Honestly with Bari Weiss

The Free Press

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. read less

America’s Broken Immigration System: An Honest Debate
Jan 17 2023
America’s Broken Immigration System: An Honest Debate
The debate about immigration brings out some of the deepest anxieties and biggest disagreements in America. And right now, all of it feels like it’s coming to a head. In 2022, there were over 2.76 million illegal migrant crossings at the Southwest border. That’s roughly the population of Chicago, America’s third largest city. To address this unprecedented surge, President Biden recently announced tougher restrictions and made a show of visiting the border himself.  But unlike a decade or two ago, when the immigration debate was mostly about economics, today it’s an issue that’s subsumed by the culture wars and our polarized discourse. Republican governors bus migrants to sanctuary cities and they’re called “xenophobic” and “cruel” by the left. But what happens when a Democratic governor does much the same thing, bussing migrants from Colorado to New York City and Chicago? Is it still a heartless political stunt? Or is all of this just an inevitable consequence of our broken immigration system?  So today: a debate moderated by guest host Kmele Foster between Alex Nowrasteh and Jessica Vaughan. Are current levels of immigration helping or hurting America? How do we balance humanitarian concerns with America’s economic and security needs? Should we be trying to enforce more or less restrictions at the border? And what exactly should we do to fix our immigration policies? Alex is the director of Economic and Social Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Jessica is the director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that describes themselves as “pro-immigrant but low immigration.” While Alex and Jessica couldn’t be more opposite in their approach – Alex favors free immigration, while Jessica argues for restrictionist policies – today on Honestly we look for common ground, debate the facts, and search for solutions Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Bad Moms with Emily Oster
Jan 5 2023
Bad Moms with Emily Oster
When my wife Nellie was pregnant last year, we became obsessed with Economist Emily Oster’s book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know. Amidst a barrage of conflicting and confusing pregnancy advice, Oster laid out the data on everything we needed to know. Despite what doctors said, sushi, cheese, and the occasional glass of wine were all okay during those nine long months. It gave us the much needed calm we needed during a time of so much uncertainty.  With her two subsequent books Cribsheet and The Family Firm, Oster popularized a new phenomenon that has defined our generation of parents: data-driven parenting. It ditches the long lists of paternalistic rules, and instead examines peer-reviewed evidence and lets parents make their own informed decisions about their kids based on risks and tradeoffs. Nowhere was the Oster mentality more front and center, and more divisive, than during Covid. She argued very early on in the pandemic for less draconian and more nuanced policies. She wrote pieces in the Atlantic like, Schools Aren’t Superspreaders and Your Unvaccinated Kids Is Like A Vaccinated Grandma, when those words were considered heresy. And while she made quite a few enemies on the left over the last few years, recently she wrote Let’s Declare A Pandemic Amnesty, and earned herself some enemies on the right as well. Today, my wife Nellie Bowles joins me to talk to Oster about why a Harvard-educated economist at Brown University decided to become a parenting guru, how she used her parenting framework to become a leading expert on pandemic policies, and the unwinnable position of… actually following the science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A Holiday Treat with David Sedaris!
Dec 22 2022
A Holiday Treat with David Sedaris!
David Sedaris is a humorist and author of many best selling books: Calypso, Theft By Finding, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, Holidays On Ice, Barrel Fever… just to name a few. He’s also one of my favorite writers of all time.  What makes Sedaris – who got his start on NPR back in 1992 with his, now famous, Santaland Diaries essay about the time he worked as a Christmas Elf at Macy’s – so mesmerizing and funny, is his ability to find something meaningful and true in the utterly mundane, the way he finds humor in the most horrific moments in life, and his commitment to the lost art of making fun of ourselves.  Nowhere is that more clear than in his newest book, Happy-Go-Lucky. Like most of his writing, it’s a book about his beloved and crazy family. But it’s also a book about some of the most contentious societal issues of the last few years. For the writer who so many think of as a public radio darling, the pages of Sedaris’ new book are not like what you find on today’s member stations. He writes about observing Black Lives Matter protests and COVID lockdowns with such candor – and without agenda or moral ideology – which results in something not only hilarious and relatable, as usual, but also extraordinarily refreshing.  So for today, if you find yourself tuning in from an overcrowded plane, a car full of bickering cousins, or maybe you miraculously get a quiet moment to yourself on a long and snowy walk, this is the perfect episode for you… and, hopefully, the perfect holiday escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Twitter Files and the Future of the Democratic Party With Silicon Valley's Congressman
Dec 16 2022
The Twitter Files and the Future of the Democratic Party With Silicon Valley's Congressman
Ro Khanna is a progressive congressman representing California's 17th District, the wealthiest Congressional district in the U.S. He's the Silicon Valley congressman, and his constituents are the coastal elites of the elites. But if you didn't know any of that, you might think Ro Khanna is a congressman from a place like Indiana. He wants to revitalize American industry, bring manufacturing back home, and really sound the alarm on who the digital revolution has left behind. In fact, when you hear Ro Khanna make the case for the dignity of working people, the negative effects of globalization, and campaign with slogans like “​​make more stuff here,” and “buy American,” he kind of sounds like… Donald Trump. That tells you everything you need to know about our current political moment and how the old rules about what is left and what is right, and which party represents the working class is totally up for grabs. And Khanna thinks that Democrats should be dominating on these issues. On big tech, Khanna’s policies are not exactly the ones you'd imagine coming from the congressman whose neighbors are the creators of the next Googles and Facebooks. Not only does he think big tech needs to be broken up, but he also was one of the only Democrats to diverge from his party's censorious impulses, when he reached out directly to Twitter in 2020 to criticize its decision to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story, as we reported in the Twitter Files story. In an era where the Democratic Party and big tech often seem to be marching in lockstep, Khanna says, hold on. Maybe we should be skeptical of this kind of corporate power. And isn't that the core of what the Democratic Party is supposed to be about? And if not, when did that change and why? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The State of the Black-Jewish Relationship in America: A Roundtable
Dec 9 2022
The State of the Black-Jewish Relationship in America: A Roundtable
For the last month, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has been all over the internet with his conspiratorial, antisemitic tirades. Most recently, he went on Alex Jones’ InfoWars show with White Nationalist Nick Fuentes and said things like, “I love Nazis” and “I see good things about Hitler.”  Last month, there was also Kyrie Irving sharing a link to a video that claimed that blacks are the real Hebrews and the Holocaust didn’t happen. There was also the Black Hebrew Israelite march outside of Barclays Center that got almost no media coverage. All of this, took place in a country where Jews still suffer the largest total number of hate crimes, year after year.  What’s happened over the last month isn’t about one celebrity or basketball player. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and I talked about recently, the antisemitic ideas we’ve seen in the news lately are not new in America. Especially not in black America.  Black-Jewish relations in America have a long and dynamic history, from the shared struggle during the Civil Rights movement to the horror of the Crown Heights Riots in 1991. Throughout all of it, it’s hard not to think about the outsized influence of Louis Farrakahn, often dubbed the most popular antisemite in America.  So today, an honest conversation with guests Chloe Valdary, Bret Stephens, Eli Lake and Kmele Foster about the history of these two communities in America, and how, as a society, we should respond to public figures who spew antisemitism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Bibi Netanyahu: Israel's New Prime Minister. Again.
Nov 30 2022
Bibi Netanyahu: Israel's New Prime Minister. Again.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a polarizing figure. For some, he's the ultimate defender of the State of Israel, willing to do whatever he thinks it takes to protect the one Jewish state located in the most volatile region of the world. For others, Bibi symbolizes everything that's wrong with 21st century Israel: the state's rightward turn and its never ending conflict with the Palestinians. His supporters chant “Bibi, King of Israel!” at his rallies, while at protests, his enemies call him “crime minister.” Bill Clinon said: “you should never underestimate him.” Barack Obama said he was “smart, canny, tough” but that they “did not share worldviews.” And Trump called him “the man that I did more for than any other person I dealt with” but then later, infamously “f— him.” But there's one thing that everyone can agree on: Benjamin Netanyahu is the reigning master of Israeli politics. And despite being ousted from the Prime Ministership just over a year ago, Bibi is back. For a third stint. Why is Benjamin Netanyahu the man that Israelis just can't quit? And what does it mean for Israel that he's attempting to form a government with some of the most radical, far-right parties in Israel?  Today, an interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the eve of his return to power and on the occasion of the publication of his book, Bibi: My Story, an autobiography about his evolution from soldier to statesman. We talked about how he draws moral lines as a leader, about the prospect of peace with the Palestinians and the prospect of peace with the Saudis, and about how he plans to uphold Israel's delicate balance between Judaism and democracy as he steps in to lead his country once more.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Iranian Regime's Most Wanted Woman
Oct 7 2022
The Iranian Regime's Most Wanted Woman
Last month, a 22 year old Kurdish Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, was arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic's so-called morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. Three days later, on September 16th, she died in their custody. Her death ignited a movement, as Iranians took to the streets across the country to demand change, women cutting off their hair in public and lighting their hijabs on fire. The protesters, many of whom are teenagers, have been chanting: “women, life, and freedom” and “death to the dictator.”  Perhaps no one has been a louder and more forceful voice for change in Iran than Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who has spent her entire adult life fighting for human rights in Iran and exposing the regime’s brutality. For this, she has paid a heavy price. The regime has accused her of being a spy for western governments. They’ve targeted her family – they arrested her brother, interrogated her mother, and forced her sister to denounce her on state television. And most recently, they tried to kill her on American soil. She has been living in a safe house ever since. None of this has deterred her. As she wrote last month, “I am not fearful of dying, because I know what I am living for.” Today, guest host Mary Katharine Ham talks to Masih about all of this – the young woman’s death that sparked the protests, what the U.S. should do to support the protests, whether or not this could really be the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic, and why the Iranian regime wants Masih dead. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
From Racial Reckoning to Race Abolition
Sep 28 2022
From Racial Reckoning to Race Abolition
Today’s episode is borrowed from the feed of the great podcast The Fifth Column. Usually hosted by Kmele Foster, Michael Moynihan, and Matt Welch, this episode, which aired in July of 2022, features Kmele and two guests who have become elder statesmen around the persistent issue of race in America: John McWhorter and Glenn Loury.  Over the past few years McWhorter, Loury and Foster each have written, discussed and lectured exhaustively on anti-racism, the role race plays in America, and the changing meaning of the word “racism” itself. In this episode, they talk about the inadequacies of regarding people solely by their racial category, the dignity of the individual and what a future might look like if we were to abolish race all together. While all three men bring a contrarian streak to this discussion, you’ll find that they have disagreements when it comes to questions of race abolition and the so-called “Racial Reckoning” of 2020.  Loury is an economist and professor of social science at Brown University. You can listen to his interview with Bari here. McWhorter is the author of numerous books, including Talking Black and Woke Racism. He's also professor of Linguistics, Philosophy and Music at Columbia University, and a columnist at The New York Times. Since 2015 Kmele Foster has been a prominent voice in a number of discussions about race in America, including his reporting challenging the mainstream media’s verdict on Amy Cooper, better known as the Central Park Karen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices