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Jill Lepore Podcasts

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28 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Jill Lepore. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Jill Lepore, often where they are interviewed.

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28 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Jill Lepore. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Jill Lepore, often where they are interviewed.

Updated daily with the latest episodes

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Historian Jill Lepore On The Corporation That Invented The Future

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"I find myself baffled by what we have tacitly or unknowingly agreed to with regard to the collection of personal data about each of us and its use by for-profit corporations to predict our behavior and therefore manipulate our behavior and sell us stuff," says historian and author Jill Lepore.

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Oct 05 2020 · 25mins
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Jill Lepore

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Jill Lepore is a professor of American History at Harvard University and also a staff writer at The New Yorker. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, her many books include the international bestseller These Truths and This America. Her latest book, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, is a revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century, unearthing from archives the shocking story of a long-vanished corporation, and of the women hidden behind it. She recorded this conversation on September 16, 2020, with Mina Kim, host of KQED's Forum.

Sep 27 2020 · 55mins

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Jill Lepore on the Destructive Power of Tech

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David talks to the American historian Jill Lepore about the damage new technology can do to democracy, from the 1960s to the present. Who first tried to manipulate the minds of the electorate? Where did the money come from? What happened when the same technology was applied to fighting the Vietnam War? Plus we discuss US presidential elections from 1960 to 2020: do the machines really decide who is going to win, and if he does win this time, what might Joe Biden be able to do about it?


Talking Points


The Simulmatics Corporation was one of the first data analytics companies founded in 1959.

  • They were collecting personal data, coming up with mathematical models for human behavior, making predictions, and selling that as a service.
  • They got their big break in the 1960 election. 


Advertising was basically invented to defend corporations against muckraking journalists.

  • It became something else as modern consumer society emerged.
  • Eventually, some of the ad agencies began working for the Republican Party. The Republican Party is the party of big business, so it’s nor surprising that they’ve always had a leg up in political advertising.


Was the Simulmatics Corporation for real?

  • Their insights were not particularly startling.
  • The Simulmatics Corporations were liberals who were trying to convince the Democratic Party to take a stronger position on civil rights by telling them that black voters could make a difference in the election.
  • There’s something kind of creepy about the whole thing: a bunch of mid-century, white, liberal men building a machine to try to understand people of color and women.
  • A tight election is good for huxters. There’s a huge, enabling industry of journalism to oversell this kind of technology.


There’s a big gap between how we understand politics should work in the physical world and the mysteriousness and anarchy of the digital world.

  • Democracies are bad at reforming themselves because the winners are not incentivized to do it. 
  • The monopoly today is the monopoly of the means of doing politics. 
  • The pandemic makes it worse. We are now more wedded to our devices and it is harder to conduct campaigns outside of them.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning: 

Sep 17 2020 · 42mins
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N. K. Jemisin on H. P. Lovecraft, and Jill Lepore on the End of a Pandemic

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N. K. Jemisin has faced down a racist backlash to her success in the science-fiction community. But white supremacy in the genre is nothing new, she tells Raffi Khatchadourian. Her recent novel “The City We Became” explicitly addresses the legacy of the genre pioneer H. P. Lovecraft, whose racism was virulent even by the standards of the early twentieth century. It’s not possible, Jemisin says, to separate Lovecraft’s ideology from his greatness as a fantasy writer: his view of nonwhite peoples as monstrous informed the way he wrote about monsters. Rather than try to ignore or cancel Lovecraft, Jemisin felt compelled to engage with him. Plus, the historian and staff writer Jill Lepore describes the desperate measures taken to protect children from polio during a pandemic no less frightening than our own, and how the disease was then forgotten.

Sep 08 2020 · 27mins

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Jill Lepore on How a Pandemic Ends

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Jill Lepore discusses the “stay at home” campaigns that ran on radio stations during the polio years, devised to keep children indoors; she is especially fond of a program that featured a young Hubert Humphrey reading comics. Lepore finds solace in revisiting the desperate measures of that era. “One of the reasons I study history,” she says, “is I like to see how things began, so I can imagine how bad things end.” She describes the momentous day, in 1955, when Dr. Jonas Salk and his colleagues announced the success of the polio vaccine trials. “That’s the great blessing of a vaccination program,” Lepore says. “We forget how bad the disease was.” Plus, David Remnick speaks with three mayors who have to negotiate the task of reopening their cities safely.

May 15 2020 · 27mins
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Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

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Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.

This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?

But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.

This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 20 2020 · 1hr 22mins
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Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

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Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.

This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?

But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, why (and whether) my book is devoid of individual or institutional “villains,” and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account, in addition to the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.

This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.


New to the show? Want to listen to Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out The Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide.

My book is available at www.EzraKlein.com.

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Producer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Feb 06 2020 · 1hr 25mins
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A Tumultuous Week in Impeachment, and Jill Lepore on Democracy in Peril

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The Washington correspondent Susan Glasser has been covering the scene in the Capitol as Republicans rush to contain the damage of the John Bolton manuscript leak. Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, told Glasser that “if a Republican makes the argument that removing the President this close to an election isn’t the right response, [that] we should trust the American electorate to make the decision, then you have to support [calling for] more witness and more documents” in order for the electorate to make an informed decision. Glasser also spoke with Zoe Lofgren who is one of the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against the President. Lofgren is an expert on the subject: she was on the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 during the Clinton impeachment, and, in 1974, as a law student, she helped to draft charges against Richard Nixon. Nixon, she points out, was far more forthcoming than Trump with Congress, directing his staff to appear for questions without a subpoena. If the Senate votes to acquit, endorsing a campaign of stonewalling by the executive branch, Lofgren says, “It will forever change the relationship between the branches of government.” Plus, the historian and staff writer Jill Lepore talks with David Remnick about how Americans rallied to save democracy in the nineteen-thirties, and how we might apply those lessons to a time when our own democracy has weakened. 

Jan 31 2020 · 34mins
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#12 Jill Lepore, who are America’s true national heroes?

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This week we’ll be meeting a woman who has rewritten the history of the United States of America.
We’re speaking with Jill Lepore, Professor of American History at Harvard University. In addition to this position, she also writes for The New Yorker and The New York Times on topics relating to history, law, literature and politics. Lepore has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, to name a few.

She has been honored with numerous awards and distinctions although – or maybe because – she questions many aspects of America’s national history. She challenges national heroes and legends by focusing on missing evidence in historical records.

Against this backdrop, she has written a 1,200-page-long opus, adding new pages to U.S. history: “These Truths: A History of the United States,” or as the German version is called, “Diese Wahrheiten: Eine Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika.”
Jan 29 2020 · 29mins
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Jill Lepore: Revisiting American History

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Jill Lepore is Professor of American History at Harvard University and a journalist at The New Yorker. She specialises in American history, specifically early American history and undocumented history. During our interview with Lepore, we will focus on history as a subject and the implications it has had for society today. How do politicians like Donald Trump use history? How has the way we remember history affected minorities? Apart from this, the questions of whether these truths are self-evident and how the lack of these truths has changed America will be explored extensively during the session.
Dec 02 2019 · 1hr 3mins
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