Slate's The Gist

Slate's The Gist

United States

Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon podcast about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight. thegist@slate.com. Part of the Panoply Network.

Episodes

George Saunders’ American Ghosts  

George Saunders’ first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is a bit of a head trip. Half of it takes place in the liminal phase between life and death. It’s about Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, who died at the age of 11, but we almost never hear from him. And it takes about four to five chapters to understand what’s going on. “My goal is the early difficulty pays off later,” says Saunders. “Once the book teaches you how to read it, it takes you to places you couldn’t have gone otherwise.” Saunders talks to Mike about Lincoln, research, and his recent nonfiction work for the New Yorker.

In the Spiel, why CPAC has come around on Trump. (Hint: It’s because he’s the president.) 

Today’s sponsors:

Tripping.com. Tripping.com gives you access to millions of vacation properties all in one place. Visit Tripping.com/gist to find your perfect vacation rental today.

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An Experiment to Save Local News in Nevada  

Jon Ralston has decades of experience covering politics in Nevada, as a columnist for both major Las Vegas newspapers and a host on local TV. But as the major news outlets have cut their politics coverage, Ralston has launched an experiment to save local political news: a nonprofit site called The Nevada Independent. Ralston is also a contributing editor to Politico.

In the Spiel: Republican lawmakers face their constituents. It’s not going well for the lawmakers. 

Today’s sponsors:

Goldman Sachs. To learn about developments currently shaping markets, industries, and the global economy, subscribe to the firm’s podcast, Exchanges at Goldman Sachs, available on iTunes.

And Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. Try it today with code TRYGMC.

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On Saddam Hussein’s Case  

John Nixon was the lead CIA analyst tasked with studying Saddam Hussein during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It fell to Nixon to identify Hussein when he was captured, interrogate him while in U.S. custody, and present what he learned to the Bush White House. Nixon’s book is Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.

In the Spiel: Don’t blame the provocateur, blame his followers.
Today’s sponsors:

The Great Courses Plus, a video learning service that offers lectures on all kinds of topics. Get a free trial when you sign up by going to TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/gist.

Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. Try it today with code TRYGMC.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

Facing the News Like a Poker Champ  

There’s a term in poker called tilt—when players become overwhelmed by bad news and it starts clouding their decision-making. Poker star Annie Duke talks to guest host Maria Konnikova about the psychological tricks that pro card players use to get through rough patches and how it applies to our political climate today. Duke has written several books about poker and sits on the board of How I Decide, a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged young people make better decisions.     For the Spiel, Maria breaks down what Donald Trump is doing to our brains.   

Today’s sponsor:

Indochino, the company that’s reinventing men’s fashion. Go to Indochino.com to get any premium Indochino suit for just $389, plus free shipping, when you use promo code gist at checkout.

And Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. Try it today with$4 off when you buy two boxes of most Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup pods atKeurig.comwith code TRYGMC.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus

Andy Zaltzman Is Back at Exactly the Right Time  

For years, Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver took on the powers that be in their influential podcast The Bugle. But the show went on hiatus in 2014 when Oliver became the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Now, Zaltzman is rebooting the show at a most opportune moment for satire. “It’s like throwing the javelin of truth into the swamp of corruption,” says Zaltzman. “But javelins in swamps don’t always work out.”
For the Spiel, a Lobstar of the Antentwig.
Today’s sponsors:
Wunder Capital. Earn up to 8.5 percent annually while diversifying your portfolio, curbing pollution, and combating global climate change. Create an account for free at WunderCapital.com/gist. Wunder Capital: Do well and do good.
Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother tasting cup. Try it today with code TRYGMC.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

Would a Narcissist Do This?  

Jedediah Purdy understands President Trump’s supporters better than most champions of the left, having grown up in rural West Virginia (he has the greased-pig award to prove it). But he’s still befuddled by the prospect of peeling away voters from the president’s camp. Purdy’s recent piece in theNew Republic is titled “America’s New Opposition.”
For the Spiel, an annotated history of one of the Trump administration’s favorite lies.
Today’s sponsors:
Dunkin’ Donuts. Upgrade your day with DD Perks. Earn a free Dunkin’ Donuts beverage when you enroll by using promo code DDPODCAST, and speed past the line in store with on-the-go ordering. Download the Dunkin’ app and enroll today.
Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother tasting cup. Try it today with code TRYGMC.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus.

A Late Show for Grown-Ups  

Chris Licht is the executive producer for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, which has surpassed its late-night competition since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. On The Gist, Licht explains why he’s not worried about going viral or catering to a younger audience: “I think you can be likable and pointed.”
For the Spiel, who was it, again, who warned us that Trump was in cahoots with the Russians?
Today’s sponsors:
Hit Showtime original series Billions, starring Emmy winners Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Billions returns Feb. 19 with new episodes every Sunday at 10 ET/9 CT. Download the Showtime app now to start your free trial.
Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. When it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender, work with one that has your best interests in mind. Use Rocket Mortgage for a transparent, trustworthy home loan process that’s completely online at QuickenLoans.com/Gist.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

John Darnielle Talks About Words and Snakes  

John Darnielle has always had a facility with words. As singer and songwriter behind the Mountain Goats, Darnielle has made pop poetry about lonely outsiders and cultural marginalia. Now, in his second novel, Universal Harvester, he explores the lives of desperate people in a small Iowa town. He also talks about a song title so good that no singer could ever do it justice.  In the Spiel, how competent people are quietly undoing Trump.
Today’s sponsors:
ZipRecruiter.Post your job listing to all the top job sites with a single click. Try it for free by going to ZipRecruiter.com/gist.
Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother tasting cup. Try it today with$4 off when you buy two boxes of most Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup pods atKeurig.comwith code TRYGMC.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

David Frum Beseeches You to Focus  

David Frum has emerged as a leader of the Republican resistance in the months since President Donald Trump’s election. On The Gist, he shares his dismay that the disparate forces opposing the Trump administration can’t seem to get over old squabbles. He also explains the narrow political portfolio he’s settled on and why Never Trumpers should focus their activism. Frum is a senior editor at the Atlantic.
For the Spiel, the agony and the ecstasy of watching Stephen Miller.
Today’s sponsors:
Betterment, the largest automated investing service. Get one month managed free when you go to Betterment.com/gist.
The Great Courses Plus, a video learning service that offers lectures on all kinds of topics. Get a free trial when you sign up by going to TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/gist.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

Oh, How This Feels Like Moscow  

On The Gist, guest host Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic talks about the similarities and surprising differences between President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin with Miriam Elder, world editor at BuzzFeed. Elder shares her idea of how the two leaders fit into a global story unfolding right now. Plus, Ioffe and Elder explain “whataboutism” and other vocabulary lessons from their time reporting in Moscow.
In the Spiel: The Trump presidency is quickly putting the lie to an old Russian saw.
Today’s sponsors:
Dunkin’ Donuts. Upgrade your day with DD Perks. Earn a free Dunkin’ Donuts beverage when you enroll by using promo code DDPODCAST, and speed past the line in store with on-the-go ordering. Download the Dunkin’ app and enroll today.
Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother tasting cup. Try it today with code TRYGMC.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.


Elvis Costello’s High-Fidelity Life  

Elvis Costello is one of the most accomplished songwriters of his generation. In his memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, he details his songwriting process, his encounters with everyone from Paul McCartney to Joe Strummer, and his place in a rapidly changing music industry. Costello is up for a Grammy this week for the audiobook version of Unfaithful.  For the Spiel, a fairly pointless history lesson from Ted Cruz. 

Today’s sponsors:

Dunkin’ Donuts. Upgrade your day with DD Perks. Earn a free Dunkin’ Donuts beverage when you enroll by using promo code DDPODCAST, and speed past the line in store with on-the-go ordering. Download the Dunkin’ app and enroll today.

And Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. And now, as a special listener promotion, get $4 off when you buy two boxes of most Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup pods at keurig.com with the code TRYGMC.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

Plus Jamais Le Fake News  

With elections coming up in France and Germany, Facebook is working with media organizations across Europe to avoid the fake news pox that struck the United States last year. Slate’s senior technology writer Will Ormeus joins us to discuss the strides being made against political hoaxes online.  Also, we answer the question: Does office coffee make us more productive? What does it accomplish as a work perk? Does it taste any better because it’s free? The Sporkful’s Dan Pashman investigates as his employer, WNYC, looks for a new workplace brew.

For the Spiel, on the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Today’s sponsors:

Policy Genius. Shop and compare all the top-rated life insurance companies in one place. Go to PolicyGenius.com today to save over 70 percent off other prices for life insurance.

And Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. And now, as a special listener promotion, get $4 off when you buy two boxes of most Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup pods at keurig.com with the code TRYGMC. 

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

An Obamacare Architect Speaks Out  

Before she was the governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius ran the state’s high-risk health care pool, where citizens with serious health problems could get coverage despite their pre-existing conditions. High-risk pools are a favorite idea of the GOP, including many in Congress trying to cook up a replacement for Obamacare. Sebelius says the high-risk plan doesn’t work: “Every day we heard stories of people who couldn’t afford coverage.” Sebelius helped create the Affordable Care Act while she was in President Obama’s Cabinet from 2009 to 2014.

For the Spiel, legislative antics at home and abroad! 

Today’s sponsors:

The Great Courses Plus, a video learning service that offers lectures on all kinds of topics. Get a free trial when you sign up by going toTheGreatCoursesPlus.com/gist.

And Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee is passionate about making a smoother-tasting cup. And now, as a special listener promotion, get $4 off when you buy two boxes of most Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup pods at keurig.com with the code TRYGMC.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus

The Business of Corporate Protest  

After intense protest toward companies such as Uber, CEOs across America are finding it more and more difficult to stay neutral when it comes to the Trump administration. Adi Ignatius is the editor of the Harvard Business Review, whose most recent issue looks at how business leaders are approaching the Trump White House. He says more CEOs are likely to follow the lead of Disney chief Bob Iger, who double-booked himself last week instead of attending a meeting with the new White House strategic council.  For the Spiel, why niceties matter in Washington.  Today’s sponsors: Tripping.com gives you access to millions of vacation properties all in one place. Visit Tripping.com/gist to find your perfect vacation rental today.

And Stamps.com. Buy and print official U.S. postage using your own computer and printer. Sign up for Stamps.com and get a four-week trial when you use promo code[MW1]  Gist.Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

He Left the Hold Steady for Mongolia  

Franz Nicolay made his bones playing with big bands, in size and in popularity (The Dresden Dolls, Against Me, the Hold Steady). But Nicolay longed to strike out on his own and master the “practical craft of the old vaudevillian.” So he packed his banjo (and accordion and guitar) for a string of tours across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Nicolay’s consequent book is The Humorless Ladies of Border Control: Touring the Punk Underground From Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar.

For the Spiel, the many types of liars employed by Donald Trump.  Today’s sponsor:

The Showtime original series Billions, starring Emmy winners Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Billions returns Feb. 19 with new episodes every Sunday at 10 ET/9 CT. Download the Showtime app now to start your free trial.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

The Case of the Frozen Trucker  

This week, Democrats are agonizing over how or whether to oppose Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Emily Bazelon notes that Gorsuch has been very clear in his opposition to doctor-assisted suicide, but his position on abortion rights is less knowable. Bazelon is a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, and a co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest.
For the Spiel, Trump finds God and uses the opportunity to ask for better Apprentice ratings.
Today’s sponsors:
MVMT Watches. MVMT watches make a great Valentine’s Day gift! Get 15 percent off today—with FREE SHIPPING and FREE RETURNS—by going to MVMTWatches.com/gist.
Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. When it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender, work with one that has your best interests in mind. Use Rocket Mortgage for a transparent, trustworthy home loan process that’s completely online at QuickenLoans.com/gist.

Inside the Biggest Pyramid Scheme Ever  

Steve Fishman is one of the few journalists to received access to notorious scam artist Bernie Madoff. His interviews form the backbone of the new Audible series Ponzi Supernova, which goes deep inside the biggest pyramid scheme in American history. Fishman talks about his new series and how Madoff outran federal investigators for decades.
For the Spiel, the folly of adding Iran to Trump’s travel ban.
Today’s sponsors:
Casper, an online retailer of premium mattresses. Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by going to Casper.com/gist and using the promo code gist.
MVMT Watches. MVMT watches make a great Valentine’s Day gift! Get 15 percent off today—with FREE SHIPPING and FREE RETURNS—by going to MVMTWatches.com/gist

The New Queens of Satire  

Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo are founding editors of the satirical online women’s magazine Reductress, publisher of such headlines as “8 Sex Positions That Will Blow His Mind and Destroy His Penis.” On The Gist, Newell and Pappalardo discuss their site’s blend of feminism and millennialism. Their new book is called How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All—and Then Some!
For the Spiel, Americans want their dysfunctional-government-that-isn’t-working to at least show up and pretend to work.
Today’s sponsor:
Indochino, the company that’s reinventing men’s fashion. Go to Indochino.com to get any premium Indochino suit for just $389, plus free shipping, when you use promo code GIST at checkout.

Up in the Air  

The Trump administration’s executive order restricting travel to the U.S. set off at least four legal challenges, an international contagion of protests, and the harshest Republican rebukes yet to a Trump White House action. But it’s not yet clear how many people have been affected by the ban or exactly what it requires. Ben Johnson, head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, calls the policy “as ill-conceived as it is wrong.” 
For the Spiel, we could block out the sun with all the supposed trial balloons for autocracy floated in the past week.   
Today’s sponsor:
Betterment, the largest automated investing service. Get one month managed free when you go to Betterment.com/gist.

Yeah, We’re Scared Too  

In one tweet, George W. Bush appointee Eliot Cohen became the face for anti-Trump conservatives: “After exchange with Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.” With the news this week that senior State Department officials have resigned en masse, Cohen says there are reasons to be very worried about America’s role on the world stage. Cohen is the author of The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force.

For the Spiel, more and more reasons to distrust Vladimir Putin.   

Today’s sponsor:

Dunkin’ Donuts. Upgrade your day with DD Perks. Earn a free Dunkin’ Donuts beverage when you enroll by using promo code DDPODCAST, and speed past the line in-store with on-the-go ordering. Download the Dunkin’ app and enroll today.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.

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