Crosscut Talks
The Kamala Harris Effect with Ruchika Tulshyan

The Kamala Harris Effect with Ruchika Tulshyan

November 25, 2020

Author Ruchika Tulshyan talks about the change that diversity can bring to a workplace when that workplace is the White House.

When Kamala Harris walks into the White House on Jan. 20, she will be carrying with her a lot of firsts. She will be the first woman vice president of the United States, not to mention the first woman of color to hold the office. She will also be the first Black person to be vice president and the first Asian American to achieve such a height of elected office.

In some ways it will be a moment reminiscent of January 2009, when Barack Obama became the country's first Black president. But there are many ways it is very different, aside from the fact that leading Harris into office will be a septuagenarian white man, Joe Biden.

One of the main differences is, of course, Harris' gender. Another is that, unlike Obama, she has arrived at her post as a part of a larger wave that swept a record number of women of color into elected office at the federal and state levels.

This week on the Crosscut Talks podcast we are speaking with Tulshyan about Harris' ascent. The author of The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace discusses how Harris will change the White House, what Obama's presidency can tell us about the challenges she will face and how Tulshyan imagines the new vice president might lead.

A Republican Win in Deep-Blue America with Melissa Santos

A Republican Win in Deep-Blue America with Melissa Santos

November 19, 2020

Reporter Melissa Santos discusses the politics and path for the GOP's great West Coast hope. When Kim Wyman won re-election as Washington state's secretary of state earlier this month, she outperformed her party's gubernatorial and presidential candidates by double digits and became the GOP's only statewide elected official on the West Coast of the lower 48. Some in the party see her appeal to split-ticket voters as the path to statewide relevance, perhaps as a candidate for governor. Yet, the rightward swing of the base during the Trump era complicates the equation. This week on the Crosscut Talks podcast we speak with Santos about Wyman, how she is able to keep her office in such a deep blue state, and the tough choices ahead for the Republican party.  

Trump’s Election Lies and the Future of American Democracy with Jevin West

Trump’s Election Lies and the Future of American Democracy with Jevin West

November 12, 2020

'Calling Bullshit' co-author Jevin West tells us how the attempts to delegitimize the presidential election could be warping the electorate. Misinformation has been a part of American politics since George Washington didn't have wooden teeth. But in the past decade lies and distortions have become central to the conversation about how our country is run and who runs it. Social media platforms have taken some measures to help stop the spread of many of these lies in the run-up to the 2020 election, and it appears they had some success. But the job isn't done, as misinformation concerning the result of the election and the validity of the vote continues to spread. For this week's episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast we speak with University of Washington researcher Jevin West about the election and its aftermath. The co-author of Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World tells us what he saw on Election Day, why the lies surrounding this election are different from those we've seen before and how to combat them. He also discusses what four years of almost nonstop nonsence has done to our country and our brains, and what it means for our future.

Where American Politics Goes From Here with Michael Medved and Christopher Parker

Where American Politics Goes From Here with Michael Medved and Christopher Parker

November 6, 2020

Talk radio host Michael Medved and political science professor Christopher Parker consider the future of the parties and the nation. There was no first-round knockout. In fact, while the result of the race for the American presidency was not immediately clear in the days following the election, the early vote totals quickly dispelled any notion that the current president's aberrant behavior and haphazard management of the COVID-19 pandemic might have turned off a mass of his supporters. Rather, support for President Donald Trump has grown. The incumbent president eclipsed his 2016 vote total by at least 3 million votes, while gaining ground with Black and Latino voters. Unfortunately for the president, Joe Biden did even better, breaking the previous record for a presidential candidate in the popular vote, outgaining the 2008 total of his former boss, Barack Obama, by at least 3 million votes. How that would play out in the Electoral College remained to be seen when we sat down on Thursday morning with conservative talk radio host Michael Medved and University of Washington professor Christopher Parker for the latest episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast. They discussed what the continued support for the president says about the country, what it portends for the future of the Republican Party and how the Democrats might govern, given their new coalitions.

Despair and Decision in Trump Country with Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Despair and Decision in Trump Country with Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

October 30, 2020

Journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn revisit the struggles they found in America's blue collar communities. When the novel coronavirus came to the United States, it found a nation that was arguably already in a kind of existential crisis. America's life expectancy, a primary indicator of the nation's overall wellbeing, had dropped for three straight years by that point. Obesity, opioid use and suicide, meanwhile, were on the rise. The despair feeding these numbers, say journalists Kristof and WuDunn, was being disproportionately carried by the country's working class. And it was the stories of these Americans that the two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists sought to tell while reporting their latest book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, which was published weeks before the virus grew to pandemic proportions. That despair is also credited, in part, with the rise of President Donald Trump. Now, on the eve of the presidents' re-election bid, these Americans must decide if they will continue supporting the president. For this episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, Kristof and WuDunn tell us how the pandemic has impacted the Americans in their book, what their research portends for a possible recovery and whether they plan to support the president again.

The Death of Live Music with Charles R. Cross

The Death of Live Music with Charles R. Cross

October 22, 2020

Journalist Charles R. Cross tells us what live music has done for Seattle, and what could happen if local venues don’t see any economic relief. When the novel coronavirus took hold in Washington state, live music venues were some of the first businesses to go dark. It made sense. Little was known about the virus then, but it was clear that crowded rooms of people dancing, shouting and singing were not advisable. Now, as the nation looks forward to the potential of reopening, it has become clear that these venues will be among the last to re-open. When they do reopen, there are likely to be far fewer of them. Cross discusses the efforts to secure government assistance for these businesses. 

How Crisis Has Shaped Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Plus: Parsing Our Poll on Police and Protesting

How Crisis Has Shaped Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Plus: Parsing Our Poll on Police and Protesting

October 15, 2020

Michael Kirk, the director of ‘The Choice,’ tells us what the presidential candidates’ response to tragedy, failure and humiliation tells us about how they lead. The two candidates are old. In fact, President Donald Trump was already the oldest American to assume the presidency when he was sworn in for his first term. Now he is four years older and his opponent Joe Biden is even older than that, by three years. So, both men have had a lot of time to wrack up successes, which they have obviously leveraged in their quests for political power. But both candidates have also experienced their fair share of personal crisis and the failure and humiliation that often accompanies such moments. Perhaps more than their fair share. Some of these tragedies were thrust upon these men and some were self-inflicted — and many involved issues of race — but they all demanded a response. It is in these responses, says director Michael Kirk, that the true character of the candidates is revealed. This week on the Crosscut Talks podcast, Kirk talks about his latest installment of "The Choice" for Frontline, which chronicles two lifetimes of crisis that have culminated with an election defined by crisis. Plus, Crosscut news and politics editor Donna Blankinship talks about our recent poll on protests and policing. 

The Argument for Packing the Supreme Court. Plus: More Reasons to Hate Wildfire Smoke

The Argument for Packing the Supreme Court. Plus: More Reasons to Hate Wildfire Smoke

October 8, 2020

Elie Mystal tells us why expanding the court isn't an outlandish idea, and how it might work. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last month, her death marked the beginning of a fresh debate over the future of the Supreme Court. But the biggest question of that debate wasn't who would take her place. President Trump was expected to nominate one of a list of conservative figures that he had previously made public — which he did soon after, naming Amy Coney Barret — and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell quickly made public his plans to put that nominee up for a vote before the election, all but assuring that the court would remain decidedly conservative for years to come. The biggest question, rather, was what Democrats were going to do about it. The answer, says Mystal, is to pack the court. On this week's episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, the justice correspondent for The Nation tells us why he believes Democrats must embrace the idea of adding seats to the court and filling them with liberal justices even if that seemingly radical act undermines the court's legitimacy. Plus Crosscut Reporter Hannah Weinberger discusses the cascading impacts the wildfire smoke is having on Washington state.

The Truth About Black Life in Middle America. Plus: College Towns in the COVID Era

The Truth About Black Life in Middle America. Plus: College Towns in the COVID Era

September 30, 2020

Terrion Williamson, the director of the Black Midwest Initiative, discusses how parachute journalism is hurting Black people in America's heartland. When the video of Minneapolis police officers killing George Floyd went viral in the spring, the Minnesota metropolis quickly transformed into a theater of discontent as the nation's battle over race and policing unfolded in its streets. The center of that conflict has shifted throughout the summer as it has fueled partisan rancor, but it has often returned to Midwestern cities where Black Americans have been shot by police in questionable circumstances. These news items are just the latest example of national media descending on a Midwestern city to tell a story of Black Americans in distress. Whether it is gun violence in Chicago, economic collapse in Detroit or the water crisis in Flint, Americans on the coasts and throughout the country are over-and-over again shown a picture of Black life in the heartland that is devastating. But that life is both more vibrant and more complex than these stories let on, says Williamson. On this week's episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, she discusses the harm that is caused when we only pay attention to Black Midwesterners in crisis. Plus, Crosscut reporter Emily McCarty tells us how college towns are coping during the pandemic.

The Crisis at the Core of ‘The Social Dilemma.’ Plus: QAnon comes to Washington

The Crisis at the Core of ‘The Social Dilemma.’ Plus: QAnon comes to Washington

September 24, 2020

Director Jeff Orlowski talks about his hit documentary and how his work on climate change helped him prepare to tell the story of social media run amok. In the early days of social media, the promise was real. By democratizing connection, a new breed of tech companies seemed to be doing good in the world: reuniting long-lost family and friends, providing a platform for pro-democracy political movements, helping those isolated by interest or identity to find a sense of belonging. Also, there were a lot of cat memes. The future was bright, until it wasn't. In recent years, social media platforms have been conjuring a different vision of the future: digital dystopia. As seen in the new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, these platforms are now intense battlegrounds where misinformation is elevated and partisan division is deepened. At the root of the problem, says Orlowski and the many former tech executives he interviews, is a business model that feeds on attention and prioritizes shareholder value. For this week’s episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, Orlowski discusses his documentary, how his work covering the climate crisis has helped him navigate this social crisis, and what he believes must be done to save our society. Plus, Crosscut reporter Melissa Santos tells us how a conspiracy cult flourishing on social media has now infiltrated electoral politics in Washington state.