The Axe Files with David Axelrod

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As a young reporter, Dan Rather was no stranger to getting the story by any means necessary, whether that meant sneaking off to use the office phone at Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch or chaining himself to a tree during Hurricane Carla. The legendary broadcaster joined David to talk about his storied career, why covering civil rights changed him personally and professionally, how he learned to steel himself while covering earth-shattering and often emotional historic moments and how he still finds joy in his work after seven decades in journalism. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
We revisit our 2016 conversation with Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He sits down with David to discuss his upbringing in the Middle East, the qualities of exceptional athletes, his coaching philosophy, and more. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Author and writer for The Atlantic Magazine Ta-Nehisi Coates sits down with David to talk about his upbringing in Baltimore, his early forays into journalism, race and politics in America, his reflections on the Obama presidency, and much more. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, talks with David Axelrod about BuzzFeed's approach to journalism and how he responds to the organization's critics, why Donald Trump has reenergized the news media, why BuzzFeed decided to publish the Trump dossier without verifying its claims, and how the Clinton campaign in 2016 overcompensated for its mistakes in 2008. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the US and much of the country hunkered down under stay-at-home orders, journalist, author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria was already thinking about the future. He began considering the lessons the virus could teach us about our health, the economy and society moving forward. Fareed joined David to discuss what we’ve learned so far about combatting Covid-19, why today’s economy needs political intervention for a more equitable future, the faltering American Dream and his new book, “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World.” To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
While former US Senator Heidi Heitkamp was growing up in Mantador, North Dakota, her family made up one tenth of the town’s population. She took the lessons she learned from her small-town upbringing to the Senate, where she served as a rare Democrat from a deep-red state willing to work across the aisle with then-President Donald Trump. Former Sen. Heitkamp joined David to talk about rural America’s emotional attachment to Trump, the energy industry and climate change, why she couldn’t vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the passing of conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh.   To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
After more than a decade working as a federal prosecutor and legal analyst, Daniel Goldman became a household name in 2020 for his role as lead counsel for the House in the first impeachment trial of former President Trump. As Trump’s second impeachment trial continues, Daniel joined David to talk about the House managers’ opening arguments, the through line from Trump’s first impeachment to his second, growing up a descendent of Levi Strauss, and how losing his father as a child impacted the trajectory of his life.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe didn’t always plan to become an agent, but while interning at the Department of Justice he found himself obsessed with intricate details in case records. The fascination led him to a 22-year career in the Bureau—one that would end with McCabe himself at the center of a DOJ investigation. He joined David to talk about the “slow burning rise” of domestic terrorism, the decision to open an investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and the damage he believes the Trump administration has done to the FBI. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a sixth-term Congressman from Illinois, recently found himself in the spotlight after he called for former President Trump’s removal from office following the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He was also one of 10 Republican House members to vote in favor of impeaching Trump. While some are lauding him as a voice of reason within the Republican Party, others are deriding him for turning against Trump and being out of touch with the broader GOP. Rep. Kinzinger joined David to talk about what he sees as his battle to restore the Republican Party, what happens when leaders are more concerned with fame than policy, the evil he felt on Jan. 6 and whether he has future plans for statewide office. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin found she had a knack for storytelling as a child, recounting baseball games inning-by-inning for her father when he’d return home from work. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has since harnessed that skill into chronicling the lives and leadership styles of American presidents at moments of national crisis, most recently with her 2018 book Leadership in Turbulent Times. Doris joined David to talk about the episodes of history that have led us to the present day, the fight for the soul of the Republican Party, and the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Joe Scarborough had his first media experience hosting a call-in show on public access television to raise his political profile during a run for Congress. He won that 1994 Congressional race and held the Florida seat until 2001 before returning to television full-time. Now the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he joined David to discuss the violence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, his hot and cold relationship with Donald Trump, what happens next for the Republican Party, and his new book, Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Rep. Ayanna Pressley got her start in progressive politics at a young age, watching as her mother fought for tenants’ rights as an organizer in Chicago. When Rep. Pressley left college to care for her ailing mother, it didn’t stop her political trajectory. After serving as the first woman of color on the Boston City Council, she beat out a long-time incumbent in 2018 for a seat in US House of Representatives. Rep. Pressley joined David to talk about the destruction caused by Covid-19, prioritizing marginalized groups in legislation, criminal justice reform, and the implications of the Georgia Senate runoffs. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
This week we’re bringing you an episode of Silence is Not an Option, a CNN podcast hosted by Don Lemon. A record number of Black candidates ran for office this year, representing not only their constituencies, but also the diversity of perspectives that exist among Black Americans. Don talks to two newly elected representatives, Mondaire Jones (D-New York) and Cori Bush (D-Missouri), about their platforms, their strategies for Congress, and the future of Black politics. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Antony "Tony" Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, first met Biden more than 15 years ago when he served as staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chaired. Blinken went on to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama administration, cementing his role as a member of Biden’s inner circle. This week, we’re revisiting a conversation David had with Blinken back in 2017. He joined David to talk about spending his formative years overseas, his relationship with Biden and the importance of engaging in diplomacy around the world. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took the House by storm when she beat out 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, winning on a staunchly progressive platform. She is often portrayed as the embodiment of the liberal left, both by the media and her GOP adversaries who hold her up as a warning of how far left the Democrats have gone. Now in her second term, she has showed no interest in backing down from her priorities, like a $15 minimum wage and healthcare for all. She joined David to talk about her upbringing, how an interest in maternal health inspired a pivot to politics, the state of Covid-19 stimulus negotiations and the problem with austerity politics.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Growing up, journalist Abby Phillip wanted to be a heart surgeon. But a college service trip through the South caused Abby to reconsider. Inspired by reporters of the civil rights era, she turned her focus to journalism. A CNN reporter since 2017, Abby rose to prominence during her marathon on-air election coverage last month. Abby joined David to talk about growing up a child of immigrants; the pressures she feels as a Black woman in political reporting; and how journalists need to reevaluate their relationship with power, institutions, and the truth.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
After failing to win the presidency in 2012, Senator Mitt Romney suggested he might be done with national politics for good. But after a move to Utah, the two-time presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital co-founder decided to run for the US Senate. He was elected in 2018 and has made his disdain for President Trump’s demeanor known, although his voting record shows he falls in line with his party more often than not. Sen. Romney joined David to talk about what it was like to cast the lone Republican vote for Trump’s impeachment, how Trump’s Covid response cost him reelection and why he is more concerned about the damage done by Trump’s actions in the lame duck period than by the delayed transition.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Governor Andrew Cuomo was just over a year into his third term as Governor of New York when Covid-19 first reached his state. While he was a well-known political figure before, his daily press briefings became must watch television as the pandemic ravaged New York. Governor Cuomo joined David to talk about governing through Covid-19, why politicians should focus on how they can change people’s lives, President Trump’s skills as a marketer, and why he believes progressives-in-name-only are hurting the Democratic cause.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
David Plouffe is a veteran Democratic political strategist who served as Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and later as senior advisor to President Obama. Just days after the 2020 race was called, David sat down with his former business partner and longtime collaborator to break down last week’s election, discuss how Joe Biden rebuilt the blue wall, why he was the best candidate for this moment and the challenges that await the Biden administration and the broader Democratic Party. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
As a child, historian Jon Meacham would find artifacts from Civil War battles while playing in the Chattanooga hills. To him, history was always tangible. He liked finding the line from the past to the present, a sentiment that has guided his career. Jon, who started his professional life as a journalist, writes about American presidents, the nation’s founding principles and historic moments, all with an eye toward what history can teach us and how it helps us make sense of the present. In the days leading up to the Nov. 3 election, Jon joined David to talk about what he’s learned by chronicling the lives of US leaders, the history of race in America, and why he can’t find a rational case to vote for President Trump.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Mandy Patinkin may be a well-known, award-winning actor and singer on the big screen and stage, but these days he’s trying out a new medium: social media. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mandy has been uploading videos ranging from heartfelt moments with his wife, writer and actress Kathryn Grody, to political messages encouraging people to vote for Joe Biden. He joined David to talk about growing up enmeshed in the Chicago Jewish community, his love for acting even as he wrestled with being a perfectionist, and what his role in Homeland taught him about the patriotism of the US intelligence community To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
As a young reporter, Nina Totenberg once got a tip about a robbery underway at the local bank. When she called the bank to confirm, one of the burglars answered the phone. Her career has since taken her from covering misguided crimes to reporting on the country’s highest court. Nina joined National Public Radio in 1975 as a legal affairs correspondent and has covered the Supreme Court ever since. She joined David to talk about her journey as a reporter, the evolution of the court over the years, and her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.   To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
As a high school senior facing college applications, Susan Page had a choice to make. Should she follow her passion for playing the oboe and go to music school? Or should she allow her love of journalism to guide her? In the end, journalism won, and Susan soon found herself away from her home state of Kansas for the first time as a freshman at Northwestern University. Now the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, Susan has covered six administrations and 11 presidential elections. She spoke with David about how the media can rebuild public trust, what it’s like to cover the most powerful politicians in the country and her recent experience as moderator of the 2020 vice presidential debate.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser met while working together at The Washington Post. While they spent long hours together in the newsroom investigating the Monica Lewinsky scandal, they didn’t realize they lived on the same block until a colleague pointed out the coincidence. Today, Baker—who famously doesn’t vote for the sake of objectivity—covers the White House for the New York Times, and Glasser writes on Washington for The New Yorker. The now-married couple joined David to discuss what they learned about democracy in their four years based in Russia, finishing their first joint book while Glasser was in labor and how much Washington has changed since the time of James Baker, a political player and power broker who served most notably as President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state. James Baker is the subject of the pair’s latest book, The Man Who Ran Washington. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
As a young man, Ambassador John Bolton often found himself as the lone conservative in a sea of anti-Vietnam War liberals, whether at his private Baltimore prep school or during his years at Yale. But Bolton never wavered from his world view, which led him to roles in the Justice and State departments under presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, including a brief stint as Ambassador to the United Nations. He most recently served 17 months as National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, a time he chronicled in his book The Room Where It Happened. He spoke with David about his career in politics, his concerns about the upcoming election, and why he believes Trump is not smart enough to be a threat to democracy. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
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Podcast Details

Created by
CNN
Podcast Status
Active
Started
Sep 28th, 2015
Latest Episode
Feb 26th, 2021
Release Period
2 per week
Episodes
505
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour
Explicit
No
Order
Episodic
Language
American English

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