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Left, Right & Center


Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.

Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.


Santa Monica, CA





Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.




1900 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-450-5183


A political dynasty falls

This week, Congresswoman Liz Cheney lost her Wyoming primary to Harriet Hageman, a Trump-endorsed attorney, ending a political dynasty. Her defeat by more than 37 points was one of the largest losses by a House incumbent, despite her conservative voting record. Cheney previously voted against restoring parts of the Voting Rights Act, expanding the Affordable Care Act, and impeaching Trump the first time. But the GOP and the Wyoming Republican Party noisily separated from Cheney after she...


FBI seizes Trump’s files. Trump wins 2024 GOP nomination?

This week, the FBI executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, breaking into his safe, and seizing several boxes of presumed classified documents that he allegedly took from the White House when his presidency ended. Then, a federal appeals court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee is allowed to look at Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 — something Democrats tried doing for years. New York Attorney General Letitia James also deposed Trump under oath — in...


It was a good week for election deniers

It was a good week for election deniers. Several Trump-backed candidates sealed primary wins in Arizona, Michigan and Missouri. This includes businessman Blake Masters, who’s vying for a Senate seat in Arizona and identifies as part of the “New Right.” Plus, Eric Schmitt won the GOP primary for Senate in Missouri. Both Masters and Schmitt have falsely denied the 2020 election results. Meanwhile, the Democrats are hoping that a far-right candidate will be easier to beat in the November...


Manchin says yes to Dems’ climate bill. What about rest of Congress?

Just when things looked bleak for Democrats’ agenda, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin finally decided to back a $369 billion climate and tax package. Lawmakers are racing to pass several bills before the August recess, and Senate Democrats are hopeful that they will be able to pass a reconciliation bill now with Manchin’s support. If both chambers of Congress green-light the reconciliation bill, it could change the whole conversation on the campaign trail in the coming weeks. But what’s...


Rioters were invading Capitol, Trump was watching the telly

What happened during the 187 minutes between the time Trump left the Ellipse, the park near the White House where he urged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol — and when he was at the Rose Garden, urging those supporters to go home after the insurrection? This week, the January 6 House Select Committee gave a play-by-play of what Trump was doing at the time. It turned out that he was watching TV in the White House dining room, according to testimony in the hearing. He never called...


Trump 2024? Whether Jan. 6 revelations could affect voter support

Food, health care, and rent are all going up, but wages are not. There’s tiny relief in gas prices finally dipping this month, and job gains are better than expected. However, Americans are still worried about a looming recession. Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses President Biden’s response to inflation and the threat of a recession with Elizabeth Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, on the left; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right. Plus, the January 6 Select...


How much does an unpopular Biden hurt Democrats?

The overturning of Roe V. Wade and recent mass shootings continue to cast a shadow over American politics. President Joe Biden has been reacting to those and other domestic problems with an incremental approach, and many Democrats find that too slow. More and more of them are publicly expressing their frustration. How much will this hurt Biden politically? Guest host Gustavo Arellano discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner and senior fellow at the American Enterprise...


Supreme rulings from the Supreme Court

This week, the Supreme Court wrapped up its term after issuing opinions that dramatically alter Americans’ abilities to confront climate change, our constitutional rights, and faith in the high court itself. Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr talks rolling back the EPA’s power with Christine Emba, columnist and editor at the Washington Post, on the left; Sarah Isgur, staff writer and host for The Dispatch, on the right; and special guest Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve...


Is this bipartisanship?

This week, bipartisanship emerged in the Senate, where 14 Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with a gun safety bill. What should we make of this latest effort? Guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr talks gun politics with David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospect, on the left; and Sarah Isgur, staff writer and host for The Dispatch, on the right. Republican election officials appeared before the House Select Committee investigating January 6 to detail how they stood...


‘A legally and morally bankrupt idea’

In its most recent hearing, the House Select Committee recounted all the ways former President Trump tried to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into doing what he wanted: to illegally stop the electoral vote count and overturn the election. The committee says Pence’s life was endangered. Advisors to Pence are just the latest voices from Trump’s world to join the House Select Committee in painting a full picture of how close the country came to a constitutional crisis. Guest host Gustavo...


Biden wants diplomacy on migration, but excluded key countries from Summit of Americas

President Joe Biden came to Los Angeles this week to host the Summit of the Americas, an event that’s supposed to bring together leaders from across the Western Hemisphere. But the agenda was overshadowed by the list of world leaders who were excluded or who boycotted, including Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Mexico, and more. Biden’s looking to make diplomatic progress on migration and the economic devastation and violence that drives it. Can he succeed? Voters went to the polls across the...


Who could lead gun violence reform? Your little ones

A bipartisan group of senators is working to find gun control legislation that could make it through Congress. Ideas are being tossed around, like raising the age requirement for buying a gun. To date, Republicans on Capitol Hill have not been interested in passing any gun control measures. Is there hope for a bipartisan compromise? * * Guest host Gustavo Arellano of the LA Times joins from the left — with Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch, on the right, and Tara Setmayer, senior...


Horror and dismay — again

On May 24, an 18-year-old opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults. The nation responded in horror and dismay that a school shooting happened again. There have been 212 mass shooting incidents in 2022, and the U.S. has the world’s highest number of mass shootings, according to the World Population Review. Can politicians agree on reforms that could decrease the catastrophic number of such incidents in the U.S.? Guest host Jessica Yellin of...


The mainstreaming of white supremacy

This week, the nation witnessed another mass shooting. The gunman live-streamed the attack in which he specifically targeted Black people. Police soon uncovered the shooter’s racist manifesto and his inspiration from “the Great Replacement Theory.” Did this act result from mental illness or racism? The majority of Americans believe in some form of gun control but once again, Congress is at an impasse. What is it going to take to implement change? Also, the shooter found information about...


What makes voters Tik(Tok)?

The Senate has stymied a vote intended to secure nationwide abortion rights. Democrats knew this would happen – so why did they introduce the bill at all? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was a way to get every member on record about their abortion stance. It also shored up support for Democrats ahead of a hotly contested midterm election. How can Democrats motivate their base when they face so many structural obstacles to their policy goals? Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News...


What’s after Roe v. Wade?

It’s a historic week in Washington: A leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Americans have reacted with shock and elation, and a post-Roe reality might come this summer. How will an increasingly polarized abortion debate fare against states’ rights? And could Roe’s reversal have radical implications for other rulings on privacy, like gay marriage? Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney,...


A $44 billion edit button

Is it doom or salvation for the Twitterverse now that Elon Musk is poised to take over? He seems to want “maximum fun.” What does that mean for politics, free speech, and Twitter trolls? Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Liz Bruenig, staff writer at the Atlantic, on the left. Also, the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid. That’s the title of an essay in The Atlantic by...


Mask on, mask off

The CDC sent the DOJ an SOS over masks this week. If that sounds like incomprehensible alphabet soup, just know that wearing a mask is up to you. Is the federal government doing enough to protect Americans from COVID? Is a laissez-faire approach to masking best? And how can we bring ever-changing science into policy without alienating voters? Guest host Jessica Yellin of “News Not Noise” discusses with Tim Carney, columnist at the Washington Examiner, on the right; and Christine Emba,...


Evil? Confirmed. Genius? Not so much

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now a “genocide,” at least according to President Biden. That’s one of the strongest accusations against Putin we’ve heard from Biden, who’s been (mostly) carefully wording his statements to avoid triggering an already bristly Russian leader. That change in rhetoric also comes with new bids to join NATO from Sweden and Finland. With the West seemingly firmly united against Russia, could Biden’s words further escalate the conflict? And could Russia’s...


A historic confirmation

Ketanji Brown Jackson can officially put “Supreme Court Justice” on her resume this week, as three Republicans joined Senate Democrats to confirm the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Jackson will replace soon-to-be former Justice Stephen Breyer, who will retire in the summer. The vote, historic though it may be, was also largely expected despite the furore of the confirmation hearings – especially since it wouldn’t affect the ideological balance of the court. So, why only three...