Rank #1: Trump vs. the United States Postal Service
The U.S. Postal Service is a rare thing: a beloved federal agency. Mail carriers visit every household in the country, and they are the only federal employees most of us see on a regular basis. But the service has been in serious financial trouble for years, a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. The survival of the system depends on intervention from Congress, but President Trump has called the postal service “a joke,” and without congressional intervention it could be forced to cease operating by the end of the year. Casey Cep, a New Yorker staff writer and the daughter of a postal worker, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the past and future of the U.S.P.S.
Apr 30 2020
Rank #2: Trump and Biden Face Off Over China and the Coronavirus
Around the world, COVID-19 is fundamentally altering politics. In China, the Communist Party is lauding its handling of the crisis and spreading disinformation about the virus in the U.S. And, as attacks on Chinese-Americans increase, the Biden and Trump campaigns accuse each other of being overly cozy with Beijing. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the coronavirus is affecting the course of the 2020 Presidential election.
Apr 23 2020
Rank #3: Mitch McConnell, the Most Dangerous Politician in America
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.
Apr 16 2020
Rank #4: The Hyperpartisan State
North Carolina is a relatively purple state, where voting between the two major parties tends to be close. That might suggest a place of common ground and compromise, but it’s quite the opposite. “A couple of years before the rest of the country got nasty, we started to get nasty,” a North Carolina political scientist tells Charles Bethea. Not long ago, a veto-override vote devolved into a screaming match on the floor, to which the police were called. Bethea, a longtime political reporter based in Atlanta, went to Raleigh to examine how hyper-partisanship plays out on a state capitol, where everyone knows each other, and the political calculations seem to revolve more on who did what to whom, and when, than on who wants to do what now.
Dec 23 2019
Rank #5: Trump’s Enablers: How Giuliani, Pence, and Barr Figure Into the Ukraine Scandal
This week, evidence emerged that Trump tried to enlist the help of a foreign power to discredit his political opponents—in this case, Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Further disclosures revealed that the President may have been aided in his efforts by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Vice-President Mike Pence, and Attorney General William Barr. On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, saying that he had betrayed his oath of office, the nation’s security, and the integrity of U.S. elections. Jeffrey Toobin, Jane Mayer, and David Rohde—three New Yorker writers who have reported extensively about the Administration—join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the case against Trump, and how his inner circle may have helped jeopardize his Presidency.
Sep 27 2019
Rank #6: Elizabeth Warren and the Revolution in Economics
Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a "wealth tax" one of the centerpieces of her presidential campaign. The plan was developed with the help of the economists Emmanuael Saez and Gabriel Zucman, part of a new generation of economists whose work focuses on the failures of free markets and advocate what many see as radical social change. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how this cohort is affecting policy among the Democratic candidates, and whether the economy might help Donald Trump's 2020 re-election bid.
Oct 24 2019
Rank #7: A City at the Peak of Crisis
Experts predicted that Wednesday, April 15th would be a peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, its epicenter. On that day, a crew of New Yorker writers talked with people all over the city, in every circumstance and walk of life, to form a portrait of a city in crisis. A group-station manager for the subway talks about keeping the transit system running for those who can’t live without it; a respiratory therapist copes with break-time conversations about death and dying; a graduating class of medical students get up the courage to confront the worst crisis in generations; and a new mother talks about giving birth on a day marked by tragedy for so many families. The hour includes contributions from writers including William Finnegan, Helen Rosner, Jia Tolentino, Kelefa Sanneh, and Adam Gopnik, who says, “One never knows whether to applaud the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life, or look aghast at the human insistence on continuing with some form of normal life. That's the mystery of the pandemic.”
Apr 27 2020
Rank #8: Will Trump Survive Mueller?
Washington is abuzz with rumors that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is coming soon. We know that Donald Trump’s Presidency depends on its contents. But with all the headlines of the past two years—this one brought in for questioning, that one indicted, this one coöperating—it can be hard to keep track of what this is really all about. We asked the staff writer Adam Davidson, who has been reporting on the Mueller investigation since the beginning, for a refresher on the basic facts—the broad strokes of what we’ve learned so far. Both parties are strategizing to position themselves for the unknown. But Jeffrey Toobin believes that, unless the report contains a major, unexpected discovery, its findings will have little impact on Trump’s Presidency or on his future. Toobin debates with The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, Susan B. Glasser, about the lessons of Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Feb 04 2019
Rank #9: Does It Really Matter Who the Democratic Nominee Is?
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.
Feb 20 2020
Rank #10: Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert on the Pandemic and the Environment
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 face."
Apr 20 2020
Rank #11: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the 2020 Presidential Race and Why We Should Break up Homeland Security
It’s hard to recall a newly elected freshman representative to Congress who has made a bigger impact than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her primary victory for New York’s Fourteenth District seat—as a young woman of color beating out a long-established white male incumbent—was big news, and Ocasio-Cortez has been generating headlines almost daily ever since. Practically the day she took her seat in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez became the hero of the left wing of the Democrats and a favored villain of Fox News and the right. She battled Nancy Pelosi to make the Green New Deal a priority, and has been involved with a movement to launch primary challenges against centrist or right-leaning Democrats. Like Bernie Sanders, she embraces the label of democratic socialism and supports free college education for all Americans. She has called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She joined David Remnick in the New Yorker Radio Hour studio on July 5th, just after her trip to the border to examine migrant-detention facilities. Remnick and Ocasio-Cortez spoke about why she courted controversy by referring to some facilities as “concentration camps”; why she thinks the Department of Homeland Security is irredeemable; and whether Joe Biden is qualified to be President, given his comments about colleagues who supported forms of segregation. “Issues of race and gender are not extra-credit points in being a good Democrat,” she says. “They are a core part of the ... competencies that a President needs. . . . Where are you on understanding the people that live in this country?”
Jul 15 2019
Rank #12: How Michael Cohen’s Testimony Signalled the True Beginning of the Many Cases Against Trump
This week, in an open hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime consigliere, implicated the President in multiple felonies, and gave the world a hint of what to expect in investigations into the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Administration. Adam Davidson joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the fallout from Cohen’s testimony, and growing pressure on congressional Republicans as they continue to defend the President.
Mar 01 2019
Rank #13: Elizabeth Warren vs. Wall Street
As Senator Warren’s presidential candidacy gathers momentum, the Democratic establishment is nervously reckoning with the leftward drift of the party. Warren has a reputation for progressive policy ideas, but she is distancing herself from Bernie Sanders-style democratic socialism. Instead, she is casting herself as a pragmatist who has reasonable plans to reform education, health care, and a financial system that advantages the very rich. Sheelah Kolhatkar joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Warren's critique of 21st-century capitalism, and voters' concerns about whether she could beat Donald Trump.
Jun 21 2019
Rank #14: Jane Mayer on the Revolving Door Between Fox News and the White House
Donald Trump has made no secret of his great admiration for Fox News—he tweets praise of it constantly—and his disdain for other, “fake news” outlets, which he regards as “enemies of the people.” But the closeness between Fox News and the White House is unprecedented in modern times, Jane Mayer tells David Remnick. In a recent article, Mayer, a staff writer since 1995, analyzes a symbiotic relationship that boosts both Trump’s poll numbers and Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line. “I was trying to figure out who sets the tune that everybody plays during the course of the day,” Mayer says. “If the news on Fox is all about some kind of caravan of immigrants supposedly invading America, whose idea is that? It turns out that it is this continual feedback loop.” Mayer pays particular attention to the role of Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president and now former White House deputy chief of staff for communications. Shine resigned days after Mayer spoke to Remnick. In his tenure in the Administration, Shine helped create a revolving door through which those who craft the Administration’s political messaging and those who broadcast it regularly trade places. She also discovered that Shine was linked to the network’s practice of intimidating employees who alleged sexual harassment at work.
Mar 11 2019
Rank #15: An Insider from “The Apprentice” on How the Show Made Donald Trump
A number of people have been credited with the political rise of Donald Trump—Roger Stone and Steve Bannon among them—but perhaps the most influential is Mark Burnett, the English reality-TV producer. After the massive success of his show “Survivor,” Burnett could have made virtually anything, and he chose “The Apprentice.” His task was to make a New York real-estate developer who was a fixture in the tabloids into a national celebrity, a tycoon, and a decisive leader with unerring judgment. The staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe interviewed a number of people who worked on shaping Trump’s image on “The Apprentice,” including the supervising producer Jonathon Braun. Braun told Keefe that Trump’s quick, instinctual decisions complicated the work of the show’s editors, who would often have to recut the episodes to find material that seemed to justify those decisions. And Braun argues that the White House and the news media now often play the same role that the “Apprentice” crew did: isolating Trump’s most coherent statement within a long string of improvised iterations.
Jan 14 2019
Rank #16: How Mitch McConnell is Prolonging the Shutdown, and What He Did to Turn the G.O.P. Into the Party of Trump
The government shutdown is entering its fifth week. Although recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans oppose President Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border, he refuses to consider a federal budget unless it includes money for the wall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he will not consider any legislation that the President would not sign. Alec MacGillis joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how McConnell led the way in turning Republicans into the Party of Trump, and how democracies become captive to minorities who thwart the will of the public.
Jan 18 2019
Rank #17: What is Robert Mueller’s Endgame Against Donald Trump?
Recent developments in the Mueller investigation, in the cases against Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn, provide some answers to two key questions: Did President Trump or anyone in his inner circle conspire with Russia to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election? And, did Trump obstruct justice by trying to shut down the Mueller inquiry? Adam Davidson joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss where the investigations by Mueller and in the House of Representatives are headed.
Dec 06 2018
Rank #18: Mike Pompeo’s Circuitous Journey to Trump’s Cabinet
Mike Pompeo is the last surviving member of President Trump’s original national-security team. Pompeo entered the Administration as the director of the C.I.A., but, after the sudden end of Rex Tillerson’s tenure as Secretary of State, Pompeo was elevated to the position of America’s top diplomat. All this despite the fact that Pompeo had no diplomatic experience, a résumé that includes exaggerations, and a history of criticizing Trump. Since the 2016 election, though, Pompeo has rebranded himself as a strong advocate for the President, and has come to embrace Trumpism alongside many other former critics in his party. Susan B. Glasser joins Eric Lach to discuss Pompeo’s journey from traditional California Republican to staunch Trump ally, and what it says about larger trends within the Republican Party.
Aug 22 2019
Rank #19: Tricky Dick and Dirty Don: How a Compelling Narrative Can Change the Fate of a Presidency
In 1972, Richard Nixon’s political future seemed assured. He was reëlected by one of the highest popular-vote margins in American history, his approval rating was near seventy per cent, and the public wasn’t interested in what newspapers were calling the “Watergate Caper.” But the President’s fortunes began to change when new revelations suggested that he knew about the Watergate break-in and that he had participated in a coverup. In May of 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee hearings were broadcast on television, and millions of Americans tuned in to watch compelling testimony about Nixon’s illegal activities. A narrative emerged, of Nixon as a scheming crook who put his own interests before those of the country. His poll numbers plummeted, his party turned on him, and, in August of 1974, Nixon resigned from the Presidency in disgrace. Thomas Mallon dramatized Nixon’s downfall in his 2012 novel “Watergate.” As Congress again debates the impeachment of a President, Mallon joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the power of a good story to affect the course of political history.
Nov 14 2019
Rank #20: Mad Men: Trump’s Perilous Approach to Dictators
Since taking office, President Trump has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, held two summits with Kim Jong Un, of North Korea, and hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. Trump relies on his instincts when it comes to the conduct of foreign policy, and his sycophancy toward dictators has been a defining feature of his Presidency. He has had a somewhat different approach to the Iranian leadership. Last week, Trump ordered an air strike that killed Qassem Suleimani, a high-ranking Iranian official, escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what Donald Trump may not understand about the minds of authoritarian leaders.
Jan 09 2020