33 episodes

Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

The Ezra Klein Show The New York Times

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 3.4K Ratings

Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike?

    Status Games, Polyamory and the Merits of Meritocracy

    Status Games, Polyamory and the Merits of Meritocracy

    Agnes Callard is an ethical philosopher who dissects, in dazzlingly precise detail, familiar human experiences that we think we understand. Whether her topic is expressing anger, fighting with others, jockeying for status, giving advice, or navigating jealousy, Callard provokes us to rethink the emotions and habits that govern how we live. She also happens to be one of my favorite columnists.

    In this conversation, I wanted to hear what Callard had to say about a tangle of topics we’ve explored before on the show: how we measure and trade status, and how that feeds into the amorphous thing we call “the meritocracy.” Callard’s argument is that we can have a “non-punitive” meritocracy, one that rewards us for our (virtuous) successes but doesn’t blame us for our failures. I’m not so sure, but it’s a fantastic conversation I’m still thinking about.

    But as they say on the infomercials — that’s not all! We also talk about why advice is useless, the benefits of jealousy, whether polyamory and monogamy suffer from the same problem, sad music, why Callard’s office is such a riot of color, and the secret to a good divorce. And, at the end, I’ve got some music recommendations for you. Enjoy!

    References: 

    “Who Wants to Play the Status Game?” The Point

    “Against Advice,” The Point

    “The Other Woman,” The Point

    “Parenting and Panic,” The Point

    Recommendations:

    Tolstoy: A Russian Life by Rosamund Bartlett

    Pessoa: A Biography by Richard Zenith

    Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown

    “Real Death” by Mount Eerie

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Roge Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld. Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Kristin Lin.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Is the U.S. Learning All the Wrong Lessons From Covid-19?

    Is the U.S. Learning All the Wrong Lessons From Covid-19?

    Michael Lewis’s new book, “The Premonition,” is about one of the most important questions of this moment: Why, despite having the most money, the brightest minds and the some of the most robust public health infrastructure in the world, did the United States fail so miserably at handling the Covid-19 pandemic? And what could we have done differently?

    The villain of Lewis’s story is not Donald Trump; it’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The argument laced through the book is that the C.D.C. was too passive, too unwilling to act on uncertain information, too afraid of making mistakes, too interested in its public image. What we needed was earlier shutdowns, frank public messaging, a more decentralized testing regime, a public health bureaucracy more willing to stand up to the president.

    Lewis is asking the right question, and I agree with much of his critique. But I’m skeptical of whether the kind of pandemic response he lionizes in the book was ever possible for America. Put another way: How much of a constraint is the public on public health?

    Lewis and I discuss the trade-offs in pandemic prevention, why bureaucracies have such a difficult time managing catastrophic risk, the messy politics of pandemics, the lessons of the masking debate, and ultimately, what the United States needs to learn from this crisis to prepare for the next one. I’m not sure Lewis and I came to agreement, but I’m still thinking about the conversation weeks later.

    References:
    “Public policy and health in the Trump era,” The Lancet

    Book recommendations:

    Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Young Men and Fire by Norman McLean

    Furious Hours by Casey Cep

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com

    The Ezra Klein Show is produced by Rogé Karma, Jeff Geld and Annie Galvin; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Kristin Lin.

    • 59 min
    An Unusually Wonky Conversation With Elizabeth Warren

    An Unusually Wonky Conversation With Elizabeth Warren

    One lesson of covering policy over the past 20 years is that whatever Elizabeth Warren is thinking about now is what Washington is going to be talking about next.

    So when I read Senator Warren’s new book, “Persist,” I read it with an eye toward that question: Where is Warren trying to drive the policy debate next? And two answers emerged. First, toward a truly pro-family progressivism, one that puts children’s well-being and care at the center of the agenda. And second, toward a view of inequality that puts wealth, not income, first, and builds a whole different set of economic priorities atop that analysis.

    Warren was a policy wonk before she was a politician, and that’s the kind of conversation we had here. We discuss the drivers of the rising costs of child care, the stagnation in women’s labor force participation, whether universal day care discriminates against stay-at-home parents, Warren’s plan for fixing America’s housing crisis, whether billionaires are a policy failure, the distributional effects of canceling $50,000 in student debt, the social philosophy behind Warren’s tax proposals, how markets can be channeled toward progressive ends, the coming technologies that excite Warren, and much more.


    Book recommendations:

    Heart of Fire by Mazie Hirono

    Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

    John Rain Book Series by Barry Eisler

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 55 min
    How to Have Better Conversations About Hard Things

    How to Have Better Conversations About Hard Things

    Anna Sale is one of my favorite interviewers. As the host of WNYC Studios’ “Death, Sex and Money,” she has an uncanny ability to get her guests to open up about the most personal, tragic, beautiful and embarrassing parts of their lives, whether it’s childhood trauma, the death of a partner or losing control of one’s limbs.

    The kinds of conversations Sale has on her show are hard to have in real life. So we rarely have them, even though our relationships and our society and even our politics desperately need them. Thankfully, Sale has written a new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” which distills the lessons she has learned over the years for the rest of us and offers wisdom for navigating the topics we too often shy away from: death, sex, money, family, identity.

    We discuss how society has increasingly pushed the responsibility for having these hard conversations onto individuals, what it takes to be a good listener, the common mistakes people make when supporting grieving friends and family members, why it’s especially hard to communicate with our family members, whether it’s necessary to give up our righteousness to preserve our relationships, the social stigma against talking about money, how to navigate tricky discussions about race and gender, and the art of asking open questions.

    Book recommendations:

    Death in Mud Lick by Eric Eyre

    Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

    The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel




    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Rogé Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    How Chuck Schumer Plans to Win Over Trump Voters

    How Chuck Schumer Plans to Win Over Trump Voters

    In his 100 days address this week, Joe Biden outlined his plans for a big, bold legislative agenda to come. He previewed a two-pronged economic package: the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. He spoke about the need to pass universal background checks for firearms, comprehensive immigration reform, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

    The success of that agenda hinges on whether 50 Senate Democrats — ranging from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin — can come together and pass legislation. They don’t have a single vote to spare. And the person responsible for making that happens is the New York senator and Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer.

    Schumer has a theory of politics that he believes can hold or even win Democrats seats in 2022. It’s not a complicated theory: For Democrats to win over middle-of-the-road voters — including those who voted for Donald Trump — they need to prove that government is actually helping them. But to do that, the government needs to actually help those voters, in clear and visible ways. That means passing big, bold legislation. And the institution Schumer leads — the Senate — is the primary obstacle to that happening.

    So I invited Schumer on the show to talk about how exactly he plans on doing that. How do you win over Trump voters? What kinds of economic policies can help deliver Democrats victory in 2022? How should the party approach topics like race and gender? How will he pass bills, like the For The People Act, that can’t go through budget reconciliation? And, of course, what do you do about the filibuster?

    Book recommendations:

    Grant by Ron Chernow

    Freedom by William Safire

    The Power Broker by Robert Caro


    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

    • 45 min
    Shame, Safety and Moving Beyond Cancel Culture

    Shame, Safety and Moving Beyond Cancel Culture

    I’ve been thinking lately about how to move beyond the binary debate over cancel culture. And a good place to start is with the deeper question we’re all trying to ask: What is the kind of politics — the kind of society — we’re trying to achieve in our fights over acceptable speech?

    To talk through this question, I wanted to bring on two guests, both of whom have been canceled — one by the left and one by the right — and have since dedicated parts of their work to grappling with both the good and the bad of the phenomenon. When is cancellation merited or useful? When is it insufficient or harmful? And what other tools are available in those cases?

    Natalie Wynn runs the YouTube channel ContraPoints. Her videos, on topics ranging from cancel culture to J.K. Rowling, are not only intellectually stimulating and aesthetically rich but also deeply humanizing. What sets Wynn apart is a unique capacity to live inside the heads of those she disagrees with vehemently and bring them into a dialogue with her.

    Will Wilkinson was the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center. He was fired after a right-wing online mob attacked a clearly satirical tweet he’d sent. Since being canceled, Wilkinson has, surprisingly, become one of the most outspoken critics of the anti-cancel-culture discourse. He now writes the great newsletter Model Citizen, hosts a podcast of the same name and contributes to Times Opinion.

    The result is a very different kind of cancel culture conversation. We discuss the universal yearning for safe spaces, the psychology of the social media pile-on, the political limits of social shame, the pathways to persuasion and humanization, theories of social change, the virtues of an effective political communicator, how social media shapes the way we act and think online and much, much more.

    References:

    "A Different Way of Thinking About Cancel Culture" by Ezra Klein

    “Canceling” by ContraPoints

    “J.K. Rowling” by ContraPoints

    “Undefined Cancel Game” by Will Wilkinson

    “The Boring Truth vs ‘Cancel Culture’ Panic” by Will Wilkinson


    Recommendations:

    Conflict is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman

    The Tao is Silent by Raymond Smullyan

    If you enjoyed this show, you should check out The Argument's recent episode: "Is It Time to Cancel Cancel Culture?"

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

    “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; edited by Jeff Geld.

    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3.4K Ratings

3.4K Ratings

MRR37 ,

Best podcast around.

No other similar show comes close.

k1ate ,

Fave!

Finally took the plunge and started listening to this podcast today... and it is fantastic! Really enjoying my binge of old episodes today, and will plan on listening weekly moving forward.

Jomama7747 ,

Consistently insightful conversations

I’ve been listening to Ezra since his Vox days, and I look forward each week to his thought-provoking, nuanced conversations. His switch to NYT had not been seamless, but I haven’t noticed a diminishment of quality. I love his accompanying editorials as well!

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