The Mother Jones Podcast-logo

The Mother Jones Podcast

News & Politics Podcasts

Each episode will go deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. We’ll share with you our best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump's Russia connections), and informative interviews with our reporters and newsmakers. We're hoping to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter, told by us, the folks you trust for smart, fearless reporting.


United States


Each episode will go deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. We’ll share with you our best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump's Russia connections), and informative interviews with our reporters and newsmakers. We're hoping to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter, told by us, the folks you trust for smart, fearless reporting.







Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

A Special Announcement

Things have been a bit quiet around these parts lately, huh? After a few months bringing you some of our best feature investigations read aloud, in partnership with Audm, we’re going through some behind-the-scenes newsroom changes that will impact how we best serve you, our listener. We’re going to be taking some more time, off-air, to re-tool and recalibrate. Goodbyes are hard! But it’s not really a goodbye. It a “goodbye for now”. And Mother Jones journalism isn’t going anywhere. You can continue to listen to our incisive stories on Audm through their app and on our website. And, of course, there is a ton of beautiful multimedia journalism from our newsroom on Instagram, YouTube, and even on our new TikTok profile. We’ll pop up again here in the future, no doubt, but for now, from everyone on the team with love and appreciation: See ya, and thanks. —James West, Mother Jones Deputy Editor


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Today It’s Critical Race Theory. 200 Years Ago It Was Abolitionist Literature.

We bet you’ve heard one phrase more and more this year than ever before: Critical Race Theory. It’s an obsession on Fox News, and it’s the topic, along with anti-mask protests, raging at school board hearings across the country—a new frontier in a roiling culture war. But what is Critical Race Theory? And how did it come to be used to whip up a new hysteria on the right? States are now racing to ban the teaching of CRT, many successfully, even while many of its fiercest critics can barely explain what it is. For this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, some much-needed history. Journalist Anthony Conwright argues that this current anti-CRT movement is part of a long standing war in America against Black liberation dating back hundreds of years. This compelling essay originally appeared in the September/October edition of Mother Jones Magazine. It is read aloud here by our partners at Audm.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Are These Black Leaders on the Cusp of a New National Movement?

With everything going on these days—we’ll spare you the list of existential crises we’re currently living through—now seems like the perfect time to hear from two leaders who have a revolutionary vision of what this country could be. Last week, in a special livestream event, Mother Jones reporter and columnist Nathalie Baptiste spoke to two fascinating politicians that may be on the cusp of a national movement. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is the youngest-ever mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. India Walton won a historic upset primary against a four-term incumbent and is the Democratic nominee for the mayor of Buffalo, New York. They are from two different cities—over 1,000 miles apart—but both of these young Black leaders have put forward progressive agendas that have been called “radical.” And right now, words like “radical” or “socialist” or “progessive” seem to have shifting definitions. For some, those words are interchangeable. So we hear from Mayor Lumumba and Walton directly: how do they define themselves? What do they consider the biggest obstacle to a robust socialist party in the United States? And this wouldn’t be a conversation during the years of the pandemic without finding out what, if any, guilty-pleasure TV shows are on their watch list. (Any Madam Secretary fans in the house?)


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Nightmare of Getting an Abortion in the South

A week ago, thousands of people turned out for Women's March rallies across the country, galvanized by Texas' recent six-week abortion ban and the very real fear that Roe v. Wade could soon be overturned, as challenges to the Texas law and another law in Mississippi wend their way to the Supreme Court and its 6-3 conservative majority. But while the battle over the Texas law rages, and people rightfully worry about a world in which abortion access is no longer protected, women in Mississippi are already living it. In 2019, reporter Becca Andrews went to Mississippi to explore where Roe doesn't reach, meeting a young woman on a 221-mile journey to get an abortion beyond state lines. The Mother Jones Podcast team thought revisiting Becca’s piece provided compelling context for just how high the stakes are for people needing abortions in Texas right now, and more broadly, for the consequential decision in the hands of the Supreme Court. Listen to Becca's 2019 story, currently being expanded into a book, on this week's episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, produced in partnership with Audm. Note: Some facts on the ground have evolved since this story was first published in 2019.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Ammon Bundy Is Running to Be Idaho’s Next Governor

Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer has been following Ammon Bundy for years. He's the guy you'll remember who became a kind of folk hero on the far-right after he joined his father, rancher Cliven Bundy, in leading an armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada in 2014. Two years later, Ammon led the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which left one occupier dead. Bundy went to trial twice on criminal charges related to the standoffs but federal prosecutors failed to win a conviction. Now he’s a big-time celebrity activist and running for governor of Idaho. Shortly before the pandemic started, he created what has been dubbed “Uber for militias”—a kind of network that can summon armed protesters for all sorts of far-right gatherings, including anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests during the pandemic. He’s a messianic figure, and Mencimer wanted to understand what the appeal was. She found a complicated and very-American story about violence, religion, and public lands battles in the West. This in-depth profile was published in Mother Jones earlier this year, and reproduced in read-aloud form here by our partners at Audm.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How Flint Closed the Gap Between Black and White Suffering Under COVID

As the Delta variant upended hope of returning to normal this summer, Mother Jones reporter Edwin Rios published a deeply reported story on Flint, Michigan, recounting how residents of this predominantly Black city have battled COVID-19 in spite of government distrust, neglect, and environmental catastrophe. But the pandemic isn’t Flint’s first crisis: In 2014, public officials implemented cost-cutting measures that led to dangerous concentrations of lead in the city’s water supply. Up to 12,000 children were exposed to contaminated water. Then-President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency. And in 2021, nine people—including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder—were indicted on criminal charges in the matter. A few years later, when COVID-19 barreled across the globe and vaccinations became a political flashpoint, Flint already had an infrastructure of outreach and support in place. Their water crisis wound up being a crash course in how residents learned to band together in a catastrophe—and shows how one community used a dose of social medicine to close the gap between Black and white suffering during a pandemic.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Afghan Refugee Crisis Has Only Just Begun

Towards the end of 2020, Mother Jones’s editorial director Ian Gordon wrote a deeply reported story about how then-President Donald Trump took a broken asylum system and turned it into a machine of unchecked cruelty. America’s system for processing refugees and asylum seekers was effectively dead, he discovered, and the myth of national decency died with it. That the United States had long-standing commitments to asylum seekers under federal law and international agreements was of little consequence to Trump and his coterie of immigration hardliners. Even less compelling to them was the role asylum plays in the aspirational story of America that we have been telling the world for decades: that, in a country of immigrants, ensuring the safety of those fleeing repression and violence is our duty, and by welcoming them—by doing the right thing—the United States both fulfills its promise and distinguishes itself from all other nations. Since Mother Jones published that story in the November/December issue of our magazine, there’s been an election and the problem is now Joe Biden’s to fix. But the clean-up job just got so much harder. The government in Afghanistan has fallen after 20-plus years of US-led war, and its collapse and subsequent chaos has only underscored the United States’ deep moral obligation to allow refugees to settle here. But when, or if, they are finally allowed to begin this journey, they will encounter a system that has been politicized to the point of collapse. Ian’s story is especially relevant now, as the US meets one moral failing with another. So we’re presenting it in full as part of our Summer investigation series, co-produced by our partners at Audm. Make sure you stay to the end for a recent update to Ian’s reporting.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Metamorphosis of Kyrsten Sinema

Every time you read the news lately, there she is: in conversations about bipartisanship, the infrastructure deal, the filibuster, even the fate of Joe Biden's presidency itself. But who is Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona? And what does she want to accomplish with her outsized influence on the passage of basically any law through the Senate, with its razor thin margins? For this week’s installation of our Summer investigation series, Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy takes a look at Sinema’s political evolution. As a progressive in one of the nation’s most conservative state legislatures, Sinema abandoned her early radicalism for a new theory of change. She learned to play nice, seeking incremental progress through careful messaging and across-the-aisle relationships, and reinventing herself as a post-partisan deal-maker. Now, for the first time in her career, she holds real power. With a giant infrastructure deal on the line, not to mention the future of her party and the Senate, the world is trying to understand what Kyrsten Sinema wants to do with it. This episode is produced by Audm.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

CNN’s Jake Tapper Says the Media Must Confront Republicans’ Big Lie

Jake Tapper has drawn a line: no “Big Lie” proponents on-air. The CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent won’t book Republican politicians touting the conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. But when he’s not in front of the camera, Tapper enjoys blurring the lines between fact and fiction by crafting novels about real-life figures like John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. His latest book, The Devil May Dance, is a sequel to his bestseller, The Hellfire Club, which has been adapted into a TV series by HBO Max. During a live event hosted by Mother Jones’ Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in early June, Tapper discusses the biggest threats to our democracy—and how his experience covering those threats as a journalist informed his work as a historical fiction writer. This recording has been edited for length.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Escape From the Billionaire Meme Mogul

Sergey Grishin is a well-connected, billionaire mogul. Last August, he made headlines when he sold his lavish estate to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Grishin’s multiple US-based businesses include a social media company in California with more than 300 million Instagram followers, called 421 Media. But what those followers probably don’t know is that they’ve been helping to enrich a man who has been accused in court documents of harassing and abusing women. In fact, women in multiple countries have been living in fear of Grishin, and have documented years of evidence. Now, they’re going public. This episode is the latest installment of our read-aloud Summer investigation series. It was reported by MoJo’s Samantha Michaels and produced by our partners at Audm.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Everything You're Getting Wrong About the Culture Wars

Everywhere you turned in the aftermath of the 2020 election, someone was arguing a hard line on cultural issues as an explanation for the outcome. The point was made by different commentators of at least outwardly different political persuasions, with different code words and different bogeys—feminists, socialists, wokeness. However they might have varied, these arguments all circled the same thesis: The members of the working class—by which is always meant the white working class and very often, incoherently but significantly, the white middle class, too—have fled the Democratic Party because of its abandonment of the firm materiality of class politics for the soft superfluities of culture and identity. On this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, we revisit our essay by MoJo enterprise editor, Tommy Craggs, who argues that political analysts are now in the fifth decade of making some version of this claim—despite its two contradictory premises. The first is that these cultural issues are so powerful as to dislodge certain workers from their “natural” class affinities: One glimpse of the specter of wokeness and they go running into the arms of the party of the bosses and plutocrats who hate them. The second is that these cultural issues are so flimsy and evanescent as to vanish at the mention of “meat-and-potatoes issues.” But which is it? Are cultural issues a set of powerful currents that buffet people around the political spectrum? Or are they a collection of irrelevancies and distractions with no real substance or meaning, lightly worn and easily dismissed? These questions never seem to get answered. This stasis is what Tommy describes as the politics of stalemate, something his essay wants you to shake off. You can read Tommy’s original story here. This episode is part of our Summer series, produced in collaboration with Audm.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Garry Trudeau on Lampooning Trump and Other Lessons from 5 Decades of Doonesbury

For five decades, Garry Trudeau has been writing what is one of the most important—and entertaining—comic strips in American history: Doonesbury. He started the strip in October, 1970 as a student at Yale. With its sharp-witted look at American politics and American life, it quickly became a phenomenon, eventually appearing in over 1,000 newspapers. He’s lampooned every president of the last half-century and has introduced us to scores of original and engaging characters. After the first Gulf War in 1991, he became a fierce advocate for wounded vets. In 2014, he ceased the daily strip. But his Sunday cartoons keeps on coming. With Doonesbury, Trudeau has been an American Dostoyevsky, producing a never-ending novel now stretching over 50 years. Trudeau became the first comic-strip artist to win a Pulitzer Prize. On this bonus Summer episode, Mother Jones Washington D.C. bureau chief David Corn talks to Trudeau about how the pain and pride of veterans, his new commemorative collective of strips, and the art of drawing former President Donald Trump, “a right out-of-the-box cartoon character.”


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Can America’s Problems Be Fixed By a President Who Loves Jon Meacham?

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who has spent the last two decades pounding out bestselling accounts of American presidents such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and George H.W. Bush. In June 2019, Joe Biden invited Meacham to Newark, Delaware, for a conversation about the biographer’s recent volume, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, a 416-page meditation on how enlightened political leaders, propelled by a civic-minded citizenry, have rescued America at its darkest hours. Meacham explained that the country’s soul “is not all good or all bad” but rather an abiding conflict between “our better angels” and “our worst instincts.” Two months before Biden announced his third run for the presidency, the intellectual underpinnings of the campaign were already in place. His ensuing candidacy was an exercise in moving Meacham’s thesis from the page to the stump: Biden cribbed Meacham’s book title for his campaign framing, a “battle for the soul of the nation,” and Meacham occasionally weighed in on the narrative and thematic elements of Biden’s major speeches. On today’s episode, listen to an exploration of how Meacham has lingered on as a sort of historical and spiritual adviser to a White House beset by crisis, written by Mother Jones reporter Kara Voght. This is our first in a biweekly Summer series of read-aloud investigations, produced by our partners at Audm. You can read Kara’s piece from April on


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

A Special Summer Announcement from the Podcast Team

After three years of weekly episodes—that’s 181 shows, if you’re counting—the Mother Jones Podcast team has decided to switch things up for the next couple of months, as we, like you, emerge from a year that has thrown up enormous challenges, journalistically, politically, and personally. It’s time for Summer! We’ve always strived to bring you the very best of our newsroom, and that includes the deeply reported stories and characters that our journalists to life. So, starting soon, we’re giving you more of the standout stories that aim to make sense of the world. We’re talking about the heroic families struggling to make it across the border, the champions of democracy who are fighting the GOP’s efforts to suppress voting rights, and the Washington, D.C. insiders who’d rather you not know much about them at all. Some of it will be fun, some of it will be serious, but we hope that all of it is clarifying: our best investigations, in an easy to access read-aloud form, produced by our storytelling partners at Audm. Think “audio book” for our long-form classics. It’s all work that we’re immensely proud of and excited to share with you in full. And the best part: you don’t have to do a thing. We’ll space them out, so instead of a weekly show, expect a biweekly update in your podcast feed. In the meantime, we’re hard at work thinking of big ideas to make the show even better. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming as Summer moves into fall. Until then, just sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the best of what our reporters have to offer.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Insurrection Was a Giant Recruitment Exercise for Extremists

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol wasn’t the start of something, nor was it the end. What happened on January 6 had been planned for weeks, and the ideology behind it, brewing for years. That day’s chaos was the moment in which a dangerous mix of far-right factions came together in a way that won’t be disentangled anytime soon. Even now, nearly five months later, there’s still so much to process and still so many questions to answer (especially as Republicans work to forget the deadly attack ever happened). So at Mother Jones, we’re continuing to unpack what led to that day and what has followed. In last week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, we brought you the story of an unlikely insurrectionist: Dr. Simone Gold, a Stanford-educated lawyer and emergency room physician who ended up on an FBI most wanted poster. And this week, with the help of Mother Jones disinformation reporter Ali Breland, we explore the historical foundations of modern political fringe movements, like QAnon, and consider how they are the outgrowth of paranoid conspiracy-mongering politics that have taken root across the US over the last century. We hear from a former Oath Keeper about why he joined and later left the extremist militia. We meet one of the overlooked characters who poured gasoline onto the fire leading up to the insurrection, someone whose online popularity with Gen Z extremists reveals why it is not necessarily the generation that will save us. Plus, we talk to experts about what’s ahead and how we may not know how widespread extremist groups actually are.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Doctor, Lawyer, Insurrectionist: The Radicalization of Simone Gold

As we approach the five-month anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the Republican Party has made one thing clear: They want to forget all about it—holding Trump and his big lie closer than ever. In the House, the party just kicked out a top leader, Rep. Liz Cheney, for calling out Trump’s lies and authoritarianism. Over in the Senate, Republicans are likely to stymie efforts to formalize a January 6 commission to investigate the attack. The GOP might be desperate to move on, but the Department of Justice—and the nation—isn’t. There are more than 400 cases working their way through the courts, in what has become the biggest counterintelligence operation since 9/11. Over the next two episodes, the Mother Jones Podcast team gives you a snapshot of where we stand, what history has taught us, and what's next in the hunt for the insurrectionists. On today’s show: the story of someone who might not fit your picture of an insurrectionist—and how she was radicalized so quickly. Dr. Simone Gold is a Stanford-educated lawyer and board-certified emergency room physician who ended up on an FBI most wanted poster. Guest host Fernanda Echavarri is joined by Mother Jones senior reporter Stephanie Mencimer, who charts Gold’s stereotype-busting rise from far-right media stardom to the steps of the Capitol on January 6. Her eventual arrest highlights not only the role of conservative media in fomenting an insurrection, but also illustrates what experts on extremism have long known: Education is no defense against radicalization.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Leaked Video: How a Dark Money Group Is Trying to Rig Our Elections

The right-wing dark money group Heritage Action for America claims to be the mastermind behind the recent fire hose of state-level voter suppression laws, a new Mother Jones scoop reveals. Mother Jones voting rights reporter Ari Berman joins Jamilah King to walk through the explosive video he obtained of Jessica Anderson, the head of Heritage Action and a former Trump administration official, bragging about having drafted and funded voter suppression legislation in eight battleground states: Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” Anderson says in the video. “Or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.” Over the next two years, Heritage Action, the sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, is planning to spend $24 million on efforts to pass and defend legislation that restricts voting. The video reveals the extent to which voter suppression laws are part of a coordinated campaign, funded by conservative special interest groups and dark money, to preserve GOP power by limiting voting. As of April 1, 361 voter suppression laws had been passed in this year alone. “The Heritage Foundation raised about $122 million in their most recent tax filing, and they don't have to disclose who most of those donors are,” says Ari. “The fact that you have dark money writing and organizing campaigns to pass voter suppression laws, that's really a double whammy when it comes to how our democracy is being undermined.”


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

“We’re Torn Apart”: Inside India’s Worsening COVID Nightmare

A Mother Jones investigation has found that hundreds of visa workers are stuck in India with no way to get back to their families in the United States. India is the in the midst of a shocking COVID-19 crisis. Health officials are reporting approximately 400,000 new cases a day. Hospitals are experiencing shortages of beds, oxygen, and medical supplies. Deaths are projected to reach 1 million by August. Sinduja Rangarajan, Mother Jones’ Data and Interactives Editor, has reported that hundreds of Indian-Americans are stuck in India, caught up in the United States’s May 4 travel ban. Some are unable to get their legal visas stamped at US consulates in India because they are closed due to the pandemic. “A lot of people who went to help their families and their parents who are dying of COVID, or who went to grieve for their parents, are effectively stranded in India,” Sinduja says on the podcast. Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced on May 5 that they are supporting a World Trade Organization resolution to waive vaccine patents in an effort to make vaccines more accessible and speed up inoculation efforts around the world. Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, joined host Jamilah King on the podcast to talk about the impact this decision could have on bringing the pandemic to an end. “The idea that we’re somehow hostage to these drug companies, that’s really not true,” says Baker. “If we can get vaccine production up and running in some of these countries in three, four or five months, that will still be an enormous help.” Make sure to check out more of Sinduja’s reporting on the unfolding crisis in India at


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

“Queen Sugar” Author Natalie Baszile: Black Farmers Can Help Save the Planet

Natalie Baszile knew she was onto something when she got the call from Oprah’s people. A novelist and food justice activist, Baszile had been working for years on a semi-autobiographical novel about a Los Angeles-based Black woman who is unexpectedly faced with reviving an inherited family farm in Louisiana. The book became “Queen Sugar,” was published in 2014 and, with Oprah’s backing, it debuted as a television series on OWN in 2016. It was executive produced by Oprah Winfrey herself and directed by Ava DuVernay. American audiences were getting an intimate glimpse into how reverse migration was reshaping Black life in America. Now, in a new anthology, Baszile is broadening her scope. In We Are Each Other’s Harvest, Baszile offers up a carefully curated collection of essays and interviews that get to the heart of why Black people’s connection to the land matters. Mother Jones food and agriculture correspondent Tom Philpott recently published an investigation called “Black Land Matters,” which explores how access to land has exacerbated the racial wealth gap in America. The story also takes a look at a younger generation of Black people who have begun to reclaim farming and the land on which their ancestors once toiled. In this discussion, host Jamilah King talks with Baszile about how this new generation of Black farmers is actually tapping into wisdom that’s much older than they might have imagined. This is a follow-up conversation to last week's episode, which took a deep look at how Black farmers are beginning a movement to wrestle with history and reclaim their agricultural heritage. Check it out in our feed.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Black Farmer Movement Battling History to Return to the Land

Agriculture was once a major source of wealth among the Black middle class in America. But over the course of a century, Black-owned farmland, and the corresponding wealth, has diminished almost to the point of near extinction; only 1.7 percent of farms were owned by Black farmers in 2017. The story of how that happened–from sharecropping, to anti-Black terrorism, to exclusionary USDA loans–is the focus of this episode on the Mother Jones Podcast. Tom Philpott, Mother Jones’ food and agriculture correspondent, joins Jamilah King on the show to talk about the racist history of farming and a new movement to reclaim Black farmland. You’ll hear from Tahz Walker, who helps run Tierra Negra farm, which sits on land that was once part of a huge and notorious plantation in North Carolina called Stagville. Today, descendants of people who were enslaved at Stagville own shares in Tierra Negra and harvest food from that land. Leah Penniman is another farmer in the movement. She is the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, and the co-founder and managing director of a Soul Fire Farm, a cooperative farm she established in upstate New York that doubles as a training ground for farmers of color. The campaign to reclaim Black farmland has received some political backing. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act in 2020, a bill that would attempt to reverse the discriminatory practices of the USDA by buying up farmland on the open market and giving it to Black farmers. The bill has received backing from high-profile on the left, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), though it is unlikely to get the votes it would need to override the filibuster and pass. On the episode, you’ll also hear from Dania Francis, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a researcher with the Land Loss and Reparations Project. When asked how about economic tactics for redressing the lost land and the current wealth gap, Francis suggests: “A direct way to address a wealth gap is to provide Black families with wealth.”