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Weekly conversations with leading journalists and thinkers to make sense of the history happening all around us

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  • Episode 23

    The Manifest Destiny of Mike Pence

    That Pence is the vice president of the United States is "a loaves-and-fishes miracle," writes McKay Coppins in the latest issue of The Atlantic. It's remarkable enough that "an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters" would be chosen as a presidential running mate at all. But unlikelier still is the fact that Pence, known for his devotion to Christ, would become the most prominent character witness for President Donald Trump.

    How did Pence reconcile his deeply held Christian values with his defense of Donald Trump after the revelation of the Access Hollywood recording? Would he support Trump if the presidency were within his own reach? And what do his decisions illuminate about evangelical Christians' attachment to the president? In this conversation, McKay shares what he's learned about Pence from reporting on his stints as governor, radio host, and frat snitch.


    “God’s Plan for Mike Pence” (McKay Coppins, January/February 2018 Issue)
    “The Odds of Impeachment Are Dropping” (Peter Beinart, December 3, 2017)
    “Jared Kushner Responds (Very Briefly) to Flynn's Plea Deal” (Uri Friedman, December 3, 2017)“Should Christian Bakers Be Allowed to Refuse Wedding Cakes to Gays?” (Conor Friedersdorf, February 25, 2014)
    “If Indiana's Religious-Freedom Law Isn't Discriminatory, Why Change It?” (David A. Graham, March 31, 2015)
    Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950
    “Terry McAuliffe’s Dead-Serious Advice For Democrats: Have Some Fun!” (Ruby Cramer, BuzzFeed News, December 3, 2017)
  • Episode 22

    The Great Recession, One Decade Later

    In December 2007, the U.S. marked the beginning of its longest recession since World War II. Now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency born in the ashes of the nation's economic downturn, is under new leadership that promises big changes. Meanwhile, a tax plan speeding through Congress could have far-reaching effects on the economy, well beyond taxes. On paper, the U.S. economy looks robust. But for whom, and for how long?

    This week, Annie Lowrey and Alana Semuels join our hosts to look at what's happened in the decade since the Great Recession, and what's happening now. What lessons have we learned from the crisis? And which are we doomed to repeat?

    "The Never-Ending Foreclosure" (Alana Semuels, December 1, 2017)
    - "The Great Recession Is Still With Us" (Annie Lowrey, December 1, 2017)
    - “The GOP Targets America’s Most Loved and Hated Tax Break” (Alana Semuels, November 2, 2017)
    - “The U.S. Isn’t Prepared for the Next Recession” (Annie Lowrey, October 31, 2017)
    - ”Mick Mulvaney Is Pretending Everything's Totally Normal at Work” (Gillian B. White, November 28, 2017)
    - “Could a Tax Fix the Gig Economy?” (Alana Semuels, November 6, 2017)
    - “Trump Says His Tax Plan Won't Benefit the Rich—He's Exactly Wrong” (Annie Lowrey, September 29, 2017)
    - "Could a Memo by Christina Romer Have Saved the Economy?" (John Hudson, February 22, 2012)
    - “The Fight Over the CFPB Reveals the Broken State of American Politics” (David A. Graham, November 28, 2017)
    - "The Shadow of the Stimulus" (Ross Douthat, February 1, 2009)
    - "Return of the Shopping Avenger" (Jeffrey Goldberg, December 1, 2009)
    - The Half Has Never Been Told  (Edward Baptist)
    - The Unwinding (George Packer)
    - "The Nutshell Studies" (Katie Mingle, 99 Percent Invisible)
    - "The Reason This 'Racist Soap Dispenser' Doesn't Work on Black Skin" (Max Plenke,, September 9, 2015)

  • Episode 21

    John Wayne, Donald Trump, and the American Man

    For generations, Hollywood has defined what masculinity means in the U.S., with iconic screen figures such as John Wayne. But Wayne's stoic, taciturn image was the product of a complicated relationship with the director John Ford, one that offers different lessons about masculinity and its constraints. As scandals about men and their behavior fill the news, we discuss the legacy of John Wayne and other male screen icons. Our cohosts are joined by Atlantic staff writer Megan Garber and Stephen Metcalf, author of the story "How John Wayne Became a Hollow Masculine Icon."


    - "How John Wayne Became a Hollow Masculine Icon" (Stephen Metcalf, December 2017 Issue)- "Masculinity Done Well and Poorly" (James Hamblin, September 25, 2017)- "The End of Men" (Hanna Rosin, July/August 2010 Issue)- "Angry White Boys" (Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, August 16, 2017) - "Toxic Masculinity and Murder" (James Hamblin, June 16, 2016)- "Does Masculinity Need To Be 'Reimagined'?" (Erik Hayden, September 21, 2010)- "How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West" (Leah Williams, October 5, 2016)- "Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting" (Angelica Jade Bastién, August 11, 2016) 
  • Episode 20

    How an American Neo-Nazi Was Made

    Andrew Anglin spent his formative years flirting with hippie progressivism, then tried his hand at becoming a tribal hunter-gatherer. But he only achieved notoriety after he founded the Daily Stormer, the world's biggest website for neo-Nazis. Anglin and his mob of followers have terrorized people around the world, and their influence has been cited by the perpetrators of fatal violence.

    What lessons should be learned from Anglin's radicalization? And what is society's best response to his ideas? Luke O'Brien and Rosie Gray join Jeff and Matt to discuss these questions, and how far-right extremism is evolving.

    - "The Making of an American Nazi" (Luke O'Brien, December 2017)
    - "The Lost Boys" (Angela Nagle, December 2017)
    - "How 2015 Fueled The Rise Of The Freewheeling, White Nationalist Alt-Movement" (Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed, 12/27/2015)
    - "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement" (Rosie Gray, 2/10/2017)
    - "The Alt-Right's Rebranding Effort Has Failed" (Rosie Gray, 8/13/2017)
    - "What Gwen Ifill Knew About Race in America" (Jeffrey Goldberg, 11/18/2016)
    - "Joan Didion Doesn't Owe the World Anything" (Megan Garber, 10/29/2017)
    - NoSleep Subreddit | Podcast
  • Episode 19

    The Press and the Election of 2016: One Year Later

    It’s a year after Donald Trump's upset election victory. Before and after the 2016 election, President Trump referred to journalists as enemies to himself and to the American people. But his victory wasn’t just a success in vilifying the media, it was a success in manipulating it. Trump was a media figure, skilled at drawing attention. And news organizations were unused to being so squarely part of the story.

    What lessons have journalists taken from the 2016 campaign and President Trump’s election? What’s changed since then? And what should change going forward? In this episode of Radio Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance, the editor of, and Yoni Appelbaum, the magazine's politics and policy editor, join Matt and Jeff to look back and look ahead one year after the Trump Era began.

    - "How Trump Diagnosed American Politics" (Andy Kroll,  Nov 7, 2016)
    - "Zuckerberg 2020?" (Adrienne LaFrance, Jan 19,  2017)
    - 'We Thought You'd Like to Look Back on This Post from 1 Year Ago’ (Julie Beck, Nov 8, 2017)
    - The Atlantic Interview
    - "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (as interpreted by Jon Batiste) 

  • Episode 18

    Khizr Khan on What Patriotism Requires

    Since the 2016 election heightened America's deep political divides, the mantle of patriotism has become fodder for a bitter tug-of-war. Is it patriotic to leak a presidential secret? To voice dissent during a national rite? Should a general running the White House be deferred to or defied?

    In this episode, Atlantic journalists Krishnadev Calamur and Sigal Samuel talk with Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose stirring speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention touched off a famous feud with the President-to-be, about what sacrifice means to him, and why America is worth it. We also hear from a couple veterans who offer their own perspectives on patriotism and military service.

    To share thoughts, feedback, and questions on the show, leave us a voicemail with your contact info: (202) 266-7600.

    - "The Anguish of John Kelly" (David Graham, 10/19/2017)
    - "Kneeling for Life and Liberty Is Patriotic" (Conor Friedersdorf, 9/25/2017)
    - "Why Cede the Flag to Donald Trump?" (David Frum, 9/24/2017)
    - "The Tragedy of the American Military" (James Fallows, January/February 2015)
    - "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" (Radio Atlantic, episode one)
    - "My Parents' Country, in the Grip of the Shabab" (The New York Times Sunday Review)
    - "Look at Tiny Baby Hank" (Vlogbrothers)
  • Episode 17

    Reporting on Open Secrets, with Jodi Kantor and Katie Benner

    Allegations of sexual harassment (and more) by powerful men in numerous industries have been leading news reports across America. On-the-record accounts of disturbing behavior are proliferating. Several leaders of prominent companies have been forced out of their positions. Does this represent a lasting shift in attitudes toward scandalous conduct, or will the public's interest in these matters subside? Is this a tipping point, in other words, or a flash point?

    The journalism of Jodi Kantor, Katie Benner, and their colleagues at The New York Times has been a major catalyst for putting this issue at the top of the national agenda. Kantor and her reporting partner Megan Twohey shared a byline on the October 5 investigation revealing three decades of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein. As a technology reporter based in Silicon Valley, Benner has chronicled numerous reports of predatory behavior by investors, founders, and other influential figures in the tech industry. In this episode of Radio Atlantic, Kantor and Benner join Alex and Matt to discuss what they've discovered in their reporting, and where they think it will lead.

    - "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades" (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, The New York Times, 10/5/2017)
    - "How the Harvey Weinstein Story Has Unfolded" (Daniel Victor, The New York Times, 10/18/2017)
    - "Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment" (Katie Benner, The New York Times, 6/30/2017)
    - "'It Was a Frat House': Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi's C.E.O." (Katie Benner and Nathaniel Popper, The New York Times) | SoFi's response
    - “The ‘Harvey Effect’ Takes Down Leon Wieseltier’s Magazine” (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 10/24/2017)
    - "Harvey Weinstein and the Economics of Consent" (Brit Marling, The Atlantic, 10/23/2017)
    - "Girl at a Bar" (Saturday Night Live)
    - Startup, especially seasons two and four
    - The Burning Girl (Claire Messud)
    - The Color of Law(Richard Rothstein)
    - Uncivil
    Scene on Radio: Seeing White
  • Episode 16

    Why Do Happy People Cheat?

    "Infidelity," Esther Perel writes in the October issue of The Atlantic, "happens in bad marriages and in good marriages. It happens even in open relationships where extramarital sex is carefully negotiated beforehand. The freedom to leave or divorce has not made cheating obsolete." Adultery is as ancient as marriage, and as contemporary relationships have evolved, Perel writes, the causes and consequences of infidelity have much to teach us about the nature of commitment.  In this conversation, Perel talks with our hosts about some of those lessons, culled from numerous sessions counseling couples as a psychotherapist.

    Perel is the author of Mating in Captivityand the host of "Where Should We Begin?"—an Audible original series entering its second season on October 24th. Her new book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, is now available in bookstores.

    - "Why Happy People Cheat" (Esther Perel)
    - "You Need Help to Help Her" (Esther Perel, "Where Should We Begin?")
    - "Muto" (Matt Thompson, Snarkmarket)
  • Episode 15

    Derek Thompson and the Moonshot Factory

    Few journalists have gotten a peek inside X, the secretive lab run by Google's parent company Alphabet. Its scientists are researching cold fusion, hover boards, and stratosphere-surfing balloons. Derek Thompson, staff writer at The Atlantic, spent several days with the staff of X. In this episode, he tells Matt and Alex all about what he found, and what it suggests about the future of technological invention.

    Have thoughts or questions? Leave us a message! (202) 266-7600. Don't forget to leave us your contact info.

  • Episode 14

    The Miseducation of Ta-Nehisi Coates

    In his new book, We Were Eight Years in Power, The Atlantic's national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about the past eight years of his career—his pursuit of an understanding of America, and his route to becoming a celebrated author. In this episode of Radio Atlantic, our cohosts Matt, Jeff, and Alex each conduct an interview with Ta-Nehisi about what he's found.

    This is a longer episode than our usual, so if you'd like to skip around, here are the three segments, for easy fast-forwarding:

    [00:00] Matt's interview, focused on the questions that infused Ta-Nehisi's early writing at The Atlantic, and the answers that he's found
    [32:46] Jeff's interview, focused on the two administrations Ta-Nehisi has chronicled, and his political outlook
    [59:52] Alex's interview, focused on Ta-Nehisi's community, family, and life

    - The Mis-Education of the Negro(Carter G. Woodson, 1933)
    - “Black People, Culture and Poverty” (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - "The Math on Black Out-of-Wedlock Births" (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - “The Radical Critique of Obama” (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - “On Jewish Racism” (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - “Still More…” (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - “Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?” (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2012)
    - "The End of White America?" (Hua Hsu, 2009)
    - "The Issues: Race" (Hua Hsu & Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2009)
    - “A Plea for Straight Talk Between the Races” (Benjamin Mays, 1960)
    - "The First White President" (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2017)
    - "This Is What European Diplomats Really Think About Donald Trump" (Alberto Nardelli, Buzzfeed, 2017)
    - "Donald Trump's Race Wars" (Jonathan Chait, 2017)
    - "Tyranny of the Minority" (Michelle Goldberg, 2017)
    - Elizabeth Kolbert's author archive (The New Yorker)
  • Episode 13

    Russia! Live with Julia Ioffe and Eliot A. Cohen

    According to the U.S. intelligence community, this much is settled fact: Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. But beyond that basic consensus, much remains unknown, the subject of multiple investigations by FBI director Robert Mueller and Congressional intelligence committees.

    In this episode of Radio Atlantic, recorded before a live audience at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, Atlantic staff writer Julia Ioffe and contributing editor Eliot Cohen join hosts Jeffrey Goldberg and Matt Thompson for a wide-ranging conversation about what Russia has wrought.
    We’d like to hear your questions about Russia: Call us up at (202) 266-7600 and leave us a voicemail. Don't forget to leave your contact info.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 12

    What Are Public Schools For?

    The idea that public schools are failing is one of the most commonly heard complaints in American society. But what are they failing to do? Surveys of American parents—and the history of the nation's public education system—tell a more complicated story. In this episode, The Atlantic's education editor Alia Wong joins Jeff, Matt, and Alex for a conversation about how we define and measure success in public education.

    We’d like to hear your stories about education: public, private, school-of-hard-knocks, you name it. Call us up at (202) 266-7600 and leave us a voicemail with your story and your answer to the question, “What is public education for?” Don't forget to leave your contact info.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 11

    Will America's Institutions Survive President Trump?

    Eight months into the Trump administration, we're taking stock: What is shaping up to be President Trump's effect on America’s institutions? Will subsequent presidents preserve or disregard the norms he's tossed aside? What are his political allies and opponents learning from his actions?

    Jack Goldsmith, author of The Atlantic's October cover story, explores these and many other questions with editor-in-chief Jeffrey Golberg. Then, Matt Thompson and Alex Wagner discuss Trump's impact on the GOP with longtime Republican strategist Mindy Finn and The Atlantic's politics and policy editor, Yoni Appelbaum.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 10

    A Memo to the Huddled Masses

    Immigrants flock to the U.S. in pursuit of the American Dream. But does the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program mean a wake-up call for millions of undocumented Americans? In this episode of Radio Atlantic, reporter Jeremy Raff and editor Priscilla Alvarez join Jeffrey Goldberg and Matt Thompson to discuss what the suspension of DACA means for those directly affected ... and what it means for America as a whole.

    For links and show notes, go here.
  • Episode 9

    News Update: The Questions After Harvey

    If history is any guide, the biggest problems for residents of the Houston area will come into focus only after the nation's attention has already turned elsewhere. In this Radio Atlantic extra, Matt Thompson talks with Atlantic staff writer David Graham about the questions we should be asking now, while Harvey remains in the headlines. As the recovery gets under way, what should we be watching? Plus, a Houston-area resident talks about what she's seen over the last week that she wants to hold on to in the months and years ahead.
  • Episode 8

    What Game of Thrones Has Taught Us About Politics

    "Winter is coming," they warned us, and the seventh season of Game of Thrones might have proved them right. But no one mentioned that winter in Westeros would coincide with so many troubling events in real-world politics. In this episode, Megan Garber, staff writer for The Atlantic, joins Radio Atlantic cohosts Alex Wagner and Matt Thompson for a conversation about lessons from the show, and other recent pop culture.

    - If you're not a Game of Thrones fan, or don't want to be spoiled, worry not: the second segment of our conversation (around the 16:30 mark) turns beyond the show to discuss recent movies, books, and TV shows with political lessons to offer.
    - If you are a Game of Thrones fan, be forewarned: we discuss spoilers up to and including the final episode of season 7.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 7

    Are Smartphones Harming Our Kids?

    It's been ten years since the iPhone came out, and now the first generation to grow up with smartphones is coming of age. Jean Twenge, a psychologist who has studied generational behaviors, has found troubling signals that these devices seem to be taking a visible toll on the mental health of post-Millennials. In the September 2017 issue of The Atlantic, Twenge shares her findings in a story adapted from her new book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

    In this episode, we talk with Twenge about her findings, hear from a few members of the post-Millennial generation about their relationships with their devices, and discuss what the research means for parents.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 6

    Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yoni Appelbaum on Charlottesville's Aftermath

    After white supremacists and neo-Nazis rallied in Virginia, resulting in the deaths of three Americans, President Trump's equivocating responses shocked Republicans and Democrats alike. Did this represent a major breakpoint in American politics? Why have Confederate symbols and ideas suddenly returned to the public sphere, not to mention HBO? And how should Americans comprehend the relationship between these extremist currents and the Trump administration? Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yoni Appelbaum explore these questions with Jeffrey Goldberg, Alex Wagner, and Matt Thompson.

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 5

    Kurt Andersen on How America Lost Its Mind

    When did the reality-based community start losing to reality show celebrity? Why are "alternative facts" and fake news suddenly ubiquitous features of the landscape? The spread of American magical thinking isn't, in fact, sudden, argues Kurt Andersen in the September 2017 Atlantic. It was rooted in the very origins of the nation, and started to blossom in the '60s. Andersen explores how these forces made their way to the White House in conversation with our Radio Atlantic cohosts, Jeffrey Goldberg, Alex Wagner, and Matt Thompson.

    For links and other show notes, go here
  • Episode 4

    News Update: Mark Bowden on North Korea

    Given new revelations about North Korea's nuclear capabilities—and newly harsh rhetoric from President Trump—Jeffrey Goldberg and Matt Thompson talk with Mark Bowden, author of The Atlantic's July/August cover story on how to deal with North Korea. In that story, Bowden laid out the four options a U.S. administration has for handling North Korea's nuclear ambitions—trying to prevent its progress, turning the screws on the country's leadership, decapitating its leaders, and accepting that a nuclear North Korea is inevitable—and why all of those options are bad. In this conversation, he talks about how this week's news affects that calculus, and whether any one of those paths has grown more likely.

    This is a bonus episode. In our August 11 episode, our co-host Alex Wagner will rejoin us, and our guest will be Kurt Anderson, the author of our September cover story.
  • Episode 3

    Ask Not What Your Robots Can Do For You

    Our increasingly smart machines aren’t just changing the workforce, they’re changing us. Already, algorithms are directing human activity in all sorts of ways, from choosing what news people see to highlighting new gigs for workers in the gig economy. What will human life look like as machine learning overtakes more aspects of our society?

    Alexis Madrigal, who covers technology for The Atlantic, shares what he’s learned from his reporting on the past, present, and future of automation with our Radio Atlantic co-hosts, Jeffrey Goldberg (editor-in-chief), Alex Wagner (contributing editor and CBS anchor), and Matt Thompson (executive editor).

    For links and other show notes, go here.
  • Episode 2

    One Nation Under God?

    America prides itself on pluralism and tolerance, but how far does that tolerance extend when it comes to religious expression? Could faith in general be on the decline?

    Radio Atlantic cohosts Jeffrey Goldberg (editor-in-chief), Alex Wagner (contributing editor and CBS anchor), and Matt Thompson (executive editor) explore those questions with Emma Green, who covers religion and politics for The Atlantic.

    For links and other show notes, visit this page.
  • Episode 1

    'Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory'

    The Atlantic was founded on the eve of the Civil War to advance the American idea. But as we approach the magazine's 160th anniversary, has that idea taken an unprecedented turn?

    In this inaugural episode, our cohosts — Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief; Alex Wagner, contributing editor and CBS anchor; and Matt Thompson, executive editor — explore that question with Atlantic writers David Frum, and Molly Ball. And we present the world premiere of Jon Batiste's Battle Hymn of the Republic, reimagined for the magazine that first published it.

    For links and other show notes, visit this page.
  • Trailer

    Coming July 21: A weekly conversation about what's happening in our world, how things got the way they are, and where they're heading next. Don't miss this sneak preview, for a taste of what's to come, including a teaser of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, recorded for The Atlantic by legendary jazz musician Jon Batiste.