Each episode will go deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. We’ll share with you our best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump's Russia connections), and informative interviews with our reporters and newsmakers. We're hoping to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter, told by us, the folks you trust for smart, fearless reporting.
Biden Can't Make Trump's Immigration Cruelty Vanish Overnight
Overflowing ICE detention centers. Families separated at the border. A multi-billion-dollar border wall. Over the course of his four-year presidency, Donald Trump used executive power to wage war on the United States’ immigration system–leaving millions of immigrants and asylum seekers in impossibly tough situations. Now, President Biden is making immigration reform a top priority. Mother Jones immigration reporters Fernanda Echavarri and Noah Lanard join Jamilah King on this week’s show to walk through the actions that Biden has undertaken during his first month in office to try to reconstruct a broken system. Biden’s slew of executive actions include: an end to the travel ban for majority-Muslim countries; halting construction of the border wall; ending new enrollments in the “Remain in Mexico” policy (officially named Migrant Protection Protocols) and starting a new system to slowly allow some asylum seekers on MPP to enter the US; an unsuccessful attempt to pause deportations for 100 days; and directing the Department of Homeland Security to form a task force to undo some of the damage caused by Trump’s family separation policy. Plus, a huge new immigration reform bill has been introduced to Congress. Trump left Biden with a Gordian knot of immigration policy to untangle. Doing so will likely take years. Lives hang in the balance.
What the Hell Is “Truth and Reconciliation”, Anyway?
House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin delivered a speech during Trump’s impeachment trial last week in which he made a direct appeal to reality: “Democracy needs a ground to stand upon,” he said. “And that ground is the truth." There’s a lot of demand for reckoning in America right now. Cities around the country are debating and in some cases instituting some forms of reparations for Black residents. Last June, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to establish a “United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation,” which has gained 169 co-sponsors. In December, even anchor Chuck Todd asked his guests on “Meet the Press” about the political prospects for a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The calls for a rigorous public accounting of Trump-era misdeeds reached a crescendo in the aftermath of the violent attack on the Capitol in January: the impeachment proceedings against the former president became, all of a sudden, the de facto court for establishing the reality of the 2020 election results, even as Republican lawmakers voted to acquit. It raised the fundamental question: How do we establish the truth, amid a war on truth itself? On today's episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, journalists Shaun Assael and Peter Keating share their deep reporting into the history of the "truth and reconciliation" movement, here and abroad, and what we can learn from its promises and pitfalls—presenting a realistic view of their effectiveness as building blocks for reality, rather than magic bullets. “There can be no reconciliation before justice,” Keating says. Keep an eye out for their written investigation, appearing later this week at motherjones.com.
Impeachment Trial Day One: The Damning Case Against Donald Trump
Tears on the Senate floor. Shocking footage of the insurrection. A bumbling and widely panned performance by Donald Trump’s legal team. The former president’s second impeachment has now moved to trial, and House Democrats came prepared. A little over one month after a riotous mob laid siege to the very chamber in which the trial was now taking place, Democrats presented such a damning trail of evidence that that it caused one GOP senator, Bill Cassidy, to change his vote on the trial’s constitutionality.
Mother Jones national political reporter Pema Levy joins Jamilah King from DC to recap and explain what went down on Day One. Pema explains how the House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, will set out to prove Trump responsible for the deadly attack. Meanwhile, Republican Senators are expected to try to wiggle out of the toxic political shadow of their former president by sticking to an argument that the proceedings are unconstitutional, letting Trump get off scot-free. Trump’s acquittal is all but a foregone conclusion, and the trial is expected to be an unusually swift one. But as Pema explains, what happens over the next week or so will still be incredibly consequential and perhaps even more damaging for Republicans than Trump’s first impeachment.
For up-to-the-minute coverage of every twist and turn, head to motherjones.com, and for special bonus coverage, make sure you subscribe to the podcast, wherever you listen.
Biden Confronts Our Climate Crisis Head On
Stopping climate change is back on the White House agenda. President Biden came into with the most ambitious climate change plans of any administration to date. He not only promised to reverse the Trump administration's regressive climate policies, including regulatory rollbacks and a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, but also to push the United States farther on climate change action than it has ever gone before. He named climate change action as a top priority, right alongside the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and racial justice. Rebecca Leber, Mother Jones’ environmental politics and policy reporter, joined Jamilah King on the podcast this week to talk about Biden’s executive orders and what they mean.
"That was the first time we had a president enter office saying climate was that high of an ambition," says Rebecca Leber. ""Any one of these items on their own would be huge. But the fact that we're seeing them all together is even bigger."
In his first few days in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders to get the Untied States back into the Paris agreement, to pause the lease of fossil fuel on public lands, and to establish environmental justice in multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of State, Energy, and Treasury. He issued an executive order to set up a Civilian Climate Corps. He promised to get the United States on track to conserve 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030. He directed federal agencies to eliminate subsidies to Big Oil and invest in clean energy solutions. His actions already seem to be prompting change in US industry. General Motors (GM) announced last week that it aims to move entirely into electric vehicle manufacturing by 2035.
Dr. Seema Yasmin Grew Up Believing Conspiracies. Now She Fights Them.
Trump is gone. But assessing the wreckage wrought by his lies has only just begun. Emerging, battered, from a year advising the former president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the former coronavirus taskforce coordinator, both agree: Trump’s embrace of disinformation and chaos made the pandemic worse. “I think if we had had the public health messages from the top right through down to the people down in the trenches be consistent, that things might have been different,” Fauci told CBS on Sunday. On Face the Nation, Birx described working around Trump, and competing with “parallel data streams coming into the White House.” In his first press conference as President Biden’s top medical adviser, Fauci described the “liberating feeling” of letting “the science speak.”
The damage done by anti-science messaging—along with self-delusion, denial, and happy talk—can’t be underestimated, says Dr. Seema Yasmin, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, epidemiologist, and author of the new book, Viral BS. It amounts to a pandemic within a pandemic. “It’s not just a pathogen that threatens our public health,” she tells MoJo’s Kiera Butler, on this week’s episode. “It’s the misinformation and disinformation about the disease, about the vaccine, about the pandemic, that can undo everything you’re trying to do in public health.”
Effective communication is the “make or break”, she says. But it’s been in short supply. “Public health agencies and other establishments have not taken the information aspects seriously for many years,” she says. And so the challenge is even tougher when it comes to encouraging Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine, especially in marginalized or underserved communities. “If you interviewed six of them, you would have six different reasons—historical, cultural, religious, all of that—for being vaccine-hesitant, so we have to meet people where they are.”
Yasmin lays out her playbook for tailoring messages across a wide range of groups during this live-streamed Mother Jones event, recorded earlier this month. You can also replay the full video on our YouTube page.
The Post-Trump Era Is Here: Inside Joe Biden's Historic Inauguration
Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Two weeks after an armed mob stormed the Capitol, the new president painted a picture of hope and collective effort in his inaugural address. His message sharply contrasted with former president Donald Trump’s dystopian “American carnage” speech from four years ago. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Biden said in his address. “And unity is the path forward.”
DC Bureau Chief David Corn and Senior Reporter Tim Murphy joined Jamilah King for live coverage and analysis of the event. David Corn was at the Capitol, where he witnessed a very different inauguration from ones he had attended in the past. There were no large crowds, but ubiquitous face masks, heavy security, members of Congress wearing body armor, even in the midst of the traditional pomp and circumstance. The US Marine Band played their trumpets and drums, the Capitol was bedecked in huge American flags, and the Clintons, the Bushes, and the Obamas were all in attendance. President Biden said he spoke with former president Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend. The inauguration is usually a passing of the torch, but since Trump boycotted the inauguration in a final venal, norm- busting gesture, the event had the quality of the nation turning the page and ushering in a new era. "We were literally standing where blood had been spilled, where violence had occurred just two weeks ago," says Corn on the show. "Yet democracy prevailed, she persisted as Elizabeth Warren might say, and we were here carrying out this grand tradition which has gone on for over 200 years."
Jamilah asked Tim Murphy about the historical context, including Trump’s early escape from the city and non-attendance. “He’s a deeply petty person,” says Murphy, but still there is some precedent. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president has to attend the inauguration, and historically that hasn’t always been the case. John Adams didn’t attend Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. And that’s the election that brought us the peaceful transfer of power that Trump brought to an end by inciting a riot on the Capitol.”
Customer ReviewsSee All
Slipping from 5-Stars
The MJP been on a run of weak episodes recently. Maybe it's because lots of other shows have invaded their territory (for example: election fraud, immigration, or health) and everyone is covering the same stories from the same angles. I'm not sure. But the MJP does not stand out like a beacons anymore. It could just be a glitch. I hope so. Oh, and the producers need to assert themselves a little: Jamilah's cheerful chirpiness comes over as more than a little tone deaf when, say, insurrection is the story. It's jarring and will put off new listeners. Easy to fix too.
Really interesting guests
I’ve kept the interview with Van Jones...such an interesting and purposeful guest. More please