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Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast
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Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast

Author: Chris Hayes, MSNBC & NBCNews THINK

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Every week Chris Hayes asks the big questions that keep him up at night. How do we make sense of this unprecedented moment in world history? Why is this (all) happening?

This podcast starts to answer these questions. Writers, experts, and thinkers who are also trying to get to the bottom of them join Chris to break it all down and help him get a better night’s rest. “Why is this Happening?” is presented by MSNBC and NBCNews Think.
281 Episodes
Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65, according to the UN Population Division. We are about to have the largest older population ever. At the same time, nearly 4 million babies are born every year, leaving many Americans juggling caring for young children and aging parents. Caregiving is often cast as nonproductive labor, despite the incredible mental, emotional and physical toll it can take. It’s increasingly clear that more resources are urgently needed to support caregivers. How can we rethink our social and economic policies to ensure that more people can age with dignity? Ai-jen Poo is president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and executive director of Caring Across Generations. She is also author of the 2015 book “The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.” She joins WITHpod to discuss her personal experiences that led her to be an activist, the need for more infrastructure to support caring for aging populations, the care economy and more.
The Supreme Court has long had incredible authority to make decisions that affect millions of Americans. But in recent years, it has increasingly used its power to make stealth emergency decisions without public hearings or explanations. The cases that we often hear about on the high court’s so-called merits docket only represent about one percent of what the court decides. Since the mid-2010s, 99 percent of SCOTUS rulings, including ones increasingly related to consequential issues like abortion, immigration and COVID restrictions, have taken place on what some legal scholars have taken to calling “the shadow docket.” What does this obscure procedure mean for each of us? Steve Vladeck is the Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Courts at The University of Texas School of Law. He’s also author of a new book, “The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.” He joins WITHpod to discuss how we got to this moment, what the shadow docket means for the rule of law and strategies for ameliorating inconsistencies in the court’s process.
We're republishing this episode, which was originally released in June of 2022. There are more guns than cars in the United States. And studies show that gun sales go up following mass shootings. Ryan Busse 30 years as a leader at one of America’s most popular gun companies. Busse is a former firearms executive at Kimber America and is author of “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America,” in which he talks about how America’s multibillion-dollar gun industry has profited from and fueled cultural divisions. He joins WITHpod to discuss how we got to this point, why he chose to leave the industry, what he observed behind closed doors at NRA meetings, how political division fuels extremism and what the failure to enact stricter legislation means for the future of our democracy.
You’ve probably encountered an advertisement for sports betting in one form or another. In the past few years, there’s been a marked rise in the number of online sports betting ads from companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. Gambling companies now spend billions of dollars a year on advertising. At the same time, there’s growing concern over the effect betting is having on our experience with sports, the lack of comprehensive federal regulation and its addictive potential.  Eric Lipton is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times investigative reporter. He’s spent years following the sports betting boom. Lipton joins WITHpod to discuss how we got to this moment where sports gambling ads are integrated into almost every sports broadcast, the role of lobbying in the explosion of online betting, how the space is policed and more.
TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, and now has over a billion users worldwide. But its future in the United States remains in limbo. The Biden administration, citing national security concerns, has demanded that the Chinese-owned company be sold, or face a federal ban. Montana lawmakers have already passed legislation banning the platform on personal devices, sending the bill to the governor. A lot of questions remain about the feasibility of statewide and federal bans, and why, exactly, do U.S. policymakers view this platform, that started as a lip syncing app, as such a threat? Jacob Ward is the NBC News technology correspondent and is author of “In The Loop: How Technology Is Creating a World Without Choices and How to Fight Back.” He joins WITHpod to discuss what’s driven the app’s exponential growth, the company’s lack of transparency in the past, the case for and against it, what could be ahead on the regulatory front and more.
Content warning: This episode contains occasional explicit sexual references and depictions of graphic events that some may find disturbing. Madame Restell is a figure you’ve likely never heard of. Our guest this week points out that Restell, an abortionist who became one of the most influential and wealthiest women in NYC during the 19th century, has been “deliberately written out of history.” But learning about Restell’s story provides incredible insight into the longstanding and contemporary battles over abortion access in the U.S. Jennifer Wright is a journalist and author of “Madame Restell: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Old New York’s Most Fabulous, Fearless, and Infamous Abortionist.” Wright joins WITHpod to discuss Restell’s rise to prominence, the opposition Restell faced from anti-vice crusaders like Anthony Comstock, why she says the U.S. is “heading back not only 50 years, but 150 years” and more.
You might be feeling that artificial intelligence is starting to seem a bit like magic. Our guest this week points out that AI, once the subject of science fiction, has seen the biggest rise of any consumer technology in history and has outpaced the uptake of TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. As we see AI becoming more of an everyday tool, students are even using chatbots like ChatGPT to write papers. While automating certain tasks can help with productivity, we’re starting to see more examples of the dark side of the technology. How close are we to genuine external intelligence? Kate Crawford is an AI expert, research professor at USC Annenberg, honorary professor at the University of Sydney and senior principal researcher at Microsoft Research Lab in New York City. She’s also author of “Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence.” Crawford joins WITHpod to discuss the social and political implications of AI, exploited labor behind its growth, why she says it’s “neither artificial nor intelligent,” climate change concerns, the need for regulation and more.
If you’ve been following international news, you’ve noticed the marked rise of protests and conflict in Israel. An unprecedentedly right-wing governing coalition has been elected with Netanyahu at the helm. Hundreds of thousands of people have been taking to the streets in Tel Aviv to protest the right’s moves to get rid of independence and the self-determination of Israeli Jews. Joining us to break it all down is Edo Konrad, editor-in-chief of +972 Magazine, a left-leaning publication that tells the story of people on the ground in Israel and Palestine. Konrad joins WITHpod to discuss the political fight over which hegemonic group may rule Israel, debates over the future of Zionism, why he says there is no going back to a status quo ante and more.
State legislatures have significantly advanced a record number of attacks aimed at restricting LGBTQ+ rights this year. Our guest this week points out that “the number one priority, without any ambiguity” of Republicans has been attacking trans people. Nearly half of the country could see health care bans for trans adolescents by May. This tidal wave of anti-trans legislation, which restricts gender affirming and medically necessary care, continues to have wide-ranging and deleterious impacts, especially on adolescents. Chase Strangio, who is transgender, is deputy director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project and a nationally recognized expert on trans rights. Strangio joins WITHpod to discuss how politics has eclipsed healthcare in some cases, anti-transgender legislation being used as a gateway to broader government control and why conversations about trans people is often predicated on fear and confusion. He also talks about the ongoing political and legislative fights to protect bodily autonomy, gender expression and personal freedom.
Silicon Valley Bank’s recent failure marked the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history and the largest since the 2008 financial crisis. The run on the bank sent shockwaves through the financial world. Nearly 94% of its total deposits were uninsured, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data as of year-end 2022. The series of events leading to its demise have been described by some as the perfect storm. Was it the result of Trump-era rollbacks of Dodd-Frank regulations, increased rate hikes, insufficient risk management, or a combination of factors? Mike Konczal is director of macroeconomic analysis at the Roosevelt Institute, where he focuses on economics, inequality and the role of public power in a democracy. He’s also the author of the book “Freedom from the Market” and a co-author, with Joseph Stiglitz, of “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.” He joins WITHpod to break down what happened to SVB, FDIC intervention, what made the financial institution so peculiar, what its failure says about the state of the economy and more.
There’s been a marked rise over the last decade of nationalist and authoritarian politics. Global freedom declined for a 17th consecutive year in 2022, according to a Freedom House annual report. The rise of MAGAism in the U.S., neo-fascism in Italy and hard-right politics in Israel are just a few examples of why democracy around globe continues to hang on a knife’s edge. Our guest this week has experienced first-hand the deleterious effects of attacks, perpetrated by opponents of democracy, on civil, political and press freedom. Rula Jebreal is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, foreign policy expert and visiting professor at the University of Miami. She joins WITHpod to discuss the interconnectedness of the global authoritarian movement, the personal attacks she has witnessed, what is at stake, how authoritarian gains could be rolled back and more.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would’ve addressed racial profiling and use of deadly force, among other things. But the bill, which was crafted in 2020, still hasn’t passed and it’s unclear if it ever will. Progress has often been stymied by conflicting ideas, on all sides of the political spectrum, about the role of police in maintaining law and order. So, what can be done to fix so many of the problems plaguing the profession? Our guest this week points out that when he became a police officer, he had “idealistic intentions, but right away was confronted with a really different set of norms and values.” Neil Gross is a former cop turned sociology professor and is the author of “Walk the Walk: How Three Police Chiefs Defied the Odds and Changed Cop Culture.” The book tells the story of how leaders in three police departments sought to change aggressive police culture and how their efforts could be in instructive for broader reform. Gross joins WITHpod to discuss his experience as a former cop, the us vs. them mentality in some police circles, the need for more officer accountability and more.
Even if the worst of the pandemic is over, some of the changes it foisted on our lives seem like they're here to stay. In cities around the nation, office space in dense downtown areas is well below full utilization, as workers spend more days working from home. Same goes for public transit weekday ridership. What happens to American cities if they're no longer the place to which people commute each weekday? Our guest this week points out that there’s a great deal that city leaders can learn from each other about reimagining cities during this latter phase of the pandemic. Brad Lander is the comptroller for New York City and serves as the city’s budget watchdog and chief accountability officer. He’s also an urban planner and community organizer. Lander joins WITHpod to discuss some of the key problems NYC and other cities have faced during pandemic recovery, navigating actionable solutions, the role of federal intervention, the uniqueness of this moment in history and more.
Since Chris was on vacation last week and given the wave of recent anti-trans legislation, we’re revisiting and providing an update on our episode with Dr. Izzy Lowell, who runs Queer Med, a private clinic that specializes in providing accessible health care to trans patients ranging from kids to adults.

 From the original description: What is gender-affirming health care? Around the country, there’s a Republican campaign to legislate and regulate the lives of trans youth. The most destructive of these efforts would bar trans youth in certain states from accessing gender-affirming treatment. Lowell’s practice covers 10 states across the South — and half of those have anti-trans health care bills on the docket. If they pass, it would become criminal for her to provide this care to many of her patients. Lowell joins this week to break down what exactly we mean when we talk about gender-affirming care, how the decision is made for kids and teens ready to transition and the potentially devastating impact this legislation would have on their lives.
Starting in 2016, U.S. diplomats and spies began reporting a wide range of mysterious and debilitating medical symptoms, first in Cuba and then around the world. Doctors who initially treated patients couldn’t come up with a diagnosis and some just called it “The Thing.” Patients said they felt like they were hit by an invisible, directed pressure while stationed on government property, or sometimes standing in their own homes or hotel rooms. The intense health effects, which some have referred to as potentially psychogenic, included high pitched ringing in ears, vertigo, memory loss and brain zaps. The set of medical conditions became known as Havana Syndrome. Why has investigating this been so difficult? Who or what force could be behind all of this? Although the C.I.A. has maintained that it’s unlikely that the cases were caused by foreign adversaries, many questions and doubts remain about the agency’s findings. Award-winning journalists Jon Lee Anderson and Adam Entous explore some of these questions in a new Vice World News 8-part podcast aptly titled “Havana Syndrome.” Anderson and Entous join WITHpod to discuss the events leading up to the first reported Havana Syndrome cases, the global blame game that followed, what technology could be the culprit and more.
“I went because they didn’t want me there,” says Minnijean Brown-Trickey, our guest this week. It’s been more than 60 years since she made history. At 16-years-old, she and eight other black students found an angry mob and the national guard blocking their entry to Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Backed by 1,200 soldiers, they eventually made it inside for their first full day of class. White students threw hot food at them, called them names and even sprayed some of them with acid. One day, a white kid hit Minnijean with a purse. She responded by calling the student “white trash.” For that, she was expelled, which profoundly affected her trajectory. She ended up finishing her education in New York City and went on to become a civil rights activist and speaker. Minnijean joins WITHpod for a moving conversation about how she channeled the trauma she experienced into a life of activism, the continued fight for racial equality and more.
You’ve probably encountered an e-bike in some form or another. Maybe you’ve ridden one. Perhaps one has buzzed passed you on the street, in a bike lane, or on the sidewalk. We’ve seen your requests and we’re glad to finally dedicate an entire conversation to this topic. What’s fueling the e-bike revolution? Is it just a short-lived fad? E-bikes are selling more quickly than cars, according to the Light Electric Vehicle Association, and our guest this week points out that e-bikes aren’t going anywhere. Mike Radenbaugh is the founder and chairman of Rad Power Bikes, the largest e-bike company in the U.S. He built his first e-bike when he was just 15 years old. Radenbaugh joins WITHpod to discuss the distinctions between e-bike classes, how they are reshaping urban transportation, the energy savings case for using them, the need for improved infrastructure, the importance of more safety education and more.
You’ve probably heard about what Florida governor Ron DeSantis is up to. One of the most controversial things he’s done is sign the Individual Freedom Act, also known as the “Stop W.O.K.E Act,” short for Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees. The law, among many things, prohibits teaching certain concepts related to race. Although there’s currently an injunction against the law, its implementation had far-reaching consequences for students and professors alike. Jonathan Cox is an assistant sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. He faced a tough decision last fall. Cox, who is the only Black professor in his department, could either teach two courses that would explore colorblind racism, “Race and Social Media” and “Race and Ethnicity,” or cancel his classes. He had to choose the latter option of cancelling some of his courses because of DeSantis’ law banning the teaching of critical race theory. Cox joins WITHpod to discuss the circumstances that led him to change the courses he taught last semester, the importance of inclusive spaces that encourage constructive debate, the effect of anti-CRT laws on his students and more.
Last year's Super Bowl featured a who's who of celebrities hawking cryptocurrency and crypto platforms like FTX. In retrospect that looks like the boom before the bust. This year, crypto prices have tumbled and one of the most valued exchanges, FTX, collapsed in a cloud of alleged fraud and federal indictments. So is it all a scam? A pyramid scheme? Will crypto endure? Our guest this week thinks it will, but says accused fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried has shown the world just how risky the market can be for new users. It remains unclear if FTX customers will ever get their money back or if crypto can ever be seen more broadly as a trustworthy store of value. Tonya Evans is a tenured full professor at Penn State Dickinson Law School whose work focuses on the legal, regulatory, policy and economic justice implications of new technologies and innovation. She also hosts a weekly podcast called “Tech Intersect,” all about the intersection of law, business and tech. Evans joins WITHpod to discuss why, in her view, the collapse of FTX isn’t a crypto problem, rather a fraud problem, what the future of regulation in the space could look like and more.
Hi #WITHpod listeners! We have a special bonus episode for you. In the “National Day of Racial Healing: An MSNBC Town Hall,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Joy Reid and Trymaine Lee talk with activists, journalists, artists and experts to explore the harm racism has caused in our society, and to consider how we might heal from it. The program initially aired on MSNBC and was streamed on Peacock the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The programming was recorded in New Orleans and was sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Click here to see the video version of this program.  
Comments (218)

Norma Byron

What an incredibly powerful podcast. I learned so much about the state and causes of authoritarianism around the world. I appreciate your introducing us to journalist Rula Jubreal and her work to expose the threats, dangers, and the tragic consequences of authoritarianism, and authoritarianism's basis in racism.

Mar 26th
Reply (1)

BUD 60

Thank You, Very interesting.

Jan 2nd

Samuel Price

great comments from Kara

Nov 18th

Golden boy

The annoying music beds

Jun 17th

A.K. Ferrara

Such an enlightening conversation on so many levels! Thank you.

May 26th

Lydia Nickerson

I really liked this episode, and I understand why you set aside the anti-capitalist argument, but for nuclear power, it really is the elephant in the room. All the documented nuclear power plant failures have been the result of cost saving measures colliding with poor working conditions. I'm fine with nuclear power as a concept, but without significant labor improvements, and regulation that is not sensitive to the needs of capital, it is dangerous. That is true of coal and oil and hydro, too. I don't see how the energy problem can be solved in end stage capitalism.

Mar 29th
Reply (3)


this is a great

Mar 6th

andrew omititi

mbn bbn M.

Jan 4th

Midnight Rambler

what a retard this guy is

Apr 5th
Reply (2)

Ed Potter

Chris, brilliant choice. I've heard John McWhorter in 5 minute blocks for 10 or 15 years! I appreciate the discussion you had with him so much!

Mar 30th

Johnny Hedlund

Chris. I am with you on most issues. This podcast really came off as quite snobby. I really appreciate Michelle's reporting and writing as well. Frankly, I fail to see a mask less rose garden gathering any differently from what Michelle described. The "middle" I would imagine (not really imagining), would not "understand", given stances publicly taken. I can hear people that I hang with....."can't bake bread? google it!". It's insulting to those of us who are not part of the intelligentsia. This is not a slam. It is only meant as a piece of advice I guess (which could be interpreted as snobby😋).

Mar 13th

Tracy Dennis

This was such a refreshing and thought-provoking interview. I'm going to listen more than once, for sure. Great work, Chris!

Mar 9th

Rebecca Bennett

"Prosumer" ⚡🎸

Feb 24th

Diane Neglia

What is the name of the rule that they got rid of that allowed the filibuster? Because instead of writing my senators to get rid of the filibuster, maybe we write them to reinstate the original rule.

Feb 14th


Sneak preview of the next few episodes! Episode 153: Still obsessed with Trump. Episode 154: Still obsessed with Trump. Episode 155: ^^

Jan 22nd

Philly Burbs

Excellent story. I think you are an excellent host. This story would have been helpful to be aired on TV weeks before the election. Why do we have to listen to podcasts to hear actual news? Why do most cable news shows repeat the same story/tweet verbatim, 24/7 with different faces? Why does cable news air opinions, not facts 80% of the time? Viewers think they are facts because the show has NEWS in its title. Some guests are paid lobbyists, not educated professionals in whatever field they are talking about. That's how the deniers of climate change started. Paid Lobbyists appearing as professionals on the "News". I have wasted years of my life watching the cable version of "The View" called the News. Can anything be done about it? We now have conspiracy-mongering ripping our country apart, calling themselves " News, " in actually they are an easy way for the people involved to make millions/billions. Greed. I believe in freedom of speech. Our "real news" must be protected. I believe some news shows should not be allowed to call themselves news stations, rather Opinion TV. What do you think? Would love a series on TV on this topic.

Jan 6th
Reply (3)

Karin Mazaki

My mom worked for the classified section of a local Chicago paper. I know, double death. I don't think classified ads are necessary in a major city paper but the local news is. Lerner Newspapers helped to inform the locals about what the alderman was up to. About crime and local events. It was part of community organizing. If you look up the story about Warren Park in Rogers Park in the 70's, you will understand what it really means for a whole community to come together. I'm sure the local paper had something to say about it.

Dec 8th


Chris. No one notices any diffence in sound quality but you:). Just keep speaking truth!

Oct 28th

Renee Oliver

Great podcast! Thank you.

Oct 17th


I keep hoping that QAon is just an elaborate joke created by the actor John DeLance who is best known for playing the character Q on Star Trek and he's just doing this to troll the right. I don't think it is.

Oct 3rd
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