The Weeds
The Weeds
via Podcasts
Right? Not right.
Seems as though too many people use the word ‘right’ and ‘you know’, to the point of excess and into annoying.
How did it go so far off the rails?
I have been a fan of this podcast since at least 2016 when it stood out from the crowd for its critical thinking, deep dives into complex issues, and discussions of intriguing white papers. In its first iteration, you always had the sense that the hosts—Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Dara Lind, and Sarah Kliff—had meticulously researched their topics rather than relying on Twitter or the media narrative of the moment. I also felt that, while the hosts themselves had fairly openly left-leaning views, they nonetheless strove to present issues as objectively as the could and generally tried to avoid relying too heavily on opinions that couldn’t really be supported except through moralistic appeals. I’ve held on and continued to listen to the show through many changes of hosts and all the upheaval at Vox. I think I’m finally turning in my card after the recent Affirmative Action episode. While I support Affirmative Action in hiring and admissions to various degrees, the whole presentation of the subject was so biased and just disingenuous it really left a terrible taste in my mouth. Aside from essentially equating any opponent of the policy to white supremacists, the podcast also minimized the data Harvard was forced to release in which they systematically downgraded the “personality” scores of applicants of East Asian descent. Moreover, they began the historical discussion of these policies with the civil rights movement, employing an out of context MLK quote in a totally bogus way, conveniently neglecting the checkered origin of “holistic admissions” as a means of minimizing the number of Jewish applicants that Ivy League universities would have been forced in a system based solely on aptitude testing. There was also little to no reckoning with the fact that Affirmative Action has become democratically unpopular across all demographic groups, including 60% of Black Americans who oppose race being a consideration in admissions. At this point, considering race in college admissions has about an identical degree of support and disapproval as the use of legacy admissions (about 5-7% approval for each as a major factor in admissions, and about 75% of Americans saying that both should “not be a factor” in admissions). There are good cases to be made for racial preference in admissions and hiring, but the notion that this is self-evident to anyone but a blatant racist is ridiculous. It’s all just a shame because this really was a great show that seemed to avoid some of the more divisive elements of political debate by drilling down to the facts and embraced complexity. Now it seems to have all the journalistic integrity of Fox News, but just on behalf of the other team.
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17 May 2023
The US has a huge new child immigration population. Most of these are ESL and high school students. They may have a large payment to pay for their immigration costs and are often feeling obliged to send monies home to their families. Unfortunately, a lot of these children are being forced into the workforce by their own families…
I want to keep loving the Weeds
JQ is a delightful young reporter but simply doesn’t have the tenure in this work to bring the kind of nuanced and referenced thought partnership that prior hosts have contributed to the show’s dynamic. This is not a failure of JQ or other who join the show; this is a failure of Vox to be a compelling place for tenured reporters and thoughtleaders to congregate since its founding class has moved on. Vox has become a de facto incubator for reporters who intend to eventually end up at large national outlets and/or writing books. No shade to Vox for taking on that role in the media ecosystem, but it does mean that a show like this, which relies on relatively experienced hosts connecting current events to trends and prior data, flounders. It was by definition wonky and in the weeds as the title suggests, and the current set up just sets a newer reporter up for failure unless they happen to be a political historian on top of being a good journalist.
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not what it used to be
Unfortunately, the new host (Ms. Hill) has a very limited understanding of the subjects covered on the podcast, so the episodes rise and fall on how clearly and intelligently the guests can explain a subject. Do not expect probing or clarifying follow-up questions from the host.
Ezra, Sarah, Dara, Jane, Matt were incredibly insightful hosts and always brought a deep dive into wonky topics. Dylan, Jerusalem, and German clearly had less experience and gave a slightly less serious tone, but still brought a lot of insightful and useful conversations. Then at some point without notice this became a completely different show under the same name, but bearing more resemblance to Vox’s Today Explained than it did to the Weeds of before. For many months now it has been a surface-level explainer and interview show. Bring back the white papers! Bring back Dylan (and Dara or anyone else if willing). Bring back the nuanced conversations and difficult debates, not just an explanatory narration or question-and-answer interview format.
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Feb 1 episode
Very shabby job on the housing discrimination episode. The host and guest dishonestly elide the distinction between de facto and de jure segregation.
James Tripoli
Used to be awesome now it’s terrible
I used to look forward to the deep dives on this show. Now it’s just an interview podcast. This show was great and unique, now it’s just plain terrible. Unfollowed.
Structure man 888
Biased towards government intervention
I appreciate the information and viewpoints shared in the show, but it makes me sad that their first solution is always to have the government who created our problems fix those same problems……………………………………………. Recently they highlighted how the government props up pharmaceutical companies with intellectual property law. (Insulin specifically)………………… ……………………….Instead of addressing the fact that government is supporting and protecting companies who sell insulin at steep prices through patent laws preventing others from making those drugs affordably, they celebrate giving the government MORE POWER over our healthcare by having the State produce medicine. If the insulin patents were not enforced by our government (or the government shared the patent they plan to use publicly), then anyone could make insulin. Seems much easier than starting an entirely new drug manufacturing department of the government……… ………….More and more people are losing trust with our government and we need MORE options, not a single centralized option as dictated by the political party in power. Putting decisions like these in the hands of government is why we are so divided, and we can’t get past the 2 party polarization until we stop trying to control everyone with our party politics.
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No longer
This used to an insightful podcast that dissected complicated policies and provided in depth analysis. Now the analysis barely gets past the surface. The topics covered are no longer interesting or captivating.
I miss Sara Kliff
I used to listen to “The Weeds” regularly but then Sarah Kliff left and then Ezra Klein and they were left with the barely useful Matthew Yglesias. Matthew was tolerable but then he left. And, I don’t miss him at all. I can catch Ezra on his new podcast but I still miss Sarah. She was the best of the bunch.
Excellent excellent podcast
This podcast deals with extremely important subjects of our time and not at a superficial level but really delves deep and I learne so much from listening to this podcast. This type of programming makes me think about these Important issues in a serious serious way.
Gone downhill
The show used to be good with its old hosts, but now it’s way too dumbed down. I would have thought their target audience to be a lot more well-informed than they seem to believe.
Bring back Matt!
When Matthew Yglesias hosted this podcast, it was among the best available: great topics and guests and highly insightful and nuanced discussion. Now the topics are much less interesting and the analysis and discussions are fairly predictable...nothing that surprises me or makes me question or refine my existing views, as occurred frequently in the Yglesias era. Time for a reboot.
river science
A devoted fan calls for a podcast to remain true to itself
The Weeds began as the flagship podcast for With its wonky and earnest discussion of the minutiae of public policy, it embodied so much of what Vox was attempting to build as a digital publication: deep dives that explain the news in an accessible format. Week after week, hosts Ezra Klein (now at the New York Times), Sarah Kliff (also The NY Times), and Matt Yglesias (now Substacking at Slow Boring) chopped it up on the ins and outs of policy proposals or whatever might be the wonky topic of the day. It was glorious, unique, and made a name for itself, blazing a trail for other policy-minded podcasts to follow. As the years went by other wonky hosts came and went: Jane Coaston (NYT), Dara Lind (ProPublica, now a freelancer), German Lopez (NYT), Jerusalem Demsas (the Atlantic), and Dylan Matthews (still at Vox). Each host brought their own quirks and interests to the mic but remained true to Vox’s and the Weeds’ original spirit. Of late, as other reviewers have highlighted, the Weeds seems to be getting away from deep dives and wonky policy discussions and stepping towards becoming something of a general news discussion podcast. While there is nothing wrong with that, it is not what has brought fans of the Weeds back week after week for hundreds of episodes. I am someone who has listened to this podcast for years and considered it among my favorites; I even attended a live taping some years back. The last few months of episodes have made me question whether it is essential listening the way it once was. If this podcast is moving towards more general explainer fare, it should probably rename itself. My hope is that it will stay true to its animating spirit.
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Sam, longtime fan
Very rapidly going downhill!
Have listened weekly for years but I think it’s time to cut the cord. Feels like this podcast has abandoned its old audience in search of a few new listeners. Conversation has shifted to become very surface level.
What happened to this?
Long time listener. This now feels like a high school class not a college level class. You all lost your way in a great brand Vox had. Rename or recast please!
Used to be a weekly listen.
Has really gone down hill since all of the original hosts and their original replacements left. I couldn’t stand the new format
A long slide from greatness
When I first started listening to the weeds, I heard exciting, smart, and heterodox analysis that always made me think harder about the issues, and learn about new issues to boot. I don’t know who decided on this new host and format, but now it’s a basic explainer fare interview show that doesn’t offer any new information to the policy junkie for whom this show is supposedly intended for. I don’t need a q&a to learn about basic definitions and political economy 101 - bring the deep cuts back, please
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Liked it before, I like it now
Pretty disappointed
I have listened to this podcast for a bit and have generally felt better informed, but I can no longer say that. The past couple have been subpar, but this one about inflation was maddening. Poor communication and bad answers, and little respect for the fact that the very rich are doing great. No talk of stock buybacks or estate taxes, just poor commentary
DO get into the weeds!
The Weeds is a podcast I discovered via Fresh Air, and an interview with Sarah Kliff about health care insurance. This intrepid trio are so well-read, and so curious about the ways and means of economics and governance, that I often have to pause and rewind, so that I can grok the conversation. They have no interest in making what they're talking about entertaining. They're 3 folks talking about their subject, and they chime in with their areas of expertise, and often agree to disagree. I highly recommend this podcast for those who want to get smarter about politics, government, and the economy. Update: loving the new hosts, with the same acumen and curiosity. If only more Americans were willing to wade in to experience dispassionate discussions of policy, we might not have such a dysfunctional national or regional system of politics and governance 👏🏼👏🏼♥️
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Dumbed down
I used to go to the Weeds to learn more about a subject than I already knew.
A shadow of its former self
I used to love this podcast but find myself less and less excited to listen to it.
Needs better guests
Jonathan Guyer is a pretty sub-par Weeds guest. Rather than going into specific alternative policies for the War on Terror, he simply jumps from one topic to the next always posing questions but never detailed alternatives. Zach is pretty good host.
Missed opportunities w/ recent SCOTUS pod
I’ve yet to hear many news sources speak about the churches involvement. You got six conservatives that are Catholic and what’s Vatican say no abortion or contraception and they have open border policy. And not to mention group prayers with one side presenting certain cases.
Like, ya’ know, it’s pretty good?
Like, Dara and, like, the Dylans seem, like, in a competition with each other to, like, see who can, like, ya’ know, fit the most ‘likes’ into every sentence? And apparently in, like, this competition there’s, like, bonus points given for, ya know, additional Millennial speech artifacts, like vocal fry and, like, finishing declarative sentences in the tone of a question? The hosts and frequent guests of this show are obviously very intelligent, and I love the concept of deep dive discussions into policy-related topics, but their unprofessional manner of speaking is very distracting and makes them sound a lot less smart than they are. I’ll be skipping episodes when any of these three appear.
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Only 1 L in Law
I realize this is very side point, but why is the host saying “lawl?” It’s law. Not lawl. You pronounce words for a living. Fix it. Pleasel.
devil zilla
Why we fight
After listening the episode of “why we fight” I remembered a book I read that might help you think a bit deeper…Braiding Sweetgrass” and I especially direct your attention to the chapter “Allegiance to Gratitude.” pp105-117. The best conflict avoiding advice ever.
Conceited and Bias
These kids sound like they grew up in a very sheltered environment and think they know everything. They’re like Clueless meets band camp. Everything is presented from a left view, without serious alternatives. They are obviously smart but it gets hard to listen to after a while. I preferred Matt Yglesias.
Reasonable Seattleite
Love this podcast…so informative…many perspectives…
Constanza from NY
Excellent podcast
Jerusalem is awesome - always enjoy hearing her thoughts. Appreciate the deep dives with subject matter experts too
go pirates!
Too much style bleeding in from today explained
I regularly skip episodes with the current lineup of hosts and guests. I used to love the show but I miss the days where the hosts would argue productively but fiercely with each other about issues; that fire is completely cold. Modern episodes sound almost choreographed rather than free flowing in any sense of the words and I feel the hosts treat the audience as “other people” that they are educating by powerpoint or Prezi in a way the old lineup of individuals actively worked to avoid. I regularly confused Matthews and Lopez when they hosted together because there wasn’t enough difference between them academically or politically to distinguish between their similar voices. If I wanted to hear people agree with each other I’d put daytime talk TV on. Oh well.
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Slow down!
I had to stop listening because Jerusalem talks WAY too fast!! I can’t be the first or only one to comment on this. I literally checked to see if I had accidentally hit the speed and had it playing on 2x speed. Holy cow.
Slow down Jerusalem!
Jerusalem has some good insights but needs to slow down. Take a breath! Seriously stresses me out just to listen to, something to work on if you’re going to be working in a audio medium.
Inappropriate insensitive tone
In your latest podcast on the war in Ukraine. I cannot believe you started the podcast basically laughing when the topic you are covering is such a tragic one that has moved the whole world (for sure the west) and may in fact change the whole world stage.
Once great, now unlistenable
This used to be required listening, and now my podcast app asks me if I’m still interested. I’m not. Jerusalem’s analysis is often too clever by half, particularly on urban policy. Overall the show has lost the intellectual playfulness it once had in favor of an endless parade of hot takes. Please slow down, think a little more, and bring a bit of humanity to the show. See slate political gabfest or Ezra Klein’s new gig if you need examples.
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What’s with the fast-talking?
Are you speeding up the podcast for time? The combo of fast-talking and high voices sounds like a cartoon and is hard to follow. I missed half of what she said but I can’t make it through a second listen for content because it’s really annoying.
Woke Garbage
this show used to be informative. now it’s some smug lady who sounds like she’s tweaking off the addy.
Too fast
I truly adored this podcast, however it has become too difficult to listen to just based on the host’s speed-please slow down!
Amazing content. But every time Jane said YO, I cringed. That's not how an educated professional speaks. LADIES, s l o w D o w n ! Please! Especially Jerusalem; she talks waaaaaay too fast and doesn’t modulate. Her points are lost due to this.
Not what it once was
Show’s really not what it once was. No friction for debate. Everyone agrees on everything. Jerusalem speaks so quickly that it’s perturbing, so I sometimes skip over her contributions. Didn’t always agree with Iglesias, but at least his contrary points of view generated interesting discussion of social and political matters.
Comic Enthusiast
Good, not Great
Show went a little downhill after Matt Yglesias left. Jerusalem talks waaaaaay too fast for me to understand and take in all the great info she has. There isn’t much disagreement so the conversations aren’t always fruitful. There’s a lot to learn each episode and it is interesting, but the show largely lost me. Getting more turned off of Vox by the day.
Covid 19 podcast on 1918 flu taught me a lot about our response— the good, the bad, the ugly!
gray paw
Good podcast
Some of your guest talk to fast. Some times they south like Alvin snd the Chomunks on caffeine. Other than that good podcasts
dude dudr dude
epi 1.7
great guest and discussion but Jerusalem Demsas needs to slow her speech down. where’s the fire? i checked my speed and it was normal so it is you. not thru the entire epi but ya kinda go nuts from time to time like you are doing speed.
Enjoy content, it challenges my thinking.
Agree with another reviewer that Jerusalem speaks too fast for ease of listening. Otherwise, your content is usually pertinent and of interest to me. Thanks
Great content. However, holy Christ in a can, Jerusalem—cool it with the continuous use of “like” and…SPEAK MORE SLOWLY. You come across as childish and I’m sure you aren’t.
Talking Too Fast
The episode about education was well informed and went deep into the weeds, but Matt, always, talks too fast. Over the years, he seems to have increased the speed at which he talks. If I were an advertiser, I would insist that Matt not read my commercials because he speeds through them and is totally unconvincing. I got less than half of what Libby Nelson said. She talks so fast and tends to swallow her sentence endings too often. The poor third person on the podcast who didn’t speed talk barely was able to get and well articulated word in edgewise. Why have a third guest if he’s not allowed to talk. When Ezra, Sara and Matt were on The Weeds together, Ezra was able manage and harness Matt, but letting Matt host and manage the show is unleashing him to be a motormouth.
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Media Curmudgeon
Jarringly fast-talking host
I hate, hate, hate the host’s taking speed. If I wanted to listen to a podcast at 2x speed, I would set the speed myself. The show topics are interesting, but I listen to maybe one podcast a month and only come back after I’ve forgotten how jarring it is to listen to the guest speak at a normal speed and then the host at like double speed, back and forth. I don’t know if I can even make it through the current episode despite how interesting the topic is.
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Love the new Weeds!
I’ve always loved the concept, but didn’t realize how great it could be without one person’s ego constantly getting in the way. It’s also refreshing to hear the new hosts not act condescending towards their guests or try to one up them. Just smart, thoughtful policy discussion, as it should be!
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