Each episode will go deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. We’ll share with you our best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump's Russia connections), and informative interviews with our reporters and newsmakers. We're hoping to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter, told by us, the folks you trust for smart, fearless reporting.
Will Biden Finally Fix America's Crippling Student Debt Crisis?
Young people turned out in record numbers for the 2020 presidential election, and they overwhelmingly backed Joe Biden. Now, the hashtag #CancelStudentDebt has been trending on Twitter, as intense pressure mounts on the President-elect to finally tackle the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis holding millions of Americans, especially young Americans, hostage to often crippling monthly payments for years to come. “This feels like the closest we’ve ever been,” one education advocate recently told Time, referring to the chance for real policy changes. According to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who has established herself as the loudest voice on the matter, large-scale debt forgiveness would provide “the single most effective economic stimulus that is available through executive action.” But how likely is that? Can this finally be fixed?
On this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, we’re revisiting our big investigation by journalist Ryann Liebenthal into America’s broken student debt machine. We first brought you this story in August 2018, detailing the flailing government program known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a system that, when Biden was a candidate, he pledged to streamline and reform. “It should be done immediately,” he said, referring to the passage of new legislation. But that depends on who controls the Senate come January, and Biden’s professed urgency must inevitably be tempered with a tough political reality.
To bring us up to speed on what’s changed since the campaign and what Biden’s picks for his economic team can tell us about his ambitions, we also chatted to our very own transition tracker, Washington, DC, political reporter Kara Vogt. “The demands for canceling student debt have not ceased since president-elect Joe Biden won in November,” Voght says. “It’s not just the grassroots, not just progressive who are calling for this.” Revisit our original written investigation here.
The Safest Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving, According to Science
How are your Thanksgiving plans different this year? You may have heeded the urgent advice to put travel plans on ice, but you’re still trying your best to feel the holiday spirit, somehow? As the latest coronavirus surge continues unabated, and as various kinds of restrictions swing into effect across the country, the Mother Jones Podcast team is bringing you two chats with top infectious-disease experts on how to stop the spread and keep you and your family safe during a holiday season unlike any other.
Science communication expert Jessica Malaty Rivera, a microbiologist, has a few tips for you, and a couple for the incoming president, too. Rivera spoke to our senior editor Kiera Butler about Thanksgiving strategies—"a negative COVID-19 test is not an immunity passport," she warns—as well as her work to document up-to-the-minute coronavirus data and trends at the COVID Tracking Project. "Nobody here is saying we should cancel Thanksgiving," Rivera says. "What we’re saying is it needs to look very different from years past." Some top-line tips: Stay at home, and if you are hosting a gatherings, keep it small, outdoors, and masked. Read more from Mother Jones' interview with Rivera, and how the Biden administration must beat viral misinformation influencers at their own game to combat the coronavirus, here.
Also on the show, host Jamilah King spoke to Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist, pediatrician, and dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, about the state of vaccine development right now, including which segments of the population are expected to get it first, and when. He gives his Thanksgiving tips, too: "We are in a public health crisis," he says. "Don’t do reckless, irresponsible things. Let’s just hang on a few more months and everyone can get vaccinated and live."
Surge Shock: Top Coronavirus Experts Share Fixes for Our Broken System
The United States is confronting its worst surge in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. Governors are rushing new lockdowns into place as hospitals nationwide burst at the seams. The death toll is, yet again, setting daily records. Maybe by the time you listen to this episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, the US will have passed another dire milestone (of so many): a quarter of a million coronavirus deaths.
Inside our newsroom, reporters and editors are determined to put science—and the voices of scientists—at the heart of our ongoing coronavirus coverage. That's why, earlier in the outbreak, we launched a series called "Pandemic Proofing America", an evolving oral history collection featuring incisive interviews with the nation's top scientists and public health experts. The central question we posed was this: With a scandalously enfeebled government hampering the country's response, what are the most important steps we can take to make sure we’re better prepared next time around? Their responses were wide-ranging, often damning in their criticism of the current administration's failures, and sometimes hopeful that we might find common purpose in listening to science.
For this episode of the podcast, the brains behind this series, Mother Jones's Atlanta-based Senior Editor Kiera Butler, has assembled a selection of these big thinkers to weigh in on how to survive America's coming dark winter, and how the country can begin to imagine a pandemic-free future by combating disinformation and collaborating across disciplines, and beyond our borders. You'll hear from top experts like Timothy Caulfield, from the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health; Laurel Bristow, from Emory University’s Vaccine Center; Ashish Jha, at Harvard’s Global Health Institute; and Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s top healthcare advisor.
For the entire showcase of nearly 20 interviews to date, click here.
Biden Won. Now He Needs to Save the Planet.
After a drawn-out vote count, Joe Biden has clinched the presidency. Now he needs to save the planet. As Biden’s supporters celebrate, many are hoping beyond hope for a quick reversal of President Trump’s most harmful policies come January 20, 2021. And perhaps no part of Trump’s agenda posed a bigger existential threat than his denial of climate change. From crippling the EPA and rolling back environmental regulations, to pulling out of the landmark Paris Agreement, Trump did everything he could to roll back the progress of President Obama’s ambitious second-term climate agenda. This year, carbon dioxide levels reached the highest recorded levels in human history.
On today’s show, Jamilah King is joined by Mother Jones’ climate and environment reporter Rebecca Leber to discuss what we can expect from an incoming Biden administration that has claimed climate action as central to its governing mandate. How much of Trump’s damage can Biden reverse? What could a Republican-controlled Senate mean for the Green New Deal? How will Kamala Harris’ barrier-breaking role in the White House influence Biden’s commitment to environmental justice? Biden made big promises for climate action on the campaign trail. His first 100 Days as president are expected to unleash a flurry of executive orders on climate change. Now the questions are when, and how, he’ll deliver. If the number of times Biden said “science” in his victory speech is any indication, this administration will reverse Trump’s denialism. But will it be enough to stop runaway global warming? On today's show: Biden's last-chance climate fixes.
Live Podcast Special: How Biden Banished Trump
It’s over! After a nail-biting count that dragged for days in key swing states, Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States, with a record-breaking vote count of at least 75 million votes, so far. The Mother Jones Podcast team has a bonus live podcast to tell you our instant analysis about how Biden clinched the deal. We discuss the historic moment of having Vice President–elect Kamala Harris become the first Black woman, the first woman of South Asian descent, and the first daughter of immigrants to hold that position, and the threat that Trump will not allow a peaceful transition of power at the White House.
Our host Jamilah King (and in-house expert on all-things Kamala) speaks with Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief David Corn—who called in from the Biden Welcome Center on the Delaware Turnpike—about what’s next for a deeply divided country in the middle of multiple national crises, and what happens next.
No Clear Outcome. No Clear Rejection of Trump. Now We Wait.
Exhausted from staying up much too late, we are all trying to figure out what happened now that the final day of voting is over in one of the most important elections of our lives. The presidential results are still too close to call. There was no landslide victory. There was no clear repudiation of Trump and the GOP, either. Now we may have to wait for days, possibly weeks—depending on how vote counting and court battles play out—to find out if Trump or Biden won. Election results from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, and Georgia are still trickling in.The Mother Jones Podcast is here to help you make sense of a crazy election night with a live “day after” election special. What exactly happened not just last night but with this whole election? Where do Trump and Biden stand in the drag-out fight to 270 electoral votes? In this episode, some of your favorite Mother Jones Podcast regulars join Jamilah King to analyze the initial results and talk about the big picture. You'll hear from Washington DC Bureau Chief David Corn, who joined us to discuss the big trends from the night, and where to look for results next. You'll get to the bottom of the Miami-Dade count that cost Biden Florida, with reporter Noah Lanard; and you'll hear about the likely flipping of Arizona—yes, another confusing story—with our reporter Fernanda Echavarri. As the president fumes and threatens to steal the vote, all there really is to do is wait. And remember, the team here at Mother Jones is staying focused on the facts, the context, and the story behind the headlines. This race is not over yet.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Must listen pod!!!!
I’m addicted!!! Love the in-depth takes.
Just learned about this from the latest Code Switch episode and I’m so happy they had Jamilah on. This is an amazing podcast, very thoughtful and well researched. I loved the Guns, Elections, and 2020 episode—it was great hearing interviews with a diverse set of perspectives.
Latest live special seems delusional. They’re acting like Trump is not being effective but I’m pretty sure he’s going to win again. Because people believe in Trump and even my leftist friends are not supporting Biden.