Libyan Migrant Disaster

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last week, a ship carrying more than 900 migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, killing nearly all aboard. The tragic incident has drawn international attention to the plight of African refugees, thousands of whom die every year attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. Mattathias Schwartz and Jon Lee Anderson join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis, its causes and its effects.


Wrongful Imprisonment

Thursday, April 16, 2015

“So many of the exonerees I met were offered various kinds of plea bargains or deals that they didn’t take because they just were not able to bring themselves to admit to a crime that they didn’t commit,” the New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy says on this week's Political Scene podcast. Levy joins her fellow staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman and the host Dorothy Wickenden to talk about wrongful imprisonment and prison abuse in the United States. They discuss New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to prevent people from being held for years without trial, the top-down culture of violence in correctional facilities, and the difference between how the criminal-justice system is supposed to work and how it works in practice. “There is a central tension in the job of a prosecutor," Gonnerman says. "Some people would say it is their job to seek justice for the victim, and some people would say the job is to get convictions and hit some sort of unofficial quota. That central tension is what you see at play in these cases.”


Sexual Assault on Campuses

Thursday, April 09, 2015

A discredited Rolling Stone article about an alleged sexual assault at the University of Virginia has reignited a national conversation about sexual assault and its coverage in the media. Margaret Talbot and George Packer join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the U.V.A. case, the Rolling Stone article, and the ongoing outcry over sexual violence on college campuses.


The Legacy of Reconstruction

Friday, April 03, 2015

Most Americans look back at Reconstruction as a blemish on our shared history—an era of oppression, corruption, and systemic racism. A hundred and fifty years later, though, the United States is grappling with many of the same issues that plagued our country during Reconstruction. Jelani Cobb and Eric Foner talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the ways in which Reconstruction still affects American life.


David Remnick and Nathan Thrall on Obama and Netanyahu

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected to a fourth term, after casting doubt on prospects for peace with the Palestinians, long a goal of the United States, and decrying President Obama’s nuclear dealmaking with Iran. This week, David Remnick and Nathan Thrall talk about the rocky relationship between Obama and Netanyahu and the possibility of a two-state solution.

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The Republicans and the Federal Budget

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The budget proposed by Senate Republicans this week lays out a plan to grow the middle class, one that couldn’t look more different from President Obama’s plan to grow the middle class. Jeffrey Toobin and John Cassidy join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what Democrats and Republicans have and haven’t learned about economics over the past thirty years.


The Rhetoric Of Inequality

Thursday, March 12, 2015

With primary season approaching, politicians on both sides of the aisle are speaking out about one of the biggest challenges facing the nation: the gulf between rich and poor. On this week's episode, Jill Lepore and George Packer join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the language that politicians are using to address economic inequality.


The View From Iran

Thursday, March 05, 2015

“President Rouhani came into office with a very clear mandate to address Iran’s isolation in the world and its relationship with outside powers, including the United States,” the New Yorker write Laura Secor. "The nuclear file is obviously the biggest piece of that.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before a joint session of Congress has made big waves in Washington and Tel Aviv. But how has the Prime Minister’s speech been received in Tehran? Secor joins fellow-writer Steve Coll and New Yorker executive editor Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the current international climate from the Iranian perspective.


The Immigration Backlash

Saturday, February 28, 2015

From the halls of The Department of Homeland Security to a courtroom in Brownsville, TX, the fallout from President Obama's immigration policy is being felt. Jeffrey Toobin and Ryan Lizza talk with Dorothy Wickenden about Obama's executive action and the backlash in Congress and the courts.


Israel and America’s Difficult Friendship

Monday, February 23, 2015

Have U.S.-Israel relations hit an all-time low? New Yorker editor David Remnick and writer Bernard Avishai talk with Amelia Lester about the strained relationship, negotiations on Iranian disarmament, and the impact of both for the upcoming Israeli elections.


Instability in Ukraine

Thursday, February 12, 2015

“There just isn’t the political will and the leverage to enforce a ceasefire,” the New Yorker staff writer George Packer says of the war in eastern Ukraine. “Without that reality on the ground, whatever is put on paper—a thirteen-point protocol in Minsk—sounds something like a fantasy of Hollywood. It’s just evanescent.” Packer joins fellow-writer Evan Osnos and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s episode of the Political Scene podcast to talk about the U.S. and Europe’s ongoing struggle against Vladimir Putin. They discuss Putin’s role in the separatists’ military initiative, the effects of the region’s instability on NATO, Angela Merkel's role as mediator, and the U.S.’s waning ability to keep violence under control. Of Obama, Osnos says, “Clearly he has no interest in seeing Vladimir Putin redefine the boundaries of postwar Europe. At the same time, he’s not willing to expend American blood and treasure to stop it.”


Fear of Vaccines

Friday, February 06, 2015

“Where is my child’s liberty if she is made sick by the freedom of someone else not to be vaccinated?” says New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter about the politics of falling inoculation numbers. Specter joins fellow staff writer Ryan Lizza and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to discuss the anti-vaccination movement and American hostility to science. The discuss the origins of suspicions about vaccines, the history of government responses to epidemics [​], the change in popular attitudes toward science during the George W. Bush Administration [], and President Obama’s inability to convince some Americans that vaccinations are safe for their children. “When he champions something, it polarizes the issue,” says Lizza. “If he says the sky is blue, people may start to question that.” ​


The Evolution of Islamic Extremism

Friday, January 30, 2015

On this week’s Political Scene podcast, the New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson joins host Dorothy Wickenden to talk about the current status of the war against Islamic radicalism. The two discuss the ways in which terrorism is expanding across the Middle East, the dystopian vision of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and the limited impact of ISIS’s defeat in the Syrian town of Kobani. “Once again they have been stopped on the Turkish border, but they have found ways in which to appear to be important,” says Anderson. “In this rarefied media world that we live in, what gets more headlines: The fact that ISIS was pushed out of Kobani or this horrific hostage situation with the Japanese journalist and the Jordanian pilot?”


Obama's Legacy

Thursday, January 22, 2015

“For obvious reasons, there was a lot of bragging in that speech and there was a lot of emphasis on the good economic news,” says Ryan Lizza about the State of the Union. Lizza joins fellow staff writer Hendrik Hertzberg and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about President Obama’s speech and how it might shape political debate during his last two years in office. They discuss what the President can accomplish without the support of Congress, the growing bipartisan agreement that income inequality is a major problem, and the likelihood that a failure to act on climate change will detract from Obama’s legacy. “Ten years from now, fifteen years from now, he may be seen as the guy who had the big chance to do something about the catastrophes now engulfing the world and didn’t do enough,” says Hertzberg.


After Charlie Hebdo

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In the early aughts, “there was a genuine panic about how capable Al Qaeda was of creating events on the scale of 9/11,” the New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll says. “The real capacity of the transnational jihadist movement is a lot more like what you saw in Paris.” Coll joins his fellow-writer John Cassidy and the host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the international campaign against Islamic extremism following the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. They discuss France’s difficulty in assimilating Arab immigrants, the evolution of terrorism over the past decade, and the use of secret warrants for surveillance under the Patriot Act. “Whatever policies we pursue, we’ve got to take a two-part approach: Are they going to be effective in the short term, but are they going to have counterproductive effects in the long-term, in generating a bigger flow of disaffected young Muslims?” Cassidy says.


Keystone and Congress

Thursday, January 08, 2015

“Keystone became a symbol, that if you could block this one project, maybe worldwide people would think twice before vigorously trying to extract oil from oil sands and similar projects,” the New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza says on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Lizza is joined by his fellow-writer John Cassidy and the host Dorothy Wickenden to talk about the politics of oil in the new, Republican-dominated Congress. They discuss Obama’s threat to veto the pipeline, the economic downsides of falling oil prices, and the reasons we won’t see a carbon tax. “I’m sure the Obama Administration is in favor of an energy tax. Most moderate conservative economists are in favor of it if you push them against the wall, but it’s the politics that has been seen as poison,” says Cassidy.

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A New Cuba

Friday, December 19, 2014

“There had been eighteen months of secret negotiations, seven meetings that took place in Canada, under the good offices of the Canadian government, and also by Pope Francis in the Vatican, to help make this happen,” Jon Lee Anderson says about the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Anderson joins his fellow New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the new relationship between the two nations. They discuss the differences between Raúl and Fidel Castro that made the agreement possible, the impact that Marco Rubio’s opposition could have on his Presidential campaign, and the diplomatic lessons we can draw from U.S.-China relations. “China today is still a one-party state. It’s not like Cuba is going to wake up next year and suddenly have freedom of expression, freedom of worship, rule of law, judicial independence, human-rights protections,” says Osnos. “We will still represent an oppositional political culture that is not going to be relieved just because we have this new, much more open economic relationship.”


The Torture Report

Saturday, December 13, 2014

“The stain from this scandal is one of the worst ever in the history of the C.I.A., and from my standpoint one of the worst in the country,” Jane Mayer says of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on C.I.A. interrogation tactics. Mayer joins her fellow New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll and Amelia Lester, an editor for the magazine, on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the report and its political significance. They discuss the unreliability of information obtained through torture and the unlikeliness of anyone being held accountable for the treatment of detainees. “I don’t think there’s any prospect of reviving criminal investigations in the United States,” Coll says.


Negotiating Climate Change

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Focussing on a very narrow set of countries, as we did in Kyoto, and looking for aggressive emissions cuts in the short term doesn’t do anything,” Robert Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at the Harvard Kennedy School, says about the international conference on climate change taking place in Lima this week. Stavins joins the New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week's Political Scene podcast to talk about the conference, which is the first of its kind since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. They also discuss the recent United States-China agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the evolution of the Republican Party's pronouncements on environmental issues, and the fact that climate change remains a second-order issue to the American public. Of this, Kolbert says, “While I really think we have to applaud the administration for saying, ‘this is the best we can do in a bad situation,’ as a country we have to ask ourselves, ‘Really, is this the best we can do?’ ”


Jeffrey Toobin and John Cassidy on Ferguson

Monday, December 01, 2014

“I think it would have been very difficult, maybe even impossible, to get a criminal conviction,” Jeffrey Toobin says of the grand-jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Toobin, who wrote this week about the prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s “document-dump” approach to the case, joins John Cassidy and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene to discuss the investigation, and how the issue of race plays out in the criminal-justice system. Of Darren Wilson’s testimony, Cassidy says, “He wasn’t challenged at any point … we don’t know how he would have held up on a witness stand.” They also revisit Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,’s 1995 magazine piece “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” about the jurors in the O. J. Simpson trial. Toobin says, “The jury system does rely on different people having different perceptions. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. The problem is when those perceptions are so clearly shaped by race.”​