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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.




Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

On The Gist, the demise of the Weekly Standard. Then, going with your gut isn’t always best (despite what President Donald Trump may tell you). Writer Steven Johnson says making better decisions can be as simple as considering multiple options instead of focusing on the “should I” or “shouldn’t I.” He’s also got anecdotes about Darwin’s marital deliberations, machine learning, and the call to storm the fortress in which Osama Bin Laden (“probably,” Americans figured) was ensconced. Johnson...


One Quiet Leap for Mankind

On The Gist, Jeff Bezos is one rich man. That doesn’t make him (and Amazon) bad for New York City. In the interview, First Man is as much about Neil Armstrong the man as it is about Neil Armstrong the astronaut. Instead of depicting him planting a U.S. flag on the moon, screenwriter Josh Singer had him pay tribute to his deceased daughter. That ruffled some feathers, and Singer tells us why he stands by it. In the Spiel, unpacking the latest softball interview between Fox News and...


When the President Speaks …

On The Gist, President Trump interrupted Nancy Pelosi because he interrupts everyone. In the interview, the deputy executive director of U.N. Women, Åsa Regnér, knows how to bring more women into politics. Countries like Bolivia, Rwanda, and those in Scandinavia have achieved more equal representation. So how useful are quotas? Does religion play a role? How can gender parity be seen not just as a rights issue but something smarter for policymaking, the economy, and the health of the...


Halls of Fame Need Diversity, Too

On The Gist, it’s tough to find a host for the Oscars. In the interview, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can quickly become incestuous, since past winners get to vote on future inductees. But this year’s 15 nominees break the mold of guitar-slinging dudes with long hair. Sure, Def Leppard is in the running, but so are LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, and Kraftwerk. Music critic Chris Molanphy himself has a vote, and tells us what his ballot looks like. Molanphy is the host of the Slate podcast Hit...


They Can’t Hear You, Theresa

On The Gist, the bottomless Pinocchio. Americans are filled with anxiety in the pursuit of happiness, and social media isn’t making it any better. But how do we even define happy, and will changing our online habits actually change anything? Author Ruth Whippman, who wrote about the phenomenon in the recent New York Times piece, “Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us.,” joins us to discuss. In the Spiel, the Brexit vote. This episode is brought to you by the following...


High Time for Impeachment?

On The Gist, the GOP isn’t overtly racist. But it once was. In the interview, Liz Holtzman was the youngest woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, and she did it in 1973. She also served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee as they held impeachment hearings for Richard Nixon. In her new book, The Case For Impeaching Trump, she explains what exactly is required to impeach a president and why Trump’s actions might have already justified those proceedings. In the Spiel,...


The Walk of the Town

On The Gist, is Sherrod Brown annoying? In the interview, Matt Green is on a yearslong mission to walk all the streets of New York City—and Jeremy Workman filmed him doing many of them for a documentary, The World Before Your Feet. Alongside Workman and executive producer Jesse Eisenberg, Green talks about Staten Island’s ordinary charm, the odd street-naming conventions of Queens, and how a life of perpetual walking makes dating pretty hard. In the Spiel, PETA. This episode is brought to...


The Eulogy Myth

On The Gist, stop wishing Jews happy holidays if Hanukkah has already passed. How do you explain wit? James Geary attempted to answer that question with his new book, Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, but quickly found that the only way to write about comedy is to write comedy. He joins us to discuss the difficulties of examining this subject, the various types of wit, and why Buster Keaton is a master of the form. In the Spiel, eulogies are the best part of any...


Sullying a Pup’s Good Name

On The Gist, a “tariff man” sing-along! Then, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” She and Mike discuss the cigar-shaped space object (known as ‘Oumuamua) picked up by astronomers last year. Was it an alien vehicle, or just another flying rock? In the Spiel, Mike proudly backs the Slate stance: George H.W. Bush’s service dog probably wasn’t mourning him. This episode is brought to you by the following advertisers: Slack, the collaboration hub for work. Learn...


Wild Wild Story

On The Gist, in doing less than his son did in the Middle East, George H.W. Bush did better. In the interview, Wild Wild Country was one of the year’s most riveting documentaries. But one of its sources, journalist Les Zaitz, argues that it pulls punches on the cult that overtook a small town in Oregon, committed the biggest bioterror attack in American history, and had designs to assassinate its critics. In the Spiel, taking stock of George H.W. Bush’s legacy. This episode is brought to...


Very Legal, Very Cool

On The Gist, should people be let go for one bad idea? 30 for 30 has been a hugely successful documentary series in both video and audio form for ESPN. Jody Avirgan sits at its podcast helm with a new season covering stories like Jose Canseco’s steroid use, the 2003 World Series of Poker, and Japanese baseball player Hideo Nomo trying to join the Major League. He also hosts FiveThirtyEight’s political podcast, offering fresh and smart insight wherever he can. Avirgan joins us today to talk...


How to Shoot a Fight

On The Gist, cows are beef, even if they’ve reached internet fame. In the interview, Steven Caple Jr. watched everything from Jean-Claude Van Damme movies to street-fight videos before directing Creed II, the latest film in the Rocky franchise. He joins The Gist to talk about how to shoot a fight scene, his favorite Rocky villains, and Michael B. Jordan’s rising star. In the Spiel, Michael Cohen squeals, and we all learn once again that President Trump does not, sadly, tell it like it...


The Parent Police

On The Gist, the Nancy Pelosi nonstory (spoiler alert: she’s going to win the speakership) is distracting us from the Trump administration’s latest misdeeds. In the interview, Kim Brooks received 100 hours of community service in 2011 for leaving her son alone in a car during a quick errand. Then she connected with other parents who’d been policed by their community in harmful ways. Do Americans worry so much about the safety of children that they’re blind to common sense? Brooks explores...


Would the U.S. Win World War III?

On The Gist, Cindy Hyde-Smith is on the MAGA wagon. In the interview, the U.S. has long been the global leader in military spending. But is that enough to guarantee victory in a war against Russia, China, or both? Aaron Mehta covers the Pentagon for Defense News and has written about a bipartisan commission’s new report on America’s readiness for big conflicts. In the Spiel, terrible arguments obscuring bad ideas. This episode is brought to you by Merrill Lynch. Get started today at...


Make Voting Rights Sexy Again

On The Gist, Danielle Pletka’s thoughts on climate change and Saudi Arabia. In the interview, the Republican Party’s voter suppression isn’t the result of philosophy or values—it just helps them win. In making the fight over voting rights public, Democrats have two advantages: It’s obviously the right thing to do, and it would help them compete up and down the ballot. Our guest Dave Weigel writes The Trailer, a newsletter on electoral politics for the Washington Post. In the Spiel, the...


Obesity, and You, and Me!

On The Gist, the state of the runoff Senate election down in Mississippi. Fat shaming is inexcusable. But so is denying some of the health problems that come with being obese. Maria Konnikova gives us a pre-Thanksgiving report on the latest science and reminds us that obesity in the U.S. is driven by social “superforces” more than by personal choices. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, yes, it’s absolutely OK to laugh (or shake one’s...


The Many, Many Ways to Think About Running

On The Gist, a historian at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Why not? When a young Peter Sagal was labeled “not great at sports,” it didn’t sit well with him. But if that drove him to running in the first place, he now has plenty of reasons to keep up the pace—not the least of which is that it’s a good thing to think, talk, and write about. Sagal is the host of NPR’s Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and the author of The Incomplete Book of Running. In the Spiel, Trump’s jobs numbers from...


Uncle Verne Pulls Up a Chair

On The Gist, violent, vicious, and terrible. These are a few of Trump’s favorite words. In the interview: Verne Lundquist announced sports games for decades. But in retirement, he has more time for classical music than whatever game is on TV. “I’m not a passionate sports fan,” he says. “I’ve got X number of years to live in this life—let’s experience as much of it as we can.” Lundquist is the author of Play by Play: Calling the Wildest Games in Sports—From SEC Football to College...


Ben Stiller’s Big Prison Break

On The Gist, President Donald Trump has finally made a nomination for ambassador to South Africa. And it is a terrible one. It’s hard to make comedy when your story, like Ben Stiller’s latest direction, is based on a state inspector general’s report. Escape at Dannemora is drama through and through, based on the prison break of two men, aided by a female employee (and lover), from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility. Stiller talks filming bad sex, turning villains into heroes, and what...


Cult Classic

On The Gist, Nancy Pelosi and new House leadership. Then, the self-help organization known as NXIVM had thousands of paying customers, but only some were involved in the cultish operations that, once exposed, brought it crashing down. In Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, host Josh Bloch follows one of the company’s unknowing recruiters, who disavowed the group and became central to the ongoing FBI charges against its founder, Keith Raniere. We also hear from Susan Dones, another former member of...