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Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast
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Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast

Author: Chris Hayes, MSNBC & NBCNews THINK

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Every week Chris Hayes asks the big questions that keep him up at night. How do we make sense of this unprecedented moment in world history? Why is this (all) happening?

This podcast starts to answer these questions. Writers, experts, and thinkers who are also trying to get to the bottom of them join Chris to break it all down and help him get a better night’s rest. “Why is this Happening?” is presented by MSNBC and NBCNews Think.
271 Episodes
There’s been a marked rise over the last decade of nationalist and authoritarian politics. Global freedom declined for a 17th consecutive year in 2022, according to a Freedom House annual report. The rise of MAGAism in the U.S., neo-fascism in Italy and hard-right politics in Israel are just a few examples of why democracy around globe continues to hang on a knife’s edge. Our guest this week has experienced first-hand the deleterious effects of attacks, perpetrated by opponents of democracy, on civil, political and press freedom. Rula Jebreal is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, foreign policy expert and visiting professor at the University of Miami. She joins WITHpod to discuss the interconnectedness of the global authoritarian movement, the personal attacks she has witnessed, what is at stake, how authoritarian gains could be rolled back and more.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would’ve addressed racial profiling and use of deadly force, among other things. But the bill, which was crafted in 2020, still hasn’t passed and it’s unclear if it ever will. Progress has often been stymied by conflicting ideas, on all sides of the political spectrum, about the role of police in maintaining law and order. So, what can be done to fix so many of the problems plaguing the profession? Our guest this week points out that when he became a police officer, he had “idealistic intentions, but right away was confronted with a really different set of norms and values.” Neil Gross is a former cop turned sociology professor and is the author of “Walk the Walk: How Three Police Chiefs Defied the Odds and Changed Cop Culture.” The book tells story how leaders in three police departments sought to change aggressive police culture and how their efforts could be in instructive for broader reform. Gross joins WITHpod to discuss his experience as a former cop, the us vs. them mentality in some police circles, the need for more officer accountability and more.
Even if the worst of the pandemic is over, some of the changes it foisted on our lives seem like they're here to stay. In cities around the nation, office space in dense downtown areas is well below full utilization, as workers spend more days working from home. Same goes for public transit weekday ridership. What happens to American cities if they're no longer the place to which people commute each weekday? Our guest this week points out that there’s a great deal that city leaders can learn from each other about reimagining cities during this latter phase of the pandemic. Brad Lander is the comptroller for New York City and serves as the city’s budget watchdog and chief accountability officer. He’s also an urban planner and community organizer. Lander joins WITHpod to discuss some of the key problems NYC and other cities have faced during pandemic recovery, navigating actionable solutions, the role of federal intervention, the uniqueness of this moment in history and more.
Since Chris was on vacation last week and given the wave of recent anti-trans legislation, we’re revisiting and providing an update on our episode with Dr. Izzy Lowell, who runs Queer Med, a private clinic that specializes in providing accessible health care to trans patients ranging from kids to adults.

 From the original description: What is gender-affirming health care? Around the country, there’s a Republican campaign to legislate and regulate the lives of trans youth. The most destructive of these efforts would bar trans youth in certain states from accessing gender-affirming treatment. Lowell’s practice covers 10 states across the South — and half of those have anti-trans health care bills on the docket. If they pass, it would become criminal for her to provide this care to many of her patients. Lowell joins this week to break down what exactly we mean when we talk about gender-affirming care, how the decision is made for kids and teens ready to transition and the potentially devastating impact this legislation would have on their lives.
Starting in 2016, U.S. diplomats and spies began reporting a wide range of mysterious and debilitating medical symptoms, first in Cuba and then around the world. Doctors who initially treated patients couldn’t come up with a diagnosis and some just called it “The Thing.” Patients said they felt like they were hit by an invisible, directed pressure while stationed on government property, or sometimes standing in their own homes or hotel rooms. The intense health effects, which some have referred to as potentially psychogenic, included high pitched ringing in ears, vertigo, memory loss and brain zaps. The set of medical conditions became known as Havana Syndrome. Why has investigating this been so difficult? Who or what force could be behind all of this? Although the C.I.A. has maintained that it’s unlikely that the cases were caused by foreign adversaries, many questions and doubts remain about the agency’s findings. Award-winning journalists Jon Lee Anderson and Adam Entous explore some of these questions in a new Vice World News 8-part podcast aptly titled “Havana Syndrome.” Anderson and Entous join WITHpod to discuss the events leading up to the first reported Havana Syndrome cases, the global blame game that followed, what technology could be the culprit and more.
“I went because they didn’t want me there,” says Minnijean Brown-Trickey, our guest this week. It’s been more than 60 years since she made history. At 16-years-old, she and eight other black students found an angry mob and the national guard blocking their entry to Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Backed by 1,200 soldiers, they eventually made it inside for their first full day of class. White students threw hot food at them, called them names and even sprayed some of them with acid. One day, a white kid hit Minnijean with a purse. She responded by calling the student “white trash.” For that, she was expelled, which profoundly affected her trajectory. She ended up finishing her education in New York City and went on to become a civil rights activist and speaker. Minnijean joins WITHpod for a moving conversation about how she channeled the trauma she experienced into a life of activism, the continued fight for racial equality and more.
You’ve probably encountered an e-bike in some form or another. Maybe you’ve ridden one. Perhaps one has buzzed passed you on the street, in a bike lane, or on the sidewalk. We’ve seen your requests and we’re glad to finally dedicate an entire conversation to this topic. What’s fueling the e-bike revolution? Is it just a short-lived fad? E-bikes are selling more quickly than cars, according to the Light Electric Vehicle Association, and our guest this week points out that e-bikes aren’t going anywhere. Mike Radenbaugh is the founder and chairman of Rad Power Bikes, the largest e-bike company in the U.S. He built his first e-bike when he was just 15 years old. Radenbaugh joins WITHpod to discuss the distinctions between e-bike classes, how they are reshaping urban transportation, the energy savings case for using them, the need for improved infrastructure, the importance of more safety education and more.
You’ve probably heard about what Florida governor Ron DeSantis is up to. One of the most controversial things he’s done is sign the Individual Freedom Act, also known as the “Stop W.O.K.E Act,” short for Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees. The law, among many things, prohibits teaching certain concepts related to race. Although there’s currently an injunction against the law, its implementation had far-reaching consequences for students and professors alike. Jonathan Cox is an assistant sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. He faced a tough decision last fall. Cox, who is the only Black professor in his department, could either teach two courses that would explore colorblind racism, “Race and Social Media” and “Race and Ethnicity,” or cancel his classes. He had to choose the latter option of cancelling some of his courses because of DeSantis’ law banning the teaching of critical race theory. Cox joins WITHpod to discuss the circumstances that led him to change the courses he taught last semester, the importance of inclusive spaces that encourage constructive debate, the effect of anti-CRT laws on his students and more.
Last year's Super Bowl featured a who's who of celebrities hawking cryptocurrency and crypto platforms like FTX. In retrospect that looks like the boom before the bust. This year, crypto prices have tumbled and one of the most valued exchanges, FTX, collapsed in a cloud of alleged fraud and federal indictments. So is it all a scam? A pyramid scheme? Will crypto endure? Our guest this week thinks it will, but says accused fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried has shown the world just how risky the market can be for new users. It remains unclear if FTX customers will ever get their money back or if crypto can ever be seen more broadly as a trustworthy store of value. Tonya Evans is a tenured full professor at Penn State Dickinson Law School whose work focuses on the legal, regulatory, policy and economic justice implications of new technologies and innovation. She also hosts a weekly podcast called “Tech Intersect,” all about the intersection of law, business and tech. Evans joins WITHpod to discuss why, in her view, the collapse of FTX isn’t a crypto problem, rather a fraud problem, what the future of regulation in the space could look like and more.
Hi #WITHpod listeners! We have a special bonus episode for you. In the “National Day of Racial Healing: An MSNBC Town Hall,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Joy Reid and Trymaine Lee talk with activists, journalists, artists and experts to explore the harm racism has caused in our society, and to consider how we might heal from it. The program initially aired on MSNBC and was streamed on Peacock the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The programming was recorded in New Orleans and was sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Click here to see the video version of this program.  
The history of lotteries spans over four millennia. The modern version of them arose out of a need for a form of more state funding that wouldn’t raise taxes. Jackpots have reached record levels in the past few years. And "Americans now spend more on lottery tickets every year than on cigarettes, coffee or smartphones," writes historian and author Jonathan Cohen. Cohen is author of “For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries in Modern America,” a comprehensive history of America’s lottery obsession. In the book, he points out that lotteries are much less profitable for states than some proponents say, but on the other hand, they are extremely lucrative for private companies that manufacture tickets. Cohen joins WITHpod to discuss the evolution of lotteries, changes he thinks should be made to the way they are run, public misconceptions about the revenue generated by games and why he says state run lotteries shouldn’t exist.
Join as you help us celebrate our 250th #WITHpod! In our recent Mailbag episode, we asked you all to send over clips sharing why you listen to WITHpod, where you listen and or what’s your favorite ep. We loved hearing all of your submissions. Here’s a compilation that we put together for our special milestone. Thank you and cheers!
The language that is used to talk about immigrants in America is something that really bothers Chris. A common and unproductive trope that’s heard in media is “a flood of immigrants to the border.” At the same time, there is a growing dependance at the foundational level on the labor of immigrants in the U.S. As natural disasters are happening with increasing frequency and intensity, communities are relying more and more on immigrant laborers. Saket Soni is director of Resilience Force, a national initiative that advocates on behalf of disaster recovery workers. He’s also author of the upcoming book, “The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams In America.” The subject of the story starts when Soni, who was 28 years old at the time, received an anonymous phone call from an Indian migrant who told him about incredibly inhumane worker conditions at a labor camp in Mississippi. The extraordinary journey that follows is told in the fascinating read about how Soni and 500 workers devised a bold plan, after a series of clandestine meetings, to escape and bring attention to their cause in Washington, D.C. He joins WITHpod to discuss writing about one of the largest human trafficking cases in modern American history, his deeply personal story coming to the U.S. from India, the importance of a well-protected skilled resilient workforce, rebuilding social fabrics around this topic and more.
“My argument is because [right wing authoritarianism] is the central struggle of the day, we need the most effective, principled and impactful progressive organizations that are seeking to challenge that,” says Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party. Mitchell is also an activist and co-founder of Blackbird, an organization that has provided infrastructure support for the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups around the country. The social movement strategist wrote a 6,000-word article for The Forge called “Building Resilient Organizations,” in which he described and shared potential solutions for overcoming some of the biggest problems within progressive spaces. He joins WITHpod to discuss the piece, roots of the longstanding political and social tensions within movements on the left and strategies for resetting.
The pandemic hasn’t raged within China the way it has in the rest of the world over the past few years. However, that’s beginning to change. Following a wave of protests, Chinese leadership officially rolled back some of the country’s most stringent Covid restrictions. The end of “zero Covid” policies, combined with an already strained medical system, along with low vaccination and immunity levels, could lead to disastrous public health and economic consequences. China could see over a million deaths in 2023, according to projections from the University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. Bill Bishop is a longtime expert on China, writer of his own Substack newsletter called “Sinocism,” co-founder of CBS Marketwatch and he worked in China for years. Bishop joins WITHpod to discuss how government control has been consolidated under president Xi Jinping, the timeline of events leading to this moment, why Covid case numbers in China are undercounted and what the latest developments portend for (what could be) a very sobering future.
We're thrilled to publish our second live WITHpod mailbag, which was originally hosted on Twitter Spaces earlier this month. Join as Chris and producer Doni Holloway go through your questions, discuss feedback you’ve sent and share pod updates. You’re also in for a special treat as Brendan O’Melia, who has been with WITHpod since it started, joins the conversation!
Gender norms, particularly related to child care, have shifted dramatically over the past few decades. Journalist Tim Lee, whose wife is a doctor and often has to work nights, weekends and unpredictable hours, made the decision to “lean out” of his career to focus more on child care. As their family grew, it became increasingly clear that Lee couldn’t spend off hours doing the in-depth research and reporting that he used to do. He now writes for “Full Stack Economics,” a Substack that allows him to work flexible hours. The at-home dad previously wrote for various outlets including The Washington Post and Vox. While leaning out has meant a big pay cut, he’s able to do the majority of child care in his household, while also supporting the demands of his wife’s better paying career. Lee joins WITHpod to discuss what he learned from other dads who’ve made the same decision, why he says creating an equal society will require more comfort with unequal marriages, the lack of social stigma he’s experienced and more.
It’s been 174 years since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote “The Communist Manifesto.” How is it still relevant today and what makes it such a vital guide to understanding present-day struggles? That’s the subject of China Mieville’s latest work, “A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto.” Miéville, a self-proclaimed Marxist and socialist, is a New York Times-bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent book offers an analysis of what arguably remains the modern world’s most influential political document. He joins WITHpod to discuss criticisms of “The Manifesto,” the precipitating factors and peculiar nature of the text, how it still profoundly influences contemporary discourse and more.
Coming out of Thanksgiving week, we thought it was a good time to reshare our first WITHpod episode all about fitness. Fitness guru, writer and self-described “Swole Woman” Casey Johnston has written, “a lot of health content is focused on blowing smoke up you’re a-- about jade eggs and vitamins and toxin-dispersing cellulite-curing silver-thread leggings.” But why? What makes lifting and working out seem so complicated? We’re constantly bombarded with get-fit-quick marketing perpetuated by “bros” who got fit overnight, but achieving real gains often just requires an incremental, consistent and methodical approach. Casey joins for an enlightening conversation about building strength, maintaining form and to answer the age-old debate: are machines or weights better?
As the war intensifies in Ukraine, we thought it was time to revisit what’s going on there. Although the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson was recently liberated, the battle for freedom continues in other regions. Harry Rowe, known as Macer Gifford, is a British volunteer soldier fighting in Ukraine. Gifford assumed the pseudonym Macer Gifford after needing a new identify while fighting in Syria from 2015 to 2017. The former currency trader arrived on the ground in Ukraine 10 days before the war began. Gifford joins WITHpod to discuss the trajectory of the war since June, what he’s hearing from folks there versus what he’s heard from the West, his thoughts on how long the conflict could go on and more.
Comments (216)

BUD 60

Thank You, Very interesting.

Jan 2nd

Samuel Price

great comments from Kara

Nov 18th

Golden boy

The annoying music beds

Jun 17th

A.K. Ferrara

Such an enlightening conversation on so many levels! Thank you.

May 26th

Lydia Nickerson

I really liked this episode, and I understand why you set aside the anti-capitalist argument, but for nuclear power, it really is the elephant in the room. All the documented nuclear power plant failures have been the result of cost saving measures colliding with poor working conditions. I'm fine with nuclear power as a concept, but without significant labor improvements, and regulation that is not sensitive to the needs of capital, it is dangerous. That is true of coal and oil and hydro, too. I don't see how the energy problem can be solved in end stage capitalism.

Mar 29th
Reply (3)


this is a great

Mar 6th

andrew omititi

mbn bbn M.

Jan 4th

Midnight Rambler

what a retard this guy is

Apr 5th
Reply (2)

Ed Potter

Chris, brilliant choice. I've heard John McWhorter in 5 minute blocks for 10 or 15 years! I appreciate the discussion you had with him so much!

Mar 30th

Johnny Hedlund

Chris. I am with you on most issues. This podcast really came off as quite snobby. I really appreciate Michelle's reporting and writing as well. Frankly, I fail to see a mask less rose garden gathering any differently from what Michelle described. The "middle" I would imagine (not really imagining), would not "understand", given stances publicly taken. I can hear people that I hang with....."can't bake bread? google it!". It's insulting to those of us who are not part of the intelligentsia. This is not a slam. It is only meant as a piece of advice I guess (which could be interpreted as snobby😋).

Mar 13th

Tracy Dennis

This was such a refreshing and thought-provoking interview. I'm going to listen more than once, for sure. Great work, Chris!

Mar 9th

Rebecca Bennett

"Prosumer" ⚡🎸

Feb 24th

Diane Neglia

What is the name of the rule that they got rid of that allowed the filibuster? Because instead of writing my senators to get rid of the filibuster, maybe we write them to reinstate the original rule.

Feb 14th


Sneak preview of the next few episodes! Episode 153: Still obsessed with Trump. Episode 154: Still obsessed with Trump. Episode 155: ^^

Jan 22nd

Philly Burbs

Excellent story. I think you are an excellent host. This story would have been helpful to be aired on TV weeks before the election. Why do we have to listen to podcasts to hear actual news? Why do most cable news shows repeat the same story/tweet verbatim, 24/7 with different faces? Why does cable news air opinions, not facts 80% of the time? Viewers think they are facts because the show has NEWS in its title. Some guests are paid lobbyists, not educated professionals in whatever field they are talking about. That's how the deniers of climate change started. Paid Lobbyists appearing as professionals on the "News". I have wasted years of my life watching the cable version of "The View" called the News. Can anything be done about it? We now have conspiracy-mongering ripping our country apart, calling themselves " News, " in actually they are an easy way for the people involved to make millions/billions. Greed. I believe in freedom of speech. Our "real news" must be protected. I believe some news shows should not be allowed to call themselves news stations, rather Opinion TV. What do you think? Would love a series on TV on this topic.

Jan 6th
Reply (3)

Karin Mazaki

My mom worked for the classified section of a local Chicago paper. I know, double death. I don't think classified ads are necessary in a major city paper but the local news is. Lerner Newspapers helped to inform the locals about what the alderman was up to. About crime and local events. It was part of community organizing. If you look up the story about Warren Park in Rogers Park in the 70's, you will understand what it really means for a whole community to come together. I'm sure the local paper had something to say about it.

Dec 8th


Chris. No one notices any diffence in sound quality but you:). Just keep speaking truth!

Oct 28th

Renee Oliver

Great podcast! Thank you.

Oct 17th


I keep hoping that QAon is just an elaborate joke created by the actor John DeLance who is best known for playing the character Q on Star Trek and he's just doing this to troll the right. I don't think it is.

Oct 3rd

Adam Schexnaydre

There is some misinformation in some of this podcast. Maybe talk to someone in the industry?

Aug 26th
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