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The Ezra Klein Show

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Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.

Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.


United States


Vox Media


Ezra Klein gives you a chance to get inside the heads of the newsmakers and power players in politics and media. These are extended conversations with policymakers, writers, technologists, and business leaders about what they believe in and why. Look elsewhere for posturing confrontation and quick reactions to the day's news. Subscribe for the anti-soundbite.




Weeds 2020: The Bernie electability debate

Welcome to Weeds 2020! Every other Saturday Ezra and Matt will be exploring a wide range of topics related to the 2020 race. Since the Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders has become the clear frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary, spurring lots of debate over whether he could win in the general election. We discuss where the electability conversation often goes off-the-rails, why discussing electability in 2020 is so different than 1964 or 1972, the case for and against Bernie’s...


Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry

It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this is that kind of episode. Tracy K. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for it to simply tell me what...


Barbara Ehrenreich on UBI, class conflict, and collective joy

In the late 90s Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover as a waitress to discover how people with minimum wage full-time jobs were making ends meet. It turned out, they weren’t. Ehrenreich’s book Nickled and Dimed revealed just how dire the economic conditions of everyday working people were at a time when the economy was supposedly booming. It was a wake up call for many Americans at the time, including me who picked up the book as a curious college student. Since then Ehrenreich, a journalist...


What Donald Trump got right about white America

Hello! I’m Jane Coaston, filling in for Ezra. My guest today is Tim Carney, a commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In the wake of the 2016 election, Carney began traveling across the country and poring through county-level data in an attempt to understand the forces that led to Donald Trump’s victory. The culprit, he argues, is not racism or economic anxiety, it's the breakdown of social institutions. In his new book...


Ta-Nehisi Coates on my “cold, atheist book”

This one was a pleasure. Ta-Nehisi Coates joined me in Brooklyn for part of the “Why We’re Polarized” tour. His description of the book may be my favorite yet. It is, he says, “a cold, atheist book.” We talk about what that means, and from there, go into some of the harder questions raised not so much by the book, but by American history itself. Then Coates asked me a question I never expected to hear from him: Is there anything I could say to leave him with some hope? Don’t miss this one....


If God is dead, then … socialism?

Hello! I’m Sean Illing, Vox’s interviews writer filling in for Ezra while he’s on book tour. My guest today is Martin Hägglund, a philosopher at Yale and the author of This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I consider to be one of the most ambitious and important books in the last several years. We begin by discussing what it means to live a free and purposeful life without regret or illusion. For Hägglund, this life is all we have. There is no heaven, no afterlife, no eternal...


Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future

I’ve been a fan of Tim Urban and his site Wait But Why for a long time. Urban uses whimsical illustrations, infographics, and friendly, nontechnical language to explain everything from AI to space exploration to the Fermi Paradox. Urban's most recent project is an explainer series called “The Story of Us." It began as an attempt to understand what is going on in American politics today, and quickly turned into a deep exploration into humanity's past: how we evolved, the history of...


Jill Lepore on what I get wrong

Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on this show. But in this episode, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones. This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and...


Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional politics?

Tom Steyer has worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He made his billions running a hedge fund for decades before moving into progressive activism on causes like democratization, climate change, and impeaching Donald Trump. Now, he is running for president of the United States. Steyer’s primary message on the campaign trial is that we need to get money, lobbyists and corporate influence out of politics. At the same time, he is the living embodiment of much of what he thinks is broken...


Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)

The Why We’re Polarized book tour kicked off this week with a wonderful event at Sixth and I in Washington, DC. My conversation partner for this one was New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie. Our interview was great, and then the audience questions were so good we had to keep them in as well. We discuss: • Why things were far worse in the “golden age” of the 1950s and ’60s than they are today • Why the key question isn’t so much “why are we polarized?” as “why weren’t we polarized?” • Why...


Antisemitism now, antisemitism then

“The bad days are back” wrote Batya Ungar-Sargon in the Forward in December, “Orthodox Jews are living through a new age of pogroms. This week, as we celebrated the Festival of Lights, there were no fewer than 10 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area alone.” Antisemitism is occasionally called “the oldest hatred.” It thrums across continents and eras, finding new targets for old prejudices. But where, exactly, does it come from? Why is it such a hardy weed? And why does this era feel so...


Book excerpt: A better theory of identity politics

This is a podcast episode literally years in the making. It’s an excerpt — the first anywhere — from my book Why We’re Polarized. A core argument of the book is that identity is the central driver of political polarization. But to see how it works, we need a better theory of how identities form, what happens when they activate, and where they fit into our conflicts. We’ve been taught to only see identity politics in others. We need to see it in ourselves. If you’re a longtime listener, this...


The war on Muslims (with Mehdi Hasan)

With “reeducation" camps in China, religious disenfranchisement in India, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, street violence in Sri Lanka, mass shootings in New Zealand, the flourishing of far-right parties across Europe, and the mainstreaming of Islamophobia in America, there’s been a global surge in anti-Muslim bigotry — often supported by the full power and might of the state. It’s one of the most frightening and undercovered political stories of our time. Mehdi Hasan is a senior writer for the...


Post-debate special!

Vox's Matt Yglesias and I unpack the debate that did, and didn't, happen. Related reading: "Joe Biden will never give up on the system" by Ezra Klein "4 winners and 3 losers from the January Democratic debate" Vox Staff "The case for Elizabeth Warren" by Ezra Klein "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020" by Matthew Yglesias "Joe Biden skates by again" by Matt Yglesias "Elizabeth Warren’s new plan to reform bankruptcy law, explained" by Matt Yglesias "The Third Rail of...


An “uncomfortable” conversation with Cory Booker

There is a moral radicalism to the way Cory Booker lives out his politics. He lived for years in a housing project. He leads hunger strikes. He challenges political machines. He’s a vegan. He has a more ambitious policy vision than is often discussed. But beneath that is a far more radical ethical vision than he gets credit for. I think there’s a reason for that. When Booker turns his politics turn outward, they lose clarity. He shies away from drawing bright lines, his answers double back...


The conservative mind of Yuval Levin

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is the way we often conflate two very distinct things when we assign political labels. The first is ideology, which describes our vision of a just society. The second is something less discussed but equally important: temperament. It describes how we approach social problems, how fast we think society can change, and how we understand the constraints upon us. Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the...


How an epidemic begins and ends

Introducing season 3 of The Impact! The 2020 candidates have some bold ideas to tackle some of our country's biggest problems, like climate change, the opioid crisis, and unaffordable health care. A lot of their proposals have been tried before, so, in a sense, the results are in. This season, The Impact has those stories: how the big ideas from 2020 candidates succeeded — or failed — in other places, or at other times. What can Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to fight the opioid crisis...


Nathan Robinson’s case for socialism

“Socialism” is simultaneously one of the most commonly used and most confusing terms in American politics. Does being a socialist mean advocating for the complete abolition of capitalism, markets, and private property? Does it mean supporting a higher tax rate, Medicare-for-all, and Sen. Bernie Sanders? Or does it simply mean a deep hatred of systemic injustice and the institutions that perpetuate it? In his new book Why You Should be a Socialist Nathan J Robinson, the founder and...


How to topple dictators and transform society (with Erica Chenoweth)

The 2010s witnessed a sharp uptick in nonviolent resistance movements all across the globe. Over the course of the last decade we’ve seen record numbers of popular protests, grassroots campaigns, and civic demonstrations advancing causes that range from toppling dictatorial regimes to ending factory farming to advancing a Green New Deal. So, I thought it would be fitting to kick off 2020 by bringing on Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard specializing in nonviolent resistance....


Ask Ezra Anything

It’s here. The final AMA of 2019. Among the questions you asked: - If you believe that changing someone's mind about a topic, any topic is difficult, how do you function as a journalist? - What’s your opinion on capitalism? - What have you learned about yourself since being a dad that has surprised you the most? - You talk a lot about polarization. But it seems your audience leans liberal. So how do you reconcile that? - Do you believe in free will? - What’s your take on the left/liberal...