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The Debrief with Major Garrett

CBS News

How'd we get here? Where are we going? What does it all mean? CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett takes a step back from the daily gush of headlines for a deeper look into the issues of our time. New episodes are available right here, first thing Tuesday mornings.

How'd we get here? Where are we going? What does it all mean? CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett takes a step back from the daily gush of headlines for a deeper look into the issues of our time. New episodes are available right here, first thing Tuesday mornings.


United States


CBS News


How'd we get here? Where are we going? What does it all mean? CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett takes a step back from the daily gush of headlines for a deeper look into the issues of our time. New episodes are available right here, first thing Tuesday mornings.




Insurrection: Capitol Hell

History will record Wednesday's assault on our democracy as one of the US's darkest, most shameful episodes. Mob rule was the ambition of the marauding, counterfeit American patriots who laid siege to the Capitol on a false premise: that Donald Trump had won an election he so clearly lost. For months, President Trump convinced his supporters that he could not lose. That if he did, the election was somehow rigged. And when he did, that widespread fraud in key states had tipped the election...


The She-cession

America's economy needs women. It also needs working parents. Coronavirus has taken a toll on both, but women with children have suffered more than men. They've lost more jobs, lost more in wages and some 2 million dropped out of the workforce entirely. In early 2020, there were more women on payrolls in America than men. Then, as coronavirus swept the nation, 11 million women lost their jobs. Even as some of those jobs came back, balancing the stresses of working remotely, childcare and...


Freight of the Union

Yes, whatever you ordered online is taking longer than usual to be delivered. Be patient. Listen to our podcast while you wait. Your shipment will get to you. Eventually. America's shipping networks are literally and figuratively filled to the brim. More people are shopping online because of the pandemic. Add to that peak holiday season gift-buying and millions of vaccines that need to get from the manufacturers into people's arms as soon as possible. By one estimate, the US Postal...


Electoral College Clarity

If projections from news organizations felt insufficient and certified election results from state officials did not convince you, the electoral college has spoken. On Monday, 538 electors in 50 states and the District of Columbia confirmed Joe Biden will be the next president. Biden's 306 electoral votes equaled President Trump's total four years ago. On January 6th, congress will meet to tally those state totals and two weeks later, Joe Biden will assume the presidency. Despite calls to...


Our Hunger

More Americans are hungry now than at any time since the Great Depression. Let that sink in. The uptick is yet another awful consequence of the covid outbreak. Watch the evening newscasts recently and you've probably seen lines of vehicles snaked around stadium parking lots-turned-food distribution points. Maybe you've volunteered at one of those sites. Maybe you've waited in those lines yourself. By nearly any metric, hunger in America is at crisis level. Food banks are stretched....


COVID-19 Vaccines

This month, three major vaccine developers reported preliminary data showing their covid-19 vaccines were highly successful in protecting participants in late-stage clinical trials. This news may feel like a lone bright spot in a year of ugly - and deadly - pandemic-related headlines. In a matter of weeks, the Food and Drug Administration could sign off on emergency use of these vaccines, making them available to vulnerable populations, health care and frontline workers and eventually the...


Contested Elections

For those who lived through it, the presidential election of 2000, might seem comparable to what is going on now. It is not. Then, fewer than 600 votes in Florida separated George W. Bush and Al Gore. Voter intent was in dispute (hanging chads anyone?). The election hung on the outcome of the vote in one state. Today, thousands - and in some cases tens of thousands of votes - separate Joe Biden and President Trump in several states. Voter intent is well-established. President Trump's...


The 46th President

Election night in America is usually just that. A night. Just one night. Not in 2020. Not in a pandemic-afflicted year when so few things seem normal. This is the story of the people at CBS News who brought you Election 2020 coverage that started on Tuesday and ended Saturday. At 11:25 AM eastern time, CBS News Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto piped into the internal communication channel at CBS News with a historic projection, "Joe Biden: win, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden...


The Fax Machine Election

The last time an incumbent president lost re-election, Google, Netflix and friend weren't verbs. The year was 1992. And it was Major's first time covering a presidential race - incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush against Arkansas Governor and Democratic upstart Bill Clinton. Let's be clear: we don't know who is going to win in 2020. But the parallels between the 1992 and 2020 elections are striking. In this episode, Major reflects on the Bush-Clinton race, what's changed and what remains...


Election Fever

America is voting. And it's doing it in record numbers. With a week to go before Election Day, early voting totals have eclipsed 2016 levels. Turn out in Texas is already 82% of overall participation four years ago. In Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina, it's 66%. Experts predict turnout will only accelerate the closer we get to November 3rd. Our debut episode in July examined the challenges posed by voting in a pandemic. Would there be enough poll workers? How about enough funding? Could...


Is This Robert Bork's Supreme Court?

"To Bork" someone, according Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, is "to attack or defeat (a nominee or candidate for public office) unfairly through an organized campaign of harsh public criticism or vilification." The phrase entered the lexicon after Ronald Reagan's nominee to the Supreme Court, Robert Bork, faced a bruising confirmation process in 1987. By all accounts, Bork was a qualified jurist, but Senate Democrats, then in the majority, feared his conservative ideology would swing...


Presidential Health

President Trump's campaign stop in Florida Monday marked the first time he'd left the White House after checking into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center ten days earlier. The president announced his positive covid-19 test result on October 2nd. Thereafter, his doctors provided cherrypicked details about the president's condition that painted a picture of the 74-year old president triumphing over a disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans. Missing were key details like...


Polls, Projections and Winners

Attention political junkies: we are taking a poll. How many of you like to know trends and results of the presidential race on election night? How about who’s up or who’s down during the race? Or what sorts of voters voted for a given candidate? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you can thank a pollster. For this episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” we pull back the curtain on polling and election night projections. How do they do it and why is it - mostly - accurate?


Can The President Do That?

During his convention speech in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump proclaimed, "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it." Not congress, nor the courts, nor the states or any other institution we vest with power. Just a would-be President Trump. The bounds of presidential power have been defined and redefined since the nation's founding. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton sparred with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison over then-President Washington's...


Presidential Debates: The White Hot Arena

In one week, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will meet on the same stage in Cleveland for the first of three presidential debates this fall. In a political year marked by so much that is abnormal, the debates should finally look like something recognizable. For this week's episode, Major Garrett dives into the relatively short history of presidential debates and how they've changed since John F. Kennedy debated Richard Nixon in 1960 in a made-for-television...


Mega Sports Equinox

On March 11th, the sports world - led by the NBA - started to shut down. Coronavirus fears prompted the NCAA to cancel March Madness. The Masters was postponed. Baseball, hockey and basketball, put on hold. What followed was perhaps the quietest spell in modern sports history. By midsummer, professional sports started to creep back to life and this past Thursday they reached a crescendo when all four major sports leagues - the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB - held competition along with golf,...


Planes, Trains and COVID-19

The economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are all around us - millions out of work, businesses shuttered for good, gridlock on Capitol Hill preventing more aid from flowing to those in need. The trillion-dollar travel industry has been hit as hard as any. International routes, which used to account for about half of American carriers' business, are virtually non-existent now. Here at home, airline passenger volume and hotel occupancy are limping along. Without help from the...


The March

Fifty seven years after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington for civil and voting rights legislation, protesters returned to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last week to demand justice for African Americans killed by police. The event, organized by King's oldest son Martin the third and Reverend Al Sharpton, attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators including the families of several victims. Between a global pandemic, outcry over the police-involved deaths of George...


Lost Summer

8 months into the coronavirus pandemic, Major explores the question: was this a lost summer? It was certainly a summer of loss. Carefree summer fun, travel, social gatherings: lost. Students' ability to learn: lost. Millions of jobs: lost. Tens of thousands of lives: lost. On Episode 5 of "The Debrief," Major looks at where we stand in the fight against COVID-19 — what we've learned about the virus, what opportunities we missed, and what progress we've made as we prepare to head into the...


Crossover Voters

The Democratic convention Monday night featured four prominent Republicans who will be casting ballots this fall for former vice president Joe Biden. Critical to Donald Trump's election in 2016 was a coalition of Democrats - especially in the industrial midwest - who abandoned their party loyalties and boarded the Trump train. Will they stick with the president in 2020 or come home to Biden and the Democrats? Are they up for grabs? On Episode 4 of "The Debrief," Major looks at party...