Drive-Time Listening: Making Sense Of Politics

October 6, 2017


During the past year, politically speaking, it feels like the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. From the 2016 campaign and election to things like healthcare, the Russia investigation, North Korea, disaster relief, and the countless things I don’t have space or time to list here, it’s all a bit mind-numbing. “Breaking news” banners constantly scroll on news websites and each week it’s hard to remember on Thursday what happened Monday and by Sunday you can’t make sense of anything. At least for a person who reads what could be considered too much news, that’s how it seems to me.

At times I’m tempted to just bury my head in the sand. But, in the end, it’s too important and I find it too interesting to turn away. To help make sense of it all, I’ve started listening to several podcasts on my commute to and from work to get a little more perspective and to better understand the more complicated issues and surrounding context. Sometimes I think it’s also helpful to blend some entertainment into the mix. All are available on iTunes or wherever else you find podcasts.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Pod Save America

Produced by Crooked Media, this is a staple for me every Monday and Thursday. The Pod is hosted by Jon Favreau (not the actor), Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer. Each held a communications or speechwriting position in the Obama administration and are political and campaign veterans. They offer super-smart analysis and, equally as important, they are funny as hell. I even look forward to traffic-filled commutes when I know a new episode is available.

Side note: if you wear a Pod Save America t-shirt in public you are bound to make new friends.

Pod Save the World

Another podcast from the folks at Crooked Media, who produce Pod Save America. This podcast is hosted by Tommy Vietor, who was a spokesperson for Obama’s National Security Council. Vietor brings a wealth of knowledge to interviews with guests that give a behind-the-scenes look at foreign policy and world events. What I like most about this podcast is that Vietor makes complicated issues and complex world events easy to understand and digest.

Lovett or Leave It


Ok, fine, yet another podcast from Crooked MediaLovett or Leave It (hosted by namesake, Jon Lovett) is a panel-format show where a variety comedians, journalists and politicians discuss recent political events during as series of recurring segments. It’s much more lighthearted than the previous two podcasts and reminds me a little of Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! Still good analysis but great entertainment.



Produced by Slate, this podcast originally focused on Trump’s presidential campaign but has continued and focuses exclusively on the Trump presidency. Hosted by political journalists Virginia Heffernen and Jacob Weisberg. Great guests talking about a wide range of subjects.

In the Weeds

A podcast hosted by Vox’s Ezra Klien, Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias. As the name suggests, this one is a serious dive into the nitty-gritty on issues and I catch myself regularly saying “holy shit, are these people smart.” Definitely worth a listen if you really want to really understand the nuances of issues and get new perspectives.

The Ezra Klein Show

Hosted by Ezra Klein, one of my favorite political journalists. A podcast of wide-ranging and serious conversations with politicians, authors, business leaders and others. Another podcast to get in-depth perspective on issues.