1. NPR POLITICS @nprpolitics
I mean, obviously.
NPR is the mother of all politics podcasts. It’s literally the only half-hour you need to keep on top of what everyone will be talking about for the week. It’s also a great insight into how the US political media functions (spoiler: not like in Britain).
Best for: Non-partisan (ish) analysis by super experienced political reporters who know a helluva lot about the complexities of US government.
Hosted by: It varies, but regulars include White House correspondent Tamara Keith and congressional reporter Scott Detrow, with appearances by political editor Domenico Montanaro.
Ignore if: I literally can’t think of a reason. Everyone should listen to this.
2. THE DAILY @mikiebarb
I covered the launch of the New York Times second attempt at a daily politics podcast for Forbes and I have to admit, I was kind of sceptical. It was billed as a sort of sequel to the hugely successful The Run-Up, but I worried it wouldn’t be able to differentiate itself from standard morning radio you might listen to while you get ready for work. Actually, it’s great. More of a deep-dive than a news bulletin, it gives you more information about the issue than you’re likely to pick up anywhere else, leaving you to seek out the rest of the news on your own which, let’s face it, anyone listening probably already has.
Best for: Knowing more than anyone else about the background to the front page stories.
Hosted by: Michael Barbaro
Ignore if: You’re not on EST. I mean, not really, I listen to it anyway, but if it was up at 7am London time that would be much more enjoyable. It just has a morning feel to it.
3. POD SAVE AMERICA @podsaveamerica
The first podcast from Crooked Media, which is basically the Gimlet of current affairs. Hosted by former Obama staffers, they unapologetically side with the Democrats on everything, and refer to the previous administration and the party in the first person. The exclusive and kind of dogmatic vibe (and the fact that it’s hosted by four identical-sounding white men, two of whom have the same name) is offset by its charming nature. It feels fresh, passionate and there’s banter aplenty, plus loads of inside knowledge on the workings of the White House.
*Apparently there’s also an adorable dog
Best for: Reflecting on the current administration in relation to the Obama years. And feeling vindicated in your indignance.
Hosted by: Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor.
Ignore if: You think the media should always be objective.
4. BLABBERMOUTH @thestranger
Ah, The Stranger: the reason I got over my Meg Ryan trauma and decided I desperately wanted to visit Seattle, and the publication that gave us Dan Savage, without whom Santorum would still be a politician’s name and ‘pegging’ would conjure up images of cribbage and not… well, google it. Savage is arguably the best part of Blabbermouth. If you like the rants at the top of the Lovecast this one is for you.
Best for: Really good arguments you can file away and use on your weird right-wing relatives next Christmas.
Hosted by: Eli Sanders, associate editor at The Stranger.
Ignore if: You’re planning to listen around kids.
5. FIVETHIRTYEIGHT @FiveThirtyEight
Ah, Nate Silver. Remember him from the 2008 elections? How the mighty have fallen, as polls have become unreliable to the point of irrelevance. To be fair, he still predicted a much higher likelyhood of a Trump victory than any other mainstream analysis, but still gave Hillary a 71% chance of winning. That said, when you take the podcast more as commentary than as prediction, it has interesting insight.
Best for: Understanding the science behind the figures the media keeps referring to.
Hosted by: Nate Silver, technically, although the politics team at FiveThirtyEight often take over.
Ignore if: You’re more into the salacious stories about grabbing people by the pussy than the minutia of political data.
6. THE EZRA KLEIN SHOW @ezrklein
Vox is up there in my top five “new media” (urgh) companies, and its success cements Klein as one of the great digital news content innovators, alongside the likes of Jonah Peretti and Ev Williams (I know, I know, three white men — shoutout to Arianna, who started it all). Regardless, Klein is also a fantastic interviewer, and despite his ideological leanings manages to remain staunchly objective when discussing the White House lunacy with a variety of guests including Hillary Clinton, David Miliband, Ta-Nehisi Coats, Jessica Valenti, Malcolm Gladwell and, perhaps most notably, Barack Obama (yes, that Barack Obama)..
Best for: Listening to stupidly clever people talk about endlessly fascinating stuff.
Hosted by: Ezra Klein (obvs).
Ignore if: You’re short on time — they average at over an hour each.