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The 25 best political podcasts for anxious liberals (just like you!)

Hours of sharp, addictive punditry and insight for your hungry, hungry ears


Charlie May
November 5, 2017 3:30PM (UTC)


Yes, it often seems as if there's a podcast for anything and everything. Indeed, there may be.

But, honestly, the ability of podcasts to present interviews and storytelling and package elements differently than in broadcast or print makes them particularly good for presenting what listeners need to know about the often dry — and currently infuriating — world of politics.

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As well, the fact that you can drink in all this endless political intel on the go, that podcasts can be listened to anywhere you bring your phone, makes keeping up with the Beltway circus a breeze compared to the chore of reading grim dispatches from the Hill all day (let alone watching cable news).

Perhaps most importantly, when listening to a good politics podcast, you can't help but feel as if you are in the middle of a thought-provoking, engaging discussion yourself — something far better and healthier than screaming about our current president into a paper bag.

So, without further ado, here are the top 25 political podcasts you should start tuning in to if you want to survive the Trump era. Get downloading.

 

The Breakthrough
"The Breakthrough"
ProPublica is already one of the most highly regarded investigative nonprofit news organizations in the U.S., and its podcast unveils the inner workings of the roller coaster ride that is being a dogged journalist. For college students, recent grads, anyone beginning their journey into the media world, or simply those who are addicted to the news, "The Breakthrough" pulls back the curtain on the press in a way that affords you with knowledge you otherwise wouldn't be able to find.

Of course, the news stories themselves are important, but learning how all of the pieces came together — or how they didn't in some cases — can prove to be useful for anyone who wants to understand politics and how the press operates.

The podcast, launched in January of this year, offers episodes that are typically 25 to 30 minutes long, each one featuring a new reporter talking about a range of stories that they worked on. In that, it's not a major commitment, especially compared to the insight being provided.

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Listen to "The Breakthrough" on iTunes here.

 

Intercepted"Intercepted"
"Intercepted" could very well be the best political podcast available at the moment. Like ProPublica, award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill strongly centers his show on an investigative perspective. Yet, as detailed as it is, it comes off as refreshing given how it vastly it differs from mainstream news and points of view.

Each episode has a cold open with a skit that typically contains a mixture of humor, drama or a play on pop culture before the podcast's eerie theme song cues up. Scahill then usually dives into a story that has dominated the news cycle in recent days. But he hardly gives a mainstream take.

As a former war reporter, Scahill can talk extensively about the U.S. military, foreign policy and human rights through a much different lens than that of most mainstream media figures. His wide range of guests have included whistleblower Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, journalist Jane Mayer, Naomi Klein, Jill Stein and many others.

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Listen to "Intercepted" on iTunes here.

 

The Bernie Sanders ShowThe "Bernie Sanders Show"
At this point, who can't appreciate the amount of effort Sen. Bernie Sanders put into the into the 2016 election?

Though Sanders continues to be a busy man, and the podcast isn't routinely published, he has nonetheless put out a buffet of interesting content over the last seven months, much of which elevates the discussions on the left. He has focused on topics such as net neutrality and had several notable guests such as former Vice President Al Gore, Jane Mayer, Bill McKibben, Bill Nye and others.

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Often, the public often only sees Sanders as he's in the middle of delivering what seems to be iterations on the same speech. This podcast, however, has allowed him to thrive in a more relaxed atmosphere and discuss issues with others who share his views.

Say what you must about Sanders, but since his loss in the primaries, he's become one of the more popular politicians in the country and continues to find new ways to reach his audience and galvanize young voters. That alone makes this worth a listen.

Listen to "The Bernie Sanders Show" at his website here.
"Citations Needed"
Though a relatively new podcast that only began over the summer, it's already found its niche. Hosted by writer and media critic Adam Johnson and writer and editor Nima Shirazi, the show offers a strong platform for liberals and delivers pointed criticism of the U.S. media while breaking down common political narratives. Think of it as "MythBusters" for the news cycle.

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Each episode focuses on a narrative often told about a specific issue. One recent episode, for instance, explored the myths many try to forward about charter schools. The hosts analyze the narrative while countering it themselves or through guests who hold an impressive level of expertise on that subject.

Overall, it offers a strong rebuke of the media and of establishment politics, something we all need right now for many reasons. For anyone looking for nuanced takes on the state of political discourse in this country, this is your show.

Listen to "Citations Needed" on iTunes here.

 

Still Processing
"Still Processing"
Hosted by New York Times culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, "Still Processing" — which is, yes, still processing the results of the 2016 election — discusses how politics shapes our society and culture with raw emotion and insightful perspectives. It's the smart, open friend group you can carry in your pocket.

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Listen to "Still Processing" on iTunes here.

 

The Chauncey DeVega ShowThe "The Chauncey DeVega Show"
Salon politics writer Chauncey DeVega's weekly podcast focuses on politics and culture with a wide range of guests and through a rare and unique tone. The show is relaxed and filled with researchers, academics, journalists, activists and others who help provide welcome, sober insight. If you're already reading Salon, you should be listening to this.

Listen to "The Chauncey DeVega Show" on Salon.com here.

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The Bob Cesca Show
"The Bob Cesca Show"
Salon contributor Bob Cesca hosts this series with a humorous, liberal point of view on politics. The focus is the insane daily politics of the Trump administration, so, naturally, it's updated almost as often as the White House creates bizarre news (that is, all the time).

Listen to "The Bob Cesca Show" on iTunes here.

 

Heightened Scrutiny"Heightened Scrutiny"
"Heightened Scrutiny" is written, produced and hosted by Joe Dunman, another frequent Salon contributor. Centering his show around the Supreme Court's landmark civil-rights cases, Dunman speaks fluently, persuasively and entertainingly on constitutional law (he's an assistant professor of Legal Studies at Morehead State University in Kentucky). The podcast offers a deep historical view on the Supreme Court and the ongoing fight for civil rights in a wonderfully digestible way.

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Listen to "Heightened Scrutiny" on his website here.

 

The Best of Left

"Best of the Left"
"Best of the Left" is pretty much as advertised in the title. The show features a strong progressive, liberal point of view on current news and politics under the Trump administration. Each episode consists of various stories and perspectives from the left wrapped around a main theme — a sort of "This American Life" for the politically active.

Listen to "Best of the Left" on iTunes here.

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This American Life"This American Life"
Speaking of this "This American Life," the immensely popular weekly radio show hosted by Ira Glass isn't directly political per se, but offers a wide assortment of personal and well-researched stories that, taken together, form an impressive argument for progressivism and activism. It's profoundly human and profoundly good listening.

Listen to "This American Life" on iTunes here.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience"The Joe Rogan Experience"
Joe Rogan's podcast is appealingly nuts. Growing up with him as the host of the game show "Fear Factor," it may be hard to imagine him doing anything other than that, but he certainly delivers here. Rogan pairs his bombastic personality and unique voice with wide range of guests that consists of musical artists, political commentators, comedians, journalists and even Alex Jones — yep, Alex Jones.

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Listen to the "Joe Rogan Experience" on its website here.

 

Trumpcast"Trumpcast"
If you hadn't received your daily dose of Trump, or are for some reason fiending for more, Slate's "Trumpcast" is for you. With multiple episodes each week, and Trump doing ridiculous things every single day, the show has almost endless material and handles it all well. It's a great way to get interesting breakdowns of Trump news you haven't quite digested or may have missed.

Listen to "Trumpcast" on iTunes here.

 

Revisionist History"Revisionist History"
Malcolm Gladwell's "Revisionist History" is brilliant, humorous and provides an exceptionally different experience than any other podcast. In each episode, Gladwell takes you back in time to re-evaluate important historical events that have often been overlooked or misunderstood.

Listen to "Revisionist History" on iTunes here.

 

Pod Save America"Pod Save America"
Hosted by the former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, "Pod Save America" offers a smart look back and a smarter look forward. In a country now dominated by Trumpian politics, the hosts provide deep political insight about their time in Washington and use what they've learned to unpack the week's news. With nearly 100 episodes compiled since January, there's plenty to choose from if you get hooked.

Listen to "Pod Save America" on iTunes here.

 

FiveThirtyEight"FiveThirtyEight Politics"
Hosted by Nate Silver (who may or may not be a witch), "FiveThirtyEight Politics" keeps you up to date through Silver's unique statistical approach to the world. It's an interesting, informative, measured take on the hectic news of the day or week. Best of all, you'll probably retain a few of Silver's head-turning facts and figures to regurgitate and impress your friends or co-workers later.

Listen to "FiveThirtyEight Politics" on iTunes here.

 

The Rubin Report"The Rubin Report"
Hosted by Dave Rubin, this is not a podcast for staunch progressives who fear being challenged and getting outraged. Rubin's show often rips into the progressive movement, though that can be a healthy thing as a check and balance coming from this classical liberal with libertarian perspectives. His primary topics have included political correctness and free speech, so hang on for the ride.

Listen to "The Rubin Report" on iTunes here.

 

The Daily"The Daily"
"The Daily," offered up by the New York Times and hosted by Michael Barbaro, is a fun and quick news blast that keeps you abreast of the day's events. With five episodes per week and each only 20 minutes long, it's an easy listen if you don't feel like picking up a paper or getting glued to a screen every morning.

Listen to "The Daily" on iTunes here.

 

On The One With Angela Rye"On One with Angela Rye"
If you've seen Angela Rye savage her opponents on CNN or other cable news networks, you'll certainly enjoy this. She covers politics through the lens of race and culture in this uplifting podcast that often features guests you might not get on other political shows, such as as Don Lemon, Lisa Ling, Gabrielle Union and Sen. Cory Booker.

Listen to "On One with Angela Rye" on iTunes here.

 

NPR Politics"NPR Politics Podcast"
The "NPR Politics Podcast" is somewhat similar to ProPublica's in that it features political reporters discussing their work and providing insight. With multiple episodes a week covering the ins and outs of Washington and a "weekly roundup" each Thursday, it's essential blow-by-blow listening for any politics junkie.

Listen to the "NPR Politics Podcast" on iTunes here.

 

Nerdcast"Nerdcast"
Politico's "Nerdcast" is another great listen for political junkies thanks to the publication's brilliant experienced reporters diving into the topics of the moment and, yes, geeking out with a kind of inside-the-Beltway knowledge you just can't find elsewhere.

Listen to "Nerdcast" on iTunes here.

 

Embedded"Embedded"
NPR's "Embedded," hosted by Kelly McEvers, takes news stories, compiles them under a specific topic, and then dives in deep, exploring trends and trying to answer questions on issues that go well beyond what's typically covered in mainstream media. There's also a good amount of emotion here and a chance to enhance your critical thinking skills.

Listen to "Embedded" on iTunes here.

 

The New Yorker: Politics and More"The New Yorker: Politics and More"
Hosted by Dorothy Wickenden, this podcast presents weekly discussions on a wide range of current political topics. Writers from The New Yorker, such as Jane Mayer, weigh in on their work and discuss Trump and Washington. It's truly top-shelf stuff.

Listen to "The New Yorker: Politics and More" on iTunes here.

 

Code Switch"Code Switch"
NPR's "Code Switch" is a unique and cultured political discussion podcast hosted by journalists of color. They talk race, society and how it all ties in with politics, a contrast from mainstream news with a splash of personality.

Listen to "Code Switch" on iTunes here.

 

Whistlestop"Whistlestop"
Hosted by John Dickerson, Slate's "Whistlestop" takes you back in time to a specific American political moment in history every week — a must for die-hard fans of presidential history and for those wondering how we got here from there.

Listen to "Whistlestop" on iTunes here.

 

DecodeDC"DecodeDC"
"DecodeDC" is for true lovers of all things Washington, D.C., including culture, lifestyle and, of course, politics. The show explores the inner workings of the nation's capital and provides insight on the latest news to help get you through these very long Trump-era days.

Listen to "DecodeDC" on iTunes here.


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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