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The Ezra Klein Show

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Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.

Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.
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Vox Media


Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.




Nikole Hannah-Jones on the 1619 project, choosing schools, and Cuba

“The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today” writes Nikole Hannah-Jones “it has been borne on the backs of black resistance.” Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist at the New York Times Magazine, the winner of MacArthur Genius Grant (among countless other awards), and, most recently, the creator of the New York Times’ 1619 project, which explores the ways slavery shaped America. As Hannah-Jones points out, no group in American history has more to teach us about what...


Randall Munroe, the genius behind XKCD

I’m not usually a fanboy on this podcast, but this episode is the exception. I love the web-comic XKCD. I’ve had prints of it hanging in my house for years. It’s nerdy and humane, curious and kind. And every so often, it’s explosively, crazily creative, in ways that leave me floored. Like the Hugo-award winning “Time,” a 3,099 frame animation that unspooled every hour for over four months. Or the book Thing Explainer, which used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to...


Julián Castro's quiet moral radicalism

I’m careful about inviting politicians onto this podcast. Too often, questions go unanswered, and frustrated emails flood my inbox. So I only bring on candidates now if there’s a conversation directly related to themes of this show. In this case, there is. There’s a quiet moral radicalism powering Julián Castro’s presidential campaign. Laced through his policy agenda are proposals to decriminalize the movements of undocumented immigrants, to involve the homeless in housing policy, to...


Political animals (with Leah Garcés)

Imagine, for a moment, what it’s like to be an animal rights activist. Tens of billions of animals are being tortured and slaughtered every year. It is, to you, a rolling horror. But to the people you love, the world you live in — it’s normal. You’re the weird one. So what do you do? How do you engage, politically and personally, when so few see what you see? Leah Garcés is the Executive President of Mercy for Animals and the author of Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the...


John McWhorter thinks we're getting racism wrong

Hello everyone. I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism (Ezra will be back from vacation next week). "Antiracism… is now a new and increasingly dominant religion” writes John McWhorter, “it is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus.” McWhorter is a Professor of English at Columbia University, a contributing editor to The Atlantic, and an outspoken critic of what he calls “third-wave antiracism.” He believes that our...


The rocky marriage between libertarians and conservatives

Hello, everybody! I'm Jane Coaston, senior politics reporter at Vox with a focus on conservatism. Today, I'm speaking with Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for the Atlantic, who has been navigating the fractious divides within the conservative movement since long before 2016. Friedersdorf is extremely hard to pin down. His intellectual hero is Friedrich Hayek and he believes the Supreme Court “ought to thwart the will of democratic and legislative majorities.” He’s also staunchly...


A mind-bending, reality-warping conversation with John Higgs

I don’t usually begin interviews with the question “who the hell are you?” But, then again, not every guest is John Higgs. I fell into Higgs’s work by accident. An offhand recommendation of his book on the KLF, a British band that burnt a million pounds but couldn’t explain why they did it. What’s unusual is that I’ve not quite been able to climb back out of it. Higgs’s work is reality-warping. Once you put on his lenses, it’s hard to take them back off. At the center of Higgs’s strange,...


Jia Tolentino on what happens when life is an endless performance

The introduction to Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, hit me hard. In her investigation of how American politics and culture had collapsed into “an unbearable supernova of perpetually escalating conflict,” she became obsessed with five intersecting problems: “First, how the internet is built to distend our sense of identity; second, how it encourages us to overvalue our opinions; third, how it maximizes our sense of opposition; fourth, how it cheapens our...


The original meaning of “identity politics” (with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor)

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an associate professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University and the author of multiple books, including most recently How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which traces the origins of the term “identity politics” back to its very first use. “Since 1977,” she writes, “that term has been used, abused, and reconfigured into something foreign to its creators.” Taylor’s intellectual history is driven by more than curiosity:...


Are bosses dictators? (with Elizabeth Anderson)

Imagine a society whose rulers suppress free speech, free association, even bathroom breaks. Where the government owns the means of production. Where the leader is self-appointed or hand-selected by a group of wealthy oligarchs. Where exile or emigration can have severe, even life-threatening, consequences. My guest today, University of Michigan Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, writes that workplaces are “communist dictatorships in our midst.” Her book Private Government: How Employers Rule...


The Constitution is a progressive document

“The Constitution must be adapted to the problems of each generation,” writes Erwin Chemerisnky, “we are not living in the world of 1787 and should not pretend that the choices for that time can guide ours today.” Does that sentence read to you as obvious or offensive? Either way, it’s at the core of the constitutional debate between the left and the right — a debate the left all too often cedes to the right through disinterest. Chemerinsky is trying to change that. He’s the dean of UC...


Matt Bruenig’s case for single-payer health care

The Democratic primary has been unexpectedly dominated by a single question: Will you abolish private health insurance? Wrapped in that question are dozens more. Why, if private health insurance is such a mess, do polls show most Americans want to keep it? What lessons should we take from the failure of past efforts at health reform? What does it mean to say “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it?” Matt Bruenig, the founder of the People’s Policy Project, is firmly in...


Can Raj Chetty save the American dream?

I don’t ordinarily find myself scrambling to write down article ideas during these conversations, but almost everything Raj Chetty says is worth a feature unto itself. For instance: - Great Kindergarten teachers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in future earnings for their students - Solving poverty would increase life expectancy by more — far more — than curing cancer - Public investment focused on children often pays for itself - The American dream is more alive in Canada than...


Astra Taylor will change how you think about democracy

Astra Taylor’s new book has the best title I’ve seen in a long time: Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone. I talk a lot about democracy on this show, but not in the way Taylor talks about it. The democracy I discuss is bounded by the assumptions of American politics. This, however, is not a conversation about the filibuster, the Senate, or the Electoral College — it is far more diverse and far more radical. Taylor and I cover a lot of ground in this interview. We...


Introducing Land of the Giants

Ezra sits down with Jason Del Rey, host of Land of the Giants, a new podcast from Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network. Land of the Giants is about the major technology companies that have reshaped our world and explores the ways that they've changed our lives – for better and for worse. The first season is titled The Rise of Amazon. Enjoy this special conversation between Ezra and Jason, followed by a preview of the first episode, Why You’ll Never Quit Amazon Prime. Subscribe to Land of...


Is big tech addictive? Nir Eyal and I debate.

“How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?” That’s the opening line of the description for Nir Eyal’s bestselling 2014 book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Hooked became a staple in Silicon Valley circles — it was even recommended to me when I started Vox — and Eyal became a celebrity. Today, Silicon Valley’s skill at building habit-forming products is looked on more skeptically, to say the least. So I was interested to see him releasing a second book...


Generation Climate Change

This is one of those episodes I want to put the hard sell on. It’s one of the most important conversations I’ve had on the show. The fact that it left me feeling better about the world rather than worse — that was shocking. Varshini Prakash is co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement. Sunrise is part of a new generation of youth-led climate-change movements that emerged out of the failure of the global political system to address the climate crisis. They’re the ones who...


Is the media amplifying Trump’s racism? (with Whitney Phillips)

Some podcasts I do are easy. There’s a problem and, hey look, here’s a great answer! Some are hard. There’s a problem and, well, there may not be a good answer. This is one of those. When Donald Trump tweeted that four new Democratic members of Congress (commonly known as ‘the Squad’) should “go back” to the “corrupt” countries he said they are from, the media went into frenzy. When he said he didn’t worry if the comment was racist, because “many people agree with me,” it got worse. Trump’s...


Rutger Bregman’s utopias, and mine

Universal basic income. A 15-hour work week. Open borders. These ideas may strike you as crazy, fantastical, maybe even utopian... but that’s exactly the point. My guest today is Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, whose book Utopia for Realists is not only about utopian visions but about the importance of utopian thinking. Imagining utopia, he writes, “isn’t an attempt to predict the future. It’s an attempt to unlock the future. To fling open the windows of our minds.” He’s right. And so...


How white identity politics won the Republican civil war

Tim Alberta’s new book American Carnage documents “the Republican Civil War”: a decade-plus struggle over whether the Republican Party would build itself around white identity politics or try to reach out to a changing America. Trump’s election settled the argument, and Alberta’s book tracks the way top Republicans processed that resolution — and submitted to their new reality — in real time. The profiles in courage are few and far between; the capitulations, however, are everywhere....