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The Argument

Author: New York Times Opinion

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Strongly-held opinions. Open-minded debates. Only occasional yelling. A weekly ideas show, hosted by Jane Coaston.
120 Episodes
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The first episode of “The Argument” with Jane Coaston gets right into the heart of the cyclical debate: Should the filibuster be killed once and for all?Democrats control the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, giving them the opportunity to pass major new legislation, and the only thing standing in their way is the filibuster. That parliamentary procedure effectively pushes the number of votes needed to pass a bill in the Senate from 51 to 60. Which is why the filibuster is typically beloved by the party in the minority, and railed against by the majority.If Democrats kill the filibuster now, what happens when they’re not in power? Arguing against the filibuster is Ezra Klein, a Times Opinion columnist and policy wonk. Defending the procedure and its merits is Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America. And Jane doesn’t trust either of them.Background reading found at nytimes.com/theargumentWe want to hear what you’re arguing about with your friends, your family or your Twitter nemesis. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.
There are all kinds of arguments, many of them pretty unproductive. Either nobody listens, or nobody wins, or you go around in circles, or you bring up old baggage that should’ve stayed in storage.But the best arguments, and the ones I like to have, are the ones that make me think differently. They help inform my opinions, or challenge them. And they help me understand the people who have other points of view.Starting Feb. 24, I’ll be the new host of “The Argument.” Every week, people who disagree with one another will come together on the podcast to hash it out.I’ve reported for years on conservatism and the American right. I’ve talked to people from all points on the political spectrum, and I’ve heard a lot of “the other side doesn’t get it,” and “the other side is evil.”In my opinion, none of this productive.I want people to hear one another out, before writing them off. I think respectful, civil debate makes us all smarter. And I think for democracy to work, we need to listen, especially when we don’t agree.Things on the program might get awkward, and that’s the whole point. We’re going to have real conversations and real disagreement.To those of you who have been listening for years, I hope you’ll find this is still the place for respectful debate that opens minds. And to those of you tuning in for the first time, welcome. I’ll see you next Wednesday.
This week we return to two of our favorite debates from “Arguments” past. First, a debate from Nov. 29, 2018, in which Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt debate climate change and how to deal with it. Then, the trio discuss whether public colleges should be tuition free, and if all student loan debt should be canceled, from the Dec. 5, 2019, episode, “Should College Be Free?” And finally, a return to that time Ross sang Lady Gaga.A note for our listeners: On Feb. 24, Jane Coaston will take the reins as host of “The Argument.” The show started in 2018 as a place for civil debate, a place that’s as much about listening as it is about talking. This mission isn’t changing.Jane will bring her years of reporting on politics (and sports!) to examine the issues shaping our politics and society. She’ll invite guests who disagree with her and one another, and encourage you to consider — or maybe even reconsider — your point of view. A huge thanks to our original team: David Leonhardt, Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and Frank Bruni. Keep listening, and you’ll hear them on the show as guests and sometimes agitators.
Michelle and Ross dream of a post-pandemic world. Michelle is ready to meet with friends again once vaccinated, and Ross wonders if the psychological stress of the pandemic has forever changed U.S. politics.Then they reflect on what they’ve learned from arguing with each other for more than two years.A note for our listeners: On Feb. 24, Jane Coaston will take the reins as host of “The Argument.” The show started in 2018 as a place for civil debate, a place that’s as much about listening as it is about talking. This mission isn’t changing. Jane will bring her years of reporting on politics (and sports!) to argue the issues shaping our politics and society. She’ll invite guests who disagree with her and one another, and encourage you to consider — or maybe even reconsider — your point of view. A huge thanks to our original team: David Leonhardt, Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and Frank Bruni. Keep listening, and you’ll hear them on the show as guests and sometimes agitators.
For the final episode in “The 46th” series, Michelle and Ross commemorate the inauguration of the 46th president with a debate about America’s post-Trump future. Ross compliments the ceremony’s “vague Hunger Games vibe,” and Michelle exhales for the first time in four years. Then, the pair discuss the uphill task for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to govern a country devastated by a pandemic, extreme political division and a staggering economy. Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein joins the duo to allay their doubts and volley questions about the new president’s “Rescue Plan” to resuscitate America’s work force and even out an inequitable economy. Finally, Jared offers the show a little class in a classical favorite. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
It’s impeachment season all over again on “The Argument,” and Michelle and Ross debate whether Republicans will, at long last, turn their backs to President Trump, or confirm that their party is resolutely his. Will Mitch McConnell really consider delivering enough Republican votes to convict Trump? The duo discuss the events of the last week and a half and the deepening fracture in the Republican Party, and Michelle is surprised to long for “the party of cruel Ayn Rand-ism” in exchange for “Qanon and guerrilla warfare.” Ross admits how wrong he’s been in analyzing violent extremism in recent years. Then, the hosts take up the question of deplatforming Trump, and the rabid hordes he foments. And finally, Ross suggests you find some escapism in a grim, dark, revisionist fantasy.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
In this special bonus episode, Jane Coaston makes her hosting debut on “The Argument” to discuss one of her favorite subjects: Section 230. As scholar Jeff Kosseff defined it, the “26 words that created the internet” is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and it protects websites from liability. The law also allows internet companies to moderate third-party content on their sites.The banning of President Trump from many social media platforms has led to renewed calls from both political parties to amend or revoke Section 230. Jane debates what changing the law might mean with Klon Kitchen, director of the Center for Technology Policy at the Heritage Foundation, and Danielle Keats Citron, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.”
Ross Douthat and Michelle Goldberg debate whether the events that unfolded on Wednesday should be classified as a “coup.” Then, Michelle Cottle deploys her expertise on Congress to analyze the Georgia election results and predict what a Democratic Senate means for Joe Biden and how conservative Democrats might play a role in Republicans’ long-term plans.Finally, Michelle Cottle recommends a series to watch that while not apolitical may help give respite from the current moment.
Happy New Year and good riddance, 2020! Ross and Michelle ring in 2021 with a reflection on how their opinions changed during “this wild and crazy and terrible and interesting and disastrous and a longer list of adjectives year,” as Ross so eloquently defines 2020. The hosts are joined by a bevy of thoughtful “Argument” listeners who share what — or who — made them look at the world in a new way this year. Then, Michelle and Ross offer their hopes for 2021, and recommend two streaming options that young and old can enjoy together. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
As part of our series “The 46th,” The Argument’s hosts and guests are debating the events of the transition and what America under a Biden administration should look like.Now that we’re less than three weeks away from the Georgia runoff elections that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, Michelle, Ross and fellow Times columnist Jamelle Bouie take stock of the Democratic candidates and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Jamelle and Michelle make the case for a Warnock victory, while Ross makes a surprising prediction of the outcome.Then Michelle and Ross debate whether President Trump’s actions over the past four years constituted fascism or just looked like fascism. Michelle says Trump has insidiously invaded democratic institutions, while Ross argues that sometimes conservatism can look a little bit like fascism.And Michelle has a recommendation for last-minute holiday shoppers.For background reading on the episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
As part of our series “The 46th,” the hosts and guests on “The Argument” are debating what America under a Biden administration might and should look like.This week, Ross Douthat is joined first by Jane Coaston, formerly of “The Weeds,” and future host of “The Argument.” Together they discuss the reasons for widespread theories of voter fraud among the Republican electorate and what led to such a moment. Then, the senior elections analyst of Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende, joins the pair to discuss the future of Trumpism and whether anybody else can capture the Republican Party quite like Donald Trump. And finally, Jane recommends building your character and your calf muscles.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
In the second episode of our pre-inauguration series, “The 46th,” Michelle and Aaron debate two countrywide crises that President-elect Joe Biden will inherit from Donald Trump: the coronavirus, and the economic chaos it’s causing. Jeneen Interlandi, the Times editorial board’s health, science and education writer, joins the podcast to discuss what Biden must do around mask mandates, vaccine deployment and public health messaging. Then, Binyamin Appelbaum, the editorial board’s economics writer, joins the debate around stimulus checks, and whether unthinkable human suffering can push Congress to action (spoiler: don’t count on it). And Binya offers recommendations for books — other than his own, of course — for people who want to understand how macroeconomics shapes their own lives, and not be bored doing it. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
Introducing The 46th, a new series from “The Argument” charting the incredibly unconventional transition from President Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. Each week through inauguration, we’ll debate what — and how — Mr. Biden should prioritize in his first 100 days. With Ross Douthat on intermittent paternity leave, Michelle Goldberg is joined by Opinion editor Aaron Retica for an interview with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. As the Democrats are poised to reclaim the executive branch, how should the growing divide between the party establishment and its progressive members like Representative Jayapal find common ground?Then, Kara Swisher — tech reporter and host of the NYT opinion podcast, “Sway” — joins Michelle and Aaron to discuss what social media companies are doing (or not doing) to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the election. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
After polling misses in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Michelle and Ross ask Nate Cohn, domestic correspondent for The Upshot at The New York Times, whether we can ever trust polls again. They discuss Nate’s four theories of why polling may have been so off this year and how much the coronavirus pandemic affected results.Then, Michelle and Ross try to read the tea leaves for the next 10 weeks before inauguration with Rosa Brooks, a professor of law and policy at Georgetown University Law Center and a founder of the Transition Integrity Project, whose previous post election scenarios have proved eerily prophetic. Together they debate what the Republican strategy is right now and what happens if President Trump doesn’t concede.Plus, a trick for making all your video calls less painful, literally.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
As a weary nation waits for mail-in ballots to be tallied, Michelle and Ross come together for a special election episode of “The Argument.” They debate the lessons and takeaways from a nail-biter of a race that is coming down to Georgia and Arizona. They discuss minority rule, and America’s failure to secure a governing majority. Michelle asks Ross where a narrow Biden victory and the clear continued appeal of Trumpism leaves the Republican Party, and Ross fears a Trump 2024 campaign. Plus, getting through this week of waiting with sedatives and Wiffle ball bats. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
With just days left until Election Day, Michelle and Ross are joined by the Time magazine columnist and senior editor of The Dispatch, David French. Together, they revisit last year’s conservative brawl over “David Frenchism,” give the Lincoln Project more airtime than it deserves, and debate the impact Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation will have on the religious conservative vote. All three make their election predictions, including in some surprisingly competitive Senate races. Then, how likely is the re-election of Donald Trump to spur the dissolution of the United States as we know it? David makes the case for a relatively bloodless “Calixit,” and Michelle prefers a “velvet divorce” to a violent civil war. But how likely is either?And finally, David recommends what “may be the last unifying piece of pop culture left in the United States of America,” available now on Apple TV.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
David Leonhardt returns to the podcast to celebrate its 100 episodes and two years on the air. Together, the O.G. “Argument” hosts dissect the final presidential debate, argue over the validity of the Hunter Biden allegations, and discuss Joe Biden’s campaign strategy in its final 11 days. Then, David looks into his crystal ball and makes election predictions — both national and state. Finally, David recommends finding the joy of a daily routine with family through the soothing tones of Alex Trebek.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
For the podcast’s two-year anniversary, Michelle and Ross start with a rousing debate over why Joe Biden isn’t saying he’d pack the courts, should he beat President Trump in November. Ross asks Michelle if she’d concede that court packing would be a significant escalation in the “judicial wars,” and Michelle asks Ross what happens to the anti-choice movement if and when Roe is overturned.Then, the hosts listen to the show’s voice mails and dig into the inbox to answer some listener questions. They respond to your questions about the open Supreme Court seat, who the heck is still undecided, Republicanism’s evolution to Trumpism, and whether “WAP” is a feminist anthem. Finally, both hosts suggest you dive into the Nxivm cult’s backstory through HBO’s new documentary series, “The Vow.”For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/theargument.
So President Trump caught the coronavirus. But with just weeks left in the 2020 campaign, what impact will his ill health — and subsequent spin — have on the election? Columnist David Brooks joins Michelle and Ross to talk about masculinity, sympathizing with someone you hate, and how the virus’s spread within Republican circles will play out among the electorate. Plus, Ross recites some medieval political theology. Then, what happens after Nov. 3? The columnists debate three possible outcomes for the election, ranging from dragging Trump out of the Oval Office with his “tail between his legs,” to secession and civil war. Finally, David is vindicated in a repeated recommendation of the lyricism of Taylor Swift, with some septuagenarian Springsteen on the side. For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/the-argument.
In the aftermath of the first presidential debate, Michelle Goldberg and Ross Douthat try to answer the question, “What was that?” They discuss whom President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were talking to, how much it’ll move the needle for yet undecided voters, and what to look for in the remaining debates. Then, the editorial board writer Michelle Cottle joins the podcast for a comprehensive look at the last week of news: Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Trump’s tax revelations, the debate and what it all means for the state of the race. Finally, Michelle recommends you enjoy the outdoors while you still can.For background reading on this episode, visit nytimes.com/the-argument.
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Comments (212)

Dave Smulders

not the best start to the new configuration of the podcast. Representatives of polar opposite positions presenting their tired cases. big deal. where's the insight

Feb 25th
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Ada Bruguera Riera

To say, in 2021 after everything that has happened, that conservatives and Republicans obey more by the rules is just insulting. Not digging this new format where the two positions are so opposed that there is no real interaction. Ross and Michelle had completely different views but pushed each other and actually argumented their positions, even found some common ground sometimes.

Feb 24th
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Jennifer Kloeckner

Good! I couldn't handle Michelle's drama queen, fire and brimstone tone and rhetoric any longer.

Feb 8th
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Michi Fishy

Hi! Sincere question. Why do the hosts change continually? I loved David L and Frank B, and I even sincerely enjoyed listening to Ross D- listening to him was as close as I ever got to having a conservative friend. 😂😂 I'm really so super sad that everyone is just gone.... Why did this happen? Can we hear them elsewhere in the future? 💔🙏🏻

Feb 6th
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Kathleen Marcove

I'm so sad...I loved the show just as is!!! I loved Frank and Ross... and, as a progressive woman, I really identify with Michelle... you are my best friend, we just happen met yet! All the best to you talented people!!! I will still be listening, so please come back... and let's us know where we can hear your voice again---I am reading the NYTimes everyday already! I'll want to hear you!

Feb 4th
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Sasha Lyn

To the idea that 'Facebook will either have to get with it or end up regulated...', I have to say what on earth is wrong with regulation?! Without it, we could not trust our drinking water, building codes and ...all those pesky little things that protect consumers from powerful corporations whose ONLY Interest is profiteering. THIS is the role of good government or, are you content to have corporations dictate policy (evenmore than they do). When foreign heads of state criticized Twitter etc..for censorship, they failed to understand that, unlike most of 5hier countries, the US cedes much of its regulation to businesses.

Jan 14th
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Kathleen Marcove

Thank you for keeping my sane this year Michelle and Ross and everyone at the Argument!!! Here as a recommendation for you, a documentary called The Century Of The Self, you can find it on YouTube. If you are short in time watch part 4, it explains much of what you have said in this podcast. All the best to you in 2021, and I will be listening.

Jan 2nd
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Eileen Klees

The who will replace Trump in the GOP segment was really good. I would much rather hear Ross discuss politics with pundits like Jane and Sean then Michelle.

Dec 12th
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Joel Rubin

Really liked the new format and the phenomenal guests on this episode!

Nov 20th
Reply (1)

Joe Weyek

Fix the polls. Find out where they went wrong, and make corrections. Fine. Still, why are opinion polls news? They might be useful for the political campaigns, but of what use are they for me? Stop treating them as if they were news.

Nov 13th
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Robert D. Haag Jr.

this is a fantastic podcast for people who like to hear all sides of the issues of the day.

Nov 1st
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Socio Logie

7 minutes in and this is quite flat and repetitive.

Oct 9th
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Jason Huntley

Another Leftist circle jerk on a show called #TheArgument. If you're not willing to have civil debate and people on your show that actually hold to conservative values, then rename the show #TheEchoChamber. The NYT is just a garbage piece of Leftist propaganda through and through. I gave it an honest try, but I'm interested in diverse views. Goodbye.

Aug 29th
Reply (1)

Jason Huntley

🤮🤮🤮🤮 I've tried. I have honestly tried to enjoy this show, but you don't get any argument when the episode is only Leftists. You get ridiculous claims about Trump not leaving the WH, Republicans stealing the election, and the implications that Trump is to blame for Covid. I can't and I won't tolerate any more episodes where these imbeciles aren't challenged on their idiotic claims. Even though Ross doesn't have much of a backbone, he does push back somewhat.

Aug 20th
Reply (13)

Sasha Anne Lyn

When you actually hear someone try and make their case by repeating propaganda it is impossible to takebthem seriously. As well, whie I can understand and debate traditional, Conservative points of view there is really nothing anyone can say (with a straight face) to defend an administration populated by liarsand criminals who have not only done nothing to uplift and bring the country forwards hut have actively driven the country into the ground for personal profit. Stand up for them and you are either a fool or a mark. Bring religion into politics and I say take your chelurch to the other side of town where our forefathers built them to symbolize the importance of keeping the two apart and ...for god sakes, read something of intergrity.

Aug 18th
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Joe Weyek

Jeanine Vocalfry?

Aug 17th
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Corinne Brodeur

I listen to this show so that I can be exposed to points of view that may be different from my own but that are evidence-based. That's why I had to turn it off when I heard one panelist saying that Trump was doing a great job with the coronavirus. #TheArgument, I know you can do better than this.

Aug 15th
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C E

This last episode is pure thrash. These two panelists might as well worship Drumpf as they compared the orange to a King.

Aug 11th
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Jared Poulter

I generally think of Ross as the most level headed and reasonable person on this show and that did not change at all this week. This show is generally billed as having someone on the Right, someone on the Left, and someone in the Middle, but in reality I think Ross is in the middle and his co-hosts are on the left. Today we heard from the Michelles of the right.

Aug 10th
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James Yoo

What the fuck did I just listen to lol

Aug 9th
Reply
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