The Mother Jones Podcast
The Mother Jones Podcast
Mother Jones
Each episode will go deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. We’ll share with you our best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump's Russia connections), and informative interviews with our reporters and newsmakers. We're hoping to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter, told by us, the folks you trust for smart, fearless reporting.
A Special Announcement
Things have been a bit quiet around these parts lately, huh? After a few months bringing you some of our best feature investigations read aloud, in partnership with Audm, we’re going through some behind-the-scenes newsroom changes that will impact how we best serve you, our listener. We’re going to be taking some more time, off-air, to re-tool and recalibrate. Goodbyes are hard! But it’s not really a goodbye. It a “goodbye for now”. And Mother Jones journalism isn’t going anywhere. You can continue to listen to our incisive stories on Audm through their app and on our website. And, of course, there is a ton of beautiful multimedia journalism from our newsroom on Instagram, YouTube, and even on our new TikTok profile. We’ll pop up again here in the future, no doubt, but for now, from everyone on the team with love and appreciation: See ya, and thanks. —James West, Mother Jones Deputy Editor
Dec 3, 2021
2 min
Today It’s Critical Race Theory. 200 Years Ago It Was Abolitionist Literature.
We bet you’ve heard one phrase more and more this year than ever before: Critical Race Theory. It’s an obsession on Fox News, and it’s the topic, along with anti-mask protests, raging at school board hearings across the country—a new frontier in a roiling culture war. But what is Critical Race Theory? And how did it come to be used to whip up a new hysteria on the right? States are now racing to ban the teaching of CRT, many successfully, even while many of its fiercest critics can barely explain what it is. For this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, some much-needed history. Journalist Anthony Conwright argues that this current anti-CRT movement is part of a long standing war in America against Black liberation dating back hundreds of years. This compelling essay originally appeared in the September/October edition of Mother Jones Magazine. It is read aloud here by our partners at Audm.
Oct 29, 2021
14 min
Are These Black Leaders on the Cusp of a New National Movement?
With everything going on these days—we’ll spare you the list of existential crises we’re currently living through—now seems like the perfect time to hear from two leaders who have a revolutionary vision of what this country could be. Last week, in a special livestream event, Mother Jones reporter and columnist Nathalie Baptiste spoke to two fascinating politicians that may be on the cusp of a national movement. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is the youngest-ever mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. India Walton won a historic upset primary against a four-term incumbent and is the Democratic nominee for the mayor of Buffalo, New York. They are from two different cities—over 1,000 miles apart—but both of these young Black leaders have put forward progressive agendas that have been called “radical.” And right now, words like “radical” or “socialist” or “progessive” seem to have shifting definitions. For some, those words are interchangeable. So we hear from Mayor Lumumba and Walton directly: how do they define themselves? What do they consider the biggest obstacle to a robust socialist party in the United States? And this wouldn’t be a conversation during the years of the pandemic without finding out what, if any, guilty-pleasure TV shows are on their watch list. (Any Madam Secretary fans in the house?)
Oct 21, 2021
55 min
The Nightmare of Getting an Abortion in the South
A week ago, thousands of people turned out for Women's March rallies across the country, galvanized by Texas' recent six-week abortion ban and the very real fear that Roe v. Wade could soon be overturned, as challenges to the Texas law and another law in Mississippi wend their way to the Supreme Court and its 6-3 conservative majority.  But while the battle over the Texas law rages, and people rightfully worry about a world in which abortion access is no longer protected, women in Mississippi are already living it. In 2019, reporter Becca Andrews went to Mississippi to explore where Roe doesn't reach, meeting a young woman on a 221-mile journey to get an abortion beyond state lines. The Mother Jones Podcast team thought revisiting Becca’s piece provided compelling context for just how high the stakes are for people needing abortions in Texas right now, and more broadly, for the consequential decision in the hands of the Supreme Court. Listen to Becca's 2019 story, currently being expanded into a book, on this week's episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, produced in partnership with Audm. Note: Some facts on the ground have evolved since this story was first published in 2019.
Oct 9, 2021
23 min
Ammon Bundy Is Running to Be Idaho’s Next Governor
Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer has been following Ammon Bundy for years. He's the guy you'll remember who became a kind of folk hero on the far-right after he joined his father, rancher Cliven Bundy, in leading an armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada in 2014. Two years later, Ammon led the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which left one occupier dead. Bundy went to trial twice on criminal charges related to the standoffs but federal prosecutors failed to win a conviction. Now he’s a big-time celebrity activist and running for governor of Idaho. Shortly before the pandemic started, he created what has been dubbed “Uber for militias”—a kind of network that can summon armed protesters for all sorts of far-right gatherings, including anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests during the pandemic. He’s a messianic figure, and Mencimer wanted to understand what the appeal was. She found a complicated and very-American story about violence, religion, and public lands battles in the West. This in-depth profile was published in Mother Jones earlier this year, and reproduced in read-aloud form here by our partners at Audm.
Sep 16, 2021
1 hr
How Flint Closed the Gap Between Black and White Suffering Under COVID
As the Delta variant upended hope of returning to normal this summer, Mother Jones reporter Edwin Rios published a deeply reported story on Flint, Michigan, recounting how residents of this predominantly Black city have battled COVID-19 in spite of government distrust, neglect, and environmental catastrophe. But the pandemic isn’t Flint’s first crisis: In 2014, public officials implemented cost-cutting measures that led to dangerous concentrations of lead in the city’s water supply. Up to 12,000 children were exposed to contaminated water. Then-President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency. And in 2021, nine people—including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder—were indicted on criminal charges in the matter. A few years later, when COVID-19 barreled across the globe and vaccinations became a political flashpoint, Flint already had an infrastructure of outreach and support in place. Their water crisis wound up being a crash course in how residents learned to band together in a catastrophe—and shows how one community used a dose of social medicine to close the gap between Black and white suffering during a pandemic.
Sep 1, 2021
39 min
The Afghan Refugee Crisis Has Only Just Begun
Towards the end of 2020, Mother Jones’s editorial director Ian Gordon wrote a deeply reported story about how then-President Donald Trump took a broken asylum system and turned it into a machine of unchecked cruelty. America’s system for processing refugees and asylum seekers was effectively dead, he discovered, and the myth of national decency died with it. That the United States had long-standing commitments to asylum seekers under federal law and international agreements was of little consequence to Trump and his coterie of immigration hardliners. Even less compelling to them was the role asylum plays in the aspirational story of America that we have been telling the world for decades: that, in a country of immigrants, ensuring the safety of those fleeing repression and violence is our duty, and by welcoming them—by doing the right thing—the United States both fulfills its promise and distinguishes itself from all other nations. Since Mother Jones published that story in the November/December issue of our magazine, there’s been an election and the problem is now Joe Biden’s to fix. But the clean-up job just got so much harder. The government in Afghanistan has fallen after 20-plus years of US-led war, and its collapse and subsequent chaos has only underscored the United States’ deep moral obligation to allow refugees to settle here. But when, or if, they are finally allowed to begin this journey, they will encounter a system that has been politicized to the point of collapse. Ian’s story is especially relevant now, as the US meets one moral failing with another. So we’re presenting it in full as part of our Summer investigation series, co-produced by our partners at Audm. Make sure you stay to the end for a recent update to Ian’s reporting.
Aug 18, 2021
52 min
The Metamorphosis of Kyrsten Sinema
Every time you read the news lately, there she is: in conversations about bipartisanship, the infrastructure deal, the filibuster, even the fate of Joe Biden's presidency itself. But who is Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona? And what does she want to accomplish with her outsized influence on the passage of basically any law through the Senate, with its razor thin margins? For this week’s installation of our Summer investigation series, Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy takes a look at Sinema’s political evolution. As a progressive in one of the nation’s most conservative state legislatures, Sinema abandoned her early radicalism for a new theory of change. She learned to play nice, seeking incremental progress through careful messaging and across-the-aisle relationships, and reinventing herself as a post-partisan deal-maker. Now, for the first time in her career, she holds real power. With a giant infrastructure deal on the line, not to mention the future of her party and the Senate, the world is trying to understand what Kyrsten Sinema wants to do with it. This episode is produced by Audm.
Aug 4, 2021
50 min
CNN’s Jake Tapper Says the Media Must Confront Republicans’ Big Lie
Jake Tapper has drawn a line: no “Big Lie” proponents on-air. The CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent won’t book Republican politicians touting the conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. But when he’s not in front of the camera, Tapper enjoys blurring the lines between fact and fiction by crafting novels about real-life figures like John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. His latest book, The Devil May Dance, is a sequel to his bestseller, The Hellfire Club, which has been adapted into a TV series by HBO Max. During a live event hosted by Mother Jones’ Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in early June, Tapper discusses the biggest threats to our democracy—and how his experience covering those threats as a journalist informed his work as a historical fiction writer. This recording has been edited for length.
Jul 28, 2021
41 min
Escape From the Billionaire Meme Mogul
Sergey Grishin is a well-connected, billionaire mogul. Last August, he made headlines when he sold his lavish estate to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Grishin’s multiple US-based businesses include a social media company in California with more than 300 million Instagram followers, called 421 Media. But what those followers probably don’t know is that they’ve been helping to enrich a man who has been accused in court documents of harassing and abusing women. In fact, women in multiple countries have been living in fear of Grishin, and have documented years of evidence. Now, they’re going public. This episode is the latest installment of our read-aloud Summer investigation series. It was reported by MoJo’s Samantha Michaels and produced by our partners at Audm.
Jul 21, 2021
56 min
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