A reliable, honest and entertaining podcast about Washington D.C’s people, culture and politics.
Mar 03 2016
Mar 19 2015
Sep 22 2016
Oct 13 2016
Feb 12 2015
Jan 22 2015
Sep 29 2016
Sep 01 2016
Jun 18 2015
Jun 25 2015
Feb 27 2015
May 08 2014
Nov 17 2016
Jul 09 2015
Aug 23 2012
President Trump believes he would have won the popular vote -- if it weren't for the 3 million people that voted illegally. Even though there's no evidence to support his claim, he put together a commission to look into the issue, and their first meeting is today. They've already been pretty active, asking for voter data from all 50 states. But what exactly is going on with this commission, and what can we expect?
Jul 19 2017
February has been a brutal month for most of us – snow and cold and ice and kids home from school and trips cancelled. Perhaps the only thing that redeems this month is the release of season three of “House of Cards” on Feb. 27.
Perhaps it is our fascination with the dysfunction of Washington that makes the Netflix drama so irresistible. Perhaps it’s the fact that the series takes you where no journalist is allowed to go - into the fantastical and not so fantastical political wheeling and dealing going on all around us – with a large dose of dramatic license.
Where exactly is that line between truth, fiction and Washington politics? That’s the question we try to answer with a special series of podcasts – that’s right, it is “House of Cards” week on DecodeDC. Whether you are a series fan or just want to get the inside scoop on the dirtiest deeds of politicians, journalists and the political operatives that occupy Washington, you will definitely want to listen.
Spoiler alert – we’re going to talk about things that happened in seasons one and two.
In case you missed the first two seasons – here are the essentials.
Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, has wheedled and schemed his way from Congress to the vice presidency to the Oval Office. Together with his equally conniving wife, Claire, played by Robin Wright, they knock down every conceivable barrier, using any means necessary, in their quest for power. Along the way there’s murder, blackmail, a risque assortment of sexual forays, a crazy trade deal with China, a lot of seduction and deception. Those on the Underwoods’ side are rewarded, those obstructing their path are mowed down. Where do these people come up with these plots? We go to the sources for the answer.
In episode one of “Inside House of Cards,” we take you into the writers room. Staff writer Bill Kennedy explains the narrative and the relationships and the key scenes that define seasons one and two.
Journalism takes a shellacking in the series and in our second episode, we speak with Matt Bai, formally a political reporter at The New York Times Magazine. Bai plays a political reporter for The New York Times in season two and says the series gets at some essential truths about Washington and journalism.
In episode three, we enter the world of Capitol-Hill-staffer-turned-lobbyist. Jimmy Williams has led the real life of one of the fictional characters in the series, Remy Danton. Williams says the life of a lobbyist is about one thing, raising money for members of Congress.
House of Cards has a lot of nasty people, but some of the nastiest are female reporters. In episode four, we talk to two real-life women journalists who cover Washington -- Pam Kirkland of the Washington Post, the paper fictionalized in "House of Cards", and Carrie Wells of the Baltimore Sun, stand-in and real life set for the imagined "Washington Herald."
In our fifth and final episode, we speak with Beau Willimon, the man behind the series. Willimon adapted the British version of “House of Cards” for the American audience and runs the show. A former campaign staffer, Willimon knows how the system works from the inside out, and as playwright he knows how to do drama.
Download the DecodeDC's "Inside House of Cards" special series starting today and all next week – or, you can just binge listen to them all before the 27th!
Feb 19 2015
Feb 23 2015
Jun 12 2014
Jan 26 2017
The clash of two American values -- religious freedom and freedom from discrimination –- didn’t seem so huge when a broad coalition of religious and civil rights representatives got together in a room in 1993. While starting from different ends of the political spectrum, this group came together to push for a new law, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, meant to protect the religious practice of all faiths, no matter how small. RFRA became the law of the land.
But just a few years and a huge cultural shift later, the law was found to be only applicable at the federal level, and the coalition could not find a way to balance religious freedom with the civil rights of LGBT persons and women. That rift continues today as we continue to ask what does it mean to be free to exercise one’s religion? We hear from the people who were in that room in 1993 – and now are living with the consequences of their efforts.
Dec 28 2017
Our friends at PolitiFact have sorted through a year of lies, fibs, exaggerations, fabrications and outright falsehoods to find the worst of the worst. PolitiFact’s Editor Angie Drobnic Holan joins us to reveal the 2017 lie of the year.
Dec 21 2017
Congress is considering changes to the way it handles sexual harassment complaints after its current rules have been called onerous by critics. We take stock of what might change with Patrick Terpstra of the Scripps Washington Bureau, and we speak with the lawmaker who helped shape the system, retired Rep. Chris Shays, who says it’s imperfect but is a vast improvement over what came before.
Dec 14 2017
America has long sold itself as "the nation of immigrants." But when you look at our history -- even the halcyon Ellis Island days -- that branding has always come with an asterisk. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... especially if they’ll work for cheap. Our guests on this episode are Hiroshi Motomura of the University of California and Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution.
Dec 07 2017
Judges in a legal stand-off. A power struggle between two branches of the federal government has left potentially thousands of undocumented immigrants stuck in detention centers with no idea how long they'll be there. Are some immigration judges defying the law?
Jimmy speaks to Scripps' senior national investigative correspondent Mark Greenblatt about his investigation… “Above the Law?”
Nov 30 2017
With Republicans pushing ahead on their plan to overhaul taxes for the first time in 30 years, we revisit an episode of DeocdeDC that explained how that reform 30 years ago actually came together. Jimmy speaks with two major players in that effort - Pam Olsen of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and former Congressman Bill Archer.
Nov 21 2017
Phyllis Henderson is a state representative in South Carolina, and she is worn out by the state of political discourse. We spoke with her right after the 2016 election, and she had some reservations. Now we check back in with her to see how she thinks the GOP is doing -- and what she thinks about the tone of American politics.
Nov 16 2017
Last Sunday, a gunman walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire on the congregation -- killing more than two dozen people. The next day, President Donald Trump told reporters the mass shooting wasn't a "guns situation," and instead blamed it on "mental health." Politicians have linked mental illness and mass shootings after virtually every mass shooting. In this week's episode, Jimmy talks to The Atlantic's Olga Khazan, who looked into that link... and found that it doesn't exist.
Nov 09 2017
It seems like for every winner in tax reform, there’s a loser. As the House beings its push for huge changes to how American people and companies pay their taxes, we explain the basics and dig into the intended and unintended consequences of it all. Think of it as Tax Reform 101, with guests Bernie Becker of Politico and Steve Taylor of the United Way.
Nov 02 2017
From the beginning of American politics, politicians have been using the term "bailout" as a political cudgel. In this week's podcast, Jimmy speaks with two experts who explain the what, when, why, where, and how of government bailouts.
Oct 30 2017
Residents of coal country are getting sick, but not everyone is convinced of the cause.
Our Newsy colleague Zach Toombs explains what the science says and what the government is — or is not — doing about it.
Oct 19 2017
Local law enforcement and national politicians are struggling to deal with the opioid epidemic gripping American communities, in large part because no one can figure out just how big the problem is. We speak with Angela Hill, who led a Scripps News investigation into a synthetic opioid called carfentanil.
Oct 12 2017
Americans are once again mourning after another mass shooting. We explain why elected leaders fail — despite broad public support — to pass measures like additional background checks on firearm purchases. We speak with filmmaker Michael Kirk, who made the FRONTLINE documentary Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA.
Oct 05 2017
What does the government have to do with the price of milk? Turns out – everything. For decades, government subsidies have tried to balance supply and demand for a commodity that is produced every day, at least twice day, everywhere – and has only hours to go from the cow to the store shelf. This week, Amy Mayer of Iowa Public Radio and Harvest Public Media explains how that support has changed and what the farmers think about it.
Sep 28 2017
A universal basic income isn't a new idea, but it's getting traction in politics today. It's a different type of safety net: free cash from the government, with absolutely no strings attached. It's never been tried in the US in a pure form, but we have had experiments that came close. Ioana Marinescu, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, walks us through some of those experiments, and tells us how this whole idea might work.
Sep 21 2017
The Federal Emergency Management Agency maps flood plains across the country. The maps are intended to show which areas are likely to flood so that local governments can better plan for disasters. They also determine who must buy flood insurance, and at what rates. But there are problems: Many of them are outdated and don’t take into account the anticipated effects of climate change. And if you have enough money and enough political power, you can get your condo or your city moved off the map, even if you are in the eye of a storm. Host Jimmy Williams talks to two experts on why these maps don’t tell the true story of where floods are happening now and in the future.
Sep 14 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made some questionable statements to justify ending, DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shielded 800,000 people who were brought to the US illegally as children. In this bonus episode, we fact-check some of those claims with the editor of PolitiFact, Angie Drobnic-Holan.
Sep 08 2017
Hurricane Harvey caused billions of dollars of damage, and Hurricane Irma will likely cost even more. But how will the federal government pay for all of it, and is it possible that Washington had a hand in making the destruction worse? This week we take a look at the National Flood Insurance Program with Michael Grunwald of Politico.
Sep 07 2017
Contaminated drinking water is coming into the homes of tens of millions of Americans, especially in smaller, lower income communities, from aging, under-funded water treatment plant and distribution systems, poorly maintained private wells, and groundwater sources polluted by industrial dumping and agricultural waste. Experts and the GAO say it will require billions of dollars of infrastructure improvements to maintain safe water throughout the U. S. Customers of antiquated, poorly maintained, under-funded systems in rural areas, smaller communities and neglected older urban areas – who are disproportionately lower income, African-American and Latino – are most at risk.
Today we're going to Sand Branch, Texas, where 100 residents haven't had access to clean water for decades. What's it like to not have access to clean drinking water, and just how far do residents have to go to get it? Jimmy speaks with Brandon Kitchin, a reporter with News21's Troubled Waters investigative team, about their deep dive into clean water access across the country.
Aug 31 2017
The military spent decades contaminating the drinking and ground water at bases across the country and has spent billions to contain the mess.
But the veterans and families who lived on those bases are still struggling with the long legacy of that toxic water and feel abandoned and betrayed by their government. Host Jimmy Williams speaks with Adrienne St. Claire, a reporter with News21 Troubled Waters investigative team about their deep dive into the impact of the military’s on-going toxic water problem.
Aug 24 2017