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The Political Scene | The New Yorker


Join The New Yorker’s writers and editors for reporting, insight, and analysis of the most pressing political issues of our time. On Mondays, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, presents conversations and feature stories about current events. On Wednesdays, the senior editor Tyler Foggatt goes deep on a consequential political story via far-reaching interviews with staff writers and outside experts. And, on Fridays, the staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos discuss the latest developments in Washington and beyond, offering an encompassing understanding of this moment in American politics.


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Join The New Yorker’s writers and editors for reporting, insight, and analysis of the most pressing political issues of our time. On Mondays, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, presents conversations and feature stories about current events. On Wednesdays, the senior editor Tyler Foggatt goes deep on a consequential political story via far-reaching interviews with staff writers and outside experts. And, on Fridays, the staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos discuss the latest developments in Washington and beyond, offering an encompassing understanding of this moment in American politics.






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“Pod Save America” ’s Jon Lovett on Biden’s Accomplishments

Jon Lovett had been deep inside politics, as a speechwriter in the Obama Administration, before he joined his colleagues Tommy Vietor and Jon Favreau to launch Crooked Media, a liberal answer to the burgeoning ecosystem of right-wing news platforms. “There was too much media that treated people like cynical observers,” Lovett tells David Remnick, “and not enough that treated them like frustrated participants.” Crooked Media has gathered millions of politically engaged listeners—“nerds,” Lovett calls them—to “Pod Save America,” “Lovett or Leave It,” and other podcasts. But Lovett is more worried about voters who no longer get a steady stream of reliable political coverage at all, as local news outlets wither and platforms like Facebook downplay the sharing of news. “The vast majority of people do not know about Joe Biden’s accomplishments,” he says. “When they say to a pollster that this is not someone they view as being up to the job, they’re not . . . understanding how he performed in the job so far.” Lovett shares the widespread concerns about Biden’s apparent aging, but notes that his performance remains effective, whereas, “in Trump, the reverse: he is more energetic—I think the threat of federal jail time sharpens the mind!—but by all accounts is emotionally, psychologically, and mentally not up to the job.”


Do Democrats Have a Biden Backup Plan?

The Biden campaign has come out in full force against a special-counsel report that refers to the President as an “elderly man with a poor memory.” But, as the staff writer Andrew Marantz points out, this “October-surprise-level political stumbling block” may require a more substantial response if Democrats hope to recapture the White House in November. Marantz joins Tyler Foggatt to outline the issues the Democratic Party is facing right now, and discuss why one lesson from Lyndon B. Johnson may come back to haunt the President later. “There is just a fundamental cleavage within the coalition over what’s going on in Israel and Gaza the way there was with Vietnam,” he tells Foggatt. “I honestly don’t know what the ace-in-the-hole political move is here for him.”


Can Joe Biden Squash Concerns About His Age?

The Washington Roundtable: The special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, Robert Hur, released a report Thursday that describes the President as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Biden will not face charges for “willfully” retaining classified documents, but the report has reignited concerns about the President’s mental acuity. In a late-night press conference, Biden forcefully pushed back against the report’s findings, declaring, “My memory is fine.” But the incident could be “incredibly damaging” to the President, the staff writer Jane Mayer says, because people recognize it as “potentially true and potentially a giant campaign issue.” Another octogenarian politician, the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, also had a bad week in Washington. The long-awaited bipartisan deal on border security and Ukraine aid collapsed, with Senate Republicans turning on their own leader. The New Yorker staff writers Susan B. Glasser and Evan Osnos join Mayer to weigh in.


Why the Trump Ballot Case Is the Ultimate Test of Originalism

This week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that has the potential to remove Donald Trump from the ballot in Colorado, and possibly across the country. At issue is the Fourteenth Amendment provision that prohibits the leader of an insurrection from holding office, and whether the clause can be applied to Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore, along with other notable historians, wrote an amicus brief that contextualizes the law. “This court has made momentous decisions in the last few years, certainly in the last two decades, in the name of an originalist interpretation of the Constitution,” she tells Tyler Foggatt. “And the only originalist interpretation of the Constitution available to them in this case is that Donald Trump cannot run for President of the United States.”


The Last Real Legislative Battle of 2024

The Washington Roundtable: Prospects for the passage of a long-negotiated aid package that includes funding for Ukraine and Israel, and policy changes for the U.S. southern border, rapidly shrank this week, after the deal met resistance from House Republicans and former President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, President Biden’s approval rating on immigration has sunk to eighteen per cent. Why are Republicans simultaneously concerned about the crisis at the border while also stymying bi-partisan legislation to address it? The New Yorker staff writer Jonathan Blitzer, who is the author of “Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis,” joins the hosts Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos to weigh in on the implications that our knotted immigration politics have for the 2024 election.


Why You Keep Seeing Biden Falling on Instagram

If your Instagram Reels and TikToks are inundated with videos of President Joe Biden tripping or stumbling over his words, you’re not alone. Americans are increasingly tuning out the news and turning to social media for their political fix, and the online world is delivering an abundance of right-wing memes and misinformation. The New Yorker staff writer Clare Malone joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss our shifting media habits, why the 2016 election is surfacing in new contexts online, and how both campaigns are relying on algorithms to gain momentum ahead of November.


Introducing The Runaway Princesses, from In the Dark

The wives and daughters of Dubai’s ruler live in unbelievable luxury. So why do the women in Sheikh Mohammed’s family keep trying to run away? The New Yorker staff writer Heidi Blake joins In the Dark’s Madeleine Baran to tell the story of the royal women who risked everything to flee the brutality of one of the world’s most powerful men. In four episodes, drawing on thousands of pages of secret correspondence and never-before-heard audio recordings, “The Runaway Princesses” takes listeners behind palace walls, revealing a story of astonishing courage and cruelty. “The Runaway Princesses” is a four-part narrative series from In the Dark and The New Yorker. To keep listening, follow In the Dark wherever you get your podcasts or via this link:


The Oscar Nominee Cord Jefferson on Why Race Is So “Fertile” for Comedy

The writer and director Cord Jefferson has struck gold with his first feature film, “American Fiction.” Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jefferson, the film is winning praise for portraying a broader spectrum of the Black experience than most Hollywood movies. It’s based on the 2001 novel “Erasure,” by Percival Everett, a satire of the literary world. And Jefferson, who began his career as a journalist before branching out into entertainment, has long seen up close how rigid attitudes about what constitutes “Blackness” can be. “Three months before I found ‘Erasure,’ I got a note back on a script from an executive” on another script, Jefferson tells his friend Jelani Cobb, “that said, ‘We want you to make this character blacker.’ ” (He demanded that the note be explained in person, and it was quickly dropped.) Jefferson hopes that his film sheds some light on what he calls the “absurdity” of race as a construct. He finds race “a fertile target for laughter. … On the one hand, race is not real and insignificant and [on the other hand] very real and incredibly important. Sometimes life or death depends on race. And to me that inherent tension and absurdity is perfect for comedy.”


Biden’s Dilemma in the Israel-Hamas War

The Washington Roundtable: After more than a hundred days, the Israel-Hamas conflict appears to be approaching an inflection point. Pressure has mounted on Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to reduce military activity in Gaza and plan for an end to the violence. Meanwhile, Netanyahu remains committed to “total victory” and the elimination of Hamas, and President Biden, reportedly frustrated behind closed doors, has been left to navigate the fraught politics of the conflict in the United States during an election year. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, has travelled to Israel twice since the war began, and recently published “The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition.” Remnick joins the New Yorker staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos to weigh in on the political ramifications of the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East and within the Democratic Party.


How “the Élite” Became the Most Convenient Straw Man in Politics

Everyone loves to rail against the élites. But to whom does the term refer? For right-wing politicians and pundits, it’s the mainstream media and the Ivy League-educated. For progressives, it’s corporate honchos. The malleable language of élite-blaming makes it easy for the American public to talk past one another without addressing an underlying grievance: entrenched income inequality. The New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos has written about this fraught concept in this week’s magazine. He joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss his findings, and to consider the nuances of how they manifest in the political lives of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.


Pramila Jayapal on Biden’s Fragile Coalition

Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic representative and the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been sounding the alarm about President Joe Biden’s reëlection prospects. She fears that the fragile coalition that won him the White House in 2020—which included suburban swing voters, people of color, and younger, progressive-leaning constituents—is “fractured” over issues like immigration and Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza. Gaza in particular “is just a very difficult issue, because we don’t all operate from the same facts,” Jayapal tells David Remnick. “It is probably the most complex issue I have had to deal with in Congress. And I certainly didn’t come to Congress to deal with this issue.” But Jayapal sees a longer-term problem facing the Democratic Party. “The problem I think with a lot of my own party is we are very late to populist ideas,” she says. “The two biggest things people talk to me about are housing and child care. They saw that we had control of the House, the Senate, and the White House—and we didn’t get that done. And I can explain till the cows come home about the filibuster . . . but what people feel is the reality.” Of the political struggle that accompanied the President’s Build Back Better plan, she thinks, “A road or a bridge is extremely important, but if people can’t get out of the house, or they don’t have a house, then it’s not going to matter.”


Polling, Money, Trump Fatigue: Your 2024 Election Questions

The Washington Roundtable: The 2024 election season has kicked off. Former President Donald Trump took the Iowa caucuses in a landslide, and the New Hampshire primary is just around the corner. In recent weeks, The Political Scene’s listeners have sent in questions about American politics. Some themes emerged: How should the media cover a potential Trump-Biden rematch? Are polls reliable? How will fatigue and dread influence this election? “It’s not just the candidates; it's who’s behind them, who’s around them, what’s the money, what’s the religious organization, how does the media ecosystem work,” the New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer says. Susan B. Glasser and Evan Osnos join Mayer to answer these questions, and more. If you have questions about this political season you would like Glasser, Mayer, and Osnos to answer, please send them to


Where Does Ron DeSantis Go From Here?

On Monday, Ron DeSantis lost the Iowa caucuses to Donald Trump by thirty points, despite dedicating a great deal of his campaign funds and time to the state. Yet the Florida governor still insists he is in the 2024 Presidential race for the “long haul.” Sarah Larson, a New Yorker staff writer, calls Tyler Foggatt from Des Moines to discuss the meaning of these results, and the challenges of covering this unusually uncompetitive election.


How Donald Trump Broke the Iowa Caucuses

This time last year, Republicans were reeling from a poorer-than-expected performance in the 2022 midterm elections; many questioned, again, whether it was time to move on from their two-time Presidential standard-bearer. But Donald Trump is so far ahead in the polls that it would be shocking if he did not clinch the Iowa caucuses. The New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells and Robert Samuels have seen on the ground how much staying power the former President has despite some opposition from religious leaders and establishment power brokers. For MAGA voters, “The core of it is, ‘If Donald Trump is President, I can do anything I want to do,’ ” Samuels tells David Remnick. “ ‘I won’t have anyone . . . telling me I’m wrong all the time.’ ” Since 2016, Trump has honed and capitalized on a message of revenge for voters who feel a sense of aggrievement. Among evangelical voters, Wallace-Wells notes, Trump seems like a bulwark against what they fear is the waning of their influence. “To them, [Biden] is the head of something aggressive and dangerous,” he says. Susan B. Glasser, who writes a weekly column on Washington politics, takes the long view, raising concerns that we’re all a little too apathetic about the threats Trump’s reëlection would pose. “What if 2024 is actually the best year of the next coming years? What if things get much much worse?” she says. “Now is the time to think in a very concrete and specific way about how a Trump victory would have a specific effect not just on policy but on individual lives.”


The 2024 Primaries That Weren’t

The Washington Roundtable: With former President Donald Trump dominating the polls in Iowa and other early-primary states, this primary season looks like it may be brief and uncompetitive. “We’ll see what happens when the voters actually get a say, but it’s fair to say already that the political story of 2023 was Donald Trump’s consolidation of the Republican Party behind him,” the New Yorker staff writer Susan B. Glasser says. Meanwhile, President Biden, despite his low approval ratings, has had only “token” opposition inside the Democratic Party, Glasser says, referring to Dean Phillips of Minnesota, whose Presidential campaign has not gained traction. The New Yorker staff writers Jane Mayer and Evan Osnos join Glasser to discuss the absence of a competitive 2024 primary, the effort by some Democrats to test the waters rather than declare a campaign, and what the coming months may bring in this historic race for the Presidency.


Is Nikki Haley the G.O.P.’s Trump Contingency Plan?

On Monday, with the Iowa Caucus, the 2024 Presidential race officially begins. A year ago, Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and United Nations ambassador under Donald Trump, seemed like a longshot candidate. Now she appears poised to become the runner-up behind the former President. Antonia Hitchens, taking a break from her reporting in Iowa, joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss Haley’s unexpected rise and the unusual significance of second place in this Republican primary.


How the Journalist John Nichols Became Another January 6th Conspiracy-Theory Target

The veteran political reporter John Nichols was taking his daughter to the orthodontist on January 6, 2021, the fateful day when the transfer of Presidential power was temporarily derailed by a mob at the Capitol. On March 4th of this year, the former President Donald Trump is scheduled to stand trial for his actions on and around that day, and, in a court filing last November, his attorneys implied that the government is withholding information about whether Nichols, and others, had a role to play in the Capitol attack. This bizarre move not only thrust Nichols uncomfortably into the center of yet another January 6th conspiracy theory but raised some questions about the seriousness of the defense that Trump intends to mount in the case. “It looks like they’re throwing things at the wall,” Nichols tells David Remnick. “Just trying for dozens and dozens of possible conspiracy theories.” And, though Nichols has endured only teasing from his colleagues for getting name-checked in Trump discovery documents, he notes that many other journalists have been targeted and doxed by far-right actors. False allegations like the John Nichols conspiracy theory can be almost amusing, but they are a dire indicator of the state of American politics. “There are people who desperately want to drive the deepest possible wedges,” Nichols says. “To believe that those who disagree with them don’t just disagree with them but are actually evil.”


How Will January 6th Shape the 2024 Election?

The Washington Roundtable: Three years after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, the fallout continues to shape American politics, both on the campaign trail and in the courtroom. With Donald Trump leading the Republican field, conservative media outlets and the political right are trying to rewrite the story of January 6th—what the New Yorker staff writer Susan B. Glasser calls “one of the most remarkable acts of historical revisionism in real time that any of us has ever seen in American politics.” Meanwhile, the Biden-Harris camp has decided to put the ongoing threat to democracy and the fear of violent political extremism at the center of its campaign; Evan Osnos discusses the President’s first ad of the year, which features imagery from January 6th. How will the memory of that dark day shape the 2024 election? The New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer joins Osnos and Glasser to weigh in.


Ronan Farrow on the “Shadow Rule” of Elon Musk

One of the most read New Yorker stories of 2023 was Ronan Farrow’s investigation into Elon Musk—how the U.S. government came to rely on him, and why it’s now struggling to rein him in. With Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter (now known as X), Musk is deciding the future of the auto industry, the space race, and free speech. The reason for this, Farrow explains, is not Musk’s outrageous personality; it’s the structures of neoliberal capitalism that allowed a person like Musk to ascend. Read more by Ronan Farrow on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, Britney Spears’s conservatorship, and the Israeli surveillance agency Black Cube. This episode was originally published in August, 2023.


Dexter Filkins Reports on the Border Crisis

Dexter Filkins has reported on conflict situations around the world, and recently spent months reporting on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. In a piece published earlier this year, Filkins tries to untangle how conditions around the globe, an abrupt change in executive direction from Trump to Biden, and an antiquated immigration system have created a chaotic situation. “It’s difficult to appreciate the scale and the magnitude of what’s happening there unless you see it,” Filkins tells David Remnick. Last year, during a surge at the border, local jurisdictions struggled to provide humanitarian support for thousands of migrants, leading Democratic politicians to openly criticize the Administration. While hard-liners dream of a wall across the two-thousand-mile border, “they can’t build a border wall in the middle of a river,” Filkins notes. “So if you can get across the river, and you can get your foot on American soil, that’s all you need to do.” Migrants surrendering to Border Patrol and requesting asylum then enter a yearslong limbo as their claims work through an overburdened system. The last major overhaul of the immigration system took place in 1986, Filkins explains, and with Republicans and Democrats perpetually at loggerheads, there is no will to fix a system that both sides acknowledge as broken. This segment originally aired June 16, 2023.