The first three in particular I would highly recommend as models of what discourse on politics, culture and economics should
be like. They have long, hard, but cordial conversations with people they disagree with.
Waking Up by Sam Harris: Harris made his national reputation with two big books
attacking religion, but has since moved into other issues (which he had been working on before, but below
the radar) including meditation, neuroscience, philosophy, technology, violence, ethics and, since the rise of Trump, even some
politics. I think Harris has a sense of what the really important meta-issues of our time are, and connects them to the eternal question
of how it is we want to live. Harris's interviews are very good examples of where our discourse should be heading. He
invites people on and explores issues, agreeing and disagreeing as he goes, but pressing the issue and taking time - as much
as needed - to go into detail, while always keeping things polite and on track. This podcast has no pre-determined length. The
conversation takes as long as it takes - typically 90 minutes to two hours.
The Rubin Report: These are one-on-one interviews with various entertainers, pundits,
authors and others with some (for me annoying) pop-culture references, but a lot about politics. His big issues are
free speech and exploring the meaning of "liberalism." If anything, the host here is too non-confrontational. He rarely disagrees
and presses the issue, his disagreements mostly being with what has become known as the "regressive left."
Econ Talk: This isn't just about economics. In fact, only a few episodes are narrowly about
economics at all. The guests are usually authors plugging recent books and the host explores the book with the guest. The host
often brings an economic line of questioning into the topic of the week, but even people with little interest in economics will
find much of interest here: politics, technology, science, history and ethics with sidetracks all over the place. Disagreements
here can be much more substantial that in the Rubin Report, but are not as rigorously pursued as with Sam Harris.
The CATO Institute's daily podcast: These are short interviews with in-house experts at CATO about
ongoing issues of government policy and court decisions at state and federal level.
The Spectator Podcast: When the Brexit vote hit I began
reading The Spectator, a somewhat conservative British magazine. More recently, I have traded the magazine for the
podcast, but I would highly recommend both. They have voices from the left and the right, with a bit more of the latter, but
without the foaming-at-the-mouth "alt-right" kind of polemics. They often invite two guests who disagree, but it is never
a shouting match. A great source for following both British politics and US and international developments.
Lage der Nation: This is the best podcast on politics (or anything else)
I've found in the German language so far. The two hosts - der Journalist
Philip Banse und
der Richter Ulf Buermeyer - go over recent political events.
Sometimes it is just a slightly more detailed recap of the usual political news. They are particularly strong when getting
into the legal or constitutional details of issues - their talk about how the recent German gay marriage law was past and
their discussion of the recent changes to the German constitution were particularly good example of this. The commentary is
less interesting because is always predictably left-of-center mainstream and devoid of any real disagreement or controversy.
They could use a counter-voice on some issues. This is quite often apparent when they comment at length, but even crops up
when they comment in passing. Sometimes I want to shout, "Halt! So einfach ist das nicht!", for example when they briefly
dismissed constitutional originalism out of hand in a passing remark, as if it were simply and obviously stupid and not -
as in my view - a robust and fruitful approach to law.
Very Bad Wizards is a philosophy podcast by two professors. While some of it is somewhat childish banter about
popular culture (I have no idea how professors who obviously find so much time for teaching and research also have any mind to
keep up on things like rap and TV), much of it is dedicated to thoughtful and - to the extent possible - thorough discussion of
philosophical ideas. This is a great source of discussion ideas. They occasionally refer to and sometimes disagree with
Sam Harris (see above).
Freakonomics: While I have stopped listening to this regularly, I still recommend it.
This is a fun collage of interviews which takes a quirky angle on politics or economics, often applying an economics outlook
on questions not usually considered directly related to economics. This is the only one of my favorites with any advertizing.
Favorite News Sources
City Journal offers alternative versions of some of the big stories and
issues of the day and is a good source for anecdotes and examples for my classroom teaching on politics and economics.
The focus of the journal is urban policy (education, policing etc.), but it ranges beyond that as well. The City Journal
is backed by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.
The Atlantic Monthly is where I go for lengthy, thoughful articles on
various subjects. They won me over in April 2015 with a great article on ISIS.