I Have to Ask

I Have to Ask

United States

As Slate’s resident interrogator, Isaac Chotiner has tangled with Newt Gingrich and gotten personal with novelist Jonathan Franzen. Now he’s bringing his pointed and smart interview style to the new podcast “I Have to Ask.” Isaac will talk one-on-one with newsmakers, celebrities, and cultural icons to help us better understand them and our world.


Olivia Nuzzi  

Olivia Nuzzi is the White House correspondent for New York magazine. She joins Isaac Chotiner to discuss what it’s like to be a woman working in Trump’s White House, how West Wing aides really view the president, and what she learned working for Anthony Weiner.

Zoë Heller  

Zoë Heller is a novelist and essayist. She sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss Trump’s peculiar Americanness, lame defenses of Hillary Clinton, working on Fleet Street, and becoming friend’s with writers whose books you have savaged.

Lydia Polgreen  

Lydia Polgreen is the editor-in- chief of HuffPost. She sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss her decision to leave the New York Times, the real reason the media screwed up election coverage, and why diversity in newsrooms is so lacking.

Matthew Heineman  

Matthew Heineman is an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. He sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss his new movie, ‘City of Ghosts,’ about the journalists resisting ISIS, what he learned interviewing Mark Zuckerberg, and the similarities between extremist groups and drug cartels.

Maggie Haberman  

Maggie Haberman is White House Correspondent for The New York Times and an analyst for CNN. She sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss the anxiety and stress that come with reporting nonstop news, whether the media was fair to Hillary Clinton, and what people don’t get about the President.

Ben Rhodes  

Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss working in the White House, the threat Russia poses to American democracy, why Trump’s advisers can’t control him, and the successes and failures of the Obama presidency. 

Raúl Grijalva  

Raúl Grijalva is a Democratic Congressman from Arizona’s Third Congressional district. He sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss the unrelenting fear in immigrant communities, the divisions that threaten the Democratic Party, and whether the Trump administration is “unhinged.”

George Saunders  

George Saunders is a short story writer and essayist who has just written his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. He sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss what he learned while researching Abraham Lincoln, why spending time with Trump supporters is important for progressive writers, and the necessity of art in a society under siege.

Delia Ephron  

Delia Ephron is a novelist, humorist, and screenwriter, whose credits include You’ve Got Mail. She sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss what she learned about movies from Tom Hanks, why dating apps are ruining romance, and the challenge of being funny in the age of Trump.

I Have to Ask: The Tom Cole Edition  

Tom Cole is a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District. He speaks with Isaac Chotiner to discuss whether Trump’s “ban” is religiously motivated, whether repealing Obamacare will cause 23 million people to lose health insurance, and how Fox News has changed the Republican Party.

I Have to Ask: The Ashley Parker Edition  

Ashley Parker is a political reporter at The Washington Post. She sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss what it’s really like to cover this White House, how the President’s staffers manage his personality, and the stresses of waking up to Trump’s tweetstorms.

Pankaj Mishra  

Pankaj Mishra sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss his new book on the roots of populist rage, the problem with critiques of “identity politics,” and whether Western liberal parties can ever win back the white working class.

I Have to Ask: The Jonathan Chait Edition  

Jonathan Chait is a writer for New York magazine, and the author of Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail. He sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss Obama’s surprisingly resilient legacy, why populists have trouble governing, and whether the Democratic Party is destined to move leftward. 

I Have to Ask: The Pamela Paul Edition  

Pamela Paul is the editor of the New York Times book review and the woman who oversees all of the paper’s books coverage. She sat down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss what our books say about who we are and why giving someone a book is so fraught with meaning. She also discussed what it’s like to run the Times’ book review, the future of literary criticism, and the debate over pornography addiction.

David Grann  

David Grann is universally recognized as one of the masters of longform journalism. Here, The New Yorker writer sits down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss his new book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, the difficulty of reporting unsolved murders, and President Trump’s impact on the news media.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss  

Ethan Sherwood Strauss has been covering the Golden State Warriors for

several years for ESPN, during which time the as the team became the most

popular and successful in the NBA. On the eve of the NBA Playoffs, he sat down

with Isaac Chotiner to discuss life on the NBA beat, the strange life of Steph

Curry, and fans who want ESPN personalities to “stick to sports” in the age of Donald


Andrew Sullivan  

Andrew Sullivan has been writing about the menace of Donald

Trump over the past year for New York Magazine, warning America about

creeping authoritarianism and the danger Trump poses to American democracy.

Born in England, Sullivan was for many years known as the most prominent gay

conservative in America. He sat down with Isaac Chotiner to discuss the rise of

illiberalism, the role of racism in American politics, and dealing with Trump-

induced depression.

Elif Batuman  

Elif Batuman, is an author and staff writer for The New Yorker. She’s the daughter of Turkish immigrants and her first book, The Possessed, was about her experiences with Russian literature and her travels around the world. She sat down with Isaac Chotiner to talk about her work and her new novel, The Idiot.

Chris Hayes  

Isaac is joined by Emmy Award–winning news anchor Chris Hayes, host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and author of the new book A Colony in a Nation, which argues that there are really two different Americas.

Senator Chuck Schumer  

In the inaugural episode of Slate’s interview podcast, I Have to Ask, host Isaac Chotiner speaks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senator Schumer finds himself in a political climate unlike anything he has witnessed in his 38 years in Washington. The Democrats face a minority in both Houses and President Donald Trump has almost completely rebuked the protocols of his office, causing traditional politicians, like Schumer, to think differently about policy making and making their message heard. 

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