5 Podcasts on U.S. Politics For When You Don’t Have Time to Follow the News
So, here we are. February 2018 – over one year into Donald Trump’s presidency, and boy oh boy, has it been a wild ride.
Trump’s first year in office has been eventful to say the least, rife with scandal on both a domestic and international scale.
Over the past thirteen months, Trump has attempted to ban visitors to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, taunted and threatened North Korea with a nuclear attack via Twitter, and been investigated for involvement in cyber attacks by Russian intelligence agencies to undermine Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaign. And that’s just picking a few 2017 highlights.
In the past fortnight alone, Trump has managed to insult the entirety of Africa and South America, back out of a spending bill that caused the U.S. government to shut down, get caught paying off a sex worker to hide an affair, and is now once again being accused of obstruction of justice for attempting to fire the FBI special counsel investigating his own misconduct.
If any of this is news to you – or even if you were aware of it but still aren’t quite sure what the hell any of it means – then you’re not alone.
During a presidency as unconventional as this one, it can become incredibly difficult to keep up. Of course, you could spend your mornings or lunch breaks trolling through hundreds of articles every day to try to get your head around the madness, but very few of us have that time. So, if you’re keen to learn a little more about the state of American politics right now, but aren’t looking to spend a lot of time doing it, here are a few podcasts that are worth a try.
THE DAILY – The New York Times
A perfect solution for the most time-poor among us, at just twenty minutes per episode, The Daily is about as compact as a political news roundup gets. Hosted by New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro and featuring expert guests every episode, this podcast offers a comprehensive breakdown of the major stories of the day, five days a week.
If you’re new to U.S. politics, then this podcast is definitely the one to start with. There’s no complex policy discussions at play here and background knowledge isn’t required, so anyone can jump in and get right down to the stuff you really need to know.
POD SAVE AMERICA – Crooked Media
Pod Save America is the latest project from Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor – four former aides and speech writers for president Obama. With this kind of professional history, the show’s hosts don’t really attempt to hide their political allegiances, and this series is about as openly and vehemently anti-Trump as it gets. It is also, I should say, just a genuine pleasure to listen to. The chemistry between these guys is palpable, making for some pretty rare fun within a topic area that is often exceptionally dry.
At a little over one hour per episode, Pod Save America gives you a hell of a lot to chew on. The hosts are regularly joined by fellow journalists, politicians, comedians and activists to aid in their unfettered and often hilarious deliberations on politics, the press and the challenges posed by a Trump presidency.
For those looking for both a more in depth and significantly more entertaining take on a topic that can often be a challenge to get into, then this one is right up your alley.
NPR POLITICS PODCAST – National Public Radio
If The Daily is a bite-sized version of the day’s headlines, then consider NPR Politics your more substantial midday snack. Hosted by various members of NPR’s political journalistic team, this semi-weekly podcast offers both weekly political synopses and quick takes on the news of the day. Episodes run anywhere between twenty and sixty minutes, and feel a bit like a hybrid between a news broadcast and an in depth discussion between colleagues. So, if you’re into the more traditional approach to a good old fashioned politics chat, then this is probably the kind of podcast you’re looking for to get your required dose of American news.
THE WEEDS – Vox Media
For anyone who considers themselves to be pretty across the major U.S. political headlines of the day, you might be looking to get into something that’s a little more detailed. If so, then The Weeds is for you.
Hosted by Vox journalists Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias, this series isn’t particularly interested in “gaffes” or entertainment, as tempting as that may be in the age of Trump. No, it’s first and foremost about policy. Each episode gets right into the nitty gritty, the mechanics of the American political system, exploring topics from tax reform and state legislature, to health care, economics and immigration law.
After nearly a three-year run in the political podcast game, it’s safe to say that these guys certainly know their stuff. And after a few episodes with them, so will you.
CAN HE DO THAT? – The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s historic presidency is, of course, unlike any that has come before it. From his status as a Washington ‘outsider’ slash celebrity, to his unbridled late night Twitter rampages and scandalous personal and business history, Trump’s brief time in office has proven be largely out of sync with our expectations of a U.S. president.
In this weekly podcast, Washington Post reporter Allison Michaels and her colleagues recognise the oddity that is ‘president’ Trump, with each episode focussing on one aspect of his time in the White House that defies tradition, and asks the question – “Can he do that?”
It’s a series that explores the many ways Trump has reshaped the presidency and what that means for the American people, as well as the rest of us.