WNYC Studios and The New Yorker presents
The New Yorker: Politics and More
A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
June 11, 2021
Naomi Osaka and the Rights of Professional Athletes
Last month, , the second-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, announced that she would not speak to the press during the French Open. The referee fined her $15,000, and the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments threatened her with harsher penalties. In response, . Her withdrawal has brought further attention to the power dynamics of professional sports, where wealthy league bosses, the media, and fans exert tremendous pressure on players. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how athletes are using their fame and visibility to reshape professional sports.
June 7, 2021
The Early Days of ACT-UP, and Its Lessons for Today’s Activists
Sarah Schulman is a novelist and playwright as well as a well-known activist and documentarian. She was an early member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, and, for twenty years, she and the filmmaker Jim Hubbard have run the ACT UP Oral History Project, interviewing surviving members of the group. Out of that work comes a new history of ACT UP in its early days, “Let the Record Show: A Political History of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, New York, 1987-93.” Schulman talks with David Remnick about the group’s successes, its lessons for young activists, and also its greatest failing. “We were able to defeat H.I.V.,” she said. “But we couldn’t defeat capitalism. And we still don’t have a workable health-care system in this country.”
June 4, 2021
Biden’s Plan to Reshape the American Economy
A semblance of pre-pandemic life has resumed across the country, but the economic signs are mixed, even after the strong jobs report for May. Supply chains are bottlenecked, unemployment is just under six per cent, and fiscal conservatives warn about inflation. President Biden has stated to Congress, in defense of his stimulus plans and of his six-trillion-dollar budget, that “trickle-down economics has never worked,” and that the best way to strengthen the economy is from the bottom up, not the top down. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the political perils and promise of Bidenomics.
May 31, 2021
How Will the Biden Administration Deliver on Racial Justice?
Joe Biden has spoken clearly about the reality of systemic racism in America, and he’s said that racial justice would be a defining element of his Presidency. Such a statement would have been unlikely before the movement that followed the death of George Floyd, or before the overt white supremacy that was on display during the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which Biden has said convinced him to run in 2020. Vanita Gupta will be one of the key people guiding the Administration’s response. She was confirmed in April as Associate Attorney General, the No. 3 position at the Department of Justice, overseeing the Civil Rights Division. David Remnick spoke with Gupta about how Biden intends to make good on his promises, and whether criminal-justice reform is still possible in bitterly divided Washington.
May 27, 2021
The Democratic Party, Reimagined by Young Progressives
Over the past four years, progressive insurgents have defeated moderate incumbents in Democratic primaries across the country. These politicians have aggressively pursued policies such as the Green New Deal and have been credited with pushing the ’s policy priorities to the left. Much of this work is fuelled by such as Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement. Some worry that the shift will alienate moderate Democrats, and put the Party’s electoral fortunes at risk. , a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the progressive movement within the Democratic Party, and the groups that have helped it gain traction.
May 26, 2021
Can We Finally End School Segregation?
By many accounts, American schools are as segregated today as they were in the nineteen-sixties, in the years after Brown v. Board of Education. WNYC’s podcast “The United States of Anxiety” chronicled the efforts of one small school district, Sausalito Marin City Schools, in California, to desegregate. Fifty years after parents and educators there first attempted integration, the state’s attorney general found that the district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained a segregated system, violating the equal-protection clause of the Constitution. The district’s older public school, which served mostly Black and Latino students, suffered neglect; meanwhile, a new charter school, though racially diverse, enrolled virtually all the white children in the district. The reporter Marianne McCune explored how one community overcame decades of distrust to finally integrate. This episode was edited from “The United States of Anxiety” ’s “” and “.”
May 20, 2021
A Predictable yet Shocking Eruption of Violence in Israel
Following seven years of relative peace, . Hamas has fired rockets into Jerusalem, , and . The international community has its eyes on Israel, with activists using social media to rally support, and world leaders interceding to bring an end to the violence. , a New Yorker contributor based in Tel Aviv, joins Carla Blumenkranz to discuss the fighting and what it means for the future of both Israel and Palestine.
May 17, 2021
Joe Biden Wants to Be Like Roosevelt. But Can He Get the Votes?
When, on the campaign trail, Joe Biden compared his platform to the New Deal—and, by extension, himself to F.D.R.—who really believed him? Certainly not the left of his party. For a generation, the “end of big government” has been near-consensus in Washington, attested to even by Democrats like Bill Clinton, as well as by Republicans who ran up gigantic deficits. In his hugely ambitious, multi-trillion-dollar plans, Joe Biden argues for big government—very big government—as a force for positive change. Those plans may well fail to win the votes he needs in Congress, because the contemporary United States no longer resembles the country that embraced the New Deal. “You can’t put F.D.R. in Dr. Who’s phone booth and bring him to 2021 and he’ll address the American people,” the historian says. David Remnick discusses the promise and challenges he faces with Lepore, , , and .
May 13, 2021
Liz Cheney’s Thought Crime
On Wednesday morning, Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, was as the House Republican Conference chair. Cheney was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach for his role in the , and her expulsion from the chair position is seen as a move by the Republican leadership to unify the Party behind the former President. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Trump’s continued stranglehold over the G.O.P. and what to expect from the immediate future of both parties.
May 10, 2021
Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee on the State of the Pandemic
After a year of battling COVID-19, parts of the United States are celebrating a gradual turn toward normalcy, but the pandemic isn’t over—and it may never be over, exactly. tells David Remnick that a hard core of vaccine resisters, along with reservoirs of the virus in domestic animals, may make herd immunity elusive. Rather, he says, the correct goal is to bring the impact of COVID-19 down to that of something like the flu. Meanwhile, India is now overwhelmed by a devastating death toll, reported at around four thousand per day but likely much higher. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who on the pandemic in developing nations, says that commitments from the West such as extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will barely scratch the surface. A national mobilization will be required to even begin to flatten the curve.
May 6, 2021
A High-School Cheerleader, the Supreme Court, and the First Amendment
In 2017, Brandi Levy, a junior-varsity cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School, in Pennsylvania, was denied a spot on the school’s varsity squad. That weekend, off campus, Levy posted a furious, profanity-filled photo and message about the decision on Snapchat. A student who saw the message showed a screenshot to her mother—the cheer coach. Levy was barred from cheerleading for the rest of the year. The A.C.L.U. helped Levy’s parents file suit against the school in federal court, claiming that Brandi’s First Amendment right to free speech had been curtailed. Last week, four years after that pivotal snap, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss this contentious case and what it means for free speech in the digital age.
May 3, 2021
Three Women Who Changed the World
“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, , tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”
April 29, 2021
This week, W. W. Norton announced that it would take two books by the writer Blake Bailey out of print, after accusations that Bailey has had a . The case has helped bring the struggle against sexual misconduct back into the cultural spotlight. The New Yorker staff writers , who wrote about Bailey, and , who has reported on sexual misconduct by , join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the state of the #MeToo movement in 2021.
April 26, 2021
The Children of Morelia
Refugees arriving at the southern border of the United States, and especially the unaccompanied children among them, are again in the headlines. A parent’s decision to send his or her chiId on an extremely perilous journey is difficult to comprehend, but war, violence, and hunger can be decisive factors. Nearly a century ago, a group of Spaniards put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. They were escaping the extraordinary brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and few ever saw their parents again. When they arrived, the conditions in the Mexican orphanage where they were placed were bleak. The youngest of those children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, just three years old; her first memory is of throwing her shoes overboard on the ship, because she thought the fish would need them. The writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, who is Martinez’s granddaughter, tells her grandmother’s story and explains how the impact of the trauma she suffered resonated during her life and down through the generations.
April 22, 2021
The Politics of the Pandemic Oscars
This Sunday is the ninety-third Academy Awards. It’s been a trying year for the film industry, with the pandemic shuttering theatres and halting film productions. But the unusual circumstances have contributed to a remarkable crop of Oscar nominees. For years, , but are among the in Oscar history. Some have suggested that this year might be a turning point for Hollywood, though others have cautioned against assuming that a permanent change has occurred. , a New Yorker staff writer, joins the guest host Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what the 2021 Oscars tell us about the politics of pandemic-era Hollywood, and what the future of the movie business might look like.
April 19, 2021
Why Has China Targeted Minorities in Xinjiang?
“” is a expansive and detailed account of Xi Jinping’s policies against ethnic Uyghurs and Kazhaks in China’s northwestern region, which culminated in the detainment of a group estimated to number more than a million, in the largest civilian internment since the Holocaust. The staff writer tells David Remnick how Xi Jinping’s government used an obsession with what it calls stability, and a fear of separatism and terrorism, to justify a campaign of genocide. It involves forced cultural assimilation, mass imprisonment, and coercive measures to reduce the birth rate.
April 15, 2021
Enemies, Foreign and Domestic
This week, for the first time in more than two years, the directors of the D.N.I., C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., and D.I.A. appeared before Congress to testify about “worldwide threats” to the United States. They discussed Russia, China, Iran, and domestic extremists—and warned about the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and climate change. On the same day, President Biden announced , closing a twenty-year chapter in the War on Terror. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the matrix of threats facing the country, and how the Biden Administration is responding to them.
April 12, 2021
Louis Menand on “The Free World”
The postwar years were a true flowering of American culture. Even as the United States was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union, which culminated in the terrifying doctrine known as mutually assured destruction, the country evolved from a military and economic powerhouse into a cultural presence at the center of the world. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the globe. Painters came out of the long shadow of war-torn Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Thinkers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. This period, in all its complicated glory, is the subject of “,” by . Menand is a professor at Harvard University and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “,” from 2001. Menand talks with David Remnick about a time, as he writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”
April 8, 2021
Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending
promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These propose to the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. , a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real of the Administration.
April 5, 2021
Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
The investigative reporter recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.