Honestly with Bari Weiss
Bari Weiss

The most interesting conversations in American life now happen in private. This show is bringing them out of the closet. Stories no one else is telling and conversations with the most fascinating people in the country, every week from former New York Times and Wall Street Journal journalist Bari Weiss.

If your family is anything like mine, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to take a break from work, to bask in one others’ presence, and to fight savagely over the hottest political issues of the day. And nothing is more contentious than Covid: mask policies; vaccine mandates; whether kids should be confined to the backyard; and, most urgently, whether we can safely--and finally--call time on the pandemic. To answer those questions and more, I called up Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health of nearly 20 years and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Makary has published over 250 scientific articles and is the author, most recently, of “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care and How to Fix It.” He offers a no-nonsense approach to the two pandemics he sees plaguing the country; the coronavirus and the “pandemic of lunacy.” Veteran Honestly listeners will notice that this episode may sound a bit different. We’re piloting a new format, which we’re calling “Quick Question.” So email your burning ones-- even if they’re not quick--to tips@honestlypod.com. Please include “QQ” in the subject line. Happy Thanksgiving! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Here is what I thought was true about Kyle Rittenhouse in the last days of August 2020: The 17-year-old was a racist vigilante. I thought he drove across state lines, to Kenosha, Wisc., with an illegally acquired semi-automatic rifle to a town to which he had no connection. I thought he went there because he knew there were Black Lives Matter protests and he wanted to start a fight. And I thought that by the end of the evening of August 25, 2020 he had done just that: killing two peaceful protestors and injuring a third. It turns out, I was mostly wrong. And if you relied on the mainstream media when it came to Kyle Rittenhouse, you would have been too. Today, a conversation with Jesse Singal, one of the independent journalists who got this story right, and about why so many got it so wrong. Follow Jesse’s work at jessesingal.substack.com Read my full column on the Rittenhouse trial: https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-medias-verdict-on-kyle-rittenhouse Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

First, Andrew Yang ran for President, and he could barely get mainstream media’s attention. Then, he ran for Mayor of New York City, and suddenly, his every move was being scrutinized. Following those two failed campaigns Andrew announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party altogether and announced the formation of a new third party, Forward, this past October. Today, a conversation on how, and why, Yang plans to take on the two-party system, and what last week’s elections tell us about the political temperature of the country. Plus, universal basic income, Dave Chapelle, open primary voting, establishment politics, The New York Times, the left wing of the Democrats, cryptocurrency, and Confederate statues. Andrew’s new book is called, “Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

It’s been three years since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the most lethal attack on Jews on U.S. soil. That day was, for me, as it was for so many others, a watershed event. The country I knew was changing. While anti-semitic incidents in America had been climbing for a few years, this was different. Jews were afraid, and no longer felt safe. After Pittsburgh, there were countless other disturbing incidents: from a shooter at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey to a man with a machete at a Hanukkah party in Munsey. This past spring, antisemitic attacks skyrocketed, and even in a year where George Floyd’s killing and attacks against Asian Americans rightly captured our attention, Jews are still the number one victim of hate crimes in America. But what’s most shocking is that in an era where we worry so much about hatred and bigotry and exclusion, Jews don’t seem to count; Jews don’t seem to make headlines. My guest today, Dara Horn, whose book ‘People Love Dead Jews’ is a brilliant explanation of anti-semitism in 2021, joins us for a conversation about how most of the world thinks about Jews, and how the future of America, and the future of American Jews, may be one and the same. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

"Defund the police" or "healthy at every size" or "marriage is just an oppressive institution of the patriarchy" - these are just a few of the ideas that are becoming common doctrine among American elites. And Rob Henderson has described these new orthodoxies as “Luxury Beliefs.” He says, much like second homes on the beach or Bentleys, luxury beliefs are thoughts that can only be afforded by people whose wealth shields them from the very harm those beliefs can cause to the rest of us. Henderson, a graduate of Yale and a PhD student at Cambridge, should have been susceptible to the very ideas he now criticizes. But the reason he remained immune to the groupthink of academia is because he was, in many ways, an outsider looking in. He grew up in a kind of chaos and suffering that most people shouting about white privilege and the evils of the musical Hamilton could never understand. And that’s why he is able to so accurately observe the indulgence and hypocrisy of our elite class, and call it out for what it is: a luxury. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

If you’ve just heard of the word “TERF” (it stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) it was probably because of Dave Chapelle’s new Netflix special, “The Closer.” The comedian declared himself “Team TERF.” But what does that really mean? Julie Bindel would know. She has been physically attacked; her work has been banned; and she’s been disinvited from lectures all because of the accusation that she is a TERF. Bindel isn’t new to the culture wars. The self-proclaimed radical feminist has been active in the movement since 1979. Today she breaks down the battle raging inside the feminist movement and makes me wonder: am I a feminist? Her new book, endorsed by J.K. Rowling, is called “Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Ross Douthat is a New York Times columnist, a father of four, an author . . . and also someone who lives with a tremendous amount of pain. Ross has been battling chronic Lyme disease since 2015. It's a disease that doesn’t officially exist, but it managed to bring this otherwise healthy man to his knees. This is a conversation about something we all have or will experience: pain. How pain can distort, but also how it can clarify and humanize. In Ross's telling, pain has proven a deeply powerful teacher. Ross is one of my favorite thinkers and writers, so we also covered some of his core topics: Catholicism, populism, the future of the political right and left, the internet, and, of course, decadence. You can buy his new book, "The Deep Places," here: https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Places-Memoir-Illness-Discovery-ebook/dp/B08Y1BFFWC Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Last week, Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, confirmed what we already felt; that big tech platform’s algorithms are manipulating our sense of reality, and ourselves, and in doing so enriching themselves. Jaron Lanier, the technologist, philosopher, and virtual reality pioneer has been warning us about the dangers of the internet for years. Today, a conversation with Jaron, from his home in California, about the dangers of groupthink, digital maoism, ideology sluts, censorship, capitalism, universal basic income, Facebook, robots, billionaires, wokeness and losing yourself in the ambiguity of the internet’s fake reality. Can the problems of the Information Age be fixed by more regulation? Or will it take a fundamental shift in how we structure our society, and our relationship to emergent technologies to reclaim our humanity? In addition to being an author of the internet, he worked at Atari and Microsoft in the early days, Jaron wrote, ”Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” and “Dawn of the New Everything.” He appeared in the movie “The Social Dilemma.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

The most honest thing I’ve ever read about abortion is by Caitlin Flanagan. It’s called “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate: Why We Need to Face the Best Argument From the Other Side.” You can read it here. On today’s episode, and in light of the new law in Texas, which effectively bans abortion, a conversation with my friend Caitlin. We talk about the best arguments on both sides of this issue, the reality of life before Roe v. Wade, the state of feminism and more. Read all of Caitlin’s work for the Atlantic here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Four decades ago, Glenn C. Loury became the first tenured black professor of economics in Harvard’s history. Ever since then, he has made waves for his willingness to buck the elite intellectual establishment; for his iconoclastic ideas about race and inequality; and for his incisive cultural criticism. He is a man of seeming contradictions: he rails against the divisiveness of woke politics from his post at Brown University, one of America’s most left wing campuses. He worries about what the death of God means for the country -- though he calls his own past religious beliefs a “benevolent self-delusion.” In the 80s, Glenn challenged his fellow black Americans to combat the “enemy from within,” while he himself battled demons like adultery and addiction. But Glenn’s ability to re-examine his positions and look at his own past with clear eyes is hardly a fault. Glenn is a man who, in a time of lies told for the sake of political convenience, strives to tell the truth even when the truth is hard. Or complicated. Or an affront to our feelings. Or contradicts what we wish were true. In today’s conversation: race, racism, Black Lives Matter, school choice, standardized tests, crack, sexual infidelity, Christianity, the Nation of Islam, neoconservatism, Harvard, groupthink, and pretty much every other hot-button subject you can imagine. Plus, Glenn’s own remarkable life story. Glenn's own podcast, "The Glenn Show" is available through Substack and in video form on his new Youtube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

So much of the conversation about Covid-19 is angry and full of finger-pointing. Dr. Vinay Prasad has consistently been able to cut through the noise, the confusion, and the endless bickering. He does this by consistently avoiding the blame game and following the data wherever it leads. Dr. Prasad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco. His writing, videos and tweets have been among my most reliable sources for information throughout the pandemic. His positions are nuanced, well-considered, and show exactly the kind of level-headedness and evidence-based decision-making that you want from someone you’re trusting your health to. The conversation covers what the pandemic has revealed about the state of scientific research; policy questions like masking, vaccinating children, and vaccine passports. And, most importantly, vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Prasad explains why shaming, blaming, and censoring the unvaccinated is a losing strategy -- and what might be a better one. Follow Vinay on Twitter, if you like: https://twitter.com/VPrasadMDMPH?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

It’s been a month since the fall of Afghanistan. And Black Hawk helicopters and Humvees aren’t the only things we left behind. Trapped in a country now controlled by the Taliban are hundreds of thousands of America’s Afghan allies. These are the interpreters, advisers and others who worked with the U.S. government and with American organizations--and who we promised we would never abandon. Their chance at freedom — at life — now relies on normal Americans who are determined to right what the White House has gotten so terribly wrong. They are a rag-tag group of military veterans, human-rights activists, ex-special forces, State Department officials, non-profit organizers and private individuals with the kind of resources necessary to charter planes. And they have formed a 21st-century Underground Railroad. In time, history books will be written about these Americans and the Afghans they saved.Today, the story of one of them. A 15-year-old girl in Kabul named Rahima. And a woman called Esther in East Moline, Illinois, who stepped into the vacuum left by the U.S. government. To learn more about the Underground Railroad: https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/inside-the-underground-railroad-out f you are interested in helping people like Rahima please consider supporting: https://nooneleft.org and https://afghanevac.org Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Peter Boghossian is the first one to tell you: he's no victim of cancel culture. The philosophy professor has long had a taste for stoking debate, questioning orthodoxies, and exposing the brokenness of an academic system that values identity-based grievances over scholarship. He did that, in part, by writing phony papers like "The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct" and getting them published by respected, peer-reviewed journals. That project and others painted a target on Peter’s back on Portland State's campus, where he was subjected to endless investigations and harassment. This week, Peter resigned in a letter writing to the school's provost: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division.” In this episode, a frank conversation about the culture of higher education, and how to fight back against radicalism without becoming radicalized yourself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Abigail Shrier is a lawyer, a reporter and author of Irreversible Damage. One way to describe her book would be: controversial. She has been accused of spreading misinformation by GLAAD. A prominent ACLU lawyer called for her book to be banned. A favorable review of the book in Science-Based Medicine ignited an online mob, which led to the journal disappearing that first review and replacing it with a negative one. Amazon and Target have also been pressured to stop carrying Shrier's book. But it hasn’t worked. Despite being ignored by outlets like the New York Times Book Review, Irreversible Damage is an enormous bestseller. Some readers felt so passionately about this book that they took out billboards advertising it on their own dime. Both the subject that Abigail writes about and the treatment of her book deserve your attention. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Between the catastrophic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, an endless pandemic, a broken education system, and competent leaders nowhere in sight, it can feel like America is in a constant state of meltdown. On today's episode, renowned historian Niall Ferguson answers the big questions: how did we get here? Is American decline inevitable? And if not, what can be done to renew the culture and the country? Niall is the author of nearly 20 books. His latest is: "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

In Part II, a diagnosis of the global ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party with Josh Rogin. Josh explains how U.S policy mistakes in the 20th century handed more power to China in the 21st, how the Chinese government wields power over Big Tech, Hollywood, and higher education on U.S. soil, and whether we’re headed for another Cold War. “The global scale of the China challenge is not just about China’s rise, it’s not just about the genocide,” says Josh, “It’s about what kind of world we want to live in.” Plus, a call with Josh to discuss the American withdrawal of Afghanistan, and how the execution of that withdrawal creates a power vacuum for China to fill. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

When the pandemic began eighteen months ago, anyone who dared suggest that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China, was dismissed as a crank, or otherwise accused of racism, xenophobia, and refusing to “believe science.” Why was this highly plausible theory unsayable? On today’s podcast, Josh Rogin, a foreign policy columnist for the Washington Post and author of “Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century” answers that question. He makes the powerful case that it all comes back to the power of the Chinese Communist Party, which he likens to the Gambino crime family. If the Gambinos, that is, were running one of the richest countries in the world. Josh is a phenomenal guest and we couldn’t contain our conversation to just one episode. So today, in Part One, a look into what went down in Wuhan and Washington during the fateful month of January 2020. We show how the “Lab Leak Theory,” due in big part to Josh’s reporting, went from a fringe conspiracy theory to a credible explanation for the virus that continues to ravage the planet. Also discussed: Anthony Fauci, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Peter Daszak, Xi Jinping, Elaine Chao, Henry Kissinger. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

How did this happen? How did we spend 20 years, over 2 trillion dollars and over 2,000 American lives to wind up losing Afghanistan to the Taliban in under two weeks? Was the mission doomed from the start? Was it political incompetence? Or was it the fault of the military brass who refused to be honest about what it would take to win? Today, a frank and wide-ranging conversation with H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor and three-star general. We talk about Obama, Trump, Biden; the corruption and incompetence of our elites; rising isolationism; and why he’s still bullish about America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

For several months, the journalist Katie Herzog has been talking to some of the country's top doctors and professors—not about COVID, or vaccines—but about a new, creeping orthodoxy that’s taken over the hospitals and medical schools where they work. Those doctors say that whole areas of research are off-limits. They say that top physicians are treating patients based on their race. That professors are apologizing for saying ‘male’ and ‘female’ and that students are policing teachers. And in more than a few alarming instances, politics has come before patients. As one doctor put it: “Wokeness feels like an existential threat."Today, Katie joins us to discuss the ideological purge happening within American medicine, where the stakes could not be higher. If you haven't read her newsmaking stories, published in our newsletter, we highly recommend checking them out Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Amy Cooper was not the internet’s first “Karen” — the pejorative used for a demanding, entitled white woman. But as the Central Park dog walker who went viral for calling the police on a black birdwatcher last year, she quickly became the paragon of the archetype. Within 24 hours, Amy Cooper had been doxxed, fired from her job, and surrendered her dog. She wound up fleeing the country. She hasn’t spoken publicly since last summer. Until now. In a wide-ranging interview with Kmele Foster, friend of Honestly and co-host of The Fifth Column, we revisit the story of what happened in the park that day. We show what the media intentionally left out of the story. And we examine the cost of mob justice. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices