This week on All Ears Abby invites us all to take a break from ongoing election shenanigans and enjoy a lively interview with musician David Byrne, whose eccentric musical stylings as the former Talking Heads frontman catapulted him into a multi-faceted career as an artist across many modes of expression. He’s written books, designed art installations, created journalism projects, and last year adapted his acclaimed concert tour, American Utopia, for Broadway. He and Abby look back at his remarkable journey and talk about some of the ways art pushed him to grow as a person, giving him perspective on some of his youthful, broad critiques of middle class American values. These insights led him to some revelations about his earlier work that manifest with a kind of joyful, percussive melancholy in American Utopia. Spike Lee filmed the show right before COVID hit in March, preserving a mood that seems like a perfect fit for these times. Lee’s filmed adaption of American Utopia is currently screening on HBO Max.
On the heels of historic voter turnout in Georgia, Abby revisits her interview with Stacey Abrams back in July. In that conversation, Stacey outlined her bold strategy to fight voter suppression and educate communities about voting. And her work bore fruit, with Georgia flipping blue for the first time in a presidential race since 1992. Recounting her upbringing in Mississippi, the former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader describes the powerful example of citizenship and activism her parents set for their SIX children, as activists and citizens, even as they had struggled their whole lives for fair access to education, employment opportunities, and the voting booth. Oh, and when Abrams isn’t saving our democracy, she’s got a side hustle as a romance novelist.
Join us this week for an All Ears rapid response to Election Day 2020! Awash in uncertainty the morning after election day, Abby talks with Anand Giridharadas, the journalist whose unsparing criticisms of the liberal establishment have themselves made headlines. Abby and Anand consider Trump’s popularity with voters and why it’s such a bitter pill for liberals to swallow. They talk about how neoliberalism has put mainstream Democratic leaders at risk of losing blue collar workers. Anand says Joe Biden’s two political personas help explain how the party has lost credibility. There is “Scranton Joe” (the small town, working class defender of the little guy) and “Delaware Joe” (the corporate-friendly elite catering to powerful donor constituents). And, although toxic masculinity as modeled by Trump still holds strong, Anand does express hope about how the needle has moved on race, leaving Abby a bit more optimistic than when the conversation started.
This week we have a very special episode of All Ears. Breaking from our usual format, we’re reacting in real time to the late night swearing in of the latest Supreme Court justice, Amy Coney Barrett. Abby’s guest this week is Reverend Robert Schenck, an evangelical minister and former prominent anti-abortion activist, who for decades was at the center of the conservative efforts to criminalize abortion and strike down Roe v. Wade. To his regret, those efforts came closer to fruition this week with the long-sought manipulation of the nation’s highest court to reflect an extreme conservative tilt. Describing himself now as a “menace” to vulnerable women during his years of activism, Rob has renounced his work as an anti-abortion crusader, admitting that he was part of a group that in 1995 paid Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe) to say that she had changed her mind to come out against abortion. For this All Ears, we air a previously unreleased interview from this past summer between Abby and Rob, where they discuss the origin of their unusual friendship five years ago, the process of setting aside political and religious differences, taking emotional risks to build trust, and how Abby’s experience of sharing her own abortion story shifted their friendship and played a part in Rob’s ideological reversal. Then Abby checks in with Rob by phone after Coney Barrett’s installation to the Supreme Court to react and reflect on the moment, and how they plan to move forward, both personally and politically, with hope and action.
This week on All Ears, Abby is joined by Emmy and Peabody-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, whose work on issues that affect the Latinx community has brought her both acclaim and scrutiny. As an intrepid reporter at places like CNN and PBS, as well as the first Latina correspondent at NPR, Hinojosa has long challenged what she sees as the typically inequitable race, gender, and cultural narratives told by these venerable but monolithic institutions. And yet her spirit is unbroken! Hinojosa is a funny, warm, and engaging guest, and she and Abby banter and gossip as well as take on heady topics like immigration reform, overcoming imposter syndrome, and the agenda behind labeling women “angry”. Also, there’s an epic takedown of CNN’s Lou Dobbs you won’t want to miss.
All Ears is kicking off Season 2 with comedian Samantha Bee. As the host of Full Frontal on TBS since 2016, and as a correspondent on The Daily Show for 12 years prior, Sam has been skewering politicians, culture, and society’s sacred cows for the better part of two decades. And she’s really good at it! Abby talks to Sam about growing up in Canada with a Wiccan mom, an atheist dad, and a serious schoolgirl crush on Jesus. Sam describes her journey from pre-law student to comedian, and how the platform of late night news satire became the new face of journalism in modern American politics. Along the way Sam developed a spine of steel, her own show, and a sense of responsibility to tell underreported stories and collaborate with show staffers who represent diverse racial, economic, and gender viewpoints. Did we mention she’s funny? Yeah, that too!
“ALL EARS with Abigail Disney” is back for Season 2! With the 2020 election season and lame duck session - whatever it may bring - as our backdrop, Abby is excited to talk to people she considers "troublemakers". These are the folks whose work as writers, artists, politicians and activists push back with imagination and courage against the status quo. We'll be intertwining big ideas and personal stories about gender, class, and race, and how we can take action to make changes in our cultural and political landscape. However this chaotic political story shakes out, Abby will have some great thinkers to help us navigate.
This week All Ears brings you a special bonus episode: Abby couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to author Mary Trump about her new book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man”. As like-minded mavericks, Abby and Mary discuss what it’s like to stand up to a wealthy American family empire from the inside, and the friction and drama that results. Mary brings a gimlet eye to the Trump family mythology, and deconstructs the brutal dynamics that destroyed her father, Fred Trump Jr. (Donald Trump’s elder brother). As Mary relates in vivid detail, the Trump family patriarch, Fred Sr., pitted the five Trump siblings against each other, and Donald emerged as the ruthless victor by emulating Fred Sr.’s narcissism and sociopathy, while Fred Jr. died at 42 from complications of alcoholism, broken by years of emotional abuse at the hands of his father. This is an interview you won’t want to miss!
This week on All Ears Abby welcomes Professor Rebecca Henderson, who teaches about innovation, corporate culture change, and ethics at Harvard Business School. Her class, “Reimagining Capitalism”, is one of HBS’s most popular classes, and she says that the majority of her students tend to believe that capitalism is broken. But Professor Henderson tells Abby that capitalism is a fundamentally moral enterprise, albeit one that needs to be held in delicate balance with a strong society and a democratically accountable government. They discuss the dramatic pivot point created by the charismatic economist Milton Friedman in the early 1970s. According to Professor Henderson, Friedman’s fervent free market beliefs created the moral, political, and legal arguments for abolishing ethical boundaries in business practices in the name of maximizing profits. Then, using their political clout, unchecked business leaders spend the next decades undermining protections for workers, healthcare, infrastructure and the environment. Professor Henderson urges listeners to lean into their power as consumers and voters as the engine of business cultural change.
"This week on All Ears Abby talks to author and commentator Heather McGhee. Heather is a distinguished senior fellow at the progressive think tank Demos, where she also served as president for four years. Heather argues that the economic, intellectual, and societal costs of racism affect not only its victims but also its perpetrators. She tells Abby that America’s White middle class grew after WW2, with help from Federal housing subsidies, education grants and other benefits that were largely denied to Black Americans. Once Black Americans began demanding equal treatment, many of those programs were simply dismantled. This kind of racism, McGee tells Abby, cost everyone. Abby and Heather also delve into the political theft of Reconstruction, whether American racism is unique, the misogyny of libertarianism, and if the Karen memes are a harbinger of a backlash on feminism. Heather’s heavily anticipated book, The Sum of Us, is due out in early 2021."