Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes talks about how he survived a full 8 years in the White House, his close friendship with President Barack Obama, and what it was like to travel the world representing America. Ben says the Arab Spring taught him that sometimes hope and change have to take a back seat to pragmatism and the big picture. He reveals how he secretly worked with the Pope to reopen relations with Cuba, how sleeplessness led to some frayed nerves during the Iran nuclear negotiations, and how wild conspiracy theories around Benghazi continue to follow him even today. He throws some cold water on Trump’s accusation that President Obama ordered the FBI to investigate him, discusses how he and Obama emotionally processed Trump’s 2016 victory, and talks about the somber mood on President Obama's final foreign trip as he tried to console/encourage other world leaders like Angela Merkel. Plus the we talk about the Syrian red line, Hillary Clinton’s private server, sanctions against Russia, and Trump’s North Korean photo-op.
Order Ben's book The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House on Amazon or Audible and follow him on twitter at @BRhodes. Today's podcast is sponsored by GooglePlay and Morning Brew.
Rob Reiner returns to talk about the long road to making his latest film Shock and Awe about the journalists who "got it right" about WMD in Iraq and why he says Americans still may not be ready to deal with the mistakes of the Iraq War. How discusses the lesser known news syndicate that uncovered the truth about WMD and why the mainstream media at the time ignored all the warning signs. He talks about his love for classic newsroom films like All the President's Men and his urgency to make a film about great journalism at a time when the free press and the truth are under greater assault than ever. Rob Reiner gives an update on his group the Committee to Investigate Russia, he cautions that the rhetoric on the Left treads a thin line between energizing their base and energizing the other side, and we ponder how Archie Bunker went from a punchline to a political movement.
Rob Reiner's movie Shock and Awe opens in theaters Friday, July 13. Follow Rob Reiner on Twitter at @RobReiner and learn more about The Committee to Investigate Russia at www.investigaterussia.org. Today's podcast is sponsored by Adiamor Jewelry, GooglePlay and Morning Brew.
Bestselling humorist David Sedaris talks about why he doesn’t do social media, how a fitbit has come to rule his life, and his irritation with the British habit of bullying Americans into drinking. David shares how watching his father grow old has him thinking about his own mortality and how he keeps politics from coming between him and his Trump-supporting dad. David Sedaris says his heavy travel schedule has liberated him from the watching the news and he couldn't be happier about it. Plus he shares a few of his favorite travel tips and regional insults from around the globe.
Astrophysicist Adam Frank offers an explanation for why we have yet to made contact with extraterrestrials and says it is highly likely that many of ten billion trillion planets in the universe have hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations. He discusses three possible fates that may have befallen those civilizations and how studying other planets could help us save our own. He says that climate science actually holds consistent truths across all planets that have atmospheres and if we can predict climate change on Mars, we are certainly able to predict climate change here on earth. Plus Adam talks about the significance of the recent discovery of methane gas on Mars, his experience as a science consultant on Marvel’s Dr Strange,
and why he doesn’t like the term "alien."
Order Adam Frank's book Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth on Amazon or Audible. Keep up with Adam at www.adamfrankscience.com or on Twitter at @AdamFrank4. Today's podcast is sponsored by Outside the Box podcast.
The Simpsons's longest-serving writer/producer Mike Reiss celebrates the 30th anniversary of the longest running show in TV history and shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family. He talks about his early days writing for the Harvard Lampoon and why Lampoon alums make up half the writers rooms in Hollywood. He recalls working on The Tonight Show, how his only meeting with Johnny Carson was just like being a guest on his show, and a Carnac joke taught him that there’s just no science to comedy. He discusses coming on board the first episode of The Simpsons, why Fox had little faith in the first primetime cartoon since The Flintstones, and why The Simpsons became a cultural phenomenon right out of the gate. He reveals that Simpsons characters are just bad impersonations of old movie stars, how the writers add special guest roles into the script just to meet their childhood heroes, and Mike shares a few of favorite celebrity guests and some of the ones that got away. He talks about the fans' love/hate relationship with the show, some of the crazier conspiracy theories swirling around The Simpsons, and the show's complicated relationship with Seth McFarlane's Family Guy. Plus Mike Reiss tells me which countries have actually banned and even sued The Simpsons and how his own popular children's book got boycotted by the Texas Board of Education.
Order Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons on Amazon or Audible. Watch The Simpsons every Sunday night on Fox and follow Mike Reiss on Twitter at @MikeReissWriter. Today's podcast is sponsored by Michelin Premiere Tires and Dollar Shave Club.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recalls how tinkering with a TV set as a boy led to a career in signals intelligence, his frustration when working as an intelligence briefer to General William Westmoreland during the Vietnam War, and what it was like to be in the room when President Obama ordered the raid on Osama Bin Laden. He discusses Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the now infamous intelligence meeting with President-elect Trump at Trump Tower, and why he believes that Russia’s efforts successfully tipped the election for Donald Trump. Plus he weighs in on the North Korean Summit, his war or words with President Trump, and much more.
Order James Clapper's book Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence on Amazon or Audible. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Jim Jefferies Show podcast and Dollar Shave Club.
New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff talks about the surprisingly patrician upbringing of Robin Williams, his time studying to be a serious actor at Julliard, and Robin's early influences as a comedian. Dave reveals how Star Wars helped Williams land the role of Mork the Ork, and why his shenangigans on Mork and Mindy might have landed him in hot water in the age of #MeToo. He discusses Robin’s gradual evolution as a movie star, and why Hollywood didn’t really know what to do with him at first. Dave shares how John Belushi’s overdose scared Robin Williams straight, what eventually caused him to fall back into addiction some 20 years later, and how a rare disease led to his tragic suicide. Plus Dave Itzkoff recalls his own favorite personal encounters with the comedian, and why Robin always wanted to give total strangers what he called “an authentic Robin Williams experience.”
Order Dave Itzkoff's book Robin on Amazon or Audible. Read more by Dave Itzkoff in the New York Times and follow Dave on Twitter at @ditzkoff. Today's podcast is sponsored by The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah: Ears Edition, LegalShield, and Dollar Shave Club.
Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki drove across the U.S. in Elvis Presley's 1963 Rolls Royce to talk to people about Elvis as a metaphor for the American dream in his new documentary The King. He traces Elvis’s journey from his birth in a Mississippi town that's barely kept alive by Elvis tourism to the musical melting pot of Memphis, and ultimately to Las Vegas and the "sweaty sequined jumpsuit Elvis" who became more of a corporate brand than a man. He reveals how he acuired Elvis’s Rolls Royce, and how it became a beacon for people on both sides of the political divide to have a conversation about the promise of America, the sins of the past, and where our country is headed today. Plus Eugene Jarecki talks about the perils of driving and directing and roadtripping in a 55 year old car.
The King opens in theaters in NYC on 6/22 and in LA on 6/29. For information and showtimes, visit www.theking.film. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Outside the Box podcast, LegalShield, Michelin Premiere Tires, and LightStream.
Ambassador Michael McFaul helped President Obama craft the US-Russia “reset," and he later had a front-row seat for the end of the reset with the return of the hostile, paranoid Russian President Vladimir Putin. He recalls witnessing history unfold during the attempted Russian military coup in 1989 and early encounter with a young unimpressive Vladimir Putin in the 90s. He gives an insiders account of being with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she presented the infamous "reset" button, the first meeting between Putin and the newly elected President Obama, and his own thoughts on what motivates the Russian President. He talks about arriving to protestors in Moscow on his first day as Ambassador, the Russian FSB’s sinister surveillance and harassment campaigns against him and his family, and the extensive efforts to gain Kompromat on US officials as well as certain wealthy American businessmen.
Order From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia on Amazon or Audible. Follow Michael McFaul twitter at @mcfaul or at www.michaelmcfaul.com. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Michelin Premiere Tires, Just for Men Control GX, and Travel Guard Travel Insurance.
Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Duplass talk about Season 2 of Goliath. Billy reveals why he’s so attracted to outsider roles,
what he found particularly appealing about playing an attorney,
and how the show’s creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro (both former attorneys) helped him prepare for the courtroom. He talks about some of his own favorite movie lawyers, the death of independent film, and how television has come a long way
since his early days on the 90’s sitcom Evening Shade. Mark Duplass talks about his excitement to play a bad guy on Goliath, what it's like to be one half of the acclaimed filmmaking duo the Duplass Brothers, why it took a while for them to learn to “individuate,” and what it's like to work as an actor on another director's set.
Season 2 of Goliath is available on Amazon beginning Friday, June 15. For more information, visit http://a.co/i02m9ob and follow Mark Duplass on twitter at @MarkDuplass. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Legal Shield.
I love sharing new podcasts, and in this special bonus episode, I want to introduce you to my friend Seth Godin and a great new podcast called Akimbo. The first episode is about the hype around grand openings, whether it’s a summer blockbuster or a new startup, and in the second episode of Akimbo, Seth Godin delves into status roles in society, how we measure up alongside others, and what we’re willing to do to achieve a higher status role. Subscribe to Akimbo in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, or go to www.akimbo.me. You can also follow Seth Godin on twitter at @ThisIsSethsBlog or at www.sethgodin.com.
Bob Balaban has been a delightful part of many of the best movies and TV shows of the past 50 years including Moonrise Kingdom, A Mighty Wind, Gosford Park, Capote, and Seinfeld. This Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor, director, and producer shares how a character actor can have a much longer career than a movie star, why he sometimes enjoys auditioning for a role more than actually getting it, and why he likes to study the famous directors with whom he works from Stephen Spielberg to Wes Anderson. He recalls his family’s early roots in the golden age of Hollywood, his first break playing Linus in the original production of Your A Good Man Charlie Brown, and how he ended up playing Francois Truffaut’s translator (both on and off screen) in Close Encounters. Bob Balaban discusses reuniting with his old friend William Hurt for the miniseries Condor, getting to play his first role as a "bad guy" in ages, and what this remake of Three Days of the Condor says about America’s growing paranoia the so-called “deep state.” Plus we talk about Bob’s career as "six degrees of Warren Littlefield," why strangers still come up to him pitching ideas for television, and how to shoot a film about the richest woman in the world on a shoestring budget.
Condor airs Wednesdays at 10PM ET/PT on ATT Audience Network and Direct TV. Visit http://start.att.net/exclusive/audience/condor to learn more. Follow Bob on Twitter at @BobBalaban. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Legal Shield, Grasshopper, and Travel Guard.
Todd Purdum, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico, discusses his own life-long love of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and why their Broadway shows like South Pacific are so timeless. He reveals how Oklahoma! revolutionized the Broadway musical and how their shows perfectly tapped into the mood of post-war America. He talks about how Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein bravely addressed social injustices in their work, and how Hammerstein's politics landed him in hot water at the height of McCarthyism. He discusses their troubled relationship with Hollywood and why the film version of The Sound of Music has been something of a mixed blessing for the R & H legacy. Plus Todd Purdum talks about how the troubling themes of spousal abuse and suicide in Carousel play with modern audiences in a new Broadway revival, what Donald Trump could learn from The King and I, and the Dominican nun who served as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s behind-the-scenes collaborator.
Order Todd Purdum's fantastic book Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution on Amazon or Audible, and look for his regular political articles in Vanity Fair. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Outside the Box podcast, Michelin Premiere Tires, and Legal Shield.
Author Max Brooks is well known for his bestselling zombie books like World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide, and he applies the same creative thinking to military strategy as a fellow at the Modern War Institute and The Art of Future Warfare Project. He reveals how he gets military leaders to think outside the box about complex problems, some of the threats for which he fears the US is least prepared, and why American ingenuity and self-reliance will be crucial to surviving modern disasters like an attack on the power grid. He discusses how his mother the late Anne Bancroft helped him cope with dyslexia, how Alan Alda taught him to write, and why his dad Mel Brooks is still a bundle of energy (and laughs) at age 91. Max weighs in on everything from President Trump's North Korea policy to the Russian cyber-attacks, plus he shares what the military can learn from the Star Wars movies, how to survive a zombie apocalypse, and why an Ewok insurgency is not so cute.
Order Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict (co-edited by Max Brooks) on Amazon. Learn more about Max at www.maxbrooks.com and follow him on twitter at @maxbrooksauthor. Today’s podcast was sponsored by US Markerboard, Michelin Premiere Tires, Simple Contacts, Grasshopper, and Legal Shield.
CNN'S Jake Tapper discusses his foray into writing fiction with his new political thriller The Hellfire Club, his interest in the politics of the 1950s, and the real-life Washington powerbrokers who make up the supporting cast of his story. He shares how his years of observing how eager young Congressmen slowly sell their souls inspired the central character of The Hellfire Club, and he illuminates some disturbing parallels between Donald Trump and Joseph McCarthy,
the infamous red-baiting Senator who plays a key role in his novel. He reveals the real secret society on which his story is based, and warns of the danger when the line between truth and conspiracy theories becomes blurred. Plus Jake Tapper talks about his brief time in film school, Trump’s weirdly aggressive handshake, and why the U.S. Senate once investigated comic books.
Order Jake Tapper's his book The Hellfire Club on Amazon or Audible. Watch him weeknights on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper and Sunday mornings on CNN’s State of the Union. Follow Jake on twitter at @jaketapper. Today’s podcast was sponsored by Outside the Box podcast, Legal Shield, and Adiamor Jewelry.
Journalist/documentary filmmaker Sebastian Junger (Restrepo, The Perfect Storm) talks about the new PBS Memorial Day special Going to War and his experience as an embedded reporter covering the War in Afghanistan. He recalls his first close call with an I.E.D. in the Korengal Valley, the fear and exhilaration of first arriving in the combat zone, and how war taps into something primal in all of us. He discusses his own struggle with PTSD, how sharing war stories helps our soldiers reintegrate to civilian life, and why so many men and women in uniform feel uncomfortable when someone says “thank you for your service.”
Going to War airs Memorial Day, May 28, at 9PM ET/PT on PBS. Visit https://www.pbs.org/show/going-to-war/ to learn more. Keep up with Sebastian Junger at www.sebastianjunger.com and follow him on twitter at @sebastianjunger. Today’s podcast was sponsored by The Brave podcast, Dollar Shave Club, PolicyGenius, and Lightstream.
The Today Show's Al Roker talks about his book Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster. He discusses the elite country club that compromised the structural integrity of the South Fork Dam causing the flood, he reveals some of the famous industrialists who belonged to that club, and how they escaped justice for the Johnstown flood in a notorious trial that ultimately led to important changes in US liability laws. Plus Al Roker relates the lessons of the 1889 flood to global climate change and America’s modern day infrastructure needs, and on a lighter note, the self-described BBQ aficionado offers a few summer bbq tips for the grillmaster in your family.
Order Al Roker's book Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster on Amazon or Audible. See Al weekday mornings on NBC's The Today Show, visit him at www.alroker.com, and follow him on twitter at @alroker. Today's episode was sponsored by Citizen Watches, Outside the Box podcast, Grasshopper, and Adiamor Jewelry.
Ethan Hawke joins me on the podcast for wide ranging conversation
covering art, politics, spirirtuality, the environment, and more. He describes working with Robin Williams on Dead Poets Society, why he finds the most creative fullfillment in music not acting, and what he calls the "spiritual marriage" between an actor and director. He opens up about how his admiration for the work of Thomas Murton, and his thoughts on the social responsibility of religious leaders, and his own spiritual journey influenced his performance as a parish pastor in his latest film First Reformed. Plus Ethan talks about what he calls the velocity of depression, why he’s not afraid to take long breaks from the silver screen, his work with the YMCA to help kids overcome divisiveness, and his upcoming project about our favorite “mad scientist” Nicola Tesla.
See Ethan Hawke in Paul Schrader's brilliant film First Reformed now playing in theaters. Today's episode was sponsored by Adiamor Jewelry.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his role in the 2000 Camp David Summit, and his tortured dealings with Yasser Arafat. He recalls his early years growing up on a kibbutz, how his intelligence and navigating skills lead the physically unimposing young man to become commander of Israel's special forces unit Sayeret Matkal, and the time he lead a daring mission to rescue hostages on a hijacked Sabena Flight in 1972. He talks about current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who served under his command and later became his political rival, he discusses his own transition from military officer to politician, and reveals what he says was the biggest mistake of his political career. Plus, Ehud Barak shares how his thinking has evolved on the Iran nuclear agreement.
Order Ehud Barak's book new memoir My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace on Amazon or Audible. Today's podcast is sponsored by Citizen Watches and Grasshopper.
General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, talks about his concerns over President Trump's attack on the Intelligence Community and objective facts. He refutes the President’s paranoid narrative of a so called "deep state" operating in the shadows, explains the lasting impact of a damaged relationship between the Intelligence Community and the Commander-in-Chief, and reveals what friends inside the IC are saying about that relationship including how they have to tailor the Daily Intelligence Brief to a President with zero attention span and constantly wonder “do you think he got that?” General Hayden talks about the lasting impact of the IC’s decision to focus their efforts on cyber instead of information dominance and reveals how one analyst saw the early warning signs 2 years before the Russian attack of the 2016 election. He weighs in on the President’s nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel, the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and why he believes Kim Jung Un is unlikely to give up his nukes. Plus General Hayden discusses the advice he gives to those considering a job in the Administration, how the President’s Twitter addiction aids our enemies, and the Russian’s FSB’s nickname for men like Donald Trump..."the useful idiot."
Order Michael Hayden's book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies on Amazon or Audible. and follow him on twitter at @GenMHayden. Today's podcast is sponsored by Citizen Watches, US Marker Board, and Grasshopper.
CNN political analyst Sally Kohn talks about her investigation into the epidemic of hate all around us and how we can stop it. She discusses what scientists and researchers have learned about the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate, and how incivility can be a gateway to much worse. She shares some surprising lessons and dramatic stories from her travels to Rwanda, the Middle East, and across the United States engaging with former terrorists, white supremacists, and even her own Twitter trolls. Plus Sally Kohn opens up about confronting some of her own less than perfect moments such as when she bullied a classmate in school or times when the ugliness of the politics has gotten the best of her.
Order her book The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity on Amazon or Audible. Subscribe to her podcast The State of Resistance on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. For more information, visit www.sallykohn.com and follow her on twitter at @sallykohn. Today's podcast is sponsored by Everquote, US Marker Board, and Zyppah.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment of crisis in American politics by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame hatred and reveals how his latest book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels was born in the dark days following the infamous Charlottesville rally. He talks about similarities between the current age and the 1920’s, how America during Great Depression could have easily followed the path of Germany into totalitarianism, and what Donald Trump could learn from the fate of red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. He discusses moments when Presidents have served as moral leaders for the nation including the day George H.W. Bush handed in his NRA card and an oft forgotten speech by Dwight Eisenhower that is all too relevant today. Plus George H.W. Bush's biographer shares some candid memories of the late former First Lady Barbara Bush.
Order Jon Meacham's book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels on Amazon or Audible. Keep up with him at www.jonmeacham.com and follow him on Twitter at @jmeacham. Today's episode was sponsored by Citizen Watches, Grasshopper, Quip, and U.S. Markerboard.
For six years, journalist Vegas Tenold embedded himself
among the members of three of America's most ideologically extreme white nationalist groups including the KKK, neonazis, and the Traditionalist Workers Party. He reveals how this self-described Norwegian socialist managed to gain access to some of the worst hate groups in America, and why he says the most dangerous groups aren’t the KKK or neonazis, but a new class of well organized activists seeking to take their hateful ideology mainstream. He recalls covering the notorious Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville
and explains why law enforcement was partly to blame for the violence. He talks about some of the dog whistles that politicians use to signal fidelity with white nationalists, his experience watching the 2016 election returns with the head of the Traditionalist Workers Party, and why he says these groups are ultimately doomed to fail. Plus the dangers of being a bald white Norwegian at a skinhead rally.
Order Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America on Amazon or Audible and follow Vegas Tenold on twitter at @vegastenold. Today's episode was sponsored by Everquote, Grasshopper, and Zyppah.
Comedian Paul Rodriguez tells stories from his 40 year career in showbusiness, including his first time on The Tonight Show, why Johnny Carson banned him from the NBC studios, and the "higher power" who intervened on his behalf. He talks about getting his start as a valet at the Comedy Store and how that led to his being a runner for Richard Pryor, he shares some advice Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore gave him when he started out, and recalls some wild times from his days living in a comedians dormatory above the Comedy Store. Plus Paul Rodriguez shares his worst gig ever.
Paul Rodriguez's new standup special The Here & Wow
is available May 1 via Comedy Dynamics Network.
The album of The Here and Wow comes out May 4. For Paul’s upcoming shows, visit his website at www.paulrodriguez.com
and follow him at @ThePaulRod. Today's episode was sponsored by Intercom, Citizen Watches, Dollar Shave Club, and Policy Genius.
Journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn discuss Russia’s long simmering plan to undermine American democracy, and how the U.S. Intelligence Community failed to see the warning signs in 2016. They delve into a rogue’s gallery of Russia enablers from Paul Manafort to Carter Paige and analyze why the Trump campaign and Russian cyberattackers seemed to be so suspiciously in sync. They talk about President Donald Trump’s strange infatuation with Vladimir Putin, why President Obama didn’t do more to stop Russian interference before it was too late, and what was Donald Trump up to in that infamous Moscow hotel room in 2013.
Order Michael Isikoff and David Corn's book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump on Amazon or Audible. You can read more by Michael Isikoff on Yahoo News or on twitter at @Isikoff and subscribe to his podcast Skullduggery wherever you listen to podcasts. You can read David Corn’s articles at www.mortherjones.com and frequently hear his expert political analysis on MSNBC. Follow David on Twitter at @DavidCornDC. Today's episode was sponsored by Grasshopper, Untuckit, and Intercom.