WNYC Studios and The New Yorker presents
The New Yorker: Politics and More
A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
May 3, 2021
Three Women Who Changed the World
“The Agitators” is a book about three women—three revolutionaries—who changed the world at a time when women weren’t supposed to be in public life at all. Frances Seward was a committed abolitionist who settled with her husband in the small town of Auburn, in western New York. One of their neighbors was a Quaker named Martha Coffin Wright, who helped organize the first convention for women’s rights, at Seneca Falls. Both women harbored fugitives when it was a violation of federal law. And, after they met Harriet Tubman, through the Underground Railroad, Tubman also settled in Auburn. “The Agitators,” by The New Yorker’s executive editor, , tells their interlocking stories. “These people were outsiders, and they were revolutionaries,” Wickenden tells David Remnick. “They were only two generations separated from the Declaration of Independence, which they believed in literally. They did not understand why women and Black Americans could not have exactly the same rights that had been promised.”
April 29, 2021
This week, W. W. Norton announced that it would take two books by the writer Blake Bailey out of print, after accusations that Bailey has had a . The case has helped bring the struggle against sexual misconduct back into the cultural spotlight. The New Yorker staff writers , who wrote about Bailey, and , who has reported on sexual misconduct by , join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the state of the #MeToo movement in 2021.
April 26, 2021
The Children of Morelia
Refugees arriving at the southern border of the United States, and especially the unaccompanied children among them, are again in the headlines. A parent’s decision to send his or her chiId on an extremely perilous journey is difficult to comprehend, but war, violence, and hunger can be decisive factors. Nearly a century ago, a group of Spaniards put five hundred of their children on a boat and sent them across the ocean to find safety in Mexico. They were escaping the extraordinary brutality of the Spanish Civil War, and few ever saw their parents again. When they arrived, the conditions in the Mexican orphanage where they were placed were bleak. The youngest of those children was Rosita Daroca Martinez, just three years old; her first memory is of throwing her shoes overboard on the ship, because she thought the fish would need them. The writer and radio producer Destry Maria Sibley, who is Martinez’s granddaughter, tells her grandmother’s story and explains how the impact of the trauma she suffered resonated during her life and down through the generations.
April 22, 2021
The Politics of the Pandemic Oscars
This Sunday is the ninety-third Academy Awards. It’s been a trying year for the film industry, with the pandemic shuttering theatres and halting film productions. But the unusual circumstances have contributed to a remarkable crop of Oscar nominees. For years, , but are among the in Oscar history. Some have suggested that this year might be a turning point for Hollywood, though others have cautioned against assuming that a permanent change has occurred. , a New Yorker staff writer, joins the guest host Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what the 2021 Oscars tell us about the politics of pandemic-era Hollywood, and what the future of the movie business might look like.
April 19, 2021
Why Has China Targeted Minorities in Xinjiang?
“” is a expansive and detailed account of Xi Jinping’s policies against ethnic Uyghurs and Kazhaks in China’s northwestern region, which culminated in the detainment of a group estimated to number more than a million, in the largest civilian internment since the Holocaust. The staff writer tells David Remnick how Xi Jinping’s government used an obsession with what it calls stability, and a fear of separatism and terrorism, to justify a campaign of genocide. It involves forced cultural assimilation, mass imprisonment, and coercive measures to reduce the birth rate.
April 15, 2021
Enemies, Foreign and Domestic
This week, for the first time in more than two years, the directors of the D.N.I., C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., and D.I.A. appeared before Congress to testify about “worldwide threats” to the United States. They discussed Russia, China, Iran, and domestic extremists—and warned about the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and climate change. On the same day, President Biden announced , closing a twenty-year chapter in the War on Terror. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the matrix of threats facing the country, and how the Biden Administration is responding to them.
April 12, 2021
Louis Menand on “The Free World”
The postwar years were a true flowering of American culture. Even as the United States was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union, which culminated in the terrifying doctrine known as mutually assured destruction, the country evolved from a military and economic powerhouse into a cultural presence at the center of the world. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the globe. Painters came out of the long shadow of war-torn Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Thinkers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. This period, in all its complicated glory, is the subject of “,” by . Menand is a professor at Harvard University and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “,” from 2001. Menand talks with David Remnick about a time, as he writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”
April 8, 2021
Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending
promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These propose to the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. , a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real of the Administration.
April 5, 2021
Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
The investigative reporter recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.
April 1, 2021
In Minneapolis and Georgia, the Fight for Racial Justice Continues
This week, testimony began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing , in May of 2020. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests across the country and something like a new reckoning with systemic racism in America. But, while the Chauvin trial gets under way, sweeping new voting policies have been signed into law in Georgia, which critics say are designed to for people of color to cast their votes. joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, and how to think about the current wave of voter-suppression efforts across the country.