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Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes
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Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes

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.

110 Episodes
WARNING: This episode discusses violence in war, suicide, depression and drug use.By the time he was 21-years-old, Thomas Burke Jr. had experienced enough trauma for a lifetime. After enlisting in the Marine Corps straight of high school, his deployments exposed him to horrors that dragged him down into what felt like an inescapable darkness. His journey is filled with pain and grief, struggles with depression and addiction, and attempts of taking his own life. He emerged from those depths a pastor, and a fierce advocate for veterans fighting the same battles he did. This is the story of what happened to an 18-year-old sent overseas – and the changed man who came back.RELATEDListen to our episode Facing Trauma with Jason KanderWatch the Trailer for Combat Obscura
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, we know that there are marginalized groups that are exposed. Those migrants seeking asylum at the southern border are one of those exposed groups, and face even more danger in part due to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. These are policies that are intended to close off the country and deter those who are lawfully seeking asylum. This conversation with Bridget Cambria and Tobias Barrington Wolff about this administration’s policies and the case of a particular family that they represent was recorded prior to the heights of the pandemic that we now live in. It illustrates the hardships that asylum seekers face against a system that is actively working against them, and it is evidence of why they are now more vulnerable than ever. 
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government’s catastrophically inadequate response, and the uncertainty that hangs over us all as a result, Chris decided to do something a little different this week. He wanted to revisit a conversation that feels extremely relevant and prescient right now given the state of the country. Prolific nonfiction author Michael Lewis, the man behind “The Big Short” and “Moneyball”, wrote an amazing account of what happens when the keys to the White House are handed over to people who have no idea what they’re doing. Now more than ever, it’s important to hear not only about the Trump administration’s attacks on crucial federal agencies, but also about what becomes of the dedicated civil servants trying to keep the government – and country – running. RELATED READING:The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
In April of 1986 a nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the then Soviet Union. The fallout from the accident and the Soviet government’s response compounded into one of the worst manmade disasters of the nuclear era. In his masterful work of nonfiction, Midnight In Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham weaves together the stories of the individuals and systems that contributed to the creation of one of the worst disasters in human history. It is not only a sharp eyed and empathetic look at Chernobyl, but it is a particularly timely story about all the things that fall together to create disaster.RELATED READING:Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam HigginbothamSeeing Like a State by James C. Scott“How the Coronavirus Revealed Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw” by Zeynep Tufekci
Enes Kanter is a wanted man in his home country of Turkey. He’s long been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and it’s come at a high cost. At 6′ 10″, Kanter also happens to play for the Boston Celtics in the NBA. How he came to sit at this intersection is a riveting story, one that involves an NBA draft at age 19, a failed coup d'état, and a system of retribution by the Turkish government that targets not only Kanter but the family he left behind.YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:The Uneven Playing Field with Howard Bryant (Jan 24)
As a bonus for Why Is This Happening? listeners, we’re sharing a special preview of Into America, a new podcast about politics, about policy, and the power that both have in shaping the lives of the American people. It is hosted by Trymaine Lee and features the journalists of NBC News.For the first episode, Trymaine heads to East New York, a community that experienced more stops than any other part of New York City under Former Mayor Bloomberg’s stop and frisk policy. In order to have a real shot at the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg needs the support of Black voters. Days before announcing his candidacy, Bloomberg apologized for the policing tactic. But will his past decision to champion the use of stop and frisk hurt his chances? Subscribe to Into America now: 
The future of our courts will be decided in the 2020 election. While the Trump administration grabs headlines with scandal after scandal, gaffe after gaffe, behind the scenes they are quietly chipping away at their central agenda of reshaping the courts. It’s a transformation happening at an historic rate, where one in four circuit judges is now a Trump appointee. They’ve already flipped the balance of the Supreme Court to a 5-4 conservative majority. If given another four years, Donald Trump would lock down the federal judiciary for decades to come. Senior legal correspondent for Slate Dahlia Lithwick has reported on all of this. From the President’s affinity for using the courts as a weapon to the changed dynamic of the Supreme Court in the wake Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Lithwick documents what the rule of law looks like in the Trump years. Listen as we discuss exactly what’s at stake this November.RELATED:Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh by Dahlia LithwickTrump’s Lawyers’ Impeachment Defense Will Reshape the Office of the President by Dahlia LithwickWhy Trump's Lawyers Should Talk Like Lawyers by Kate ShawSPEECH, INTENT, AND THE PRESIDENT by Kate ShawPlaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits by James ZirinYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKEThe Meaning of Impeachment with Kate Shaw (Jan 6)Trans Rights with Chase Strangio (Sept 23, 2019)The Rule Of Law in the Era of Trump with Kate Shaw (May 22, 2018)Separating Immigrant Families with Lee Gelernt (June 5, 2018)
"What if you were a man, sort of?" In his new memoir, author Daniel M. Lavery remembers how, in the early days of his transition, he would say it was as if a demon ambushed him in the night, whispered this question into his ear, and then disappeared without another word. It was an immediate and instantaneous revelation, but also exceptionally vague on what was supposed to happen next. "Something That May Shock and Discredit You" (published under Daniel Mallory Ortberg - he got married!) is a sprawling collection of essays, pop culture pulls, comedic historical re-tellings, and personal reflections on Lavery's life as a transgender man. It is equal parts hilarious, poignant, weird and beautiful, jumping from the Rapture to transition to Mean Girls to sobriety and then over to Marcus Aurelius, for good measure. Together they form an evocative and personal look at Lavery's own journey, and what happens when you stop letting "I dare not" wait upon "I dare".RELATED READING:Something That May Shock and Discredit You
Democrats can beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Another four years of a Trump White House is not a foregone conclusion. With nine months to go before the general election, there’s a tremendous amount of fear and uncertainty hanging over many of us about the future of the American republic. Amidst this fear, Democratic voters are deciding which candidate is best suited to run against the President. But a lot of the fights over who that person could be are actually fights over how to build a coalition of voters big enough to beat Donald Trump in the electoral college. In envisioning how to build that coalition, you have to look at the margins. If the solid-blue, never-Trump contingency make up the reliable core of the voting bloc, then the folks on the margins are key to solving the puzzle of 2020. Former Obama speechwriter and Crooked Media co-founder Jon Favreau spent time talking with members of this crucial group in four battleground states for the second season of his podcast, "The Wilderness". He joins to discuss what a winning coalition could look like.RELATED LINKS:The WildernessPolitics is for PowerYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:Organizing in Trump Country with George GoehlBuilding a Progressive Majority Dorian Warren
This is an intimate portrait of what addiction looks like in America. From the board rooms of pharmaceutical companies to the living rooms across America, Beth Macy traces the path of devastation wrought by opioids. Her latest book, “Dopesick” gives life to the urgency of the epidemic, illustrating just how woefully insufficient the national response has been to the scale of the crisis. She lays out the often-insurmountable barriers that stand between someone suffering and the treatment they need, and why stigma may be the biggest obstacle of them all.RELATED READING:Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth MacyDying to Be Free by Jason CherkisIn Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis RiederMy friend and I both took heroin. He overdosed. Why was I charged with his death? By Morgan GodvinYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:Dying of Whiteness with Jonathan Metzl
The title says it all on this one, folks. What is it about the American political system that cultivated this deeply dysfunctional and polarized climate? Last year, we had Ezra Klein on the show to assess how bad things were in the Trump era (conclusion: not great). Now, Klein is back to discuss his new book "Why We're Polarized" which provides a systematic look at the deep structural defects in American democracy that are manifesting themselves in two coalitions that are increasingly at each other's throats. Why We're Polarized by Ezra KleinYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:White Identity Politics with Michael TeslerThe Information Crisis with David RobertsHow Bad Is It? with Ezra Klein
Professional sports are never more than an inch away from the deepest core of what's happening in America. They are an amazing crucible of politics and culture that manage to reflect the issues we are working through as a country. And because these spaces are so integrated, particularly in football and basketball, racial politics quickly come to the foreground. This is the intersection ESPN writer Howard Bryant examines in his new book "Full Dissidence: Notes from an Uneven Playing Field". In it, he explores what it means to be black in an industry hostile to blackness. Why isn't Colin Kaepernick playing in the NFL, why do football games have military flyovers, and when do opinions become dangerous? What is happening with the Houston Astros cheating scandal? And why should non-sports fans care about what happens to players with multi-million-dollar contracts? Howard Bryant has the answers.RELATED READING:Full Dissidence by Howard BryantTwilight of the Elites by Chris Hayes
Why do white evangelical Christians support President Trump? They delivered him 81% of their votes on election day and consistently give him higher favorability ratings than any other voting bloc. As former Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli puts it, white evangelicals elected Trump to be their champion. So these were the exact people Galli hoped were listening when he published a stunning op-ed titled “Trump Should Be Removed from Office”. It was a daring departure for the signature publication of white evangelicals and the piece immediately attracted huge amounts of attention. For Galli, the President had crossed a line and he felt it was time his community reckoned with that fact. But will they?RELATED READING:Trump Should Be Removed from Office by Mark GalliThe Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
In the summer of 2017, a 25-year-old government contractor exposed detailed evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Reality Winner printed out classified US Intelligence documents, hid the papers in her pantyhose as she left work, and then put them in the mail to The Intercept. The report they published was the first piece of concrete evidence shared with the public proving the United States possessed tangible evidence that Russians hackers attacked American voting systems. After The Intercept published the story, complete with scans of the original papers, authorities immediately traced the leak back to Reality Winner. She was arrested, denied bail, and is now serving 5 years in a federal prison. Kerry Howley wrote an in-depth profile of Reality Winner for New York Magazine and joins to share the compelling story of who Winner is, why she did it, and the severe treatment she's received at the hands of the United States government.RELATED:Who Is Reality Winner? by Kerry HowleyThe Secret Government by Chris Hayes
It’s hard not to make comparisons between the political landscapes of the US and the UK. In 2016 when the UK shocked the world with the Brexit vote, a lot of folks saw it as a bellwether for the coming presidential election. If it could happen there, why couldn’t it happen here? And sure enough it did, kicking off three years of political turmoil. Now, as we prepare for the 2020 presidential election, has the UK provided us with another premonition? Earlier this month, voters turned out to deliver Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party a resounding victory while rejecting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. So what happened and how closely should the US be reading into those results? Journalist Sarah Jaffe was embedded on the ground in the lead up to the election and joins to tell us what exactly went down.RELATED READING:Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah JaffeYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:Trump, Brexit, and Racial Grievance with Mehdi Hasan (Aug 28, 2018)
The #WITHpod Mailbag

The #WITHpod Mailbag


It's that time of year, friends! Come sit by the fire as Chris Hayes and producer Tiffany Champion tackle your questions from the WITHpod mailbag.As promised, click here for the sketch that inspired the secret santa gift.
In the final stop of our Fall tour, we invited playwrights Tony Kushner and Jeremy O. Harris to talk about all things spectacle, storytelling, and how they relate to this political moment. They are both artists who use their firm grounding in our own reality to give life to alternate worlds, ones full of drama and conflict and pathos. In this hour, they discuss the ways they hope their art echoes through time, what it means to make art in this moment, why Jeremy O. Harris thinks Donald Trump is actually a pretty uninteresting character, and so much more. Find tickets for A Bright Room Called DayFind tickets for Slave Play
Could a wealth tax help reduce the vast income and wealth inequality in the country? It’s an idea that not only has the backing of two Democratic primary frontrunners - Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren - but also enjoys wide public support. So what would it look like to have a wealth tax, who would end up paying, and why is Wall Street freaking out about it? And how did we get to this level of wealth inequality to begin with? There’s no one better to answer all these questions than Gabriel Zucman, an expert economist who worked with both campaigns to develop their wealth tax proposals based on his years of research.RELATED READING:The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them PayYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKECan We Tax the Rich? with Jesse Eisinger
Now might be a good time to get acquainted with impeachment. In fact, we here at #WITHpod believe everyone should listen to an hour-long conversation with a person who is not only familiar with the history of impeachment but who also has granular expertise in that area of law. Heck, how great would it be if that constitutional law scholar once clerked on the Supreme Court and has firsthand experience working in a White House administration! Well luckily for us, Chris Hayes knows such a person. Because he lives with her. And is married to her. That’s right y’all, Kate Shaw is back and we have no chill about it. Listen to Professor Shaw weigh in on where we are in this moment, the history, the law, the legal theory, the practice, and much more.RELATED READING:Impeach by Neal KatyalThe Impeachers by Brenda WineappleYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:The Rule of Law in the Era of Trump with Kate ShawImpeaching a President with Brenda WineappleStrict Scrutiny
How did Iraqi soldiers wrestle Mosul back from the grip of ISIS fighters? In the summer of 2014, at the height of their expansion, the terror group managed to take one of Iraq's largest cities in a matter of days. Two years later, it took the Iraqi army nine months to win it back. War correspondent James Verini thought his summer assignment to Iraq would be a short one. Instead, he stayed embedded with soldiers as they engaged in the brutal and bloody street by street combat that ultimately liberated Mosul. This conversation is both a gripping look into the heart of that battle as well as a crucial guide to the events that led to it. For an understanding of what is happening in Iraq today and how life there is permeated with the legacy of the American invasion 16 years ago, you need to know about the Battle of Mosul.RELATED READINGThey Will Have to Die Now by James VeriniYOU MIGHT ALSO LIKEThe Middle East with Dexter Filkins (May 15, 2018)
Comments (178)

Laurie Holcomb

I have been witnessing at the border for several months, until the pandemic forced us to suspend. This needs to be a national conversation. Everything you and your guests have stated was what we already new. Mass deportations continue. People have now been transported to the southern Mexican border to start their journeys back to the countries from which they fled. Hyperbole aside, this is almost certain death for the majority of the folks.

Mar 26th

Michael Kennedy

Really like your Podcast. I quit listening for while because I couldn't take how you use my Lord Jesus name in vain. I just thought maybe I'd try the Podcast again and I listened to your latest podcast and you did it again. Please respect all your listeners views (beliefs) and conduct yourself as you would on your TV show and it's podcast. Please refrain from that kind of talk, I'm sure I'm not the only listener that considers that language offensive. Thank You

Mar 22nd
Reply (1)

Sasha Anne Lyn

I REALLY hope Michael Lewis writes the 26 part HBO series on this disaster POTUS.

Mar 19th

Lila Klopfenstein

Chris Hayes keeps interrupting....c'mon man let the man talk!

Mar 17th


Amazing conversation Chris, as a Christian I really appreciate your understanding attitude and gracious tone

Feb 12th

Tatyana Noyb

I know little about sports, but have been thinking the revisit of what happened to Kaepernick is lost in the onslaught of news about desentigration of America. Thanks, this was insightful. Racism is the foundational element.. Was listening to Moore's podcast on MLK on Monday....racism, militarism, and economic injustice, pillars of capitalism. But only in the dark one can see the stars. Let's dream big.

Jan 23rd

scott daiss

great podcast.

Jan 19th

Sasha Anne Lyn

How do you measure that? We measure you by your actions which have supported the worst version of the United States of America. Blaming troubled immigrants for struggling under a wealthy-for-the-few political parties policies is decidedly unchristian. It makes me wonder what version of Jesus these people have in their hearts? It must be the version that looks just like them. If anything, everyone I know and everyone they know has lost all respect for Evangelicals. All.

Jan 19th

Tatyana Noyb

I was so happy there was that editorial. Aside of it...Chris gets to remind Mark that Jesus would've helped the homeless. Laughing all along of the role reversal obserdity. Mark gets to talk about Mexicans in racist ways because someone of course should identify nationality when they think others took their jobs, and it's OK as long as they explain their anger reason. Can't even... But the wall is bad. Yes, this helps understanding of a whole lot..

Jan 15th

Diane Thompson

terrific discussion...thanks much to Chris and Mark Galli...i was one of those Christians who was SO thankful for that article

Jan 14th
Reply (1)


Thank you, Kerry Howley & Chris Hayes for keeping #RealityWinner in the press. Based on what I know, I feel that there are certain things that you got wrong but given the lifetime gag rules that have been put on Reality & her family, this is the best that could be expected. It truly amazes me that people make comments like she broke the rules etc when Flynn was literally committing treason while he was in office & he is getting 6 mos. Better yet, an admitted foreign agent (a spy) working for Russia, Maria Butina, served 6 mos & was returned home to a heroes welcome. And, don't even get me started on Manafort, who literally DID get the Ukrainian president's political opponent " locked up". Something is really wrong w/ the people willing to be so incredibly harsh w/ Reality for alerting us to Russian interference in our elections but so lenient w/ people like Flynn, Butina, Manafort, Papadopoulos & Carter Page. It also truly amazes me that there is not more of a push to get justice for Reality. For more information, please check out

Jan 13th

Tatyana Noyb

Meanwhile all the traitors, old white men, are walking around cheerfully and expecting pardons. Ridiculous. "Double standard" doesn't begin to describe the injustice. :( I signed the petition.

Jan 8th
Reply (1)

Bart Stavisky

I understand completely the situation but she broke the oath to the United States of America which she took. What she did was wrong.

Jan 8th
Reply (2)

Tatyana Noyb

Berkeley professor lol. France fixed haha how sad.

Dec 13th

Doan Demiran

So you have fixed France and want to fix the US now?

Dec 11th


4rert4 ttttttttt643e77 ttttttttt643e77 gt

Nov 29th

JRoss Levine

Ted Cruz is a nefarious evil man in the mode of Antonin Scalia... someone who uses his great intellect to twist and deform objectivity and reality to satisfy his ideology. This is the very definition of "rationalization", which represents the use of rational sounding rhetoric, and rational sounding arguments to "prove" an objectively irrational conclusion. His arguments in support of AGW Denialism provide painful evidence of this. He invokes straw man arguments, cherry picking, ad hominem, and red herrings to support his position. If his position were rationally justified, these rhetorical techniques would not be required, and he could simply rely on facts based on scientific evidence. Unbridled use of logical fallacies is one of the telltale signs of denialism in any form, and all forms of denialism are hateful and evil. To me, this raises a profound moral & ethical issues. Ted Cruz's rhetorical style and political positions are immoral not because they are conservative, which I could tolerate and respect, but because they are based on lies and deception, rather than on truth and objectivity. I feel fortunate that my political inclinations lean only slightly in the conservative direction, because if I were conservative enough to call myself such, and if I retained the same moral sensibilities that guide my thinking now, I would despise myself as well as fellow members of the conservative movement for our rank duplicity.

Nov 16th
Reply (1)

Rishabh Gupta

I think Dr. Kanjwal does an excellent job at highlighting the human rights violations in the Indian part of Kashmir. And none of that is justified. But I think a lot of the history was current geopolitical factors were overlooked. For example legally Kashmir is a part of India because of the Instrument of accession and yet India got UN involved for mediation on the issue. While it's true that the UN resolution required India to conduct a plebicite, it was conditioned on Pakistan withdrawing it's army from the area (area which it illegally took) as the very first step which Pakistan never did. The issue of terrorism was also pretty conviniently side stepped.

Nov 1st
Reply (1)

Tatyana Noyb

Unexpectedly for a climate change exchange, thoughts as to how we got here and how to interpret things can be both eye opening and "well yeah!" at the same time. That's how this remarkable conversation made me feel in its entirety - with the exception to the shell taco ring ;) - the most reasonable statements brought tears to my eyes. With a sparkle of odd hope in my heart, i purchased American War, and words aren't really enough to thank WITH team and the guests. I'm grateful.

Oct 30th
Reply (1)

Kate Hay

reference to book by "Danielle", what is name of book, full name author?

Oct 27th
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