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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.




What Happened to “America’s Mayor”?

On The Gist, how will Rudy Giuliani go down in history, and in public memory? The midterm elections are looming, and the big question is how far the Democrats will go. Are they really likely to retake the House of Representatives? And how would that affect Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020? Gist guest host Steve Kornacki talks to another political statistics wiz, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics, about why we should be wary of using probabilities to predict elections. In the Spiel, a...


Listening to Inanimate Objects

On The Gist, if Trump weren’t so repulsive, would we judge his murky dealings a little more kindly? And we don’t much think about the inanimate objects in our lives, never considering the rich inner life of the lamppost, the can of Coke, or the humble pillow. But Ian Chillag knows they have stories to tell, and he gets them to speak out in his new podcast Everything Is Alive. In the Spiel, Mike talks to the guest hosts who will rule The Gist all next week. Learn more about your ad...


Goodbye to the Queen of Soul

On The Gist, the free press. Aretha Franklin has died at 76, and she was much more than a golden voice. Slate’s Chris Molanphy recalls her talents at the piano and in the composition room, where she wrote timeless music and, with her covers, transformed songs from her own genre and beyond. (See “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Let It Be,” and, of course, “Respect.”) Molanphy is the host of the Slate podcast Hit Parade. In the Spiel, the straw ban and balloons. This episode is brought to you...


The Heart of Reality Television

On The Gist, autocracy isn’t always bad for an economy. But as Turkey shows, idiocy definitely is. Reality television has a reputation for uninhibited narcissism, ruthless competition, and terrible business pitches. But when Jon Murray created The Real World in 1992, he worked to make something complex and innovative, not a circus of humanity’s basest instincts. And in A&E’s Born This Way, Murray follows the lives of individuals with Down syndrome in Los Angeles, sharing their laughter and...


Democracy Needs a Reboot

On The Gist, should news outlets halt election coverage on Election Day? “Usually, if you look at American history, we’ve kind of taken a relook at our democracy every 50 years.” And now we’re overdue, according to Jason Kander, an Army veteran and Democratic candidate for mayor of Kansas City. The big things to shake up: how we draw district lines, run primaries, and finance electoral campaigns. Kander’s book is Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I've Learned in Everyday Courage. In the Spiel,...


Trump’s Pyrite Touch

On The Gist, Trump is a racist? That’s not much of a scoop, Omarosa. There were plenty of Republicans standing against Donald Trump—before he won the White House. After the 2016 election, many of them traded in their values for a seat on the bandwagon. Rick Wilson isn’t among them, and he explains why in his new book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever. In the Spiel, America’s worst kind of racism lies between microaggression and...


Gist Presents: Slow Burn

Mike Pesca talks with Leon Neyfakh, host of the Slate podcast Slow Burn, about season two of the hit show. Subscribe to Slow Burn here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Venturing Into Obscurity

On The Gist, “the so-called chairman of the Intelligence Committee,” Devin Nunes. Superheroes and comic books may seem ripe for parody nowadays with the constant onslaught of nerd media, but The Venture Bros. has been doing it for years. Part Jonny Quest parody, part exercise in the esoteric, this show really leans into its own quirks. Jackson Publick, one of the show’s creators, helps us understand the wonderful absurdity of The Venture Bros., with its seventh season currently airing on...


On Bended Knee

On The Gist, Trump’s lack of income disclosures. Colin Kaepernick took a stand in 2016 by taking a knee during the national anthem at a football game, sparking a debate about racial injustice that continues to roil. But he’s just the latest in a long line of black activist athletes that have used their status to raise awareness and protest. Howard Bryant uncovers the history of these athletes in his book The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism. In...


Regulate Me

On The Gist, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani. The financial crisis of 2008 wasn’t just an American phenomenon. It was felt all across the globe, with other Western countries suffering the same pain, but enough hasn’t been done about our banks to ensure long-term stability. Will we ever be able to recover fully without a complete overhaul of the current system? Adam Tooze explores this in his new book, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. In the Spiel, Ohio’s special...


The Egyptian Seesaw

On The Gist, Trump’s lies and steel mills. The Arab Spring caused a major shift in Egypt in 2011, and the politics only got murkier during the military coup in 2013. But are autocrats really the best allies for the United States, or just for our current president? David Kirkpatrick explores what happened to Egypt during the Arab Spring and the military coup in his new book, Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East. In the Spiel, who Trump calls...


The Smart Drug

On The Gist, Turkey and Trump. We’ve got another round of Is That Bullshit? Drugs treating cognitive malfunctions like narcolepsy, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, are useful for people with those conditions—but what about the rest of us? Can ADHD medication make us smarter? Can narcolepsy drugs really keep us awake longer? Resident debunker Maria Konnikova explains. In the Spiel, Jay Sekulow and lawyers on television. Go to and find the right hire today. Learn more...


Where Is Space?

On The Gist, guest host Jeffrey Lewis fills in for Mike and talks about trying to solve big problems. Regulating space is tough because it surrounds the whole world, and people can’t even agree where the Earth’s atmosphere stops and space begins. Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, thinks he has the definitive answer to where that line is. McDowell recently published “The Edge of Space: Revisiting the Karman Line” in Acta Astronautica. In...


My Life as a Sitcom

On The Gist, QAnon and sound design. Comedian Guy Branum is a hilarious intellect with an intimidating amount of pop culture knowledge. In his new book, My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture, Branum explores things like his love of civics, his Northern California childhood, and his experiences writing jokes for other people. In the Spiel, we’ve got another Lobstar of the Antentwig. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Quarter for Carter

On The Gist, who makes the CNN Sucks onesie? Jimmy Carter’s reputation is that of an ineffective president. But his chief domestic policy adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, argues that Carter fought for America’s energy independence, doubled the size of the national park system, and appointed “more minorities and women to judgeships and senior positions than all 38 presidents before him put together.” Eizenstat’s book is President Carter: The White House Years. In the Spiel, the local radio...


Courting Politics

On The Gist, let’s face it: A.I. and robots are going to take jobs from us humans. Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has restarted the debate on how we vet candidates and whether the Supreme Court is too easy to game. Lori Ringhand, a professor of law at the University of Georgia and an expert on the Supreme Court, explains how much the court has actually changed, or not, in our lifetime. In the Spiel, three theories on how this whole Mueller investigation thing is going to...


They’re More Bad Than We Are Good

On The Gist, sorry, not every product gets to be a lifestyle brand. A few decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for voters to support the presidential candidate from one party and the senator from another. “Ticket-splitting” is pretty rare now, and as Alan Abramowitz argues, just one of the many signs of an America divided. Abramowitz’s book is The Great Alignment Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump. In the Spiel, there may well be discrimination in college admissions...


The Pushback Artist

On The Gist, do we really have to give up plastic straws? Then, and more seriously: a look back on a recent episode. On Wednesday, The Gist ran an interview with Allison Yarrow about 90s Bitch, her book about sexism in the age of 24-7 news coverage. And in the Spiel, Mike offered a rebuttal of sorts with statistics on the plight of women in the ’80s versus the ’90s. It improved, didn’t it? A shrinking gender wage gap! Less domestic violence! Greater representation in the Senate! But some...


The Real Deep State

On The Gist, the glee of seeing Facebook stock take a dive. Imran Khan is poised to lead Pakistan as its next prime minister. The former cricket star campaigned on a promise of transparency, but his focus “is only on anti-corruption when it comes to finding ways to bring down political opponents,” says Alyssa Ayres, formerly of Obama’s State Department for South Asia. Ayres is the author of Our Time Has Come: How India Is Making Its Place in the World. In the Spiel, how autocrats are...


Lights, Camera, Sexism

On The Gist, let’s imagine what’s in that “enhanced” Michael Cohen tape. Born in the 1990s, the 24-hour news cycle was especially unkind to women. The media of the age consistently bashed women’s sexuality, ambition, and presentation of women such as Monica Lewinsky and Nancy Kerrigan (case in point: a Washington Post article that asked, “Is Nancy a bitch?”). Journalist Allison Yarrow explores this double-standard and its repercussions in her new book, 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the...