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The New Yorker: Politics and More

Author: WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

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A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
549 Episodes
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Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has been given a broad mandate to round up undocumented immigrants. The agency is infamously unwelcoming to journalists, but two filmmakers managed to get unprecedented access to its employees and detention facilities. Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz discuss how they got this closeup look at the agency as it developed ever-harsher policies designed to deter immigrants. Schwarz tells Jonathan Blitzer, who covers immigration for the magazine, that “if [ICE] can make life difficult enough, if [it] can send these messages . . . that this is the hell you’re going to get, then [they’ll] make these people leave.”     The documentary, “Immigration Nation,” is available on Netflix.
Last week, President Trump declared his intention to “ban” TikTok, a social-media platform with eighty million daily users in the United States. TikTok is a product of the Chinese tech company ByteDance, and some privacy activists have raised concerns that the company may share user data with the Chinese government. Sheelah Kolhatkar joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what the controversy reveals about U.S.-Chinese relations and the changing politics around Big Tech.
Before she became the mayor of Chicago, last year, Lori Lightfoot spent nearly a decade working on police reform. Now Lightfoot is facing civil unrest over police brutality and criticism by the President for the homicide and shooting rates in her city. Between the violence and the pandemic, it seems to be one of the toughest climates any Chicago politician has seen. David Remnick spoke with Mayor Lightfoot about the state of the city, policing, and President Trump’s recent decision to send two hundred federal agents to help “drive down violent crime.” 
In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson created a regiment of military engineers within the U.S. Army. Over the next two hundred years, the Army Corps of Engineers, as it came to be known, has been involved in construction projects including the Washington Monument and the Panama Canal. When Governor Andrew Cuomo asked the Corps to help New York City cope with the coronavirus pandemic, it transformed a convention center into a twenty-five-hundred-bed medical facility in four days. The Corps has also been tasked with building President Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Trump Administration has gutted many government agencies, but the Army Corps of Engineers remains well resourced and popular, with the public and the President. Paige Williams joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the history of the Army Corps of Engineers, and its role in the politics of 2020.
The decision about whether to reopen schools may determine children’s futures, the survival of teachers, and the economy’s ability to rebound. Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University, reviews what we do and don’t know about the dangers of in-person classes. How likely are children to transmit the coronavirus? Will teachers spread it to one another? Oster talks about the data with Joshua Rothman and opens up a knottier question about this upcoming school year: How do we measure the trade-off between the lives that will inevitably be lost if schools open against the long-term negative effects of learning loss if schools stay closed? What will a school do when, inevitably, somebody dies? “We’re going to have to accept that there isn’t actually a right choice,” she says.
Since the police killing of George Floyd, in May, protests have continued around the country. The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but the Trump Administration and its allies have seized on isolated incidents of violence and looting to describe protesters as “anarchists” who “hate our country.” Trump sent federal law-enforcement officers to the city of Portland, where the agents have been accused of inflaming the violence and illegally detaining demonstrators. James Ross Gardner, who has covered the Portland protests for The New Yorker, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what the public might misunderstand about the protests, and what the demonstrations illustrate about Trump’s “law and order” reëlection campaign.
“My generation was taught that the civil-rights movement ended in the sixties, and that the Civil Rights Act put things as they should be,” Chance the Rapper tells David Remnick. “That belief was reinforced with the election of Barack Obama”—who loomed especially large to a boy from the South Side of Chicago. One of the biggest stars in hip-hop, Chance is also one of the most politically committed, and his art has always been closely tied to his commitment to lift up his community. Quite early in his career, he founded a nonprofit, SocialWorks, that invests in education in Chicago, and he has advocated for progressive candidates in city politics. But as politically aware as he is, Chance says that the protests following the death of George Floyd have given him a new consciousness of the struggle for racial justice. “This movement has shown us that we are very far from an equitable or an equal society. And that we will be the generation that fixes it.”
Meat-packing and poultry-processing jobs have always been dangerous, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the risks. This spring, infection rates climbed so high at Mountaire, one of the largest poultry producers, that it stopped disclosing the numbers. Mountaire’s owner, Ronald Cameron, is one of Trump’s biggest donors. Jane Mayer, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss conditions at the company's plants, and how Cameron is leveraging the coronavirus crisis to strip workers of their protections. 
This week, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump Administration’s request to expand construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and the climate change task force formed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders urged politicians to "treat climate change like the emergency that it is." Bill McKibben, an activist in the environmental movement for three decades, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss whether the United States has hit a turning point in the battle against global warming.
Hasan Minhaj, a comedian and political commentator, is the host of Nexflix’s “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.” His show—which has won both an Emmy and a Peabody—has frequently gone viral. Last year, Minhaj became a household name when he testified before Congress on the weight of student loan debt. He spoke with Carrie Battan at the 2019 New Yorker Festival about how he got invited to Washington, developing his specific brand of writing while working as a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” and how his family has helped to shape his voice as a comedian. “You don't know how long you have these shows for,” he tells Battan. “To me, if you do have that privilege, just be surgical in the way you use it.”
Starting this spring, many states began releasing some inmates from prisons and jails to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But a huge number of incarcerated people are mentally ill or addicted to drugs, or sometimes both. When those people are released, they may lose their only consistent access to treatment. Marianne McCune, a reporter for WNYC, spent weeks following a psychiatrist and a social worker as they tried to locate and then help some recently released patients at a time of uncertainty and chaos.  This is a collaboration between The New Yorker Radio Hour and WNYC’s “The United States of Anxiety.”
This week, in a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled unlawful the Trump Administration’s decision to cancel the DACA program. DACA protects from deportation some seven hundred thousand undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Though DACA and the “Dreamers” that it protects have widespread public support, the Trump Administration remains hostile to the program. Jonathan Blitzer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss DACA’s big day in court, and the Trump Administration’s next moves on immigration policy.
In the past month, President Trump has cleared peaceful demonstrations with tear gas, told governors to “dominate” protesters, and threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act. The staff writer Masha Gessen argues that transgressions like these are signs that the President’s mind-set is fundamentally not democratic but autocratic. “Polarization and violence and high anxiety are all things that benefit an autocrat,” they warn David Remnick. Gessen’s new book, “Surviving Autocracy,” draws on their experience as a targeted journalist in Russia, and Gessen sees troubling similarities between Trump and Vladimir Putin.
The Cummins Unit, a penitentiary in southeastern Arkansas, opened in 1902. Designed as a prison for black men, its rigid hierarchy and system of unpaid labor have been likened to slavery. The population at Cummins, still overwhelmingly black, has been devastated by the coronavirus—the prison has the tenth-largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.Rachel Aviv joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what incarcerated men in Cummins told her about their study group, called the Think Tank; about black identity in America; how they have organized to demand adequate measures against the pandemic; and what they think about the protests following the killing of George Floyd.
The need for social distancing has upended most of the ways that candidates have traditionally put themselves before voters: gathering crowds, shaking hands, kissing babies. Eric Lach has been following the race in New York’s Seventeenth Congressional District to learn how Facebook Live, e-mail newsletters, and Zoombombs are shaping the race. “There’s no question that people are in pain, and they’re worried and they’re distracted,” Allison Fine, a candidate with a background in digital organizing, said. “So we’re not going to be able to break through all that noise . . . . But all the metrics of engagement are going up.”
During Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, mainstream Republicans expressed disgust with his divisive rhetoric, but once he became President, they fell in line behind him. The protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have created a moment of reckoning for the Republican Party. In recent weeks, several senators and former members of the Trump Administration have spoken out against the President, including his onetime Defense Secretary, James Mattis, who accused him  of making “a mockery of our Constitution.” Susan B. Glasser, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Trump’s response to the demonstrations is changing the dynamics of the 2020 campaign.
Ron Davis was a cop for almost thirty years, first as an officer with the Oakland P.D., then as the chief of police of East Palo Alto, California. In 2013, he joined President Barack Obama's Department of Justice to direct initiatives on policing reform. He investigated the police response to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown. Davis tells Jelani Cobb that police violence in black communities is built into the structure of policing. “I think the system is working perfectly. It is working as it was intended to work,” Davis says. “We’re still using the same systems that were designed on purpose to oppress communities of color.”
The killing of George Floyd has inspired a renewed public reckoning with America’s legacy of racism. Racial prejudice is so ingrained in the origins of the country, and so pervasive in all of our institutions, that its insidious effects on all of us can be hard to grasp. The anti-racism trainer Suzanne Plihcik joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the concept of white racial superiority was constructed in America, and what people can do to oppose structural racism.
Peter Hessler has been in one of the strictest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world: starting in January, he was quarantined with his family in Chengdu, China, presaging what life would soon look like in America. Now, as restrictions lift in China, Hessler says that the experiences of the two countries have diverged. China’s government spent the lockdown setting up systems to check people’s temperatures on a wide scale and do contact tracing when someone becomes ill. But, although China’s response has been effective in containing the virus so far, one scientist told Hessler, “There is no long-term plan. There’s no country that has a long-term plan.” Meanwhile, in the United States, perhaps the only common ground in the Presidential campaign is to attack China’s handling of the outbreak, which, candidates claim, cost lives around the world. The Trump Administration has implicated China in spreading the virus; Joe Biden’s campaign positions him as the tougher leader to take on China. Evan Osnos, who previously reported from Beijing and is now based in Washington, tells David Remnick that both sides count on the fact that China’s government ignores whatever American politicians say about it during campaign season.
Just a month ago, experts were predicting that the American economy would be slow to recover from the pandemic. Unemployment remains at record highs, but, as the country begins to reopen, federal policies that have bolstered small businesses and bailed out big ones seem to have helped avoid another Great Depression. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how good news about the economy complicates Joe Biden’s campaign against Donald Trump.
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Comments (26)

Philly Burbs

every time Biden opens his mouth he loses 10000 votes unless he's reading off of something. Tom Perez, Clyburn & the DNC should resign in embarrassment & shame. we had 18 qualified candidates. they choose the one with dementia whose hands were in the pockets of wall street & the big banks. Trump will easily beat him if they debate. I was never a Berni fan but out of the 2 he'd beat Trump In a debate. fools Trump will be in office in 2021.

Apr 3rd
Reply (1)

Storm Rider

yucky on you. sounds like you are taking orders from the neo-libs. why so damning of Sanders? why so sucked up to Biden. yucky yuck stuff you are producing. not news. just neo-lib dribble. unscribing in 5 secs...

Apr 3rd
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Gwendolyn S

Got 2 mins in and had to turn it off. Just not enjoyable. Time for me to unsubscribe.

Mar 31st
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Philly Burbs

im so angry I need to walk away. the DNC rigged the things so Bloomberg can run against Warren who was planning on raising their taxes for social programs. the DNC rigged the election hours before super Tuesday the media did a full court press since Warren rose in the ranks that she could NOT BEAT TRUMP. Did u see what she did to Bloomberg? The media in code are have been manipulating me & you to be for Biden because Warren & Berni can't beat Trump. horse shit. Obama bailed out the banks not black people. Millions of people lost everything. including their pensions. They want a man with Dementia to win because he is on the big banks side just like Obama. he told them he was first week. Biden is easily manipulated. Like Bush jr who had Cheney & Rumsfield run the country while they made billions. They gave the Rnc a Trump win. unless he really screws up on this virus.

Mar 12th
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Suzanne Hubbard Gerken

I'm so thrilled to have discovered this podcast. So many fantastic New Yorker podcasts from which to choose! #ThankYouNewYorker #NewYorkerPolitics #NewYorkerMagazine

Jan 12th
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JJ Burnam

"A lot of people are conditioned to see themselves as spectators in the political process." Great interview.

Nov 30th
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leslie

warning: the sound gets really crazy and loud from around 1:00‐1:45 (at least, it did for me). do yourself a favor and skip over.

Oct 25th
Reply (1)

Liam Morgan

Anyone else feel like nothing else matters at this point? This is the only thing I can think about

May 13th
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Charles Gregg-Geist

She convinced me she should be in the Senate...

May 7th
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Beau

Gillibrand? Trumps kryptonite? Laughable. She's another corporate stooge. Sanders or Warren are his kryptonite. People always say NPR has establishment bias and I defend you guys, but lately I've been seeing proof of it. Not a good look my friends. Stop favoring the status quo please.

May 7th
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Beau

he's sure as hell afraid of committing to Medicare for all and a green new deal. he smells of stats quo.

May 1st
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Edgar de Souza

great to hear someone thinking on these people not as criminals

Apr 29th
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Beau

Republican moderate is a misnomer. the label doesnt exist. so what, he wouldn't have passed the tax cuts or damaged the EPA? all Republicans are terrible.

Mar 11th
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Oshana Katranidou

Thank you for bringing truth

Nov 12th
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space_junk

Ha. Screw the farmers who voted for trump. Let em starve if his policies hurt them. They certainly wouldn't like paying for my unemployment if I did something equally stupid like quitting my job with no job to replace it.

Oct 1st
Reply (1)

gregory carver

Nice reporting here. keep up the good work

Sep 6th
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gregory carver

Oh the mendacity, the hypocrisy of this man is truly astounding. And why does he deserve a platform? Because of his daddy? Please give me a break. I can not abide.

Sep 6th
Reply

stewart wheeler

thanks thank for

May 13th
Reply

Bobb978

Why can't any political leaders in America publicly speak well?

Sep 21st
Reply (2)

Pal Jr.

I enjoyed listening to this

Sep 20th
Reply
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