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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.
345 Episodes
Another year, another pretty wild Supreme Court term. SCOTUS recently ended its term with a number of big decisions including ruling that former president Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for his “official acts” in office. And it also overturned the Chevron doctrine, reversing a 40-year-old precedent that afforded federal agencies a degree of discretion in interpreting ambiguous laws. As always, there’s a lot to unpack and we’re excited to share our third crossover episode with the hosts of the Strict Scrutiny podcast, Chris’ wife Kate Shaw, and her co-hosts Melissa Murray and Leah Litman. They join to discuss some of the most alarming actions from the super conservative majority of the Court, attacks on government agencies and more.
Could the future of libraries as we’ve known them be completely different? Our guests this week say so. Megapublishers are suing the Internet Archive, perhaps best known for its Wayback Machine, to redefine e-books as legally different from paper books. A difference in how they are classified would mean sweeping changes for the way libraries operate. Brewster Kahle is a digital librarian at the Internet Archive. Kyle Courtney is a lawyer, librarian, director of copyright and information policy for Harvard Library. He's the co-founder of Library Futures, which aims to empower the digital future for America's libraries. They join to discuss what’s animating the lawsuit, information as a public good and the consequences should the publishers ultimately prevail.
Project 2025, also known as the Presidential Transition Project, is a collection of policy proposals from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The group’s 920-page “Mandate for Leadership” is an extremely granular playbook that includes sweeping policy changes aimed at reshaping and dismantling American government. It’s pretty alarming. With so much at stake, we thought it would be good to do a deep dive into what the document contains and what it could portend for a possible Trump second term. Thomas Zimmer is a historian at Georgetown University. He’s studied and written about Project 2025 extensively, including for his Democracy Americana newsletter on Substack. Zimmerman is also the host of the “Is This Democracy?” podcast. He joins WITHpod to discuss what Project 2025 proponents aim to accomplish, how the plans within the mandate reflect broader American right ideology and more.To learn more about the MSNBC Live: Democracy 2024 event and to get tickets, visit: 
Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett is one of the most interesting figures in Congress. You may have been introduced to her in recent weeks following a House committee during which Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene insulted her appearance. The verbal spat between the two took the internet by storm and became a viral moment. But that exchange, and her clapback, is only one part of her story as a rising star within the Democratic Party. She joins WITHpod to discuss the impetus for her political work, how her faith keeps her grounded in the often vitriolic world of politics, serving as a criminal justice advocate and more.
We’re sharing another episode in our WITHpod 2024: The Stakes series, in which we choose specific areas of policy and talk to an expert about Trump and Biden’s records on the topic. We couldn’t think of a better person than our guest this week to help unpack the two candidates’ stances on antitrust. Timothy Wu is the Julius Silver professor of law, science and technology at Columbia University. He’s known as the "architect" of the Biden administration's competition and antitrust policies. Wu joins WITHpod to discuss Trump and Biden’s different views on corporate power, the current antitrust landscape, major mergers being challenged this year and more.
One of the most pressing challenges for candidates and campaigns today is how to win in a world where disinformation is so pervasive. Why is the information environment in this election year so hard to parse? Our guest this week has written about the keys to winning campaigns for more than a decade. Sasha Issenberg is a journalist and author of numerous books including his latest, “The Lie Detectives: In Search of a Playbook for Winning Elections in the Disinformation Age.” He joins WITHpod to discuss the often insidious nature of disinformation, work to curtail its spread, how we can make sense of a world awash in lies and more.
Its been four years since the murder of George Floyd at the hands Minneapolis police officers and the unrest that was unleashed in the wake of his death. And now we’re in a moment where another global protest movement is flourishing in denouncement of the Israeli war in Gaza. This week, we’re taking a look at the historical lineage and efficacy of protests, as well as ways we might rethink mobilization. Our guest this week has spent decades researching and writing about the dynamic nature and effectiveness of social movements. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell distinguished professor of African American studies at Princeton University and is the author of numerous books including his latest, “We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For.” Glaude joins WITHpod to discuss inflection points in historical and contemporary mass movements, reaction to recent protests on college campuses, why he says we must avoid “outsourcing” change and more.
We’re back with another episode of our WITHpod 2024: The Stakes series, in which we choose specific areas of policy and talk to an expert about Trump and Biden’s records on the topic. This week, we’re discussing what’s at stake for an area of top salience: climate and energy. There’s a lot to unpack. David Roberts is the founder of the Volts podcast, newsletter and community. He joins WITHpod to discuss the Biden administration’s record action on climate, rollbacks that would be likely during a second Trump term, why this moment is such an inflection point and more.
This week, we’re sharing a recording of an event hosted at the Center for Brooklyn History where Chris interviewed author Ari Berman. Berman is the national voting rights correspondent for Mother Jones and has written numerous books including his latest, “Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People—and the Fight to Resist It,” which is the subject of this conversation. They discuss parallels between founding fathers’ ideologies and contemporary figures, threats to our democracy and the movement to counter regressive efforts.
We’re sharing another episode in our WITHpod 2024: The Stakes series, in which we choose specific areas of policy and talk to an expert about Trump and Biden’s records on the topic. This week, we’re discussing the seismic changes to reproductive rights over the past few years and both candidates’ stances. Jessica Valenti is an author and the founder of She joins WITHpod to discuss Trump creating the conditions for Roe v. Wade to be overturned during Biden’s term and what the overturning of it has meant, the status of abortion laws across states, why she feels hormonal birth control will be taken away from teenagers and more.
If you’ve been following the news at all, you’re aware that former president Donald Trump is on trial in a New York criminal court and is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. And there’s a lot to unpack. Our guest this week has been in the courthouse for this criminal trial and has been closely following the ins and outs of the case. Lisa Rubin is the MSNBC legal correspondent and a former litigator. She joins WITHpod to discuss the backstory of the trial, flaws in the legal system, how she says Trump has abused it, key figures and more.
It’s been a wild last year or so in tech. We’ve seen a marked rise in the development of artificial intelligence, large language models and prolific growth of augmented reality systems. At the same time, it can feel like we’re moving backwards as concerns continue to rise about user privacy and the methods by which personal data is collected and monetized. Our guest this week points out that protecting privacy requires tech companies to ditch traditional business models that monetize user surveillance. Meredith Whittaker is president of Signal App and serves as the chief advisor for the AI Now Institute. She joins WITHpod to discuss the rise of big tech, the trajectory of the internet from being more commercialized to open, concerns about tech’s role in American democracy, her thoughts on proposed TikTok bans and more.
We’re thrilled to share the second episode in our WITHpod 2024: The Stakes series, in which we choose specific areas of policy and talk to an expert about Trump and Biden’s records on the topic. This week, we discuss the candidates’ stances and records on one of the most important and contested topics: tax policy. Kimberly Clausing is the Eric M. Zolt Chair in Tax Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law. Before that, she was the deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Clausing also served as the lead economist in the Office of Tax Policy during the first part of the Biden Administration. She joins WITHpod to discuss Trump vs. Biden tax and economic policy, notable changes in IRS funding, who is most affected by recent major tax legislation and more.
We’re excited to share the first conversation in our WITHpod 2024: The Stakes series. For the first time since 1892, we have an election in which both candidates have presidential records, which provides a unique opportunity to cut through messaging and rhetoric and culture war flotsam and actually take a hard look at what each man has actually done as president. On The Stakes, WITHPod will choose specific areas of policy -- immigration, taxes, climate -- and talk to an expert about the two candidates' records on the topic. We’re starting with one of the highest salience and most complex policy areas: immigration. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, joins to unpack immigration policies under Trump vs. Biden, border enforcement, the state of the asylum system and more.
Our guest this week was thrown in jail and fired from his job after social media posts he made about Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7th. Meir Baruchin, 62, is an Israeli history and civics teacher who was held in solitary confinement for four days after posts he made denouncing the war in Gaza. There was an adjudicated process in which he was later found to be wrongly fired from his job in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikv. He was later reinstated. Baruchin joins WITHpod to discuss the political persecution he says he’s faced, the intense suffering he’s witnessed, the ongoing legal process he’s experienced and more. UPDATE: Since publishing this episode, Baruchin was granted a permanent injunction against the Ministry of Education and the municipality of Petah Tikva, which will allow him to continue teaching and physically re-enter his classes.
There’s so much discourse about polling and it seems like there’s a poll for nearly every political issue. At the same time, polls often don’t successfully help us to predict the future, including election outcomes. What contributes to the mismatch between what we expect of them and what they actually deliver? Nate Cohn is the chief political analyst at the New York Times where he created the Times/Siena poll. Cohn points out that, among many things, polling plays a “central role in the way we understand the way campaigns ought to behave.” He joins WITHpod to discuss the complexities of polling, survey methodology, systematic biases and more.
Why have attacks on gender become so pervasive, especially within right-wing movements? Our guest this week points out that “the question of gender is fundamentally linked with the future of our democratic world.” Judith Butler is a philosopher, gender theorist and cultural critic. They are also a distinguished professor in the graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. Butler is the author of numerous books, including their latest, “Who’s Afraid of Gender?” They join WITHpod to discuss their seminal work, thinking beyond gender binaries, the obsession with gender as a tool to further authoritarian movements and more. You might also enjoy these WITHpod conversations:Treating Trans Youth with Dr. Izzy Lowell The Fixation on Anti-Trans Legislation with Chase Strangio
If you’ve been following the news, you’ve seen that this week the House passed a bill designed to force the sale of TikTok from its Chinese parent company. If you’re confused about the ins and outs of this issue, we did an extensive exploration of it with NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward last year. So, we thought it would be good to re-share this TikTok 101. This conversation was originally recorded in April 2023. 

 From the original description: 
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.
Our guest this week recently traveled down to the border to confront the so-called “Army of God” as part of a larger project of providing alternative ideologies to Christian nationalism. Doug Pagitt is a pastor, author and the executive director of Vote Common Good, an organization aimed at influencing evangelical Christians. His group has been on a nationwide tour focused on directly engaging evangelicals in key swing states with the hope of swaying a critical percentage of them against former President Donald Trump. Pagitt believes a small portion of these voters are swayable and that if they are engaged, election outcomes can be flipped. He joins WITHpod to discuss the trajectory of evangelical politics, what he’s learned on tour and what’s at stake in this year’s election.
It can feel like the news industry is in a moment of crisis. Over 500 journalists were laid off from news outlets in January 2024 alone, according to a report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. These layoffs are part of a broader trend of seismic changes within the media industry over the past few decades. As disinformation concerns continue to rise and we prepare for another consequential election, why are newsrooms drastically reducing headcount? Ben Smith is editor in chief and cofounder at Semafor, a recently launched digital news platform. He is author of “Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral,” which unpacks the ups and downs of the digital media business. Smith is also a former New York Times media columnist and the former editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed News. He joins WITHpod to discuss how we got to this moment, the impact of evolving news consumption habits, changing revenue models and more.
Comments (228)


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Jun 5th

Soulaimana Assoumani


Apr 24th

Thomas De Quincey

Blah, blah, blah...same old, same old!

Apr 6th

Richard Scher

excellent interview with sari bashi. one important follow-up question that did not get asked- how could the right of return be implemented in a way that would be acceptable to both sides

Nov 17th

Tatiana Hanley

why would you put solar panels near a giant old tree?

Aug 15th

Krisztina Szabo

thanks for this fantastic interview! i wish i was a new yorker just to be able to support Mr. Salaam!

Jul 15th


Brilliant episode. It spoke to me personally.

Jun 2nd

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