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The Gist


Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.

Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.
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Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.




Life After Parkland

On The Gist, a look at the worst arguments in the debate over abortion. In the interview, After Parkland follows the lives of those affected by the Parkland shooting. That includes Tori Gonzalez, who lost her boyfriend, Joaquin Oliver, to the tragedy. Gonzalez is on The Gist alongside documentary filmmakers Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman to discuss the making of the film, useful ways to talk about the event, and how she continues to cope with her loss. In the Spiel, why the idea of...


Planned Parenthood Plans for Action

On The Gist, Biden’s electability. In the interview, eight states have passed bills to limit abortion access so far this year. And while these may not end up surviving challenges in court (whether Supreme or lower), getting an abortion is already difficult for women in many parts of the country. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen reminds us that abortion providers can be vanishingly rare in some states, and that hundreds of laws have been passed in the last few years to restrict access...


What Basketball Gave Felipe Lopez

On The Gist, oh, Ben Carson. In the interview, Felipe Lopez was once billed the Dominican Michael Jordan. His star power even in high school led the team to play in bigger New York City venues—the better to fit the legions of fans who cheered as he carried Harlem’s Rice High School to a championship victory. But his court domination dwindled in college, and in the NBA. Lopez joins The Gist to talk about the joys brought to him by basketball, not least of which is one that college athletes...


The First “Welfare Queen”

On The Gist, the gift to the Morehouse graduates is great, but should it be celebrated or just the standard? In the interview, Linda Taylor committed many crimes, but only one of them—welfare fraud—really mattered to politicians, the press, and the public. Anecdotes about kidnapping and possible murder would only get in the way of the portrait Ronald Reagan presented to American voters in 1976, of a woman whose defrauding of taxpayer money was typical among those dependent on social...


A Very Grumpy Death

On The Gist, Grumpy Cat is dead. So are Bill de Blasio’s chances at winning the White House. In the interview, 1999 might be the greatest year in film—think The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, and Fight Club. But does Magnolia belong in the great movie pantheon, and should we really have been as impressed with American Beauty as we were? Brian Raftery, author of Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen, takes us through the last year of the ’90s and explains why there hasn’t been...


The Personal Is Geopolitical

On The Gist, what correlates with anti-abortion views (and votes) more than being a man? Being a Republican. In the interview, Jared Diamond brings new meaning to the old slogan that the personal is political. The author of Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that just as individuals go through crises to which they may either adapt or flounder, nation states face moments that define their strength domestically and on the world stage. Diamond’s latest book—Upheaval—takes Finland, Australia, and...


Have a Job? Thank Yourself, Not Trump.

On The Gist, anti-abortion state legislatures know full well that the Supreme Court could one day turn on Roe v. Wade. In the interview, Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. attorney who also once worked for Robert Mueller. He’s here to talk about his new podcast The Oath, where he sits down with other former government officials like Preet Bharara and James Comey and discusses the ins and outs of public service. Mike gets Chuck to dive into the Mueller report with him. In the Spiel, is low...


“No War” Is the Best Trump Can Do

On The Gist, the NBA draft lottery. In the interview, Richard Clarke doesn’t have security clearance anymore, so on his podcast he talks to a lot of people who still do. His 10 years as a White House official gave him the bug for asking questions to sharp experts on matters of life or death—otherwise known as national security. Clarke joins us to talk about the need to make a “frenemy” out of China, the vulnerability of America’s power grid, and how president Trump could yet leave the title...


Decoding the Bliss Gene

On The Gist, groans over Game of Thrones. In the interview, Maria Konnikova is back for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” Because Mike experiences less anxiety than most, he has often wondered if he has higher levels of anandamide—a neurotransmitter associated with regulating anxiety and stress—caused by a specific genetic variation. Maria walks him through the complicated biology, the research, and explains why even if it might be real, Mike’s self-diagnosis is unreliable. In the...


Comedy Is No Revolution

On The Gist, Instagram and FOMO. In the interview, they say president Trump has killed comedy. But in Larry Wilmore’s book, comedy isn’t responsible for leading us to the “right” kind of outrage or political enlightenment. Its role—get this—is to make us laugh. “Activists should engage in activism, and I always feel like that’s why we have these words that are different,” Wilmore says. “Comedy exists to be comic.” Wilmore is the host of the Ringer podcast Black on the Air and the co-creator...


Bigger Than Titanic

On The Gist, magic mushrooms afoot! In the interview, every Avengers movie has an argument at its core. In the Marvel franchise’s finale—Avengers: Endgame—director Anthony Russo says it’s “that you can change destiny, but at the same time, you can’t always change it on your terms.” He and his co-director (and brother) Joe Russo weigh in on that, the term “fan service,” and the fact that in the comics, Captain America is a dud. In the Spiel, Mike answers questions from fellow Slate...


Who Makes The Gist?

On The Gist, maybe Trump wants to be impeached? Then it’s a change of format as all the former and current producers of The Gist gather together for a roundtable. Founding producer Andrea Silenzi discusses the origins of The Gist, past producers Chris Berube and Mary Wilson talk about the thrills of covering the presidential debates, and current producers Pierre Bienaimé and Daniel Schroeder join in to dish on what it's like working with Mike. In the Spiel, Mike reevaluates his mistakes...


The Retro Hits and Repeats of 2014

On The Gist, president Trump’s mixes and matches idioms all the time, but his rhetoric doesn’t really suffer from it. In the interview, 2014 was full of retro vibes and repeats, with hits like “Happy,” “All About That Bass,” and “Blank Space” echoing older styles and Eminem’s “Monster” recreating his past chart-topping collaboration with Rihanna. Chris Molanphy is on the show yet again to walk us through the big tracks from the year The Gist was born. Molanphy is the host of Hit Parade and...


The Gist of the Past Five Years

On The Gist, do we need primary debates? We're starting our fifth anniversary celebration week with a look back at the past. Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad was a guest on the first episode of The Gist so he’s back to reflect on the last five years, how podcasting has changed, and the impact of the medium. In the Spiel, podcasts aren’t perfect, but they are progress. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Bird City

On The Gist, is it unusual that Attorney General William Barr didn’t look at the underlying evidence covered in the Mueller report? In the interview, Tuca & Bertie is the new series from Lisa Hanawalt, best know for her art direction on Bojack Horseman. She’s here to discuss the origins of her new series, all the jokes she fits into the background, and how she figured out if China exists in her show’s universe. Tuca & Bertie is available on Netflix. In the Spiel, Stephen Moore on the...


“I’ll Take Second Place for $2,000”

On The Gist, how many people have declared they’re running for president? In the interview, breaking a record doesn’t always mean going home a winner. Adam Levin learned that in his recent run on Jeopardy!, where he banked more money than any runner-up in the history of the game show (thus walking away with just $2,000). He tells Mike, a fellow Jeopardy! alumnus, about his tactics—and the fact that he has no regrets. Levin is sports information director of Brandeis University’s athletics...


Derby or Die?

On The Gist, the latest in the Mueller report saga. In the interview, the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, but this year, the horse racing event is overshadowed by high fatality rates among equines in California's Santa Anita Park: 23 have died in just three months. Peter Fornatale follows the races closely, and sees mismanagement on both the park’s track and in the appeasement measures that followed: “[It] sort of reminded me of the classic politician’s trick of ‘you don’t like the...


It’s a Code World

On The Gist, the New Yorker’s profile of John Bolton. In the interview, coders have gone from a band of misfits to rulers of Silicon Valley. Clive Thompson is out with a book about that evolution, which examines the reckless product design stoked by the pursuit of hockey-stick revenue growth and a lack of workplace diversity—whether across gender, socio-economic class, or even age. “The ageism is where some of the trouble begins because you don't have people around that can tell you 'oh, we...


Avengers: But For Real

On The Gist, the news media is getting better at demoting the names of America’s mass shooters. That’s a good thing, even as the internet’s darker corners do the opposite. In the interview, comedian Josh Gondelman is from Boston, but he often comes across as Minnesota nice. Can a comedian get laughs without being a bit of an asshole? Gondelman discusses that, his latest comedy album—Dancing on a Weeknight—and why writing for Showtime’s Desus & Mero involves shedding fewer tears than does...


Why Fools Fall in Love

On The Gist, the 2020 candidates’ proposals shouldn’t be compared to some progressive ideal, but to some of the stuff we spend taxpayer dollars on now. In the interview, the pace of technological change means we might only be catching onto malicious disinformation techniques after it’s too late to counter them. Still, scientific inquiry is useful in telling us how manipulation works. In The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread, authors Cailin O'Connor and James Owen Weatherall argue...