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The Assignment with Audie Cornish

Author: CNN

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Every Monday on The Assignment, host Audie Cornish explores the animating forces of American politics. It’s not about the horserace, it’s about the larger cultural ideas driving the American electorate. Audie draws on the deep well of CNN reporters, editors, and contributors to examine topics like the nuances of building electoral coalitions, and the role the media plays in modern elections. 

Every Thursday, Audie pulls listeners out of their digital echo chambers to hear from the people whose lives intersect with the news cycle, as well as deep conversations with people driving the headlines. From astrology’s modern renaissance to the free speech wars on campus, no topic is off the table.

128 Episodes
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Reality television has turned into a sprawling industry of pimple-poppers, amazing racers, the broken hearted, docusoaps, and sooo many housewives – people willing to share the good and bad of their lives with an audience that by design is meant to judge them for it. It also gave us a president. Audie talks with Pulitzer Prize winning New Yorker writer Emily Nussbaum about how and why reality shows have become must-see TV. Her new book, “Cue The Sun! The Invention of Reality TV.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Michigan and Wisconsin are Midwestern swing states with the power to make or break the election. They’re crucial bricks in the Democrats’ “Blue Wall” strategy, a wall that’s starting to crack. On this third installment of “All Over the Map,” John King and his team visit Milwaukee, site of next week’s Republican convention and home to a Black liberal base increasingly disaffected with a President and party they feel abandoned by. In Detroit, many, especially in the Arab-American community, are heartbroken and angry over President Biden’s response to the war in Gaza. Two voters, Eric and Ibrahim, give us their takes — and remind us why we’re traveling “all over the map”. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This Independence Day, as we gather around the grill and watch fireworks with our friends and families, we wanted to revisit a conversation Audie had with Baratunde Thurston, writer at Puck News and host of the PBS show America Outdoors.   What does it mean to love this country despite its divisions? How can we come together and hold space for the complexity of the American story? And what would those conversations sound like if we did?   Baratunde Thurston is a writer, host and executive producer of the PBS television series America Outdoors, creator and host of How To Citizen, and a founding partner of the new media startup Puck. His comedic memoir, How To Be Black, is a New York Times best-seller. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
During the 2020 election, there was perhaps no bigger upset than Joe Biden carrying Georgia. This was the first time a Democrat had won the reliably red state in three decades — in years past, Democrats didn’t even think to campaign in the state. So, how do Georgia voters feel about their newfound swing state status? And will this change the way they vote in November? On this second installment of our series “All Over the Map,” John King and his team visit with two small-business owners aware of their electoral power. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Between Russia's war with Ukraine and Israel's war with Hamas, it feels like we're seeing the limits of diplomacy. Can we still depend on global alliances and good old-fashioned negotiations to solve the problems of today, or are we better off trying a different approach? Audie speaks with Julianne Smith, United States Permanent Representative to NATO, about the state of U. S. diplomacy and what it looks like when diplomacy works and when it doesn't.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
More than 158,000 Republicans cast Pennsylvania primary votes for Nikki Haley nearly two months after she quit the race for president. That’s enough votes to swing a state critical to victory in November – and Haley had similar showings in other battlegrounds. So, how do these critical swing voters choose between Joe Biden and Donald Trump – two candidates they do not like? In the first installment of a three-part series, CNN Chief National Correspondent John King travels to Pennsylvania to hear Haley voters share their doubts about Biden, Trump, and the future of the Republican Party.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What does it mean for a news story to matter? To have impact on YOU, the audience? Does it have to be about a person who has been wronged? An institution caught in a cover up? Do you need to feel like it could affect your life personally? Audie wrestled these questions while serving as judge for this year’s Livingston Awards, which recognize impactful journalism by reporters under the age of 35. She calls up this year’s winners: Allison Behringer and Lila Hassan, for their work covering medical mysteries for the Bodies podcast, and Samantha Hogan for her deep dive into probate and guardianship in Maine.    You can check out more of their award-winning reporting below:  Early Birds episode of Bodies  The Fight for Abortion Training episode of Bodies  Calls to overhaul Maine probate courts have stalled for half a century. The most vulnerable people may be at risk by Samantha Hogan  Eight deaths raise questions about oversight of Maine’s public guardianships by Samantha Hogan  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What can we learn about the future of our elections from political prediction markets? Audie calls up Thomas Gurca, Director of Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM), an online futures market that includes political betting. He explains what makes prediction markets different from traditional gambling and how IEM continues to predict presidential elections with better accuracy than the polls.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Filmmaker and journalist dream hampton’s new documentary, “It Was All a Dream,” chronicles the “the golden age of Hip-Hop" in the early 1990’s. She talks with Audie about the film, which is made up of footage she shot in the 90’s that’s been in storage for 30 years: hanging out with Biggie Smalls in the studio, Lil’ Kim in the neighborhood, and interviews with a before-he-was famous Snoop Dog. Through her writing at publications like The Source, Vibe, Essence, and The Village Voice, dream became a critical activist voice — committed to the music and to the artists that she was constantly demanding more of.  Learn more about “It Was All a Dream” and watch the trailer.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Steve Bannon, the standard-bearer of “MAGA media,” is set to report to federal prison on July 1st for refusing to comply with January 6 Committee subpoenas. He’s the latest in a growing list of Trump allies to face legal prosecution in defense of the former president. Bannon used the moment to paint himself as a martyr, a strategy which CNN Political Reporter Sara Murray says is in line with Donald Trump’s own plans to foment a wave of grievance through his sentencing in the Manhattan “hush money” trial.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Each of the last 12 months has become the hottest ever on record and the UN Secretary General has warned that countries must act on the climate crisis within the next year and a half. This week Audie talks to Bill Weir, CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent, about how the climate crisis will affect water supply, and why we should all be thinking about what the future of sustainable water usage looks like. Then, Audie chats with two water experts: Fabiola Sosa Rodriguez, Head of Economic Growth and Environment at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, where they could run out of water this month. And Christine Colvin, Water Policy Lead at the World Wildlife Fund, she was in Cape Town during a water crisis that almost turned off the taps.   For more on Mexico City’s water crisis check out this story by Laura Paddison: https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/25/climate/mexico-city-water-crisis-climate-intl    Bill Weir’s book, “Life as We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing World” is available now.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
How will the trial of Donald Trump affect voters? There’s been a lot of partisan messaging from all sides about the numbers and what – if any effect – that’s going to have in November. How do we make sense of all of this? CNN polling and analytics editor Ariel Edwards-Levy joins Audie to discuss the power – and limitations – of surveys and polls.  Read Ariel’s latest: What the polls can’t tell us about the Trump verdict’s effect on the election  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
We’re seeing conflicting messages about the state of the economy, especially from political leaders. And we’re getting truly mixed message about what – if anything – can be done, at least in the short term. A listener from L.A. understands this first-hand, and calls in with an assignment. Audie brings in Dr. Gary Hoover, Executive Director of The Murphy Institute and Professor of Economics at Tulane University, to talk about the economy’s bad vibes, and what hope – if any – lies ahead. Audie also dives into the mailbag and gets an unusual email from a special listener.  Call or text us at (202) 854-8802  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
With Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial heading into final arguments, it’s the perfect time to have Katelyn Polantz, CNN’s Senior Reporter for Crime and Justice, give a full review of the many trials of the former president. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What happens when you take away a kid’s phone during school hours? In a word: drama. Some schools around the country are trying to completely remove smartphones from classrooms, requiring students to place them in pouches. Audie talks with Carol Kruser, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services at Chicopee Public Schools in Massachusetts. She successfully advocated for a district-wide ban on phones. We also hear from Suzanna Kopans, a high school senior who willingly parted with her phone. She’s part of an organization called Phone-Free Schools Movement.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
A mere 500 feet away from the site of People of New York v. Trump, another political legacy is on the line in a courtroom. Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who sidestepped corruption charges due to a mistrial in 2017, is under federal indictment again, and the timing couldn’t be worse for Senate Democrats trying to maintain control of the chamber. Gregory Krieg is covering the Menendez trial for CNN and he’ll highlight this blockbuster case that’s been completely overshadowed by the Trump show next door. CNN: 4 big questions as Bob Menendez’s corruption trial enters its second week Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What can we learn from the first great rap battle of the streaming age? Like the ones that came before, the recent rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake is defined by lyrical dexterity and sheer intensity. But UNLIKE past battles this one was remarkable for its speed. Both rappers released songs within hours and even minutes of each other. Audie talks with CNN Entertainment Reporter Lisa Respers France about this moment, and how social media pushed this beef to a fever pitch.    Read Lisa’s reporting on the feud :  Kendrick Lamar and Drake gave us an epic hip-hop beef weekend. Here’s what to know  Questlove was not happy with Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s beef: ‘Nobody won the war’  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Vice President Kamala Harris thinks about everything as a lawyer first. That's an observation CNN Senior Reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere has made after many interviews with the Veep. Audie talks with Dovere about how Harris has deployed her prosecutorial skills against Wall Street CEOs, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and even President Biden in a debate moment that nearly derailed his campaign. And they talk about how she is using those same prosecutorial skills this election year, especially around the issue of abortion. Dovere is the author of “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump.” Dovere: Harris is making unprecedented Black outreach efforts as Biden campaign looks to her to bolster support Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Bad trips, anti-drug PSAs, and the crackdown under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 helped stigmatize psychedelics in the U.S. But now, there’s renewed clinical inquiry into whether these drugs can ease emotional trauma. To understand the future of psychedelics, Audie calls up Ernesto Londoño, reporter at the New York Times and author of the new book, “Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics.” They discuss his own mental health and psychedelic journeys and why he thinks there’s good reason for both hope and skepticism.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
When Mike Johnson worked with Democrats to pass Ukraine war funding, he knew it would enrage the extreme right-wing and threaten his speakership. So far, Johnson has survived the challenge to his job, and as Doug Heye puts it, “survival is strength.” Heye has worked for Republicans in the House and Senate and is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. He’ll describe the tightrope Mike Johnson must walk in order lead House Republicans back to a majority in November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Comments (224)

Charles Uwi

You have very exciting and unexpected topics. I have coins that have been sitting in jars for years. I am going to do my part, take them to the store coin machine and buy a lottery ticket from the proceeds. I will let you know when I win the big prize!

Sep 12th
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Lillie Hatchett

This was really fascinating and enlightening.

May 18th
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Teddy

Informative and personal interview. To me, I could hear from all that it was a difficult, uncomfortable discussion. And how their thought process was working on how to answer straight forward questions without saying what was really to be said.

Nov 18th
Reply (1)

Andrew Smith

Don Lemon is the only bigger piece of shit than Juicy Smollett.

Feb 17th
Reply (1)

J. B.

this was an amazing episode. The fact that the over hate, racism, and strain put on minority people so bad that they leave to live somewhere else and still lament the decision and miss family is sad. Those who tell people to leave if they don't like this country win when this happens and the fact that these people are the victims is sad. We are less strong when we lose so many strong people and talent.

Oct 30th
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Kem Goodwin

we are asking if Donald Trump can produce a negative test but what no one is talking about is where is the positive test show me that you tested positive

Oct 25th
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Kem Goodwin

I would love to know where is the first lady thought this pandemic if we are rounding the corner not only that where is Young trump don't know his name but he was infected to

Oct 25th
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Brian Shaw

To answer your question Mr. Lemon...yes your/our vote will create change in America.

Oct 15th
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Brian Shaw

We need Police reform, not defunding but new training and vetting officers with the right Psychological blue print to be a PEACE officer. Dallas Texas, Wolfe City, Texas...White Police officer charged with the murder of 31 year old Johnathan Price, personal trainer, and a Black man. Price was breaking up a fight between a couple at a gas station, Sheriff Shaun Lucas arrives and immediately confronts Price, tases him then fatally shoots him...big mistake!

Oct 6th
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Brian Shaw

I have been dealing with this issue for 55 years, the times have changed and progress (some); however, I have never seen so many white people engaged in a movement, BLM, for progress in those 55 years! Bless you all!

Sep 11th
Reply (2)

Ricky Paul Mitchell Jr.

I love this podcast

Sep 11th
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Charles Uwi

Don, this is the best season finale. You had a powerful and rich conversation with Dr. Tatum. I hope you will be back soon.

Sep 10th
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Brian Shaw

Remember Anthony Huber! because race matters!

Aug 27th
Reply (6)

Pat Walker

Great information.

Aug 22nd
Reply (1)

Brian Shaw

Even as we think about today, looking at Baseball, Football, Basketball, Track, Golf, Tennis...etc. The dynamic of Slavery exists in the format of: Managers, HeadCoaches, Owners, predominated by white men/women. Black players, paid; and in some cases years back, free Labor!

Aug 13th
Reply

Brian Shaw

As you get older, Baseball, Basketball, Football and many other sports take on a different "hue". As an African/Indian American male in my 60's, sports changes over decades or half centuries. What we thought was important at the time is not so important now! Race, the upcoming election, BLM movement, financial security threats from this administration with payroll tax cuts which will affect Social Security. If my check is being affected by partisan politics; I don't have time to watch football. Been dealing with Race since the '50s...we tried to separate in this country and when we did, we built (freed African Americans from slavery), 15 townships across America and they were burned to the ground and murdered our ancestors, by vigilante whites. One day in THIS country hopefully white folk will be willing to share the spoils of their victory in stealing this land called America.

Aug 13th
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Skyler D

I don't see the link to the survey that was referenced. Really enjoying the conversations though.

Aug 7th
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Brian Shaw

I will never understand why individuals on these Podcasts condemn Don Lemon for introducing dialogue to stimulate conversations and ideology...non of us know everything about all the issues before us. Let's stop the name calling and foul language and just communicate with each other. Thanks Don Lemon.

Aug 3rd
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Brian Shaw

Wow...thank you the speaker from the Jewish community, I knew something happened after WWII, now I know, and I am a part of that history, my father was in the Navy in 1945 when the explosion in Port Chicago, California happened, we then moved to a city named Pittsburg, California and lived in an all Black community. Thank you Don and Kareem for the history lesson about Black folk and Jewish community and " The Brothers at Arms, the 716th".

Jul 24th
Reply

April Franklin

Mr. Lemon, thank you for this series. It is long overdue. I wish you much success.

Jul 21st
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