Rank #1: #18 || The defection of a Roger Ailes warrior
"Very earlier on, Roger called me Ailes Junior. He told my dad, 'I've never met anyone more like me than Joe.'" As the protégé of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, Joe Lindsley was closer to the man who built Fox News than any Fox executive. He helped write Ailes' speeches, sat next to him at executive meetings, and went to church with his family on Sundays. What moved the ambitious twenty-something to abandon the conservative media titan?
For a deeper dive into his epic odyssey, check out Joe's memoir — Fake News / True Story: www.inkshares.com/books/fake-news-true-story
Rank #2: #13 || Navigating wealth within cross-class relationships
'I was taught that money is not something you talk about, because once people know you have it, you’ll get taken advantage of.' Like many young members of the 1%, Michelle inherited immense wealth at an early age. In a separate but parallel tale, so did Abe. For many years, they didn't talk about their wealth or know what to do with it, and ultimately denied its existence. Being involved in cross-class relationships only thickened the plot. Then Michelle and Abe discovered Resource Generation, an organization mobilizing young people with wealth around redistribution.
How is learning to talk about wealth essential to doing something with it? How do we navigate wealth disparity within the context of cross-class relationships? And how might that be a microcosm for alleviating wealth disparity in our country? Tune in for a rich, two-story episode.
CORRECTION: This episode mistakenly refers to Abe’s trust, which he doesn't have.
Rank #3: #9 || Defecting from the Donald
"One of my co-workers said, 'Trump supporters are without exception the worst people I've ever met, they're almost sub-human.' And I'm standing there thinking, you know, we're friends, but I think I'll keep my mouth shut." That's Alex Mamach, a young white Chicago native who grew up in a poor and diverse suburb of Chicago. He gives voice to why millions of Americans support Donald Trump: because Trump speaks to his marginalized constituency in a way that neither party has done in decades. And when his co-worker, the political establishment, and the media accuse Trump supporters of being sub-human, ignorant, and racist, it only entrenches their support and reinforces the notion that only he cares about poor white Americans.
So why did Alex defect from the Donald, and who did he switch to? Tune in for that, but for now, a sneak peak into how Trump supporters might be moved in a new direction: by appealing to their nobler intentions.
Rank #4: #11 || The fracture of a fundamentalist worldview
'I don't know if I can convey how comforting it is to believe that you possess the secret to how everything in the universe works. And as a consequence, we had this amazing bonus: we were going to heaven and everyone else was going to hell.' That's how Chris Ladd describes his upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian home in East Texas. But that sense that he possessed the secret to how everything in the universe worked? Well, it eventually cracked, shifting his views on women's rights, homosexuality, race, and everything else in the delicate mobile we call a "worldview." The cost of ideological transformation has been painfully high, but Chris concedes, it's been worth it.
Rank #5: #17 || A paid climate skeptic switches sides
'I can say to climate skeptics on the right, 'I used to believe what you believe. Hell, I wrote your talking points, and for 20 years, I was there! But let me tell you why I'm not there anymore.'' As the head of the Cato Institute’s climate and environmental policy shop, Jerry Taylor was a leading spokesperson for climate skepticism. He waged TV battles against climate activists on the likes of CNN, NBC, and Fox, and says he won all of them. And yet, he's the only paid climate skeptic who's ever flipped. Why did he shift not just his views on climate change, but his relationship with his views more broadly?
This is a joint episode with Inquiring Minds, a podcast exploring where science, politics, and society collide (motherjones.com/topics/inquiring-minds). To hear our previous joint episode about worldview transformation in the 2016 presidential election, visit: www.reckonings.show/episodes/inquiring-minds
Rank #6: #19 || How will we become majestic elephants?
‘I could have been a left-wing guerrilla in Columbia. Whatever would have grabbed me at the right time, I was ready for.’ What ended up grabbing Frank was neo-Nazism. What ended up grabbing Jesse was jihadi extremism. What do we see when we look beyond ideology?
This episode was produced with generous support from the Gen Next Foundation (www.gennext.com), which leverages a venture philanthropy framework to build paradigm-shifting social ventures with a wide footprint of impact. Their partnership with
Rank #7: #15 || From health insurance spin doctor to truth teller
'I was getting people to make decisions based on misleading information that could have life or death consequences.' That’s Wendell Potter, the former head of public relations for CIGNA. As the executive spin doctor for one of the biggest health insurance companies in the country, he was responsible for concocting tales that enabled CIGNA to deny coverage, discredit critics, and otherwise cast the corporate health insurance machine in a positive light. That was until the numbers in his spreadsheets became actual people with real lives.
What happens when a health insurance PR executive confronts the consequences of his spin? Dive into one man's odyssey from health insurance spin doctor to activist truth teller.
Rank #8: #16 || Two teens overcome bullying
'When I'm angry and I don't know how to get it out, I take it out on other people. I call people names, I say they're ugly, I talk about the way they dress. And when I get into fighting mode, I just start swinging.’ When she was in high school, Halley built a reputation for herself as a bully. So did Chris, who even bullied his teachers, going so far as to break one teacher's jaw. Why do we bully? And what moves us to stop?
Rank #9: #21 || A survivor and her perpetrator find justice
‘I wanted him to be standing with me, and telling our story with me, in a way that didn't just write us into the categories of angelic survivor and evil assaulter. And I think I even told the audience -- if this person comes forward to tell his story, I hope that you’ll listen to him.’
That’s Anwen, speaking about Sameer.
What does it sound like for a survivor to get her needs met? What does it sound like for a perpetrator to take responsibility for his sexual abuse of power?
Heartfelt thanks to the Friend Foundation, Varda Rabin, and David Karp at the Campus PRISM Project, which helps universities explore the possibility of applying restorative justice to sexual assault: www.skidmore.edu/campusrj/prism.php
Rank #10: #8 || Transcending a lineage of violence
"I called myself a Karma King, because I was distributing the shit that had been given to me." The finale of Season 1 features Daniel Gallant, a former violent extremist turned anti-violence activist, counselor, and scholar. Violence is what he experienced growing up, what he became a perpetrator of, and what it has been a phenomenal feat for him to overcome.
Today, Daniel is the founder of anti-violence organization Exit Canada, and a J.D. candidate at Thompson Rivers University. May we take this story — albeit difficult — as an opportunity to understand what motivates extremist violence, and draw hope from one person's ability to transcend it.