150 episodes

A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.

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    • Politics

A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.

    Can Democrats Take the Offensive in the Pandemic Elections of 2020?

    Can Democrats Take the Offensive in the Pandemic Elections of 2020?

    Since the coronavirus became a public-health emergency in the United States, coverage of the 2020 Presidential election has been scarce. With little media attention and public events an impossibility, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have taken their campaigns online. Meanwhile, state election officials across the country are struggling to find the best time and means to hold their primaries. Eric Lach joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss electoral reforms, such as voting by mail, and how the Democratic Party is trying to exploit President Trump’s bungling response to the pandemic.

    • 19 min
    The Coronavirus Election

    The Coronavirus Election

    It’s been just over a month since Donald Trump tweeted for the first time about the coronavirus—saying, in essence, that the virus did not pose a substantial threat to the United States. Why did he so dramatically underplay the risks of COVID-19? “With Trump, sometimes the answer is pretty transparent,” The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, Susan B. Glasser, told David Remnick, “and, in this case, I think the answer is pretty transparent. He didn’t want anything to interrupt his reëlection campaign plan, which entirely hinged on the strength of the U.S. economy.” Even as the virus spreads, Trump has criticized widespread self-isolation orders and made overtures toward reopening businesses to revitalize the economy. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Trump’s likely Democratic Presidential opponent, has refrained from openly antagoniz ing the President. Glasser weighs this tactic: “Do you attack Trump right now, or do you just sort of stand out of the way and let him shoot himself in the foot?”

    • 17 min
    Arts and Entertainment in the Era of Coronavirus

    Arts and Entertainment in the Era of Coronavirus

    This month, in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, arts organizations around the country shut their doors. Theatre productions were cancelled, film premières postponed, gallery openings scuttled. Artists and other creative professionals, many of whom are freelance workers with no health benefits and little access to unemployment insurance, suddenly found themselves with no income. The dire economic circumstances have caused some to search for new creative outlets online, but others face an uncertain future. Emily Witt and Alexandra Schwartz join Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the effect of the coronavirus on arts and artists—and their audiences.

    • 21 min
    In a Nightmare Scenario, How Should We Decide Who Gets Care?

    In a Nightmare Scenario, How Should We Decide Who Gets Care?

    In northern Italy, doctors were forced to begin rationing ventilators and other equipment—a nightmare scenario that could become a reality for medical staff in the United States soon; New York has projected ventilator shortages in the thousands per week. David Remnick talks with Philip Rosoff, a professor of Medicine at Duke University and a scholar of bioethics who has studied rationing. Rosoff believes medical institutions must also consider the needs of those who can’t be saved, and suggests that hospitals should stock up on drugs to ease suffering at the end of life. Rosoff notes that the U.S. medical system puts an emphasis on “go for broke” care at all costs, and is poorly prepared for those kinds of decisions, which leave hospital workers with an acute sense of “moral distress.” “If we’re smart, we would have institutional guidelines and plans in place ahead of time,” Rosoff says. “The way not to make [a rationing decision] is to make it arbitrarily, capriciously, unilaterally, and at the bedside in the moment.”

    • 16 min
    How Humanity Survives Pandemics

    How Humanity Survives Pandemics

    The earliest epidemics date back to Neolithic times, and, in the millennia since, viral outbreaks have repeatedly shaped the course of human history, influencing behavior and creating and destroying cultural norms. In the weeks since COVID-19 became a worldwide emergency, people are showing resilience, humor, and creative ways of communicating as governments and businesses struggle to respond. Robin Wright joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss differing responses to infectious diseases across time and cultures, and the global political ramifications of COVID-19.

    • 20 min
    The Ripple Effects of a Pandemic

    The Ripple Effects of a Pandemic

    For most of us, the speed and intensity of the coronavirus pandemic has come as a shock. But not for Lawrence Wright. A staff writer and the author of nonfiction books about Scientology and Al Qaeda, Wright recently wrote a novel—yet to be published—called “The End of October,” about the spread of a novel virus that eerily resembles the outbreak of COVID-19. Wright looked to illnesses of the past to try to understand their enduring consequences, and he mapped those ripple effects onto our contemporary circumstances. “The End of October” is a work of fiction and firmly in the thriller genre, but what he imagined in it turns out to be eerily close to what we are experiencing now. “I read the paper and I feel like I’m reading another chapter of my own book,” he tells David Remnick.  

     

    Lawrence Wright’s “The End of October” is due out in April. 

    • 13 min

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