9 podcasts for keeping up with Trump

June 15, 2017
Photo via Pixabay.

The political axis, and much our nation’s news, tilts on the actions and statements of Donald Trump. From his New York celebrity life to his divisive campaign and the chaos of his first months in office, media coverage has propelled Trump to a position where it’s reasonable to argue he is the most famous person who has ever lived.

Covering Trump is a gargantuan task. The flood of news out of the White House can be overwhelming, and it’s helpful to have trusted voices to guide us through it. We’ve compiled a list of podcasts to help do just that, focusing on issues ranging from Trump’s environmental policy to his impact on national security to reactions from the left and right. They aren’t all explicitly Trump-focused, but given his prominence in our politics, all give plenty of time to the commander in chief.

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Left, Right & Center, KCRW
As its name implies, Left, Right & Center examines the news from divergent perspectives. Hosted by Business Insider’s Josh Barro (center), National Review’s Rich Lowry (right), and The Nation’s Katrina vanden Huevel (left), the podcast promises a “civilized, yet provocative, antidote to self-contained opinion bubbles that dominate public debate.”

What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, Radiotopia
This new offering from Roman Mars, host of the hit pod 99% Invisible, and Elizabeth Joh, professor of constitutional law at UC Davis, is—so far at least—part history lesson, part intro to constitutional law, and part contemporary political criticism. The idea for the show came from one of Joh’s tweets. Between Mars’s expertise in audio storytelling and Joh’s legal chops, the podcast (just launched) promises to be an entertaining and enlightening project.

Rational Security, Lawfare
From media darling Lawfare, Rational Security is a chatty, enjoyable take on the news of the week filtered through the lens of foreign policy and law. It’s hosted by The Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris, Lawfare and the Brookings Institution’s Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, who directs the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. Their chemistry (sometimes fueled by alcohol) makes for a great listen for those interested in national security under Trump.

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FiveThirtyEight Politics, FiveThirtyEight
Best known for its election predictions, the team at FiveThiryEight has proven adept at analysis between cycles as well. Hosted by audio pro Jody Avirgan, who is regularly joined by Nate Silver, Clare Malone, and Harry Enten, the podcast offers a look at Trump’s actions grounded in, but not overwhelmed by, numbers.

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Trump on Earth, WESA
The Allegheny Front, a Pittsburgh-based reporting outfit, produces a podcast that explores environmental issues under the 45th president. Distributed by NPR member station WESA, Trump on Earth brings a much-needed focus to issues concerning climate change, changes at the EPA, use of public land, and more. From its hub in a region built on coal, the podcast is perfectly positioned to address the president’s environmental record.

Pod Save the People, Crooked Media
DeRay Mckesson hosts the newest podcast from the Crooked Media empire. Its focus is broader than others on this list, but with Trump so often leading the news cycle, Mckesson and his guests usually spend at least part of each episode discussing the president’s actions. In a medium that is overwhelmingly dominated by white hosts, Pod Save the People’s amplification of diverse voices is welcome.

The Daily Standard, The Weekly Standard
Host Eric Felten quarterbacks a show featuring a rotating cast of writers from The Weekly Standard’s roster, providing a conservative take on the day’s news. The general tone is one of skepticism, both toward presidential boasts and liberal outrage. Episodes vary in length, but are usually short enough to consume on your commute.

The Weeds, Vox
Though Vox’s policy podcast occasionally turns its gaze away from Washington, there’s plenty of Trump-focused content on Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff, and Matthew Yglesias’s show. The hosts approach the news of the day from a liberal perspective, but they bring deep policy knowledge and professional reporting to their discussions.

Commentary Magazine Podcast, Commentary
Commentary’s John Podhoretz, Abe Greenwald, and Noah Rothman bring a conservative, though not necessarily pro-Trump, approach to their discussion of political news. Their show is distinguished by sober analysis, media criticism, and a palpable yearning for the old days of the GOP.

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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.