120 episodes

Behind every news headline, there’s another, deeper story. It’s a story about power. In Deep Background, Harvard Law School professor and Bloomberg View columnist Noah Feldman will bring together a cross-section of expert guests to explore the historical, scientific, legal, and cultural context that help us understand what’s really going on behind the biggest stories in the news.iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries. 

Deep Background with Noah Feldma‪n‬ Pushkin Industries

    • News Commentary
    • 4.3 • 708 Ratings

Behind every news headline, there’s another, deeper story. It’s a story about power. In Deep Background, Harvard Law School professor and Bloomberg View columnist Noah Feldman will bring together a cross-section of expert guests to explore the historical, scientific, legal, and cultural context that help us understand what’s really going on behind the biggest stories in the news.iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries. 

    Understanding Hate Crime Laws

    Understanding Hate Crime Laws

    Dr. Jeannine Bell, law professor at Indiana University who has studied hate crimes for more than 20 years, discusses the complex process of defining and charging someone with a hate crime. She also explains the larger significance of hate crime legislation and how police departments can expand prosecution of hate crimes.
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    Amazon and Inequality

    Amazon and Inequality

    Alec MacGillis, award-winning ProPublica journalist and author of the new book “Fulfilment: Winning and Losing in One Click America,” explains Amazon’s role in deepening America’s regional wealth disparities. He also discusses the recent efforts to unionize some Amazon fulfillment centers and the threat that unionization poses to the company.
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    Britney Spears’ Former Lawyer on Her Conservatorship

    Britney Spears’ Former Lawyer on Her Conservatorship

    Britney Spears’ former lawyer Adam Streisand goes deep into the details of Britney’s conservatorship. He discusses his role in her case and his concerns about her conservatorship. He also explains the potential conflicts inherent to the conservatorship system and ways it can be misused.
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    Top Russian Journalist on Alexei Navalny

    Top Russian Journalist on Alexei Navalny

    Did January’s pro-Navalny protests have a lasting impact in Russia? Russian investigative reporter Diana Kachalova, editor-in-chief of the St. Petersburg bureau of Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, joins us to discuss covering the aftermath of Alexei Navalny’s case and the status of investigative journalism in Putin’s Russia.
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    Bigger Than Texas

    Bigger Than Texas

    Alice Hill, former Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Resilience Policy on the National Security Council, explains what Texas’ electrical grid collapse means for our country’s infrastructure at large. She also makes recommendations on how we can start preparing infrastructure now for extreme weather events.
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    “Drug Use for Grown Ups” with Dr. Carl Hart

    “Drug Use for Grown Ups” with Dr. Carl Hart

    Dr. Carl Hart, neuroscientist and author of the provocative new book “Drug Use for Grown Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear” questions the way we understand, regulate, and police drugs in America. Dr. Hart argues that most drugs are safer than we realize, and the negative effects of drugs are overstated and misunderstood. His research raises larger questions about policing, race, poverty, and mental health. 
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
708 Ratings

708 Ratings

CrazyForSudoku ,

Amazon and Inequality

Overall, I love Deep Background. So much of our daily news diet is superficial, and Noah Feldman really digs into a topic and asks very insightful questions of his guests. His multi-part episode series “Deep Bench” on the rise of the Federalist Society was fascinating and revealing.

The rest of this review is feedback on a specific episode.

Because the overall quality is so high, that’s why I was disappointed in his recent episode on “Amazon and Inequality”. I’ll bring up two examples of why this episode left me feeling uninformed. Amazon is many businesses: a retailer; an advertising agency (one of the 5 largest in the world); a cloud hosting provider (AWS); and a logistics provider.

Most of the focus of the episode was on the last, emphasizing the dehumanizing nature of the work. But when talking about alternatives, the suggestion was buying from other vendors such as local physical bookstores. Those books aren’t walking to those bookstores by themselves; there are logistics networks of warehouses and trucks that provide fulfillment to all those stores too. Are the workers in those warehouses notably better off than Amazon warehouse workers? I don’t know, and the show didn’t explore that at all. So I’m left wondering is Amazon being used as a way to explain a broader problem (logistics industry mistreats workers), or is it really just Amazon? Is it the nature of highly vertically integrated businesses to be like this? What about Walmart, another large, vertically integrated retailer?

The second thesis is that Amazon (and tech companies in general) are increasing regional inequality by where they choose to locate their operations. Amazon doesn’t see like an ideal candidate for making this argument: even though they have a large tech workforce, that must be dwarfed by the number of employees in their logistics operations (warehouses, delivery). Hasn’t Amazon been building and opening warehouses all over the country to be closer to their customers to reduce delivery times? Wouldn’t that actually be creating new employment opportunities in many more places?

Similarly, the pandemic has resulted in many tech and other knowledge workers who can work from home to relocate from expensive, crowded centers like Silicon Valley or Seattle and move to other areas of the country, including the midwest. How would that trend affect the author’s thesis?

I haven’t read the book so perhaps author Alec MacGillis makes this all clear. But the interview left me more confused than informed.

Volunteer Listener ,

NCAA

Thanks for this sad and revealing discussion. I believe things have become so intolerable in college athletics simply because of the Dunning Kruger effect. Regardless of how this has come about and maintained, it is high time this information is shed more broadly on the disparities.

RHJameson ,

Wow

Always a delight - Professor Feldman’s grace, wit, charm, intelligence combine with a splendid range of topics - a great listen, learning around every corner - and I do go back and give more than a few episodes a second goround! Full marks!

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