Political Podcast Review: We have take-off!

We finally know whose fault the DNC email-hack scandal is.

It’s Dan Pfeiffer’s. Co-host of the popular Keepin’ It 1600 political podcast and former communications advisor to President Obama, Dan admitted on this week’s first of two episodes of the pod that it is all his doing.

“In Obama world we are very superstitious people…I once changed seats on a airplane so I could sit in the exact same seat like I did flying to a debate so it would as good as the previous one. I lost my mind briefly in Cleveland and I punched karma in the face. I said our convention is going to be boring and awesome, and then I woke up and saw #DNCLeaks trending on Twitter.”

So now we know: Dan Pfeiffer is to blame. And you thought it was the Russians.

The DNC emails are of course a dominant theme of this week’s array of political podcasts, although less so as the week has unfolded to provide incredible speech after incredible speech at the Democratic Convention.

But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First of all, let’s explain what we’re all doing here.

You may have noticed that podcasting is having a moment. Established media outlets and digital startups alike are launching new podcasts every day that explore every subject you can think of, and more and more people are tuning in. Check out this graph from Pew Research Center that shows the steady rise of podcast listenership over the past few years:

Statistics for Americans Who Listened to Podcasts Since 2013

And news and politics is no different. In fact, there are a growing number of excellent, entertaining podcasts with all kinds of hosts and formats commentating on the fascinating politics of our time as it unfolds in front of our eyes.

Here at Javelina we are big podcast fans, and have been hungrily consuming the vast array of political podcast commentary. The office is often alive with debate and discussion of the week’s points of view, and so the time has come that we want to share our opinions with the world.

So here it is: Our first Weekly Political Podcast Review. Each week, we’ll be bringing you highlights, lowlights and notable moments of the political world, as recorded in podcasts, published every Friday.

Sometimes we’ll do a deep dive on one podcast, and other times we’ll report on what a range of podcasters are saying. And we want to hear from you. What are your favorite political podcasts? What hosts should we be honing in on? Any historical not-to-be-missed episodes we should highlight?

Comment on this post or tweet @JavelinaCo to be a part of the conversation.

This week offered a fantastic array of political podcast commentary in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • In a week where Hillary Clinton and FLOTUS dominated news headlines, women and glass ceilings have been a strong theme in political commentary. In Nancy Pelosi’s interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush on Off Message, she offered a somewhat different angle when she said: “I don’t think any woman should be asked to vote for someone because the candidate’s a woman. When I was running for leadership I would say to my whips do not ever say to anybody it’s time for us to have a woman in the leadership because that’s the least important selling point.” Thrush pushes back on her a little, and her explanation wasn’t completely satisfactory. Gender and politics is a complicated topic. Listen for yourself and let us know what you think.
  • What makes Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight’s Elections podcast stand apart is how their data and modeling inform their discussion. In the team’s discussion of the safe VP pick of Tim Kaine, Silver notes that while a lot has been made of the fact that Kaine hails from Virginia, his model finds it increases Clinton’s chances of winning by a mere 0.7%. You never know what fascinating factoids you’ll come away from this pod with. This week, we learned that warm Midwestern summers are caused by sweating corn.
  • Other than confessing responsibility for #DNCEmails, Keepin’ it 1600 is worth a listen for the speech-writing review of Michelle Obama’s DNC address. Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama, breaks down in four important points why it was such a roof raiser.
  • The inaugural episode of Katie Couric, named for and hosted by the well-known TV personality. The episode’s main event is an interview with Senator Al Franken. The host’s journalistic background shines through the format, packaged like a TV interview for radio. We were intrigued by this newbie podcast not least because of the female host. Political podcasting, like politics itself, tends to be male-dominated, and so we were eager for more women-hosted pods. It’ll be interesting to see what sets this apart from other interview-format podcasts. Too early to tell whether this one will become a firm favorite.
  • Vox’s The Weeds does a deep dive into different topics each week, from policy positions to political events. This week: RNC vs. DNC. For anyone wondering what less biased people may have made of the two side-by-side conventions, it is worth tuning in to listen to analysis by hosts Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff. They also turn their attention to what a post-election Republican Party might look like if they lose, although a lot of the conclusions drawn sounded very similar to what was said in 2012.

More podcasts await. Look out for our review next week, and make sure to tell us in the comments below or via @JavelinaCo your listening recommendations!

What did you think of our first Political Podcast Review?

Javi Javelina

Guest Blogger

Javi is our fearless mascot, he loves donuts AND avocados. 

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