The Ezra Klein Show



Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Mark Zuckerberg intends to govern Facebook? What Barack Obama regrets in Obamacare? The dangers Yuval Harari sees in our future? What Michael Pollan learned on psychedelics? The lessons Bryan Stevenson learned freeing the wrongly convicted on death row? The way N.K. Jemisin imagines new worlds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.


  • Your gut instinct is usually wrong

    15/08/2022 Duration: 55min

    Sean Illing talks with former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Don't Trust Your Gut. Seth argues that the way we make decisions is wrong, outdated, and based on methods or conventional wisdom that lead us astray from getting what we want. Sean and Seth discuss the idea of using data in place of our own intuition and reason to help us through things like online dating, picking a place to live, and being a better parent. Plus, how can we trust "experience sampling" studies that rely on self-reporting, when — after all — everybody lies? Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (@SethS_D), author References:  Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (Dey Street; 2022) Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (Dey Street; 2018) Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller, 2011); based on the book Moneyball: The Art

  • Even Better: Workplace equality 2.0

    11/08/2022 Duration: 53min

    Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better lives individually and collectively. In the second episode, host Julia Furlan talks with author and CEO Minda Harts about how to fight for equality in the workplace. Harts’s work has focused on empowering people, particularly women of color, to find their voice and secure a seat at the table. Julia and Minda discuss the failures of "Lean In" to meaningfully address these issues, how to overcome common workplace obstacles and stereotypes, and how to achieve success through enrolling your coworkers and colleagues in the project of creating a truly equitable and respectful workplace. Host: Julia Furlan (@juliastmi) Guest: Minda Harts (@MindaHarts), author; founder and CEO of The Memo References:  You Are More Than Magic: The Black and Brown Girls' Guide to Finding Your Voice by Minda Harts  The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts Lean

  • Why we're still postmodern (whatever that means)

    08/08/2022 Duration: 58min

    Sean Illing talks with Stuart Jeffries, journalist and author of Everything, All the Time, Everywhere, about why postmodernism is so hard to define, and why — as Jeffries argues — it's still a very active presence in our culture and politics today. They discuss whether our desire should be understood as subversive or as a tool of capitalism, how postmodernism is inextricably linked with neoliberalism, and how to navigate our current culture of ubiquitous consumption and entertainment. What should we watch on TV: Boris Johnson's resignation speech, or the reality show Love Is Blind? Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Stuart Jeffries, author; feature writer, The Guardian References:  Everything, All the Time, Everywhere: How We Became Postmodern by Stuart Jeffries (Verso; 2021) "The post-truth prophets" by Sean Illing (Vox; Nov. 16, 2019) The Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard (Univ. of Minnesota Press; 1979, tr. 1984) Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard (

  • Even Better: Activism when you don't know where to start

    04/08/2022 Duration: 48min

    Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better lives individually and collectively. In this first episode, host Julia Furlan talks with activist, writer, and organizer Brea Baker. Brea's career has included student activism at Yale University, national organizing for the Women's March, and continues today through action-oriented work on behalf of progressive causes. Brea talks about how her work is informed by radical love, how she confronts obstacles in the movement on both personal and organizational scales, and how we can push back against despair and dread, and come into our power — no matter where we're at. Host: Julia Furlan (@juliastmi) Guests: Brea Baker (@Brea_Baker), activist; writer; Chief Equity Officer, Inspire Justice References:  "bell hooks Taught Us To Both Practice and Preach Radical Love" by Brea Baker (Elle; Dec. 20, 2021) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexand

  • The Supreme Court's power grab

    01/08/2022 Duration: 01h05min

    Sean Illing talks with Harvard Law professor Nikolas Bowie about the U.S. Supreme Court's recently-concluded term, which produced landmark opinions restricting the power of the EPA, expanding gun rights, and overturning Roe v. Wade. They discuss how the conservative court's arguments are structured and why they are in fact quite radical, what "legal liberalism" is and whether it has just been decisively repudiated, and whether there are any reforms that could stop the conservative majority from reshaping American jurisprudence. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Nikolas Bowie (@nikobowie), Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School References:  Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court, Public Meeting, Panel 1 (C-SPAN; June 30) "How the Supreme Court dominates our democracy" by Niko Bowie (Washington Post; July 16, 2021) A Twitter thread on the repudiation of legal liberalism, by @nikobowie Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health (SCOTUS; June 24) 42 U.S. Code §198

  • How middlemen took over the economy

    28/07/2022 Duration: 01h06min

    Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Kathryn Judge, professor at Columbia Law School and author of the new book Direct: The Rise of Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source. They discuss how middlemen — which include real estate agents, stock brokers, but also Amazon and Walmart — came to assume such an outsized role in our economy, the pros and cons of middlemen in different market contexts, why Prof. Judge sees a fundamental difference between Etsy and Amazon, and how we consumers can change how we decide what to buy in order to help push the economy in a radically different direction. Host: Emily Stewart (@EmilyStewartM), senior correspondent, Vox Guests: Kathryn Judge (@ProfKateJudge), Harvey J. Goldschmid Professor of Law, Columbia University; author References:  Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source by Kathryn Judge (Harper Business; 2022) "So Much for Cutting Out the Middleman" by Kathryn Judge (The Atlantic; June 9) "What Is Web3?" by Thomas Stack

  • The necessity — and danger — of free speech

    25/07/2022 Duration: 56min

    Sean Illing talks with Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan about his new book The Paradox of Democracy, which he co-authored with media studies professor Zac Gershberg. Sean and Margaret discuss the relationship between free expression and democratic society, talk about whether or not the January 6th hearings are doing anything at all politically, and discuss some potential ways to bolster democratic values in the media ecology of the present. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview), media columnist, Washington Post References:  The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion by Zac Gershberg and Sean Illing (Chicago; 2022) Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy by Margaret Sullivan (Columbia Global Reports; 2020) "Four reasons the Jan. 6 hearings have conquered the news cycle" by Margaret Sullivan (Washington Post; July 22) Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan (1964) A

  • Hacking coral sex to save the reefs

    21/07/2022 Duration: 55min

    Vox's Benji Jones talks with marine biologist Hanna Koch about her team's efforts to repopulate the planet's coral reefs through cutting-edge scientific intervention. They discuss what makes coral so unique as organisms, how scientists understand their reproductive behavior, and how they are working to respawn corals and repopulate reefs. Hanna explains why this work is so imperative — not just for the diverse array of marine life that coral reefs are home to, but for the sustainability of human communities, as well. Host: Benji Jones (@BenjiSJones), Environmental reporter, Vox Guest: Hanna Koch (@DrHannaRKoch1), Marine biologist; postdoctoral research fellow, Coral Reef Restoration Program, Mote Marine Laboratory References:  "How to resurrect a coral reef" by Benji Jones (Vox; Apr. 22) "Restored Corals Spawn Hope for Reefs Worldwide" by Hanna R. Koch, Erinn Muller, & Michael P. Crosby (The Scientist; Feb. 1, 2021) "Herbivorous Crabs Reverse the Seaweed Dilemma on Coral Reefs" by A. Jason Spadaro & Mar

  • The price of keeping secrets

    18/07/2022 Duration: 52min

    Sean Illing talks with professor Michael Slepian, author of The Secret Life of Secrets. This new book explores secret-keeping behavior and its consequences, as well as how secrecy relates to trust. Sean and Michael talk about what things we keep secret, why we're so worried about keeping them secret, and the toll that secret-keeping can have on us. They also talk about how the issue of secrecy relates to authenticity, and our fears of being judged by others. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Michael Slepian (@michaelslepian), author; professor, Columbia Business School References:  The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are by Michael Slepian (Crown; 2022) "Why the Secrets You Keep Are Hurting You" by Michael Slepian (Scientific American; Feb. 5, 2019) "Spill the Beans" by Olga Khazan (The Atlantic; July 8, 2015) "Keeping Secrets Isn't So Bad for You After All — With One Exception" by Olivia Campbell (New York; May 3, 2

  • Does China control Hollywood?

    14/07/2022 Duration: 01h04min

    Vox's Alissa Wilkinson talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Erich Schwartzel about Red Carpet, his new book detailing the myriad ways that Hollywood movies are affected by China. They discuss how Chinese markets are essential for the budgetary math of big blockbusters, the role of the Chinese Communist Party's censors play in shaping the content of American films, and what this complicated global relationship might for Hollywood's future — and the future of movies in general. Host: Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie), film critic and senior culture reporter, Vox Guests: Erich Schwartzel (@erichschwartzel), reporter, The Wall Street Journal; author References:  Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy by Erich Schwartzel (Penguin; 2022) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by m

  • Steve Bannon is still at war

    11/07/2022 Duration: 50min

    Sean Illing talks with Jennifer Senior, the Pulitzer-winning staff writer at the Atlantic, about her recent piece on Steve Bannon called "American Rasputin." Through incredible firsthand access and detailed reporting, Senior shows how Bannon is still an effective media manipulator through his popular "War Room" podcast. Sean and Jennifer discuss what Bannon's true political beliefs might be, the role he played in plotting the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and the role he might already be playing in setting up the next insurrection. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Jennifer Senior (@JenSeniorNY), staff writer, The Atlantic References:  "American Rasputin" by Jennifer Senior (June 6; The Atlantic) UPDATE: "Bannon, Facing Jail and Fines, Agrees to Testify to Jan. 6 Panel" by Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman (July 10; New York Times) "Steve Bannon's 'We Build the Wall' Codefendants Plead Guilty" by Bob Van Voris (Apr. 21; Bloomberg) "Steve Bannon and U.S. ultra-conserv

  • The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming

    30/06/2022 Duration: 39min

    Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Jonathan Lethem about his 2003 work The Fortress of Solitude in this recording from a live Vox Book Club event. They discuss the prescient and still-relevant themes of the novel — like the issues of appropriation in art, gentrification, and superheroes, how Lethem approaches "realism" in his writing, and the role of music and comics in both his own life and the lives of his characters. Vox Conversations will be on summer break the week of July 4th, and will return on Monday, July 11th. Host: Constance Grady (@constancegrady), staff writer, Vox Guests: Jonathan Lethem, author References:  The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Vintage; 2003) "The Fortress of Solitude is a fraught and uneasy love letter to a vanished Brooklyn" by Constance Grady (Vox; May 20) "The Author Looks Inward: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem" by Brian Gresko (LARB; Sept. 8, 2013) Another Country by James Baldwin (1962) Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (1901) Song of Solomon by Ton

  • The Philosophers: Stoic revival

    27/06/2022 Duration: 01h05min

    Sean Illing talks with author Ryan Holiday about Stoicism — a philosophy with roots in ancient Greece and which flourished in early imperial Rome — and how it can help us live fulfilling lives today. In addition to explaining what Stoicism is and how we can practice it, Holiday addresses the critical idea that Stoicism is a philosophy for elites, unpacks some of the parallels between Stoicism and Buddhism, and explains how being in touch with our mortality can relieve some of our modern anxieties. This is the fourth episode of The Philosophers, a monthly series from Vox Conversations. Each episode will focus on a philosophical figure or school of thought from the past, and discuss how their ideas can help us make sense of our modern world and lives today. Check out the other episodes in this series, on Albert Camus, Hannah Arendt, and pragmatism with Cornel West. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews writer, Vox Guest: Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday), author; creator of Daily Stoic References to works by St

  • Station Eleven's creator on the end of the world

    23/06/2022 Duration: 52min

    Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos sits down with Patrick Somerville, the creator and showrunner of HBO's critically-acclaimed series Station Eleven, adapted from the novel by Emily St. John Mandel. They talk about the weirdness of making a show about a pandemic during a pandemic, what it was like to craft the show's intricate web of storylines, and why Patrick's body of work — which also includes Maniac, Made for Love, and co-writing The Leftovers — tends toward the dystopian. There's also a reflective discussion about . . . hugs. Host: Alex Abad-Santos (@alex_abads), Senior Culture Reporter, Vox Guest: Patrick Somerville (@patrickerville), creator and showrunner, Station Eleven References:  Station Eleven, created for television by Patrick Somerville (HBO Max; 2021) Station Eleven, novel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf; 2014) "A syllabus for a new world" by Alissa Wilkinson (Vox; Jan. 13) "In Station Eleven, the end of the world is a vibrant, lush green" by Emily St. James (Vox; Jan. 10) Enjoyed this episode?

  • The racist origins of fat phobia

    16/06/2022 Duration: 54min

    Vox’s Anna North talks with Da'Shaun Harrison, the activist, author, and 2022 Lambda Literary Award recipient for their book Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Da'Shaun explains the ways in which society's anti-fatness is structural, and connected —historically and politically — to the structures of anti-Blackness that took root alongside slavery in America. Anna and Da'Shaun discuss common misunderstandings and myths about fatness, how these pathologies insidiously infiltrate the criminal justice system, and why Da'Shaun envisions a liberatory future in the idea of destruction. Host: Anna North (@annanorthtweets), Senior Reporter, Vox Guest: Da'Shaun Harrison (@DaShaunLH), author; editor-at-large, Scalawag References:  Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da'Shaun Harrison (North Atlantic; 2021) "The past, present, and future of body image in America" by Anna North (Vox; Oct. 18, 2021) "The paradox of online 'body positivity'" by Rebecca

  • The fight for Ukraine — and democracy

    13/06/2022 Duration: 54min

    Sean Illing talks with historian and author Timothy Snyder about the war in Ukraine, the stakes for Europe and the rest of the world, and the battle between Putin's autocracy and democracy being waged. They also discuss the enduring importance of history — and of ideas — in shaping events in our world. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Timothy Snyder (@TimothyDSnyder), author; Levin professor of history, Yale University References:  "The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word" by Timothy Snyder (New York Times Magazine; Apr. 22) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder (Crown; 2017) The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder (Tim Duggan; 2018) Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder (Basic; 2010) "Vladimir Putin's politics of eternity" by Timothy Snyder (The Guardian; Mar. 16, 2018) Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism by Charles W. Mills (Oxford; 2017) "Who is Putin

  • The war on trans people

    09/06/2022 Duration: 55min

    Vox’s Emily St. James talks with Chase Strangio of the ACLU about the assault on the rights of trans Americans taking place in many states across the country. They explain why laws that recently passed through state houses in Florida, Texas, and Alabama imperil trans people — or, in some cases, even criminalize their very existence. Chase and Emily discuss the ongoing legal battles to challenge these laws, the political and social obstacles facing the trans community, and how all Americans can help protect trans people through challenging some fundamental assumptions in our culture. Host: Emily St. James (@emilyvdw), Senior Correspondent, Vox Guest: Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio), Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, ACLU References:  "The time to panic about anti-trans legislation is now" by Emily St. James (Vox; March 24) "Florida's law limiting LGBTQ discussion in schools, explained" by Amber Phillips (Washington Post; April 22) "Alabama law criminalizing care for transgender youth faces federal

  • Michael Ian Black on being a better man

    06/06/2022 Duration: 56min

    Sean Illing talks with comedian and author Michael Ian Black about his book A Better Man, in which Black writes a letter to his son about masculinity, vulnerability, and the importance of empathy, among other things. They open the conversation discussing the tragic mass murder that took place at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Black was inspired to write this book in the wake of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and America's mass shootings are a subject throughout his book. Sean and Michael talk about how to confront these events as fathers of boys, the myth of what it means to be a "real man," and the elusive importance of deep, male friendship. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack), comedian; author References:  A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son by Michael Ian Black (Workman; 2020 - paperback, 2022) "America's troubled relationship with paid time off for dads" by Aimee Picchi (CBS News; Oct. 19, 2021) En

  • Carmen Maria Machado's haunted feminine

    02/06/2022 Duration: 42min

    Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Carmen Maria Machado, whose 2017 short story collection Her Body and Other Parties was a National Book Award finalist. In this episode, which is a recording of a live Vox Book Club event, they discuss how this haunting genre-straddling collection conveys the underlying horrors of being an embodied woman, how the nation's shifting cultural mores around sexual violence are reflected in Law & Order: SVU, and how Machado's writing expresses what she just might start calling the "femme uncanny." Host: Constance Grady (@constancegrady), staff writer, Vox Guests: Carmen Maria Machado, author References:  Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf; 2017) Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (2002) Kelly Link "The Green Ribbon" by Alvin Schwartz, from In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (1984) "'Law & Order' is lost without Stabler and Benson. Here's why their pairing works," by Carmen Maria Machado (LA Times; Apr. 8, 2021) "The Tras

  • The rise and fall of America's monuments

    26/05/2022 Duration: 50min

    Jamil Smith talks with Erin Thompson, professor of art crime and author of Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments. They discuss why we honor horrible people from the past in metal and stone, what effects these objects have on our present, and what's keeping so many of these monuments in place throughout America. Host: Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith), Senior Correspondent, Vox Guest: Erin Thompson (@artcrimeprof), author; associate professor of art crime, John Jay College of Criminal Justice References:  Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments by Erin Thompson (Norton; 2022) A viral tweet (June 10, 2020) "What's the point of beheading a statue?" by Erin Thompson (Art News; June 22, 2020) "The Historian Scrutinizing Our Idea of Monuments" by Alexandra Schwartz (New Yorker; March 3) Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscr

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