147 episodes

Living in America these past few years has been like living in a movie—a mashup of Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, and Idiocracy, that is. The never-ending pandemic, the routine mass shootings, the climate literally and figuratively on fire; the economy first battered by recession, then ravaged by inflation; an angry electorate, armed to the teeth and addled by conspiracy theories, as our democracy teeters on the brink, with Donald Trump still working overtime to push the whole thing off a cliff. On Hell and High Water, John Heilemann — host of Showtime's The Circus, co-author of Game Change, and national affairs analyst for MSNBC — explores this apocalyptic-seeming moment with seminal figures in politics, entertainment, business, tech, the media, and beyond. The conversations are deep, rich, and bracingly real, but also hopeful, as Heilemann and his guests grapple with the fact that, to quote Bob Dylan, “Everything is broken,” and try to figure out how to fix it … together.


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Hell & High Water with John Heilemann The Recount

    • News
    • 4.8 • 3.6K Ratings

Living in America these past few years has been like living in a movie—a mashup of Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, and Idiocracy, that is. The never-ending pandemic, the routine mass shootings, the climate literally and figuratively on fire; the economy first battered by recession, then ravaged by inflation; an angry electorate, armed to the teeth and addled by conspiracy theories, as our democracy teeters on the brink, with Donald Trump still working overtime to push the whole thing off a cliff. On Hell and High Water, John Heilemann — host of Showtime's The Circus, co-author of Game Change, and national affairs analyst for MSNBC — explores this apocalyptic-seeming moment with seminal figures in politics, entertainment, business, tech, the media, and beyond. The conversations are deep, rich, and bracingly real, but also hopeful, as Heilemann and his guests grapple with the fact that, to quote Bob Dylan, “Everything is broken,” and try to figure out how to fix it … together.


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    Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell

    Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell

    Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell first met 46 years ago as undergraduates at Harvard, forming a friendship that’s flourished alongside their careers as two of their generation’s most incisive, insightful observers of American politics and culture. Andersen made his mark in the 1980s as co-founder of the iconic Spy magazine, then went on to serve as editor-in-chief of New York magazine, host of the Peabody Award-winning radio program “Studio 360,” and best-selling novelist and non-fiction author. O’Donnell cut his teeth in Washington as staff director of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and protege to legendary New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then transitioned to the TV business — first as an Emmy Award-winning writer on “The West Wing” and currently as host of “The Last Word” on MSNBC. On this week’s Hell & High Water, Heilemann, a friend of both Andersen and O’Donnell, brings the two men together for their first-ever joint interview. They discuss the performances of Joe Biden and Amanda Gorman on inauguration day, O’Donnell’s insider’s perspective on the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, and Andersen’s “grand unified theory” of modern American life, as sketched out in his recent companion volumes, “Fantasyland” and “Evil Geniuses.”
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    • 1 hr 20 min
    Fiona Hill

    Fiona Hill

    In which John Heilemann talks with Fiona Hill, the former national security official in Donald Trump's White House who made headlines with her testimony in the hearings over the Ukraine scandal that led to his first impeachment. Heilemann and Hill discuss her new memoir, There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century, including her reluctant decision to join the Trump administration, what she learned about his character, and his envious admiration for authoritarian leaders around the world and Vladimir Putin in particular; how Trump’s disregard for the rule of law and democratic norms led not only to his first impeachment but also his attempted coup in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election and culminating with the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6; and why it's no exaggeration to say that Trump is setting the stage for another attempt to subvert American democracy in 2024. Hill also discusses her unlikely journey from a working-class mining town in northeastern England to the rarified academic realm at Harvard, the inner sanctum of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and upper reaches of political and policy-making power inside the White House.
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    • 1 hr 15 min
    Ken Burns

    Ken Burns

    In which John Heilemann talks with documentarian Ken Burns, whose new four-part series, Muhammad Ali, premiered this week on PBS. Heilemann and Burns discuss Ali's life and legacy as the most important athlete of the 20th century, in particular how his story transcends sports, intersecting with the defining issues of his era (race, religion, politics, protest) and illuminating much about the American experience in the convulsive Sixties and Seventies; Burns's prodigious body of work, which has earned him two Academy Award nominations, 15 Emmys, and two Grammys, and has made him the dominant practitioner of his art form over the past 40 years; the landmark films within his oeuvre — multi-part television events such as The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and The Vietnam War, some running nearly 20 hours in length — and how Burns found himself imbued with the power to get such sprawling projects made; and the central role that race has occupied in his work, and in the American story. Burns also reflects on his childhood and how it inspired his career, and what it was like to co-direct the Ali series with his oldest daughter Sarah and her husband. 
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    • 1 hr 17 min
    Julia Ioffe and Michael McFaul

    Julia Ioffe and Michael McFaul

    In which John Heilemann discusses the Russia invasion of Ukraine -- and its far-reaching implications for Europe, Joe Biden's presidency, Vladimir Putin's place in history, and the global security writ large -- with former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Puck News correspondent Julia Ioffe. Heilemann, McFaul, and Ioffe talk about Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified assault on Ukraine; Putin’s miscalculations regarding the strength of the NATO alliance, internal Russian opposition to the war, and the resolve of the Ukrainian people; and what’s at stake for an already shaky international order. They also marvel at how elements of both the American right and left have improbably become full-fledged Putin apologists ... and even Putin admirers.
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    • 1 hr
    Michael Bender, Part 2

    Michael Bender, Part 2

    In which John Heilemann talks with Mike Bender, senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, for a special two-part episode of the podcast. Heilemann and Bender discuss the latter's new book and its news-making account of Trump's cataclysmic final year in office and doomstruck reelection campaign; how the president mishandled the series of crises that beset the country in 2020, from Covid to the protests after the murder of George Floyd; his contraction of the coronavirus and obsession with Hunter Biden in the campaign's waning days; his actions behind the scenes and motivations in fanning the flames before and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol; the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the national media; Trump's continued post-presidential hold on the Republican Party; and both his and his party's future. Bender also discusses his career in journalism, his daily battle with his father for rights to the sports page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when he was growing up, and the special challenges of writing about a White House filled with unreliable narrators.
    Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this special edition of Hell & High Water.

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    • 45 min
    Michael Bender, Part 1

    Michael Bender, Part 1

    In which John Heilemann talks with Mike Bender, senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, for a special two-part episode of the podcast. Heilemann and Bender discuss the latter's new book and its news-making account of Trump's cataclysmic final year in office and doomstruck reelection campaign; how the president mishandled the series of crises that beset the country in 2020, from Covid to the protests after the murder of George Floyd; his contraction of the coronavirus and obsession with Hunter Biden in the campaign's waning days; his actions behind the scenes and motivations in fanning the flames before and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol; the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the national media; Trump's continued post-presidential hold on the Republican Party; and both his and his party's future. Bender also discusses his career in journalism, his daily battle with his father for rights to the sports page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when he was growing up, and the special challenges of writing about a White House filled with unreliable narrators.
    Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this special edition of Hell & High Water.

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
3.6K Ratings

3.6K Ratings

minxytown ,

Killer Mike/John Meacham

I just got caught up on Part two of Killer Mike interview. I don’t know much about him, but I like the cut of his jib. Interesting and intelligent man. Hope you get a chance to bring him back. Looking forward to Aaron Sorkin.

golgikanji ,

Fiona Hill

Actual interview starts at 12:00. You are welcome.

Lakewoodlaker85 ,

Multiple episodes

John- I love your insight into your subjects and the political landscape. But when you are on hear or MSNBC - Less is more when asking questions to guests. Be less Chris Matthews ( who I also really like ) and be more Larry King … Why- What- How- Describe. Short questions are much better for your guests and audience.

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