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The Assignment with Audie Cornish

Author: CNN

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Every Monday on The Assignment, host Audie Cornish explores the animating forces of American politics. It’s not about the horserace, it’s about the larger cultural ideas driving the American electorate. Audie draws on the deep well of CNN reporters, editors, and contributors to examine topics like the nuances of building electoral coalitions, and the role the media plays in modern elections. 

Every Thursday, Audie pulls listeners out of their digital echo chambers to hear from the people whose lives intersect with the news cycle, as well as deep conversations with people driving the headlines. From astrology’s modern renaissance to the free speech wars on campus, no topic is off the table.

122 Episodes
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What does it mean for a news story to matter? To have impact on YOU, the audience? Does it have to be about a person who has been wronged? An institution caught in a cover up? Do you need to feel like it could affect your life personally? Audie wrestled these questions while serving as judge for this year’s Livingston Awards, which recognize impactful journalism by reporters under the age of 35. She calls up this year’s winners: Allison Behringer and Lila Hassan, for their work covering medical mysteries for the Bodies podcast, and Samantha Hogan for her deep dive into probate and guardianship in Maine.    You can check out more of their award-winning reporting below:  Early Birds episode of Bodies  The Fight for Abortion Training episode of Bodies  Calls to overhaul Maine probate courts have stalled for half a century. The most vulnerable people may be at risk by Samantha Hogan  Eight deaths raise questions about oversight of Maine’s public guardianships by Samantha Hogan  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What can we learn about the future of our elections from political prediction markets? Audie calls up Thomas Gurca, Director of Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM), an online futures market that includes political betting. He explains what makes prediction markets different from traditional gambling and how IEM continues to predict presidential elections with better accuracy than the polls.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Filmmaker and journalist dream hampton’s new documentary, “It Was All a Dream,” chronicles the “the golden age of Hip-Hop" in the early 1990’s. She talks with Audie about the film, which is made up of footage she shot in the 90’s that’s been in storage for 30 years: hanging out with Biggie Smalls in the studio, Lil’ Kim in the neighborhood, and interviews with a before-he-was famous Snoop Dog. Through her writing at publications like The Source, Vibe, Essence, and The Village Voice, dream became a critical activist voice — committed to the music and to the artists that she was constantly demanding more of.  Learn more about “It Was All a Dream” and watch the trailer.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Steve Bannon, the standard-bearer of “MAGA media,” is set to report to federal prison on July 1st for refusing to comply with January 6 Committee subpoenas. He’s the latest in a growing list of Trump allies to face legal prosecution in defense of the former president. Bannon used the moment to paint himself as a martyr, a strategy which CNN Political Reporter Sara Murray says is in line with Donald Trump’s own plans to foment a wave of grievance through his sentencing in the Manhattan “hush money” trial.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Each of the last 12 months has become the hottest ever on record and the UN Secretary General has warned that countries must act on the climate crisis within the next year and a half. This week Audie talks to Bill Weir, CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent, about how the climate crisis will affect water supply, and why we should all be thinking about what the future of sustainable water usage looks like. Then, Audie chats with two water experts: Fabiola Sosa Rodriguez, Head of Economic Growth and Environment at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, where they could run out of water this month. And Christine Colvin, Water Policy Lead at the World Wildlife Fund, she was in Cape Town during a water crisis that almost turned off the taps.   For more on Mexico City’s water crisis check out this story by Laura Paddison: https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/25/climate/mexico-city-water-crisis-climate-intl    Bill Weir’s book, “Life as We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing World” is available now.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
How will the trial of Donald Trump affect voters? There’s been a lot of partisan messaging from all sides about the numbers and what – if any effect – that’s going to have in November. How do we make sense of all of this? CNN polling and analytics editor Ariel Edwards-Levy joins Audie to discuss the power – and limitations – of surveys and polls.  Read Ariel’s latest: What the polls can’t tell us about the Trump verdict’s effect on the election  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
We’re seeing conflicting messages about the state of the economy, especially from political leaders. And we’re getting truly mixed message about what – if anything – can be done, at least in the short term. A listener from L.A. understands this first-hand, and calls in with an assignment. Audie brings in Dr. Gary Hoover, Executive Director of The Murphy Institute and Professor of Economics at Tulane University, to talk about the economy’s bad vibes, and what hope – if any – lies ahead. Audie also dives into the mailbag and gets an unusual email from a special listener.  Call or text us at (202) 854-8802  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
With Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial heading into final arguments, it’s the perfect time to have Katelyn Polantz, CNN’s Senior Reporter for Crime and Justice, give a full review of the many trials of the former president. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What happens when you take away a kid’s phone during school hours? In a word: drama. Some schools around the country are trying to completely remove smartphones from classrooms, requiring students to place them in pouches. Audie talks with Carol Kruser, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services at Chicopee Public Schools in Massachusetts. She successfully advocated for a district-wide ban on phones. We also hear from Suzanna Kopans, a high school senior who willingly parted with her phone. She’s part of an organization called Phone-Free Schools Movement.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
A mere 500 feet away from the site of People of New York v. Trump, another political legacy is on the line in a courtroom. Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who sidestepped corruption charges due to a mistrial in 2017, is under federal indictment again, and the timing couldn’t be worse for Senate Democrats trying to maintain control of the chamber. Gregory Krieg is covering the Menendez trial for CNN and he’ll highlight this blockbuster case that’s been completely overshadowed by the Trump show next door. CNN: 4 big questions as Bob Menendez’s corruption trial enters its second week Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
What can we learn from the first great rap battle of the streaming age? Like the ones that came before, the recent rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake is defined by lyrical dexterity and sheer intensity. But UNLIKE past battles this one was remarkable for its speed. Both rappers released songs within hours and even minutes of each other. Audie talks with CNN Entertainment Reporter Lisa Respers France about this moment, and how social media pushed this beef to a fever pitch.    Read Lisa’s reporting on the feud :  Kendrick Lamar and Drake gave us an epic hip-hop beef weekend. Here’s what to know  Questlove was not happy with Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s beef: ‘Nobody won the war’  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Vice President Kamala Harris thinks about everything as a lawyer first. That's an observation CNN Senior Reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere has made after many interviews with the Veep. Audie talks with Dovere about how Harris has deployed her prosecutorial skills against Wall Street CEOs, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and even President Biden in a debate moment that nearly derailed his campaign. And they talk about how she is using those same prosecutorial skills this election year, especially around the issue of abortion. Dovere is the author of “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump.” Dovere: Harris is making unprecedented Black outreach efforts as Biden campaign looks to her to bolster support Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Bad trips, anti-drug PSAs, and the crackdown under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 helped stigmatize psychedelics in the U.S. But now, there’s renewed clinical inquiry into whether these drugs can ease emotional trauma. To understand the future of psychedelics, Audie calls up Ernesto Londoño, reporter at the New York Times and author of the new book, “Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics.” They discuss his own mental health and psychedelic journeys and why he thinks there’s good reason for both hope and skepticism.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
When Mike Johnson worked with Democrats to pass Ukraine war funding, he knew it would enrage the extreme right-wing and threaten his speakership. So far, Johnson has survived the challenge to his job, and as Doug Heye puts it, “survival is strength.” Heye has worked for Republicans in the House and Senate and is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. He’ll describe the tightrope Mike Johnson must walk in order lead House Republicans back to a majority in November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses have been met with suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. This week, Audie talks with two people in the middle of the story to understand how they view and talk about this moment. We hear from Krasimir Staykov, a junior and an activist at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He and others were arrested for staging a sit-in in the university president’s office. We also hear from Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, about his approach to campus protest, and his response to protest language he finds offensive. Read all of CNN’s coverage on campus protests.  Read all of Pomona College’s statements about protests on campus.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett were speechwriters in the Obama White House who, along with Tommy Vietor, decided to venture into media with a podcast now called Pod Save America. The show became a hit, so they founded a whole company around it called Crooked Media. Now, they produce a plethora of podcasts, host a full schedule of live shows, and even write books like their new title, Democracy or Else. Favreau & Lovett go behind the fights over messaging in the Democratic party, parse Joe Biden's campaign strategy, and explain the challenges of running a progressive media company in the age of Trump. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
And does Country need Beyoncé? The likely answer to both of those questions is no. But the discussion Beyoncé sparked seems to be the larger point of her new album, Cowboy Carter. Sidney Madden is a reporter for NPR Music, and has delved deep into the intricate dynamics of race, genre, and industry politics addressed on the album. Audie and Sidney talk about these bigger themes and explore the conversation that's been started by Beyoncé's latest bold venture.  Sidney Madden is also co-host of the podcast Louder Than a Riot.  Watch, “Call Me Country: Beyoncé & Nashville’s Renaissance,” available to stream in the U.S. on Friday, April 26 on Max (subscription required). The documentary examines this reckoning in the genre, straight from the country music capital of the world.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
While the political world fixates on Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial, the Supreme Court is weighing two decisions that could re-define the November election and invalidate charges for hundreds of January 6th defendants. CNN’s Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic is here to explain what’s at stake and read the tea leaves as to which way the justices are leaning. Joan’s book, Nine Black Robes, is now out in paperback. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This week, the Supreme Court ruled that Idaho could temporarily enforce a law that would ban providing gender-affirming care to minors. That means doctors who administer puberty blocking-drugs, hormone therapy, and perform certain surgeries could face up to 10 years in prison. It’s the latest move to prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. With politicians passing anti-trans bills and hospitals and doctors facing vitriol and threat, is this care on the line for trans kids? In this episode from the early days of our podcast, Audie speaks with two gender-affirming care providers to discuss the negative attention they’ve faced and understand the lifesaving care at risk.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
When Arizona’s Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law reinstating a near-total ban on abortion, it took most of the country by surprise. For plugged-in journalist Jim Small of AZ Mirror, this was the expected result of a deliberate effort by Republicans to arrive at precisely this outcome. Now that the great backpedal is underway, Small tells Audie how we got here and how Arizona politics will affect the elections in November. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Comments (223)

Charles Uwi

You have very exciting and unexpected topics. I have coins that have been sitting in jars for years. I am going to do my part, take them to the store coin machine and buy a lottery ticket from the proceeds. I will let you know when I win the big prize!

Sep 12th
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Lillie Hatchett

This was really fascinating and enlightening.

May 18th
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Teddy

Informative and personal interview. To me, I could hear from all that it was a difficult, uncomfortable discussion. And how their thought process was working on how to answer straight forward questions without saying what was really to be said.

Nov 18th
Reply (1)

Andrew Smith

Don Lemon is the only bigger piece of shit than Juicy Smollett.

Feb 17th
Reply (1)

J. B.

this was an amazing episode. The fact that the over hate, racism, and strain put on minority people so bad that they leave to live somewhere else and still lament the decision and miss family is sad. Those who tell people to leave if they don't like this country win when this happens and the fact that these people are the victims is sad. We are less strong when we lose so many strong people and talent.

Oct 30th
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Kem Goodwin

we are asking if Donald Trump can produce a negative test but what no one is talking about is where is the positive test show me that you tested positive

Oct 25th
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Kem Goodwin

I would love to know where is the first lady thought this pandemic if we are rounding the corner not only that where is Young trump don't know his name but he was infected to

Oct 25th
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Brian Shaw

To answer your question Mr. Lemon...yes your/our vote will create change in America.

Oct 15th
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Brian Shaw

We need Police reform, not defunding but new training and vetting officers with the right Psychological blue print to be a PEACE officer. Dallas Texas, Wolfe City, Texas...White Police officer charged with the murder of 31 year old Johnathan Price, personal trainer, and a Black man. Price was breaking up a fight between a couple at a gas station, Sheriff Shaun Lucas arrives and immediately confronts Price, tases him then fatally shoots him...big mistake!

Oct 6th
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Brian Shaw

I have been dealing with this issue for 55 years, the times have changed and progress (some); however, I have never seen so many white people engaged in a movement, BLM, for progress in those 55 years! Bless you all!

Sep 11th
Reply (2)

Ricky Paul Mitchell Jr.

I love this podcast

Sep 11th
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Charles Uwi

Don, this is the best season finale. You had a powerful and rich conversation with Dr. Tatum. I hope you will be back soon.

Sep 10th
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Brian Shaw

Remember Anthony Huber! because race matters!

Aug 27th
Reply (6)

Pat Walker

Great information.

Aug 22nd
Reply (1)

Brian Shaw

Even as we think about today, looking at Baseball, Football, Basketball, Track, Golf, Tennis...etc. The dynamic of Slavery exists in the format of: Managers, HeadCoaches, Owners, predominated by white men/women. Black players, paid; and in some cases years back, free Labor!

Aug 13th
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Brian Shaw

As you get older, Baseball, Basketball, Football and many other sports take on a different "hue". As an African/Indian American male in my 60's, sports changes over decades or half centuries. What we thought was important at the time is not so important now! Race, the upcoming election, BLM movement, financial security threats from this administration with payroll tax cuts which will affect Social Security. If my check is being affected by partisan politics; I don't have time to watch football. Been dealing with Race since the '50s...we tried to separate in this country and when we did, we built (freed African Americans from slavery), 15 townships across America and they were burned to the ground and murdered our ancestors, by vigilante whites. One day in THIS country hopefully white folk will be willing to share the spoils of their victory in stealing this land called America.

Aug 13th
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Skyler D

I don't see the link to the survey that was referenced. Really enjoying the conversations though.

Aug 7th
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Brian Shaw

I will never understand why individuals on these Podcasts condemn Don Lemon for introducing dialogue to stimulate conversations and ideology...non of us know everything about all the issues before us. Let's stop the name calling and foul language and just communicate with each other. Thanks Don Lemon.

Aug 3rd
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Brian Shaw

Wow...thank you the speaker from the Jewish community, I knew something happened after WWII, now I know, and I am a part of that history, my father was in the Navy in 1945 when the explosion in Port Chicago, California happened, we then moved to a city named Pittsburg, California and lived in an all Black community. Thank you Don and Kareem for the history lesson about Black folk and Jewish community and " The Brothers at Arms, the 716th".

Jul 24th
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April Franklin

Mr. Lemon, thank you for this series. It is long overdue. I wish you much success.

Jul 21st
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