I haven't written one of these for awhile, so why not? Anyone who reads here will have noticed that I consume a lot of books in audio form. Of late, I've found myself "reading" quite a few serialized podcasts.
was, after all, what built the emerging magazine culture of the late 19th and early 20th century. Podcasts are another booming new form of media, still finding its potential and consequently still often imaginative. I don't go looking for serials, but the same outfits where I find weekly podcasts seem to be producing them. Obviously, their creators believe the extended format gives them additional tools with which to explore their topics.
Last year I enjoyed FiveThirtyEight's The Gerrymandering Project,
which explored and explained this moderately technical subject as six podcasts over six weeks. Anyone looking for a solid explantion of an important political challenge should listen up.
Also last year, I listened to fourteen episodes of The Wilderness
from Crooked Media, which offered Jon Favreau and the other Obama boys' take on how the Democratic Party lost its way before and after the 2016 election. Since this has been very much my subject over decades, I found it uneven, though ambitious and more broad than I had expected. It was meant as fodder and encouragement for mobilization for the 2018 elections and probably served its purpose well.
These days I'm on episode three of The Asset
from The Moscow Project. It explains "Trump's history with Russia, from his extensive business dealings with Russian oligarchs to his presidential campaign and the investigations that have sent some of his closest associates to prison." Three episodes in, I'm appreciating the orderly narrative structure they are giving to previously reported events and connections. That's vital storytelling.
A miscellany of podcasts I often listen to:
Press the Button
: National security from the point of view of people who know that war will not make us safer.
: All policy all the time. Matt Yglesias is snotty and jaded, but insightful. Dara Lind is simply the best immigration reporter around. Jane Coaston brings genuine familiarity with right wing opinion.
Ezra Klein Show
: Klein has been writing a book on what the hell is going on with our dysfunctional politics; his resulting interviews with all sorts of thinkers including conservatives who aren't mouth-breathers have been fascinating. He's very good at conversation. I don't find him so interesting when his explorations shift to woo-woo stuff, but your mileage may vary.
The Lawfare Podcast
: Sometimes stuffy and pretentious, other times a thought-provoking offering from the legal website at the Brookings Institution. They are good at presenting recordings of smartly abridged Congressional testimony -- there are few experiences quite like listening to Michael Cohen while running.
Deep State Radio
: Informed, charming, slightly miserable commentators commiserate about the condition our condition is in. David Rothkopf, Rosa Brooks, Kori Schake, and Ed Luce are the core.
Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick
: All things Supreme Court. Informative.
Politics Podcast at FiveThirtyEight
: Data guru Nate Silver, reporter Clare Malone, and a revolving cast of others kick around what can be discerned about election horseraces. They are usually dispassionate and often accurate.
The Good Fight with Yascha Mounk
: A global exploration of "populism" from a European-inflected political science perspective.
: Yascha Mounk is here too, along with journalists Virginia Heffernan and León Krauze. Interviews about all things Trump and US politics and culture with interesting guests. Short, which sometimes entertaining, sometimes encouraging.
On the Media
: Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield were in radio before podcasts were cool and these fully produced explorations of whatever catches their left-leaning, often skeptical fancies achieve unmatched journalistic professionalism -- at least in this list.
With Friends Like These
: Ana Marie Cox is self-revealing, oh-so-woke -- and sometimes wise, while presenting a diverse cast of guests. I think she benefits from having escaped the nation's media hubs by decamping to Minneapolis.