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Over the past year, public meetings have become scenes of chaos. Debates about the results of the 2020 election, race, abortion, voting access, and the COVID-19 vaccine have erupted in displays of frustration, rage, and sometimes in violence. This week, Evan Osnos, a New Yorker staff writer, published “Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury.” It’s a portrait of a country in political and moral crisis. Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the roots of American fear and anger, and what the current manifestations of such emotions reveal about dangerous fault lines in the U.S.

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    Jon Stewart: “That’s Not Cancel Culture”

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    “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” defined an era. For more than sixteen years, Stewart and his many correspondents skewered American politics. At the 2021 New Yorker Festival, Stewart spoke with David Remnick about his new show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart”; the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House; and the controversy around cancel culture in comedy. “What do we do for a living?” Stewart asks, of comedians. “We criticize, we postulate, we opine, we make jokes, and now other people are having their say. And that’s not cancel culture, that’s relentlessness.”
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    The U.K.’s “Funkapolitan” Conservative Party Struggles with the Effects of Brexit and the Pandemic

    20:52

    The United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020. On that day, the first cases of COVID-19 were officially confirmed in Britain. Like every other country, the U.K. has had trouble containing the pandemic—the economic devastation, the implementation of lockdowns, the distribution of vaccines. But it has had another challenge, as it tries to redefine its place in the international diplomatic order and in the global economy. All of this has come at a time of deep division in the country’s politics: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to address Brexit-related shortages of workers and supplies, and of mismanaging the government’s response to the pandemic. And the Labour Party, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has failed to mount a popular or effective opposition. Sam Knight, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Brexit has affected conditions in the U.K., and the state of the Conservative and Labour Parties as the country faces a winter of food and fuel shortages.
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    Attorney General Merrick Garland, Interviewed by Jane Mayer

    16:53

    At the 2021 New Yorker Festival, the investigative journalist Jane Mayer sat down for a conversation with Merrick Garland, the longtime federal judge now serving as President Biden’s Attorney General. Mayer asked about the central role that the Department of Justice plays in some of the most critical issues of our time: racial justice, domestic terrorism, threats to voting rights and abortion access, and the looming power of big tech companies.
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    How Many Scandals Can Facebook Survive?

    20:12

    Last month, the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of reports called “The Facebook Files.” Based on leaked internal documents, the series highlights how Facebook has stoked fear, anger, and division in order to increase user engagement—and how it then failed to effectively fight the spread of misinformation and the use of its platform to exploit and abuse vulnerable communities around the world. This week, Frances Haugen, a former data engineer at Facebook, revealed herself to be the whistle-blower who leaked the documents to the Journal, and on Tuesday she provided explosive testimony before a Senate subcommittee. The company has announced no significant plans to change its operating structure. Andrew Marantz joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the latest uproar over Facebook, and what can be done to drastically change its practices.
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    Jonathan Franzen Talks with David Remnick About “Crossroads”

    26:58

    Jonathan Franzen’s sixth novel, “Crossroads,” is set in 1971, and the title is firmly on the nose: the Hildebrand family is at a crossroads itself, just as the America of that moment seemed poised to come apart. In the course of his career, Franzen has evolved away from an early postmodernist sensibility that highlighted “bravura” writing, and “with this book I threw away all the po-mo hijinks and the grand plot elements,” he tells David Remnick. “It’s really only in the course of writing ‘Crossroads’ that I have said to myself, What I am is a novelist of character and psychology. . . . It’s not about formal experimentation and it’s certainly not about changing the world through my social commentary.” Franzen also discusses the complex ethics behind writing a character of another race, and takes issue with the belief of some in the academy (and much of the political right) that leftist sensibilities are stifling free expression; he declined to sign the “Harper’s Letter” last year. Despite political polarization, Franzen says, “It’s a much better time to be an American writer than I would have guessed twenty-five years ago.”
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    Recurring Nightmares on Rikers Island

    21:23

    The first jail on Rikers Island opened in 1932, and the complex has since expanded to include ten jails holding thousands of inmates every day. Violence among Rikers inmates is common, and there are accusations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse by correction officers and the facility’s administrators. Despite promises by city and state officials to reform Rikers, this year alone twelve people held there have died—two in the past week and at least five by suicide. Jennifer Gonnerman joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the history of Rikers, why this year is proving particularly deadly, and what the detention center reveals about the incarceration system in the U.S. today.
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    Andreas Malm on the Environmental Movement and “Intelligent Sabotage”

    21:04

    Andreas Malm, a climate activist and senior lecturer at Lund University, in Sweden, studies the relationship between climate change and capitalism. With the United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow rapidly approaching—it begins on October 31st—Malm tells David Remnick that he believes environmentalists should not place too much faith in talks or treaties of this kind. Instead, he insists that the climate movement rethink its roots in nonviolence. His book is provocatively titled “How To Blow Up A Pipeline,” though it is not exactly an instruction manual. Malm advocates for “intelligent sabotage” of fossil-fuel infrastructure to prevent more carbon from being emitted in the atmosphere. “I am in favor of destroying machines, property—not harming people. That’s a very important distinction,” he tells Remnick.
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    Biden’s Big Economic Gamble

    26:26

    Even before his election, Joe Biden described the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to reform the American economy. Now, after months of negotiations, Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan will soon come up for a vote in the House, and Democrats expect to pass an enormous social-safety-net package through budget reconciliation. At the same time, the federal government is approaching the debt ceiling, and a government shutdown could occur as soon as next week if a stopgap funding bill isn’t passed. The New Yorker staff writer John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s attempt to create a more equitable economy amid some strong opposition within his own party.
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    Jelani Cobb on the Kerner Report, an Unheeded Warning about the Consequences of Racism

    18:55

    In 1967, in the wake of a violent uprising in Detroit, President Lyndon B. Johnson assembled the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate what had happened. This seemed futile: another panel to investigate yet another uprising. “A lot of people felt that way—‘We don’t need more studies, nothing’s going to come out of that commission,’ ” Fred Harris, a former senator from Oklahoma and the commission’s last surviving member, tells Jelani Cobb. But the conclusions were not typical at all. In the final analysis, known as the Kerner Report, the commission named white racism—no euphemisms—as the root cause of unrest in the United States, and said that the country was “moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.” The report called for sweeping changes and investments in jobs, housing, policing, and more; the recommendations went so far beyond Johnson’s anti-poverty programs of the nineteen-sixties that the President shelved the report and refused to meet with his own commission. The Kerner Report, Cobb says, was “an unheeded warning,” as America still struggles today to acknowledge the reality of systemic racism.  Jelani Cobb co-edited and wrote the introduction to “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” which was published this year.
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    American Rage

    27:26

    Over the past year, public meetings have become scenes of chaos. Debates about the results of the 2020 election, race, abortion, voting access, and the COVID-19 vaccine have erupted in displays of frustration, rage, and sometimes in violence. This week, Evan Osnos, a New Yorker staff writer, published “Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury.” It’s a portrait of a country in political and moral crisis. Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the roots of American fear and anger, and what the current manifestations of such emotions reveal about dangerous fault lines in the U.S.

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