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Slate Podcast What Next


A smart round-up of the biggest stories of the day. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for the show every weekday.

A smart round-up of the biggest stories of the day. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for the show every weekday.


United States




A smart round-up of the biggest stories of the day. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for the show every weekday.




Why Republicans Always Win

Republicans have relied on one organization in particular to help pass conservative laws in states across the country: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. The kicker is that ALEC learned its tricks from public-sector unions. Guest: Alex Hertel-Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Political Affairs at Columbia University. Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Jayson De Leon, Danielle Hewitt, and Mara Silvers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


WN TBD: Inside Facebook’s Supreme Court

After years of controversial content moderation decisions, from deepfakes to deplatforming, Facebook is trying something new. In January, the social network announced that its new Oversight Board, which will act as a sort of supreme court for controversial content, will begin hearing cases this summer. Could this independent board change the way we govern speech online? Guest: Kate Klonick, assistant professor at St. John’s University School of Law, and fellow at the Information Society...


Will a Union Spoil Bernie’s Chances in Nevada?

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has dominated Nevada politics for years. Last week, leaders announced that the union would not endorse any of the Democratic primary candidates before the caucuses this Saturday. Did union leaders make that call because of the tricky politics of Medicare for All? Are they just trying to preserve the union’s reputation as a political kingmaker? Or is the non-endorsement an indication of a deeply divided left? Guest: Steven Greenhouse, author of “Beaten...


How ICE Is Weaponizing Therapy

Unaccompanied minors at the border are required to speak to a therapist on a weekly basis. Now, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are able to use what was once confidential against these young migrants in court. Guest: Hannah Dreier, national reporter for the Washington Post Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Is Michael Bloomberg Sorry?

Since he launched his bid for the Democratic nomination, Michael Bloomberg has been trying to distance himself from the legacy of ‘stop and frisk.’ He says stops went down 95 percent by the end of his time as mayor. Darius Charney, one of the lawyers that helped bring down the policy, doesn’t buy it. As he tells it, there’s little evidence that Mayor Bloomberg means it when he says “I’m sorry.” Guest: Darius Charney, Senior Staff Attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights Slate Plus...


Introducing: The United States of Anxiety

Every so often, the What Next team wants to share another great podcast with our listeners. This time, it's The United States of Anxiety from WNYC. In its fourth season, host Kai Wright is figuring out how the intense debates happening during the 2020 election can be traced back to a key point in American history. To listen to the rest of the episodes, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


WN TBD: Coronavirus Tests China's Surveillance State

Over the last month, as coronavirus spread across China, Xi Jinping’s vast surveillance and censorship infrastructure went into high gear. But with outrage growing over the death of a beloved doctor, and surveillance technology under strain, the virus is exposing the limits of the Chinese Communist Party’s techno-authoritarian network. Guest: Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal reporter covering Chinese politics and tech Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Trump Appointee on a Mission to Gut Medicaid

A few weeks back the Trump administration made an announcement. They rolled out a new health care policy called the Healthy Adult Opportunity. It’s a policy that would give states the option of reducing benefits for millions of Medicaid patients. This is only the latest in a line of attempts to scale back the Medicaid program by Seema Verma. Why is this such a priority for the Trump administration and Verma herself? And how are Republicans trying to square cuts to such a popular program in...


Inside The Base, a Secret Neo-Nazi Group

This past summer, while Ryan Thorpe was doing his day job as a reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, some frightening posters started appearing around town. They were recruitment posters for a white nationalist organization known as The Base. Over the course of several weeks, Ryan went undercover. Joined the organization, met with a recruiter. What he didn’t know is that the person he met would become a target of law enforcement in two countries. Someone who prosecutors say was planning...


The Border Patrol’s After School Program

In border towns across the country, high school students are participating in an after school program run by the U.S. Border Patrol. When journalist Morley Musick first encountered the Border Patrol Explorers, he saw it as another example of the contradictions of life on the border. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Los Angeles Confronts Its Housing Crisis

Homelessness in Los Angeles isn’t a new problem. But it has become a bigger problem. And it’s gotten really easy to see. Guests: Theo Henderson, host of the We the Unhoused podcast. Emily Alpert Reyes, City Hall reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


WN TBD: Iowa’s App-ocalypse

On Monday, the Iowa caucuses went off the rails. As the hours stretched into days, and still the results remained unclear, a new piece of election technology was identified as a central cause of the delay. An app designed to make the election process speedier and more secure had the opposite effect. And its failure is symptomatic of deep-rooted issues in the way the Democratic Party develops and deploys election technology. So, what exactly went wrong on Monday? And what does it say about...


Michael Bloomberg’s Shot

Michael Bloomberg has toyed with running for president many times. He has the money and the political clout, but 2020 is the first time he’s thrown all his weight behind a White House bid. It might also be the only year where his abnormal approach to politics could actually pay off. Guest: Edward-Isaac Dovere, reporter for The Atlantic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


A Wake-Up Call From Iowa

The Iowa caucuses on Monday were a mess. Only 71 percent of precincts were reporting by late Tuesday night. Rick Hasen says, we’re just lucky this disaster happened early on. That means that election officials in other states have time to get it right. Guest: Rick Hasen, author of “Election Meltdown” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Why Don’t D.C. Residents Count?

This episode originally aired in October 2019. Growing up in D.C. during the civil rights era made the fight for D.C. statehood deeply personal for civil rights advocate Wade Henderson. He’s said that being unable to secure a voting representative in Congress is one of his greatest disappointments. Christina Cauterucci speaks with Henderson about the fight for statehood and why he still has hope for the movement. This episode is a part of Slate’s Who Counts initiative. In the run-up to the...


This Week In Impeachment: A ‘Bullet Proof’ President

On Friday, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to hear new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial of President Trump. The decision signals an unwillingness to challenge the executive branch, despite several Republican lawmakers conceding that Trump was wrong to launch a pressure campaign against Ukraine. And even though the Senate trial is drawing to a close, we may be headed for unending impeachment-related investigations. Guest: Dahlia Lithwick writes about law and the courts for...


WN TBD: Why Is the U.S. Scared of Huawei?

Recently a special delegation of senior Trump administration officials arrived in the U.K. Their mission? To convince prime minister Boris Johnson to bar Huawei from their new 5G network. Why is the U.S. so keen to influence Britain’s decision on 5G? And now that the U.K is officially withdrawing from the European Union, how will they manage competing pressures from the U.S. and China? Guest: Dan Sabbagh, defense and security editor at the Guardian. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...


Who's Excited About Joe Biden?

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is making two arguments in the last few days before the Iowa caucuses. One is all about the heart—you know Joe, you love Joe. The other argument is all in the head—Democrats need to vote for a candidate who can beat Trump. But how does that argument fare when you look up close at voters in Iowa? Guests: Slate’s senior politics writer Jim Newell and What Next producer Mary Wilson. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now....


A Threat to the Separation of Church and State

Republican lawmakers in Montana came up with a plan to help taxpayers fund scholarships for private schools, including religious ones. But Montana’s constitution makes it clear that public funding for parochial schools is not allowed. Now, religious school parents have appealed their case to the Supreme Court. The resulting decision could undermine the separation of church and state. Guest: Mark Joseph Stern covers courts and the law for Slate. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and...


A Radical Voter Suppression Tactic

Back in July, President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden. The Supreme Court had just ruled that the 2020 census could not ask the citizenship question and the president was there to acknowledge that fact. However, he was also there to issue an executive order. One that would try to count the number of citizens in the country by other means. “Trump Dropping Citizenship Question” was the headline that came out of the press conference, but Ari Berman saw a completely different...