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




Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald

Marc Maron says he “didn’t know anything about anything” when he began working in radio. But producer Brendan McDonald can tell you the moment he knew Maron could be a radio star. It was during a morning show on the ill-fated Air America network, and then-host Maron was ranting about overcooked lentils. “The phones lit up,” said McDonald. The two went on to create WTF With Marc Maron, the podcast now known for intense interviews with comedians, many of whom Maron quarreled with in the past....

Duration: 00:35:27

Flags Tell Fibs

Some national flags are created to unify nations, but others are simply based on myths. The Danes believe God threw theirs from heaven, and the Catalonians tell the story of a severed arm dragged across a shield. Vexilloligist and author Tim Marshall joins us to explain these myths and the complex politics of national flags. Marshall’s new book is A Flag Worth Dying For. In the Spiel, a right-wing provocateur provokes often, but not well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...

Duration: 00:27:52

Falling for the Gambler’s Fallacy

If the roulette wheel keeps stopping on green, it’s bound to stop on red soon, right? It must be time for another round of “Is That Bullshit?” Maria Konnikova returns to debunk our ideas about probability and gambling. Konnikova writes for the New Yorker and is the author of The Confidence Game. In the Spiel, the Russian connection. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:25:35

The Stupid Genius of Dexter Guff

Thought-leaders build careers out of TED talks, inspirational quotes, and branded products. Dexter Guff is a big player in that space, teaching his listeners how to crush it every day. But Dexter Guff is not a real guy. His podcast, Dexter Guff Is Smarter Than You, is a satirical show starring actor Peter Oldring. Oldring explains the origins of the Dexter Guff character and the difficulties of executing dry humor. In the Spiel, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson sizes up Democratic Rep. Seth...

Duration: 00:34:45

Sarah Kliff on the Big Questions

You can’t get away from Obamacare news, and with each repeal effort there are familiar, wild-eyed claims from the law’s supporters and detractors. Will chipping away at the Affordable Care Act cause people to die? Did the health care law “bend” the cost curve? Did your taxes go up to pay for healthcare for the poor and the sick? Mike interrogates some of these pronouncements with Vox’s Sarah Kliff. Listen to her new weekly podcast, Impact. Pitchforks down, please: a Spiel about why New York...

Duration: 00:34:33

Why Now With the Weinstein Stories?

Why did it take years of reporting before any news organizations could nail down the Harvey Weinstein story? NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik says previously, the allegations received only “twilight” coverage. He considers why NBC might have whiffed on the Weinstein story, and how the network’s hard pass is being recast in conservative circles. Folkenflik is the author of Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires. In the Spiel, who was the star of the New York City mayoral...

Duration: 00:30:19

The Shia LaBeouf of Islam

What does it mean to be Muslim in the U.S. right now? Slate’s Aymann Ismail set out to understand, interviewing the founder of right-wing website Gateway Pundit, a former Muslim extremist, and his own family members, among others. What Aymann has learned so far has surprised him. His Slate video series is “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?” In the Spiel, jokes didn’t take down Harvey Weinstein. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:28:34

Oklahoma Is Not OK

Things are looking bleak in Oklahoma. Low taxes and slashed state spending mean schools, prisons, and even the state capitol building itself are failing. Russell Cobb, a native Okie, explains how his home state came to be so screwed up. In the Spiel, what’s so wrong with a gun registry? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:25:39

Made-Up Cabaret

Comedian Jason Kravits can write a Broadway hit, on the spot. That’s the premise of his improv cabaret show, where he invents tunes based on audience suggestions, such as “Yom Kippur” or “a Victorian sewer.” The show, Off the Top, is on the second Saturday of every month at the Duplex in Manhattan. His next show is Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. In the Spiel, the Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:27:27

Masha Gessen, Putin Whisperer

Masha Gessen returns to The Gist, this time to talk about her latest work, The Future Is History. Gessen uses the book to examine the ways in which post-Soviet Russia failed to process the traumas of totalitarianism. In failing to reckon with its past, did Russia doom itself to a bleak future? In the Spiel, the dearth of details in the Trump administration’s tax plan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:29:45

Facebook’s Data Monopoly

This week, we learned that Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted swing states during the 2016 election. Initially hesitant about sharing information with the government, Facebook finally gave in to avoid a deeper discussion on regulation, but tech companies have grown so big that it might be time for the government to step in. Journalist Franklin Foer explains how tech has become so powerful, and why it’s essential to be skeptical of technological innovation. Foer’s new book is World...

Duration: 00:28:40

You Poor Seoul

Has the military become more tolerant of collateral damage under President Trump? Why are there no good military options in North Korea? And who does it hurt when the president goes off-script about Kim Jong-un? Retired Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks has the answers. In the Spiel, the cost of paying constant attention to the president’s myriad sins and insults. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:27:44

The Presidency is Impossible

Before the Cold War, the president spent most of his time focusing on long-term problems facing the nation. But ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president has had to devote more time to immediate crises than overarching strategy. Author Jeremi Suri explains how the office of the president has changed so drastically—and whether there’s any way for occupants to succeed now. Suri’s new book is The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office. In the Spiel, more...

Duration: 00:29:14

The Rage Was Already There

On The Gist, we’re thinking about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the errors we make when we attempt to explain the motives of an attacker. Author Masha Gessen says it’s all part of our desire to reassure ourselves that we won’t fall victim to a bomb blast or a spray of bullets. “As soon as we find an explanation, we set it aside and we’re reassured that it’s not going to happen to us.” Gessen went in search of an explanation for the Boston Marathon bombing in her book, The Brothers....

Duration: 00:31:12

Kurt Andersen’s History of American Wackadoodles

Charlatans and magical thinkers aren’t new to this country; they helped shape it. So goes the thesis of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. Author Kurt Andersen joins Mike to consider religious quacks, the wackadoodles of the left and right, and the shrinking authority of the academy. Andersen is the host of Studio 360. In the Spiel, we’re long overdue for another Lobstar. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Duration: 00:36:05

Recentering American Politics

For the past 25 years, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution have been debating the meaning of presidential elections. But in 2016, they found themselves agreeing much more frequently on issues such as immigration, the tech industry, and tax reform. These men, on opposite sides of center, decided to develop a plan to recenter American politics. Galston and Kristol’s new project is the New Center. In the Spiel, a librarian rejected books donated...

Duration: 00:32:37

It’s Time to Rethink Puerto Rico

It’s time for Vexillology Corner: Last month, the city of Pocatello, Idaho, presented a new city flag to replace their previous one, known for being one of the ugliest flags in the United States. But what makes a flag ugly? Vexillologist Ted Kaye describes Pocatello’s new flag and reminds us why a kid should be able to draw it. Kaye is the author of Good Flag, Bad Flag. In the Spiel, a brief word from economist Tyler Cowen, who summarizes the grim outlook for Puerto Rico. Learn more...

Duration: 00:25:54

Mark Lilla’s Advice for Liberals

Mark Lilla made a lot of liberals bristle with his New York Times op-ed, “The End of Identity Liberalism.” But Lilla insists that what he’s suggesting should not make the bleeding hearts clutch their hemp necklaces in horror. His premise is simple: To make meaningful gains, Democrats need institutional power (i.e., election wins). And far too often, Lilla says, liberals have sacrificed such ends for what he calls “noble defeats.” Lilla’s book is The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity...

Duration: 00:30:59

David Litt is D.C. Funny

Working in the White House sounds impressive, but speechwriter David Litt says it’s not like The West Wing. Some days you just find salmon in a toilet, or have to tell the president that he looks like Hitler. Litt shares his experience as a self-described unimportant person working in the most important place in America. Litt’s new book Thanks, Obama is out now, and you can find him on Twitter. In the Spiel, it’s a sports talk hot take. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...

Duration: 00:30:23

2007 Defined the Next Decade In Pop

The chart-topping hits of 2007 featured Beyoncé at peak pop and Kanye West ahead of the curve with electronic dance music. Why do the hits of 2007 have such impressive staying power? Chris Molanphy says it might be because the 2007 Billboard charts were more comprehensive than ever, marking the first time that digital music sales were incorporated into a song’s ranking. Molanphy writes Slate’s Why Is This Song No. 1? column and hosts the podcast Hit Parade. In the Spiel, John McCain just...

Duration: 00:27:40

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