The New Yorker Radio Hour

WNYC Studios and The New Yorker

Profiles, storytelling and insightful conversations, hosted by David Remnick.

  • 29 minutes 58 seconds
    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Isn’t Going Away

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has never held elected office but is related to many people who have, is emerging as a potential threat to Democrats and Republicans in the 2024 Presidential race. “There’s nothing in the United States Constitution that says that you have to go to Congress first and, then, Senate second, or be a governor before you’re elected to the Presidency,”  he told David Remnick, in July, when he was running as a Democrat. Now, as a third-party Presidential candidate, his numbers have grown in the polls—enough to push votes away from both Biden and Trump in November, especially, it seems, among younger voters. Besides his name, the seventy-year-old environmental lawyer is known as an anti-vaccine activist and a proponent of conspiracy theories. 

    This election season, we’re eager to hear from you. What questions do you have? Let us know at: [email protected]

    This interview originally aired on July 7, 2023.

    17 May 2024, 7:03 pm
  • 17 minutes 34 seconds
    How a Tech Executive Lobbied Lawmakers for the TikTok Ban

    David Remnick talks with a proponent of the TikTok ban that just passed in Washington. Jacob Helberg, an executive with the data giant Palantir who serves in a government agency called the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission, was all over Capitol Hill in the run-up to the vote on TikTok, convincing legislators that it was an urgent matter of national security. The bill will remove TikTok from distribution in U.S. app stores unless its owner, ByteDance, sells it to some other entity—or unless TikTok prevails in its lawsuit against the U.S. government. With a China-based company, Helberg asserts, attempts to safeguard Americans’ data from the Communist Party are futile: “The Chinese government has a master backdoor into everything,” he says. “TikTok is a vehicle for Chinese propaganda, and it’s also a vehicle for Chinese surveillance, which is a major national-security threat to this country.” 

    For another perspective on the TIkTok ban, listen to David Remnick’s conversation with the journalist Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine.

    14 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 33 minutes 4 seconds
    Wired’s Katie Drummond: The TikTok Ban Is “Rooted in Hypocrisy”; Plus, Hannah Goldfield on Culinary TikTok

    David Remnick talks with Katie Drummond, the global editorial director of Wired magazine, about the TikTok ban that just passed with bipartisan support in Washington. The app will be removed from distribution in U.S. app stores unless ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, sells it to an approved buyer. TikTok is suing to block that law. Is this a battle among tech giants for dominance, or a real issue of national security? Drummond sees the ban as a corporate crusade by Silicon Valley to suppress a foreign competitor with a superior product. The claim that TikTok is a national-security threat she finds “a vast overreach that is rooted in hypotheticals and that is rooted in hypocrisy, and in … a fundamental refusal to look across the broad spectrum of social media platforms, and treat all of them from a regulatory point of view with the same level of care and precision.” Plus, the food writer Hannah Goldfield on salmon cooked in the dishwasher, and other highlights of culinary TikTok videos.

    10 May 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 29 minutes 3 seconds
    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Could Swing the Election. Who Should Be More Worried—Biden or Trump?

    When Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., appeared on this show back in July, it was early in his run for President, and he was considered a fringe candidate. He had the name recognition, obviously, and not much else. Now the question seems to be not whether Kennedy is going to be a spoiler in the election but which side he’s more likely to spoil. On The Political Scene, the New Yorker podcast, Washington correspondents Jane Mayer, Evan Osnos, and Susan B. Glasser gather to talk about Kennedy’s candidacy and his potential impact. “He’s not a serious threat in terms of being able to win,” Mayer says, “but he is potentially a serious threat in being able to spoil this election for one side or the other.”  

    7 May 2024, 8:10 pm
  • 49 minutes 40 seconds
    Israel, Gaza, and the Turmoil at One American University

    From Cambridge to Los Angeles and at dozens of schools in between, campuses are roiled by protest against American financial and military support for Israel’s war in Gaza—and by university actions, including mass arrests, to suppress the protesters. There hasn’t been a college protest movement as widespread since the Vietnam War. Apart from the violence in the Middle East, the protests also engage crucial issues of speech and academic freedom in the context of America’s culture war. David Remnick looks at the turmoil and its reverberations through the lens of one campus, Harvard University, where much of the furor began. He speaks with a protester whose statement justifying the October 7th Hamas attack became a political flashpoint; two student journalists who covered the resignation of the university’s president Claudine Gay; the law-school professor Randall Kennedy; and the former Harvard president Lawrence Summers. 

    3 May 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 15 minutes 18 seconds
    Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger, Who Refused to “Find” Votes for Donald Trump, Prepares for Another Election

    Brad Raffensperger, who holds the usually low-profile office of secretary of state in Georgia, became famous after he recorded a phone call with Donald Trump. Shortly after the 2020 election, Trump demanded that Georgia officials “find 11,780 votes” so that he could win the state. The recorded phone conversation is a linchpin in the Fulton County racketeering case against Trump. Refusing that demand, Raffensperger—a lifelong Republican—received death threats from enraged Trumpists, and the state senate still wants to investigate him for it. But the politician tells David Remnick that he hasn’t lost faith in his party. He believes he can convince election deniers of the fairness of Georgia’s methods. And, by the way, that story line on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about the Georgia crime of giving a person water while they wait in line to vote? Raffensperger has a suggestion for Larry David.

    30 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 35 minutes 30 seconds
    Jerry Seinfeld on Making a Life in Comedy (and Also, Pop-Tarts)

    Jerry Seinfeld used to have a comedy bit about the invention of the Pop-Tart, but when his friend Spike Feresten—who wrote the famous “Soup Nazi” episode of “Seinfeld”—suggested it as a topic for a movie, even Seinfeld said “There’s no movie here.” But they workshopped the story, turning the invention of the Pop-Tart into a nutty postwar epic. Seinfeld has written films before, including “Bee Movie,” but this time he’s making his début as a director with “Unfrosted.” (The production did not, he says, have permission from Kellogg’s.) The comic talks with David Remnick about making a life in comedy, and why he continued to work so hard on his craft after retiring his massively successful sitcom. “This is a writer’s game. If you can write, you succeed. If you can't, you will not make it. . . . Any comedian can be funny onstage, but the bullets are the writing.”  And he offers thoughts on old age, as he turns seventy. “God is like, ‘I'm with you up to about thirty-eight,’ ” Seinfeld posits. After that, God says, “ ‘if you want to stay, you can stay. But I’m moving on.’ ”

    26 April 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 21 minutes 1 second
    Judi Dench on Bond and Shakespeare

    Probably far more people have now seen Judi Dench as M—the intelligence chief who’s the boss of James Bond—than anything she’s done in Shakespeare.  With that unmistakably rich voice, she played royalty in “Mrs. Brown” and in “Shakespeare in Love.”  But it is in Shakespeare’s plays, onstage, that Dench made her home as an actor, performing nearly all the major female roles in a stage career of some 60 years.  It’s not just that the language is beautiful, she thinks; Shakespeare “understood about every single emotion that any of us might feel at any time.”  Dench has distilled that body of knowledge into a book called “Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent,” a collaboration with the actor Brendan O’Hea that delves into each role in each production she performed in.  Having trained as a stage designer, Dench decided to “have a go” at acting, and made her début at a young age as Ophelia at one of the most prestigious theatres in Britain.  She talks with David Remnick about what’s hard—and not hard—in performing Shakespeare, and why she considers M in James Bond just as challenging. 

    23 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 30 minutes 3 seconds
    Jonathan Haidt on the Plague of Anxiety Affecting Young People

    Both anecdotally and in research, anxiety and depression among young people—often associated with self-harm—have risen sharply over the last decade.  There seems little doubt that Gen Z is suffering in real ways.  But there is not a consensus on the cause or causes, nor how to address them.  The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt believes that enough evidence has accumulated to convict a suspect.  Smartphones and social media, Haidt says, have caused a “great rewiring” in those born after 1995.  The argument has hit a nerve: his new book, “The Anxious Generation,” was No. 1 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list.  Speaking with David Remnick, Haidt is quick to differentiate social-media apps—with their constant stream of notifications, and their emphasis on performance—from technology writ large; mental health was not affected, he says, for millennials, who grew up earlier in the evolution of the Internet. Haidt, who earlier wrote about an excessive emphasis on safety in the book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” feels that our priorities when it comes to child safety are exactly wrong.  “We’re overprotecting in [the real world], and I’m saying, lighten up, let your kids out! And we’re underprotecting in another, and I’m saying, don’t let your kids spend nine hours a day on the Internet talking with strange men. It’s just not a good idea.” To social scientists who have asserted that the evidence Haidt marshals does not prove a causative link between social media and depression, “I keep asking for alternative theories,” he says. “You don’t think it’s the smartphones and social media—what is it? … You can give me whatever theory you want about trends in American society, but nobody can explain why it happened so suddenly in 2012 and 2013—not just here but in Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Northern Europe. I’m waiting,” he adds sarcastically, “for someone to find a chemical.” The good news, Haidt says, is there are achievable ways to limit the harm.  

    Note: In his conversation with David Remnick, Jonathan Haidt misstated some information about a working paper that studies unhappiness across nations. The authors are David G. Blanchflower, Alex Bryson, and Xiaowei Xu, and it includes data on thirty-four countries. 

    19 April 2024, 7:00 pm
  • 31 minutes 36 seconds
    Maya Hawke on the Fear of “Missing Out,” and Jen Silverman on “There’s Going to Be Trouble”

    At a band rehearsal in Brooklyn, Rachel Syme talks to Maya Hawke about switching gears between acting and music. In “Stranger Things,” Hawke plays Robin Buckley, a band geek who cracks a Russian code in her spare time; she also recently appeared in films including “Asteroid City” and “Maestro.” “When I’m acting, I inhabit the character that I’m playing,” Hawke says, whereas when fronting a band, “I feel like I’m me… But sometimes I have to screw my courage to the sticking place, and that’s a bit of a character. It’s me, [but] willing to stand up onstage.” Hawke discusses the inspiration for her single “Missing Out”: a visit to her brother at college, where she came to terms with some of her own choices. Plus, the playwright and novelist Jen Silverman, whose new book “There’s Going to Be Trouble” deals with the excitement and uncertainty of getting caught up in a protest.  

    16 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 19 minutes 8 seconds
    How a Republican and a Democrat Carved out Exemptions to Texas’s Abortion Ban

    Texas has multiple abortion laws, with both criminal and civil penalties for providers. They contain language that may allow for exceptions to save the life or “major bodily function” of a pregnant patient, but many doctors have been reluctant to even try interpreting these laws; at least one pregnant woman has been denied cancer treatment. The reporter Stephania Taladrid tells David Remnick about how two lawmakers worked together in a rare bipartisan effort to clarify the limited medical circumstances in which abortion is allowed. “If lawmakers created specific exemptions,” Taladrid explains, “then doctors who got sued could show that the treatment that they had offered their patients was compliant with the language of the law.” Taladrid spoke with the state representatives Ann Johnson, a Democrat, and Bryan Hughes, a conservative Republican, about their unlikely collaboration. Johnson told her that she put together a list of thirteen conditions that might qualify for a special exemption, but only two of them—premature ruptures and ectopic pregnancy—were cited in the final bill. Still, the unusual bipartisan action is cause for hope among reproductive-rights advocates that some of the extreme climate around abortion bans may be lessening.

    12 April 2024, 7:00 pm
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