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.
Unpacking Title 42 with Thomas Saenz
Title 42, a decades old and rarely used public health order used to bar people with medical conditions from entering the country, revived by the Trump administration, enables immigration authorities to swiftly expel migrants to Mexico or their home countries. The enforcement of the policy, which also bars individuals from seeking asylum, continues to be met with skepticism by immigration advocates and public health officials. The Biden administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced plans to end Title 42 by May 23rd, now that vaccines are widely available. But the fate of the policy remains in limbo because of Republican-backed lawsuits and opposition to its cessation. Thomas Saenz is president and General Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). Saenz joins WITHpod to discuss the role of misinformation in the characterization of migrants, immigration and refugee policy reform and the implications of a potential continuation (or end) of Title 42.
‘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.
Interview with Timothy Snyder
Professor Snyder is being interviewed a lot right now with good reason. Even if you have heard him on other excellent podcasts you won’t want to miss his conversation with Chris. The discussion is not a repeat of other interviews and deeply moving.
As a long time listener…
Just listened to the Elie Mistal episode & it’s one of the most imbecilic episodes I’ve ever heard. I’m center-left politically & people like Elie are emotionally driven ideologues without anything productive to say. “I am not being hyperbolic - I am not being hysterical. I’m accurately quoting.” Says Elie in the episode while yelling at & lecturing the audience with sensationalist absurd assumptions. This is why MSNBC & people like Chris Hayes have sinking ratings. Really disappointed in how far to the illiberal left people like Hayes have gone. This is why people like me are now leaving the left & are becoming independents. YOU, Chris, are a source of disinformation & are acting as though you’re above the fray while completely being out of touch with every day Americans. You represent the elite class who hold luxury beliefs that damage low & middle income people so you can virtue signal & feel comforted by your purity. I’m done listening to the garbage coming out of your podcast.
Why is climate change episode sponsored by Chevron?
I generally love this podcast and listening to Chris Hayes interview so many brilliant minds about the biggest topics of modern day, but why of all episodes is the one about climate change sponsored by Chevron?? I had to go back to make sure I heard that opening ad correctly. It feels gross listening to a podcast discuss climate change knowing the podcast was supported by one of the largest oil companies in the world. I hope the people behind this podcast think about where they take their money from in the future.