Pocket-sized Politics


Everyone desires something slightly different in their news source.

You might follow it just in passing or be dedicated to a particular journalist or devoted to a specific source.

Whether you want to change the world or just figure out what going on in it, podcasts can be a wonderful way to get inside other people’s minds.

We want to remind you that you can pretty easily find a few podcasts to follow, and for some, this can be a more digestible medium newspapers and magazines.

We’ve already got Facebook to read.

You might like humor in your podcasts, you might not. Perhaps you fancy the chemistry between the hosts, or maybe you enjoy straight-to-the-point interviews. The point is that there are tons of them now, and many with great production value as well as valuable insight.

Since election day is coming up, here’s a list of free pods that can give you a daily or weekly dose of politics:

NYT’s The Daily

The Daily, hosted by the New York Times (NYT) reporter Michael Barbaro, shares news from a number of professionals and journalists from the NYT.

The episodes range from global climate change (“A New Climate Tipping Point,” with NYT reporter Coral Davenport and William D. Nordhaus, a Nobel prize winner for his work on climate change’s economics) to domestic news (“Paul Ryan’s Exit Interview,” with NYT reporter Mark Leibovich, who had interviewed Ryan) to social media (“Facebook’s Plan to Police the Truth”, with NYT tech reporter Kevin Roose.)

If you’re looking for quick news delivery with different journalists and experts each time, The Daily  may be the best choice.

New episodes release five days a week, starting at 6 a.m. ET on Mon. morning. Each episode is around 20-30 minutes.

Slow Burn

Podcasting fans will already be familiar with Serial, and this is like Serial for politics.

Hosted by Leon Neyfakh of Slate (an online magazine), each of Slow Burn’s two seasons takes on a different political issue of the past.

The first season’s topic: Watergate and the subsequent Nixon resignation. Season two flips the script to the other side of the aisle to talk about the case of Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct.

Astute readers and history buffs will note the similarity between these instances: they are the recent times where American presidents have gotten impeached. You can sense Neyfakh brilliantly weave an underlying tapestry whose net envelops this current administration while somehow doing so without belaboring the point.

A standout episode, “S1 Ep. 7: Saturday Night,” investigates the role of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and gets into what happened when Nixon fired him. Hint: Nixon forgot to fire Cox’s team.

Each season is eight episodes long, with a typical episode lasting from thirty to forty-five minutes, and each deals with its topic from a specific angle. Binge on.

Call Your Girlfriend

Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Feminists and long-distance best friends Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman call each other to discuss the latest pop culture and political news.

Sow, who lives in Brooklyn, NY, is a writer and co-founder of Tech LadyMafia, a blog that focuses on empowering women online. Friedman, who’s located in Los Angeles, is a freelance reporter for New York magazine and the LA Times.

The two women discuss topics from vaccinations (“Be a Good Ancestor with Stacey Abrams”) to those nerve-wracking midterms (“Midterm Madness”) to white supremacists (“Can’t Believe We’re Talking About Nazis (and she Sheds)”).

Call Your Girlfriend is a laid-back, easy way to listen to some of the more controversial topics. Plus, you can share this with your long-distance bestie.

The Daily Zeitgeist

If you want humor first, news second, hosts Jack O’Brien and Miles Gray deliver a daily dose of singing, cursing and dissecting why they think our nation currently is so messed up. Each episode they bring a guest third member, typically a comedian, to talk about news both wacky and weighty.

The podcast is part of the HowStuffWorks network, which offers a variety of informational podcasts that are plain and simple, such as Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class.

The Daily Zeitgeist debuted a year ago and doesn’t let you wallow in the a pity-filled political puddle. It employs a rapid-fire style with lots of segments that keeps you laughing your way to subconsciously understanding more about, say, diplomatic relations between China and the U.S.

Slate’s Political Gabfest

NYT staff writer Emily Bazelon, co-host of CBS’s “This Morning” John Dickerson and CEO of Atlas Obscura (an online exploration magazine) David Plotz narrow in on weekly political issues.

If you’re unsure on how to jump into the show if you’re not already politically inclined, try out the more recent episodes such as “The ‘Cheek Swab’ Edition,” which focuses on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test, and “The ‘Angry Mob’ Edition,” which narrows in on climate change and post-Kavanagh’s election to the supreme court.

In addition to his other posts, Dickerson hosts a side show called Whistlestop where he uses his deep familiarity with the news (his mother is the groundbreaking journalist Nancy Dickerson) to discuss wild stories from the political campaigns of yore.

Political Gabfest is a weekly show; Whistlestop typically comes out twice a month.

Pod Save America

According to Crooked Media’s flagship program Pod Save America’s front page, it’s a “a political podcast for people not yet ready to give up or go insane.”

The twice a week show features four former president Barack Obama staffers: Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett and Dan Pfeiffer.

Crooked Media is a “no-bullshit” progressive grassroots company that aims to encourage activism as well as entertain while also maintaining hope that the American political system won’t all go to hell.

A good starting point is the Jan. 9, 2017 episode “Repeal and Go F*ck Yourself,” where the hosts shared their experiences in the Oval Office and talked about Obamacare. Also, “Kavanuts” and “We had plenty of ethical fun” are secondary starting points if you want to get into the show.

If you want more Crooked Media, check out Lovett’s stand-alone show Lovett or Leave It, which is a weekly recap show.

There are even more shows: Pod Save The World and Pod Save The People. The former goes behind the scenes on foreign policy, while the latter focuses on social, cultural and political issues.

Crooked Media has a number of podcasts with some type of political ties to it, but each pod has a different style that can appeal to any type of listener.

Still Processing

Are you a Phin of culture? Sure you are. SCC is too diverse for you not to be.

Still Processing, a show hosted by NYT journalists Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris (who won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2012) will provide you a number of cultural and political goodies.

Morris and Wortham’s latest podcast was their summer episode “We R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin,” an honorary tribute to the late singer. The pair’s show incorporates both cultural and political issues that extend to people of color. Some recent episodes in season one include “We Unpack Black Male Privilege,” “We Have a Right To Be Mad” and “We Wouldn’t Leave Kanye, But Should We?”

The podcast releases new episodes every Thursday and are about half an hour to an hour long. Morris and Wortham conduct interviews and go on walks when not in their studio. Still Processing is a good podcast for people who may want to hear more about the diverse black culture in America.

The Young Turks

Cenk Uygur and company have been bringing you their hard-hitting, humorous style of commentary since the second Bush administration. With a deep bench of talking heads, The Young Turks have managed to thrive as an independent media organization based on a steady stream of content and outreach like Wolf-PAC, Uygur’s passion project for getting money out of politics.

These diverse, progressive pundits aim to bring people up to date in an ever-present fight for justice, and can be scathing even to liberal stalwarts.

The podcast gets released Monday through Friday, usually spans an hour and consists of segments of videos aired on their popular YouTube channel.

The pods can be a great way to consume the meat of major issues without having to sit in front of your computer to watch the videos.