The New Yorker: Politics And More


A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.


  • Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert on the Pandemic and the Environment

    Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert on the Pandemic and the Environment

    20/04/2020 Duration: 16min

    Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert join David Remnick to talk about the twin crises of our time: the coronavirus pandemic and the climate emergency. What can one teach us about the other? During the COVID-19 national emergency, the Trump Administration has loosened auto-emissions standards, and has proposed easing the controls on mercury released by power plants, among other actions. With protesters no longer able to gather, construction on the controversial Keystone Pipeline has resumed. Still, McKibben and Kolbert believe that the pandemic could remind the public to take scientific fact more seriously, and possibly might change our values for the better. “When we get out of detention,” McKibben says, “I hope that it will be a reminder to us of how much social distancing we’ve been doing already these last few decades,” by focussing on technology and the virtual world. In the pleasure of human contact, he hopes, “we might begin to replace some of the consumption that drives every environmental challenge we

  • Mitch McConnell, the Most Dangerous Politician in America

    Mitch McConnell, the Most Dangerous Politician in America

    16/04/2020 Duration: 19min

    Mitch McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984, but he didn’t come to national prominence until the Obama Presidency, when, as the Senate Majority Leader, he emerged as one of the Administration’s most unyielding and effective legislative opponents. In the past three years, McConnell has put his political skills to work in support of Donald Trump’s agenda, despite the lasting damage that his maneuvering is doing to the Senate and to American democracy. Jane Mayer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how and why McConnell, who faces reëlection this year, became one of Trump’s staunchest allies.

  • The Injustice of COVID-19

    The Injustice of COVID-19

    13/04/2020 Duration: 10min

    On the surface, COVID-19 may seem to be a great leveller. Princes and Prime Ministers, musicians and Hollywood A-listers, N.B.A. players, and other prominent people have made headlines for contracting the virus. But looking more closely at the numbers of illnesses and fatalities, we see that the virus—far from an equalizer—exacerbates the inequality of the American health-care system. Minorities, and particularly African-Americans, account for a greatly disproportionate number of deaths in places around the country. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a contributor to The New Yorker and an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University, describes to  David Remnick the circumstances that give rise to this stratification. Even the basic preventative measures urged on Americans by the C.D.C. are less accessible in black communities. To shelter in place, she points out, “you need to have safe, sound, and comfortable housing . . . [and] only nineteen per cent of black people have the ability to work

  • Can Trump Avoid a Post-Coronavirus Great Depression?

    Can Trump Avoid a Post-Coronavirus Great Depression?

    09/04/2020 Duration: 21min

    Two weeks ago, Congress passed a two-trillion-dollar stimulus bill aimed at mitigating the damage the coronavirus is doing to the American economy. With the stock market flagging and unemployment reaching historic highs, further government intervention will almost certainly be needed to stave off financial devastation. But even as COVID-19 cases quickly rise around the country, President Trump says that business should return to normal this spring. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the dangers of Trumponomics, lessons from other nations about how to respond to pandemics, and how to put American back to work without precipitating a rebound of the virus.

  • Why We Underestimated COVID-19

    Why We Underestimated COVID-19

    06/04/2020 Duration: 11min

    Even as the scale of the coronavirus outbreak was becoming apparent, spring breakers flooded the beaches of Florida and New Yorkers continued to congregate in parks. Despite the warnings of politicians and health-care professionals, many people failed to treat the coronavirus pandemic as a serious threat. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on human behavior, told Maria Konnikova that the problem isn’t just that the threat posed by COVID-19 is hard to grasp, it’s that public officials haven’t done enough to explain the threat. “There should be clear guidelines and clear instructions. We all ought to know whether we should open our Amazon packages outside the door or bring them in,” Kahneman said. “It’s not a decision individuals should consider making on the basis of what they know, because they don’t know enough to make it.”

  • Can Democrats Take the Offensive in the Pandemic Elections of 2020?

    Can Democrats Take the Offensive in the Pandemic Elections of 2020?

    03/04/2020 Duration: 19min

    Since the coronavirus became a public-health emergency in the United States, coverage of the 2020 Presidential election has been scarce. With little media attention and public events an impossibility, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have taken their campaigns online. Meanwhile, state election officials across the country are struggling to find the best time and means to hold their primaries. Eric Lach joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss electoral reforms, such as voting by mail, and how the Democratic Party is trying to exploit President Trump’s bungling response to the pandemic.

  • The Coronavirus Election

    The Coronavirus Election

    30/03/2020 Duration: 17min

    It’s been just over a month since Donald Trump tweeted for the first time about the coronavirus—saying, in essence, that the virus did not pose a substantial threat to the United States. Why did he so dramatically underplay the risks of COVID-19? “With Trump, sometimes the answer is pretty transparent,” The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, Susan B. Glasser, told David Remnick, “and, in this case, I think the answer is pretty transparent. He didn’t want anything to interrupt his reëlection campaign plan, which entirely hinged on the strength of the U.S. economy.” Even as the virus spreads, Trump has criticized widespread self-isolation orders and made overtures toward reopening businesses to revitalize the economy. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Trump’s likely Democratic Presidential opponent, has refrained from openly antagoniz ing the President. Glasser weighs this tactic: “Do you attack Trump right now, or do you just sort of stand out of the way and let him shoot himself in the foot?”

  • Arts and Entertainment in the Era of Coronavirus

    Arts and Entertainment in the Era of Coronavirus

    26/03/2020 Duration: 21min

    This month, in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, arts organizations around the country shut their doors. Theatre productions were cancelled, film premières postponed, gallery openings scuttled. Artists and other creative professionals, many of whom are freelance workers with no health benefits and little access to unemployment insurance, suddenly found themselves with no income. The dire economic circumstances have caused some to search for new creative outlets online, but others face an uncertain future. Emily Witt and Alexandra Schwartz join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the effect of the coronavirus on arts and artists—and their audiences.

  • In a Nightmare Scenario, How Should We Decide Who Gets Care?

    In a Nightmare Scenario, How Should We Decide Who Gets Care?

    23/03/2020 Duration: 16min

    In northern Italy, doctors were forced to begin rationing ventilators and other equipment—a nightmare scenario that could become a reality for medical staff in the United States soon; New York has projected ventilator shortages in the thousands per week. David Remnick talks with Philip Rosoff, a professor of Medicine at Duke University and a scholar of bioethics who has studied rationing. Rosoff believes medical institutions must also consider the needs of those who can’t be saved, and suggests that hospitals should stock up on drugs to ease suffering at the end of life. Rosoff notes that the U.S. medical system puts an emphasis on “go for broke” care at all costs, and is poorly prepared for those kinds of decisions, which leave hospital workers with an acute sense of “moral distress.” “If we’re smart, we would have institutional guidelines and plans in place ahead of time,” Rosoff says. “The way not to make [a rationing decision] is to make it arbitrarily, capriciously, unilaterally, and at the bedside in th

  • How Humanity Survives Pandemics

    How Humanity Survives Pandemics

    20/03/2020 Duration: 20min

    The earliest epidemics date back to Neolithic times, and, in the millennia since, viral outbreaks have repeatedly shaped the course of human history, influencing behavior and creating and destroying cultural norms. In the weeks since COVID-19 became a worldwide emergency, people are showing resilience, humor, and creative ways of communicating as governments and businesses struggle to respond. Robin Wright joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss differing responses to infectious diseases across time and cultures, and the global political ramifications of COVID-19.

  • The Ripple Effects of a Pandemic

    The Ripple Effects of a Pandemic

    16/03/2020 Duration: 13min

    For most of us, the speed and intensity of the coronavirus pandemic has come as a shock. But not for Lawrence Wright. A staff writer and the author of nonfiction books about Scientology and Al Qaeda, Wright recently wrote a novel—yet to be published—called “The End of October,” about the spread of a novel virus that eerily resembles the outbreak of COVID-19. Wright looked to illnesses of the past to try to understand their enduring consequences, and he mapped those ripple effects onto our contemporary circumstances. “The End of October” is a work of fiction and firmly in the thriller genre, but what he imagined in it turns out to be eerily close to what we are experiencing now. “I read the paper and I feel like I’m reading another chapter of my own book,” he tells David Remnick.     Lawrence Wright’s “The End of October” is due out in April. 

  • How Donald Trump Will Wage His Reëlection Campaign

    How Donald Trump Will Wage His Reëlection Campaign

    12/03/2020 Duration: 18min

    Donald Trump never really stopped running for President. On the day of his inauguration, in 2017, he filed the paperwork to run for reëlection in 2020. As the Democrats have fought a historically long primary battle, Trump has been gearing up for the general election. In particular, his campaign will take place online—he has tapped his 2016 digital-media director, Brad Parscale, to run his 2020 campaign. Andrew Marantz, who profiled Parscale for The New Yorker, joins Eric Lach to discuss Parscale’s role in the Trump phenomenon and what to expect from an increasingly online reëlection campaign.

  • And Then There Were Two: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden

    And Then There Were Two: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden

    09/03/2020 Duration: 21min

    Just over a week ago, Bernie Sanders seemed to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Then came some prominent withdrawals from the race, and, on Super Tuesday, the resurgence of Joe Biden’s campaign. (Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii remains in the race, but has no chance of winning the nomination.) But the narrowing of the field only highlights the gulf between the Party’s moderate center and its energized Left.  David Remnick talks with Amy Davidson Sorkin, a political columnist for The New Yorker, about the possibility of a contested Convention. Then Remnick interviews Michael Kazin, an historian and the co-editor of Dissent magazine. Kazin points out that Sanders is struggling against a headwind: even voters sympathetic to democratic socialism may vote for a pragmatist if they think Biden is more likely to beat the incumbent President in November. But Sanders seems unlikely to moderate his message. “There is a problem,” Kazin tells David Remnick. “A divided party—a party that’s divided at the Conventi

  • Is Joe Biden the Future of the Democratic Party?

    Is Joe Biden the Future of the Democratic Party?

    05/03/2020 Duration: 16min

    Joe Biden’s pitch to voters has been remarkably consistent: he says he can unite older voters, people of color, and moderates into a coalition that can defeat Donald Trump. A series of gaffes, concerns about his voting record, and disappointing results in the early primaries seemed to doom Biden’s candidacy. But big victories in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday have given new credence to his claim that he’s the best person to take on Trump in November. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Biden became the Democratic front-runner and how he’ll go about winning over skeptical young, progressive voters.

  • The Many Iterations of Michael Bloomberg, C.E.O., Mayor, and Presidential Hopeful

    The Many Iterations of Michael Bloomberg, C.E.O., Mayor, and Presidential Hopeful

    02/03/2020 Duration: 20min

    Eleanor Randolph finished her biography of Michael Bloomberg in June, 2019, just as the former mayor decided not to run for President. “He didn’t want to go on an apology tour,” Randolph tells David Remnick. Bloomberg knew that he would be called to answer for his vigorous pursuit of unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policing, accusations against him of sexual misconduct, and his history as a Republican. Ultimately, Bloomberg did enter the race, and he has spent more than four hundred million dollars on political ads to defeat another New York billionaire, the incumbent, Donald Trump. Randolph and Andrea Bernstein, a reporter for WNYC who covered Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor, join Remnick to discuss the candidate’s time in Gracie Mansion, his philosophy of governing, and his philanthropy. Trump’s political contributions have been unabashedly transactional, but Bloomberg’s generous philanthropy also has an expected return. “All the money that he gave to philanthropies and charities were a way of doing good

  • Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein and the Lies that Powerful Men Tell

    Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein and the Lies that Powerful Men Tell

    27/02/2020 Duration: 18min

    This week, the former film producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted on two counts of sexual assault in a New York court. Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than ninety women, has become an emblem of misogyny in Hollywood, and of the systems that protect wealthy and powerful men from the consequences of criminal misconduct. Rebecca Solnit joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss whether the Weinstein verdict is a turning point in the #MeToo movement, and what it takes to expose the lies of those in power in business and politics.

  • Stephen Miller, the Architect of Trump’s Immigration Plan

    Stephen Miller, the Architect of Trump’s Immigration Plan

    24/02/2020 Duration: 23min

    Donald Trump began his Presidential bid, in 2015, with an infamous speech, at Trump Tower, in which he said of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” But it was not until a former aide to Jeff Sessions joined Trump’s campaign that the nativist rhetoric coalesced into a policy platform—including the separation of children from their families at the border. Jonathan Blitzer, who writes about immigration for The New Yorker, has been reporting on Stephen Miller’s sway in the Trump Administration and his remarkable success in advancing an extremist agenda. “There has never been an American President who built his campaign around the issue of immigration and later won on that campaign on immigration. Trump was the first and only President really ever to do it,” Blitzer tells David Remnick. Despite this influence, Miller remains largely behind the scenes. Blitzer explains why: “He knows that the kiss of death in this Administration is to be identified as the brains beh

  • Does It Really Matter Who the Democratic Nominee Is?

    Does It Really Matter Who the Democratic Nominee Is?

    20/02/2020 Duration: 20min

    Rachel Bitecofer, a political scientist at the Niskanen Center, in Washington, D.C., thinks that most pollsters and forecasters rely on outdated ideas about how candidates succeed. She argues that the outcome has far less to do with the candidates’ ideology than we think it does. Her perspective has been controversial, but in July, 2018, months before the midterm elections, her model predicted the Democratic victory in the House with an accuracy unmatched by conventional forecasters. And it suggests that Democrats should stop worrying about losing, and focus on firing up their voters.

  • A Teen-age Trump Tries to Win His High School’s Election

    A Teen-age Trump Tries to Win His High School’s Election

    17/02/2020 Duration: 17min

    Every year, Townsend Harris High School, in Queens, New York, holds a schoolwide election simulation. Students are assigned roles and begin campaigning in September. Every candidate has a staff, raises money, and makes ads for the school’s radio and television network. This fall, the school simulated the Democratic and Republican primaries. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden got into a rap battle. The American Family Association joined the fray and released a rap of its own.    The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman first observed the simulation during the primaries of the 2016 Presidential election. At the time, he saw that Trump’s political arrival was greeted with distaste at a school where many students come from immigrant families. “There was some stuff Donald Trump was saying that, if you heard from any other candidate, it would frankly be disgusting,” Justin, who played Pete Buttigieg this cycle, said. But Togay, who was assigned the role of Trump—he’s a Democrat in real life—was determined to make the Presid

  • After Two Primary Contests, What’s Ahead for the Democratic Race?

    After Two Primary Contests, What’s Ahead for the Democratic Race?

    13/02/2020 Duration: 19min

    On Tuesday, voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in the Democratic Presidential primary. Following the debacle surrounding the Iowa caucuses, many Democrats hoped that the results from New Hampshire would bring clarity to the race. Bernie Sanders won, arguably making him the front-runner. But close behind him was Pete Buttigieg, who also narrowly won the Iowa caucuses, and Amy Klobuchar, whose third-place finish gave her campaign renewed energy. Benjamin Wallace-Wells joins Eric Lach to discuss the New Hampshire primaries and how a clear picture of the future of the Democratic contest remains elusive.

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