred Kaplan is here to talk with Mike about the recent action the Trump administration has taken against Iran. They discuss what impact the death of Qasem Soleimani will have on the Middle East, the United State’s relationship with Iran and Iraq, and why this appears to be an act of war. Kaplan writes the War Stories column for Slate. In the spiel, Soleimani and war. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Julián Is Through-lian

Jan 3, 2020 1580

Description:

On the Gist, guns in Louisiana and New York. In the interview, the second part of our Zero Blog Thirty interview where Mike talks to Chaps and Kate about Chaps being a dog handler in the Marines and all the ways it’s different than we think it is. In the spiel, Castro is out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Stories the Gist Skipped in 2019

Dec 30, 2019 1881

Description:

On the Gist, Mike makes predictions about what happened the week of Christmas. In the spiel, Mike reflects on 2019. He shares a rundown of what he didn’t cover, and a few particular standout moments from this year’s episodes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Approving War Crimes?

Dec 23, 2019 1894

Description:

On the Gist, John Bolton. In the interview, Mike talks to the hosts of Zero Blog Thirty, a podcast about the military from those who've lived it. They discuss the recent news about the Afghanistan papers, how Trump handled all the recent war criminals, and finding a space to talk about the inside baseball of the armed forces. Zero Blog Thirty is a podcast from Barstool, which you can listen to here. In the spiel, ‘tis the political season.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Ignoring Iowa

Dec 21, 2019 1849

Description:

On the Gist, Pete Buttigieg and wine bars. In the interview, Mike talks to actor Rhea Seehorn and creator Mike Sacks about their new Audible original Passable in Pink, a satire of John Hughes films. They discuss their shared love of Hughes’ movies, how films like 16 Candles have held up in 2019, and the behind-the-scenes audio wizardry that made Passable in Pink come to life. In the spiel, Julian Castro’s attempt to revive his campaign.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Democrats Hardly Knew Jeff Van Drew

Dec 20, 2019 1830

Description:

On The Gist, impartial jurors for impeachment. In the interview, Pat Garofalo, managing editor of TalkPoverty.org is here to discuss his new book The Billionaire Boondoggle: How Our Politicians Let Corporations and Bigwigs Steal Our Money and Jobs. He and Mike the actual economic impact of things like the Super Bowl, and why cities might want to reconsider offering so many subsidies to companies. In the spiel, Jeff Van Drew. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Pontius Pilate, Democrat

Dec 19, 2019 2231

Description:

On the Gist, the third impeachment in U.S. history. In the interview, Mike talks to reporter Dan Weissmann about the cost of healthcare, the horror stories of people navigating the complicated system, and what at all can be done to fix it. Dan’s healthcare podcast is An Arm and a Leg. In the spiel, Jesus and Trump.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Capitalism Won. Now What?

Dec 18, 2019 2375

Description:

On the Gist, how government should work. In the interview, Mike talks to economist Branko Milanovic about the various forms of capitalism that exist in the world today, the role of higher education signaling in American society, and the ways to reduce the negative effects of inequality. His new book is Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World. In the spiel, the case for Mike Bloomberg. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Youthful Power of Greta Thunberg

Dec 17, 2019 2059

Description:

On the Gist, impeachment and partisanship. In the interview, Mike talks to Jonathan Metzl, Vanderbilt University professor and the research director of The Safe Tennessee Project. They discuss the latest Supreme Court case that examined a person’s right to bear arms in New York City, how the justices ruled, and what this case means for the second amendment in the future. Jonathan’s latest book is Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland. In the spiel, Greta Thunberg is older than she looks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Kakistocracy Depends on the Cacophony

Dec 14, 2019 1860

Description:

On the Gist, birds and Debird. In the interview, Mike talks to journalist and CNN correspondent Peter Bergen about Trump’s national security team, the internal feuds, and why the key players of this team have all left, three years later. His new book is Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos. In the spiel, the Republicans need all the noise to continue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Politics of Humor

Dec 13, 2019 1705

Description:

On the Gist, trade symbols. In the interview, Mike talks to Dannagal Goldthwaite Young about satire, irony, and humor in a politically divided world. They discuss successful and not-so-successful examples of conservative political satire, how humor differs on the right and left, and the psychology behind comedy. Her new book is Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States. In the spiel, the pace of impeachment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Discredited Nincompoop Nunes Is (Slightly) Vindicated

Dec 12, 2019 1936

Description:

On the Gist, the problem with democracies. In the interview, Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution and Lawfare is on the phone with Mike today to talk about Devin Nunes’ memo from 2017 in light of the recent Inspector General’s report. What did Nunes get right and wrong? And was it enough to let us stop calling him a nincompoop? In the spiel, McKinsey and Pete Buttigieg. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Expecting History to Judge

Dec 11, 2019 2039

Description:

On the Gist, William Barr and malfeasance. In the interview, comedians Drennon Davis and Mike Phirman are here to talk about their podcast Bandtastic, a sci-fi musical for the family. They talk with Mike about how the project came about, adult and child humor, and DJ Yeah. In the spiel, impeachment and history.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Not a Point of Order

Dec 10, 2019 1978

Description:

On the Gist, fighting Biden. In the interview, Mike talks to sports journalist and author Joe Posnanski about the elusive Houdini. They talk about how Erik Weisz became the great Harry Houdini, how the man transformed himself from failing magician to famous escape artist, and the myths shrouding his mysterious death. Joe’s book is The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. In the spiel, points of order. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Truth Behind the Steele Dossier

Dec 7, 2019 1550

Description:

On The Gist, Chuck Todd. In the Interview, former The Wall Street Journal reporter and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson is here to talk with Mike about the Steele dossier, the infamous pee tape, and his regrets and hopes around the dossier’s coverage. His new book with co-author Peter Fritsch is Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump. In the Spiel, Cory Booker’s theory on why Kamala Harris dropped out.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Biden Wants a Fight

Dec 6, 2019 1924

Description:

On The Gist, UNESCO. In the Interview, Mike talks to Bina Venkataraman, The Boston Globe editorial page editor. They talk about the best ways to tackle climate change, how to encourage people to think long-term, and whether or not humanity will make it past the year 2200. Her new book is The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age. In the Spiel, Joe Biden confronting an 83-year-old farmer in Iowa. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Making the Worse Argument

Dec 5, 2019 2089

Description:

On The Gist, unpopular opinions. In the Interview, Mike talks to actor Kal Penn about his sitcom Sunnyside. They discuss how he came up with the idea for the show, his time working for the Obama administration, and the Easter eggs hidden throughout the season. You can watch Sunnyside on Hulu, Amazon, and other streaming platforms. In the Spiel, the rebuttal to impeachment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Kamala Is Out

Dec 4, 2019 1681

Description:

On The Gist, Kamala Harris.  In the Interview, Mike talks to Slate writer Julia Craven about Kamala Harris’ decision to end her White House bid, the internal crises that broke out within her campaign, and why, after a promising start, she struggled to stand out in the crowded Democratic race. In the Spiel, a sperm whale and straws.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Alex Gibney's Citizen K

Dec 3, 2019 2399

Description:

On The Gist, Chuck Todd did good. In the interview, documentarian Alex Gibney is here to discuss his newest film, Citizen K, about former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Putin’s Russia. They discuss what led to Khodorkovsky’s exile, and the way his story reveals the current state of Russian affairs. In the Spiel, Mike’s Thanksgiving weekend. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Great Denial

Nov 28, 2019 1928

Description:

On The Gist, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Maria Konnikova is back for another “Is That Bullshit?” In the Interview, she talks to Mike about DOGTV, a cable network made for dogs. Maria breaks down whether or not DOGTV helps dogs feel a little less lonely while their owners are away and if DOGTV programming is truly relaxing for dogs. Maria’s latest book is The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, Rep. Jim Jordan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Business of Apples

Nov 27, 2019 1749

Description:

On The Gist, beavers. In the interview, Mike talks to The Sporkful host Dan Pashman about Washington State University’s latest creation—the Cosmic Crisp apple. Pashman explains the birth of this new apple, how it compares to other varieties, and quizzes Mike in a game called "Apple Variety or New England Town." Listen to The Sporkful episode, “A New Apple Is Born,” wherever you get your podcasts. In the Spiel, Prince Andrew.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Paving the Way to Progressive America

Nov 26, 2019 2225

Description:

On The Gist, Nikki Haley. In the interview, Mike talks to Senator Sherrod Brown about his new book Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America. They talk about these forgotten figures, what people can learn from them, and the power and limits of bi-partisanship. In the Spiel, South Carolina. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Game

Nov 22, 2019 1990

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Biden again. Then Mike speaks with Slate blogger Ben Mathis-Lilley about impeachment. And we end with an interview with Chris Molanphy, who is back to run through the nominees for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He and Mike talk about the new nominees, those who’ve appeared time and again, and the game theory of it all. Chris is the host of Hit Parade and writes the column “Why Is This Song Number One?” Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

David Shulkin Knows Sacrifice

Nov 22, 2019 1922

Description:

On The Gist, is Pete Buttigieg ready? In the interview, Mike talks to former United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin about his time in office, how he drastically reduced wait times at VA medical centers, and the infamous tweet that got him fired. His new book is It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans. In the Spiel, Fiona Hill.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Gordon Sondland Has No Clue

Nov 21, 2019 1856

Description:

On The Gist, Representative John Ratcliffe. In the interview, Mike talks to CIA whistleblower Jeffery Sterling about his CIA career, how he blew the whistle on a bungled covert operation in Iran in 2015, and his life after serving time. His new book is Unwanted Spy: The Persecution of an American Whistleblower. In the Spiel, Gordon Sondland.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Another Day, Another Impeachment Hearing

Nov 20, 2019 2035

Description:

On The Gist, the MSNBC and The Washington Post Democratic debate. In the interview, Mike talks to actor June Diane Raphael of Grace and Frankie about her call to activism after the 2016 election, working with Emily’s List, and encouraging more women to run for office. Her new book is Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World. In the Spiel, the impeachment saga.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Crowdfunding Creativity

Nov 19, 2019 2111

Description:

On The Gist, Pete Buttigieg. In the interview, Mike talks to Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter, about the company’s origins, the challenges of developing creator guidelines, and what he thinks about wealth in the tech industry. His new book is This Could Be Our Future. In the Spiel, Mayor Bloomberg and stop-and-frisk. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Devin Nunes Is a Nincompoop

Nov 16, 2019 1755

Description:

On The Gist, Elizabeth Warren’s new plan. In the interview, Jamil Zaki is here to discuss his new book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. He and Mike debate the merits of sympathy versus empathy, and discuss the ways we view empathy may not be the way we live with it. In the Spiel, Devin Nunes, disgraced nincompoop. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Business of Celebrity Tabloids

Nov 15, 2019 1647

Description:

On The Gist, Nancy Pelosi.  In the interview, Mike talks to filmmaker Mark Landsman and former National Enquirer editor-in-chief Steve Coz about their new documentary Scandalous: The True Story of the National Enquirer. They discuss ethics, Trump, and how the publication’s tactics have changed over the years. In the Spiel, need a dose of pizzazz? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Threat of Democracy

Nov 14, 2019 1952

Description:

On The Gist, Purple: Project for Democracy. In the interview, Mike talks to writer and National Review editor Rich Lowry about the tradition of American nationalism, how to reclaim the term, and why we need it more than ever. His new book is The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. In the Spiel, the impeachment hearing, Giuliani, and corruption. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

For the Love of Scandal

Nov 13, 2019 2090

Description:

On The Gist, treason and bribery.  In the interview, Irish writer and critic Fintan O’Toole talks to Mike about Brexit, the nationalist wave sweeping England, and country’s future without the European Union. His book The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism is out now.  In the Spiel, scandals and apologies. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Imperfect Republican Defense

Nov 12, 2019 1602

Description:

On The Gist, partisanship. In the interview, Brian T. Brown is here to talk about his new book, Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness. He and Mike discuss the ways the US and the USSR felt about each other, how those feelings persist today, and the different intelligence structures in the US and Russia. In the Spiel, Republicans and impeachment. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn

Nov 9, 2019 2020

Description:

On The Gist, the new book by the anonymous member of the White House. In the interview, Mike talks to actor Edward Norton about his new film Motherless Brooklyn. They discuss Robert Moses’s complicated legacy in New York, his early beginnings volunteering as a public housing advocate, and working with Alec Baldwin to make this movie come alive. Motherless Brooklyn is in theaters now. In the Spiel, Pete Buttigieg and Black voters. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Steve Bullock’s Blue-Collar Candidacy

Nov 8, 2019 1963

Description:

On The Gist, taxing Bill Gates. In the interview, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana is here to talk with Mike about his run for the Democratic nomination. They discuss how Bullock’s work on campaign finance reform in Montana, how he alters his message for local and national audiences, and what he thinks of the penny. In the Spiel, Pete Buttigieg’s lack of experience. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Policy Popularity Game

Nov 7, 2019 1929

Description:

On The Gist, political correctness? In the interview, Mike talks to political scientist James A. Robinson about why some nations have more liberty than others and what nations can do to uphold freedom in the face of political threats. His new book, co-written with Daron Acemoglu, is The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty. In the Spiel, popular policies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Another Plan for That?

Nov 6, 2019 2053

Description:

On The Gist, it’s not good to agree with Donald Trump, Jr. In the interview, race car driver Michael Waltrip and filmmaker Paul Taublieb are here to talk with Mike about the new documentary Blink of an Eye based on the book of the same name about racing, Waltrip’s his relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and the fateful day of Earnhardt’s crash. The film is currently available to stream digitally. In the Spiel, Elizbeth Warren’s healthcare plan.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Kellyanne Conway’s Fibs and Half-Truths

Nov 5, 2019 2137

Description:

On The Gist, socialism and taxes. In the interview, Thomas Chatterton Williams talks to Mike about why it’s important to reject social constructs like race, how he has reckoned with these categories, and what he has learned about identity as a parent. His new book is Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race. In the Spiel, Kellyanne Conway.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Future for Democrats

Nov 1, 2019 2672

Description:

On The Gist, Mike went to Politicon this past weekend and moderated the panel What Now Democrats, featuring James Carville, Joe Lockhart, Zerlina Maxwell, Kyle Kulinski and Jess McIntosh. They debate the future of the party, what kinds of issues will matter in 2020, and what they should stop fighting over. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Truth About Impossible Burgers

Nov 1, 2019 1736

Description:

On The Gist, presidential incompetency at its finest. In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for “Is That Bullshit?” She and Mike figure out what are really in Impossible and Beyond burgers and if they’re healthier than red meat burgers. Maria’s latest book is The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, the ridiculous world of taxonomy.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Tupac and Biggie: What Really Happened?

Oct 30, 2019 1879

Description:

On The Gist, ghosts aren’t real. In the interview, Mike talks to Slate writer and Slow Burn host Joel Anderson about the new season, the hidden facts he learned about Tupac and Biggie, and the latest revelations he uncovered documenting the biggest hip-hop legends ever. Listen to Slow Burn here. In the Spiel, guessing what Trump says. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Samantha Power’s Atrocity Prevention

Oct 30, 2019 1999

Description:

On The Gist, Melinda Gates and empowering women. In the final part of Mike’s two-part interview with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, they talk about the right and wrong ways to handle human rights atrocities across the world and their love of baseball. To learn more, read her new book The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir. In the Spiel, the Katie Hill scandal continues.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Fall of Katie Hill

Oct 29, 2019 2283

Description:

On The Gist, socialism and millennials. In the first part of a two-part interview, Mike talks to Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, about the early beginnings of the Syrian crisis, her role in trying to stop the Assad regime, and what she has learned from her mistakes during that critical time. Her new book is The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir. In the Spiel, Katie Hill’s resignation.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Joel Stein Knows You’re Elitist

Oct 25, 2019 1940

Description:

On The Gist, understanding the differences between Hispanic and Latinx. In the interview, Mike talks to journalist Joel Stein about elitism in 2019, how Trump is really part of the elite, and what the future holds for populism across the world. His new book is In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You're Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book. In the Spiel, Trump and pies.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

What Is Zuckerberg’s Time Worth?

Oct 25, 2019 2185

Description:

On The Gist, Katie Hill’s throuple. In the interview, Mike talks to writer Coleman Hughes about how his childhood shaped his views on race in America, his case against reparations, and what he’s working on next in the world of philosophy. In the Spiel, how much is Mark Zuckerberg’s time worth? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Facebook Should Fact-Check

Oct 24, 2019 1982

Description:

On The Gist, storming the SCIF. In the interview, podcast producer and Canadian Chris Berube is here to talk with Mike about the recent Canadian election, how much shorter their elections are, and the government Trudeau has had to cobble together. Berube is a producer for 99% Invisible.  In the Spiel, Facebook and fact-checking. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Thinking Outside the America Box

Oct 23, 2019 1885

Description:

On The Gist, racial slurs and context. In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” This time, she and Mike figure out if sunscreen is good for us, what we should be wary of, and why many of us need more sunlight. Maria’s latest book is The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, the Canadian election. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Cracking Trump’s Code

Oct 22, 2019 1866

Description:

On The Gist, Trump is no George Washington. In the interview, Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks are here to discuss their new book Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why. They talk about why the expert isn’t always the best vessel for information, the power dynamics involved, and why famous people often end up with that job. In the Spiel, the indirect language of Trump. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Meghan Daum’s Problem With Everything

Oct 19, 2019 1961

Description:

On The Gist, Gordon Sondland testified before Congress. In the interview, Meghan Daum is here to talk with Mike Pesca about her new book The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars. They discuss toughness versus sensitivity, age differences, and how we should appreciate the confusion of this time more. In the Spiel, a dodeca-antentwig. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Curdling Affair in Syria

Oct 18, 2019 1904

Description:

On The Gist, what does quid pro quo even mean? In the interview, Mike talks to Ash Carter about his time as the 25th Secretary of Defense, what he would have down if he were Jim Mattis, and what he thinks about Trump’s military strategy in Syria. In the Spiel, Trump and Erdogan are back at it again. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Unmasking the Watchmen

Oct 17, 2019 1994

Description:

On The Gist, the October CNN democratic debate. In the interview, Mike talks to director and executive producer Nicole Kassell about directing the Watchmen pilot, the show’s many Easter eggs, and how they honor the real-life 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the Spiel, why no one supports Trump’s strategy with the Kurds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Shea Serrano’s Great Movie Debates

Oct 16, 2019 1909

Description:

On The Gist, too many candidates? In the interview, Shea Serrano is back to talk with Mike about his newest book Movies (And Other Things). They talk about Armageddon, why Booksmart will have such longevity and importance, and watching movies with your children. In the Spiel, George and Kellyanne Conway.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Giuliani Whisperer

Oct 12, 2019 1902

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s trade war with China. In the interview, Mike talks to writer Elaina Plott about her reporting on Rudy Giuliani, new White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and the future of the impeachment hearings. Plott is a staff writer at the Atlantic. Read her work here.  In the Spiel, the CNN LGBTQ+ Equality Town Hall.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Who Deserves the Right to Vote?

Oct 11, 2019 2175

Description:

On The Gist, how should we feel about Ellen and George W. Bush? In the interview, Desmond Meade of the Florida Restorative Rights Coalition is here to talk with Mike about the recent movement in Florida to give voting rights back to individuals who have previous committed felonies. They talk about how quickly the measure passed, what regaining voting rights really means, and who is actually most affected by these laws. In the Spiel, should plans for the LGBTQ community really have been the second ever CNN town hall this year? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Uncomplicating the NBA and China

Oct 10, 2019 1951

Description:

On The Gist, what Trump is doing to the Kurds is everybody’s fault but Trump’s. In the interview, Mike talks to Ozy's national politics reporter Nick Fouriezos about U.S. voter apathy, where its most prevalent, and its ramifications for future elections. You can read Fouriezos’ piece, “Who Cares: Inside America's Apathy Belt,” in Ozy. In the Spiel, the fight between China and the NBA isn’t complicated. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Selling Out the Kurds

Oct 9, 2019 2272

Description:

On The Gist, Trump and the Kurds. In the interview, Mike talks to Aaron Mehta, deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News. They talk about why Ukraine wants javelin missiles, the internal conflicts in the Pentagon, and China’s rising military dominance.  In the Spiel, the American sports media's reactions to Daryl Morey.  Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The Cowardice of the NBA

Oct 8, 2019 2055

Description:

On The Gist, Daryl Morey versus NBA China. In the interview, Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman is here to talk about Between Two Ferns: The Movie, the early beginnings of the Between Two Ferns show, and how he writes and directs great cringe comedy. You can watch the movie on Netflix. In the Spiel, the cost of too little or too much deference. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Norbert Leo Butz Is on the Long Haul

Oct 5, 2019 1939

Description:

On The Gist, dishonesty and the media. In the interview, Norbert Leo Butz is a Broadway powerhouse who’s been in all sorts of projects like Wicked and Catch Me If You Can, but he’s also a talented musician out with a new album, The Long Haul. He’s here to talk with Mike about his new music, how he fit writing it into his life, and the business of Broadway. In the Spiel, is Donald Trump’s presidency more dangerous than Andrew Johnson’s? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Gary Gulman’s Great Depresh

Oct 4, 2019 1502

Description:

On The Gist, getting pronunciations right and extremely wrong.

In the interview, comedian Gary Gulman talks to Mike about his new HBO comedy special The Great Depresh, how he talks about mental health on stage, and the magic of vision boards.

In the Spiel, the Ukraine saga.

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Presidential Temper Tantrums

Oct 3, 2019 1764

Description:

On The Gist, suing the swamp.

In the interview, Marc Randolph is here to talk with Mike about the early beginnings of Netflix, his relationship with co-founder Reed Hastings, and what he’s doing now post-Netflix. Randolph’s new book is That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea.

In the Spiel, accusing somebody of treason might be a reason to impeach.

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ZuckyLeaks

Oct 2, 2019 2185

Description:

On The Gist, the Zuckerberg audio leaks.

In the interview, Martha Minow is here to talk with Mike about forgiveness, who should be forgiven, and how to incorporate more forgiveness in the U.S. legal system. Minow’s new book is When Should Law Forgive?

In the Spiel, class resentment.

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The Self-Impeacher in Chief

Oct 1, 2019 1764

Description:

On The Gist, what’s going on at Café Altura?

In the interview, journalist Amanda Aronczyk is here to talk with Mike about her recent series for WNYC’s The Stakes podcast, “A History of Persuasion.” Through the lens of Ted Kaczynski she explores the way behavioral psychology has been used to shape the way we think, and how the manipulation has only ramped up thanks to the tech industry.

In the Spiel, Giuliani, Stephen Miller, and self-impeachment.

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Whistleblower Woes

Sep 28, 2019 1947

Description:

On The Gist, Trump and Ukraine-gate? 

In the interview, journalist and author Mary Lane is here to talk with Mike about Hitler’s art, how he seized “degenerate” art in Germany, and the people who finally recovered these lost works in 2013. Lane’s new book is Hitler's Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich.

In the Spiel, the whistleblower complaint. 

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The Power of Greta Thunberg

Sep 26, 2019 1630

Description:

On The Gist, MSNBC cutting Trump’s speech short.

In the interview, writer Katy Lederer is here to talk with Mike about Greta Thunberg, why she’s such a force, and if she will bring about any change. Lederer’s latest piece on Thunberg is “Can They Read,” in n+1.

In the Spiel, whistleblowing and the Maguire hearing. 

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The Beginning of Impeachment

Sep 26, 2019 1941

Description:

On The Gist, the beginning of the Trump and Ukraine analysis.

In the interview, CIA alum and head of Lawfare David Priess is here to talk with Mike about impeachment, the Ukraine phone call, and this time things are different. Priess’ latest book is How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives.  

In the Spiel, Trump’s press conference and meeting with the Ukraine president.

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Lauren Duca Wants a Revolution

Sep 25, 2019 2064

Description:

On The Gist, journalist Lauren Duca is here to talk with Mike about her new book, inspiring young people to get more involved in politics, how activism and journalism might intersect, and the problems with our binary political system. Duca’s new book is How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of Politics.

In the Spiel, impeachment?

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Hungry for Murder

Sep 24, 2019 1707

Description:

On The Gist, the news we missed during Comedy Week. 

In the interview, Rachel Monroe is here to talk with Mike about why people, and women in particular, are so interested in true crime. Is it a new thing or just newly popular? Does being an at-home sleuth help in any way? Monroe’s new book is Savage Appetites: Four Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

In the Spiel, Trump and the hostless Emmy Awards.

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Comedy Week: Late-Night

Sep 20, 2019 2120

Description:

On The Gist, late-night writers Steve Waltien, Bryan Tucker, and Alison Leiby sit down with Mike to discuss what it’s like to write on a late-night show. How do they deal with the constant churn of topical humor? Why is it so difficult to continue laughing through Trump? And what is the Sean Penn test?

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Comedy Week: Film

Sep 19, 2019 2007

Description:

On The Gist, screenwriters Dana Fox and John August, and film critic K. Austin Collins are here to talk all about the comedy film. What makes a funny movie? how has that changed over the years? And has humor just creeped its way into all the other genres without us realizing?

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Comedy Week: Podcasts

Sep 19, 2019 2194

Description:

On The Gist, our third part of comedy week is all about comedy podcasts. Podcast hosts Jesse Thorn and Ron Funches join Mike to talk about the wide variety of comedy podcasts, how they both got started, and why they are such a freeing avenue for comedians. 

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Comedy Week: Improv

Sep 17, 2019 2353

Description:

On The Gist, our second installment in this week of comedy focuses on the world of improv. Improvisers Amber Nash, TJ Jagodowski, and Zach Cherry join Mike to talk about what the improv scene is like in their respective cities, how the form has grown so quickly in the last 30 years, and why collaboration is such an exciting way to get a laugh.

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Comedy Week: Stand-Up Comedy

Sep 16, 2019 2308

Description:

On The Gist, we’re kicking off our week on the world of comedy by talking to three comedians about the state of stand-up comedy. Adam Ferrara, Aparna Nancherla, and Hari Kondabolu talk with Mike about the way they perform, how they interact with their audience and fans, and pushing boundaries in the art form.

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Do the Hustle

Sep 14, 2019 1973

Description:

On The Gist, questions the debate needed.

In the interview, director Lorene Scafaria is here to talk with Mike about the new film Hustlers. They discuss recruiting Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, and Cardi B, the importance of Chopin, and filming at a strip club.   

In the Spiel, the crazy things said during the debate.

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Leave It to Lovett

Sep 13, 2019 1833

Description:

On The Gist, what should we care about? 

In the interview, Jon Lovett is here to talk with Mike about Joe Biden, debate in liberal roundtables, the Overton window, and the live Lovett or Leave It show at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2019.

In the Spiel, Joe Biden is fading.

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The Ousting of Donald Sterling

Sep 12, 2019 1996

Description:

On The Gist, Fort Campbell middle schoolers and the border wall.

In the interview, journalist Ramona Shelburne is here to talk about her new five-part 30 for 30 series on Donald Sterling and the Clippers. She and Mike discuss how she started covering the Clippers, reporting out the Sterling story at the time, and the subsequent fallout. Her new series is The Sterling Affairs

In the Spiel, Donald Sterling, Donald Trump, and the for-profit presidency.

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The Made-for-TV President

Sep 10, 2019 1702

Description:

On The Gist, Bolton is out.

In the interview, New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik is here to talk about his new book about Trump and television. He and Mike discuss how the increasing variety of television networks and the boom of reality TV led to Trump, and his similarities to the classic anti-hero trope. Poniewozik’s new book is Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America.

In the Spiel, mass shootings and mental health.

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Scientific Solutions to Absurdity

Sep 10, 2019 1777

Description:

On The Gist, Trump and Scotland.

In the interview, creator of xkcd Randall Munroe is here to talk about his new book How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. He and Mike talk about puzzling out the chicken and the egg, testing nuclear weapons on beverages, and how Serena Williams fits into his scientific exploration.

In the Spiel, the Taliban and Camp David.

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It’s an Economist’s World

Sep 7, 2019 1906

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s lightbulbs.

In the interview, economists weren’t always at the levers of public policy in America. The New York Times’ Binyamin Appelbaum tracked the profession’s post-war movement into power, and how the laissez-faire philosophy economists (by and large) brought with them has failed us. Appelbaum is the author of The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society.

In the Spiel, hurricanes and global warming.

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How We Speak Internet

Sep 6, 2019 1843

Description:

On The Gist, Mike Pence and Boris Johnson.

In the interview, it’s internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch on how the language we use has been shaped by the information superhighway—and for starters, people never say “information superhighway” anymore. They also write more (everyone’s a writer on the internet) and less formally, though without shedding whatever regional dialect they may have. McCulloch is the author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language.

In the Spiel, the climate change debate.

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Lobbying for Good?

Sep 5, 2019 2428

Description:

On The Gist, it’s Boris Johnson’s show now.

In the interview, Thomas Sheridan isn’t your mother’s lobbyist—or wait, maybe he is? His firm, the Sheridan Group, fights for social change. He tells Mike about why lobbyists aren’t all bad, how he got his start, and the tough battles he’s faced over the years. Sheridan’s new book is Helping the Good Do Better: How a White Hat Lobbyist Advocates for Social Change.

In the Spiel, there’s a solution to higher rates of maternal mortality among black women, and it involves putting the problem in perspective.

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The Big Power of Right-Wing Radio

Sep 3, 2019 1867

Description:

On The Gist, how hurricanes are like racism. 

In the interview, talk radio has shaped so much of our political discourse, often in ways we don’t even realize. Brian Rosenwald sought to figure out just how much influence it’s had and condensed it all into his new book Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States. He’s here to talk with Mike about Rush Limbaugh’s early years, the outsized importance of Roger Ailes, and where this leaves us today.

In the Spiel, president Trump’s pre-hurricane golfing is the last thing we should be worrying about.

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To Greta Goes the Glory?

Aug 29, 2019 1896

Description:

On The Gist, this week in the news, truth is stranger than science fiction.

In the interview, guest host Seth Stevenson talks to the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. And it turns out that when you’re a citizen for responsibility and ethics, as Noah Bookbinder is, you see plenty going wrong in Washington.

In the Spiel, Greta Thunberg’s cross-Atlantic trip was an exercise in inconvenience.

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The Mystery of Ivanka Trump

Aug 28, 2019 1992

Description:

On The Gist, journalist and podcast host Lauren Ober was shocked to realize Chelsea Manning is back in jail.

In the interview, Ober talks with journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis about the new podcast Tabloid: The Making of Ivanka Trump. What’s it like to go from aspiring socialite to familial lackey? Is there any room for pity? And when is she headed for Burning Man?

In the Spiel, female political fashion.

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They Tried to Cancel You

Aug 27, 2019 1917

Description:

On The Gist, journalist Katie Herzog fills in for Mike Pesca and focuses on cancel culture. 

In the interview, Herzog interviews filmmaker Rhys Ernst about his new film Adam, and the queer backlash against the film. What’s it like for your own community to try and cancel you? Is all the extra publicity a good thing? And how does attempted cancellation age?

In the Spiel, unproductive Antifa protests.

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What’s in a Face, Anyway?

Aug 26, 2019 1961

Description:

On The Gist, Trump is a bad negotiator.

In the interview, you’ve probably heard of face blindness. And you possibly wondered whether it was a real thing. Do some people really walk the world, full of other people as it is, without the ability to recognize them from their features? They do. Sadie Dingfelder shared her experience over at the Washington Post, and does so now on The Gist.

In the Spiel, the Everything Is Alive tariff-a-thon.

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David Koch Was Bad. But Evil? Eh.

Aug 24, 2019 2011

Description:

On The Gist, if an eleventh Democratic candidate makes the next debate in Houston, we’ll hear more from all of them (because they’ll be split across two nights!).

In the interview, it’s part II of Mike’s discussion with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. They talk about the filibuster (this junior senator says “it has to go”) and the daunting task that is healing the upper chamber of Congress. Merkley is the author of America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against Migrant Families.

In the Spiel, the David Koch obituaries are in. But are they fair?

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Visiting the Migrant Families in Crisis

Aug 23, 2019 2020

Description:

On The Gist, the Amazon is on fire.

In the interview, Sen. Jeff Merkley was the first member of Congress to visit the migrant detention centers along the border and view the atrocious ways we were treating the people forced to live there. He’s here to talk with Mike about the crisis, the failure of the Trump administration, and what we can do about it. His new book is America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families.

In the Spiel, Trump and Israel.

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Trump Is America

Aug 22, 2019 1805

Description:

On The Gist, Scaramucci was wrong about Trump.

In the interview, journalist David Robson is here to talk about his new book The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes. He and Mike talk the intelligence quotient, the blind spots smart people have, and why it might be a good idea to talk about yourself in the third person.

In the Spiel, Trump as all of America.

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When the CIA’s “Dark Side” Works

Aug 21, 2019 1851

Description:

On The Gist, if Peter Navarro wants to criticize the Wall Street Journal, he really ought to read it once in a while.

In the interview, it’s easy to condemn the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation techniques in retrospect. But as agency alumnus Philip Mudd puts it, “boy, back then, people said ‘take out the stops, make sure it doesn’t happen again.’” He talks about the relative effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques, and why that shouldn’t be a factor if ever American forces countenance them again (answer: the issue is a moral one). Mudd is a former deputy director at the Counterterrorism Center and the author of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World.

In the Spiel, there isn’t all that much conservative hand-wringing over the New York Times’ special coverage of historical slavery in America… but what’s there is pretty uninspired.

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Tim Ryan’s Big Plans

Aug 20, 2019 2053

Description:

On The Gist, despite what Peter Navarro says, a yield curve inversion there was indeed (and a recession there may be).

In the interview, in a Democratic field crowded with grand policy promises, Tim Ryan’s more centrist ideas have been crowded out. But should they be? The Ohio congressman tells Mike about increasing manufacturing and focusing education on social and emotional learning.

In the Spiel, the difference between bad politics and bad policy.

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What Happened to Sha Na Na

Aug 17, 2019 2022

Description:

On The Gist, the varying sizes of Trump and Greenland.

In the interview, journalist Steve Rushin is here to talk with Mike about his new memoir Nights at White Castle. They discuss the amorphous nature of nostalgia, why children should go on boring vacations, and the podcast Ball & Chain that he hosts with his wife, basketball great Rebecca Lobo.

In the Spiel, Sha Na Na.

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The Leftist Takeover Edition

Aug 15, 2019 2039

Description:

On The Gist, Slate’s Jordan Weissmann tells guest host Sean McElwee which presidential candidates’ signature ideas are hot (and which are not).

In the interview, the Green New Deal isn’t just a set of climate policies—it’s a chance to break with the uneven benefits afforded by the original New Deal and other progressive policies. Julian Brave NoiseCat (McElwee’s colleague at Data for Progress) and activist Adrien Salazar (of the think tank Demos) are in the studio to share their expertise on the stimulus package.   

In the Spiel, McElwee digs into polling results from his own Data for Progress.

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The Problem With “White Supremacy”

Aug 14, 2019 1980

Description:

On The Gist, getting a bit willy-nilly with “white supremacy.”

In the interview, John Hickenlooper may be mulling a pivot from presidential to Senate candidate, but he was at the Iowa State Fair to weigh in on issues that affect the entire country—and to strike a moderate tone. In last year’s midterms, he says, “the successful Democrat did not embrace the Green New Deal and did not embrace ‘Medicare for All.’ That’s what we’re going to need to do to beat Donald Trump.” 

In the Spiel, there is no greater joy than knowing which kids’ shows—from our own generation or not—are crap.

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Are Attention Spans Shrinking?

Aug 14, 2019 1700

Description:

On The Gist, Biden’s gaffes.

In the interview, Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game, is back for another round of Is That Bullshit? This time she and Mike talk all about attention spans. There always seem to be claims that attention spans are shrinking, but is that true? Should we be worried that we feel distracted more and more or just take a deep breath and embrace it? 
In the Spiel, the Ebola cure.

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Who’s the Filibuster For?

Aug 13, 2019 2085

Description:

On The Gist, the opinions of the people at the Iowa State Fair.

In the interview, Jay Inslee was among the 21 Democratic presidential candidates to converge on the Iowa State Fair this past weekend. Washington’s governor grabbed a seat with Mike to talk about applying his state’s environmental victories to the federal level, taxing Amazon, and getting rid of the gridlocking filibuster.

In the Spiel, The Gist went to the Iowa State Fair and got answers from Democratic presidential candidates about filibuster reform.

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How to Rob a Bank, And Be Funny While You’re at It

Aug 9, 2019 1632

Description:

On The Gist, the real consequences of immigration laws.

In the interview, Charles Duhigg is who you get when you combine an investigative reporter with an agony aunt. In his new Slate podcast (How To!), he teases out advice on everyday problems, from how to tell a good joke to how to rob a bank (alright, the problems aren’t that common). You can subscribe to How To! on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

In the Spiel, Trump, children, and shootings.

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Politics Is a Circus

Aug 9, 2019 1834

Description:

On The Gist, Montana has gone a little berserk.

In the interview, Joshua Cohen is here to discuss his new book Attention: Dispatches From the Land of Distraction,  and the many discursions he and Mike go on thanks to it. Like the depth of Bernie’s political policies, Trump’s time in Atlantic City, and why the circus is so important to the history of American culture.

In the Spiel, Trump’s distraction tactics.

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Turning Out the 2020 Voter

Aug 7, 2019 1974

Description:

On The Gist, Dayton and El Paso deserve better than the presence of Donald Trump. 

In the interview, FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley talks through what Democrats need to do to turn out voters in 2020. Should they focus on the “Obama coalition” that elected him twice? Or is it smarter to turn toward Obama voters that then voted for Trump in 2016? Why not both?

In the Spiel, anyone telling you the decade-long Assault Weapons Ban was ineffective is talking nonsense.

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Trade War Rumblings? We’re Already In One.

Aug 7, 2019 1957

Description:

On The Gist, if you want gun control, you clearly have to just vote Democrat.

In the interview, the tit-for-tat trade war with China is unceasing. Slate’s Jordan Weissmann tells Mike about the latest developments in the fight between presidents Trump and Xi Jinping, whether or not China is really manipulating its currency, and the potential paths ahead. 

In the Spiel, Americans are getting angry over all the wrong things. It’s infuriating!

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There Are the “Maybe” Factors, and Then There’s the Rifle Factor.

Aug 6, 2019 1653

Description:

On The Gist, this weekend’s mass shooters had different motives. It won’t do to draw lessons from just one of them.

In the interview, Amherst College professor Austin Sarat wants to enlist gun owners themselves in the fight for firearm regulation. “48 percent of gun owners favor a ban on assault weapons,” he says, citing the Pew Research Center. The problem is convincing them that gun control advocates aren’t pushing for full-on confiscation. Sarat is the co-editor of The Lives of Guns.

In the Spiel, the one clear factor in America’s growing mass shooting problem? Rifles.

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The Case of “The Case of Al Franken”

Aug 3, 2019 2255

Description:

On The Gist, a theory as to why we still hear dusty old terms like “happy warrior”—at least during election season.

In the interview, Slate writer Christina Cauterucci, who recently wrote about Al Franken, criticizes a recent New Yorker story on the ousted senator. She and Mike break down what they think its author Jane Mayer got wrong and right, the facts of the reporting, and why we shouldn’t think of the #MeToo movement as one with winners and losers.

In the Spiel, John Ratcliffe is thankfully out of consideration for the job of Director of National Intelligence. But it’s a shame that he’s still acceptable as a congressman.

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How Fantastic Negrito Started From Scratch

Aug 2, 2019 2203

Description:

On The Gist, the Democrats making Republican soundbites.

In the interview, Fantastic Negrito walked a long and winding road to blues stardom. His first album (under his legal name, Xavier) was a bust—“everyone hated it”—and saw him dropped from his label. He’d also gotten into a serious car accident and sold off his instruments before returning to music. That’s when the Grammys started rolling in—he’s won two in the last three years, for best contemporary blues album. His latest record is Please Don't Be Dead.

In the Spiel, Joe Biden at the debate.

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Chuck Klosterman and the Ivory Tower

Aug 1, 2019 2002

Description:

On The Gist, Jeffrey Epstein’s ideas.

In the interview, when Chuck Klosterman writes non-fiction, he worries about missing some grand historical context in a way that would ruin his work. With fiction, that anxiety goes out the window— if someone reads one of his short stories and thinks something “completely unrelated to what I thought, it's still okay.” Klosterman digs into that, the advantages of an education outside the ivory tower, and what the Beatles really did for rock music. His new book of short stories is Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction.

In the Spiel, the first night of the CNN debates and Marianne Williamson.

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The Consultants of Yore Weigh in on 2020

Jul 31, 2019 2108

Description:

On The Gist, billionaire Tom Steyer didn’t qualify for this round of Democratic debates, but he’s bought a lot of CNN ad space to make up for it.

In the interview, political consultants David Axelrod and Mike Murphy have spent years advising politicians on the best ways to run campaigns—Axelrod with Barack Obama and Murphy with candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney. Now they’ve come together on a new podcast, Hacks on Tap, to talk through how the political machine actually runs, the Democratic debates, and what Trump’s prospects look like in 2020.

In the Spiel, among the septuagenarian presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the only ones with all their marbles.

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How the GOP Got Here

Jul 30, 2019 1861

Description:

On The Gist, Trump and racism.

In the interview, Politico’s Tim Alberta has been covering the Republican Party since 2009, back when it was “totally rudderless and beaten into the ground.” Ten years later, and though in control of the White House, the GOP isn’t in much better shape. Alberta’s new book is American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.     

In the Spiel, impeachment.

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The Lie of Live PD

Jul 25, 2019 2536

Description:

A few months ago, Dan Taberski joined us to talk about latest season of his Headlong podcast, Running From Cops, focused on reality television shows about police. One series in particular, Live PD, was billed as a documentary but seemed to fall into the same bad practices as other reality programming. Taberski tried to interview the Dan Abrams, the show’s host, and was never able to get him on mic. 

Lucky for us, in 2016 Mike interviewed Abrams for The Gist when Live PD was first airing. So we’re airing a few clips of Mike’s conversation with Taberski, the Running From Cops segment about Live PD, and Mike’s 2016 interview with Abrams. Enjoy the cop-a-thon.

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Mueller Is No Showman

Jul 25, 2019 1674

Description:

On The Gist, Robert Mueller was a bit of a broken record in his congressional testimony. 

In the interview, David Wolman once happened upon a small Hawaiian museum dedicated to a small crew of cowboys in the state—and that was the first he heard of them. He teamed up with Julian Smith to dig into the fascinating history of these cowpokes and how they dazzled the world at the 1908 World Rodeo Championships. Their new book is Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World’s Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West.

In the Spiel, we’ve perhaps seen the last of Robert Mueller’s public statements. And the impeachment needle hasn’t moved one bit.

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How to Talk About Addiction

Jul 24, 2019 1803

Description:

On The Gist, the governor of Puerto Rico will not seek reelection.

In the interview, Chris Herren’s NBA career ended largely because of drug abuse that started in his teens. Now he speaks to thousands of students about making better choices—not by using the fear tactics often deployed in American schools, but by examining the emotions tied to substance use. Herren’s presentations are the subject of a new ESPN documentary, The First Day.  

In the Spiel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Robert Mueller’s Return

Jul 23, 2019 1977

Description:

On The Gist, Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony isn’t likely to increase the pressure on president Trump. 

In the interview, losing weight is hard, but keeping it off is even harder. What can successful dieters do to maintain their goals, and are reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser painting a rosy picture? Gist regular Maria Konnikova dug into the science, and brings answers on the latest segment of Is That Bullshit? Konnikova is the author of The Confidence Game.   

In the Spiel, former Sen. Al Franken was hard done by.

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The Moon Landing’s Glory Has Faded

Jul 19, 2019 2177

Description:

On The Gist, why the moon landing’s 50th anniversary isn’t getting all that much attention.

In the interview, success stories are great, but what about those business ventures that end in spectacular failure? Those tales are often better. Lauren Ober hosts the Spectacular Failures podcast, where beer makers, hotel chains, and (in an upcoming episode) Trump’s casinos meet their end. 

In the Spiel, it’s an Antentwig, where Mike responds to feedback from listeners.

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How Michael Bennet Wants to Fix America

Jul 18, 2019 1925

Description:

On The Gist, Ivanka Trump is every bit the monster her father is.

In the interview, Senator Michael Bennet is here to talk about his campaign for president and his new book The Land of Flickering Lights: Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics. He and Mike discuss Bennet’s family plan, the importance of the filibuster, and why centrism needs to work on its branding.

In the Spiel, there is no Spiel!

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The EPA Is Losing Its Mandate

Jul 18, 2019 1906

Description:

On The Gist, Chance the snapper. 

In the interview, former EPA head Gina McCarthy expected the Trump administration’s backwardness on climate change—but not on no-brainers like limits on power plant mercury emissions and auto industry regulation, both of which were being complied with. “They’re just obsessed with undoing everything Obama did. You can tell this with Trump. He’s still somehow campaigning against Obama.” McCarthy was the EPA’s administrator from 2013 to 2017, and now teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

In the Spiel, which mythical being is Trump most like?

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Trump Will Lose in 2020

Jul 17, 2019 1864

Description:

On The Gist, it’s a good day for those who love quarterly fundraising numbers among Democratic presidential candidates!

In the interview, we’re used to the Nate Silver approach to election forecasting, using constantly changing polling data to predict the likelihood of this or that result. But Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy, has a better way. Her new model, based on negative partisanship and demographics, is more static, and proved spot-on in 2018. So what does it have to say for 2020? 

In the Spiel, a theory on what’s really keeping Kellyanne and George Conway together.

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Bring Back Late-Night Cruelty

Jul 16, 2019 1975

Description:

On The Gist, Elizabeth Warren and ICE. 

In the interview, Jason Zinoman, who writes about the New York Times, thinks the late-night shows need to return to the playful cruelty they once had. He and Mike talk about the current state of things, David Letterman’s reign, and why even Letterman seems to have lost his teeth on his new show. 

In the Spiel, Trump and tweets about the Congress squad. 

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Acosta Is Out

Jul 13, 2019 2291

Description:

On The Gist, they.

In the interview, Emily Bazelon writes for the New York Times magazine, co-hosts Slate’s Political Gabfest, and she’s out with the new book Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, and its companion podcast. She’s here to talk with Mike about her new projects, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Jeffrey Epstein and New York City gun laws. 

In the Spiel, Acosta quits.

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The CIA’s Bad Ideas

Jul 12, 2019 1815

Description:

On The Gist, the metal straw incident.

In the interview, Vince Houghton is a historian and the curator of the International Spy Museum and he’s here to talk about his new book Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board. Why did we want to drop goat poop on Germans? Can a cat be trained for espionage? 

In the Spiel, the citizenship question.

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Soccer’s Pay Parity Problem

Jul 11, 2019 2290

Description:

On The Gist, the Trump cabinet and violence against women.

In the interview, Will Wilkinson from the Niskanen Center is here to talk with Mike about his new paper The Density Divide about the surprising way urbanization affected the rise of populism. 


In the Spiel, the good and bad about the pay parity argument in soccer.

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The Legacy of Ross Perot

Jul 10, 2019 2134

Description:

On The Gist, jail time for absurd reasons.

In the interview, journalist Jack Fairweather is out with a new book about the untold story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish resistance fighter who chose to get sent to Auschwitz so he could report back on atrocities happening there during World War II. Fairweather’s book is The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz

In the Spiel, why Ross Perot was so important to shaping American politics.

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Life After Death Row

Jul 9, 2019 2097

Description:

On The Gist, did Joe Biden’s apology work?

In the interview, Anthony Ray Hinton was wrongfully convicted for the murder of two teenagers in Alabama in 1985. After 30 years on death row his conviction was overturned and he was released. He’s since become an advocate for those facing the death penalty and the abolishment of it in the United States, and he’s here to talk with Mike about his experience in prison and life afterward. Hinton’s new book is The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

In the Spiel, farewell to Eric Swalwell. 

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Let’s Rank the Presidents

Jul 3, 2019 2008

Description:

On The Gist, should we rethink the structure of a week?

In the interview, founding CEO of C-SPAN Brian Lamb and Co-CEO Susan Swain are here to discuss their new book The Presidents: Noted Historians Rank America’s Best—and Worst—Chief Executives. They discuss with Mike the creation of the book, visiting presidential burial places, and some Mike’s favorite things about C-SPAN. 

In the Spiel, the passion of Mike Francesa. 

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Solving Urban Violence

Jul 3, 2019 1909

Description:

On The Gist, the Hong Kong protesters and Chinese conspiracies.

In the interview, Harvard research fellow Thomas Abt is here to discuss his new book Bleeding Out: The Devestating Consequences of Urban Gun Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets. He talks with Mike about the ways we misunderstand urban gun violence and what concrete steps communities can talk to solve it.  

In the Spiel, Tucker Carlson and Trump.

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Groaning Through Dad Jokes

Jul 2, 2019 2001

Description:

On The Gist, the South Bend shooting and Pete Buttigieg.

In the interview, Jason Zinoman recently wrote about dad jokes for the New York Times so he’s here to talk with Mike about his grand theories, why we love to hate dad jokes, and if they really are as low-brow as people consider them to be. 

In the Spiel, the choice the Democrats face.

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Who Is the Real Kim Jong-un?

Jun 28, 2019 2065

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Biden had no good answers at Thursday’s Democratic debate.

In the interview, the Washington Post’s Anna Fifield is out with a new book on Kim Jong-un. She interviewed as many people who have had even a fleeting interaction with the man as possible, in an effort to get the clearest picture yet of what the head of the Kim dynasty is really like. Fifield’s book is The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un

In the Spiel, Kamala Harris has charisma, but is she a flip-flopper too?

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Pen, Sword, or Rock and Roll

Jun 28, 2019 2130

Description:

On The Gist, an absurd criminal charge in Alabama. 

In the interview, the Iron Curtain couldn’t block radio waves, or, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a new form of music called rock and roll. András Simonyi, a former Hungarian ambassador to the United States, was electrified by Elvis and the Beatles, and says that “without rock and roll, I don’t think the Soviet Union would have broken up.” Simonyi is the author of Rocking Toward a Free World: When the Stratocaster Beat the Kalashnikov.  

In the Spiel, pat them on the back all you want, not every debating Democrat can be a winner. 

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Data in the Dugout

Jun 26, 2019 2006

Description:

On The Gist, the first Democratic primary debate is about to start.

In the interview, Ben Lindbergh is a staff writer at the Ringer, host of the Effectively Wild podcast, and author of the new book The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players. He’s here to talk America’s favorite pastime, what baseball is like in a post-Moneyball era, and if data is making the game less interesting to watch. 

In the Spiel, George Will weighs in on the state of baseball.

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Economic Anxiety? Joy Disagrees.

Jun 26, 2019 2316

Description:

On The Gist, Trump and Pence talking nonsense.

In the interview, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, especially when it comes to elections. MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid figures that “the hungriest constituency” often gets its way at the ballot box. Black voters sent Barack Obama to the White House; xenophobes got their guy in Donald Trump; and in 2020, the group that swings the vote could very well be the women who regret their inaction in 2016—especially if Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren gets the nomination. Reid is the host of AM Joy and the author of The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story.  
 
In the Spiel, the messiness of leadership.

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Erdogan Loses Istanbul. Now What?

Jun 24, 2019 1932

Description:

On The Gist, Kamala Harris still has a lot to answer for.

In the interview, media outlets used to employ ombudsmen—public editors who addressed readers’ concerns and weighed in on a newspaper’s reporting. Those roles have disappeared over the years but the Columbia Journalism Review wants to change that. Kyle Pope, the magazine’s editor, recently announced the hiring of four journalists to publicly engage with the work of the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN. 

In the Spiel, voters in Istanbul have just rebuked Turkish president Recep Erdogan.

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Trump’s Chaotic Approach to Iran

Jun 21, 2019 1846

Description:

On The Gist, how much sanity does it cost to change a lightbulb?   

In the interview, babies don’t come with instructional manuals, but the publishing industry is more than ready to bombard new parents with the latest, always evolving wisdom on how to raise a human right. But Emily Oster’s new book is a rare scientific look at child-rearing, grounded in her expertise as a rational economist and her experience as an anxious mother. Oster is the author of Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool.    

In the Spiel, president Trump’s directionless foreign policy is on full display against Iran.

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The Science of Song

Jun 21, 2019 1802

Description:

On The Gist, are children growing horns? 

In the interview, how does Pandora know what music I want to hear? That’s all thanks to the work of Nolan Gasser, musicologist and the architect of Pandora’s Music Genome Project. He’s here to talk the origins of the project, the classification of music species, and why Sarah McLachlan fans might be in for a surprise. Gasser’s new book is Why You Like It: The Science & Culture of Musical Taste. 

In the Spiel, the most ambitious climate deal the world has ever seen.

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Taffy Brodesser-Akner Doesn’t Care What You’re Wearing

Jun 20, 2019 1794

Description:

On The Gist, presidential candidates say the darndest things. 

In the interview, the best profile writer of our day doesn’t focus much on what her subjects are wearing—so we’ll only quickly mention that in the studio with The Gist, Taffy Brodesser-Akner was wearing a fetching leopard-print jumpsuit (“I’m dressed up for a party tonight”). Brodesser-Akner discusses her experience profiling the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and other untouchable celebrities, and how that work is felt in her debut novel, Fleishman Is in Trouble

In the Spiel, the reparations hearing. 

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Love, Rules, and Animal Puns

Jun 19, 2019 1935

Description:

On The Gist, when science proves George Carlin right.

In the interview, Raphael Bob-Waksberg is the creator of Bojack Horseman, but his so-earnest-it-hurts talent also extends to print. His new collection of short stories is Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, and he’s here to talk with Mike about love, George Saunders, and why everybody is so down on puns.  

In the Spiel, the Patrick Shanahan debacle exposes a White House in shambles.

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Where Christianity Meets Big Oil

Jun 18, 2019 1536

Description:

On The Gist, Trump knows how to produce himself.

In the interview, America’s discovery of oil fields has long been entwined with godly significance—whether these were exploited by oil barons like the Rockefellers or the smaller producers (or “wildcatters”) they contended with. University of Notre Dame historian Darren Dochuk explores the intersection of oil and religion in America in his new book, Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

In the Spiel, Iran and attacks on oil tankers.

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Un-Biel-ievable

Jun 14, 2019 1760

Description:

On The Gist, Canada declares war on the plastic straw.   

In the interview, Emmy Blotnick has written for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and served as head writer on The President Show. But she also does stand-up, including in her new album Party Nights, where she gets into her love of pop music and why she joined a social networking site… for tea-drinkers. Blotnick’s album is streaming now—and her next show is at The Bell House in Brooklyn on July 6. 

In the Spiel, there’s no good reason for the news media to cover Jessica Biel’s anti-vaxxer stance.

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A Generalist and a Scholar

Jun 14, 2019 1873

Description:

On The Gist, who doesn’t get to be at the debates?

In the interview, David Epstein’s new book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is all about how having a wide base of knowledge is so much better than narrowing your focus. He’s here to talk Roger Federer versus Tiger Woods, how fiction helped him retool his book, and what Malcolm Gladwell got wrong. 

In the Spiel, this is stupid.

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Just Take My Money

Jun 13, 2019 2119

Description:

On The Gist, curse the gauntlet that is buying an event ticket online.

In the interview, John Urschel played as an offensive lineman in the NFL all while pursuing the PhD that would support an accomplished career as a mathematician. The values he practiced in each field are the same, he says, but there the similarities between pigskin and math end. Alongside sportswriter Louisa Thomas—the two are married—Urschel is the author of Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football

In the Spiel, “lock him up” (and you know who “him” is) isn’t a great call either.

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The Politics of Pith

Jun 11, 2019 1595

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Biden curing cancer.

In the interview, senior writer at the National Review Michael Brendan Dougherty is here to discuss his new book My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son’s Search For Home. He and Mike talk about Dougherty’s journey into his father’s history, how the immigrant experience shaped his mother, and the ways Ireland has influenced his politics.  

In the Spiel, political pithiness.

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Warren’s Wealth Tax Isn’t Enough

Jun 11, 2019 2312

Description:

On The Gist, Democrats bob and weave around the question of abortion.

In the interview, victims of crimes are often sidelined in the judicial process—the perpetrator is punished, but his or her target isn’t given the opportunity to set up the kind of face-to-face meeting that might help them heal. Restorative justice seeks to change that, and Lara Bazelon is out with a book on how it applies to those who have been exonerated after wrongful convictions. Bazelon is an associate professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, and the author of Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction

In the Spiel, even with every benefit of the doubt, Elizabeth Warren’s policy ideas just aren’t fundable.

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Intellectual Agoraphobia

Jun 7, 2019 1929

Description:

On The Gist, who’s on the right side of less auto pollution?

In the interview, Adam Gopnik is here to discuss his new book, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, inspired by a conversation with his daughter. Who gets to make arguments? What about identity politics? And why should the rhinoceros should be the symbol of liberalism? 

In the Spiel, what are your go-to references?

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The Melodies of Evil

Jun 6, 2019 1867

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Biden's careful moderation leads him astray on abortion rights.

In the interview, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is back to talk all about the Supreme Court. How the recent abortion laws passed in the South impact the continued dismantling of Roe v Wade? And why aren’t the Democrats more animated by the outrageous things happening to our courts? Dahlia is the host of Slate’s Amicus podcast. 

In the Spiel, where there’s a jingle, there’s a questionable set of business practices… 

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What “Conservative” Means

Jun 6, 2019 2052

Description:

On The Gist, holding Scott Peterson accountable after the Parkland shooting.

In the interview, George Will has led conservative thought for decades, in over a dozen books and a Washington Post column he’s penned since 1974. In his latest work, The Conservative Sensibility, he seeks to define just what “conservative” means. While Mike had him on The Gist, he got Will’s opinion on the lost dignity of the GOP, Elizabeth Warren’s policy proposals (“I think she has a firm grip on half a point”), and the fact that no Democratic candidate is all that close to true socialism. 

In the Spiel, Biden and Warren’s new environmental plans.

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Saving Civilians, and the Mission

Jun 5, 2019 1633

Description:

On The Gist, Trump visits the UK and drags London’s mayor. 

In the interview, Larry Lewis doesn’t just analyze civilian casualties in the midst of wars; he’s worked within the State Department to minimize them. His research makes clear that sparing non-combatants isn’t just morally laudable, it can help generals reach their objectives and reduce anti-American sentiment. 

In the Spiel, is Caster Semenya running?

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Out Like a Champ

Jun 3, 2019 1924

Description:

On The Gist, even in defeat, Jeopardy! genius James Holzhauer made one really smart play.

In the interview, Mike Pesca sometimes bikes to work, and—in full adherence to New York City law, mind you—he doesn’t wear a helmet when he does. Should he, or are the benefits of bike helmets overrated? Maria Konnikova gets into it on the latest edition of The Gist’s “Is That Bullshit?”

In the Spiel, the best way to answer a question? Answer the actual question.

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The Impeachment Tree of Possibilities

May 31, 2019 1847

Description:

On The Gist, what to make of (alleged) executions in North Korea.

In the interview, Slate’s chief news blogger, Ben Mathis-Lilley, makes the case for impeaching Trump. In his reasoning, impeachment proceedings would give Congress a stronger hand in forcing new information from the White House, which could then boost public support for the president’s removal from office. And even if it fails, it would have an immediate chilling effect on Trump’s abuse of the constitution. David Epstein, the author of Range, also makes a cameo appearance in the interview. 

In the Spiel, an Antentwig on mispronunciation.

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Enemies in Eurasia

May 31, 2019 1942

Description:

On The Gist, using Olympic-sized swimming pools as units of measurements.

In the interview, beyond covering national security as a journalist, CNN’s Jim Sciutto worked a stint in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. In both careers, he’s seen signs of a shrinking power imbalance between America and its Russian and Chinese rivals. His latest book warns of the risks carried by Russian offensives in cyberspace, and potential Chinese aggression in actual space. Sciutto is the author of The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America

In the Spiel, the spirituality of the lost hiker in Hawaii.

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The Mueller Dud

May 30, 2019 1798

Description:

On The Gist, it’s a shoe! It’s a phone! It’s… both?

In the interview, Darrick Hamilton’s ideas and research have the attention of more than one Democratic candidate for president. The Ohio State University professor—and head of the Kirwan Institute—studies income inequality and the policies that might help close it. He joins The Gist to talk baby bonds, inherited wealth, and the potential in a federal job guarantee. 

In the Spiel, special Robert Mueller’s statement at the DOJ contained nothing new, and yet still it still moved the needle on impeachment.

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Impeach a President

May 29, 2019 2300

Description:

On The Gist, calculating whether or not impeachment is the right move.

In the interview, Andrew Johnson was the first president to be impeached so Congress had to basically figure out how it worked as they did it. Brenda Wineapple is here to discuss the reasons for that impeachment, why the conviction failed, and what it can teach us about our current situation. Wineapple’s new book is The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

In the Spiel, the 1994 crime bill. 

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The Impeachment Special

May 27, 2019 2066

Description:

President Trump may yet face impeachment proceedings, so we’re bringing you a roundup of two previous Gist interviews on the topic. The first is with the youngest woman ever elected to the House, Liz Holtzman—who participated in the Nixon impeachment hearings—and CIA alumnus David Priess, who worked at the agency under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Both have recently published books on impeachment. Holtzman is the author of The Case For Impeaching Trump; Priess is the author of How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives.

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The Real Crimes of the TV Show Cops

May 24, 2019 2011

Description:

On The Gist, Theresa May’s resignation.

In the interview, Dan Taberski’s latest podcast series Running From Cops digs into the long-running reality series Cops to understand what’s actually going on in those arrests on screen and how accurate the stories that we see are. He’s here to talk about why the show is so watchable, how the cops work with cameramen to exploit those being arrested, and how the nature of reality television has made us slow to notice such exploitation.  

In the Spiel, learning from history when it’s always changing. 

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Life After Parkland

May 23, 2019 1869

Description:

On The Gist, a look at the worst arguments in the debate over abortion. 

In the interview, After Parkland follows the lives of those affected by the Parkland shooting. That includes Tori Gonzalez, who lost her boyfriend, Joaquin Oliver, to the tragedy. Gonzalez is on The Gist alongside documentary filmmakers Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman to discuss the making of the film, useful ways to talk about the event, and how she continues to cope with her loss. 

In the Spiel, why the idea of impeaching president Trump is just like riding a motorcycle.

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Planned Parenthood Plans for Action

May 23, 2019 1951

Description:

On The Gist, Biden’s electability. 

In the interview, eight states have passed bills to limit abortion access so far this year. And while these may not end up surviving challenges in court (whether Supreme or lower), getting an abortion is already difficult for women in many parts of the country. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen reminds us that abortion providers can be vanishingly rare in some states, and that hundreds of laws have been passed in the last few years to restrict access to the procedure: "Forced waiting periods, medically unnecessary ultrasounds…things that we would never consider happening to any other aspect of medicine.” 

In the Spiel, Michael Cohen and the pre-pardon pardon.

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What Basketball Gave Felipe Lopez

May 22, 2019 1927

Description:

On The Gist, oh, Ben Carson.

In the interview, Felipe Lopez was once billed the Dominican Michael Jordan. His star power even in high school led the team to play in bigger New York City venues—the better to fit the legions of fans who cheered as he carried Harlem’s Rice High School to a championship victory. But his court domination dwindled in college, and in the NBA. Lopez joins The Gist to talk about the joys brought to him by basketball, not least of which is one that college athletes and recruiters rarely think much of: a degree. ESPN’s The Dominican Dream, a documentary on Lopez by Jonathan Hock, is streaming now on ESPN Plus.

In the Spiel, M&M’s, cannibalism, and the Game of Thrones finale.

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The First “Welfare Queen”

May 21, 2019 2162

Description:

On The Gist, the gift to the Morehouse graduates is great, but should it be celebrated or just the standard?

In the interview, Linda Taylor committed many crimes, but only one of them—welfare fraud—really mattered to politicians, the press, and the public. Anecdotes about kidnapping and possible murder would only get in the way of the portrait Ronald Reagan presented to American voters in 1976, of a woman whose defrauding of taxpayer money was typical among those dependent on social programs. Slate national editor Josh Levin wrote Slate’s most read story ever, and has expanded it into a book—The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth—and a Slate podcast: The Queen, available now wherever you get your podcasts. 

In the Spiel, Anand Giridharadas fact checking Jared Diamond.

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A Very Grumpy Death

May 17, 2019 2429

Description:

On The Gist, Grumpy Cat is dead. So are Bill de Blasio’s chances at winning the White House.

In the interview, 1999 might be the greatest year in film—think The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, and Fight Club. But does Magnolia belong in the great movie pantheon, and should we really have been as impressed with American Beauty as we were? Brian Raftery, author of Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen, takes us through the last year of the ’90s and explains why there hasn’t been one like it since. 

In the Spiel, there’s no place for centrism as far as abortion rights go.

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The Personal Is Geopolitical

May 16, 2019 2010

Description:

On The Gist, what correlates with anti-abortion views (and votes) more than being a man? Being a Republican.

In the interview, Jared Diamond brings new meaning to the old slogan that the personal is political. The author of Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that just as individuals go through crises to which they may either adapt or flounder, nation states face moments that define their strength domestically and on the world stage. Diamond’s latest book—Upheaval—takes Finland, Australia, and Chile (among other countries) as his case studies. 

In the Spiel, whatever you think of Joe Biden, don’t let the dream of bipartisanship die just yet.

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Have a Job? Thank Yourself, Not Trump.

May 16, 2019 2022

Description:

On The Gist, anti-abortion state legislatures know full well that the Supreme Court could one day turn on Roe v. Wade.

In the interview, Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. attorney who also once worked for Robert Mueller. He’s here to talk about his new podcast The Oath, where he sits down with other former government officials like Preet Bharara and James Comey and discusses the ins and outs of public service. Mike gets Chuck to dive into the Mueller report with him. 

In the Spiel, is low unemployment a sign of good federal governance? No. Just look at the U.K.

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“No War” Is the Best Trump Can Do

May 15, 2019 2129

Description:

On The Gist, the NBA draft lottery.

In the interview, Richard Clarke doesn’t have security clearance anymore, so on his podcast he talks to a lot of people who still do. His 10 years as a White House official gave him the bug for asking questions to sharp experts on matters of life or death—otherwise known as national security. Clarke joins us to talk about the need to make a “frenemy” out of China, the vulnerability of America’s power grid, and how president Trump could yet leave the title of “worst president ever” to George W. Bush. Clarke is the host of Future State and the author of the forthcoming The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats

In the Spiel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Palestine and the Holocaust.

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Decoding the Bliss Gene

May 14, 2019 1886

Description:

On The Gist, groans over Game of Thrones. 

In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” Because Mike experiences less anxiety than most, he has often wondered if he has higher levels of anandamide—a neurotransmitter associated with regulating anxiety and stress—caused by a specific genetic variation. Maria walks him through the complicated biology, the research, and explains why even if it might be real, Mike’s self-diagnosis is unreliable. 

In the Spiel, Joe Biden's "gaffes."

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Comedy Is No Revolution

May 11, 2019 2005

Description:

On The Gist, Instagram and FOMO.

In the interview, they say president Trump has killed comedy. But in Larry Wilmore’s book, comedy isn’t responsible for leading us to the “right” kind of outrage or political enlightenment. Its role—get this—is to make us laugh. “Activists should engage in activism, and I always feel like that’s why we have these words that are different,” Wilmore says. “Comedy exists to be comic.” Wilmore is the host of the Ringer podcast Black on the Air and the co-creator of HBO’s Insecure. 

In the Spiel, Uber’s IPO and Trump’s tariffs. 

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Bigger Than Titanic

May 10, 2019 2489

Description:

On The Gist, magic mushrooms afoot!

In the interview, every Avengers movie has an argument at its core. In the Marvel franchise’s finale—Avengers: Endgame—director Anthony Russo says it’s “that you can change destiny, but at the same time, you can’t always change it on your terms.” He and his co-director (and brother) Joe Russo weigh in on that, the term “fan service,” and the fact that in the comics, Captain America is a dud. 

In the Spiel, Mike answers questions from fellow Slate staffers—some serious, some not—in rapid succession.

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Who Makes The Gist?

May 9, 2019 2257

Description:

On The Gist, maybe Trump wants to be impeached? 

Then it’s a change of format as all the former and current producers of The Gist gather together for a roundtable. Founding producer Andrea Silenzi discusses the origins of The Gist, past producers Chris Berube and Mary Wilson talk about the thrills of covering the presidential debates, and current producers Pierre Bienaimé and Daniel Schroeder join in to dish on what it's like working with Mike. 

In the Spiel, Mike reevaluates his mistakes from the past five years.

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The Retro Hits and Repeats of 2014

May 7, 2019 2279

Description:

On The Gist, president Trump’s mixes and matches idioms all the time, but his rhetoric doesn’t really suffer from it.

In the interview, 2014 was full of retro vibes and repeats, with hits like “Happy,” “All About That Bass,” and “Blank Space” echoing older styles and Eminem’s “Monster” recreating his past chart-topping collaboration with Rihanna. Chris Molanphy is on the show yet again to walk us through the big tracks from the year The Gist was born. Molanphy is the host of Hit Parade and the writer of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column.

In the Spiel, it’s a second interview with evolutionary biologist Patricia Brennan. The topic? Turkey genitals, of course.

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The Gist of the Past Five Years

May 6, 2019 2086

Description:

On The Gist, do we need primary debates?

We're starting our fifth anniversary celebration week with a look back at the past. Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad was a guest on the first episode of The Gist so he’s back to reflect on the last five years, how podcasting has changed, and the impact of the medium. 

In the Spiel, podcasts aren’t perfect, but they are progress. 

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Bird City

May 3, 2019 1731

Description:

On The Gist, is it unusual that Attorney General William Barr didn’t look at the underlying evidence covered in the Mueller report?

In the interview, Tuca & Bertie is the new series from Lisa Hanawalt, best know for her art direction on Bojack Horseman. She’s here to discuss the origins of her new series, all the jokes she fits into the background, and how she figured out if China exists in her show’s universe. Tuca & Bertie is available on Netflix.  

In the Spiel, Stephen Moore on the Federal Reserve Board.

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“I’ll Take Second Place for $2,000”

May 3, 2019 1914

Description:

On The Gist, how many people have declared they’re running for president?

In the interview, breaking a record doesn’t always mean going home a winner. Adam Levin learned that in his recent run on Jeopardy!, where he banked more money than any runner-up in the history of the game show (thus walking away with just $2,000). He tells Mike, a fellow Jeopardy! alumnus, about his tactics—and the fact that he has no regrets. Levin is sports information director of Brandeis University’s athletics program.   

In the Spiel, is Barr a chicken?

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Derby or Die?

May 2, 2019 1834

Description:

On The Gist, the latest in the Mueller report saga. 

In the interview, the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, but this year, the horse racing event is overshadowed by high fatality rates among equines in California's Santa Anita Park: 23 have died in just three months. Peter Fornatale follows the races closely, and sees mismanagement on both the park’s track and in the appeasement measures that followed: “[It] sort of reminded me of the classic politician’s trick of ‘you don’t like the conversation, okay, let’s change the conversation.’” 

In the Spiel, Bill Barr, hair-splitter general.

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It’s a Code World

May 1, 2019 1686

Description:

On The Gist, the New Yorker’s profile of John Bolton.

In the interview, coders have gone from a band of misfits to rulers of Silicon Valley. Clive Thompson is out with a book about that evolution, which examines the reckless product design stoked by the pursuit of hockey-stick revenue growth and a lack of workplace diversity—whether across gender, socio-economic class, or even age. “The ageism is where some of the trouble begins because you don't have people around that can tell you 'oh, we went through this rodeo 15 years ago,’” Thompson says. He is the author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World.             

In the Spiel, Stacey Abrams isn’t running for Senate in Georgia.

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Avengers: But For Real

Apr 30, 2019 1914

Description:

On The Gist, the news media is getting better at demoting the names of America’s mass shooters. That’s a good thing, even as the internet’s darker corners do the opposite.

In the interview, comedian Josh Gondelman is from Boston, but he often comes across as Minnesota nice. Can a comedian get laughs without being a bit of an asshole? Gondelman discusses that, his latest comedy album—Dancing on a Weeknight—and why writing for Showtime’s Desus & Mero involves shedding fewer tears than does scripting Last Week Tonight. 

In the Spiel, if you’re going to enjoy this Avengers: Endgame parody, you’ll have to contend with a spoiler or two. Cool?

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Why Fools Fall in Love

Apr 27, 2019 2218

Description:

On The Gist, the 2020 candidates’ proposals shouldn’t be compared to some progressive ideal, but to some of the stuff we spend taxpayer dollars on now.

In the interview, the pace of technological change means we might only be catching onto malicious disinformation techniques after it’s too late to counter them. Still, scientific inquiry is useful in telling us how manipulation works. In The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, authors Cailin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall argue that social dynamics often trump intellectual ones in determining what we fall for, including bogus information peddled by anti-vaxxers. “You, in the right social context, would hold a lot of false beliefs too,” says O’Connor. 

In the Spiel, putting the Anita Hill hearings in context.

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It's Getting Hot in Here

Apr 26, 2019 2053

Description:

On The Gist, the difference between one million and one billion.

In the interview, Nathaniel Rich is here to discuss his new book Losing Earth about the decade of 1979-1989 and why they are so important to understanding America’s political history of climate change and the current state of denialism we find ourselves in. 

In the Spiel, is impeachment worth it? If we don’t will Trump get reelected?

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Joe Biden’s Battle

Apr 25, 2019 2112

Description:

On The Gist, whether he’s on the most electable part of the political spectrum or not, Joe Biden is about to go through the wringer.   

In the interview, winning a major sports championship is a thrill few ever get to know. But what happens when you keep stacking trophies, like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors have done in recent years? The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss covers the team, and wonders “if the Warriors suffer from, shall we call it, winner’s ennui.” Strauss is the host of the House of Strauss podcast and wrote a chapter on the Warriors in Mike Pesca’s book, Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History

In the Spiel, it’s one from the vault on HBO’s The Jinx, which, it’s now come to light, included some misleading editing.

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The Never-ending CNN Town Hall

Apr 24, 2019 2131

Description:

On The Gist, Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America.”

In the interview, comedian and filmmaker Lake Bell is here to discuss her new tv series Bless This Mess. About a newlywed couple who move from New York City to Nebraska, it’s a play on the fish-out-of-water trope, but packed with more jokes than you know what to do with. Bless This Mess airs on Tuesdays at 9:30pm on ABC. 

In the Spiel, the questions at the CNN town halls weren’t all that great. 

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Elizabeth Stormborn, Mother of Democrats!

Apr 23, 2019 1860

Description:

On The Gist, Rudy Giuliani was a big, loud, and busy distraction this past Sunday.

In the interview, it’s a round of “Is That Bullshit?” with Maria Konnikova. In the hot seat: the humble egg. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that eggs can increase your chances of heart disease. But is this study all it’s cracked up to be? The nutritional science has gone back and forth on the health benefits and risks of this breakfast food. Maria boils it down.

In the Spiel, dragons roast their victims—and we roast Elizabeth Warren’s Game of Thrones critique.

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The International Hilarity of Loyiso Gola

Apr 20, 2019 2056

Description:

On The Gist, sick children and dead ducks are pretty convincing.

In the interview, South African comedian Loyiso Gola is here to talk about his stand up special on Netflix, what it’s like performing in different countries, and why talking about the economy is so difficult for everyday people. Gola is performing at the Soho Playhouse until April 21, 2019. 
In the Spiel, time for an early Antentwig. 

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It’s Mueller Overtime

Apr 18, 2019 1890

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s fundamental misreading of politics. 

In the interview, Garrett Graff’s afternoon was as busy as any journalist’s, picking through the redacted Mueller report released by the Department of Justice. There’s something new on every page, Graff says, including the Trump campaign’s awareness of Russian efforts against Hillary Clinton—and its expectation to benefit from them politically. Graff wrote a biography of Robert Mueller. His latest ebook is Mueller’s War

In the Spiel, Mueller did a great job, and if this report came out in a different climate it’d actually lead to real consequences.

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The Better Angels of Big Business

Apr 17, 2019 1723

Description:

On The Gist, the redacted Mueller report as an exercise in Zen. 

In the interview, economist Tyler Cowen is just about the smartest person in Mike Pesca’s podcast feed. He’s on the Gist to answer rapid fire questions on the college admissions scandal, what the likes of Herman Cain would mean for the Fed, and the virtues of big American enterprises. That last topic is the subject of Cowen’s new book, Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero. His podcast is Conversations with Tyler

In the Spiel, oh how we forget the gulf that lies between lived experience and public recollection.    

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Lock Up Your Mothers

Apr 17, 2019 1807

Description:

On The Gist, sparing a thought for Notre Dame… and how Americans pronounce it.

In the interview, Politico’s Anna Palmer on what Trump is doing to America as he navigates a government he doesn’t understand. Her book, co-written with Jake Sherman, is The Hill to Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump’s America

In the Spiel, moms are not off limits for quotes—about their children—published by the New York Times.

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The Farmers’ Candidate

Apr 16, 2019 1983

Description:

On The Gist, wait, what did I miss?

In the interview, Democratic candidates for the presidency recently flew to Iowa for a forum on agriculture to answer some questions. And asking them was Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, who knows a thing or two about corporate agribusiness and its impact on Iowans, the food Americans everywhere eat, and Chinese pork companies. Cullen is the author of Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper, and was previously on The Gist to discuss that book as well. 

In the Spiel, Rep. Ilan Omar and our selfish president.

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The Divergent Charts of 1994

Apr 13, 2019 2351

Description:

On The Gist, two popes is one pope too many.

In the interview, songs like “The Sign” and “I’ll Make Love to You” dominated the charts in 1994, but they weren’t all that emblematic of what was happening in music that year. Chris Molanphy has ideas as to why, and also opines on why there were so few number one singles that year—and why was Lisa Loeb considered alternative rock? Molanphy has answers, and is the host of the Hit Parade podcast. He also writes Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column.

In the Spiel, Rep. Katie Porter’s viral moment—taking Jamie Dimon to task for his huge salary—is a little dishonest.

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The Real Cost of Medicare for All

Apr 12, 2019 2172

Description:

On The Gist, the political parties of Israel.

In the interview, Jean McConville’s murder in 1972—when The Troubles were at their bloodiest—sparked what few deaths did in Northern Ireland: a reckoning. The New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe joins us to give context to McConville’s death, from the various factions at war back then to the country’s incomplete reconciliation process and oddly rehabilitated politicians. Keefe is the author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

In the Spiel, Medicare for all isn’t as cheap as Bernie wants us to believe.

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The Candace Owens Sideshow

Apr 11, 2019 2187

Description:

On The Gist, Candance Owens isn't digging herself out of this ahistorical, Hitler-relativizing hole. 

In the interview, Ian Chillag is back with another season of Everything Is Alive, a podcast where he interviews the everyday objects around us that we don’t think of. Chioke I’Anson is here too because he played a grain of sand with a surprising amount of philosophy packed in (he’s a philosopher himself). Is sand more Kantian or Heideggerian? And what’s it like to think as a collective? 

In the Spiel, president Trump’s public insult of Sen. Mazie Hirono rumbles on.

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Misquoter in Chief

Apr 10, 2019 2115

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s latest campaign video is wild.

In the interview, Scotland’s Daniel Sloss churns out comedy specials at an almost alarming rate, completing his tenth at age 28. He’s here to talk about circumcision, Brexit, and why the left is doomed to eternally shoot itself in the foot. Sloss will be back in the United States in June of 2019, and his specials "Dark" & "Jigsaw” are on Netflix. 
In the Spiel, instant replay is a contentious part of refereeing, particularly at a championship.

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The Puppet Masters

Apr 9, 2019 1893

Description:

The worst part about the Trump administration’s high turnover? Every cabinet member is worse than the last.

In the interview, Grigori Rasputin bent the ear of the last Russian tsar, manipulating affairs of state behind the scenes as he saw fit. But how did a man like him rise to such power? And what about his spiritual successors like Phil Spector or Tom Brady’s trainer? Amos Barshad, author of No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World, has our ear.  

In the Spiel, what does Joe Biden stand to gain from apologizing—and shouldn’t a (likely) contender for president think in those terms?

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Are Chiropractors Quacks?

Apr 6, 2019 1830

Description:

On The Gist, like every week in Trump’s America, this has been a wasted one. 

In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” She talks chiropractors, whether or not cracking your back and neck is helpful, and what strokes have to do with it. Then, Mike’s own chiropractor, Jason Fidler, steps in to offer some adjustments to the conversation. 

In the Spiel, Mike offers up a Lobstar challenge.

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There’s No Real Dirt on the Dems So Far

Apr 5, 2019 2161

Description:

On The Gist, Mueller’s report (or much of it) is bound to go public.

In the interview, Wright Thompson has his place on the Mount Rushmore of sports writers, and his signature form is the profile. Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Michael Jordan and the like are fascinating in their relationship to fame, but also in their ordinary flaws. “On some level these stories are all about exploring whether or not there is even such a thing as free will,” Thompson says. “I’m fascinated by the way things in our past continue to exert gravitational pull on us now.” Wright’s new book, a collection of his past work, is The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business

In the Spiel, a list of all the non-scandals hitting the Democratic 2020 candidates so far. Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more.

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We All Need to Talk

Apr 4, 2019 1911

Description:

On The Gist, Trump should avoid healthcare.

In the interview, Lori Gottlieb is a journalist and a therapist, and she’s here to discuss her new book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, why she became a therapist, how to deal with patients who’ve Googled you, and why therapists need therapy too. 

In the Spiel, the Joe Biden crisis isn’t a crisis. 

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The Societal Optimist

Apr 3, 2019 1957

Description:

On The Gist, calming down about Trump’s bombast.

In the interview, Nicholas Christakis is here to discuss his new book Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, how he studied the progression of goodness throughout human history, the way healthy communities evolve, and why shipwrecks were so important to his research. 

In the Spiel, the problem with microaggressions.

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The Thrilling Don Winslow

Apr 2, 2019 1746

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Biden’s nose nuzzle.

In the interview, Don Winslow’s new book The Border is the final part of his trilogy on drug cartels. He’s here today to discuss the work, how it’s been twenty years in the making, and the difficulty of trying to get things right.  

In the Spiel, Betsy DeVos’ indefensible Special Olympics funding cuts. 

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“Guest is God”

Mar 30, 2019 1971

Description:

On The Gist, the next wave of start-ups should be like the tech companies we have now, but with a conscience.   

In the interview, filmmaker Anthony Maras is more wedded to a theme—people in extremis—than a form, and his latest is a thriller based on true events. Hotel Mumbai follows a band of diverse survivors holed up in the Taj, one of the targets in India's 2008 terrorist attacks. “Something kind of magical happened, which is all these barriers that usually divide people evaporated.” 

In the Spiel, Donald Trump: bullshitter or shitposter?

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Adam Schiff Is Not Okay

Mar 29, 2019 2211

Description:

On The Gist, Mike Pesca, in true hipster fashion, laments the end of Wow Air.

In the interview, much of the news media was guilty of hyping up the knockout blow that Mueller’s report would deliver president Trump. But a few journalists on the left were always skeptical of the investigation’s origins and potential. Among them is Nation contributor Aaron Maté, who saw in the Mueller probe a distraction from the Democratic Party’s failure in 2016—and from the stories that really matter.          

In the Spiel, Rep. Adam Schiff comes out swinging.

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The Boeing Lesson

Mar 28, 2019 1970

Description:

On The Gist, Boeing is in a tight spot.   

In the interview, the boxing match between Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas was one for the ages. Everyone so expected Tyson to win that people weren’t even placing bets until the odds were 42 to 1. In the new 30 for 30 film 42 to 1, Gist guest Jeremy Schaap (and Ben Houser) explore this shocking upset and how the fight changed boxing and these fighters’ lives. 

In the Spiel, if we’re going to build a wall, how about the one between church and state? Looking at you, Pennsylvania. 

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Trump’s Post-Mueller Strategy

Mar 27, 2019 2124

Description:

On The Gist, the latest gridlock facing the Green New Deal should clue in its backers in Congress.

In the interview, Huwe Burton was 16 years old when detectives browbeat him into a false confession of murder. He spent about 20 years in prison as a result, and found an outlet in the quarter-mile track that he and other inmates built their endurance on. Since his release and exoneration, he hasn’t stopped running. Burton’s story is told in a Lope Magazine article—"Innocent People Don’t Run”—by Liam Boylan-Pett, who also joins us in the studio. 

In the Spiel, the Trump reelection campaign’s bizarre memo to all “Television Producers” leans on cherry-picked quotes.

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The Mueller Report Report

Mar 26, 2019 2130

Description:

On The Gist, we should be willing to accept that the Barr letter and Mueller report won’t lead to any indictments.

In the interview, David Priess, former CIA staffer and daily intelligence briefer for Robert Mueller, is here to talk about the Mueller report. What do we know? What questions are still unanswered? And where do we go from here? Priess’ latest book is How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives

In the Spiel, the Mueller report does not exonerate Trump, even if Trump thinks it does.

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The Real March Madness Upset

Mar 22, 2019 1874

Description:

On The Gist, ISIS may be defeated, but the people who made up its forces aren’t gone. 

In the interview, novelist John Lanchester is here to discuss his new novel The Wall, the symbolic and practical use of walls, and how closely we should pay attention to our dreams.  
In the Spiel, Jim Nantz shouldn’t be in those Capital One commercials for March Madness.

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The Past and Future Biden

Mar 22, 2019 1999

Description:

On The Gist, who paid for those two Chinese-born tech magnates to take photos with Trump? 

In the interview, Vanderbilt professor Jonathan Metzl is here to discuss his new book Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland
In the Spiel, litigating Biden’s past.

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Solving Maternal Mortality

Mar 21, 2019 1731

Description:

On The Gist, have you heard about the mob hit that took place a few weeks ago?

In the interview, journalist Sarah Kliff joins us to discuss maternal mortality rates in the United States, what California has done to fix it, and what the rest of the country should learn from them. Kliff is the host of Vox’s The Impact.  
In the Spiel, Donald Trump on John McCain’s funeral.

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What Merchants of Truth Gets Right

Mar 20, 2019 2303

Description:

On The Gist, it wouldn’t just be morally right for Trump to finally denounce white nationalism. It would be politically smart.

In the interview, Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts was released to glowing reviews—but valid accusations of plagiarism and factual errors took some of that shine off. As Mike asks Abramson (a former executive editor of the New York Times), were the negative headlines so grabby that they’ve damned the book’s valuable insights? And would that in itself prove many of her worries about journalism in the 21st century? 

In the Spiel, the New York Times, biased? You don’t say.

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Beto Takes a Stand

Mar 19, 2019 1917

Description:

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke, the countertop candidate.

In the interview, historian Rutger Bregman got in a spat with Fox host Tucker Carlson, but you wouldn’t know it if it weren’t for his own video of the incident. Fox never aired it, as Bregman accused Carlson of carrying water for billionaires and Carlson responded with profane insults. Bregman joins the Gist to give us the backstory on that, but not before laying out some of the progressive economic policies—with basis in American history—that he favors, Carlson’s disapproval notwithstanding. Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal Worldand writes for the Correspondent.

In the Spiel, New Zealand’s unity on gun control is admirable. In the big, diverse country that is the United States, things are a little more complicated.

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In New Zealand, the Internet at Its Worst

Mar 16, 2019 2115

Description:

On The Gist, Senator Thom Tillis’ op-ed, now with moral fiber!           

In the interview, no one’s ever had to wonder what was on tech journalist Kara Swisher’s mind (she’ll just tell you) and that includes the litany of Silicon Valley oligarchs she’s interviewed. Swisher tells us how the modern world is very much shaped by company founders’ personality quirks and blind spots, what government regulation of Google and Facebook should look like, and what women can do to get what they want in the workplace. Swisher is the co-founder of Recode and the host of its Recode Decode podcast. 

In the Spiel, if you want to measure the ills that come with an increasingly connected world, look no farther than the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Manafort in Ostrich Court

Mar 15, 2019 1773

Description:

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke is running for president. But should he?

In the interview, Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for Politico,  recently wrote a piece about Reps. Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips and the current divide in the Democratic party, “The Democrat’s Dilemma.” Alberta is here today to discuss the difficulty facing the Democratic party as some new members of Congress seem to be pushing the party further left and whether or not that’s a good thing. His upcoming book is American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump

In the Spiel, Paul Manafort goes to Ostrich Court.

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How to Close the Justice Gap

Mar 14, 2019 2010

Description:

On The Gist, three stray thoughts on the college admissions scandal.

In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back to talk about those naïve millennials. Last year many of them were duped into paying thousands for tickets to Billy McFarland’s Fyre Festival, a glamorous event that existed in name only. That begs the question: Are millennials more susceptible to being scammed than other generations, or is that bullshit?

In the Spiel, the rich and powerful often get off easy in the court of law (case in point: Paul Manafort). But instead of throwing the book at them, maybe we should sentence everyone else a little more kindly, too.

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The Fraud Squad

Mar 13, 2019 2255

Description:

On The Gist, Bill de Blasio flapping his arms to R. Kelly.

In the interview, Sal Gentile writes for late night television, but he lives in president Trump’s mind around the clock. Every day he writes insights and jokes about Trump’s latest ramblings for “A Closer Look,” a segment on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Gentile talks about his writing process—lots of jokes go into a first draft, but only a few make the cut—and how the instinct to laugh is itself a reliable bullshit detector. 

In the Spiel, the college admissions scandal involving Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

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Let the Sun Shine in 2020

Mar 12, 2019 2008

Description:

On The Gist, much ado about a toothpick ban.

In the interview, Wikipedia is famously edited by its own readers. And no one has made more contributions than Steven Pruitt. A third of English language pages on the site bear his mark! What goes into editing a Wikipedia page, and is it as toxic as other democratic spaces on the internet?

In the Spiel, which Democratic candidate gets The Gist’s vote? The one to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.

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American Carnage? It’s Real

Mar 9, 2019 2052

Description:

On The Gist, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Israel.

In the interview, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal covered the deadly toll opiates take on poor American communities "long before it became fashionable because of Trump." He speaks to Purdue Pharma’s zealous campaign to push OxyContin (“a chemical cousin of heroin”, in the words of the New Yorker) onto doctors and patients—and the federal government’s failure to stop it. McGreal is the author of American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts

In the Spiel, another Lobstar of the Antentwig.

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The Endless Fact Check

Mar 8, 2019 1803

Description:

On The Gist, Stormy is in the news (but not that Stormy).

In the interview, Donald Trump speaks many untruths every day, and someone has to track them all. Somehow that task has fallen to a Canadian. The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale is here to tell us what counts as a lie, why details matter, and how neither the left nor the right seem satisfied with his work.

In the Spiel, theology isn’t all that interesting… unless there’s drama involved, of course.

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The Unbelievably Bad Michael Jackson Defense

Mar 7, 2019 2159

Description:

On The Gist, distracting Congress from H.R. 1.

In the interview, sexual promiscuity is judged differently among men compared to women, and that goes double for sex addiction. Franco-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani’s latest protagonist, Adèle, knows that firsthand. Slimani joins us to talk about her relationship with her translator—and her own characters—and the French sex scandal that inspired her initial research.    

In the Spiel, bad arguments are hard to believe, like those used to defend Michael Jackson. 

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Top Chef, the Anti-Reality TV?

Mar 6, 2019 2183

Description:

On The Gist, Fox News isn’t distributing Trump’s talking points. Worse, it’s defining them.

In the interview, reality TV typically thrives on drama and negativity. Top Chef isn’t necessarily an exception, but season 16 competitor David Viana says morale was high on set—and that that’s a good sign for the culinary world overall. “Better, healthier kitchens are popping up,” Viana says. “It isn’t the Gordon Ramsay style.” David Viana is the executive chef  of New Jersey’s Heirloom Kitchen.

The finale of Top Chef: Kentucky airs March 14, 2019 on Bravo. In the Spiel, more from Trump’s nonsensical CPAC speech.

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The Incoherent Right

Mar 5, 2019 1912

Description:

On The Gist, the White House PR machine.

In the interview, John Carlin is a former Asst. Attorney General for the Dept. of Justice and former Chief of Staff to Robert Mueller, and his new book Dawn of the Code War tracks the rise of global cyber threats from Russia and China, and how our country is working to respond.  

In the Spiel, the CPAC lets Trump get away with anything he wants. 

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Believing Jackson’s Accusers

Mar 2, 2019 1774

Description:

On The Gist, John Hickenlooper might be running for president.

In the interview, Dan Reed reached out to Wade Robson and James Safechuck before #MeToo exploded, but its influence is clear. In the director’s documentary for HBO, Leaving Neverland, we hear again how the effects of sexual abuse—in this case, at the hands of Michael Jackson—can manifest in counterintuitive ways; Robson and Safechuck once shielded Jackson. Now they’re coming forward with their truth. 

In the Spiel, the House Oversight Committee and racism. 

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Is AOC Post-Truth Too?

Feb 28, 2019 1449

Description:

On The Gist, the empty political rhetoric that is “everyday people.”

In the interview, fact-checking is big business in the age of Trump. But one politician diametrically opposed to the president—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—is playing fast and loose with statistics too, and journalists have noticed. Should she be called out? NY Magazine’s Eric Levitz says it’s complicated.

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Michael Cohen Isn’t Smart

Feb 27, 2019 1273

Description:

On the Gist, Michael Cohen is not a smart guy, and that makes his testimony all the more trustworthy. 

In the interview, Casey Burgat of R Street is here to talk about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s staff turnover data. Does she seem to churn through staff more than most, or are a few big exits skewing the numbers? And is it so bad to have high turnover anyway?

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The Spring Breaker Vote

Feb 26, 2019 1708

Description:

On The Gist, corn syrup and beer. 

In the interview, what’s the difference between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old? In terms of maturity, not so much. But only one of them has the right to vote. In Oregon, state Sen. Shemia Fagan is hoping to change that, and she’s letting young activists take the lead. 

In the Spiel, who wants to talk about reparations?

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Mayor for America

Feb 26, 2019 1997

Description:

On The Gist, asymmetric warfare means America’s got some pretty lame enemies.

In the interview, women aren’t the only demographic group making the 2020 race especially diverse. Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is considering a run for office; he’s a millennial, a veteran, and openly gay. We get his thoughts on the size of the Supreme Court and Congress, and his feelings about the humble penny. Buttigieg’s new book is Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.  

In the Spiel, what the Oscars, the Virginia governorship, and Amazon HQ2 have in common.

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Billionaire Bashing Is Just for Sport

Feb 23, 2019 2109

Description:

On The Gist, even with a genuinely good story, president Trump just can’t get his facts right.

In the interview, his name is Mo Rocca, and he’s out with a new podcast of obituaries. So it’s only natural, of course, that it be called Mobituaries. His audio tributes can be for both people and things, including JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader and the humble station wagon. 

In the Spiel, America’s billionaires do some good, and they don’t make the rest of us any poorer.

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A Show, But a Riddle Too

Feb 22, 2019 2198

Description:

On The Gist, the deep state or a shallow president?

In the interview, director Leslye Headland has been on The Gist before, and is back for more. But unlike the protagonist of Russian Doll, her new Netflix show, he isn’t likely to find herself stuck in a time loop, reliving the same moments over and over again. Headland joins alongside Rebecca Henderson, who stars in the show. And, fun fact: the two are married! 

In the Spiel, Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

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The Viability of Bernie Sanders

Feb 21, 2019 2081

Description:

On The Gist, news should be new.

In the interview, our resident vexillologist Ted Kaye is back to talk about San Francisco’s flag. Where does its design come from, and is it really the best modern representation of the city?

Kaye’s book is Good Flag, Bad Flag. In the Spiel, Bernie Sanders and the viability of policy ideas.

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The Chinese Threat is Overblown

Feb 20, 2019 1917

Description:

On The Gist, Bernie is in. Are billionaires out?

In the interview, president Trump may be the chief saber-rattler when it comes to China, but acting tough against the world’s second biggest economy is a bipartisan pastime. With challenges like global warming and nuclear armament on the line, Kaiser Kuo says, the U.S. might do better with cooperation instead of rivalry. Kuo is a co-founder of the Sinica podcast and the editor-at-large of SupChina.

In the Spiel, algorithms aren’t just for Facebook—they’re also used in criminal justice. Here’s why they shouldn’t be.

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New York’s Bad Math

Feb 15, 2019 2256

Description:

On The Gist, racy names for missiles.

In the interview, Chris Molanphy is here to talk about the Billboard hits of 1979, disco’s last hurrah, and how the year prepares for the coming wave of pop. Molanphy is the host of Hit Parade and writes the column Why Is This Song No. 1? 
In the Spiel, Amazon leaving New York City is a big loss but people don’t seem to realize it. 

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Matt Braunger, Funny Dummy

Feb 14, 2019 1908

Description:

On The Gist, sometimes Howard Stern can be helpful.

In the interview, stand-up comedian and podcaster Matt Braunger is here to discuss his new special Finally Live in Portland, his podcast Advice From a Dipshit, and whether or not he would eat racist fudge. 

In the Spiel, the human tragedy of losing animals.

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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Seconds

Feb 13, 2019 2008

Description:

On The Gist, Democratic leaders should slow down the next time a Virginia-sized fiasco comes along.

In the interview, podcasters can storm off a set too—even if it’s their own. Words Matter host Adam Levine pressed his colleague Steve Schmidt on details about his advising gig for 2020 hopeful Howard Schultz. And it wasn’t just because that posed a possible conflict of interest for the political podcast; Levine says his regular listeners wanted answers on the guy who, in their eyes, could get enough votes to cause another Trump victory. 

In the Spiel, and in El Paso on Monday: presidential logorrhea.

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Open Season For America’s Wars

Feb 12, 2019 2089

Description:

On The Gist, if president Trump wanted to denounce bullying, he could have done better than inviting a boy named Trump (no relation) to the State of the Union address.

In 2001, Congress gave president Bush a nearly blank check for command of an American military bent on punishing the terrorist groups directly (and not so directly) responsible for 9/11. The Authorization for Use of Military Force still benefits U.S. presidents, and few in Congress today seek to curb it. Our guest, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, is among them.

In the Spiel, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in for 2020, and reports of her being too tough a boss should be taken in stride.

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Quoth the Maven

Feb 9, 2019 1576

Description:

On The Gist, wise words from the mouth of Jeff Bezos… by way of Amazon’s Alexa.

In the interview, green energy may be clean, but that doesn’t mean its infrastructure is any less garish. Energy reporter Amy Harder reminds us that one of the lesser-discussed obstacles to a Green New Deal is good old-fashioned nimbyism: “A lot of people don’t like power lines being constructed right in their backyards.” Harder covers energy for Axios, and writes its Harder Line column. 

In the Spiel, it may feel right to ask that we believe women making accusations of sexual assault. But a better corrective would be simply to not discredit them out of hand.

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The Green New Deal Is a Dream

Feb 8, 2019 2073

Description:

On The Gist, don’t lick people you work with.

In the interview, reading a whole book is great, but sometimes all you need is the introduction. Author Elisa Gabbert thinks so, and joins us to talk about intros and other “front matter”; a novel that unfolds over the course of an escalator ride; and how sitcoms have thrown our beauty barometers out of whack. Gabbert is the author of The Word Pretty
In the Spiel, the Green New Deal needs more scrutiny before it moves forward.

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The State of the Union is… Overrated

Feb 7, 2019 1756

Description:

On The Gist, who oh who will govern the state of Virginia?

In the interview, when Roger McNamee jumped in as an early investor in Facebook, he might not have figured he’d end up testifying about the company in front of Congress. McNamee charts Facebook’s worrying evolution in his new book: Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

In the Spiel, the State of the Union address is like baseball’s All-Star Game. Flashy, but without consequence.

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The Culture of Wealth

Feb 6, 2019 1572

Description:

On The Gist, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still doesn’t understand puns.

In the interview, Lauren Greenfield has been documenting the wealthy for the past 25 years and has finally turned that into her new film Generation Wealth, an exploration of the rise of wealth culture and the implications it has on those immersed in it. Can money really make you happy? Is there any way for the rest of us to ascend to wealthy status? Would we even want to? Generation Wealth is currently available on Amazon.  

In the Spiel, who are the guests at the State of the Union?

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To Russia With Love

Feb 5, 2019 2058

Description:

On The Gist, parsing president Trump’s one-on-one press interviews may be a fool’s errand, but at least it’s a fun one.

In the interview, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller has reported from the murkiest depths of the Trump swamp. He’s on The Gist to talk about Russia’s connections to the Trump campaign, the challenges of covering a hostile White House, and what he suspects Putin really has on Trump. Miller is the author of The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy.

In the Spiel, Virginia governor Ralph Northam has to go, but we should still question the warp-speed guillotine that is the internet.

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This Festival Was Fyre

Feb 2, 2019 1840

Description:

On The Gist, throwback to Mike Pesca's unnecessarily censored yearbook quote.

In the interview, Seth Crossno, also known by his online persona William Needham Finley IV, thought it would be fun to go to the Fyre Festival with his buddies. And while the festival might have been a mess, being a part of two competing documentaries about the experience and winning a lawsuit about it was quite the trip. Crossno is here to discuss what it was like, and why he doesn’t understand how people found Fyre Festival scammer Billy McFarland so charming. 

In the Spiel, who can advertise during the Super Bowl. 

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Kids Are Weird. You Can Be Weird Too.

Jan 31, 2019 1682

Description:

On The Gist, get off of your phone and out of my way when it’s snowing. 

In the interview, there’s no one right way to raise a child, but a few hacks sure help. Podcaster, author, and mother Hillary Frank gives you permission to do what it takes to make your kid’s childhood easier on you, including turning tasks into games and telling white lies (call pork “chicken” if that’s all they’ll eat). Hillary Frank is the creator of The Longest Shortest Time and the author of Weird Parenting Wins

In the Spiel, centrism sucks. 

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Medicare for All, Dissent From None

Jan 31, 2019 1787

Description:

On The Gist, this one is brought to you by the letter T.

In the interview, does using a stool really help your stool? Can the Squatty Potty offer any actual health benefits or is that smooth dookie all in your mind? Maybe the contraption’s popular just because it rhymes… Anyway, Maria Konnikova is here to judge, appropriately, whether that is bullshit.

In the Spiel, Medicare is only a minefield if Democrats make it one.

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E Pluribus Unum, Still?

Jan 30, 2019 2030

Description:

On The Gist, “the big game” is a dumb way to refer to the Super Bowl.

If you were to pick a moment in U.S. history that put it on the path to polarization, you could do worse than Watergate. What followed were the blue and red bubbles staked out by CNN in the '80s, Fox News in the '90s, and social media in the 2000s. Princeton professors Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer lived through that history, created a course on it, and cover it in their new book,Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.

In the Spiel, Chris Christie’s new book.

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Stone Cold Weirdos

Jan 29, 2019 1923

Description:

On The Gist, Nancy Pelosi is a skilled politician, sure… but she’s scoring her wins against an incompetent one in president Trump.

In the interview, we obsess about the lives of stars, but what about their not-so-famous siblings? Comedy Central’s The Other Two focuses on the brother and sister of a pre-teen who rocketed to pop stardom. Drew Tarver plays one of those siblings, and discusses what it’s like living in the shadow of a more famous family member (not just in this role, but in real life). The Other Two airs on Thursdays on Comedy Central. In the Spiel, on the eccentricities of Roger Stone and Randy Credico.

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Big Tent Primaries

Jan 26, 2019 2000

Description:

On The Gist, pairing 2020 candidates with this or that Oscar-nominated film.

In the interview, don’t take a shot every time Donna Brazile calls herself one of the Democratic Party’s “original gangsters.” But it’s true: she’s been at the heart of its workings for decades. In 2020, she plans on keeping out of the Democratic primaries, all while keeping up with the many rule changes they’ve adopted since 2016. Brazile is the co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.

In the Spiel, an analysis of Trump’s shutdown backdown.

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Digital Journalism, a Market Failure

Jan 25, 2019 1894

Description:

On The Gist, Necco Wafers are out this Valentine’s Day, but don’t shed a tear.

In the interview, some movies live for the twist. Steven Knight’s latest film, Serenity, is ostensibly about a sea captain’s Melvillian obsessions. Knight joins us to talk about how Matthew McConaughey gets it right, Saint Lucia, and writing screenplays in a detached state of mind (“It’s almost like accessing whatever the hell it is that creates dreams”). 

In the Spiel, journalists are losing their jobs. And there’s some BS out there about why that is.

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The Dismissal of Kamala Harris

Jan 24, 2019 1555

Description:

On The Gist, you can’t give Ann Coulter a win. 

Rick Pitino is a former American basketball coach who experienced a number of scandals in the past few years, leading him to leave America for the Greek Basket League. But how did a renowned basketball coach find himself coaching in Greece? Journalist Michael Sokolove is here with the story. Sokolove’s new book is The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball

In the Spiel, dismissing Kamala Harris.

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Will #MeToo Face the Music?

Jan 23, 2019 1728

Description:

On The Gist, Joni Ernst’s divorce filing.

When Jessica Hopper started out writing about music, trolls and affronted fans didn’t tweet at you; they wrote you a letter. The world’s move to digital has changed that, and helped bring about the #MeToo movement (notice the hashtag?). But despite R. Kelly’s fall, Hopper says the rest of the music industry may prove resistant to change. Hopper is the author of a new memoir, Night Moves

In the Spiel, the Covington Catholic teens aren't the disease, they’re a symptom. 

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For 2020, Steve King Is Dead Weight

Jan 19, 2019 2000

Description:

On The Gist, BuzzFeed’s new report on Trump. 

Earlier this week Rep. Steve King was denounced by much of his party because of remarks he gave to the New York Times about white supremacy. He may have misspoken or chosen to change his wording if given the chance, but according to the Storm Lake Times’ Art Cullen, who has been covering King for years in Iowa and recently wrote about King in the Guardian, that’s just not his style. But his straight talk won’t work in Iowa if it’s riddled with dishonesty. Art Cullen is here to discuss.

In the Spiel, feeding the anger machine.

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Know Your Memes, or Be Fooled by Them

Jan 18, 2019 1833

Description:

On the Gist, the knife-wielding skills of Nancy Pelosi.

In the interview, An Xiao Mina has tracked the meme from its goofy origins to its use in anti-authoritarian protest and (more recently) disinformation. What’s next, and how can we minimize the harm caused by the internet’s worst actors? An Xiao Mina is the author of Memes to Movements: How the World's Most Viral Media Is Changing Social Protest and Power.      

In the Spiel, Pelosi can’t go to Afghanistan because Trump is one impetuous manbaby.

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Tax Their Stuff, Not Their Money

Jan 17, 2019 1835

Description:

On The Gist, Kirsten Gillibrand running for president. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently floated the idea of a 70 percent marginal tax rate on America’s highest earners. That’s bad for millionaires, but is it even that good for everyone else? The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson argues it isn’t: High taxes wouldn’t rake in that much cash, and they might even scare taxpayers out of the country. Still, he’s clear-eyed about the dangers of concentrated money and thinks a wealth tax (on the value of what you own, not what you make) is where it’s really at. 

In the Spiel, you should have thought of that.

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Stop Going Nuclear

Jan 16, 2019 2078

Description:

On The Gist, ’twas an eventful news day (William Barr, opioid fatality statistics, Brexit … ), but Mike’s got a big Spiel to fry.

In the interview, Greg Jaczko served as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Obama—and soon grew disillusioned with nuclear energy technology itself. He joins us to explain what changed his thinking and where to turn for tomorrow’s energy. Jaczko’s new book is Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator

In the Spiel, a thought experiment in which Trump is given the benefit of the doubt regarding Russia … and still comes out looking like a scoundrel.

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Against Steve King, Words Aren’t Enough

Jan 15, 2019 1754

Description:

On The Gist, president Trump is far from tough on Russia, and too many news talk shows let his allies make that claim.

In the interview, Jennifer Traig thought she knew what she was getting into when she became a parent, until “washing diarrhea out of neckfolds” came along. In her latest book, she turns to history to sort the parenting techniques and philosophies that are worth keeping from those that aren’t. Traig is the author of Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting.

In the Spiel, Republicans are speaking out against congressman Steve King for his racist comments. But how about some action?

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The Future (of A.I.) Is Chinese

Jan 12, 2019 2033

Description:

On The Gist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s star power isn’t something to fear. Especially if you’re a Democrat.

“The world is a very dangerous place!” as a statement from President Donald Trump’s desk once put it. Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer gets that, which is why his firm writes a list of top geopolitical risks at the start of every year. In 2019, these include America’s response to growing tech and A.I. dominance from China, presidential elections in Ukraine and Nigeria, and cyberwar. Bremmer is also the founder of GZero Media and hosts its podcast, GZero World With Ian Bremmer.

In the Spiel, ringing in the year’s first Lobstar of the Antentwig.

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When Fact Meets Fiction

Jan 11, 2019 1710

Description:

On The Gist, costs and benefits in the government.

In the interview, Matthew Heineman is here to discuss his new film A Private War. Though usually a documentary filmmaker, this time around he tried his hand at a feature. Focused on the life of journalist Marie Colvin, it’s surprising how many documentary techniques Heineman employed when making the film, which uniquely fits the story being told. A Private War will be available on Feb. 5.

In the Spiel, the rhyming Kellyanne Conway.

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The Kids Are Not All Right

Jan 10, 2019 1860

Description:

On The Gist, the days are getting longer, the brand names shorter.

In the interview, millennial whisperer (or, you know, just plain millennial) Anne Helen Petersen recently diagnosed “the burnout generation” in a viral feature for BuzzFeed. Student debt, the 2008 financial crisis, relatively low levels of family wealth—all have contributed to their dire straits. But could their biggest burden be a mental one?

In the Spiel, President Trump’s unsurprisingly empty Oval Office address.

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Addressing the Facts

Jan 9, 2019 1933

Description:

On The Gist, do presidential addresses change anything? 

In the interview, NPR’s David Folkenflik joins us to talk about Donald Trump’s Oval Office address. Should the networks give airtime to someone so averse to facts, even if he is the president? Is there any precedent for this? And what repercussions for lying will Trump face, if any? 

In the Spiel, 5G networks. 

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The Likeability Illusion

Jan 8, 2019 2007

Description:

On The Gist, news networks should do us a favor and not air Trump’s prime-time speech on Tuesday night.

In the interview, Greg Sargent is an indispensable voice for anyone looking to grasp the inner workings of American democracy. In his new book, he argues that compromise is possible even on issues as stark as voter suppression (the implementers are all Republican on this one, folks). Sargent’s book is An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics.

In the Spiel, likability in 2020? It’s overrated.   

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What’s Wrong With Motherf---er?

Jan 5, 2019 1642

Description:

On The Gist, works produced 75 years ago are now entering the public domain. And some are what 2019 would call “problematic.”

David Bowie once sang that we can all be heroes … but villainy is where it’s really at. In the Ringer podcast Villains, host Shea Serrano and his guests analyze film’s best baddies to figure out their true motives and chances at redemption. What makes The Silence of the Lambs’Hannibal Lecter the most memorable villain of all? How justified is Amy Dunne in Gone Girl? And are there any villains they won’t even touch?

In the Spiel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib used a bad word. But boy, it’s also such a great word.

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There’s Something in the Water

Jan 4, 2019 1860

Description:

On The Gist, what do Kim Jong-un’s letters and Shaquille O’Neal sneakers have in common?

In the interview, you’ve likely heard of microplastics, but are they something to worry about? Maria Konnikova is here with answers in another round of “Is That Bullshit?”. Konnikova is the author of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time.

In the Spiel, and in New York City, even shutting down a subway train comes with delays.

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Impeachment Is a Real Crapshoot

Jan 3, 2019 2086

Description:

On The Gist, the government shutdown continues.

In the interview, impeachment proceedings have never removed a president from office (in Bill Clinton’s case, they even offered a bump in approval ratings). So is it really the best route for those who see nothing but rot in Trump’s presidency? Lawfare Institute COO David Priess surveys the options in his latest book, How to Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives.

In the Spiel, Louis C.K. and punching down.

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Andy Serkis, Motion Capture Master

Dec 28, 2018 1959

Description:

On The Gist, Mike Pesca is leaving Facebook, mostly.

In the interview, Andy Serkis is here to discuss his newest movie, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, along with the film’s star Rohan Chand. They talk about the magic of working in motion capture, how it really isn’t all that different from other types of acting, and what it was like jumping on Christian Bale’s back. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is available on Netflix.   
In the Spiel, finding the appropriate punishments for things like drones at the airport.

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The Babies Are Not All Right

Dec 28, 2018 1785

Description:

On The Gist, why do daily news podcasts think they can take off for the holidays?

In the interview, journalist Priska Neely has been writing about the rates of black infant mortality and why they’re so much higher than American infant mortality rates overall. She joins us today to discuss the possible reasons, including community support systems, health care–related problems, and how racism factors into it all.

In the Spiel, Donald Trump visits Iraq and says a lot.

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The Same Old Mike, Plus The New One

Dec 22, 2018 1934

Description:

On The Gist, Donald Trump is to "wall" as zombies are to "braaaains."

In his Broadway show (The New One) Mike Birbiglia tells you why procreation is a terrible idea, before waxing lyrical on the joys of raising a daughter—it’s complicated; he’s complicated. On The Gist, he spares a thought for how to tip at an Olive Garden, the future of email leaks, and Fox News’ underwhelming Christmas tree.

In the Spiel, abandoning arguments of good (or bad) faith.

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Free Money for Everyone?

Dec 21, 2018 2085

Description:

On The Gist, Amazon or marijuana?

In the interview, Andrew Yang has declared his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, and his platform is universal basic income. But how does that work? Is there room for that and other progressive platforms like free college tuition or universal health care? Yang’s new book is The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future

In the Spiel, thought experiments and the extinction of the human race.

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Adam Keeps Ruining Everything

Dec 20, 2018 2093

Description:

On The Gist, the government shutdown and Santa.

In the interview, Adam Conover joins us to discuss the latest season of Adam Ruins Everything, how they ruin things like guns and mattresses, the mistakes they’ve made along the way, and if there are any topics they aren’t allowed to cover. Adam Ruins Everything airs on Tuesday nights on truTV.

In the Spiel, Alice Walker, the New York Times, and narratives.

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The Alt-Right Downturn

Dec 19, 2018 2178

Description:

On The Gist, why Mick Mulvaney’s trash talk didn’t cost him a job under Trump.

In the interview, is the alt-right waning? An expert on the movement, George Hawley, says that de-platforming worked to counter hateful figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones and that the news media may have overestimated their cunning—throwing memes at the wall until some of them stick—to begin with. Hawley is a professor of politics at the University of Alabama and the author of The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know.

In the Spiel, some Pesca family lore on befriending Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon.

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Don’t Trust the Stars

Dec 18, 2018 1732

Description:

On The Gist, maybe Rudy Giuliani isn’t deteriorating. Rather, his job now (defending Trump’s shenanigans) is tougher than any he’s had.

Maria Konnikova is back to call bullshit on astrology. She walks us through its origins in ancient Chaldea, its popularity among history’s scientists and philosophers, and the present day—where real experiments have been run. Is there any truth to it? And what about just enjoying the fun of it all?

In the Spiel, goodbye Ryan Zinke. We knew ye well enough.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Dec 15, 2018 1969

Description:

On The Gist, the demise of the Weekly Standard.

Then, going with your gut isn’t always best (despite what President Donald Trump may tell you). Writer Steven Johnson says making better decisions can be as simple as considering multiple options instead of focusing on the “should I” or “shouldn’t I.” He’s also got anecdotes about Darwin’s marital deliberations, machine learning, and the call to storm the fortress in which Osama Bin Laden (“probably,” Americans figured) was ensconced. Johnson is the author of Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most.    
In the Spiel, pronouncing people’s names correctly.

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One Quiet Leap for Mankind

Dec 14, 2018 1841

Description:

On The Gist, Jeff Bezos is one rich man. That doesn’t make him (and Amazon) bad for New York City.

In the interview, First Man is as much about Neil Armstrong the man as it is about Neil Armstrong the astronaut. Instead of depicting him planting a U.S. flag on the moon, screenwriter Josh Singer had him pay tribute to his deceased daughter. That ruffled some feathers, and Singer tells us why he stands by it.

In the Spiel, unpacking the latest softball interview between Fox News and President Donald Trump.

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When the President Speaks …

Dec 13, 2018 1797

Description:

On The Gist, President Trump interrupted Nancy Pelosi because he interrupts everyone.

In the interview, the deputy executive director of U.N. Women, Åsa Regnér, knows how to bring more women into politics. Countries like Bolivia, Rwanda, and those in Scandinavia have achieved more equal representation. So how useful are quotas? Does religion play a role? How can gender parity be seen not just as a rights issue but something smarter for policymaking, the economy, and the health of the country?

In the Spiel, putting a dollar value on the election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

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Halls of Fame Need Diversity, Too

Dec 12, 2018 2346

Description:

On The Gist, it’s tough to find a host for the Oscars.

In the interview, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can quickly become incestuous, since past winners get to vote on future inductees. But this year’s 15 nominees break the mold of guitar-slinging dudes with long hair. Sure, Def Leppard is in the running, but so are LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, and Kraftwerk. Music critic Chris Molanphy himself has a vote, and tells us what his ballot looks like. Molanphy is the host of the Slate podcast Hit Parade and writes Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column.

In the Spiel, Andrew Sullivan’s new religions.

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They Can’t Hear You, Theresa

Dec 11, 2018 1686

Description:

On The Gist, the bottomless Pinocchio.

Americans are filled with anxiety in the pursuit of happiness, and social media isn’t making it any better. But how do we even define happy, and will changing our online habits actually change anything? Author Ruth Whippman, who wrote about the phenomenon in the recent New York Times piece, “Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us.,” joins us to discuss.

In the Spiel, the Brexit vote.

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High Time for Impeachment?

Dec 8, 2018 2206

Description:

On The Gist, the GOP isn’t overtly racist. But it once was.

In the interview, Liz Holtzman was the youngest woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, and she did it in 1973. She also served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee as they held impeachment hearings for Richard Nixon. In her new book, The Case For Impeaching Trump, she explains what exactly is required to impeach a president and why Trump’s actions might have already justified those proceedings.

In the Spiel, it’s time to award the last Lobstar of 2018.

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The Walk of the Town

Dec 7, 2018 1750

Description:

On The Gist, is Sherrod Brown annoying?

In the interview, Matt Green is on a yearslong mission to walk all the streets of New York City—and Jeremy Workman filmed him doing many of them for a documentary, The World Before Your Feet. Alongside Workman and executive producer Jesse Eisenberg, Green talks about Staten Island’s ordinary charm, the odd street-naming conventions of Queens, and how a life of perpetual walking makes dating pretty hard. 

In the Spiel, PETA. 

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The Eulogy Myth

Dec 6, 2018 1796

Description:

On The Gist, stop wishing Jews happy holidays if Hanukkah has already passed.

How do you explain wit? James Geary attempted to answer that question with his new book, Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, but quickly found that the only way to write about comedy is to write comedy. He joins us to discuss the difficulties of examining this subject, the various types of wit, and why Buster Keaton is a master of the form.

In the Spiel, eulogies are the best part of any funeral, particularly a president’s. 

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Sullying a Pup’s Good Name

Dec 5, 2018 1493

Description:

On The Gist, a “tariff man” sing-along!

Then, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” She and Mike discuss the cigar-shaped space object (known as ‘Oumuamua) picked up by astronomers last year. Was it an alien vehicle, or just another flying rock?

In the Spiel, Mike proudly backs the Slate stance: George H.W. Bush’s service dog probably wasn’t mourning him.

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Wild Wild Story

Dec 4, 2018 1849

Description:

On The Gist, in doing less than his son did in the Middle East, George H.W. Bush did better.

In the interview, Wild Wild Country was one of the year’s most riveting documentaries. But one of its sources, journalist Les Zaitz, argues that it pulls punches on the cult that overtook a small town in Oregon, committed the biggest bioterror attack in American history, and had designs to assassinate its critics.

In the Spiel, taking stock of George H.W. Bush’s legacy.

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Very Legal, Very Cool

Dec 1, 2018 1900

Description:

On The Gist, should people be let go for one bad idea?

30 for 30 has been a hugely successful documentary series in both video and audio form for ESPN. Jody Avirgan sits at its podcast helm with a new season covering stories like Jose Canseco’s steroid use, the 2003 World Series of Poker, and Japanese baseball player Hideo Nomo trying to join the Major League. He also hosts FiveThirtyEight’s political podcast, offering fresh and smart insight wherever he can. Avirgan joins us today to talk the difference of the audio documentary medium, how soon after events documentaries can be made, and what stories they almost told this season.

In the Spiel, the very legal and very cool Donald Trump.

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How to Shoot a Fight

Nov 30, 2018 1865

Description:

On The Gist, cows are beef, even if they’ve reached internet fame.

In the interview, Steven Caple Jr. watched everything from Jean-Claude Van Damme movies to street-fight videos before directing Creed II, the latest film in the Rocky franchise. He joins The Gist to talk about how to shoot a fight scene, his favorite Rocky villains, and Michael B. Jordan’s rising star.

In the Spiel, Michael Cohen squeals, and we all learn once again that President Trump does not, sadly, tell it like it is.

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The Parent Police

Nov 29, 2018 2039

Description:

On The Gist, the Nancy Pelosi nonstory (spoiler alert: she’s going to win the speakership) is distracting us from the Trump administration’s latest misdeeds.

In the interview, Kim Brooks received 100 hours of community service in 2011 for leaving her son alone in a car during a quick errand. Then she connected with other parents who’d been policed by their community in harmful ways. Do Americans worry so much about the safety of children that they’re blind to common sense? Brooks explores this, and the dangers of involving the police too quickly, in her new book, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear.
In the Spiel, no, the missionary to North Sentinel Island did not deserve to die, and it’s appalling to suggest he did.

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Would the U.S. Win World War III?

Nov 28, 2018 1866

Description:

On The Gist, Cindy Hyde-Smith is on the MAGA wagon. 

In the interview, the U.S. has long been the global leader in military spending. But is that enough to guarantee victory in a war against Russia, China, or both? Aaron Mehta covers the Pentagon for Defense News and has written about a bipartisan commission’s new report on America’s readiness for big conflicts.

In the Spiel, terrible arguments obscuring bad ideas.

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Make Voting Rights Sexy Again

Nov 27, 2018 2166

Description:

On The Gist, Danielle Pletka’s thoughts on climate change and Saudi Arabia.

In the interview, the Republican Party’s voter suppression isn’t the result of philosophy or values—it just helps them win. In making the fight over voting rights public, Democrats have two advantages: It’s obviously the right thing to do, and it would help them compete up and down the ballot. Our guest Dave Weigel writes The Trailer, a newsletter on electoral politics for the Washington Post.

In the Spiel,  the crisis of credible conservative commentators.

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Obesity, and You, and Me!

Nov 21, 2018 2122

Description:

On The Gist, the state of the runoff Senate election down in Mississippi.

Fat shaming is inexcusable. But so is denying some of the health problems that come with being obese. Maria Konnikova gives us a pre-Thanksgiving report on the latest science and reminds us that obesity in the U.S. is driven by social “superforces” more than by personal choices. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game.

In the Spiel, yes, it’s absolutely OK to laugh (or shake one’s head in disbelief) at President Trump’s buffoonery.

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The Many, Many Ways to Think About Running

Nov 21, 2018 2011

Description:

On The Gist, a historian at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Why not?

When a young Peter Sagal was labeled “not great at sports,” it didn’t sit well with him. But if that drove him to running in the first place, he now has plenty of reasons to keep up the pace—not the least of which is that it’s a good thing to think, talk, and write about. Sagal is the host of NPR’s Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and the author of The Incomplete Book of Running.

In the Spiel, Trump’s jobs numbers from Saudi arms deals come from nowhere other than (sorry) the presidential tuchus.

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Uncle Verne Pulls Up a Chair

Nov 20, 2018 1971

Description:

On The Gist, violent, vicious, and terrible. These are a few of Trump’s favorite words.

In the interview: Verne Lundquist announced sports games for decades. But in retirement, he has more time for classical music than whatever game is on TV. “I’m not a passionate sports fan,” he says. “I’ve got X number of years to live in this life—let’s experience as much of it as we can.” Lundquist is the author of Play by Play: Calling the Wildest Games in Sports—From SEC Football to College Basketball, the Masters, and More.

In the Spiel, there are four kinds of presidents. Trump’s the worst kind.

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Ben Stiller’s Big Prison Break

Nov 17, 2018 1970

Description:

On The Gist, President Donald Trump has finally made a nomination for ambassador to South Africa. And it is a terrible one.

It’s hard to make comedy when your story, like Ben Stiller’s latest direction, is based on a state inspector general’s report. Escape at Dannemora is drama through and through, based on the prison break of two men, aided by a female employee (and lover), from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility. Stiller talks filming bad sex, turning villains into heroes, and what makes Patricia Arquette a great actress. Escape at Dannemora premieres Sunday on Showtime.

In the Spiel, get this: a podcast where the interviews never get past “hello!” and “can you hear me all right?”

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Cult Classic

Nov 15, 2018 1814

Description:

On The Gist, Nancy Pelosi and new House leadership.

Then, the self-help organization known as NXIVM had thousands of paying customers, but only some were involved in the cultish operations that, once exposed, brought it crashing down. In Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, host Josh Bloch follows one of the company’s unknowing recruiters, who disavowed the group and became central to the ongoing FBI charges against its founder, Keith Raniere. We also hear from Susan Dones, another former member of NXIVM.
In the Spiel, Brexit is back.
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Priming New York for Amazon

Nov 15, 2018 2103

Description:

On The Gist, who’s running in 2020? Should we even speculate yet? 

Time for another segment of Mike debates Slate. Staff writer Henry Grabar is here to discuss Amazon’s choice of New York City, why people seem to keep misunderstanding what subsidies are, and how the benefits of Amazon moving to Long Island City outweigh the costs to the city. 

In the Spiel, Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials and asking multipart questions at press conferences.

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More Show Than Showdown

Nov 14, 2018 1960

Description:

On The Gist, when will everyone stop walking and chewing gum at the same time?

In the interview, it may have been a political stunt ahead of the midterms, but president Trump’s deployment of U.S. service members to the border continues. What are they even up to? Veteran and writer Jack Murphy fills in the details, including how the mission is being received in the military community at large. Murphy is the editor in chief of NEWSREP.

In the Spiel, Amazon’s news and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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The Love of the (Basketball) Game

Nov 13, 2018 1946

Description:

On The Gist, what kind of sped-up sports replays is Kellyanne Conway watching?

The simplicity of basketball is also its genius, allowing players to exercise skill, heart, genius and passion in endlessly creative ways. Dan Klores embraces just that in his ESPN documentary Basketball: A Love Story and talks about specific players, the NBA’s leaders, and why short players deserve more credit.

In the Spiel, the DCCC may smack of establishment power, but it was damn effective at flipping House seats for Democrats.

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Two Countries, at the Cost of One

Nov 10, 2018 1835

Description:

On The Gist, by any previous standard, we’d be saying that President Donald Trump lost the midterms, plain and simple.

In the interview, Tuesday’s midterms saw red states get redder and blue ones bluer. If results like those keep repeating themselves, Slate panelists—Dahlia Lithwick, Jamelle Bouie, and Jim Newell, hosted live in New York by Mike Pesca—say America could soon feel like two distinct legal worlds.

In the Spiel, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was a tight end at the University of Iowa! And uh, that tells us nothing about his character.

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In a Political Bind? Call Bradley Tusk

Nov 9, 2018 2197

Description:

On The Gist, the Democrats’ big win.

Bradley Tusk has been in the background everywhere. His hand guided the rise of big political and tech brands, from advising Rod Blagojevich not to extort Rahm Emanuel to facilitating Uber’s explosive growth. He joins us to discuss his political savvy saving campaigns and startups and why he’s so passionate about voting with your smartphone. Tusk’s new book is The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups From Death by Politics

In the Spiel, misunderstanding democracy and trying to correct someone else’s tweet.

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A Congresswoman Speaks

Nov 8, 2018 1931

Description:

On The Gist, was last night a wave or not?

If congresswoman Jackie Speier still kept a gratitude journal (“I don’t have time to do it!”), it would include an entry about the Democratic Party reclaiming the House in Tuesday’s midterms. Instead she’s out with a new memoir—Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back—and brings details on how her party’s majority will put the squeeze on President Donald Trump.

In the Spiel, Donald Trump’s latest press conference.

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Just Ask Mimi

Nov 7, 2018 1906

Description:

On The Gist, who gets to vote?

Mimi Sheraton, the first female food critic at the New York Times, has had a prolific career sharing her opinion on everything like ladyfinger sellers, hope chests and china patterns, and why we’re all eating kale wrong. She joins us today to talk her career as a food critic, why smelt isn’t a crowd pleaser, and the importance of eating as a family. She’s a delight on the Ask Mimi episodes of the Sporkful, and her most recent book is 1,000 Food to Eat Before You Die

In the Spiel, voting mistakes.

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What Newt Gingrich Wrought

Nov 6, 2018 2122

Description:

On The Gist, live, from Slate, it’s a post-apocalyptic skit that just might come to pass if you don’t vote on Tuesday.

In the interview, for decades, there was no need to hope for (or fear) a blue wave; until 1994, the Democratic Party enjoyed a 40-year monopoly on the House of Representatives. Then came Newt Gingrich, who engineered the Republican sweep of the lower chamber, and who looms large in our guest Steve Kornacki’s latest book, The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism.

In the Spiel, more about (what else) the midterms. Also: Go vote.

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Root for the Dummy

Nov 2, 2018 2010

Description:

On The Gist, the Republican tax bill and insurance premiums.

In the interview: a third-century monk, Paul Revere’s horse, and Death himself … all are characters in humorist Simon Rich’s latest book, Hits and Misses: Stories—and none are in on the joke. “I always related to the characters like Homer Simpson that knew less than they should,” Rich says. “As a child those are the ones that I found more sympathetic and more rootable.” 

In the Spiel, the unemployment numbers, and the lies we’ve told ourselves about the economy. 

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American Tribes

Nov 1, 2018 2160

Description:

On The Gist, Pew’s analysis of European opinion surveys is out. Let’s look at Greece!

In the interview, the American electorate has come to sort itself not just on political issues, but by worldview. Life is either a gauntlet of hazards (say Republicans) or an array of sights to see (as the Dems think). In their latest book, Prius or Pickup?, political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler warn that these philosophical differences are sharper than what separated the voting blocs of previous generations.
In the Spiel, Trump is out with a racist political ad, surprising precisely no one.

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Hate Counts

Oct 31, 2018 1910

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s xenophobic campaign, with a Spooktacular twist!

In the interview, hate is hard to measure, but the Southern Poverty Law Center paints a picture of growing prejudice in America. Heidi Beirich and the organization’s Intelligence Project go beyond FBI and Department of Justice statistics to include press reports and even tips from the public.

In the Spiel, swing, baby, swing (we’re talking about congressional districts).

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Signed, Sealed, Forgotten

Oct 31, 2018 2002

Description:

On The Gist, Mike’s bottom five causes. 

In the interview, we rewind to the story of the mail bomber, which was quickly eclipsed by a massacre in Pittsburgh and one loud president. Steve Johnson, who directs Cranfield University’s Forensic Explosive and Explosion Investigation program in the U.K., provides details about Cesar Sayoc’s homemade devices. 

In the Spiel, Trump’s desire to end birthright citizenship.

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For Every Brand, a Backstory

Oct 30, 2018 1951

Description:

On The Gist, surprise surprise, right-wing commentators aren’t apologizing for getting the mail bomber story totally wrong.

In the interview, brands don’t make it big by mistake. Behind the success of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte and Jell-O are stories worth hearing. Dan Bobkoff’s podcast for Business Insider, Household Name, explores the odd origins of TGI Fridays, the reason there’s a Mattress Firm on every corner, and how a Donald Trump ad may have saved Pizza Hut (it’s all about the stuffed crust).

In the Spiel, the Pittsburgh shooter was fueled by hate. But just as importantly, he was armed with an AR-15. It’s time to ban it.

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The Blue Blizzard

Oct 26, 2018 2002

Description:

On The Gist, the man in the van is a sad man indeed. 

Harry Enten is a senior writer and analyst for CNN Politics and steeped in the polling data for the election. Will Beto O’Rourke beat Ted Cruz?  Is the blue wave cresting early? And why do Democrats care about Hamilton? Enten joins us to discuss, and his more detailed forecast can be found online here.  

In the Spiel, time for another antentwig. 

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Et Tu, NBC?

Oct 25, 2018 1810

Description:

On The Gist, Georgia’s exact match law is an extra hurdle for those with hyphenated last names, which, let us speculate, may be more common among black Americans.

In the interview, CNBC contributor Ron Insana on Dow drops, market swings, and the uncertain rise of the job-stealing robots.

In the Spiel, Megyn Kelly’s reportedly been fired for her latest faux pas. What did NBC expect when they hired her?

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Blame It on the Mailer

Oct 24, 2018 1794

Description:

On The Gist, Megyn Kelly’s take on blackface was obviously wrong … and wrong for NBC’s messaging.

Sleep isn’t for the weak; it’s for those who want their brains flushed of misfolded proteins and fatigue-inducing adenosine. If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo, Maria Konnikova is here to explain it all and answer one question: Is the prescription for precisely eight hours of sleep bullshit?

In the Spiel, President Trump riles up his base in all kinds of ways, but we can’t honestly blame the recent spate of mail bombs on him and him alone.

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Something in the Water

Oct 24, 2018 1918

Description:

On The Gist, first we’ve got misleading statistics. 

In 2016, Art Cullen wrote a series of editorials for the Storm Lake Times, a small newspaper in Iowa, uncovering the murky depths of a fight between local and state governments about water pollution. They followed the money, and discovered a fight funded by agricultural corporations, and ended up winning the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Cullen’s new book is Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope From a Heartland Newspaper

In the Spiel, gubernatorial races.

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The NFL Mafia

Oct 23, 2018 2003

Description:

On The Gist, ’tis the season (elections!) for baseless political analysis, courtesy of big network news.

Americans spend countless hours watching football, but what do they know about the owners of their favorite teams? In Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, Mark Leibovich covers the exclusive billionaire boys’ club and the “very unimpressive group of inherited misfits” that fills its ranks.

In the Spiel, CNN’s Van Jones was way too chummy with interview guest Jared Kushner on Monday morning.

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Prison Guard Confidential

Oct 20, 2018 2007

Description:

On The Gist, Europeans are fighting over daylight saving time, which is way better than having a World War.

Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer has been on both sides of a prison’s bars. After spending two years as a political prisoner in Iran, he returned to the U.S. and got a job as a private prison guard. His real aim, of course, was to report on why the American prison system—private and public—is broken. Bauer’s new book is American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment.

In the Spiel, a debate roundup ahead of the midterms.

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Land of (Only Some) Opportunity

Oct 18, 2018 2109

Description:

On The Gist, Democrats might actually be winning.

Supporters of open immigration policy—and immigrants themselves—often have a rosy view of what awaits them in the United States. National Review executive editor (and Slate alumnus) Reihan Salam says high costs of living can put immigrants in debt rather than on a path to the middle class. “When we’re totally sentimental about this, we miss some of those struggles, and those struggles are inconvenient. People don’t want to hear about them.” Salam’s book is Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders

In the Spiel, Omarosa again.

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Myth Management

Oct 18, 2018 1886

Description:

On The Gist, bone saws and Jamal Khashoggi.

When Joe Hagan began working on the story of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone, Wenner was on board. But as Wenner slowly realized Hagan was writing the true story rather than Wenner’s story, things got a bit rough. Hagan joins us to discuss Wenner, reactions since publication, and the tricks of writing about a narcissist. Hagan’s book is Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. 

In the Spiel, the civility of debates.

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Between a Rock and a Funny Place

Oct 17, 2018 1802

Description:

On The Gist, Saudi Arabia, Trump, and Jamal Khashoggi. 

Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman has had a post-scandal Louis C.K. take to his stage six times now. Why does he welcome him, and if he doesn’t draw the line at Louis, is it somewhere else? 

In the Spiel, the death of Nevada Republican candidate Dennis Hof. 

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Bare Necessities? Not in Alaska.

Oct 16, 2018 1795

Description:

On The Gist, unpacking CNN’s list of top Democratic challengers ahead of 2020.

Katmai National Park and Preserve’s publicity stunt worked: For one week (that’s Fat Bear Week), the internet delighted in the tournament bracket that would crown the plumpest predator of them all. Carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant tells us about the brown bear’s diet, the unknown mechanics of hibernation, and why fattest really means fittest for the competition’s chunky winner (Beadnose!).

In the Spiel, what to make of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA-testing gambit.

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Olive Branch, Turkey Leg

Oct 13, 2018 1848

Description:

On The Gist, how coverage of bisexuality has changed (for the better).

Thanksgiving approaches, and with it all the tension that comes with mixing family and politics in the age of Trump. In that setting, Ike Barinholtz saw grist for a political comedy. He directs and stars in The Oath, in which a family reunion is cleaved by the federal government’s push for Americans to sign a “loyalty waiver to the president.”

In the Spiel, what Arizona Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema did as congresswoman is much more important than what she did … in a tutu?

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Going to The Good Place

Oct 12, 2018 1898

Description:

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz.

At first The Good Place on NBC appears to be a light and easy sitcom about a bad apple accidentally dropped into heaven, but look at little deeper and you’ll find a smart and dense comedy about moral philosophy. Creator Mike Schur joins us to discuss this show’s moral compass, baseball, and the Kant of it all. The Good Place airs on Thursdays on NBC. 

In the Spiel, Trump’s rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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And What About Yemen?

Oct 11, 2018 2163

Description:

On The Gist, should we continue to trust Facebook with our data? 

Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war with rebel tribes in Yemen is 3½ years deep, as is America’s support for it. Michael Knights, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, details the kingdom’s goals: stopping the missile attacks sailing in from Yemen, restoring the country’s ousted leaders, and countering the rebels’ biggest ally, Iran.

In the Spiel, the disappearance of abortion providers, the rise of crisis pregnancy centers, and what Google can do about it.

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Guarding the Court

Oct 10, 2018 1724

Description:

On The Gist, it would be cynical to view the Supreme Court as illegitimate.

Brett Kavanaugh has done it. But how will the other members of the Supreme Court treat him? And does his promotion affect the American people’s faith in the nation’s highest court? Slate’s courts correspondent Dahlia Lithwick joins us to discuss.

In the Spiel, back in the private sector, Nikki Haley can look forward to making Hope Hicks–level money (which, incredibly, is a lot of money).

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Take Down the Poll

Oct 6, 2018 1692

Description:

On The Gist, after all of that, not a single senator changed his or her vote to back (or stop) Kavanaugh.

In the interview, Jill Lepore’s new book focuses in part on the marginalized groups forgotten by other American histories. It also denounces the polling industry born in the ’30s, which turned politics into business even as it ignored black Americans, slowing their march for civil rights. Lepore’s book is These Truths: A History of the United States.

In the Spiel, don’t forget that the political pendulum always swings back.

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Sitting President, Standing Anger

Oct 5, 2018 1670

Description:

On The Gist, the hippocampus has its moment.

Tom Arnold believes incriminating tapes of Donald Trump are out there, and he wants to find them. In his new series for Viceland, The Hunt for the Trump Tapes, he’s looking for anything from more Access Hollywood obscenities to the infamous pee tape. But would publishing any of these actually change anything about politics today?

In the Spiel, the rhetoric of “sitting Trump” versus “standing Trump.”

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Reignited (and It Feels So Good)

Oct 3, 2018 2204

Description:

On The Gist, Brett Kavanaugh’s high school and college buddies had some weird nicknames, and it’s not helping his case.

Rebecca Traister is angry, and she knows other women are too. Events from Trump’s election through the #MeToo movement inspired her new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.

In the Spiel, Mike read the New York Times’ expose on how Donald Trump got rich—so you don’t have to.

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Mueller on the Mind

Oct 3, 2018 1879

Description:

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke has the momentum but also a mountain to climb.

In the interview, Neal Katyal has argued 37 cases before the Supreme Court, and (better yet!) joined Mike Pesca on stage at Slate Day in Austin, Texas. Our condensed version of the interview covers the implications of a confirmed Brett Kavanaugh, why Robert Mueller “will have the last laugh” when it comes to taking on Trump, and what the indictment of a sitting U.S. president would look like.

In the Spiel, what mothers of sons have to say about Kavanaugh.

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College-Aged Coddling

Oct 1, 2018 1734

Description:

On The Gist, guest host John McWhorter considers campus safe spaces. 

In the past few years, college campuses have been shifting away from havens for free speech to safe spaces that bar divisive speakers from campus. But is this the right move, or are we damaging the growth of college students by creating these spaces rather than offering intellectual challenges. Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt explore this in their new book The Coddling of the American Mind. Lukianoff joins us on the Gist to discuss. 

In the Spiel, are the new models of protest a useful continuation of the civil rights movement?

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The Kavanaugh Conspiracy

Sep 29, 2018 1842

Description:

On The Gist, guest host Isaac Butler talks about all the news we forgot about thanks to the Kavanaugh hearing.

The Constitution is a sacred text in America, but should it be? Heidi Schreck’s play What the Constitution Means to Me tackles that question through her high school experience of giving speeches about the Constitution to put herself through college. Today, she and her director, Oliver Butler, join us to discuss the fresh importance of the play, what sort of impact the Constitution has on women, and what can be drawn from a theatrical analysis of the Kavanaugh hearing. What the Constitution Means to Me is running at the New York Theatre Workshop through Oct. 28. 

In the Spiel, Butler considers the nature of conspiracy theories in America and what Kavanaugh has made us forget.

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Losing Hate

Sep 27, 2018 1704

Description:

On The Gist, the Kavanaugh hearing.

By all accounts, Derek Black was supposed to become the next David Duke. He was the man’s godson, after all, and his father, Don Black, had founded Stormfront, the world’s first and biggest white nationalist website. But then Derek went to New College of Florida, where—as told by the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow—he was shunned by many of his peers for his racist views, and embraced by a few despite them. Saslow’s book is Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

In the Spiel, more on the Kavanaugh hearing, and Trump’s continuing belief that 52 percent of women voted for him.

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The Land of Steady Filmmaking

Sep 27, 2018 1655

Description:

On The Gist, the GOP hired a woman!

Nicole Holofcener’s films have centered women for more than two decades, but her latest one, The Land of Steady Habits,focuses on a man’s tumultuous story arc. She joins us to talk about adaptations (it was a novel before Holofcener made it into a movie), the slow and deliberate process of directing, and why she hates hearing people chew. The Land of Steady Habits is now on Netflix.

In the Spiel, Kavanaugh’s three accusers tell different stories, but many Republican senators are somehow dismissing them all.

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Generation Anxiety

Sep 26, 2018 1923

Description:

On The Gist, Trump gets laughs at the United Nations.

After a few eccentric comedy specials, Bo Burnham next turned to his sympathy for the anxieties of middle school girls, and made a movie. If Eighth Grade (starring Elsie Fisher) seems to imitate life so well, it’s because Burnham watched hundreds of vlogs made by today’s junior high generation. 

In the Spiel, standards of proof in the Kavanaugh case.

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That’s the First Straw

Sep 25, 2018 1909

Description:

On The Gist, how the breaking news machine bungled the Rod Rosenstein story.

In the interview, California is set to ban certain restaurants from serving straws unless customers ask for one. But given that straws represent a tiny fraction of the plastics choking our oceans, can initiatives like these really make a difference? Ban-the-straw advocate Dune Ives says targeting the straw is, in part, a way to move on to blocking other plastics from the world’s waste stream.

In the Spiel, the air is thick with terrible arguments both for and against Brett Kavanaugh.     

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Tight Countries, Loose Countries

Sep 21, 2018 2007

Description:

On The Gist, National Review has one good take on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation story … and a lot of bad ones.

In the interview, we’re used to thinking of societies along the “liberal/conservative” spectrum, but cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand has her own axis to consider: tight versus loose. They aren’t quite the same: Abu Dhabi, for instance, may be conservative, but its role as the crossroads of the Middle East lends it looser norms. In Scandinavia, we’ve got the opposite. Gelfand’s book is Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World.

In the Spiel, you wrote in, and Mike read up: It’s time for the Lobstar of the Antentwig.

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What Is … a Podcast, Alex?

Sep 20, 2018 1687

Description:

On The Gist, Christine Blasey Ford deserves a hearing on her own terms, and that’s all we can say for now.

Bert Kreischer is a comic who started out as just the biggest college partier in America according to Rolling Stone magazine in 1997. Since then he’s been grappling with fame, how much of his own life to use for comedy, and the way his father shamed him into doing stand-up comedy. Kreischer’s new special on Netflix is Secret Time.

In the Spiel, Jeopardy finally notices podcasts.

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Coal Over Climate

Sep 20, 2018 1881

Description:

On The Gist, the latest in inane Trump statements.

Climate change is bigger than any one of us, including the president of the United States. Given his backward policies and denials of scientific fact, he deserves his share of criticism in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Climate scientist Andrea Schumacher explains which aspects of hurricane season can be expected to get worse as the planet warms. Schumacher is a research associate at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University.

In the Spiel, ­­more on John Hockenberry.

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Owe Me the Money

Sep 19, 2018 1749

Description:

On The Gist, taking issue with the sloppy headlines about the support (or lack thereof) for Brett Kavanaugh.

In the interview, Stacey Abrams’ run for governor in Georgia has been criticized because of her huge outstanding debt. That got Ozy.com reporter Nick Fouriezos wondering how much political candidates typically owe as they run for office. He dug into the finances of 396 political candidates to see how much they owed, and to whom.

In the Spiel, a presidential penis prognostic. You’re welcome.

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Ethan Hawke’s Earnest Art

Sep 18, 2018 1836

Description:

On The Gist, Hurricane Florence.

Ethan Hawke has stunned us with his earnest, moving performances on-screen, but he’s also a talent behind the camera. His new directorial feature Blaze explores the life and love of the largely forgotten musician Blaze Foley. He joins us to talk filmmaking, the difficulty of music, comic book movies, and why we should appreciate criticism from our elders. Blaze premieres nationwide on Sept. 21. 

In the Spiel, the allegations of Kavanaugh’s sexual assault.

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Democratic Socialists of America, for the Win?

Sep 15, 2018 1873

Description:

On The Gist, Vladimir Putin, RT, and the Salisbury poisoning.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have scary values to conservatives. But to the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, she’s a moderate. Maria Svart calls the DSA a “big tent organization,” meaning it makes room for everything from AOC’s Scandinavian-style social policies to the more radical workforce ownership of businesses. 

In the Spiel, the end of primary season.

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After Family Separations, a Settlement

Sep 14, 2018 1672

Description:

On The Gist, John Hockenberry’s piece in Harper’s.

Donald Trump is no stranger to settlements, and the latest of these come between his administration and hundreds of asylum-seekers. They were rejected after making their cases under the duress of being separated from their children … or their parents. “How are the kids supposed to say why they fear persecution? Try having that conversation with a 4-year-old,” says Margo Schlanger, who headed the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties under Obama. If approved by the court, the settlement would give the migrants a second chance to apply for asylum.
In the Spiel, impeachment.

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Billionaires Don’t Know Best

Sep 12, 2018 2006

Description:

On The Gist, Vladimir Putin’s “private citizen” excuse doesn’t hold water.

In the interview, philanthropic billionaires are better than villainous ones, but Anand Giridharadas argues they could do better. Instead of insisting on the superiority of private efforts, they ought to pay more taxes and leave some things to the government. Giridharadas’ book is Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.

In the Spiel, FiveThirtyEight currently says Republicans have a 1-in-6 chance of keeping the House. What else has that kind of odds?

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DeRay Mckesson Makes the Case for Hope

Sep 12, 2018 2112

Description:

On The Gist, Mike is thinking he’ll vote Andrew Cuomo—but he’s open to you changing his mind.

The 2014 shooting of Michael Brown upheaved many things in the U.S., including the career of DeRay Mckesson, who quit his job as an educator to become a full-time activist. Now he uses his podcast Pod Save the Peopleas a national platform to speak out against police violence and highlight news that flies under the radar. Mckesson’s new memoir is On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope.

In the Spiel, want to feel less anxious? Put the phone down.

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Stylometry for Dummies

Sep 11, 2018 1803

Description:

On The Gist, are we having a national crisis?

The New York Times’ publication of an anonymous op-ed has sparked rounds of speculation as to who’s behind it—and the deep-state trappings it describes. Some see the word “lodestar” as signature Mike Pence, but as Sadia Afroz explains, stylometry—the analysis of prose to uncover its author’s identity—is a little more complicated than looking at individual words. Afroz is a senior research scientist at the International Computer Science Institute.

In the Spiel, Serena Williams, sexism, and double standards.

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If You Want Power, Sell It

Sep 7, 2018 1802

Description:

On The Gist, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Lincoln Kennedy could all speak better than President Trump.

If you’re old enough to remember November 2016, you know that telling a good story—even an untrue one—wins elections. Author Yuval Noah Harari worries that populism has liberalism beat on this front, especially given an uncertain future looming with AI, biotechnology, and the possible obsolescence of the human worker. Harari’s new book is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

In the Spiel, a lawmaker’s voting record is the only thing we should judge them on.

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The DoD Payroll Just Got Smaller

Sep 6, 2018 1592

Description:

On The Gist, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

The Pentagon’s third-in-command is reportedly losing his job, and it’s hardly making news. As the Defense Department’s first-ever chief management officer, John Gibson is in charge of saving billions of dollars for reinvestment. He’s to be fired because of a reported “lack of performance,” but Defense News’ Aaron Mehta says the task was nearly impossible in the first place.

In the Spiel, who really wrote that New York Times op-ed?

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Hedging Your Bets With Lake Success

Sep 5, 2018 1605

Description:

On The Gist, Bob Woodward’s good intentions.

Wealth and road trips are two of America’s favorite obsessions. In his new novel, Lake Success, Gary Shteyngart explores these themes through the story of a hedge fund manager who, after a crisis, takes a trip across the country by bus. Shteyngart joins us today to discuss his research on Wall Street, the concept of privilege, and his trips on Greyhound busses.  

In the Spiel, Gwyneth Paltrow and jade eggs.

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Farming for Red Herring

Sep 4, 2018 1436

Description:

On The Gist, Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation is all but certain.

A recent Donald Trump tweet gave credence to a bogus (and dangerous) claim: that South Africa’s white farmers are the first targets in a looming genocide. Quartz reporter Lynsey Chutel has the actual statistics, as well as the political context—land reform—that pushed white nationalists into embracing victimhood in the first place.

In the Spiel, a roundup of the minor scandals that broke over Labor Day weekend.

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Bright Gays, Big City

Sep 1, 2018 1677

Description:

On The Gist, Democrats, Republicans, and the N-word.

Facebook now has television shows. While it might be surprising for viewers, for creators it’s an exciting new avenue to find an audience for shows not necessarily meant for the mainstream. Strangers is precisely one of those shows, about two queer women trying to make it in New York City. Creator Mia Lidofsky joins us to discuss her show, how wonderfully queer it is, and what it’s like making a show for Facebook. The new season of Strangers is all available to stream on Facebook Watch. 

In the Spiel, funerals. 

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The OG GOP

Aug 30, 2018 1701

Description:

On The Gist, there’s no use sugarcoating Starbucks’ Frappuccino.

And in the interview… unprecedented! Preposterous! Unimaginable! Trump’s presidency and the GOP’s machinations actually do have antecedents, says historian Heather Cox Richardson. They’re in the 1890s, when robber barons partnered with the Republican Party to pack the courts. Richardson is the author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party

In the Spiel, what do we make of the Catholic Church?

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Fake News Is Nothing New

Aug 30, 2018 1455

Description:

On The Gist, war games are back.

Hoaxes have fooled us at least since the era of P.T. Barnum, but they’re especially prevalent in our era of political disinformation. Kevin Young is the author of Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News and tells us about the racist roots of the hoax and how hoaxes often lead us to believe what we wanted to in the first place.

In the Spiel, Trump shouldn’t try to critique an algorithm.

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Gerrymandering and You

Aug 29, 2018 1625

Description:

On The Gist, Louis C.K. isn’t as despised as Twitter makes it seem, which is why an eventual comeback is likely.

In the interview, Maria Konnikova breaks down the science of fasting, and why it’s currently associated with cancer treatments. Can it really help reduce cancer growth? And is it a useful practice for healthy individuals? Konnikova is a New Yorker contributor and the author of The Confidence Game.

In the Spiel, gerrymandering is bad for democracy and great for the GOP.

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#AbolishICE … and Then What?

Aug 28, 2018 1644

Description:

On The Gist, the news media reveres John McCain because he failed with grace—and wasn’t too conservative.

Chances are you’ve heard #AbolishICE before. Journalist and activist Sean McElwee kick-started it and argues it’s not just the agency that needs to go down, but the criminalization of undocumented residence within American borders.

In the Spiel, stupid stuff comes in threes.

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Crazy Rich Asians Is Important

Aug 25, 2018 1292

Description:

On The Gist, guest host Stephanie Foo dives into Crazy Rich Asians, speaking with friend and fellow producer Kat Chow about Asian representation in media, the inspiration to create, and a hope that this film will lead to more Asian-centered media. 

Then she speaks with producer and former film professor B.A. Parker about seeing your own culture depicted on screen, and how exciting it is to see stories and jokes not meant for you. 

In the Spiel, Stephanie considers whether America has failed her, and why she is so proud of being an immigrant.

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Sweep the Left

Aug 23, 2018 1481

Description:

On The Gist, nobody move or the economy gets it, Trump says.

The guys behind the left’s most irreverent podcast (Chapo Trap House) want the Democratic Party to forget about Robert Mueller and set their sights on 2020. But in the short term? They’re rooting for a blue wave. Alongside Felix Biederman and Brendan James, Thursday’s guests Matt Christman, Will Menaker, and Virgil Texas are co-authors of The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts, and Reason.

In the Spiel, when you hear “everyone does it” down in Washington, you know something’s amiss.

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Don’t Touch The “I” Word

Aug 22, 2018 1531

Description:

On The Gist, guest host Alex Roarty thinks Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a way better message than simply “impeach Trump.”   

#NeverTrump Republicans are a vanishing breed. Crooked Media’s Tim Miller is one of them, and he tells Alex that the news media’s biases favor president Trump more than they weigh him down.

In the Spiel, history suggests Democrats will sweep the House in November. But don’t forget that we’re dealing with the poll-defying Donald Trump here. 

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Trolls and Trump's Lies

Aug 21, 2018 1293

Description:

On The Gist, guest host Max Kerman considers why politicians are getting duped by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Trump has lied so many times since he took office that it’s difficult for the normal person to focus on them. Luckily we’ve got Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star keeping track. Dale joins us to talk about what it’s like reporting on American politics as a Canadian, including the similarities of covering former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

In the Spiel, how to engage with trolls.

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What Happened to “America’s Mayor”?

Aug 20, 2018 1955

Description:

On The Gist, how will Rudy Giuliani go down in history, and in public memory?

The midterm elections are looming, and the big question is how far the Democrats will go. Are they really likely to retake the House of Representatives? And how would that affect Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020? Gist guest host Steve Kornacki talks to another political statistics wiz, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics, about why we should be wary of using probabilities to predict elections.

In the Spiel, a tale of clear state borders and unclear rules.  

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Listening to Inanimate Objects

Aug 17, 2018 2044

Description:

On The Gist, if Trump weren’t so repulsive, would we judge his murky dealings a little more kindly?

And we don’t much think about the inanimate objects in our lives, never considering the rich inner life of the lamppost, the can of Coke, or the humble pillow. But Ian Chillag knows they have stories to tell, and he gets them to speak out in his new podcast Everything Is Alive.

In the Spiel, Mike talks to the guest hosts who will rule The Gist all next week.

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Goodbye to the Queen of Soul

Aug 17, 2018 1786

Description:

On The Gist, the free press.

Aretha Franklin has died at 76, and she was much more than a golden voice. Slate’s Chris Molanphy recalls her talents at the piano and in the composition room, where she wrote timeless music and, with her covers, transformed songs from her own genre and beyond. (See “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Let It Be,” and, of course, “Respect.”) Molanphy is the host of the Slate podcast Hit Parade.

In the Spiel, the straw ban and balloons.

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The Heart of Reality Television

Aug 15, 2018 1493

Description:

On The Gist, autocracy isn’t always bad for an economy. But as Turkey shows, idiocy definitely is.

Reality television has a reputation for uninhibited narcissism, ruthless competition, and terrible business pitches. But when Jon Murray created The Real World in 1992, he worked to make something complex and innovative, not a circus of humanity’s basest instincts. And in A&E’s Born This Way, Murray follows the lives of individuals with Down syndrome in Los Angeles, sharing their laughter and tears, their beautiful community, and how they strive to be just like everyone else.

In the Spiel, Christine Hallquist makes history. Can she do it again in November?

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Democracy Needs a Reboot

Aug 15, 2018 1792

Description:

On The Gist, should news outlets halt election coverage on Election Day?

“Usually, if you look at American history, we’ve kind of taken a relook at our democracy every 50 years.” And now we’re overdue, according to Jason Kander, an Army veteran and Democratic candidate for mayor of Kansas City. The big things to shake up: how we draw district lines, run primaries, and finance electoral campaigns. Kander’s book is Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I've Learned in Everyday Courage.

In the Spiel, the president and nondisclosure agreements.

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Trump’s Pyrite Touch

Aug 14, 2018 1611

Description:

On The Gist, Trump is a racist? That’s not much of a scoop, Omarosa.

There were plenty of Republicans standing against Donald Trump—before he won the White House. After the 2016 election, many of them traded in their values for a seat on the bandwagon. Rick Wilson isn’t among them, and he explains why in his new book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.

In the Spiel, America’s worst kind of racism lies between microaggression and all-out white supremacy.

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Gist Presents: Slow Burn

Aug 11, 2018 2770

Description:

Mike Pesca talks with Leon Neyfakh, host of the Slate podcast Slow Burn, about season two of the hit show. Subscribe to Slow Burn here

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Venturing Into Obscurity

Aug 10, 2018 1543

Description:

On The Gist, “the so-called chairman of the Intelligence Committee,” Devin Nunes.

Superheroes and comic books may seem ripe for parody nowadays with the constant onslaught of nerd media, but The Venture Bros. has been doing it for years. Part Jonny Quest parody, part exercise in the esoteric, this show really leans into its own quirks. Jackson Publick, one of the show’s creators, helps us understand the wonderful absurdity of The Venture Bros., with its seventh season currently airing on Adult Swim. 

In the Spiel, Omarosa.

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On Bended Knee

Aug 10, 2018 1671

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s lack of income disclosures.

Colin Kaepernick took a stand in 2016 by taking a knee during the national anthem at a football game, sparking a debate about racial injustice that continues to roil. But he’s just the latest in a long line of black activist athletes that have used their status to raise awareness and protest. Howard Bryant uncovers the history of these athletes in his book The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.

In the Spiel, the “unfreakingbelievable” New York Times.

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Regulate Me

Aug 9, 2018 1560

Description:

On The Gist, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani.

The financial crisis of 2008 wasn’t just an American phenomenon. It was felt all across the globe, with other Western countries suffering the same pain, but enough hasn’t been done about our banks to ensure long-term stability. Will we ever be able to recover fully without a complete overhaul of the current system? Adam Tooze explores this in his new book, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

In the Spiel, Ohio’s special election. 

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The Egyptian Seesaw

Aug 8, 2018 1981

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s lies and steel mills.

The Arab Spring caused a major shift in Egypt in 2011, and the politics only got murkier during the military coup in 2013. But are autocrats really the best allies for the United States, or just for our current president? David Kirkpatrick explores what happened to Egypt during the Arab Spring and the military coup in his new book, Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East

In the Spiel, who Trump calls stupid.

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The Smart Drug

Aug 7, 2018 1585

Description:

On The Gist, Turkey and Trump.

We’ve got another round of Is That Bullshit? Drugs treating cognitive malfunctions like narcolepsy, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, are useful for people with those conditions—but what about the rest of us? Can ADHD medication make us smarter? Can narcolepsy drugs really keep us awake longer? Resident debunker Maria Konnikova explains.

In the Spiel, Jay Sekulow and lawyers on television.

Go to ziprecruiter.com/GIST and find the right hire today.

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Where Is Space?

Aug 3, 2018 1812

Description:

On The Gist, guest host Jeffrey Lewis fills in for Mike and talks about trying to solve big problems.

Regulating space is tough because it surrounds the whole world, and people can’t even agree where the Earth’s atmosphere stops and space begins. Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, thinks he has the definitive answer to where that line is. McDowell recently published “The Edge of Space: Revisiting the Karman Line” in Acta Astronautica.

In the Spiel, North Korea and nuclear weapons.

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My Life as a Sitcom

Aug 2, 2018 1788

Description:

On The Gist, QAnon and sound design.

Comedian Guy Branum is a hilarious intellect with an intimidating amount of pop culture knowledge. In his new book, My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture, Branum explores things like his love of civics, his Northern California childhood, and his experiences writing jokes for other people.

In the Spiel, we’ve got another Lobstar of the Antentwig.

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Quarter for Carter

Aug 2, 2018 1838

Description:

On The Gist, who makes the CNN Sucks onesie?

Jimmy Carter’s reputation is that of an ineffective president. But his chief domestic policy adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, argues that Carter fought for America’s energy independence, doubled the size of the national park system, and appointed “more minorities and women to judgeships and senior positions than all 38 presidents before him put together.” Eizenstat’s book is President Carter: The White House Years.
In the Spiel, the local radio scandal of Joe Benigno.

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Courting Politics

Jul 31, 2018 1633

Description:

On The Gist, let’s face it: A.I. and robots are going to take jobs from us humans.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has restarted the debate on how we vet candidates and whether the Supreme Court is too easy to game. Lori Ringhand, a professor of law at the University of Georgia and an expert on the Supreme Court, explains how much the court has actually changed, or not, in our lifetime.

In the Spiel, three theories on how this whole Mueller investigation thing is going to end.

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They’re More Bad Than We Are Good

Jul 31, 2018 2197

Description:

On The Gist, sorry, not every product gets to be a lifestyle brand.

A few decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for voters to support the presidential candidate from one party and the senator from another. “Ticket-splitting” is pretty rare now, and as Alan Abramowitz argues, just one of the many signs of an America divided. Abramowitz’s book is The Great Alignment Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump.

In the Spiel, there may well be discrimination in college admissions offices. But let’s face it: Top-notch schooling is available way beyond the Ivy League.

Go to simplisafe.com/GIST and start protecting your home today.

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The Pushback Artist

Jul 28, 2018 2547

Description:

On The Gist, do we really have to give up plastic straws?

Then, and more seriously: a look back on a recent episode.

On Wednesday, The Gist ran an interview with Allison Yarrow about 90s Bitch, her book about sexism in the age of 24-7 news coverage. And in the Spiel, Mike offered a rebuttal of sorts with statistics on the plight of women in the ’80s versus the ’90s. It improved, didn’t it? A shrinking gender wage gap! Less domestic violence! Greater representation in the Senate! But some listeners said that wasn’t the point, and took issue with the episode. Christina Cauterucci, June Thomas, and Veralyn Williams of the Waves (Slate’s podcast on gender and feminism) join Mike to discuss the episode, the reactions, and the lessons learned.

This episode of The Gist is brought to you by Masterclass. For a great way to learn about interesting topics taught by masters in their fields like Malcom Gladwell on interviews or Ron Howard on collaboration, visit masterclass.com/gist for a 7 day free trail. 

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The Real Deep State

Jul 27, 2018 1568

Description:

On The Gist, the glee of seeing Facebook stock take a dive.

Imran Khan is poised to lead Pakistan as its next prime minister. The former cricket star campaigned on a promise of transparency, but his focus “is only on anti-corruption when it comes to finding ways to bring down political opponents,” says Alyssa Ayres, formerly of Obama’s State Department for South Asia. Ayres is the author of Our Time Has Come: How India Is Making Its Place in the World
In the Spiel, how autocrats are starting to use the excuse of fake news.

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Lights, Camera, Sexism

Jul 26, 2018 2032

Description:

On The Gist, let’s imagine what’s in that “enhanced” Michael Cohen tape.

Born in the 1990s, the 24-hour news cycle was especially unkind to women. The media of the age consistently bashed women’s sexuality, ambition, and presentation of women such as Monica Lewinsky and Nancy Kerrigan (case in point: a Washington Post article that asked, “Is Nancy a bitch?”). Journalist Allison Yarrow explores this double-standard and its repercussions in her new book, 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality.

In the Spiel, that was an interesting interview, right? To go with it, Mike pulls statistics on the plight of American women in the ’90s compared with the ’80s.

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The BS! It’s Everywhere!

Jul 25, 2018 1795

Description:

On The Gist, President Trump’s high approval ratings aren’t as significant as they seem.

America is a playground for the rich, and that’s in good part because of the expansion of lobbying that started in the 1970s. Steven Brill lays out the many ways in which power begets power in Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall—and Those Fighting to Reverse It.

In the Spiel, keeping track of Trump’s bullshit claims is truly God’s work.

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When Death Row Stalls

Jul 23, 2018 1554

Description:

On The Gist, we’re proposing a 2018 Housing and Urban Development festival in Sonoma, California.

Convicted killer Scott Dozier was scheduled to become Nevada’s first executed inmate since 2006, until the procedure was canceled with just hours to go. That wasn’t a victory for Dozier, who has dropped his appeals and spoken out to the media—including Vice’s Gianna Toboni—about his willingness to die.    
In the Spiel, how our president reaches out to foreign leaders.

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Bobcat Revival

Jul 20, 2018 1368

Description:

On The Gist, ideals are better when kept as general as possible because the more specific the get, the more exclusive they become.

Bobcat Goldthwait made a name for himself with an oddball stand-up act complete with shrieks, grunts, and experimental jokes. But some 10 years after burying that character, his latest work is as a writer and director. His TruTV anthology series, Misfits & Monsters, mashes up television tropes within the genres of horror and comedy. 

In the Spiel, Zoe Chace explains why we should stop hoping for Republican senators to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment.

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Democracy Dies in Dark Money

Jul 19, 2018 1694

Description:

On The Gist, about those outlandish celebrity baby names.

When the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made unlimited campaign contributions legal, one state put up a fight. In Dark Money, documentary filmmaker Kim Reed and journalist John Adams exposed the influence of anonymous campaign contributions on Montana’s state government even before the Supreme Court rubber-stamped the problem.

In the Spiel, would the high road be so easy to take if Papa John’s pizza were delicious?

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A Piece of Pai

Jul 19, 2018 1875

Description:

On The Gist, Girl Scouts are earning cybersecurity merit badges.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is trying to acquire Tribune Media so it can extend its television reach, but Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is throwing up roadblocks, which is odd because Sinclair is so pro-Trump. NPR’s David Folkenflik joins us to explain exactly what’s going on and why Pai is hindering the company he previously seemed to help.

In the Spiel, Vladimir Putin’s denials that he has Donald Trump in his pocket.

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The Schoolyard President

Jul 18, 2018 1617

Description:

On The Gist, the crocodile massacre in Indonesia that got no attention.

Work-life balance gets a lot of lip service, but we rarely pull it off. Brigid Schulte, host of the Better Life Lab podcast, is looking for solutions in a world of late-night work emails, shaky job security, and Workaholics Anonymous meetings. Better Life Lab is a partnership of Slate and New America.

In the Spiel, president Trump’s mea culpa was delivered with all the skill of a fourth-grader.

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Are You Being Servered?

Jul 16, 2018 1604

Description:

On The Gist, Trump’s press conference with Putin and the red herrings involved.

Silicon Valley is steeped in self-made mythology, with stories about giants like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Marissa Mayer. But how did Silicon Valley really come into being? Adam Fisher, whose new book is Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley, joins us to discuss where it all started—and the valley’s potential future.

In the Spiel, how journalists should respond to criticisms of the media and how they should hold talk show guests accountable.  

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Pardon the Arson

Jul 13, 2018 1757

Description:

On The Gist, it turns out your ethnicity is really easy to guess.

AnneMarie Sgarlata got rid of her TV months ago, but she still heard about President Trump’s pardon of Dwight and Steven Hammond this week—and she wasn’t happy. Sgarlata was among the lawyers who originally prosecuted the Hammonds for burning federal land and putting the lives of firefighters, hunters, and a teenage boy at risk.

In the Spiel, what America’s political parties can learn from cereal brand mascots.

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A Cancer on the Court

Jul 13, 2018 1819

Description:

On The Gist, the biases of Peter Strzok and the need to connect accusations with actual evidence.

President Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, benefited from anonymous donations worth millions. To Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, this “dark money” has created a frightening loop: Deemed lawful by the Supreme Court in 2010, it gives special interests a lock not just on elected officials, but on the courts themselves.
In the Spiel, Trump might not know the difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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Gridiron Man

Jul 11, 2018 1965

Description:

On The Gist, “Brett” has got to be the lamest name among Supreme Court justices (or nominees).

“If Jim Brown’s the past, Michael Bennett’s the future.” So says sports writer Dave Zirin, who recently published both a biography of Brown and co-authored Bennett’s memoir. Why the contrast between these two football players? Michael Bennett is a deliberate progressive, while Jim Brown’s work to save young men from gang life is marred by a history of domestic abuse. Zirin’s books are Jim Brown: Last Man Standing and Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.

In the Spiel, Rep. Jim Jordan picked the wrong hill to die on.

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Don't Forget About Sex

Jul 11, 2018 1913

Description:

On The Gist, Trump isn’t strategic or defiant, he’s just rapacious.

When discussing #MeToo, the focus is often on the power that men exerted when sexually harassing women, but are their sexual motivations getting left out of the conversation? Emily Yoffe wrote about this in her new piece “Understanding Harvey,” for the Highline, and joins us to discuss.

In the Spiel, Hollywood has taught us that cars explode, but in reality they hardly ever do. Shouldn’t movies teach us more practical lessons about how to handle crises? 

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The Hole Picture

Jul 10, 2018 1656

Description:

On The Gist, comparing Trump’s antics to a reality show is no longer a scarlet letter.

Yes, there are storytelling competitions, and Matthew Dicks wins a lot of them. His secret? Keep it visual, and forget about the tangents. Dicks’ new book is Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling.

In the Spiel, “people trapped in holes” is a tale as old as time.

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Just Use My Data, People

Jul 7, 2018 1603

Description:

On The Gist, the shamelessness of the Wall Street Journal editorial board on Scott Pruitt leaving the Environmental Protection Agency.

Advertisements are a pain, interrupting our television programs and distracting us while we play games on our phones. They’re a necessity though, funding all the entertainment we consume. Ken Auletta joins us to discuss the current state of advertising and its uncertain, data-driven future. Auletta’s new book is Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)

In the Spiel, can we please just have targeted ads already?

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How Quickly We Forget

Jul 6, 2018 1772

Description:

On The Gist, Scott Pruitt is out as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency because it turns out someone really can be too corrupt for Trump.

Let us next turn to the Supreme Court—not in America, but Poland, where the rightwing government is forcing nearly 40 percent of judges into retirement. Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer says the country’s latest swerve toward authoritarianism proves that democracy can erode just about anywhere.

In the Spiel, Michael Moore claims to know where the Democratic Party has gone wrong and what it needs to do to change direction, but how reliable is he?

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Song, Dance, and Confirmation

Jul 3, 2018 1687

Description:

On The Gist, let’s watch the latest viral video from the conservative right.

A certain group of Sherlock fans were convinced that John Watson and Sherlock would fall in love. When they didn’t, those fans turned on the showrunners. But what responsibility do creators have to their fans? Should they take suggestions? Slate TV critic Willa Paskin dove into the question—and the Sherlock fanbase—on the second episode of Decoder Ring.
In the Spiel, the Supreme Court confirmation process is broken.

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Shameless Mitch

Jul 3, 2018 1624

Description:

On The Gist, Mitch McConnell’s values have changed—again!

Lounging around in the heat of a sauna might feel nice, but is it good for you, too? Maria Konnikova has gone through the studies (most of them from Finland, where you can’t throw a hot rock without hitting a sauna) and is here to boil them down for us. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game.

In the Spiel, let’s not get carried away. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got fewer votes than some school district board members. 

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In 12,000 Words

Jun 30, 2018 2077

Description:

On The Gist, President Trump’s demonization of journalists is awful, but it’s not the first thing to blame for the Capital Gazette shooting.

The Atlantic recently ran a lengthy article about kids who consider the process of gender transition. Many critics took issue with the author’s approach, accusing him of bias and an obsession with trans children. But were his efforts really in bad faith? Alex Barasch wrote a response to the piece for Slate and joins us to add to the debate.
In the Spiel, FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok were sloppy, but their take on Trump was right on the money.

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Does Authenticity Matter?

Jun 29, 2018 1489

Description:

On The Gist, the return of In Search Of hosted by Zachary Quinto, which used to be hosted by Leonard Nimoy, made us notice all the times actors have filled the shoes of others through multiple different reboots.

The FIFA World Cup is great, but only the ConIFA World Football Cup has competitors from Székely Land, Abkhazia, and the County of Nice. Slate’s Josh Keating wrote the book on Invisible Countries, those tiny nation-states with little recognition but great stories to tell. 

In the Spiel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joe Crowley in the recent Democratic primary race for Congress. Many commentators have called her authentic, but does that word have any actual meaning?

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The Self-Sufficiency Court

Jun 28, 2018 1739

Description:

On The Gist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory was thanks to low voter turnout. She still deserves it!

Lawfare’s executive editor Susan Hennessey says Trump’s SCOTUS-approved travel ban is more dangerous in how it changes norms than how it changes facts on the ground. Also: Reality Winner’s guilty plea is a no-brainer.

In the Spiel, Justice Kennedy’s upcoming retirement is the perfect occasion to talk about … Justice Clarence Thomas.  

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The Unpopular Vote and a Few Justices

Jun 27, 2018 1634

Description:

On The Gist, what a Trump tweet can teach us about wine.

The latest school shootings have galvanized an already politically minded generation. Harvard’s John Della Volpe studies the voting habits of millennials, and how they could swing election results in 2018 and beyond.
In the Spiel, the Supreme Court’s support for Trump’s travel ban is what happens when our checks and balances fail.

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The New Rules of Civility

Jun 26, 2018 1769

Description:

On The Gist, why is the Democratic National Committee being held responsible for Hollywood and the media?

Calvin Buari dealt crack in the Bronx, but that doesn’t make him a killer. Buari was convicted of a double murder in 1995 and started a campaign to prove his innocence from behind bars. A big part of that was making phone calls to journalist Steve Fishman, who turned his years of reporting into the binge-worthy Panoply podcast Empire on Blood, and joined us on the Gist.

In the Spiel, Mike tackles the decline of civility, whether democrats should jeer at Trump’s staff in public, or if we’ve just found a new stasis.

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Who Needs Subtext, Anway

Jun 22, 2018 1880

Description:

On The Gist, Rep. Jim Jordan’s underwhelming attention to detail. 

Franchesca Ramsey burst onto the YouTube scene with her viral video, “Shit White Girls Say… to Black Girls.” Ramsey’s latest video project, MTV News’ Decoded, is similar: fun, earnest, and educational. Ramsey’s book is Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist

In the Spiel, about Melania’s jacket. 

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A Song You Can Graduate To

Jun 21, 2018 1711

Description:

On The Gist, those beacons of honesty—retiring Republican members of the Congress.
Cremation has the carbon footprint of a 1,000-mile road trip, your average bee has nearly 1 million brain cells, and only 3 to 4 percent of gossip is actually “malicious.” Those are all statistics relayed in Walt Hickey’s Numlock News, the daily newsletter he started after four years at FiveThirtyEight. 
In the Spiel, graduation songs over the years. 

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Quitters Can’t Be Leaders

Jun 20, 2018 1374

Description:

On The Gist, how President Trump made not breaking up families look like his idea.

Why are the U.S.’s political parties weak? Is the “job guarantee” policy smart? Do voters perceive the economy accurately? Dan Pfeiffer has all the answers. He’s a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and part of the Pod Save America posse. Pfeiffer’s new book is Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump.

In the Spiel, the United States shouldn’t be leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council. It should work to make it better.

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Polarization Nation

Jun 19, 2018 1949

Description:

On The Gist, the inaugural edition of “whoah there, girl!”

Political parties are like people: They grow and change, their values shift, and sometimes they become downright belligerent. Lilliana Mason says America’s two political parties are in the middle of a shift, and it won’t be over anytime soon: “What happened to conservative southern Democrats after the Civil Rights Act passed? They didn’t like it. … It took an entire generation for conservative Southern Democrats to become Republicans.” Mason is the author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity.

In the Spiel, “angel moms” deserve sympathy, but they’re being used. 

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Oh, Stephen

Jun 19, 2018 1532

Description:

On The Gist, if we can’t pronounce Peter Strzok’s name right, how will we remember his newfound infamy?

If you consider yourself progressive, chances are Trump’s presidency feels like a nightmare. But Politico’s Michael Grunwald returns to the Gist with the argument that Obama’s legacy is mostly intact—at least on the domestic front. Grunwald’s latest book is The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era.

In the Spiel, lookism be damned, it’s time to make fun of Stephen Miller.

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The Heisenberg Presidency

Jun 15, 2018 1790

Description:

On The Gist, why he lies: a new theory.
“I’ve hit rock bottom. I’m writing for a cartoon.” Such were the thoughts of Mike Reiss when he joined the writers’ room for The Simpsons in 1989. Thirty years later, he’s worked on all but two seasons of the show, and says it’s had one real impact: making television smarter and faster. Reiss’ book, co-written with Mathew Klickstein, is Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies From a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons.  
In the Spiel, stop us if you’ve heard this one before: President Donald Trump creates a problem, sometimes makes the problem a little less bad, and then takes a load of credit. 

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When Border Policy Crosses the Line

Jun 15, 2018 1811

Description:

On The Gist, McClatchy White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez explains the ramifications of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute migrants who cross the border illegally. One early consequence: The U.S. government needs more places to detain children separated from their parents. 
In the Spiel, the nasty things celebrities say—and their supposedly enormous power to get people to vote stupidly.

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Cup of Corruption

Jun 13, 2018 1723

Description:

On The Gist, some fun facts about U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart.
In 2010, a certain Christopher Steele was hired to look into Russia’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018. What he found ultimately led to a U.S. investigation into FIFA’s thoroughgoing sleaziness. There are, around the world, multiple criminal probes around FIFA, and BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger says “more shoes will fall.” Bensinger is the author of Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World's Biggest Sports Scandal.
In the Spiel, Macedonians, Greeks, and irredentism. 

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Summit Skeptical

Jun 12, 2018 2131

Description:

On The Gist, a brief review of President Trump’s roster of losers (and winners).
Clint Watts is a man of many strengths. He’s a former FBI agent and a cybersecurity expert. He can break down information warfare to bleary-eyed U.S. senators. He’s been known to track al-Shabaab adherents on Twitter. Watts returns to The Gist to explain how the U.S. government underestimated Russia, and how he himself fell for fake news when trying to protect his daughter. Watts’ new book is Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.
In the Spiel, the folly of Donald Trump’s new friendship with Kim Jong-un.

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G-7 Hangover

Jun 12, 2018 1706

Description:

On The Gist, if the Trump-Kim summit goes as poorly as the president’s business ventures, we’re doomed.

Maria Konnikova is here to smoke out false claims about cannabidiol, or the CBD oil extracted from cannabis. Can it help with insomnia, depression, and epilepsy? We find out in the latest round of “Is That Bulls—t?” Konnikova is a New Yorker contributor and author of The Confidence Game.

In the Spiel, the White House’s handling of the G-7 fallout was clueless, thin-skinned, and petty. In other words: peak Trumpism.  

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Comedians Can Be Well-Adjusted, Too

Jun 8, 2018 1855

Description:

On The Gist, president Trump raised the bar on what’s considered a gaffe, and EPA head Scott Pruitt is taking advantage of that.

Very few comedians have never been to therapy. Jerry Seinfeld is one. Tom Papa is another. Papa tells us about cracking jokes at Minnesota Public Radio’s Live From Here and his new book, Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas.

In the Spiel, ’tis time for a Lobstar of the Antentwig (right after a response to some sexist tweets).

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#MeToo and McYoga

Jun 8, 2018 1903

Description:

On The Gist, comparing Bill Clinton to basketball great Michael Jordan.

Bikram Choudhury’s status as a star yoga guru gave him license to be odd (spiritual but with a soft spot for luxury cars, and always wearing a Speedo). But there was more to it than quirkiness, as sexual assault allegations beginning in 2013 basically expelled Choudhury from the United States. ESPN’s Julia Henderson practiced Bikram Yoga, before capturing the rise and fall of its founder in a five-part podcast: Bikram.

In the Spiel, punning on some of the weirder names in the news these days.

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James Clapper: Yeah, Russia Swung the Election

Jun 6, 2018 1618

Description:

On The Gist, IHOP is changing its name to IHOb. And Mike is here to make fun of that.

James Clapper was a senior intelligence adviser for both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was also part of the team that informed President-elect Donald Trump of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now, as a private citizen, Clapper says he believes Russia actually swung the vote. “That’s why you write books,” says Clapper. “Because you can express your opinions freely. And I did.” His latest is Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.

In the Spiel, our expectations of a first lady are sexist and constricting. Cut Melania Trump some slack for not fitting into them.

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So You Think You Know About Race

Jun 6, 2018 1652

Description:

On The Gist, at this point, whatever the Trump administration doesn’t say under oath is very possibly untrue.

In 1963, Robert F. Kennedy met with black America’s greatest artists and intellectuals to talk about race. “And they lit his ass up,” according to our guest, making known just how much needed to be done to address racial inequality. Michael Eric Dyson wrote a book about the encounter and its relevance to race issues today. Dyson’s book is What Truth Sounds Like.

In the Spiel, Miss America is scrapping its swimsuit competition, instantly making the United States perfectly meritocratic. Wait, not really.

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Shots Fired, but Not Really

Jun 5, 2018 1878

Description:

On The Gist, no matter how well the economy goes, pundits can always tell a scary story.

What do we get wrong about Darwinism? Evolutionary ornithologist Richard O. Prum says the theory was distorted by Victorian prudes. He explains why a closer look at bird sex shows us what’s really going on with adaptation and natural selection. Prum’s book is The Evolution of Beauty.

In the Spiel, yes, “unindictable” would mean the president could commit any crime he wants, even the colorful ones. But let’s not get carried away.

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It's Not Just You

Jun 1, 2018 1683

Description:

On The Gist, an appreciation of the man who invented Pong.
Barbara Lipska’s career as a neuroscientist did not prepare her to identify the dark effects of her own brain tumors diagnosed in 2015.  There’s studying a damaged brain, and then there’s having one. Lipska is the author of The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery.
In the Spiel, let’s hear it for the ancillary news.

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Folks, We’re Talking About the C-Word

Jun 1, 2018 1704

Description:

On The Gist, Samantha Bee said it first, so let us meditate on the C-word.

In defense of Googling your own name: Kirsten Pflomm is a white woman from Connecticut who did an online search 15 years ago and discovered she was the descendant of Iceland’s famous first black citizen, Hans Jonathan, who escaped slavery and became a war hero.
In the Spiel, the Nobel Peace Prize? All President Trump wants are apologies and thank-you’s.

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Our Trade Snore With China

May 30, 2018 1614

Description:

On The Gist, have you heard the one about the journalist who faked his own death to dodge Russian assassins?
It’s boom times for female buddy comedies. Mike talks to director Alex Richanbach and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn about their new Netflix comedy, Ibiza. Who said men have to star in all the movies about hedonistic sprees?
In the Spiel, does anyone believe we have a coherent trade policy right now?

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Chris Gethard Can't Fake It

May 29, 2018 1999

Description:

On Tuesday’s Gist, Roseanne gets run out on a rail.
Comedian Chris Gethard reflects on how things have changed for his madcap live show, starting from its days on a public access channel to its current home on TruTV. “It’s more a TV show than it’s ever been, the larger platforms that we get to,” says Gethard. “But … it’s me, it’s really me and I’m letting my guard down.” The season finale of The Chris Gethard Show airs Tuesday on TruTV. 
In the Spiel, the mysterious name of a famous Russian painting. 

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Ratatouille Got It Wrong

May 26, 2018 1826

Description:

On The Gist, we here at Slate take GDPR compliance very seriously … just not in this monologue.

Before SNL, David Wain says, the countercultural comedy torch belonged to National Lampoon. The laugh magazine was created by Harvard graduates and became a creative laboratory for movies like Animal House and Caddyshack. Chief among them was Doug Kenney, the subject of Netflix biopic A Futile and Stupid Gesture, which Wain directs.

In the Spiel, the nostalgia we feel around meals and dishes is overrated. It’s not about the food; it’s about the feels.

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Deal With Fake News Yourself, Facebook

May 24, 2018 1858

Description:

On Thursday’s Gist, tips for avoiding fake news? Thanks but no thanks, Facebook.

There’s a new documentary out about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, and it got us thinking about the flaws in the public’s perception of that saga. Reporter Derek John explains how the dominant narrative of the case was warped by an amateur crime blogger and a protective football team, despite the efforts of local prosecutors. John and Anders Kelto reported the story for Gamebreaker[NP1], a podcast by Audible.

In the Spiel, the NFL’s fans are way more liberal than its team owners. So how’s the kneeling ban supposed to restore its ratings dip?

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Thanks for Protesting … Now Stop

May 23, 2018 1832

Description:

On The Gist, the NFL can’t give a decent explanation for its kneeling ban.

Philip Roth’s novels about Jewish life earned him every accolade short of, famously, the Nobel Prize. Mark Oppenheimer, the host of the podcast on all things Jewish (Unorthodox), argues that Roth’s “radical candor” was sharply original before becoming a model to imitate. 

In the Spiel, there are a lot of “peripheral rogues” in Trump’s orbit (how about those “taxi king” headlines?), but their public reckonings don’t necessarily spell trouble for the president himself.

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Girls Rule, and Boys Think They Rule More

May 23, 2018 1898

Description:

On today’s Gist, whatever happens in the governor’s primary in Georgia Tuesday night, it will be a big step forward for women named Stacey.

Neuroscientist and education researcher Sara Brownell explains what she found studying how gender affects students’ perceptions of their own intelligence. Brownell is an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

In the Spiel, consider the “no shit” factor in Trumpian news cycles these days. 

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Two-Party Problems

May 22, 2018 1590

Description:

On The Gist, Hawaii’s “laze” is some seriously bad branding.

In the interview, our two-party system may seem inevitable, but political scientist Sam Rosenfeld digs into its engineered history, including the 1950 government report that pushed the country “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System.” Before then, what you thought about health care, guns, or abortion had little to do with where your vote went. Rosenfeld is the author of The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era.

In the Spiel, the latest school shooter didn’t raise any red flags or wield an AR-15. But gun control is still what we need. 

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Breaking Up Comedy's Boys Club

May 18, 2018 2770

Description:

On The Gist, our attempt to track the new scoops that affected the Mueller investigation.
We’re not playing “Is That Bulls--t” on the show today, but if we were, comedy writer Nell Scovell would probably say, “Yes.” Yes, the dearth of women in late-night writers’ rooms is bulls--t. Yes, men’s explanations are bulls--t. And, yes, sometimes women themselves willingly succumb to the bulls--t because, as Scovell says, “Look, this s--t is deep.” Her new book is Just the Funny Parts
In the Spiel, denigrating the top 80 books sold on Amazon.  

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Becky Hammon's Next Big Shot

May 18, 2018 1812

Description:

On today’s Gist, the Alex, Inc. drinking game you can play with the whole family.
Becky Hammon is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and is a leading candidate to become the first female head coach in the NBA. Hammon got passed over this week by the Milwaukee Bucks, but Ringer staff writer Shea Serrano and New Yorker contributor Louisa Thomas talk about why Hammon is still expected to break the NBA’s glass ceiling.
In the Spiel, today’s off-the-cuff remarks from the president. 

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Disconnecting the Dots in Israel

May 17, 2018 2058

Description:

On today’s Gist: laurel or yanny?
We have questions about the protests in Israel. Daniel Shapiro is here to answer them. Shapiro was the U.S. ambassador to Israel for most of the Obama administration. He is now a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies
In the Spiel, an irksome aspect to the coverage of the deaths in Gaza. 

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Introducing Upon Further Review

May 15, 2018 1723

Description:

On today’s Gist, we’re tearing up the playbook. We’re playing the first episode of our new limited-run podcast, Upon Further Review, based on the book of the same name. In this episode, Slow Burn host Leon Neyfakh imagines how American history might have been different if Richard Nixon had been any good at playing football. For more fascinating sports what ifs, subscribe to Upon Further Review now.

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Does Your Face Need a Workout?

May 14, 2018 1933

Description:

On today’s Gist, is Sen. John McCain really the greatest political leader of all time?
Have you heard of face gyms? Beauty gurus are rushing to recommend exercises for the forehead, chin, and cheeks to look younger and healthier. Our expert bullshitologist Maria Konnikova is here to scrutinize the case for facial toning. Konnikova is a contributor to the New Yorker and the author of The Confidence Game
In the Spiel, Salena Zito’s populist divining rod.

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Why Putin Matters

May 12, 2018 2065

Description:

On The Gist, the mainstream media is too buttoned-up when describing the Trump administration’s shenanigans.

There is no Russian Federation as we know it without Vladimir Putin. Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul explains how parts of Russian society are eager for new leadership despite that. As for its relations with the U.S., McFaul sees continuity in how the Obama and Trump administrations (though perhaps not Trump himself) put pressure on Russia. McFaul’s new book is From Cold War to Hot Peace.

In the Spiel, email newsletters are where you’ll find the best and worst headlines. Plus, it’s time to award a Lobstar of the antentwig!

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The Long, Long Road of Tiger Woods

May 10, 2018 1703

Description:

On The Gist, torture is torture, and the news media should call it that.

Tiger Woods dominated his sport like perhaps no other athlete. But that success came at a price. Woods’ almost military upbringing as a golfing machine lead to a lack of interpersonal connections and, years later, numerous scandals in the public eye. Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian are out with the eponymous biography Tiger Woods, and talk about the golfer's struggles, successes, and chances at redemption.

In the Spiel, more thoughts on the awful practice that is torture.

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Some Interrogation

May 9, 2018 1864

Description:

On today’s Gist, Michael Cohen has weaved a tangled web, but the mere fact that it’s confusing doesn’t mean we can assume he’s a criminal.

Tim Weiner wrote the definitive book on the CIA in 2008 with his Legacy of Ashes. Today, he helps decipher the Senate confirmation testimony of Gina Haspel, President Trump’s pick to be the next CIA director. Why is the CIA rooting for Haspel? How did she dodge questions about the agency’s torture program? Would the hearing have gone differently if Sen. John McCain had been present?

In the Spiel, why Gina Haspel should not be confirmed.  

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Donald and the Don

May 9, 2018 2173

Description:

On Tuesday’s Gist, the undoing of the Iran deal.
Democrats are tense. 2018 is supposed to be a banner year for the left, but the party is struggling to balance an energized base and an unpredictable general electorate. As a result, there have been a lot of bigfoot sightings in primaries across the country, as Democratic Party honchos step in to pick preferred candidates. Who’s wiser, the party or the voters? Alex Roarty, who covers the Democrats for McClatchy newspapers, says it’s not so simple.
In the Spiel, the gall of Don Blankenship.

After the Spiel, keep listening for a trailer of Slate’s upcoming podcast, Upon Further Review. It’s based on Mike Pesca’s book, Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History.

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Jake Tapper's Very Particular Kind of Escapism

May 8, 2018 2063

Description:

On today’s Gist, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t want Gina Haspel to run the CIA.
Jake Tapper’s latest book is The Hellfire Club. It’s a work of historical fiction; a political thriller set in the 1950s, when Washington was gripped by McCarthyism. Tapper says he saw echoes of President Donald Trump as he read about Sen. Joe McCarthy’s attacks on his political enemies. “The people who survived the ’50s with their reputations intact were the ones who stood up to McCarthy,” said Tapper. “Either decency and truth are important to you, or they’re not.” Tapper is the host of CNN’s The Lead and State of the Union
In the Spiel, the armed and fabulous women of the NRA.







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The Dangerous Hits of 1991

May 4, 2018 1961

Description:

On The Gist, a movie pitch: Kushner family racket.
Returning champion Chris Molanphy takes us back to 1991 and its chart toppers: Mariah Carey's explosive debut, the Swedish group that topped the charts for a fourth time (it wasn't ABBA!), and the Michael Jackson and Madonna music videos that had censors flustered. Molanphy is the host of Slate’s Hit Parade.
In the Spiel, the best movie lines of all time. 

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Call of Rudy 2

May 4, 2018 1557

Description:

On today’s Gist, what’s this about a Tony Award–winning dry cleaner?
Presidential inexperience does not always lead to failed presidencies. Some traits can temper inexperience—like the depressive realism of Abraham Lincoln or Lyndon B. Johnson. Other traits magnify inexperience—like narcissism. Gautam Mukunda takes a close look at presidential inexperience in his 2012 book, Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter
In the Spiel, Rudy Giuliani had a strategy. 

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Gen. Michael Hayden

May 3, 2018 1959

Description:

On today’s Gist, a fond farewell to Ty Cobb.
Gen. Michael Hayden was running the National Security Agency and then the CIA, he couldn’t talk about our national security risks. If he could have, most people would have listened to him. But things are different now. Hayden talks about the decline of fact-based arguments, the Iran nuclear deal, and the future of privacy. His latest book is The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies
In the Spiel, Kanye West knows he has flaws. He just can’t learn from them.  





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How We Screwed Over Puerto Rico

May 2, 2018 1898

Description:

On today’s Gist, thick-as-bricks Lego thieves come a-tumbling down.
Hurricane recovery has been a disaster in Puerto Rico. NPR’s Laura Sullivan wanted to know why. So she found documents revealing a FEMA in shambles. She traced Puerto Rico’s economic troubles back to a 1996 tax vote. And she explains how the island’s remaining wealth was wiped out by years of shady municipal debt deals. Sullivan’s report for NPR and Frontline is called “Blackout in Puerto Rico.” You should really watch it. 
In the Spiel, is it spring yet?

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A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing

May 1, 2018 1710

Description:

On today’s Gist, President Trump’s Nobel in the making.
There is no market quite like the boomers—that was true when they were young, and it remains true as they enter their 60s and 70s. So how do you market to the olds? The answer lies in a few busted bits of conventional wisdom, the millennial lifestyle, and probably your mom’s iPad. Joseph F. Coughlin explains it all in his book The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market
In the Spiel, what happened at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?

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ISIS Isn't Done With

Apr 27, 2018 1385

Description:

On The Gist, when your sympathy for the poor goes beyond platitudes, Paul Ryan fires you.

In the interview, the New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi has a new podcast. Caliphate lays out how she knows what she knows about ISIS. Through her reporting in Iraq, she’s learned how the group endeared itself to locals with services as simple as garbage collection. And though the would-be Islamic State has fallen, the extremists behind it persist as an insurgency.

In the Spiel, there is no Spiel!

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Old Man Donald

Apr 27, 2018 1906

Description:

On Thursday’s Gist, EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s behavior is too plainly unethical to sweep under the rug.

What does a Malaysian party boy have to do with President Trump’s potential breach of the Emoluments Clause? Reveal’s Amy Walters and WAMU’s Patrick Madden can explain everything in their story for Reveal, “Check into Trump’s Washington Hotel.”

In the Spiel, how about that batshit crazy rant courtesy of our president on Thursday morning?

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Korematsu, Revisited?

Apr 26, 2018 1654

Description:

On Wednesday’s Gist, you didn’t think Trump’s latest political nominee was scandal-free, did you?

And as the Supreme Court weighs Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, one of its most notorious decisions still stands. Korematsu v. United States upheld America’s wartime internment of thousands of Japanese Americans, and it’s still cited as legal precedent today. Harvard Law School’s Martha Minow recently wrote about the decision and its relevance in 2018.

In the Spiel, president Trump’s approval ratings are highest in West Virginia. Senate candidate (and former convict) Don Blankenship is rolling with it.

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The Plain Prince

Apr 24, 2018 2166

Description:

On Tuesday's Gist, Donald Trump’s win has inspired a whole bunch of down-ballot Republicans, and boy, are they lame.

What is retroactive classification, and is it going to get former FBI Director James Comey in trouble? Bradley P. Moss specializes in litigation related to security clearance law. He explains why Comey may need to worry about prosecution for leaking government secrets. Moss is the deputy executive director of the James Madison Project to promote government accountability and reduction of secrecy.

In the Spiel, is third-time dad Prince William ugly? We ask the question, for science!

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The State of State

Apr 24, 2018 2045

Description:

On The Gist, Sen. Bob Corker’s definition of a “gotcha question” is a bad sign for public discourse these days.

Before his Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the rampant sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Ronan Farrow worked in the State Department. His new book, War on Peace, documents the department’s loss of personnel and prestige under every recent president—especially the current one. 

In the Spiel, banning high-capacity magazines would save lives. The foiled shooting in Nashville just proved it.

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The Zen of Cohen

Apr 21, 2018 2045

Description:

On today’s Gist, the retroactively classified memos of James Comey.
New Yorker writer Adam Davidson says the raids on Michael Cohen’s offices signal the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency. Here’s why: Cohen is the key to learning about Trump’s personal peccadillos as well the international expansion of the Trump Organization, which Davidson says should be “ridiculously rich hunting ground” for prosecutors. He also thinks we’re about to learn a lot more about Trump’s sex life. 
In the Spiel, we insult our friends: When podcasts root out artifice, starting with the edifice.  

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Comey Can't Confess

Apr 19, 2018 1280

Description:

On The Gist, if Chuck Schumer gets his way with decriminalizing marijuana, we can finally say goodbye to the lowest-hanging fruit: pot jokes.

Crooked Media founder Jon Lovett finds the James Comey book deeply frustrating—to read, to hear about, to contemplate. “But, you know,” says Lovett, “I’m a political self-harmer so I have downloaded the audiobook.” He explains the logical fallacy at the heart of one of Comey’s most frequent recitations and does a little free campaign consulting. Listen to his shows, Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It

In the Spiel, let’s draw a lesson from Meghan McCain’s faux pas (and real props) regarding J. Edgar Hoover.

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A Fuller Obituary for Barbara Bush

Apr 18, 2018 1803

Description:

On today’s Gist, don’t all these senators know the depths of CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s patriotism?
Plus, why are chemical weapons useful to Bashar al-Assad? “They’re really weapons of terror,” explains Aaron Stein, co-host of the Arms Control Wonk podcast. Stein is the author of Turkey’s New Foreign Policy.
And filmmakers Tony Gilroy and Brad Anderson tell us what it was like filming their latest movie, Beirut, during a particularly long and hot Ramadan. 
In the Spiel, a few more words about the late Barbara Bush. 

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The Taint Team Cometh

Apr 17, 2018 1625

Description:

On Tuesday’s Gist, that old Watergate maxim, “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” should be revised to recognize the Michael Cohen effect.
Plus, we take a closer look at the vertical merger of AT&T and Time Warner, and why the Justice Department has sued to stop it. Wall Street Journal reporter Brent Kendall walks us through the case so far
And in the Spiel, who is the “famous Houston sketch artist” drawn into the Stormy Daniels affair?

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James Comey's Ego Trip

Apr 17, 2018 1890

Description:

On Monday’s Gist, we’re counting Pulitzers and powering up.
Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms sort power into two categories: old and new. Old power is like Congress: top-down, official. New power is like Facebook: decentralized, crowd-sourced. What is the best way to meld both kinds of influence to improve our lives? Heimans and Timms have the beginnings of an answer. They’re the authors of New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make It Work for You.
In the Spiel, James Comey does seem ego-driven. That’s not always a bad thing. 

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Chemistry No More

Apr 14, 2018 1811

Description:

On The Gist, have you heard? Chemistry has been debunked. Thank Russia.

Ed Helms is best known for comedic roles—see Andy Bernard on The Office. But in the drama Chappaquiddick, Helms plays Joseph Gargan, the cousin and lawyer of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Gargan found himself in Kennedy’s inner circle as the young senator came under scrutiny for his role in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

In the Spiel, pervs are making news again. Plus: say hello to a new Lobstar of the Antentwig.

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"I Never Said That"

Apr 12, 2018 1541

Description:

On The Gist, Zuckerberg’s hearings got crowded out by bigger news. Too bad.

Facts are facts, even in the greatly polarized year that is 2018. Holmes Lybrand writes the Weekly Standard’s “Fact Check” series, and even though it isn’t all about Trump’s latest tweets and utterances, it sometimes gets readers angry.

In the Spiel, the president’s saber rattling over Syria is classic Trump: The man lies about his past statements.

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Tax Cut Conundrum

Apr 12, 2018 1514

Description:

On The Gist, Paul Ryan cared about just one thing: cutting taxes.

Word choice is not always the most stimulating place to start an interview with an author, but it works when you’re talking to Sloane Crosley. The essayist defends metaphors like “Holocaust bunk bed” and the related analogy, “as if the Brady Bunch were filmed in Nazi Germany.” Crosley’s latest book—a collection of essays—is Look Alive Out There.

In the Spiel, Congress failed to pin Mark Zuckerberg down.

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It's Regulation Time

Apr 10, 2018 1701

Description:

On The Gist, beware the rise of the despot’s son-in-law.

In the interview, media scrutinizer Brooke Gladstone wrote a graphic novel about the “Influencing Machines” that we often blame modernity’s problems on. Facebook is the latest of these, but this time, it’s less scapegoat and more actual problem to be reckoned with. Brooke’s book, illustrated by Josh Neufeld, is The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media.

In the Spiel—attorney-client privilege, dead? No it taint!     

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Zuck Everlasting

Apr 9, 2018 1671

Description:

On The Gist, president Trump just doesn’t have the ambition to tackle a problem like Syria.

It’s a critical week for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has two dates with Congress, where he’ll be answering questions on the company’s loss of millions of its users’ data to Cambridge Analytica. Slate writer April Glaser tells us what to expect ahead of the hearings.

In the Spiel, the least the Trump circus can do is give us some decent TV.

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Andrew Cuomo's Pun Problem

Apr 6, 2018 1807

Description:

On today’s show, we don’t need a whole shadow Cabinet—we just need a shadow Trump.
Comedian Hari Kondabolu is back—and this time, he brought his brother. Hari came to comedy after working as a community activist, but his younger brother, Ashok, was a bit more wayward. On The Gist, Ashok recounts his life as a subway vagabond in New York City. Hari and Ashok’s new podcast is called Kondabolu Brothers
In the Spiel, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alarming lack of pun-sense. 

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Kevin Williamson Dies by the Sword

Apr 5, 2018 2185

Description:

On today’s Gist, London’s enviable crime wave.
Plus, what will we think of the Obama presidency in 50 years? Julian Zelizer set out to get really smart people to “take a first cut” at the Obama legacy on an array of issues. One person from his brain trust is Peniel Joseph, who surveys the Obama administration’s work on criminal justice. Their book is The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment.
In the Spiel, why Mike rejects both tribes’ arguments on the Atlantic’s firing of conservative writer Kevin Williamson.

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Oh Good, It Was Just a Handgun

Apr 4, 2018 1733

Description:

On today’s Gist, why the YouTube shooter’s use of a handgun doesn’t take anything away from arguments to outlaw the AR-15.
Plus, Radley Balko tells the story of two men who put innocent Mississippians behind bars using junk science and pseudo-expert testimony. Balko is the co-author, along with Tucker Carrington, of The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South.
In the Spiel, why the Roseanne reboot isn’t harmful pop culture.

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Shulkin Be Sulkin'

Apr 3, 2018 1347

Description:

On Tuesday’s Gist, an ode to the end of March Madness.
Plus, Maria Konnikova returns to play our favorite game. Are parabens really bad for you? Konnikova is a contributing writer to the New Yorker and author of The Confidence Game
In the Spiel, why David Shulkin got the boot. 

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Clinging to Guns Is Our Religion

Apr 2, 2018 1980

Description:

On Monday’s Gist, the White House press corps needs a break. And guest host Mary Wilson knows who should take their place in the interim.
Plus, NationalReview.com editor Charles C. W. Cooke explains why he thinks repealing the Second Amendment would be such a losing proposition for gun control advocates.
And in the Spiel, Slate’s Osita Nwanevu says the media doesn’t have a liberal bias problem. 

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In Defense of the Pun

Mar 31, 2018 1650

Description:

On The Gist, Good Friday is actually pretty great, from a cosmic perspective.

In the interview, Aparna Nancherla tells us how to go from introverted kid (“my mom was very afraid of how unassertive I was”) to making it in comedy.

In the Spiel, a deep dive into the world of acronyms.

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On Conservative Voices

Mar 30, 2018 1607

Description:

On The Gist, the Department of Energy has a chief creative officer? Let’s roll with it.

In the interview, upstanding Pennsylvanian Amanda Holt updates us on the state’s new congressional district lines.

In the Spiel, some hyperlinks are all hype, especially when it comes to censoring conservative opinion writers.

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Know Thy Enemy

Mar 29, 2018 1580

Description:

On The Gist, Sean Hannity doesn’t like this podcast.

In the interview, Korea expert Bruce Bechtol tells us what might be going on in Kim Jong-un’s mind and how to set it on denuclearization.

In the Spiel, president Trump might be acting tough on Russia, but he doesn’t get what the big deal is. 

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Corruption Just Isn't Telegenic

Mar 28, 2018 1656

Description:

On The Gist, forget Stormy Daniels. The Kushners’ massive loan deals are where the real dirt is at.

In the interview, the world’s growing complexity can be measured in dusty cables, useless features, and lines of code. Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik talk about the problems that snowball when even the smallest thing goes wrong. Clearfield and Tilcsik are the authors of Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It.

In the Spiel, any census that asks people about their citizenship status will be pricey and inaccurate. 

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Hitler's Art Dealer

Mar 27, 2018 1708

Description:

On The Gist, “affair” is too rich a word to describe anything Donald Trump is emotionally capable of.

In the interview, arts reporter Mary M. Lane tells us about the art collection looted by Hitler’s art dealer, inherited by that dealer’s son, and finally confiscated by the German government.

In the Spiel, a survey of Republican bloviating on Sunday’s news shows.

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Spies Are People Too

Mar 24, 2018 2156

Description:

On The Gist, Donald Trump’s presidency brings race relations, at best, to a standstill. Case in point: the police shooting in Sacramento, California.   

The Americans is back for its final season next week. Showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg talk about their research into ruthless Soviet tactics, their obsession over historical detail, and why these spies are the good guys.      

In the Spiel, what sound does a giraffe make? Also: It’s time for the Lobstar of the Antentwig.  

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As Statues Fall, Racism Stays

Mar 23, 2018 1341

Description:

On The Gist, what to make of yet another round of White House reshuffling.   

As mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu has used his office to take down four of the city’s Confederate monuments. His new book reckons with race relations in his city, the South, and the country. Landrieu’s book is In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History.  

In the Spiel, semantics, sexuality, and Cynthia Nixon.

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This Storm Ain't Brewing

Mar 22, 2018 1861

Description:

On The Gist, even if we get a law to make Robert Mueller unfireable, President Trump could trample all over it. 

In the interview, sports journalist Mary Pilon tells the story of Olympic sailor Kevin Hall’s struggle with the Truman Show delusion (where someone believes he or she is the focus of a reality TV program). Pilon’s new book is The Kevin Show: An Olympic Athlete’s Battle With Mental Illness

In the Spiel, Stormy Daniels might win the right to talk. But can her story trouble Trump’s presidency, or would it just be tabloid fodder?

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Will Democracy Survive Trump?

Mar 21, 2018 1537

Description:

On The Gist, before Donald Trump’s headline-hogging presidency, things like bridge collapses made news for more than a few days. 

In the interview, Cass Sunstein’s new book asks if the U.S. is fundamentally immune to authoritarianism, or whether president Trump has proved the opposite. His new book—Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America—puts the question to more than a dozen leading writers. 

In the Spiel, Betsy DeVos is totally incompetent, but at least that’s made obvious every time she speaks.

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Are Receipts Toxic?

Mar 19, 2018 1143

Description:

On today’s Gist, we’re nixing the Spiel to go on a Slate Podcasts retreat! Shouldn’t the White House staff have their own officewide retreat day?
Plus, Maria Konnikova considers receipt paper toxicity: Is it BS? Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game




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The Year Groove Went Mainstream

Mar 17, 2018 1824

Description:

On The Gist, “meddling” is too weak a word to describe what Russia did during in the U.S. election.

In the interview, Chris Molanphy walks us through the No. 1 hits of 1969, the year flower power and psychedelic pop went fully mainstream. Chris is the host of Slate’s Hit Parade

In the Spiel, our Congress members represent way too many constituents—700,000 on average—to stay in touch with their needs.

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Hot or Not: Presidents' Edition

Mar 15, 2018 1530

Description:

On The Gist, the Trump administration walks back a line about U.S. trade with Canada.
And which American president was the studliest? Kate and J.D. Dobson are out with a book that considers Ulysses S. Grant’s quiet charisma, Franklin Pierce’s youthful charm, and the distinguished eyebrows of a certain Warren G. Harding. The Dobsons are the authors of Hottest Heads of State, Volume 1: The American Presidents.
In the Spiel, the world’s greatest toy store goes down. 

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The Rogue at State

Mar 15, 2018 1771

Description:

Well, it’s a tough day to be Fox News. 
On today’s Gist, a closer look at the Department of State. It’s not that Rex Tillerson was wrong to want to reform how we do diplomacy—it’s that he utterly failed to deliver. Tom Hill, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, says the U.S. approach to international relations is antiquated and the diplomatic corps is bloated. Tillerson had a mandate to rethink our State Department. He blew it. 
In the Spiel, why the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District was not so special. 

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The Heroes of Colombia

Mar 14, 2018 2017

Description:

On today’s Gist, the lesser-known story of Colombia: Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno has written a moving account of Colombia’s post–Pablo Escobar years, when the illegal drug trade was taken up by one of the factions in the country’s long-running civil war. Her book, There Are No Dead Here, spotlights the work of Colombians who risked their lives to wrest their country back from lawlessness. It also reveals the incoherence of the United States’ war on drugs, which indirectly fueled so much of Colombia’s suffering. McFarland is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. 
In the Spiel, why a surprise primary win in Texas makes complete sense when you learn the victor’s name. 

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Russian Doping, Revisited

Mar 12, 2018 1918

Description:

On The Gist, is it OK to ape a Russian accent when saying Russian names?
And we revisit an interview with filmmaker Bryan Fogel, whose documentary, Icarus, recently won an Academy Award.
In the Spiel, a short conversation with author Steven Pinker about the state of academia. Is it really doing that badly?

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North Korea Is Setting the Table

Mar 10, 2018 1931

Description:

On The Gist, if sitting down with North Korea wasn’t a good idea for past U.S. presidents, how is it a good idea for our current one?       

In the interview, Slate’s Fred Kaplan and former Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson are both cautiously optimistic about upcoming negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

In the Spiel, some miscellaneous (positive!) news.

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No Rules for the Wicked

Mar 9, 2018 1377

Description:

On The Gist, it’s a Jon Favreau–flavored mash-up: Swing Wars.

In the interview, the walls cave in, the props catch fire, the actors stammer and forget … and it’s all part of the plan. Kevin McCollum, one of the producers of Broadway’s longest-running play, tells Mike how The Play That Goes Wrong makes audiences laugh. 

In the Spiel: By breaking them, at least the Trump administration is making us bone up on obscure but important rules.

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Guns, Controlled

Mar 8, 2018 1792

Description:

On The Gist, who’s left to work for Trump when even the nincompoops are quitting?   

In the interview, Richard Aborn has helped get gun control laws on the books. As president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, he has the data on what works, what doesn’t, and how New York City got so safe. 

In the Spiel, the average Joe has no idea how tariffs actually work. That makes it tough to reason with him.

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The Scapegoat in Chinatown

Mar 7, 2018 1830

Description:

On The Gist, Lego business is hurting. 
In Steve James’ latest documentary, the bank is the good guy. New York’s district attorney brought charges against a Chinatown-based bank after the 2008 financial crisis, even though the bank had little to do with subprime mortgages. James is the director of the Oscar-nominated Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.
In the Spiel, the unpersuasive handwringing over putting Sam Nunberg on live TV. 

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Ben Carson's Not Worth the Outrage

Mar 6, 2018 1788

Description:

On The Gist, if iHeart Media wants to do better, they really ought to change their name.   

Did you watch the Oscars? Did you think they were a little lame? Writer Catie Lazarus provides a safe space for your Academy Awards–related shade. Lazarus is host of the Employee of the Month Show. Come see it live on March 15 in New York with guests Hannibal Buress, Emily Mortimer, Alex Lacamoire, and the Resistance Revival Chorus. 

In the Spiel, don’t let Ben Carson’s $31,000 fiasco distract you from the ongoing travesty that is the White House.

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Rejecting Jared

Mar 3, 2018 1696

Description:

Well, what do you know? In 2016, Trump tweeted that he wasn’t trying to get a top security clearance for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. A year later, he’s finally right.
On The Gist, what’s so special about an octopus? Slate’s Daniel Engber has a takedown of the many-armed beast of the deep: The research on cephalopod intelligence is flimsy, he says, and the octopus is hardly the first animal to have fascinated us with its methods of escape.
In the Spiel, it’s time to name another Lobstar.
One more thing: Please fill out the Slate podcast survey at Slate.com/podcastsurvey.




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Watching for a Backtrack

Mar 2, 2018 1671

Description:

Today on The Gist, a unified theory of Donald Trump.
Plus, Trump dragged his fellow Republicans and made his Democrats grin like Cheshire cats at the televised meeting on gun control. What are the chances that the White House lets Trump’s comments stand? Mike talks to Slate politics writer Jim Newell.
In the Spiel, the president has a lot of retrograde ideas that suit him. Here’s one that doesn’t: steel tariffs.
One more thing: Please fill out the Slate podcast survey at slate.com/podcastsurvey.

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Heal Thyself, Dana Loesch

Mar 1, 2018 2136

Description:

Quick, who’s the Federal Reserve chairman? If you can’t remember, take heart: Our minds are filled to capacity with the flotsam and jetsam of the Trump White House.
On The Gist, are you as virtuous as you think? Likely not. Christian Miller delved into social science research to find out if we tend to misjudge the strength of our own moral fiber. Miller’s book is The Character Gap: How Good Are We?
In the Spiel, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch has a hard time living up to her own media criticism.
One more thing: Please fill out the Slate podcast survey at slate.com/podcastsurvey.

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The Abbreviated Highlight Reel of Stacey Dash

Feb 28, 2018 2056

Description:

Hang onto your skirts: Clueless co-star Stacey Dash is running for Congress.
On The Gist, returning champion Maria Konnikova is back to sum up the social science on poker tells: Are they BS? Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game.
In the Spiel, we should acknowledge our progress.
Please fill out the Slate podcast survey at slate.com/podcastsurvey

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Dissing Dianne Feinstein

Feb 27, 2018 1946

Description:

On The Gist, President Trump’s latest poetry reading.
Last week on the show, we talked about the manifold reasons for optimism in the world. This week, Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker builds on that argument, adding that we’ve had a roughly 300-year run of steady improvements in technology, health, and civility. It just so happens that the only thing as constant as human progress is our tendency to focus on human shortcomings. Pinker’s latest book is Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
In the Spiel, why it should be worrying that the California Democratic Party snubbed Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

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Don't Fall for It

Feb 23, 2018 1840

Description:

On The Gist, Trump boosted an empty idea at CPAC: arming teachers to stop mass shooters.

In the interview, Derek DelGaudio is the magician of our time. His one-man show, In & of Itself, questions identity in a political atmosphere that’s consumed by it. 

In the Spiel, “unsubstantiated” stories about Trump’s lecherous behavior on the set of The Apprentice are obviously, completely, and sadly believable.

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Who Can Check Big Tech?

Feb 23, 2018 1988

Description:

On The Gist, NBC’s coverage of Olympic athletes’ backstories is a little too obvious.

Slate tech writers April Glaser and Will Oremus examine the most plausible methods for reining in our tech overlords. Glaser and Oremus are the hosts of Slate’s If Then.

In the Spiel, NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference was downright loony.

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The World Is Coming Up Roses

Feb 22, 2018 2038

Description:

On The Gist, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek will be moderating a gubernatorial debate in Pennsylvania. Mike says no thanks. 

In the interview, Gregg Easterbrook is ever the optimist. Despite what your push alerts and Facebook news feed are telling you, the world is steadily getting safer, wealthier, and less afflicted by war and disease. Easterbrook is the author of It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.      

In the Spiel, gun control advocates shouldn’t compromise.

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Free Money City

Feb 21, 2018 1793

Description:

On The Gist, Team USA’s low medal count would be a bummer if these Winter Olympics weren’t so goofy.     

In the interview, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs didn’t campaign on universal basic income, but he’s bringing it to his city. Later this year, some residents will start getting $500 a month. 

In the Spiel, conservative commentators have it plain wrong when it comes to gun control.

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Ban the AR-15

Feb 17, 2018 1773

Description:

On The Gist, the market for “how to survive a shooting spree” videos shows how far we’ve strayed in dealing with gun violence.   

Interracial marriage on a national level has only been legal for 50 years, after the landmark Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. Anna Holmes and Lacey Schwartz are two of the minds behind The Loving Generation, a video series by Topic.com on identity and dynamics within multiracial families. 

In the Spiel, it’s a no-brainer: Ban civilian ownership of the AR-15, and fewer will die.

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Which Side Are You On?

Feb 16, 2018 1887

Description:

Filling in for Mike Pesca today is Leon Neyfakh, still smoldering after his first season as host of Slate’s hit podcast, Slow Burn. 
Leon is indulging in a new fascination lately: the latest “left Twix vs. right Twix” ad campaign and its insistence that we should all pick one. 
But, of course, we insist on taking sides. Slate writer Justin Peters sheds some light on the New York Times’ swift hiring and firing of tech journalist Quinn Norton. 
In Leon’s Spiel: We must have some moral absolutes. But what is the cost of eschewing bothsidesism? 

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Runaway Military Spending

Feb 15, 2018 1476

Description:

On The Gist, names are stupidly important when it comes to getting elected. 
The Trump administration is proposing a boost in military spending, but the country’s defense budget actually peaked under President Obama during the troop surge for the war in Afghanistan. Bipartisan support for massive defense spending has been the norm since the Reagan era. Foreign Policy’s Dan De Luce tells us about it.
In the Spiel, lawyer Michael Cohen’s out-of-pocket expenses. 

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Spoon-Fed by the Feds

Feb 14, 2018 1596

Description:

On The Gist, on the White House budget’s effort to replace half of food-stamp funding with crappy meal boxes.

How do you fix one of the most gerrymandered states in the country? It helps to have a tireless amateur mapmaker in your ranks. Mike talks to Amanda Holt, who spurred Pennsylvania to redraw its legislative districts in 2013 and is closely watching the state’s ongoing court battle over its congressional districts.  

In the Spiel, the American intelligence community still has to convince the White House that Russia’s up to no good.

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Don’t Call It a White House Shake-Up

Feb 13, 2018 1618

Description:

On today’s Gist, we get metaphysical. The White House is always in chaos. But can chaos be a permanent condition?
Maria Konnikova returns to play our favorite game and answer the question: Does an athletic uniform’s color affect the athlete’s performance? Konnikova writes for the New Yorker is the author of The Confidence Game.  
In the Spiel, why Norway is a Winter Olympics marvel.

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Dumb About Deficits

Feb 10, 2018 1656

Description:

On The Gist, it’s The $10,000 Pyramid with a budget deal twist.

Is it possible we don’t know enough about national debt to call our politicians when they’re peddling nonsense? New Yorker staff writer Adam Davidson addresses some common misconceptions and sums up the Republican tax cuts and spending bill this way: “Rich people are stealing the money.” 

In the Spiel, the Olympics are back, and the Russians got off easy.

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Is the Iran Deal a Dud?

Feb 9, 2018 1554

Description:

On The Gist, the “When did you stop beating your wife?” question in the White House press briefing. 

In the interview, Iran may have shelved its nuclear ambitions, but the Middle East is still in trouble. Slate’s Joshua Keating wonders if the Iran deal was worth it. 

In the Spiel, the world of the FEMA scammer.

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The Longest War Is Lost

Feb 8, 2018 1742

Description:

Trump wants a parade.
On The Gist, America's longest war, in Afghanistan, rumbles on under a third U.S. president. There is still no exit plan. Steve Coll’s new book explores the covert side of America’s campaign in Afghanistan and the secretive Pakistani intelligence wing lending support to the Taliban. Coll's book isDirectorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  
In the Spiel, considering Christopher Steele and Carter Page. 

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America Adrift

Feb 7, 2018 1894

Description:

Listen, chattering classes: Let’s at least chatter correctly. We take a minute on the proper name pronunciation for the scandals of the day.
Today on The Gist, U.S. foreign policy is a mess. But U.S. foreign policy has been a mess for decades. Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, explains. 
In the Spiel, what they were thinking in the stands of President Trump’s speech on Monday in Ohio.

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Phil Rosenthal Eats the World

Feb 6, 2018 1896

Description:

On The Gist: Dow goes down, Trump gets mad. 

In the interview, comedian Phil Rosenthal went to six cities across the globe to eat everything they had to offer and put it on Netflix. He tells Mike about his new show, Somebody Feed Phil, and the creative angst behind the sitcom that put him on the map: Everybody Loves Raymond.  

In the Spiel, Justin Timberlake didn’t bring sexy back thanks to white privilege alone.

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Philly vs. Boston

Feb 3, 2018 1902

Description:

On The Gist, Super Bowl LII is an occasion to ask the age-old question: Who’s more obnoxious, people from Philadelphia or Boston?
Plus, Another Period takes the Gilded Age as its setting to satirize the worst of reality TV: extravagant wealth, petty arguments, and a shaky camera. Riki Lindhome co-created and stars in the Comedy Central show.
In the Spiel, a reprise of the vaunted documentary, Busted: 43 Minutes of Crisis and Conflict, a production of the American Dream is Deadworks. 

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LBJ, Reconsidered

Feb 1, 2018 1644

Description:

Lyndon B. Johnson doesn’t always get the consideration he deserves as one of America’s great presidents. On today’s Gist, historian Joshua Zeitz says LBJ’s fight for welfare reform and civil rights redefined the country, even as those legal achievements come under attack by today’s Republican Party. Zeitz is the author of Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House.    
Plus, a Spiel from the 2016 archives: Vote Jabba!

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We Still Have No U.S. Ambassador to South Korea

Feb 1, 2018 2023

Description:

On The Gist, Trey Gowdy bows out.
Fred Kaplan explains why foreign policy experts are concerned by the Trump administration’s move to renege on its choice of ambassador to South Korea at the last minute. Kaplan writes the War Stories column for Slate. He is the author, most recently, of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War.
In the Spiel, you know what they say: The president who claps the loudest pleases the crowd best.

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When All the Jobs Are Gone

Jan 31, 2018 1806

Description:

On The Gist, the pomposity and circumstantial evidence of the State of the Union.
Janesville, Wisconsin, had the oldest operating GM assembly plant in the country until 2008. The factory’s closure left thousands of employees in the lurch. Amy Goldstein’s book Janesville: An American Story describes the choices facing three families as they pick up the pieces of a busted local economy. 
In the Spiel, the right things to say when you’re being nuked and the right way to say them.

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The Scholarly Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Jan 30, 2018 1685

Description:

On The Gist, get your clutching pearls ready. Russia alleges that the U.S. is trying to interfere in its election.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been politically precocious since well before his own sports scholarship at UCLA. His latest column for the Guardian argues it's "time to pay the tab for America's college athletes.” He says student players should unionize. 
In the Spiel, the tactics that responsible Republicans use to communicate their potential opposition: They speak in their home-state argot. 

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Good Night, Portlandia

Jan 27, 2018 2073

Description:

On The Gist, the Doomsday Clock would be scary if it weren’t so bogus.

In the interview, after years of gently poking fun at Portland, Oregon’s chill-but-not vibe, Portlandia is on its final season. Series co-star Carrie Brownstein unpacks the show’s humor and tells us how a wedding toast kind of doubled as an audition to get the show greenlit. 

In the Spiel, Mike awards a Lobstar after an especially lengthy antentwig.

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He Got Trump’s Taxes

Jan 26, 2018 1888

Description:

From the annals of monkey research, how 10 primates were gassed in the service of a bad study.
Today on The Gist, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who has been reporting on President Trump long enough to simply call him Donald. Johnston has an appreciation for Donald’s trademark swindles: refusing payment, lying to vendors, abridging photocopies. He’s not surprised to see the same methods at work in the Trump administration. He likens the Trump administration to “political termites,” eating their way through the structures of the U.S. government, leaving holes throughout. Johnston is the author of It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America
In the Spiel, the trial, coverage, and sentencing of Larry Nassar.

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Odds, Ends, and Senators

Jan 25, 2018 2087

Description:

On The Gist, Devin Nunes probably doesn’t know squat. 

In the interview, Democrats hold most of the Senate seats up for grabs in this year’s midterms, which means they have a lot to lose. But importantly, mathematician Jordan Ellenberg says election predictions often fail to account for national mood. Ellenberg is the author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

In the Spiel, Mike defends his bougie laundry routine.

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MSG Is A-OK

Jan 24, 2018 2009

Description:

On The Gist, more details come out about Garrison Keillor.
In the interview, it turns out something can be good for your taste buds without being bad for your health. Monosodium glutamate has gotten a bad rap since 1968, when a medical journal suggested it might cause all kinds of symptoms. Dan Pashman, creator and host of the Sporkful podcast, tells us why MSG isn’t the boogeyman it’s been made out to be (and why he adds it to his own cooking).
In the Spiel, behold, the mystical power of Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ talking stick.

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The Dems Have a Bad Hand

Jan 23, 2018 1683

Description:

On The Gist, what just happened?

And are Democrats sniveling losers or Machiavellian savants?  McClatchy reporter Alex Roarty explains why the animating force driving both Democrats and Republicans right now is a loud conservative minority. 

In the Spiel, Greece has beef regarding which part of world gets to be called “Macedonia.”

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One Year Down

Jan 20, 2018 2025

Description:

Up first on The Gist: It appears the Stormy Daniels story checks out.  

Plus, Saturday marks the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration. The hosts of Slate’s Trumpcast join Mike to revise old predictions, make new ones, and consider whether Democrats should be rooting for impeachment via the Robert Mueller investigation.  

And in the Spiel, we’re on the verge of another government shutdown. It seems normal now. Or have we lost track of what normal looks like?

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Busted: A Gist Productions Parody

Jan 19, 2018 1793

Description:

On The Gist, how about those Fake News Awards, huh? 

Alan Jacobs questions your ability to think for yourself. Can you really rid yourself of your biases, or do you just develop better biases? Are you really any better than your estranged friends at finding answers, or have you just chosen a different group with whom to associate? Jacobs is the author of How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds.  

In the Spiel, relive the horrifying 43 minutes during which America thought a just-inaugurated President Donald Trump had removed Martin Luther King Jr.’s sacred bust from the Oval Office.

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Wait and CR

Jan 18, 2018 1728

Description:

On The Gist, the bad news from Freedom House.
U.S. Air Force officer Edward Lansdale promoted a “hearts and minds” approach to diplomacy in the Philippines and Vietnam, only to be steamrolled by America’s elite class of policymakers. Max Boot tells us about Lansdale and his own newfound recognition of white privilege and other ideas from the left. Boot’s new book is The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.     
In the Spiel, why the continuing resolution is sucking all the fun out of politics. 

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Nukes and Crannies

Jan 17, 2018 1989

Description:

On The Gist, the press is too squeamish to clarify that “shithouse” isn’t much better than “shithole.”

In the interview, more on fire and fury—nuclear fire, rhetorical fury, and the consequences of both. Jeffrey Lewis and Aaron Stein, hosts of Arms Control Wonk, assess the Trump administration’s tough talk on North Korea and the danger of a South Korea that decides to take matters into its own hands. 

In the Spiel, Aziz Ansari isn’t blameless, but he doesn’t deserve a total destruction of his career, either.

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Teenage Brains Are Just Different

Jan 13, 2018 1500

Description:

On The Gist, Mike examines Trump’s bottom-of-the-barrel statements on immigration.

In the interview, Dina Temple-Raston explains how she became fascinated by the teenage brain. After years of covering terrorism for NPR, she was stunned to see so many young people leaving their homes to join ISIS. Teenagers aren’t just prone to falling in with terrorist recruiters: Their underdeveloped minds make them more susceptible to video gaming compulsions and violent behavior. Why? Temple-Raston finds answers in her Audible Original series, “What Were You Thinking?

In the Spiel, a skit about the science (and lopsided sex ratio) of turtle love.

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Is Trump Insane? Does It Matter?

Jan 12, 2018 1885

Description:

On The Gist, Mike skewers a columnist for concluding that President Trump is sane.

In the interview, comedian Judah Friedlander wants to let you know that his new comedy special is all him, even though it’s got Netflix’s name on it. The 30 Rock alum talks about matters of social justice, satire, and jingoism.

In the Spiel, Democrats should stop questioning Trump’s mental acuity and focus on midterms instead.

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A Cry for Self-Help

Jan 11, 2018 1751

Description:

On The Gist, a brief look at what Norway is doing right. 

In the interview, we turn to self-help experts Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg about the “new you” books that are good, bad, and absolute nonsense. Meinzer and Greenberg are hosts of the Panoply show By the Book.  

In the Spiel, Mike discovers the best transliteration ever.

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Radio Reconciliation

Jan 10, 2018 2005

Description:

On The Gist, Joe Arpaio’s life after pardon.   
In the interview, MacArthur “genius” award winner Betsy Levy Paluck tells us about her research into mass media and public opinion. We might have the impression that our beliefs are based on reason. But what our neighbors think (or what we think they think) has a lot to do with it, too.
In the Spiel, how to charm Twitter trolls into submission. 

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What to Make of Fire and Fury

Jan 9, 2018 1755

Description:

On The Gist, Sen. Lindsey Graham is defending the president extra hard on television … because he knows Trump’s watching.

In the interview, NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik tells us what to make of Fire and Fury, the book that claims to reveal how dysfunctional the Trump administration really is.   

In the Spiel, Mike gives props to Oprah for her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. But that doesn’t mean she should run for president.

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Going for Gridiron

Jan 6, 2018 2262

Description:

On The Gist, third-party voters should answer for Donald Trump’s terrible policies at home and warmongering around the world.

In the interview, fields don’t get much more male-dominated than those of the NFL. Our guest Jen Welter made history as the first woman to hold a coaching position in the league, training the Arizona Cardinals' inside linebackers in the 2015 preseason. Welter is the author of Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless From the First Woman to Coach in the NFL

In the Spiel, a story about coats, the cold, and charitable giving.

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Move to the Center or Keep on Losing

Jan 5, 2018 2075

Description:

On The Gist, Mike wonders whether the “winner picked out of a bowl” antics in Virginia’s House of Delegates will really matter much.

In the interview, former Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire has straightforward advice for candidates in blue-collar America: appeal to the center or lose out. Just as importantly, Altmire argues, the Democratic Party as a whole has to let them do it. Altmire’s book is Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It

In the Spiel, Mike says the economy is looking up, and that means Republicans could keep their congressional majorities in the midterms ahead—barring a foreign policy disaster, of course.

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Killed, Then Counted

Jan 4, 2018 1804

Description:

On The Gist, Mike calls foul on the mashup terms used to describe big weather events, such as the latest: bombogenesis.  

In the interview, police shootings regularly make headlines, but what does the big picture look like? Sam Sinyangwe is a data analyst at Mapping Police Violence, an organization that recently looked at all 1,129 cases in which a person died at the hands of the police in 2017. And yes, there is a racial disparity.        

In the Spiel, the barbs traded between President Trump and Steve Bannon truly are the stuff of Shakespeare.

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Behind the Scenes of Slow Burn

Jan 3, 2018 1840

Description:

On The Gist, Mike tips his hat to the musical talents of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who announced his retirement Tuesday.

In the interview, it took a perfect storm to bring down Richard Nixon’s presidency, and it’s not guaranteed that another will come for Donald Trump. Slate’s Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons tell us about their chart-topping podcast, Slow Burn, and why it shouldn’t necessarily give hope to those who want Trump out.    

In the Spiel, President Trump’s latest round of self-congratulating tweets omit a few facts, as usual.

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It’s Fan Service or Bust

Dec 30, 2017 1914

Description:

On The Gist, Mike is down with feminism but argues that woke should be Merriam-Webster’s word of the year instead.

In the interview, Anjelah Johnson was living off grocery store gift cards in L.A. before a new thing called YouTube launched her comedy career. Someone uploaded a video of her stand-up routine to the site in 2007; it quickly racked up millions of views and landed Anjelah an agent. Johnson’s fourth comedy special, Mahalo & Goodnight, is on EPIX, Apple Music, and Spotify. 

In the Spiel, we should be taking a closer look at New York City’s latest crime, rape, and murder statistics.

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Your Brain Is Bad With Money

Dec 29, 2017 2227

Description:

On The Gist, Mike says goodbye to Roy Moore yet again, after an Alabama judge rejected Moore’s lawsuit to contest his opponent’s Senate win.

In the interview, Dan Ariely tells us “how we misthink money and how to spend smarter.” That’s the subtitle of his book on the ways we value the wrong things and fail to think long term. Ariely is the co-author, with Jeff Kreisler, of Dollars and Sense

In the Spiel, Mike looks back on the worst op-eds of 2017.

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Hobby Lobby Is Just Getting Started

Dec 28, 2017 2081

Description:

On The Gist, Mike runs through the major news of the past few days, while much of the news media is on vacation.     

In the interview, Hobby Lobby scored a famous Supreme Court win for evangelicals in 2014, allowing certain corporations to deny covering their employees’ contraception costs. Professor of theology Candida Moss tells us about the family behind the company, and their crusade to promote fundamental Christianity. Moss is the co-author, with Joel Baden, of Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby.

In the Spiel, it’s almost as if the scales are tipped in favor of Vladimir Putin as he runs for re-election in March.

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Deplorables and Snowflakes

Dec 23, 2017 2144

Description:

On The Gist, Ken Stern explains why the deplorable label doesn’t sit well with him, even if it’s defensible. Stern is the author of Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right.
In the Spiel, is life better in the U.S. or Europe? Mike considers it with David Plotz, CEO of Atlas Obscura.

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Tax Bill Ballyhoo

Dec 22, 2017 1786

Description:

On The Gist, why the Republican tax overhaul is unlikely to spur hiring.
Michael Carpenter explains what we lose when the Trump administration doesn’t try to put the heat on Russia. Carpenter is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and foreign policy adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden. He and Biden are the co-authors of the Foreign Affairs article, “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin.”
In the Spiel, robots take over. 

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Trickle Down Now

Dec 21, 2017 1900

Description:

On The Gist, it seems that congressional investigators have nabbed a big fish: Jill Stein.
Plus, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt explains why the Republicans absolutely had to pass the tax bill, even if polls suggest it could be an albatross around their necks during the midterms. Leonhardt authors the Times’ absolutely essential Opinion Today newsletter.
In the Spiel: Income inequality may not be the perfect descriptor for what ails us, but it’s the best term we’ve got. And the Republican tax bill makes our inequality problem worse. 

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Behind the Scenes at The Daily

Dec 20, 2017 2140

Description:

On The Gist, Mike talks about the consequences of fast-tracking a major tax overhaul.

In the interview, how did the team behind The Daily manage to create a show that’s unlike anything we’ve heard before and also oddly perfect for this moment in news? Host Michael Barbaro and managing producer Theo Balcomb say they talked extensively about what they didn’t want to sound like. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I never want to do a jobs report,’ ” says Balcomb. “ ‘Can we promise we’re never going to do a jobs report?’ ”

In the Spiel, Republicans aren’t necessarily committing political suicide with their $1.5 trillion tax plan.

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Don’t Worry if Baby Turns Orange

Dec 19, 2017 1755

Description:

On the Gist, why we shouldn’t fret every time companies like Netflix show how they’re using our personal data.   

In the interview, Maria Konnikova runs us through the foods that can turn your skin orange, blue, and red, and whether that’s even a bad thing. Konnikova is the author of The Confidence Game

In the Spiel, what the latest Star Wars movie has in common with Donald Trump.

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Jeff Ross Got Bored, So He Got Political

Dec 15, 2017 2182

Description:

On The Gist, President Trump’s judicial nominations are starting to look ridiculous.

In the interview, comedian Jeff Ross got a little tired of his shtick as a go-to roast guy for Comedy Central’s famous Friars Club sendups. So he started skewering not people, but places, ideas, and institutions. His latest special, ­­Jeff Ross Roasts the Border, takes viewers to Brownsville, Texas, a city along the U.S.-Mexico border where a huge steel fence is meant to keep migrants from crossing into the United States.    

In the Spiel, bidding farewell to the legendary sports radio host, Mike Francesa.

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Revisiting Another Democratic Wave

Dec 15, 2017 1317

Description:

Chris Hurst doesn’t want you to know him as the guy whose girlfriend was fatally shot during a live broadcast. But it is a huge part of what compelled him to pursue elected office: “Part of what I want to do is … take this spotlight, that I wish I had a receipt for … ’cause I’d gladly return it, and shine it on people that aren’t normally seen.” Hurst is a newly elected state representative in Virginia.
For the Spiel, an exclusive clip from Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, courtesy of Maura Quint and McSweeney’s

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The Underdog and the Bully

Dec 14, 2017 1686

Description:

On The Gist, Omarosa makes for the exits. 
In honor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees announced today, we’re playing an excerpt from our live show last month, when we went over the ballot with Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy and Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri. 
In the Spiel, reflecting on the Doug Jones win in Alabama.

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It’s Partisanship, Stupid

Dec 12, 2017 1905

Description:

On The Gist, the #MeToo movement is only influential insofar as its targets can feel shame and enact accountability.

In the interview, biographer Robert Dallek accounts for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ruthless pragmatism. As president, FDR made the decision to round up 120,000 Japanese Americans to “strike resonant chords with most Americans,” and he was silent on anti-lynching bills to appease Democratic segregationists who would later help him pass New Deal legislation. Dallek’s book is Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life

In the Spiel, the Alabama Senate election will come down to all registered voters, not just the roughly 26 percent who happen to be black and are reliably Democratic.

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The Abortion Fight Led Us Here

Dec 12, 2017 1734

Description:

On The Gist, we can have sympathy for all kinds of people—just not the guy who loses all his money on bitcoin.

In the interview, Lenora Chu tells the story of her American family’s rude awakening to Chinese education practices. When Chu moved her family to Shanghai, she eagerly enrolled her young son into an elite Chinese public school. She expected academic rigor and an emphasis on work ethic. But she was surprised to find authoritarian teachers and desperate, obsequious parents. What, if anything, should the U.S. borrow from the Chinese education model? Chu’s book is Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve.  

In the Spiel, what the abortion issue did to sort the parties.

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Drama in Alabama

Dec 8, 2017 1886

Description:

On The Gist, is President Trump to blame for today’s violence in Gaza? 

In the interview, columnist John Archibald surveys the Senate race in Alabama, where Doug Jones has become the abortion candidate and Roy Moore has become the Trumpism candidate.  

In the Spiel, don’t talk to Mike about Trump’s slurred speech.

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Can You Win as the Party of Purity?

Dec 8, 2017 1634

Description:

On The Gist, Walmart gets a new name. 

In the interview, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick thought about one thing when Senate Democrats started calling for Al Franken’s resignation: Merrick Garland, which she points to as the beginning in a trend of Democrats trying to be honorable and Republicans trying to win at all costs. Are Democrats abandoning process too readily, only to see Republicans surge ahead again? Dahlia is the host of Slate’s Amicus

In the Spiel, the FBI’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

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Next Falls Franken?

Dec 7, 2017 1837

Description:

On The Gist, Slate’s Jim Newell explains the moral and political case for forcing out Sen. Al Franken. Dozens of Senate Democrats called on Franken to resign after a seventh woman accused him of sexual misconduct on Tuesday.

Bob Garfield has spent much of his journalism career talking to eccentrics. In his one-man show, Ruggedly Jewish, the quest to explore his own identity dovetails with the story of an uneasy America. The show is touring in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 9

And for the Spiel, why President Trump’s Jerusalem announcement solidifies his reputation as the chaos candidate.

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The Boys Club on the Bus

Dec 6, 2017 2015

Description:

On The Gist, why Alabama’s decrepitude is not incidental to Roy Moore’s competitive bid for Senate. 
In the interview, Russell Shorto tells the stories of six people living through the Revolutionary War—one is George Washington; the other five, you’ve probably never heard of. Shorto’s book is Revolution Song.
In the Spiel, a counterpoint to Jill Filipovic’s New York Times column arguing that the sexual harassers who covered the election threw the whole thing to Donald Trump. 

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Pete Souza’s Photo Synthesis

Dec 5, 2017 1841

Description:

Before Pete Souza became the most famous troll on Instagram, he was the White House photographer for the duration of the Obama administration. Souza explains his approach to capturing moments and shares why he doesn’t consider his work to be propaganda. His book of pictures from the Obama presidency is Obama: An Intimate Portrait
In the Spiel, should the store that sells you candy also sell you health care?

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Bob Saget Doesn’t Think He’s That Raunchy

Dec 2, 2017 1795

Description:

Bob Saget has long been known as the cuddly, sitcom dad with a surprisingly raunchy side. The comedian talks about the two shows that launched his career and the very first jokes he wrote as a teenager. Bob Saget’s comedy special is Zero to Sixty.

In the Spiel, Mike pays an overdue visit to mail from listeners, and awards a Lobstar.

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Life Is Like Pachinko

Dec 1, 2017 1820

Description:

There hadn’t been an English-language novel about ethnic Koreans living in Japan until this year’s Pachinko. Author Min Jin Lee chalks it up to the complicated history of the Korean Japanese. They were colonized by Japan, they were forced or compelled to migrate, and they were targets of anti-Korean discrimination. But Lee was surprised to find that many Korean Japanese don’t see themselves as victims of racism. “They would actually see it as, culturally, their norm,” says Lee. “I think it’s very hurtful to think that you’re hated all the time, so you have to think of the story that you can live with.” 
In the Spiel, are President Trump’s tweets worse than President Nixon’s paranoia?

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A Founding Fathers Bromance

Nov 29, 2017 2385

Description:

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were very different guys representing opposing political parties. Jefferson was a wildly popular aristocrat from Virginia; Adams was a middling, dyspeptic lawyer from Massachusetts. But they were fast friends, and their relationship ultimately survived a presidential election in which they faced off as candidates. Historian Gordon S. Wood explains why their friendship should give us hope. Wood’s book is Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
In lieu of a Spiel today, we’re sharing a piece of The Gist’s Washington live show. Mike talked to FiveThirtyEight senior writer Perry Bacon Jr. about the Alabama Senate race and the growing momentum behind the Republican tax bill. 

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The Problem With America’s Rich

Nov 28, 2017 2200

Description:

Can you move toward greater income equality without asking America’s richest to give something up? In a word, no. On The Gist, Richard Reeves argues that the upper echelons of the U.S. are bogarting wealth that would otherwise go to the middle class. His latest book is Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.

And today, Mike pulls a Spiel from the archives: What President Trump means when he says everybody. Or anybody. Or nobody.

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Is Neocon Nation-Building Done For?

Nov 28, 2017 2001

Description:

Elliott Abrams narrowly missed out on the State Department’s No. 2 job under President Trump, and it wasn’t just because of his sharp criticism of Trump, the candidate. In his book, Realism and Democracy, he argues that the U.S. should stay involved ­in the Arab world, going against the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine. Abrams also sounds off on Trump’s use of the presidential pardon.

In the Spiel, Mike weighs the New York Times’ coverage of your run-of-the-mill American Nazi.

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Dana Gould’s Take on Horror

Nov 23, 2017 1634

Description:

Standup comic and writer Dana Gould talks to Mike about growing up in a family of manly hunters and writing a character inspired by his dad. Gould is the creator of IFC’s Stan Against Evil, a show about a small-town New Hampshire sheriff who fights demons.  

In the Spiel, how to get a rise out of your uncle over the holidays.

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The Anti-War Candidate Was Invented in 1968

Nov 22, 2017 1849

Description:

The anti-war movement of 1968 looks inevitable today, but at the time, it felt “freaking bananas.” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains the charisma of Bobby Kennedy, the fervor of Eugene McCarthy, and the crushing blow they dealt to sitting President Lyndon B. Johnson, who withdrew from the campaign after a narrow win in the New Hampshire primary. O’Donnell wrote about the race in his latest book, Playing With Fire

In the Spiel, Mike skewers president Trump’s double standards when it comes to sexual assault.

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What’s Next for Zimbabwe?

Nov 21, 2017 1486

Description:

In his 37 years as president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has learned how to play hardball. While his past methods have invited sanctions for human rights violations, the 93-year-old is staying within the confines of the law to fend off the coup at his doorstep. Chipo Dendere, a visiting assistant professor of political science at Amherst College, tells us more. 

In the Spiel, Mike considers Charles Manson and why serial killers don’t get attention like they used to.

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At Home With Gilbert Gottfried

Nov 17, 2017 2043

Description:

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is known for his notorious voice and jokes that toe the borderline between daring and tasteless. In the documentary Gilbert, we see his softer side: his wife, Dara, rubs schmutz off his robe, his kids hug him goodbye before padding off to school, he sweet-talks a hotel concierge into giving him free deodorant. Gottfried, Dara, and the film’s director Neil Berkeley joined Mike to talk about what makes Gilbert special.  

In the Spiel, are you running for office? A sitting senator? A first-term president? Mike Pesca is here to give you advice on surviving your sexual misconduct scandals. 

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The Nazi-Busting Woman Erased by History

Nov 17, 2017 2165

Description:

Elizebeth Smith got her start poring over Shakespearean verse for secret messages that were not there. But she soon used those skills to break codes used by America’s enemies in both world wars. The FBI took credit for her decryptions of Nazi messages, and her husband’s work received much greater attention from the wars’ historians. Jason Fagone changes that with his latest book,­ The Woman Who Smashed Codes, and joins Mike to talk about it.  

In the Spiel, Mike surveys podcasting comedians’ reactions to Louis C.K.’s admitted sexual misconduct.

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People Power Beats the Courts

Nov 16, 2017 1581

Description:

How can savvy activism topple decades of legal precedent? The ACLU’s David Cole tells us about three issues in which like-minded citizens advanced their agenda: marriage equality, gun ownership, and checking George W. Bush’s war on terror. Cole’s book is Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law.  

In the Spiel, Mike considers Brett Talley, President Trump’s odd pick for federal district judge.

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Putting the Con in Economics

Nov 15, 2017 2361

Description:

President Trump’s top economics adviser is Kevin Hassett, a guy who has made some very bad calls—most notably, his assertion that the Bush tax cuts would make the U.S. economy recession-proof. New Yorker writer Adam Davidson takes us to economics school and parses some of Hassett’s years old gobbledygook.  In the Spiel, holding Bill Clinton’s accusers to today’s standards.

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Prisons of Profit

Nov 14, 2017 1680

Description:

As America’s prison population surged in the ’80s and ’90s, private prisons were billed as the solution. They were supposed to bring innovations to incarceration and save tax dollars. But as criminal justice expert Lauren-Brooke Eisen tells us, private prisons are no more cost-effective, and the corporations behind them operate in secrecy. Eisen’s book is Inside Private Prisons.  In the Spiel, Mike skewers the Republican tax plan.

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The Family Man

Nov 11, 2017 1911

Description:

Loudon Wainwright III has been plumbing his personal relationships and dysfunctions for decades in his music. His latest book continues on that theme as he examines the influence of his father. The book is Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things.
In the Spiel, Mike is not yet done talking about Roy Moore and Louis C.K. 

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Why Bush 41 Was the Anti-Trump

Nov 9, 2017 1693

Description:

As the Soviet Union crumbled, George H.W. Bush’s strategy was simple: say nothing. Historian Jeffrey Engel tells us about Bush’s plain oratory and his relationship with the USSR’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Engel says Bush Sr. and Trump scarcely look like they’re from the same party—which, of course, they aren’t. His book is When the World Seemed New.
In the Spiel, reacting to the allegations against Roy Moore and Louis C.K.

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About Last Night

Nov 9, 2017 1706

Description:

Democrats are feeling triumphant after Tuesday’s state and local elections. But it’s not a referendum on the president until his name is on the ballot, so E.J. Dionne and Thomas Mann are here to explain remains unique about this moment in American history. Dionne, Mann, and Norman Ornstein are the authors of the book One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported
In the Spiel, hating on the latest iOS update.

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The Paradox of Black Patriotism

Nov 8, 2017 1710

Description:

Theodore Johnson caught our attention for his tweets about how the White House reacts to protest from black Americans. He brings an interesting perspective as a black man in the U.S. with two decades of military service under his belt—identities, he writes, that stand “toe to toe.” Johnson is a fellow at New America and a former speechwriter for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 
In the Spiel, what Harvey Weinstein’s network of spies tells us about the power of legacy media. 

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Lynn Novick on Making The Vietnam War

Nov 7, 2017 2035

Description:

How do you attempt to document an event as complex and inexplicable as the Vietnam War? Filmmaker Lynn Novick says it helped to prioritize Vietnamese voices as well as people with a flair for speaking. “There’s a poetry in just how people express themselves that we look for,” said Novick. She and Ken Burns co-directed The Vietnam War, airing now on PBS. 
In the Spiel, Mike tsk-tsks Donna Brazile’s tell-all. 

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Free to Be You and #MeToo

Nov 4, 2017 1733

Description:

The #MeToo movement is flushing out clear-cut cases of sexual harassment and assault, but is it helping us judge cases that are far murkier? Erin Gloria Ryan, senior editor for the Daily Beast, wonders whether people will separate into two camps: those who think accusers should be listened to, regardless of consequences, and those who think the accused should be punished, regardless of evidence.
In the Spiel, is this really the lowest point in U.S. history?

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Get Inside the Brain of Michael Rapaport

Nov 2, 2017 1628

Description:

The tax plan is out, and New Yorker writer Adam Davidson joins us to play One Question, One Question Only: Is this tax reform?
And the voluble Michael Rapaport unleashes his opinions about various “stickmen” (read: athletic Casanovas) and why he’s embarrassed to be a Knicks fan. Rapaport’s new book is This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash, and he hosts the podcast I Am Rapaport
And in the Spiel, what went wrong in protecting Americans from armies of Russian trolls. 

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Talk Like a Pirate (Party) Day

Nov 2, 2017 1853

Description:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir has an unusual background for a politician: she’s a poet and a free speech activist. Since 2013, she’s been a member of the Icelandic parliament representing the anti-establishment Pirate Party. Jónsdóttir talks to Mike about what it’s like to work within a fledgling political party and why she’s disappointed with what Wikileaks has become.
In the Spiel, how not to respond to a terrorist attack. 

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Putting Dr. Seuss on the Couch

Nov 1, 2017 1611

Description:

Was Dr. Seuss racist? Or did his books just not age well? And what is the appropriate response to a canonical work that seems to be littered with racially charged depictions? Philip Nel takes on all these questions and poses some more of his own in his latest book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black?
In the Spiel, what if the office of the presidency were leveraged for the sake of constant distraction? We are finding out. 

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Scared to Death?

Oct 30, 2017 1579

Description:

Can you be scared to death? Can your hair go white from fear? This sounds like a job for “Is That Bullshit?” with Maria Konnikova, our favorite BS detector. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game
In the Spiel, the never-ending baseball game and a bothersome T-Mobile ad. 

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Sen. Cory Booker Has a Message for Pot Smokers

Oct 27, 2017 1918

Description:

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has rolled out the kind of marijuana legalization bill progressives love to fawn over and libertarians love to ridicule. The plan would pressure states to legalize marijuana by withholding federal money. Booker cedes that the bill’s passage doesn’t seem imminent, but he likens marijuana legalization to gay marriage, another proposal that saw a rapid surge in popular support: “I’m believing in—I’m claiming a sea change coming in the future.”
In the Spiel, what is justice for Bowe Bergdahl?

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Fellas We Frolicked With

Oct 26, 2017 1724

Description:

Talking about sex makes some people squirm. For everyone else there’s Guys We Fucked, a podcast hosted by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson that started off as a series of interviews with their old partners. Now it’s more of a coffee klatsch between two raunchy feminists.Their new book is F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed.

And in the Spiel, Bannon, Bulgarian mutiny, and beluga whales.

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Jacob Weisberg on the Steele Dossier

Oct 25, 2017 1625

Description:

Jacob Weisberg says the Clinton campaign’s links to the Steele dossier matters, but not as much as the veracity of the oppo research itself. Weisberg is host of Trumpcast and editor in chief of the Slate Group.

In the Spiel, the death of Fats Domino.

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Jeff Bezos Isn’t King

Oct 24, 2017 1803

Description:

Shareholder returns aren’t the only barometer of CEO success anymore, or else Jeff Bezos would be on top. In recent years, sustainability and diversity have gained importance—and in those areas, European CEOs are lapping their American competitors. Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, joins us to discuss the metrics for CEO success and how businesses struggle to diversify. The Harvard Business Review just published its rankings of the best-performing CEOs in the world of 2017.
And a discursive Spiel about President Trump’s chances of passing tax reform.

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A Show for Mere Mortals

Oct 24, 2017 2025

Description:

Kathleen Horan writes obituaries for the living. Her Audible original series, Mortal City, is an anthology of lesser-known New York characters: Douglas the sanitation worker, Serge the barman, Rocky the ambulance commandant. “I just kept feeling like there were people that I was missing,” says Horan. She prefers to talk to people who live and work on the city’s margins: “They just can’t help but show you higher up on the thigh of their story.”
In the Spiel, the latest page in the very long scrapbook on President Trump’s communication catastrophes.

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Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald

Oct 20, 2017 2172

Description:

Marc Maron says he “didn’t know anything about anything” when he began working in radio. But producer Brendan McDonald can tell you the moment he knew Maron could be a radio star. It was during a morning show on the ill-fated Air America network, and then-host Maron was ranting about overcooked lentils. “The phones lit up,” said McDonald. The two went on to create WTF With Marc Maron, the podcast now known for intense interviews with comedians, many of whom Maron quarreled with in the past. Maron’s latest book, Waiting for the Punch, is a collection of interview excerpts.
In the Spiel, a few things Mike doesn’t understand about other people. 

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Flags Tell Fibs

Oct 19, 2017 1867

Description:

Some national flags are created to unify nations, but others are simply based on myths. The Danes believe God threw theirs from heaven, and the Catalonians tell the story of a severed arm dragged across a shield. Vexilloligist and author Tim Marshall joins us to explain these myths and the complex politics of national flags. Marshall’s new book is A Flag Worth Dying For.

In the Spiel, a right-wing provocateur provokes often, but not well. 

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Falling for the Gambler’s Fallacy

Oct 18, 2017 1720

Description:

If the roulette wheel keeps stopping on green, it’s bound to stop on red soon, right? It must be time for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” Maria Konnikova returns to debunk our ideas about probability and gambling. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game.  

In the Spiel, the Russian connection.

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The Stupid Genius of Dexter Guff

Oct 18, 2017 2133

Description:

Thought-leaders build careers out of TED talks, inspirational quotes, and branded products. Dexter Guff is a big player in that space, teaching his listeners how to crush it every day. But Dexter Guff is not a real guy. His podcast, Dexter Guff Is Smarter Than You, is a satirical show starring actor Peter Oldring. Oldring explains the origins of the Dexter Guff character and the difficulties of executing dry humor.
In the Spiel, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson sizes up Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton. 

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Sarah Kliff on the Big Questions

Oct 17, 2017 2201

Description:

You can’t get away from Obamacare news, and with each repeal effort there are familiar, wild-eyed claims from the law’s supporters and detractors. Will chipping away at the Affordable Care Act cause people to die? Did the health care law “bend” the cost curve? Did your taxes go up to pay for healthcare for the poor and the sick? Mike interrogates some of these pronouncements with Vox’s Sarah Kliff. Listen to her new weekly podcast, Impact.
Pitchforks down, please: a Spiel about why New York Times op-ed columnist Mayim Bialik isn’t a monster. 

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Why Now With the Weinstein Stories?

Oct 14, 2017 1991

Description:

Why did it take years of reporting before any news organizations could nail down the Harvey Weinstein story? NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says previously, the allegations received only “twilight” coverage. He considers why NBC might have whiffed on the Weinstein story, and how the network’s hard pass is being recast in conservative circles. Folkenflik is the author of Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires
In the Spiel, who was the star of the New York City mayoral debate? It wasn’t Oxford-style discourse. 

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The Shia LaBeouf of Islam

Oct 12, 2017 1934

Description:

What does it mean to be Muslim in the U.S. right now? Slate’s Aymann Ismail set out to understand, interviewing the founder of right-wing website Gateway Pundit, a former Muslim extremist, and his own family members, among others. What Aymann has learned so far has surprised him. His Slate video series is “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?” 

In the Spiel, jokes didn’t take down Harvey Weinstein.  

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Oklahoma Is Not OK

Oct 11, 2017 1709

Description:

Things are looking bleak in Oklahoma. Low taxes and slashed state spending mean schools, prisons, and even the state capitol building itself are failing. Russell Cobb, a native Okie, explains how his home state came to be so screwed up
In the Spiel, what’s so wrong with a gun registry?  

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Made-Up Cabaret

Oct 10, 2017 1699

Description:

Comedian Jason Kravits can write a Broadway hit, on the spot. That’s the premise of his improv cabaret show, where he invents tunes based on audience suggestions, such as “Yom Kippur” or “a Victorian sewer.” The show, Off the Top, is on the second Saturday of every month at the Duplex in Manhattan. His next show is Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.

In the Spiel, the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Masha Gessen, Putin Whisperer

Oct 6, 2017 1917

Description:

Masha Gessen returns to The Gist, this time to talk about her latest work, The Future Is History. Gessen uses the book to examine the ways in which post-Soviet Russia failed to process the traumas of totalitarianism. In failing to reckon with its past, did Russia doom itself to a bleak future? 
In the Spiel, the dearth of details in the Trump administration’s tax plan.

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Facebook’s Data Monopoly

Oct 6, 2017 1769

Description:

This week, we learned that Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted swing states during the 2016 election. Initially hesitant about sharing information with the government, Facebook finally gave in to avoid a deeper discussion on regulation, but tech companies have grown so big that it might be time for the government to step in. Journalist Franklin Foer explains how tech has become so powerful, and why it’s essential to be skeptical of technological innovation. Foer’s new book is World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech.

In the Spiel, gun-control regulations.

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You Poor Seoul

Oct 4, 2017 1761

Description:

Has the military become more tolerant of collateral damage under President Trump? Why are there no good military options in North Korea? And who does it hurt when the president goes off-script about Kim Jong-un? Retired Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks has the answers. 
In the Spiel, the cost of paying constant attention to the president’s myriad sins and insults.

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The Presidency is Impossible

Oct 3, 2017 1720

Description:

Before the Cold War, the president spent most of his time focusing on long-term problems facing the nation. But ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president has had to devote more time to immediate crises than overarching strategy. Author Jeremi Suri explains how the office of the president has changed so drastically—and whether there’s any way for occupants to succeed now. Suri’s new book is The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office.

In the Spiel, more ways to think about gun reform. 

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The Rage Was Already There

Oct 2, 2017 1891

Description:

On The Gist, we’re thinking about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the errors we make when we attempt to explain the motives of an attacker. Author Masha Gessen says it’s all part of our desire to reassure ourselves that we won’t fall victim to a bomb blast or a spray of bullets. “As soon as we find an explanation, we set it aside and we’re reassured that it’s not going to happen to us.” Gessen went in search of an explanation for the Boston Marathon bombing in her book, The Brothers. She’ll be back soon to talk about her latest book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
In the Spiel, Mike found the perfect metaphor for our familiar reaction to a mass shooting. 

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Kurt Andersen’s History of American Wackadoodles

Sep 29, 2017 2233

Description:

Charlatans and magical thinkers aren’t new to this country; they helped shape it. So goes the thesis of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. Author Kurt Andersen joins Mike to consider religious quacks, the wackadoodles of the left and right, and the shrinking authority of the academy. Andersen is the host of Studio 360
In the Spiel, we’re long overdue for another Lobstar. 

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Recentering American Politics

Sep 29, 2017 1871

Description:

For the past 25 years, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution have been debating the meaning of presidential elections. But in 2016, they found themselves agreeing much more frequently on issues such as immigration, the tech industry, and tax reform. These men, on opposite sides of center, decided to develop a plan to recenter American politics. Galston and Kristol’s new project is the New Center.

In the Spiel, a librarian rejected books donated by Melania Trump.

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It’s Time to Rethink Puerto Rico

Sep 27, 2017 1659

Description:

It’s time for Vexillology Corner: Last month, the city of Pocatello, Idaho, presented a new city flag to replace their previous one, known for being one of the ugliest flags in the United States. But what makes a flag ugly? Vexillologist Ted Kaye describes Pocatello’s new flag and reminds us why a kid should be able to draw it. Kaye is the author of Good Flag, Bad Flag.
In the Spiel, a brief word from economist Tyler Cowen, who summarizes the grim outlook for Puerto Rico




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Mark Lilla’s Advice for Liberals

Sep 26, 2017 1887

Description:

Mark Lilla made a lot of liberals bristle with his New York Times op-ed, “The End of Identity Liberalism.” But Lilla insists that what he’s suggesting should not make the bleeding hearts clutch their hemp necklaces in horror. His premise is simple: To make meaningful gains, Democrats need institutional power (i.e., election wins). And far too often, Lilla says, liberals have sacrificed such ends for what he calls “noble defeats.” Lilla’s book is The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

In the Spiel, Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive. 

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David Litt is D.C. Funny

Sep 25, 2017 1884

Description:

Working in the White House sounds impressive, but speechwriter David Litt says it’s not like The West Wing. Some days you just find salmon in a toilet, or have to tell the president that he looks like Hitler. Litt shares his experience as a self-described unimportant person working in the most important place in America. Litt’s new book Thanks, Obama is out now, and you can find him on Twitter.
In the Spiel, it’s a sports talk hot take. 

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2007 Defined the Next Decade In Pop

Sep 22, 2017 1760

Description:

The chart-topping hits of 2007 featured Beyoncé at peak pop and Kanye West ahead of the curve with electronic dance music. Why do the hits of 2007 have such impressive staying power? Chris Molanphy says it might be because the 2007 Billboard charts were more comprehensive than ever, marking the first time that digital music sales were incorporated into a song’s ranking. Molanphy writes Slate’s Why Is This Song No. 1? column and hosts the podcast Hit Parade.
In the Spiel, John McCain just keeps on delivering. 

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Dylan Moran Will Say It to Your Face

Sep 21, 2017 1891

Description:

Dylan Moran is a comedian from Ireland, a resident of Scotland, and a worried observer of politics in America. He talks to Mike about his way with words and why he thinks satire might bring down the 45th president. Moran is touring the U.S. now with his latest stand-up show, Grumbling Mustard.

In the Spiel, democracy is exacerbating international tragedy.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Sep 20, 2017 1559

Description:

This much we know: The Equifax data breach is bad. How can the credit bureaus, who have been described as the “plumbing” of our financial system, show so little regard for the people whose data they collect? New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson says it’s simple: We are not their customers, we are their product. Morgenson writes the Fair Game column. Her most recent book is Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon
In the Spiel, the Jimmy Kimmel test. 





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The Frat Doesn’t Have Your Back

Sep 19, 2017 1745

Description:

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was already the country’s deadliest fraternity when it became famous in 2015 for its racist chants. But Bloomberg News senior editor John Hechinger says SAE’s response to its scandal was unusual, as leaders used his reporting to try to reform members. Even so, the rising costs of insuring national fraternities might cause local chapters to shut down before reforms can take root. “The leaders of SAE know they are a legal judgment away from oblivion,” writes Hechinger. His book is True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities.

In the Spiel, Trump’s speech at the United Nations.

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Was Booger Really A Nerd?

Sep 19, 2017 1986

Description:

Why does the movie Revenge of the Nerds continue to resonate today? Because, aside from how funny it is, it stands up for outcasts. Actor Curtis Armstrong explains what he took away from the film playing Booger, who was accepted by the nerds despite not really being one of them. Armstrong is the author of Revenge of the Nerd: Or… The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger.

In the Spiel, health care for all! 

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Ted Leo’s Hanged-Man Wisdom

Sep 15, 2017 1773

Description:

On The Gist, Mike talks to one of his favorites: Musician Ted Leo discusses letting his political frustrations fuel his songwriting (see his song, “William Weld in the 21st Century”) and explains how he finds solace in the tarot card image of the hanged man, which inspired the name of his new album. The Hanged Man is available now. For more on Ted Leo, read Michael Tedder’s story in Stereogum, “Ted Leo Is Like You.
In the Spiel, why it’s silly to say that speech equals violence. 

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Which Type Are You?

Sep 15, 2017 1996

Description:

On The Gist, Gretchen Rubin explains why her system of sorting people into four personality types (Rebel, Obliger, Questioner, and Upholder) will make your life easier. Rubin is the author of The Four Tendencies and host of the podcast Happier
In the Spiel, what happens when politics seeps into sports. 

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Chris Gethard Wrestles With Comedy

Sep 13, 2017 1800

Description:

Late-night talk shows adhere to a form: a host behind a desk, pre-produced interviews, and tightly choreographed bits. Chris Gethard wants to break that form apart. With absurd gags like getting dunked in ice water or staying awake for 36 hours, Gethard wants to disarm his celebrity guests and put his viewers in charge. Gethard’s new season of The Chris Gethard Show airs Thursday nights at 11 p.m. Eastern on truTV.

In the Spiel, the fatberg of London. 

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The Hygiene Hypothesis

Sep 13, 2017 1966

Description:

Do germaphobic parents doom their kids to a lifetime of allergies and irritable bowels? This sounds like a question for our favorite game, “Is That Bullshit?” Returning champion Maria Konnikova helps us sort good bacteria from bad. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game

In the Spiel, what should we consider before changing the definition of sexual assault?

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Nnamdi Asomugha’s Drama School

Sep 11, 2017 1892

Description:

Former NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sees his time in football as a prep course for acting.  On The Gist, he explains how he learned to study other people while developing his own style. Asomugha stars in Crown Heights, a film based on the true story of a Brooklyn man trying to prove the innocence of his imprisoned friend. Crown Heights is in select theaters and will be available nationwide starting Friday, Sept. 15. 
In the Spiel, why does anyone listen to Ivanka Trump? 

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Patricia Williams Isn’t Joking

Sep 8, 2017 1854

Description:

Standup comic Ms. Pat is used to getting follow-up questions about her jokes. Did your mom really shoot a gun in the house? Did you really get pregnant when you were 13? Did you really have fleas? It’s all true, and now it’s even been fact-checked. Patricia Williams tells Mike about what it was like to write her book, Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat.
In the Spiel, a special statement from the president of Equifax. 

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Three Cheers for Houston

Sep 7, 2017 1756

Description:

Hurricane Harvey has caused a huge amount of property damage, but so far the death toll remains remarkably low. Why? Mike talks to John Mutter, a Columbia University professor who studies how natural disasters affect the poor. Mutter is the author of The Disaster Profiteers. In the Spiel, the deal-making wizardry of President Trump. 

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Music Is Sex

Sep 6, 2017 1870

Description:

Did the sexual revolution inspire rock ’n’ roll or vice versa? Was Elvis Presley a knowing sex symbol or a total innocent? Is it true that there are still blue laws on the books against playing “Tutti Frutti” after dark? NPR’s music critic Ann Powers tackles these and other questions in her book, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music
In the Spiel, the perfect late-summer sports scandal. 

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Choosing Who Gets Flooded

Sep 5, 2017 1771

Description:

The nation has weathered another major natural disaster, and the Army Corps of Engineers once again finds itself under scrutiny. NPR’s national desk correspondent Wade Goodwyn says the corps made a choice to open the floodgates of two major reservoirs in southeast Texas, flooding certain neighborhoods and sparing others. 
Mike Pesca is back to take his rightful place as spieler in chief. Tuesday’s topic: Jeff Sessions finally gets to stick it to the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. 

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Is Amazon a Monopoly?

Sep 1, 2017 2023

Description:

Hosting today’s Gist is Robert Smith from NPR’s Planet Money.
On the show, he’ll talk to Lina Khan, whose research encouraging tighter regulations on Amazon caught some heat from the company’s general counsel. Khan works at the Open Markets Program, formerly housed under the New America Foundation. 
And in the Spiel, Robert Smith observes a new trend in broadcast news: reporters becoming heroes on live television. What could possibly go wrong?

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Dan Savage on the Nashville Statement

Aug 31, 2017 1848

Description:

Today's guest host is Dan Savage, from the Savage Lovecast. Dan is the internationally syndicated columnist of “Savage Love” and the author of several books. With his husband Terry Miller, he cofounded the It Gets Better project and edited the It Gets Better collection.
On The Gist, Dan talks to author Peggy Orenstein about the lack of sexual education for young women and how book tours can change the writing process. Orenstein is the author of Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape.
In the Spiel: the clueless conservatism of the Nashville Statement.

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Shake It Off, Taylor

Aug 30, 2017 1626

Description:

Question: What’s the best way to take a vacation in a Communist society? Answer: With utmost utilitarian seriousness, and possibly without your family. On this last week before Labor Day, guest host and Slate writer Leon Neyfakh talks to historian Diane Koenker about how the Soviet Union came to embrace personal holidays and reconcile them with the Communist doctrine. Koenker is the author of Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream. 
In the Spiel, the cautionary tale of Taylor Swift’s latest single.

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The Flood Trap That Houston Built

Aug 29, 2017 1484

Description:

Slate’s Henry Grabar explains how rampant building in the Houston suburbs have made the area worse for wear during Tropical Storm Harvey. And in the Spiel, guest-host Osita Nwanevu breaks his self-imposed moratorium against criticizing columnist David Brooks. 

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Al Letson Became A Human Shield

Aug 29, 2017 1766

Description:

Al Letson was just trying to cover a demonstration – an anti-hate rally in Berkeley. When he saw a group of balaclava-clad men descend on an apparent right-wing agitator, he jumped into the fray, using his body to defend the man from kicks and punches. Letson is the host of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. 
And for the Spiel, is “#whaboom” the worst of our culture today?

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Mismatch

Aug 26, 2017 2420

Description:

The hype surrounding the Saturday night fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and MMA fighter Conor McGregor is overtly racially charged. Why? Because people are eating it up, says Wesley Morris, critic-at-large for the New York Times. Morris and Mike talk about the role of race in the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, Dana Schutz’s Open Casket painting of Emmett Till, the closing of the Broadway show The Great Comet, and more. Morris is the co-host of the Still Processing podcast. 

In the Spiel: We live in interesting times.  

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America Is Weird About Sex

Aug 25, 2017 1706

Description:

Understanding sexual consent is complicated. Colleges are working to clarify this issue while also policing sexual assault. But when does this cross over into legislating feelings versus facts? Vanessa Grigoriadis helps us understand the current iteration of the sexual consent debate happening on campuses today. Grigoriadis is the author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus.
In the Spiel: Should we tear down statues?

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Sure, Punching Nazis Feels Good…

Aug 23, 2017 1988

Description:

The antifa movement is resurging. It started in 1920s Europe to fight Hitler and Mussolini and has returned to oppose the current wave of xenophobia in the United States. Author Mark Bray walks us through the history of the antifa movement. Bray is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.
In the Spiel: Trump’s campaign speech in Phoenix.

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Russia's Lab Rat

Aug 22, 2017 1878

Description:

Filmmaker Bryan Fogel had a simple hypothesis: The worldwide anti-doping system is a joke. To test his theory, Fogel wanted to dope himself and evade detection. A Russian anti-doping lab director agreed to help. Months later, Fogel’s personal doping coach was blowing the whistle on Russia’s piss-swapping scam to get around anti-doping rules. Fogel’s documentary, Icarus, is available on Netflix. 

In the Spiel: The Instagram drama of Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

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The Many Theories of Malcolm Gladwell

Aug 21, 2017 2215

Description:

Malcolm Gladwell’s hit podcast Revisionist History spits out neat, distilled theories in every episode. Some of them are careful, others are reductive. But Gladwell says his theories aren’t all meant to be airtight: They just help him organize his stories, or merely spruce them up. “In some of them I’m trying to make a very, very serious, moral point. Sometimes I’m just—I’m making intellectual mischief.” 

In the Spiel: the parallels between the Obama administration and the Trump administration on race relations.

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The Year MTV Took Over the Charts

Aug 18, 2017 1931

Description:

In 1982, MTV started guiding Billboard’s taste in music. The year was filled with elaborate videos and cheesy ballads. Chris Molanphy takes us through all the hand claps and synth vibes of that year’s Billboard hits. Molanphy writes Slate’s Why Is This Song No. 1 column and hosts the podcast Hit Parade

In the Spiel: The last time anything good happened to Donald Trump. 

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Is This the End of Steve Bannon?

Aug 17, 2017 2114

Description:

Did Steve Bannon really misunderstand the meaning of off the record during his now-infamous “interview” with the American Prospect? “Yup,” says Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain, a book about Bannon’s influence on the Trump presidency. Green addresses the latest rumors of Bannon’s political demise, and tries to sort out why, exactly, Trump’s chief strategist always wears three shirts at once. 

In the Spiel, a nuclear war with North Korea no longer feels inevitable. So what now? 

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The Overreaction Doctrine

Aug 16, 2017 1515

Description:

Political scientist Moshe Maor says Donald Trump’s policy ideas are very, very over-the-top. But that’s exactly the point. On issues like immigration and transgender service members, bold overreactions are the only kind of policies that speak to cynical voters. “People want immediate action,” says Maor. “Morality aside, Trump is playing his cards right.” Maor is a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In the Spiel, is Donal Trump a smart racist or a stupid racist?
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Why Are Police Unions So Aggressive?

Aug 15, 2017 1658

Description:

Guest host Leon Neyfakh speaks with retired Boston cop Tom Nolan about the politics of police unions. While unions in other industries put on a progressive face to the world, police unions tend to be defensive of everything from disrespecting the mayor of New York to rough treatment of prisoners. But Nolan says he’s encouraged by their recent condemnation of President Trump’s comments about police violence. “I think they know the speaker of those words does not know what the hell he was talking about,” says Nolan, who now teaches at Merrimack College

In the Spiel, Google is a massive company. It’s also an increasingly bad search engine.
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There Is No Order in Congress

Aug 14, 2017 1618

Description:

Typically Congress has an order to follow when creating bills and passing them into law. There’s committee writing, revisions, and a bipartisan back-and-forth. In recent years that order has broken down and caused major divides inside both parties. Georgetown senior fellow Joshua Huder details this process and how it went wrong. Huder’s writing can be found on the blog Rule 22.

In the Spiel, Mike heads to the Bobby Fischer museum in Iceland and explores the tricky balance of memorializing the controversial star.

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Brandt Tobler Has a Problem With Authority

Aug 11, 2017 1908

Description:

Brandt Tobler has had a crazy life. His stand-up comedy is the sum of his stories as a small-town wayward kid busting out of Wyoming. He was the don of a criminal syndicate he called the “mallfia,” he ran the Las Vegas strip placing bets for gambling titans, and he plotted to kill his estranged father. He’s also kind of a sweetheart. Tobler’s book is Free Roll.

In the Spiel, how cynicism breeds fake news.

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About the Google Memo

Aug 11, 2017 2148

Description:

Google’s reputation for openness took a tumble when its CEO fired James Damore, the author of a memo questioning the company’s efforts to achieve gender parity. Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, blames the internet. She says easy access to data is allowing us to make dumb arguments.

In the Spiel, Mike has more thoughts on the Google memo. Guess what? He dislikes it. 

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Muhammad Ali’s Biggest Fight

Aug 10, 2017 1752

Description:

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, but he didn’t spend his entire life in the ring. During the Vietnam War, he spent his time trying to avoid the draft as a conscientious objector. Journalist Leigh Montville says the struggle changed Ali’s life—and the country. Montville’s new book is Sting Like a Bee
In the Spiel, a closer look at the CV of the most important soil-health civil servant in the news.

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Somewheres vs. Anywheres

Aug 8, 2017 1803

Description:

Over the last few years, the meaningful fault line between political camps has separated people rooted to certain places and people rooted to certain ideas. David Goodhart says the anywheres have become too dominant, and the somewhere have rightly felt excluded. How can we bridge the divide? Goodhart’s book is The Road to Somewhere
In the Spiel, speak loudly domestically and you might hurt your credibility. Speak loudly internationally and you might end civilization. 

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The Social Experiment on TV

Aug 7, 2017 1869

Description:

Be bold, but not arrogant. Apologize when wrong, but don’t accept blame. Stay calm in a crisis. These are some of the lessons Mike Richards has learned hosting GSN’s Divided, the social experiment masquerading as a game show. 
In the Spiel, why the Dow is for fuddy-duddies. 

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Maria Bamford Wants to See Emotion

Aug 4, 2017 2084

Description:

Maria Bamford has been making top comedian lists for years, but she knows her stand-up isn’t for everyone: “I can bomb any moment of the week, any day.” On The Gist, she rebuts Mike’s assertion that comics are more likely to struggle with depression. Bamford also explains why she wishes ESPN’s postgame analysis were swapped out for televised confessional booths for the athletes. Her new Netflix show is Lady Dynamite.
In the Spiel, Mike reads some of the mail responding to his takedown of the term white privilege and names another Lobstar.  

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The Scaramucci Tapes

Aug 3, 2017 1859

Description:

It’s a special combo Gist, with an interview and Spiel rolled into one segment: Zoe Chace, producer for This American Life, digs up some old audio from one of her conversations with Anthony Scaramucci. The tape is from 2016, when the Mooch was pondering whether to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. What Scaramucci said back then may indicate what he’ll do next. 

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A Video Game Thoreau Might Play

Aug 2, 2017 1804

Description:

What would you expect from a video game inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s sojourn in the woods? In Walden, a game, players can contemplate the forest, go boating with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and practice civil disobedience. The game was developed by the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. Lab Director Tracy Fullerton explains why she thinks Thoreau might have liked the game. 
In the Spiel, our faith in the military might not be blind, but it is blinkered. 

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No Hard Feelings

Aug 1, 2017 2144

Description:

Psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett is the grand inquisitor of human emotions. Her book, How Emotions Are Made, inspired a big chunk of the latest season of NPR’s Invisibilia. Barrett says scientific research shows that emotions are highly variable and utter creations of our minds. Some of her resulting conclusions may surprise you. 
In the Spiel, Mike goes there: white privilege and rape culture. 

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How to Beat a Casino

Jul 31, 2017 1949

Description:

A few years ago, an unassuming young woman named Kelly Sun teamed up with Phil Ivey, the world’s most famous poker player. Using some questionable strategies, the two managed to win millions of dollars from casinos across the world. Now the casinos are saying what they did is cheating, and they’re trying to get their money back in court. Reporter Rose Eveleth tells Sun and Ivey’s story in a new audio documentary, A Queen of Sorts, part of the ESPN podcast series 30 for 30
In the Spiel, yeah, no, #NoConfederate.   

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Alan Alda Seeks Clarity

Jul 28, 2017 1793

Description:

Alan Alda’s new book is called If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? The title comes from his own bad experiences talking to doctors and other science professionals, including one that screwed up his smile for years. “We need to get people talking like people…it’s all about empathy,” says the actor, who also founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.  In The Spiel, why we should actually care about the bizarre Scaramucci–New Yorker interview.  

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They Called Him Son of Sam

Jul 27, 2017 1758

Description:

Tom Jennings dug through hours of archival media footage to tell the story of Son of Sam, the serial killer who terrorized New York City in 1976 and 1977. The resulting documentary is part of the Smithsonian Channel’s Lost Tapes series. The Lost Tapes: Son of Sam airs Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel.

Also, a breakdown of the Boy Scouts’ apology for Donald Trump’s jamboree speech.
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How Democrats Condescend to the White Working Class

Jul 26, 2017 2130

Description:

According to Joan C. Williams, about a third of the country feels talked down to. These are the white working class folks, the people who went for Trump, the people who feel that terms like disruption just mean more hassle and pain. “We can’t expect people to have elite values if we don’t give them elite lives,” says Williams. She’s the author of the book White Working Class

For the Spiel, why does everyone sound like Goodfellas while doing an Anthony Scaramucci impression?

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Why Did Trump and Putin Meet in Secret?

Jul 25, 2017 1834

Description:

After the G-20 Summit, Ian Bremmer broke the news to Americans about Trump’s secret second meeting with Vladimir Putin. He says he did it because so many American allies were commenting on the rendezvous in private. “The people in the room, they found it disconcerting that the person Trump was more comfortable with is their adversary,” says Bremmer. He joins us to discuss Russia, Rex Tillerson’s future in the White House, and the decline of American power. Bremmer is an author and risk analyst at the Eurasia Group.

For the Spiel, did you know the Washington Post is owned by Amazon? Trump really wants you to know that.
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A Kid in the Hall Tells All

Jul 24, 2017 1684

Description:

When Kevin McDonald moved to New York, his sketch troupe, Kids in the Hall, had a deal with Lorne Michaels to make a new comedy show. But these were during some lean years for Michaels. “We were in a closet,” says McDonald, “and he was being audited, so it was us and a bunch of auditors. Once in a while, if we said something really funny, we could hear the auditors giggling on the other side of the room.”

While Kids in the Hall was never as famous as Saturday Night Live, the show became legendary for a discerning subset of comedy fans. “It’s like unsweetened lemonade—only 20 percent of people like us, but those who do really love us.” McDonald is now hosting a podcast with live shows across the U.S.

For the Spiel, a not so surreal end for Salvador Dalí’s remains. 

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Al Gore, Ever Hopeful

Jul 21, 2017 2070

Description:

If things had gone well, America would still be in the Paris Agreement on climate change, green energy would be spreading across the country and Al Gore wouldn’t have needed to make a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. But it didn’t work out that way. With his new movie hitting theaters next week, Gore remains hopeful during these depressing times. “If somebody told me five years ago, marriage equality would be the law in all 50 states, I would have asked what they were smoking,” says the former vice president. “But it did happen, because it became a choice between right and wrong. That’s where the climate movement is now.”  
For the Spiel, why persuading doubters is so hard when it comes to climate change science. 

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Unearthing a Cult Classic

Jul 20, 2017 1772

Description:

Mike Sacks is not just a comedian; he’s also a comedy historian. This summer, he’s unearthed a rare artifact, the cult classic, Dixie-fried action movie Stinker Lets Loose. “Some famous people have cited this movie as a big influence on them,” says Sacks, citing Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. “You can hear it in some of his lyrics, for sure.” A 40th-anniversary novelization of Stinker is available now, with an intro by Sacks.
For the Spiel, why does Donald Trump keep saying stupid things to the New York Times, a newspaper he purports to hate? 

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The Garbage Art of Handwriting Analysis

Jul 19, 2017 1832

Description:

Maria Konnikova returns to look at a tool prosecutors have used for decades: handwriting analysis, or graphology. Older versions of the practice have used handwriting to predict everything from a person’s mental state to their capacity for murder. “People have been convicted based on it,” says Konnikova. “We’re not talking about phrenology. Graphology is still something that exists in the United States. There are societies of graphologists.” Konnikova is the author of The Confidence Game and host of the Panoply podcast The Grift
For the Spiel, Trump’s voting commission may be hobbled, but it can still do some real harm.  

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Tyler Cowen Fears for Our Future

Jul 18, 2017 1857

Description:

Economist Tyler Cowen is disdainful of social media, heartened by recent immigrants, and wary of pot. He thinks that, in our collective desire for comfort, we are postponing big and necessary changes that will sow instability in the years ahead. “Right now Americans are failing to regenerate sources of future progress,” Cowen writes, “and thus they are borrowing against the future rather than paying their bills.” Cowen’s latest book is The Complacent Class.
In the Spiel, are things going any better abroad? 

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Dan Pashman on the Psychology of Taste

Jul 17, 2017 1618

Description:

Our friend Dan Pashman from the Sporkful podcast returns to explain the new field of study known as gastrophysics and why our brains have a big influence over how we taste food. For example, research shows we like the taste of food served with heavy cutlery and ice cream presented with brighter colors. “It could be something evolutionary,” says Pashman. “With brighter colors, ice cream tastes sweeter.” Check out Pashman’s interview with gastrophysicist Charles Spence
For the Spiel: Ann Coulter versus Delta, Day 3. 

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Haunted By “A Ghost Story”

Jul 14, 2017 1542

Description:

Director David Lowery has made one of the most remarkable films of 2017 so far, and he’s built it around a ridiculous image: a white sheet with two eye-holes cut out. So what makes “A Ghost Story” feel so epic? And what’s with that 10-minute pie scene? Spoilers abound.     For the Spiel: so, who was in the room with Don Jr. and the Russians?  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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At Sea With James Stavridis

Jul 13, 2017 1698

Description:

Retired Admiral James Stavridis wants to remind us: Despite headlines about the rise of ISIS, there are bigger existential threats to America. “Terrorism is not apocalyptic, it’s a tool,” says Stavridis. He warns that conflicts with Russia and China are much more worrisome and likely to include a maritime component. “Again and again when there’s a crisis, the first question from the president is, where are the [aircraft] carriers? They are flexible and they can strike.” His new book is Sea Power.

In the Spiel, making a supergroup of the musicians in Trump’s White House.

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Look at All the Struggling Democracies

Jul 12, 2017 1775

Description:

It’s not that things are so terribly bad right now, it’s that circumstances have failed to keep up with expectations. So says Edward Luce, chief U.S. columnist for the Financial Times, whose new book surveys the ensuing crisis of confidence in liberal democracies. Luce’s book is The Retreat of Western Liberalism.

In the Spiel, Bridgegate winds down.
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Ben Wittes on the Latest News Bomb

Jul 11, 2017 1753

Description:

Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes on the latest #ENSH (errant national security horses---) and the brewing scandal surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s emails. 

In the Spiel, we’re going back to the event that set all this in motion: the Miss Universe pageant of 2013. 

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Twitter Should Drop Trump Already

Jul 10, 2017 1507

Description:

The jobs report has been good, the U.S. isn’t in a shooting war, and the economy is booming. So why is Trump still in the high 30s in terms of popularity? Political scientist Seth Masket says it’s because of Trump’s abrasive presence on Twitter. Masket recently made the case for why it’s in everyone’s best interest for the president and the social media giant to part ways in the Pacific Standard.   

In the Spiel, Kellyanne Conway, the gift that keeps on giving.

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In Defense of Ombudsmen

Jul 7, 2017 1503

Description:

Daniel Okrent did not have a lot of fun as the first public editor for the New York Times. “I was like internal affairs in a police department,” said Okrent. “Nobody liked to see me coming.” That said, Okrent defends the role ombudsmen play at news organizations, and he thinks the Times messed up earlier this year when it axed the public editor position. 
In the Spiel, there was no Labrador at the Trump-Putin meeting, so …  good sign? 

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Centrists Won’t Save Health Care

Jul 6, 2017 1798

Description:

Conservative Philip Klein doesn’t think the presence of moderate senators means we’ll get better health care policy. “Centrists always get credit and adoration by many elements of the media for talking to the other side and not being ideologically rigid,” he says. “But I think that’s another way of saying they can be bought off easily.” Klein writes about health policy for the Washington Examiner.
Also, the failing New York Times op-ed.  




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Chris Christie’s Biggest Mistake

Jul 5, 2017 1653

Description:

Gov. Chris Christie’s time in the national spotlight has been full of bloopers. But no goof appears as consequential as his call to cancel the ARC project, halting construction of an additional train tunnel between New Jersey and New York City. WNYC’s Matt Katz explains why Christie killed ARC. 
In the Spiel, Chris Christie and the fat-man theory of optics.  

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The Incredible Eddie Izzard

Jul 3, 2017 2058

Description:

Eddie Izzard once thought about playing piano for a living. He’s done one professional show. It was in front of tens of thousands of people. That’s because fans will watch the comedian do pretty much anything, from running marathons, to telling jokes in German. His new book is Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens

Also, we celebrate an unheralded date in history: July 3rd. 

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Invisibilia Questions Your Emotions

Jun 30, 2017 1874

Description:

NPR’s Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel explain what they learned about feelings from their third season of Invisibilia. Society has come around to the idea that emotions are a force to be reckoned with – is that a good thing?

In the Spiel, it’s time to name another Lobstar.
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Writing Cop Fiction in the Age of Black Lives Matter

Jun 29, 2017 1438

Description:

Crime writer Don Winslow says writing a novel about cops and cartels involves some pretty serious research. “In researching these books,” says Winslow, “I meet people. I’ve been to the funerals, talked to the cops. I’ve made the sympathy calls!” His newest book, about the NYPD, is The Force.

In the Spiel, Trump’s worst tweet yet! Oh boy.

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I Hate This, Don’t Quote Me

Jun 28, 2017 1876

Description:

Reporter Marc Fisher explains why he called out a classic game of D.C. deceit in the pages of the Washington Post. And Michelle LaRue, the official Gist penguin expert, returns to explain some news about those troublesome birds.

In the Spiel, how would a normal president handle our world affairs?

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Big Turmoil in Big Sky Country

Jun 27, 2017 1817

Description:

Anne Helen Petersen returns to discuss her new posting—as the Western correspondent for BuzzFeed. Petersen will be reporting on U.S. political culture from her new home, Missoula, Montana. “There’s a reason every newspaper used to have bureaus in every part of the country,” says Petersen, who recently covered the recent razor-thin House race in which notorious Republican Greg Gianforte came out on top.

On the Spiel, when everything becomes a calamity, nothing is a calamity.
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The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women

Jun 26, 2017 1616

Description:

Anne Helen Petersen has made a career on the rigorous, deep, academic study of celebrity culture. In her new book Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Petersen explores the rise of norm-breaking women such as Lena Dunham and Serena Williams and what their ascendency can tell us about the political moment we’re living in. Petersen’s day job is senior culture writer at BuzzFeed.

Also, the Supreme Court makes a surprise ruling, and the Congressional Budget Office makes an unsurprising report.
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Do Radicals Change the World?

Jun 23, 2017 2062

Description:

Author Jeremy McCarter (co-writer of Hamilton: The Revolution with Lin-Manuel Miranda) has written a new book tracing five American radicals from the 1910s and ’20s. “I had thought this was going to be a book about a chapter of progress in history we could learn from,” says McCarter. “But 1917 is a lot closer to what I thought I would see in my lifetime.” Young Radicals is available now.  
In the Spiel, a lot of people really, really did not like Otto Warmbier. 

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Scaachi Koul on Surviving the Trolls

Jun 22, 2017 1746

Description:

Scaachi Koul, a writer for BuzzFeed, talks about growing up as a brown girl in Canada’s “Cowtown,” and how she set off a tweetstorm by soliciting job applications from writers who are “not white and not male.” Koul’s book of essays is One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
In the Spiel, legislative and executive reaction to the healthcare bill. 

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The Musings of Wallace Shawn

Jun 21, 2017 1896

Description:

There are two Wallace Shawns. There’s the character actor, known for playing eccentrics in The Princess Bride and The Good Wife and voicing cartoon dinosaurs. (“I don’t get cast as a lot of real people,” he notes.) Then there’s the acclaimed playwright, thinker, and ardent leftist. Shawn is out with a new collection of political musings, Night Thoughts, which address everything from inequality to the changing climate.

In the Spiel, Travis Kalanick, don’t let the cab door hit you on the way out.

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Is Terrorism Coverage Racist?

Jun 21, 2017 1962

Description:

Tom Shapiro is back to explain the thinking behind the title of his book, Toxic Inequality. What’s so toxic about it? Shapiro is a professor at Brandeis University, where he directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. 
In the Spiel: Based on the information available, what can we conclude about the media coverage of terrorism? Mike talks to Erin Miller, who oversees the Global Terrorism Database. 

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Lies vs. BS

Jun 19, 2017 1701

Description:

The U.S. has a racial wealth gap problem. By one estimate, at current levels of wealth growth it would take 228 years for the average black family to catch up with levels of wealth among white families. Thomas Shapiro explains some of the surprising reasons parity remains so elusive in his book, Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, and Threatens Our Future.
In the Spiel, there’s a reason why the wise people over at Lawfare say this administration is malevolence tempered by incompetence. 

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Jon Ronson on Writing the Year’s Wildest Movie

Jun 16, 2017 1785

Description:

The new movie Okja has pretty much everything. Car chases. Giant mutant pigs. A dystopian future. Jake Gyllenhaal with an outlandish moustache. A subtle social message. Tilda Swinton pretending to be Tony Blair. The movie is written by Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) and returning guest Jon Ronson. Ronson takes us into the craft of writing the year’s wildest movie. 
In the Spiel, why congressional comity is overrated.

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The Delicate Art of Political Persuasion

Jun 15, 2017 1727

Description:

A big problem with political arguments, says Robb Willer, is that everyone sees himself or herself as the hero in a zombie movie. “American liberals see themselves as Brad Pitt warding off a zombie horde,” says Willer. “But the problem is conservatives see themselves the same way,” and no one is able to make arguments that appeal to the other side. Willer teaches sociology at Stanford and writes about the delicate art of political persuasion for places such as the New York Times.

In the Spiel, please Mr. President, don’t throw the special prosecutor into the briar patch. 
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He Ate Human Flesh for Science

Jun 14, 2017 1873

Description:

Bill Schutt says no one from his childhood is surprised to find out he’s been studying cannibalism—after all, he was into vampire bats as a kid. For his new book, he’s investigated the (natural) history of people eating one another and why it’s only been taboo in some countries, like China, for a short time. 

In the Spiel, how we talk about domestic terrorism.
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Awk-ward!

Jun 13, 2017 1921

Description:

You’re awkward, but maybe not in the way you think. Psychologist Ty Tashiro explains the hallmarks of social awkwardness, why we’re sensitive to it, and why it’s not such a bad thing. Tashiro is the author of Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome.

In the Spiel, more on Donald Trump’s ‘dear leader’ cabinet meeting.
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Autocrats Can’t Take a Joke

Jun 12, 2017 1594

Description:

Bassem Youssef hasn’t cut open a chest in six years. And he doesn’t miss it. “Being into medicine for 19 years, it’s a character builder,” says the Egyptian comedian, who says his old job prepped him well for his new one. Youssef went from being a surgeon in Cairo to the Jon Stewart of Egypt, a satirist with 40 million views a week. Youssef’s brief reign as the king of Egyptian comedy is the focus of a new documentary, Tickling Giants, which is now out on VOD.

On the Spiel, Trump has finally accomplished something unthinkable as president. He’s got people talking about Shakespeare in the Park. 
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Larry Wilmore is Black on the Air

Jun 9, 2017 2174

Description:

Last August, Larry Wilmore’s talk show was canceled. The Nightly Show focused on issues like equality, activism, and how racism subtly wormed its way into American life. In hindsight, it feels ahead of its time. Wilmore is out with a new podcast, Black on the Air
In the Spiel: Sometimes democracy sucks.  

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What We Get Wrong About Mass Incarceration, Pt. II

Jun 8, 2017 1538

Description:

Wednesday on The Gist, John Pfaff refuted the conventional wisdom about mass incarceration. Thursday, Pfaff explains some of the obstacles to reform. Pfaff’s book is Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform
In the Spiel, a loyally honest review of James Comey’s testimony. 

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What We Get Wrong About Mass Incarceration, Pt. I

Jun 7, 2017 1710

Description:

John Pfaff is on a mission to topple the well-worn myths of the U.S. prison population boom. He says the data tells us to focus on the district attorneys, not the Department of Justice. Pfaff teaches at Fordham University School of Law and is the author of Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform. This is Part I of our interview with Pfaff -- listen tomorrow for Part II.
In the Spiel, how are YOU celebrating Infrastructure Week?

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Why So Morose About Lactose?

Jun 6, 2017 1763

Description:

There’s almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, soy milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, and milk made from anything that grows, pretty much. But is any of it actually milk? And is it actually healthier than dairy? Our debunker-in-chief, Maria Konnikova, investigates the lofty claims of nondairy milks. Konnikova is a contributor to the New Yorker, and the author of The Confidence Game. Her new podcast is called the Grift
In today’s Spiel, the White House’s long con on infrastructure. 

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O Great Confessor Google

Jun 5, 2017 1938

Description:

People tell Google things they wouldn’t say to anyone else. That’s the big insight that motivated the research of Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. His book, Everybody Lies, is about the stories and secrets he uncovered by digging into internet search data.

In the Spiel, the best jokes that Mike made on vacation. 

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You Can’t Say That, Mr. Senator

Jun 3, 2017 2295

Description:

In 2008, Al Franken was elected to the United States Senate. Since then, he’s become a well-respected member of the upper chamber. But he hasn’t lost his keen eye for satire. After the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, “I wanted to release a thing saying, ‘Mr. Franken is very happy, but he thinks Justice Scalia’s dissent was very gay,’ ” he tells guest host Zoe Chace. “My team told me I couldn’t do that.” Franken is the author of a new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.

Today’s Spiel, an ode to the underappreciated, soon-to-be-extinct White House press briefing.
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The Path of Most Resistance

Jun 1, 2017 1840

Description:

In April, Donald Trump authorized rocket strikes on a military target in Syria. Most Democrats agreed with it. But when Trump makes a decision, does that make it inherently wrong? New Republic editor and Twitter star Jeet Heer offers a critique of the first few months of Democratic resistance. He wrote about it in the magazine last month.   

Today’s Spiel comes from the archives: For President Trump, you’re nobody until you’re somebody. And then, you’re not just anybody—you’re everybody.
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A Playwright in the Rust Belt

May 31, 2017 1632

Description:

Reading, Pennsylvania is the poorest city of its size in the United States. It’s also where Lynn Nottage did most of her research for the Pulitzer-winning Broadway show, Sweat. Nottage talks with guest host Aisha Harris about the different kinds of working class in America, and how to maintain empathy when talking with people quite different from yourself.  In the Spiel, why calling something a “woman problem” misses the point.

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Donald Trump, Body Snatcher

May 30, 2017 1594

Description:

When can we expect the first tell-all book by a former Trump administration official? David Rosenthal explains the physics of personal memoirs and dishes about what he’s heard around the industry rumor mill. Rosenthal runs the Blue Rider Press imprint at the Penguin Group.  In the Spiel, guest host Leon Neyfakh explains how the president nearly ruined an otherwise perfect holiday weekend.  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus.

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The Colony and the Nation

May 27, 2017 2198

Description:

Richard Nixon once warned of an America cut in two, a colony of poor, disenfranchised people within a nation of wealth. His law-and-order policies went a long way to making that a reality. In his new book, A Colony in a Nation, Chris Hayes looks at how fear has led to some destructive policies in America’s cities.    Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus.

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Ben Wittes Digs Out

May 25, 2017 1862

Description:

Ben Wittes has a term for the nonsense justifications he observes coming from the Trump administration. He calls it ENSH: errant national security horseshit. On Thursday’s show, Wittes shovels up some of the larger ENSH dumps of the past two weeks. Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare
In the Spiel, naming a long overdue Lobstar.

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Everyone Looks Presidential on Air Force One

May 24, 2017 1758

Description:

Donald Trump looks a lot more comfortable traveling abroad than he ever has in the White House. Josh King says there’s a good explanation for this. “Two Air Force Ones, a beast limousine, all the trappings of the United States government … it’s hard to screw that up,” says King, an expert in presidential stagecraft. He previously worked as an advance man in the Clinton White House. 
In the Spiel, the incredibly undeserved comeback of Billy Bush. 

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Tom Ricks: “It’s Shakespearean”

May 23, 2017 2024

Description:

For Tom Ricks, the whiplash-inducing news of the past two weeks has been especially surreal. Ricks explains why he was stunned to see the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster defend President Trump. Ricks is out with a new book about two of his heroes, Churchill and Orwell. Ricks writes the Best Defense blog for Foreign Policy magazine. 

In the Spiel, Mike breaks down former CIA Director John Brennan’s exchange with Rep. Trey Gowdy. 

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Jon Glaser Is Conflicted

May 22, 2017 1737

Description:

Jon Glaser makes his triumphant return to The Gist to talk about season two of the Adult Swim series Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter. Glaser has been a part of some of the most acclaimed shows on TV. He’s written for Inside Amy Schumer and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. He played Laird in Girls and Councilman Jamm in Parks and Recreation. But he’s feeling torn about making jokes for a living now, with the country seeming more screwed up than usual. 
In the Spiel, will the U.S.–Saudi Arabia weapons deal mean hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans? 

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Can We Really Fix College Sports?

May 19, 2017 1428

Description:

For college athletes, performance bonuses outweigh academic bonuses 15 to 1. That’s not acceptable, says Arne Duncan. Duncan served as Barack Obama’s education secretary. Now, he’s on the Knight Commission, which is trying to lead reforms in college sports.

In the Spiel, the strange evolution of Rod Rosenstein.
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Roger Ailes Created This Mess

May 18, 2017 2029

Description:

Thursday morning, Roger Ailes died. The Fox News impresario changed the conversation in America and created a base of support for the current pPresident, Donald Trump.  Isaac Chotiner has reported extensively on Fox News for Slate. His new interview podcast is called I Have to Ask.

Plus, Mike hits the bar with Peter Fornatale to drink discuss the crown jewel of cocktails. Fornatale is author of Brooklyn Spirits and host of the DRF Players’ Podcast.

In the Spiel, Mike reflects on how to win listeners and influence presidents.  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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Why Things Went South in Alabama

May 17, 2017 1640

Description:

What’s the matter with Alabama? (You could ask the same thing of tens of other states with sleazy political histories, but we’re going in alphabetical order.) Today, Alabama reporter John Archibald delves into the concentric scandals rocking the Montgomery establishment. Archibald writes for the Alabama Media Group.  In the Spiel, why you shouldn’t root for impeachment.  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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Encounters With the Very, Very Famous

May 16, 2017 1792

Description:

One piece of interview advice from Chuck Klosterman: You can’t make a celebrity interview feel like a real conversation. “They know it’s not real. They wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be asking these questions, if it wasn’t for the tape recorder,” says Klosterman. His new book, X, includes profiles and essays on some of the biggest names in pop culture from Klosterman’s storied career, including Kobe Bryant and Taylor Swift.

In the Spiel, breaking down the disparate, strange, nonsensical explanations for Donald Trump’s Russia leaks.
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Chasing the Bauble With Brooke Gladstone

May 15, 2017 1980

Description:

Lists of inaccurate statements by Donald Trump are good and satisfying and a little funny. But they aren’t what we need. We need reporting on the issues behind the lies, says Brooke Gladstone. She’s co-host of On The Media and author of a new book, The Trouble with Reality, which looks at the malfunctioning of American democracy.

In the Spiel, why voter ID laws are such a unique American con.

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Are Bilinguals Really Smarter?

May 12, 2017 1748

Description:

A century ago, bilingual children were seen as disadvantaged—a kid speaking English and Spanish was liable to become confused and might not learn properly. Now? Bilinguals are seen as better than the rest of us. They get dementia later. They have bigger brains and are better at focusing on tasks. So what’s the truth? Our resident social science sleuth Maria Konnikova investigates. She’s a New Yorker contributor and author of The Confidence Game. Her new podcast is The Grift
In the Spiel, the news buried this week by the firing of James Comey.   

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Clint Watts, Testifier Extraordinaire

May 11, 2017 1988

Description:

We’re zooming out on Russia’s influencing machine with the help of Clint Watts, the national security expert who had a star turn in March with his soundbite-ready testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Watts explains why the partisan skew on fake news is “kind of garbage.” Plus, he has tips for testifying—just in case you get a call from Congress. Watts is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

In the Spiel, hanging on every phrase President Trump invented this week. 

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The Man Who Wrote the Comey Memo

May 10, 2017 1674

Description:

Former FBI Director James Comey has been called “rapturous of his own righteousness,” but by most accounts the man who assisted in Comey’s ouster could be described the same way. Rod Rosenstein, No. 2 at the Department of Justice, wrote the memo justifying Comey’s firing, but he’s had a sterling reputation until now as a fastidiously apolitical prosecutor. Leon Neyfakh, justice reporter for Slate, explains the lingering questions surrounding Comey’s dismissal and Rosenstein’s role in what happens next. 

In the Spiel, остановить! This has nothing to do with Russia. 

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Are We Smart Enough to Be a Direct Democracy?

May 9, 2017 1692

Description:

Soon, every person on Earth will be connected, via social media, to every other person. So why do we approach policy like it’s the ’70s? In his book The Great Questions of Tomorrow, David Rothkopf asks how we can change our policy outlook to reflect how people actually interact. Rothkopf is CEO and editor of the FP Group and host of The Editor’s Roundtable podcast. 
In the Spiel: Is air travel getting worse or are we just more demanding?  

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The Formation of Stephen Miller

May 8, 2017 1841

Description:

Trump adviser Stephen Miller seemed to burst onto the national scene this past February, with his memorable defense of the White House’s travel ban and claims of voter fraud. But New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman says Miller’s education in punditry came years earlier, as a Duke University student commenting on the Duke lacrosse scandal for cable news. Back then, Miller was recognizably pugnacious and self-assured—but he was also right. 

In the Spiel, we live in times of confusion and flashing-neon warning signs. How does all that add up to utter indifference?

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What’s in the Bill? With Sarah Kliff

May 5, 2017 1659

Description:

Vox health care writer Sarah Kliff returns to discuss the return of the health care reform bill that just won’t die. In Kliff’s estimation, the new bill, if passed in the Senate, would be great for the rich and terrible for the sick. Kliff is a columnist and co-host of The Weeds podcast.  In the Spiel, why we were surprised by zombie health reform.   Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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Observing Obscura Day

May 4, 2017 1516

Description:

A hallowed day is nearly upon us: Obscura Day on Saturday, May 6. Think of it like a worldwide quest to discover all things odd and remarkable. The whole thing was dreamed up by the surveyors and spelunkers at Atlas Obscura. Today, Mike steps in as your Obscura Day scout, venturing into the Lite Brite Neon Studio in Brooklyn. Saturday’s expeditions include a kayaking trip to a ship graveyard in Maryland, an Absinthe demonstration in London, and a tour of the world’s first nuclear power plant in Idaho. Check out Atlas Obscura’s website to find an Obscura Day event near you. In the Spiel, health care is supposed to be the one intimate area where a politician’s lie won’t work. So… what’s going on?  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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Sarah Manguso’s Words to Live By

May 3, 2017 1717

Description:

Only a fire can prove what survives a fire. Well, no, says Sarah Manguso. It only proves what would survive that fire. Manguso, an essayist and poet, offers modern wisdom and witticisms in her new book 300 Arguments.  Plus, Donald Trump gets the Ken Burns treatment.   

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Red Feed, Blue Feed With Cass Sunstein

May 3, 2017 1402

Description:

Harvard professor Cass Sunstein returns to discuss his new book #Republic, which looks at polarization in the digital age. While America isn’t more polarized than ever, Sunstein says it’s important to focus on how today’s problems are different and new. “You find yourself in a cocoon, even if you didn’t choose it,” says Sunstein. But he sees hope in sites that are actively trying to sell their readers on content from outside their normal media diet. “In the fullness of time, the non–echo chamber model is going to be producing a lot of revenue.” 

No Spiel today, due to technical difficulties. Mike explains in the top of the show.

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Facing Your Genetic Destiny

May 1, 2017 1752

Description:

The Baxley family was cursed with a horrible disease—something like mad cow, but for human beings. The younger members of the family might have the disease, and there’s a test that would tell them definitively. But knowing for sure could screw up their whole family relationship. In her book Mercies in Disguise, author Gina Kolata explores the family’s incredibly painful decision. Kolata is a science reporter for the New York Times.

Plus, we cover the downfall of Sebastian Gorka and ask why Trump supporters are willing to let some pretty dubious policies slide.
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The Incredible Lucas Brothers

Apr 28, 2017 1865

Description:

Weeks before the end of their third-year final exams, twins Keith and Kenny Lucas became law school dropouts to pursue careers in comedy. But their whole lives had been about going the other way: Growing up in drug war–ravaged Newark, New Jersey, they were self-professed nerds trying to figure out why their dad was in prison. The Lucas Bros: On DrugsNetflix special shows off Keith and Kenny’s perfect timing as a comedy tag team (though they might also be just a little bit high). Their set pokes fun at dead presidents, and their jokes range from annoying drug dealers to Steph Curry, but the act feels like classic vaudeville. 
In the Spiel, it’s time to talk about Kim Jong-un’s rational dickishness. 

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When Did Late Night Stop Being Fun?

Apr 27, 2017 1825

Description:

Once upon a time, late-night talk shows were like boozy dinner parties, fun chat-fests where movie stars would reveal a little too much about themselves. Now, they’re marked by anti-septic games of charades and sing-alongs. Comedian Guy Branum wants to bring anarchy back to late night with Talk Show: The Game Show. “We’ll all watch these people in TV and singing; we know what they’re good at,” says Branum. “A talk show should let you inside of them a bit more.” 

Plus, we head back to Vexillological Corner for a discussion of city flags with flag expert Ted Kaye. 

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The Populists Cannot Win

Apr 26, 2017 1846

Description:

Slate columnist and Harvard University lecturer Yascha Mounk is worried about liberal democracy. He says Marine Le Pen’s second-place finish in France isn’t a cause for relief—it’s a sign she’s closer to power than ever. “It’s easy to be right about the problems, it’s difficult to be right about the solutions, and there the populists have nothing to offer,” says Mounk. He writes the Good Fight column. 

Plus, Mike translates the Pope’s speech and annotates the Trump administration’s income tax reform plan. 

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The Clinton Campaign Tell-All

Apr 25, 2017