300 episodes

Winner of the 2020 Webby and People's Voice awards for best interview podcast.
Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

The Ezra Klein Show Vox

    • Philosophy
    • 4.5, 7.9K Ratings

Winner of the 2020 Webby and People's Voice awards for best interview podcast.
Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Free speech, safety, and ‘the letter’

    Free speech, safety, and ‘the letter’

    Last week, Harper’s published an open letter arguing that “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” The letter had a long list of signatories, and triggered an instant controversy, not so much for what it said as a text as for how it was being used as a political document. This is a hot debate on both sides because it traces the issue most central not just to journalists’ hearts, but to our jobs: Can we speak the truth, as best we understand it? And who, even, is “we”?

    I believe in the free exchange of information and ideas. I’ve committed my life to it. But I also worry those values are sometimes deployed as political positioning rather than democratic practice. The term "free speech" is often used here, but we're not dealing with laws regulating speech. We're dealing with media platforms that make editorial decisions as a matter of course. No one has the right to a New York Times op-ed column, or a warm reception on social media. But fear of losing your job, or your status, can chill speech — as, of course, can fear of physical or legislative harm. As such, I've come to think the core of this debate isn't freedom, but safety. The word has become polarizing, but the yearning for it is ubiquitous. To speak freely, you must feel safe, or at least safe enough. That’s what the letter’s signatories are asking for. That’s also what its critics are asking for.

    Yascha Mounk is a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University, a columnist at the Atlantic, the host of the Good Fight podcast, and now the founder of a new journal, Persuasion, dedicated to pushing back on the illiberalism he sees infecting the discourse. Yascha and I agree on most issues, and I think hold similar values, but often find ourselves arguing over this topic. So I asked him on the show to see if we could figure out why. We discuss liberalism and illiberalism, what to do with speech that restricts others from speaking, the component parts of what gets called “cancel culture,” whether the zone of debate has widened or narrowed over the past 20 years, the differing cultures of Twitter and Reddit, The NYT's Tom Cotton controversy, whether safety and free speech are truly in tension, what the word “unsafe” means to people who have daily reason to fear for their freedom and futures, and much more. 


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 31 min
    The frightening fragility of America's political institutions

    The frightening fragility of America's political institutions

    Masha Gessen grew up in the Soviet Union and spent two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, before being driven from the country by policies targeting LGBT people. Watching Donald Trump win in 2016, Gessen felt like they had seen this movie before. Within forty-eight hours of Trump’s victory, Gessen’s essay “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” had gone viral, including lessons that in hindsight read as prophetic: Believe the autocrat. Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Institutions will not save you.

    Now, Gessen is back with a new book, Surviving Autocracy, that is a collection of ideas they have been building over the course of the Trump presidency. We discuss the inherent fragility of American political institutions, Donald Trump’s autocratic aesthetic, how the language of liberal democracy paradoxically undermines genuine liberal democracy, what lessons Gessen learned from covering the rise of Vladamir Putin, why Gessen believes the US is currently in the first stage of the three part descent to autocracy, whether George W. Bush was a more damaging president than Donald Trump, the counterintuitive roots of Trumpian post-truthism, and much more.

    Book recommendation:
    The Post-Communist Mafia State by Balint Magyar


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/ Audio Master Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Can artificial intelligence be emotionally intelligent?

    Can artificial intelligence be emotionally intelligent?

    When we talk about AI, we’re often talking about a very particular, narrow form of intelligence — the sort of analytical competence that can win you games of GO or solve complex math equations. That type of intelligence is important, but it’s incomplete. Human affairs don’t operate on reason and logic alone. They sometimes don't operate on reason and logic at all.

    In 1995, computer scientist Rosalind Picard wrote a paper and subsequent book making the case that the fields of computer science and AI should take emotion seriously, and providing a framework for how machines could come to understand, express and monitor emotion. That project launched the field of “Affective Computing” and today Picard is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT, and a leading inventor and entrepreneur in affective computing. 

    In this conversation, Picard and I discuss the importance of emotional cognition to human decision-making, how emotion-tracking technology is being used to help disadvantaged populations (but could also be used to bring about dystopian results), how affective computing deals with the subjective expressions of human emotions, what studying affective computing taught her about interacting with other humans, why Picard believes the goal of AI technology should be to “empower the weak”and “reduce inequality,” and much more.

    Book recommendations:
    The Bible (stick around for the reasoning behind this one)


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Danielle Allen on the radicalism of the American revolution — and its lessons for today

    Danielle Allen on the radicalism of the American revolution — and its lessons for today

    My first conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 was one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t expect to have Allen on again so soon, but her work is unusually relevant to our current moment.

    She’s written an entire book about the deeper argument of the Declaration of Independence and the way our superficial reading and folk history of the document obscures its radicalism. (It’ll make you look at July Fourth in a whole new way). Her most recent book, Cuz, is a searing indictment of the American criminal justice system, driven by watching her cousin go through it and motivated by the murder that ended his life. Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which Allen directs, has released the most comprehensive, operational road map for mobilizing and reopening the US economy amidst the Covid-19 crisis. And to top it all off, a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which Allen co-chaired, recently released a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American democracy — and they’re very, very good.

    This is a wide-ranging conversation for a wide-ranging moment. Allen and I discuss what “all men are created equal” really means, why the myth of Thomas Jefferson’s sole authorship of the Declaration of Independence muddies its message, the role of police brutality in the American revolution, democracy reforms such as ranked-choice voting, DC statehood, mandatory voting, how to deal with a Republican Party that opposes expanding democracy, the case for prison abolition, the various pandemic response paths before us, the failure of political leadership in this moment, and much more.

    References:
    My first conversation with Danielle Allen
    Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center's Covid-19 work
    "Our Common Purpose" report on reinventing democracy for the 21st century

    Book recommendations:
    To Shape a New World by Brandon Terry and Tommie Shelby 
    Solitary by Alfred Woodfox 
    The Torture Letters by Laurence Ralph


    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer/ Jack-of-all-audio-trades Jeff Geld
    Researcher - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect

    Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect

    Land of the Giants is a podcast from our friends at Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network that examines the most powerful tech companies of our time.
     
    The second season is called The Netflix Effect, and it’s hosted by Recode editors Rani Molla and Peter Kafka.
     
    The Netflix Effect explores how a company that began as a small DVD-by-mail service ultimately upended Hollywood and completely changed the way we watch TV.
     
    It’s a fascinating look at what really goes on behind the scenes at Netflix, one of the few companies that’s actually growing during the pandemic, and how they’re continuing to transform entertainment for you and me.  
     
    New episodes are released every Tuesday morning. 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 17 min
    Nicholas Carr on deep reading and digital thinking

    Nicholas Carr on deep reading and digital thinking

    In 1964, the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote his opus Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In it, he writes, “In the long run, a medium's content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act." Or, put more simply: "Media work their magic, or their mischief, on the nervous system itself."

    This idea — that the media technologies we rely on reshape us on a fundamental, cognitive level — sits at the center of Nicholas Carr's 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. A world defined by oral traditions is more social, unstructured, and multi-sensory; a world defined by the written written word is more individualistic, disciplined, and hyper-visual. A world defined by texting, scrolling and social feedback is addicted to stimulus, constantly forming and affirming expressions of identity, accustomed to waves of information.

    Back in 2010, Carr argued that the internet was changing how we thought, and not necessarily for the better. “"My brain, I realized, wasn't just drifting,” he wrote. “It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the same way the net fed it — and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became.” His book was a finalist for the Pulitzer that year, but dismissed by many, including me. Ten years on, I regret that dismissal. Reading it now, it is outrageously prescient, offering a framework and language for ideas and experiences I’ve been struggling to define for a decade. 

    Carr saw where we were going, and now I wanted to ask him where we are. In this conversation, Carr and I discuss how speaking, reading, and now the Internet have each changed our brains in different ways, why "paying attention" doesn't come naturally to us, why we’re still reading Marshall McLuhan, how human memory actually works, why having your phone in sight makes you less creative, what separates "deep reading” from simply reading, why deep reading is getting harder, why building connections is more important than absorbing information, the benefits to collapsing the world into a connected digital community, and much more.

    The point of this conversation is not that the internet is bad, nor that it is good. It’s that it is changing us, just as every medium before it has. We need to see those changes clearly in order to take control of them ourselves. 

    Book recommendations:
    The Control Revolution by James R. Beniger
    The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com
    Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.
    New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

    Credits:
    Producer/Editer - Jeff Geld
    Research Czar - Roge Karma
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
7.9K Ratings

7.9K Ratings

critical4purpose ,

Critical thinker

By far the most in-depth podcast channel available - honesty, grit and a true critical thinker!!! Bravo, to Ezra and Vox!!!

efishm ,

Danielle Allen for president

What a thoughtful, nuanced guest who said a lot of important things about American govt.

uccellina3 ,

Subscribe!

My favorite podcast. Assumes we can all be thinking people. Klein is a true public intellectual.

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