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.
‘Allow Me to Retort’ with Elie Mystal
“Forced labor is already unconstitutional and what is forced birth other than forcing a woman to labor against her will?” remarked Elie Mystal, a justice correspondent at The Nation, following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Mystal is also author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution,” in which he points out problems with-and solutions for- reversing systemic issues created by America’s founding document. He joins WITHpod to discuss his objections to conservative interpretations of rights, abortion rights law, changes he’d make to the Constitution, and revisions he’d make to the structure of the Supreme Court and more.
‘A Year of Healing and Heartbreak’ with Thomas Fisher
Recovery from trauma and its emanations is a defining theme of this moment. Dr. Thomas Fisher has certainly seen his share of the effects of mass disruption as an emergency medical physician. He typically has about three minutes to spend with patients who come into the South Side of Chicago ward where he works. Throughout his storied career, he’s also served as a White House fellow in the Obama administration and as a healthcare executive. He writes about his experiences in “The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER.” Fisher joins us to talk about how our country’s healthcare system often treats the poor as expendable, how the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding- and increasingly fraught- inequities in access to good healthcare and discusses the privilege of serving in the same community that he grew up in. This conversation is presented as part of NBC and MSNBC’s cross-platform “Inspiring America” series, which highlights stories of people who’ve made an extraordinary impact on their communities and industries over the past year. You can follow updates on Twitter by searching for #InspiringAmericaNBC.
Telling the Climate Story with Adam McKay and Omar El Akkad (2019)
Since Chris was on vacation last week, we’re revisiting one of our favorite WITHpod episodes. The conversation is also timely given the recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which cites that time is running out to reverse damage done to the planet. From the original episode description:
Y'all - this is a good one. Trust us. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you reflect, it'll inspire...it might even give you that special WITHpod brand of existential crisis. Our second stop of the fall tour brought Chris Hayes to the stunning Theatre at the Ace Hotel with screenwriter and director Adam McKay along with debut novelist Omar El Akkad. The question at hand - how can we use art and pop culture to properly convey the urgency of the climate crisis? How can storytelling break through the noise and get to the beating heart of the collective struggle our planet is in? And how will future generations think about the way we are meeting this moment? Like we said, maybe a teensy existential crisis. But we promise, you'll laugh a lot too.
‘Love Thy Neighbor’ with Collier Meyerson
The Crown Heights Riot took place thirty years ago following a car accident that killed a Black child in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Over the course of four days, rioters, whose slogan was “no justice, no peace,” pointed to rumors of discrimination by a Jewish ambulance service and the escape of the driver responsible for the child’s death. Subsequently, one Orthodox Jew was killed and dozens of others were beaten. The unrest is told in a new podcast aptly titled “Love Thy Neighbor: Four Days in Crown Heights That Changed New York.” The episodes tell the story of immigration, New York City’s first Black mayor, the rise of Rudy Giuliani and the Lubavitch Jews and Caribbean-Americans at the center of it all. Creator, writer and narrator Collier Meyerson joins to discuss exploring her own Black and Jewish identities, how the stories told in her podcast can help us understand modern dilemmas and more.
What It's Like to Be Great at Something with Dirk Nowitzki
Seven-foot-tall Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest NBA players in history. Throughout his illustrious and landmark career, he’s redefined the sport through his signature moves, unique mindset and approach. His extraordinary story is the subject of a book published in March of 2022, “The Great Nowitzki: Basketball and The Meaning of Life,” a culmination of seven years of writing by award-winning novelist and sportswriter Thomas Pletzinger. Basketball is Chris’ favorite sport, so it really was a special treat to have the Dallas Mavericks superstar on WITHpod. Nowitzki joins to talk about the role of mentorship, going from the German suburbs to being one of the Top 75 Greatest Players of All-time, the mental toll and expectations of stardom, staying grounded and more.
The True Origins of Putin’s War with Timothy Snyder
This week, we’re bringing you a vital history lesson that might not have made it into your high school textbooks. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in its second month, Yale historian Timothy Snyder joins to share much-needed context that often gets overlooked in coverage of the war. Hear the complicated legacy of the Nazi charges from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, how Ukrainians came to think of themselves as a nation, and whether Timothy Snyder thinks this is a war that can be won.
Why Is This Happening?
I’m turning into a regular listener. Fave episodes thus far: Ta-nehisi Coates, Anna Deveare Smith, Casey Johnston (that was a surprise—a very engaging discussion that is making me reconsider lifting weights), Jamie Raskin. The Lafayette episode with Mike Duncan turned me on to his enormous podcast—currently knew-deep in the French Revolution. Much looking forward to the Reconstruction mini-series! You’re an excellent interviewer—your curiosity shines through and keeps you listening.
Valuable show, Chris
I especially enjoyed your recent episode, ‘Ask a swole woman’ on the joy that comes from getting strong, and about keeping fitness easy and not so freaking serious like it’s usually presented. Btw I’ve totally noticed you change on tv. Your face has angularity now, you move fluidly on your new set (kudos to the set designer), and your suits fit great.
Canadians should listen
Love the deep dive into important topics. Thank you!