Political power: Who wants it? Who wields it? And why? Through compelling conversations with power players, newsmakers, and experts, The X-Ray answers these questions, providing listeners with insightful analysis of the biggest issues facing our democracy at home and abroad.
The X-Ray is brought to you by Issue One, producers of the Swamp Stories podcast.
Mom Against the Machine
Her vibrant son was driven to suicide by a relentless barrage of social media bullying. Carson Bride was like millions of American kids in the age of social apps: vulnerable to the algorithms that drive profitable engagement regardless of the psychological devastation they may cause.
In our final episode of the season, Fernando speaks with Carson’s mom, Kristin Bride. She is on a mission to hold the mighty social media platforms accountable for the harms posed to young people. A member of the Council for Responsible Social Media, Bride is an activist, moral voice, and leader working to protect children from this menace.
The United States’ success as a country, the consolidation of democracy, its ability to conquer a continent and then project massive power across the world, is due in part to its relationship with Latin America.
As the polymath author of the seminal book Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond explained, geography is destiny. And the United States’ southern border, unlike those of France or Germany, for example, that have gone to war time and again, has created an unprecedented multi-century history of relative peace.
In this episode, Fernando explores this unique legacy with Benjamin Gedan. Gedan is director of the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program. He’s also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. Benjamin is a former South America director on the National Security Council at the White House, and he also served at the State and Treasury Departments focused on Latin American issues.
Gedan is a former Fulbright scholar in Uruguay and earned a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
What’s Wrong with Congress?
Why do most Americans strongly disapprove of Congress? It’s complicated. Addiction to power, fame, and money has always been part of Congress’ ick factor and the brutal politics of our era create all sorts of perverse incentives for members to cosplay TV stars. But is there something deeper going on? Is Congress broken forever?
Fernando hunts for an answer with Dr. Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute studying the US Congress. He previously worked at the Congressional Research Service focusing on public administration issues. Kosar has taught public policy at New York University and lectured on public administration at Metropolitan College of New York. He has authored several books, including "Congress Overwhelmed: The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform."
Jonathan Greenblatt: White Nationalist Danger
The 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville was a coming out party for the extreme-right movement. From that ugly debut, white nationalist groups are now literally marching across the country. Most recently in East Cobb, Georgia, Jewish worshippers were terrorized at a synagogue by swastika brandishing thugs. With a jump in attacks against ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, the FBI’s far-right domestic terrorism warning sadly came true. White nationalism is now a clear and present danger to American democracy.
Fernando goes deep into this threat with Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, the nation’s preeminent anti-hate group. Greenblatt previously served in the White House as Special Assistant to President Obama and Director of the Office of Social Innovation. He has also been a successful entrepreneur and corporate executive. Greenblatt is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Héctor Tobar: Decoding Latinos
Latino voter participation jumped dramatically in the last two elections — yet the Washington DC political class seems pretty clueless about these voters. And if the surprising midterm results are a real trend, the Latino vote is in play for both parties. How effectively Democrats and Republicans persuade — or repel — Latinos could very well determine the winner of the presidency in 2024.
To help dispel the big mystery about these voters, Fernando gets into it with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar. He is a Professor of English and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Tobar is a former bureau chief and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, opinion contributor to The New York Times, and author of several novels and works of non-fiction. In his latest book, Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino,” Tobar explores being Latino in modern America — the contradictions, angst, hope, and dreams.
Admiral Mike Rogers: From Russia with Chaos
The Ukraine war took an unexpected turn — into Russia. The spectacular march on Moscow by Vladimir Putin’s rebellious henchman exposed the strongman’s surprising weakness. During these dramatic events, the Russian nuclear superpower teetered on the edge of chaos. And as America ramps up support for Ukraine, an unstable Russia is now an even bigger threat to the global democratic order.
Fernando is joined by Admiral Mike Rogers who unravels the web of Ukraine war politics, shedding light on the almost Russian coup. Drawing upon his extensive experience as the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), commander of the United States Cyber Command, and chief of the Central Security Service, Admiral Rogers shares unique, fresh insights into what’s really happening in a Russia destabilized by Putin’s war. Rogers is a member of Issue One’s National Council on Election Integrity and Council for Responsible Social Media.
breath of fresh air.
Such a nice break from the swamp that is the media. True, helpful, and logical information coming to you from people who genuinely care about america.
Praise from Democracy in Danger
Reid Ribble’s honest evaluation of the shortcomings and potential of the United States Congress was refreshing. Usually “never-Trump” Republicans such as Ribble are asked about how they differ from the former President and what they plan to do to take the party back. But on this show, Ribble was given a chance to elaborate on what we all need to do to take our country back from politicians of both parties who care more about raising money for re-election than they care about the right to vote and the deficit.
Weston Wamp has Swag
Swamp Stories has a rhythm to it. Weston Wamp tackles controversial topics of corruption with a bipartisan perspective. But the coolest thing is this has such a slick and fun presentation. It’s an enjoyable listen.