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Slate's The Gist


A daily afternoon podcast about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.

A daily afternoon podcast about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.
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Washington, DC




A daily afternoon podcast about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.




Land of (Only Some) Opportunity

On The Gist, Democrats might actually be winning. Supporters of open immigration policy—and immigrants themselves—often have a rosy view of what awaits them in the United States. National Review executive editor (and Slate alumnus) Reihan Salam says high costs of living can put immigrants in debt rather than on a path to the middle class. “When we’re totally sentimental about this, we miss some of those struggles, and those struggles are inconvenient. People don’t want to hear about them.”...


Myth Management

On The Gist, bone saws and Jamal Khashoggi. When Joe Hagan began working on the story of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone, Wenner was on board. But as Wenner slowly realized Hagan was writing the true story rather than Wenner’s story, things got a bit rough. Hagan joins us to discuss Wenner, reactions since publication, and the tricks of writing about a narcissist. Hagan’s book is Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. In the Spiel, the civility of...


Between a Rock and a Funny Place

On The Gist, Saudi Arabia, Trump, and Jamal Khashoggi. Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman has had a post-scandal Louis C.K. take to his stage six times now. Why does he welcome him, and if he doesn’t draw the line at Louis, is it somewhere else? In the Spiel, the death of Nevada Republican candidate Dennis Hof. This episode is brought to you by Merrill Lynch. Get started today at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Bare Necessities? Not in Alaska.

On The Gist, unpacking CNN’s list of top Democratic challengers ahead of 2020. Katmai National Park and Preserve’s publicity stunt worked: For one week (that’s Fat Bear Week), the internet delighted in the tournament bracket that would crown the plumpest predator of them all. Carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant tells us about the brown bear’s diet, the unknown mechanics of hibernation, and why fattest really means fittest for the competition’s chunky winner (Beadnose!). In the Spiel, what...


Olive Branch, Turkey Leg

On The Gist, how coverage of bisexuality has changed (for the better). Thanksgiving approaches, and with it all the tension that comes with mixing family and politics in the age of Trump. In that setting, Ike Barinholtz saw grist for a political comedy. He directs and stars in The Oath, in which a family reunion is cleaved by the federal government’s push for Americans to sign a “loyalty waiver to the president.” In the Spiel, what Arizona Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema did as...


Going to The Good Place

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz. At first The Good Place on NBC appears to be a light and easy sitcom about a bad apple accidentally dropped into heaven, but look at little deeper and you’ll find a smart and dense comedy about moral philosophy. Creator Mike Schur joins us to discuss this show’s moral compass, baseball, and the Kant of it all. The Good Place airs on Thursdays on NBC. In the Spiel, Trump’s rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. This episode is brought to you by Exchanges, a...


And What About Yemen?

On The Gist, should we continue to trust Facebook with our data? Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war with rebel tribes in Yemen is 3½ years deep, as is America’s support for it. Michael Knights, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, details the kingdom’s goals: stopping the missile attacks sailing in from Yemen, restoring the country’s ousted leaders, and countering the rebels’ biggest ally, Iran. In the Spiel, the disappearance of abortion providers, the rise of crisis...


Guarding the Court

On The Gist, it would be cynical to view the Supreme Court as illegitimate. Brett Kavanaugh has done it. But how will the other members of the Supreme Court treat him? And does his promotion affect the American people’s faith in the nation’s highest court? Slate’s courts correspondent Dahlia Lithwick joins us to discuss. In the Spiel, back in the private sector, Nikki Haley can look forward to making Hope Hicks–level money (which, incredibly, is a lot of money). This episode is brought to...


Take Down the Poll

On The Gist, after all of that, not a single senator changed his or her vote to back (or stop) Kavanaugh. In the interview, Jill Lepore’s new book focuses in part on the marginalized groups forgotten by other American histories. It also denounces the polling industry born in the ’30s, which turned politics into business even as it ignored black Americans, slowing their march for civil rights. Lepore’s book is These Truths: A History of the United States. In the Spiel, don’t forget that the...


Sitting President, Standing Anger

On The Gist, the hippocampus has its moment. Tom Arnold believes incriminating tapes of Donald Trump are out there, and he wants to find them. In his new series for Viceland, The Hunt for the Trump Tapes, he’s looking for anything from more Access Hollywood obscenities to the infamous pee tape. But would publishing any of these actually change anything about politics today? In the Spiel, the rhetoric of “sitting Trump” versus “standing Trump.” This episode is brought to you by Exchanges,...


Reignited (and It Feels So Good)

On The Gist, Brett Kavanaugh’s high school and college buddies had some weird nicknames, and it’s not helping his case. Rebecca Traister is angry, and she knows other women are too. Events from Trump’s election through the #MeToo movement inspired her new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. In the Spiel, Mike read the New York Times’ expose on how Donald Trump got rich—so you don’t have to. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Mueller on the Mind

On The Gist, Beto O’Rourke has the momentum but also a mountain to climb. In the interview, Neal Katyal has argued 37 cases before the Supreme Court, and (better yet!) joined Mike Pesca on stage at Slate Day in Austin, Texas. Our condensed version of the interview covers the implications of a confirmed Brett Kavanaugh, why Robert Mueller “will have the last laugh” when it comes to taking on Trump, and what the indictment of a sitting U.S. president would look like. In the Spiel, what...


College-Aged Coddling

On The Gist, guest host John McWhorter considers campus safe spaces. In the past few years, college campuses have been shifting away from havens for free speech to safe spaces that bar divisive speakers from campus. But is this the right move, or are we damaging the growth of college students by creating these spaces rather than offering intellectual challenges. Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt explore this in their new book The Coddling of the American Mind. Lukianoff joins us on the Gist...


The Kavanaugh Conspiracy

On The Gist, guest host Isaac Butler talks about all the news we forgot about thanks to the Kavanaugh hearing. The Constitution is a sacred text in America, but should it be? Heidi Schreck’s play What the Constitution Means to Me tackles that question through her high school experience of giving speeches about the Constitution to put herself through college. Today, she and her director, Oliver Butler, join us to discuss the fresh importance of the play, what sort of impact the Constitution...


Losing Hate

On The Gist, the Kavanaugh hearing. By all accounts, Derek Black was supposed to become the next David Duke. He was the man’s godson, after all, and his father, Don Black, had founded Stormfront, the world’s first and biggest white nationalist website. But then Derek went to New College of Florida, where—as told by the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow—he was shunned by many of his peers for his racist views, and embraced by a few despite them. Saslow’s book is Rising Out of Hatred: The...


The Land of Steady Filmmaking

On The Gist, the GOP hired a woman! Nicole Holofcener’s films have centered women for more than two decades, but her latest one, The Land of Steady Habits,focuses on a man’s tumultuous story arc. She joins us to talk about adaptations (it was a novel before Holofcener made it into a movie), the slow and deliberate process of directing, and why she hates hearing people chew. The Land of Steady Habits is now on Netflix. In the Spiel, Kavanaugh’s three accusers tell different stories, but...


Generation Anxiety

On The Gist, Trump gets laughs at the United Nations. After a few eccentric comedy specials, Bo Burnham next turned to his sympathy for the anxieties of middle school girls, and made a movie. If Eighth Grade (starring Elsie Fisher) seems to imitate life so well, it’s because Burnham watched hundreds of vlogs made by today’s junior high generation. In the Spiel, standards of proof in the Kavanaugh case. This episode is brought to you by Exchanges, a podcast from Goldman Sachs. Listen today...


That’s the First Straw

On The Gist, how the breaking news machine bungled the Rod Rosenstein story. In the interview, California is set to ban certain restaurants from serving straws unless customers ask for one. But given that straws represent a tiny fraction of the plastics choking our oceans, can initiatives like these really make a difference? Ban-the-straw advocate Dune Ives says targeting the straw is, in part, a way to move on to blocking other plastics from the world’s waste stream. In the Spiel, the air...


Tight Countries, Loose Countries

On The Gist, National Review has one good take on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation story … and a lot of bad ones. In the interview, we’re used to thinking of societies along the “liberal/conservative” spectrum, but cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand has her own axis to consider: tight versus loose. They aren’t quite the same: Abu Dhabi, for instance, may be conservative, but its role as the crossroads of the Middle East lends it looser norms. In Scandinavia, we’ve got the opposite....


What Is … a Podcast, Alex?

On The Gist, Christine Blasey Ford deserves a hearing on her own terms, and that’s all we can say for now. Bert Kreischer is a comic who started out as just the biggest college partier in America according to Rolling Stone magazine in 1997. Since then he’s been grappling with fame, how much of his own life to use for comedy, and the way his father shamed him into doing stand-up comedy. Kreischer’s new special on Netflix is Secret Time. In the Spiel, Jeopardy finally notices...