Jon Wiener is host and producer of “Start Making Sense,” The Nation’s weekly podcast. He’s an emeritus professor of US history at UC Irvine, and his most recent book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America. He is known for having sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997. That story is told in Wiener’s book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files; some of the pages of the Lennon FBI file are posted here. The story is also told in the documentary, “The U.S. Versus John Lennon,” released in 2006. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times. It has been translated into Japanese, German, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Italian. Wiener also hosts a weekly afternoon drive-time interview show on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles His guests have included Gail Collins, Jane Mayer, Joan Didion, Gore Vidal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Frank Rich, Seymour Hersh, Amos Oz, Mike Davis, Elmore Leonard, John Dean, Julian Bond, Al Franken, and Terry Gross. Jon Wiener was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended Central High School there. He has a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Harvard, where he began working as a writer in the late sixties for the underground paper The Old Mole. He lives in Los Angeles.
Recent episodes featuring Jon Wiener
Sherrod Brown: How to Beat Trump; plus D.D. Guttenplan on Joe Biden and Thom Hartmann on the Supreme Court
Start Making Sense
Sherrod Brown, the senior senator from Ohio, was re-elected in 2018. He won by 7 points—in a state Hillary Clinton had lost—by 8 points—just 2 years earlier. What are the lessons for 2020? “You need to talk to workers,” he says, “and you need to fight for workers—all workers.” Now he has a new book out: Desk 88 – Eight progressive senators who changed America. Also: why Joe Biden is the wrong candidate to take on Donald Trump: D.D. Guttenplan, The Nation’s editor, explains why the magazine has published an “anti-endorsement.” Plus: this week the Supreme Court heard arguments about the fate of DACA residents—whether those young people brought here as small children should be deported. But why should that be decided by the nine justices on the Supreme Court? In a democracy, shouldn’t that be decided democratically? That’s Thom Hartmann’s argument—not just about DACA, but about all of judicial review. His new book is The Hidden History of the Supreme Court.Subscribe to The Nation to support all of our podcasts:
Senate Republicans and Impeachment; the Dilemma of Moderate Dems; Haiti Report
Trump Watch
This week we are one year away from the election where Donald Trump will be seeking four more years in power. He’ll be the first incumbent running for reelection after having been impeached –unless the Senate votes to remove him from office. Elie Mystal analyzes what it would take for that to happen. Also: Joe Biden may be the frontrunner, but he’s slipping, and big donors are pulling away from him. But do the so-called “moderates” in the party–-the Wall Street Democrats--have a Plan B? Jeet Heer will evaluate the possibilities—there are a lot of them, but none are very promising. Plus: Left politics can win in New York City and L.A. and San Francisco but what about Iowa and Ohio? Mike Lux says ‘Left Politics Can Win All Over the Country’ –he’s a longtime strategist for the progressive movement and Democratic candidates. And finally: Amy Wilentz reports on the recent street protests in Haiti, one of those countries about which Trump has made those disparaging remarks.
The Election, One Year Away: John Nichols on the Polls, plus Paul Adler on Socialism and John Powers on John Le Carré
Start Making Sense
Where do we stand one year out from the election? The best polls this week show Trump losing the popular vote by around 15 points—but also show that he’s still “highly competitive” in the swing states Democrats must carry in order to defeat him. John Nichols has our analysis. Also: Trump is trying to knock off Joe Biden because he wants to run against Elizabeth Warren—he thinks he can win by campaigning against “socialism.” And more young people have favorable views of socialism than they do of capitalism these days—but what is socialism? Paul Adler explains; his new book is The 99 Percent Economy: How Democratic Socialism Can Overcome the Crises of Capitalism. Also: One of our favorite writers, John le Carré, has a new book out: Agent Running in the Field—they’re calling it his “Brexit Book.” It’s number five on the best seller list. He’s now 88 years old, he’s written 26 books, which have been published in over 50 countries and 40 languages. The books are about loyalty and betrayal, and many are about the ambiguities of the Cold War. John Powers comments—he’s Critic-at-Large on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross.Subscribe to The Nation to support our podcasts:
The Koch Brothers and Trump; How TV Made Trump; Ilhan Omar in Minneapolis
Trump Watch
Christopher Leonard explains why the Koch Brothers did not want Trump to get the nomination - and how they got to be as wealthy, and politically active, as they are. His new book is "Kochland." Also: We all know Trump got famous on TV with The Apprentice – but how many of us ever watched The Apprentice? Reality TV was a key force in making Trump president. Tom Carson talks about “Audience of One” by James Poniewozik. Tom, a longtime writer on pop culture and politics, won two National Magazine Awards during his time as Esquire‘s “Screen” columnist; now he writes for BookForum. Pls: Ilhan Omar has endorsed Bernie for president – how does she deal with Trump’s vicious attacks? David Perry has spent the last few months with her in her Minneapolis district—he says he’s never seen a politician talk as little about themselves as she does in her town halls.
Joe Biden’s Zombie Campaign: Jeet Heer on Moderate Dems, plus Elie Mystal on Senate Republicans and Amy Wilentz on Haiti
Start Making Sense
Joe Biden may be the frontrunner, but he’s slipping, and it seems doubtful that he will get better at this.  Big donors are pulling away from him.  But do the “moderates” in the party–-the Wall Street Democrats--have a Plan B? A backup candidate?  A viable alternative?  Jeet Heer evaluates the possibilities—there are a lot of them, but none are very promising.Also: Republicans in the Senate--we will need 20 of them to vote to convict Trump if he’s going to be removed from office.  Is that possible?  Elie Mystal runs the numbers--and concludes, “maybe—if we the people work really hard.”  Plus: Haiti is at the brink of collapse—Amy Wilentz reports on one of Trump’s “shithole countries.”
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May 16th, 1944
Episode Count
Podcast Count
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2 weeks, 1 day