Who Is?

Who Is?

“Who Is?,” an original podcast from NowThis, explores the biographies of influential people in the United States and beyond. Now in a third season, “Who Is?” presents deep dives into the stories of political power players, the donor class, and more. The podcast is hosted by NowThis correspondent Sean Morrow.

Episodes

May 25, 2021 55 min

If you work hard in the United States, there is no limit to the possibility of what you might achieve. That’s the American Dream. But the reality is that America today increasingly resembles aristocratic societies of the past, which were characterized by little social mobility and dramatic inequality perpetuated in part by the passage of enormous fortunes from one generation to the next. How and why this has occurred in the United ...

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Rebekah Mercer may be the most powerful woman in conservative politics today, and she’s never held--and probably will never run for--elected office. Since 2004, Rebekah Mercer has been the director of the Mercer Family Foundation, which means for nearly twenty years she has been one of the key people who is in charge of how her father Robert Mercer’s vast fortune is spent. And following the Citizens United decision in 2010, million...

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May 11, 2021 54 min

Mayor Pete is now Secretary Buttigieg, which means that the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is now a member of the Biden Administration. A surprisingly popular presidential candidate in 2020, Buttigieg has an unusual story, and in just a few years, he’s gone from planning bike lanes and roundabouts to overseeing the nation’s highways, airports, and more. Buttigieg has already run for president once and he’ll almost certainly d...

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May 4, 2021 59 min

In 2020, Andrew Yang ran for president, and although he never really had a serious chance, he became a familiar name, and a familiar face. In 2021, he’s running for Mayor of New York City, and this time, he might win. If he does, Yang will face an enormous challenge: navigating one of the world’s most important cities through an uncertain recovery. A man with essentially no political experience but a lot of ideas and a lot of chari...

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April 27, 2021 49 min

Unless you’re lucky enough to live on another planet, you’ve probably heard about the climate crisis. It’s a problem we must address if we want humanity--and the rest of the Earth’s animal and plant population--to continue to survive and thrive. But in order for that surviving and thriving to happen, we must immediately and definitively cut emissions and begin the transition away from fossil fuels. How’s that going? As you’ve proba...

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April 20, 2021 54 min

Americans aren’t in agreement about much these days, but there does appear to be one thing that they overwhelmingly support: legalizing the medical and recreational use of cannabis. Across the country, cannabis is winning at the ballot box and in the statehouse, and whether you partake or not, legalization has major implications for civil rights and civil liberties, for social and racial justice, and, of course, for those who see c...

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April 13, 2021 57 min

In 1851, then Secretary of the Interior Alexander H.H. Stuart wrote the following: “What is to become of the aboriginal race? … A temporary system can no longer be pursued. The policy of removal, except under peculiar circumstances, must necessarily be abandoned; and the only alternatives left are, to civilize or exterminate them.” In 2021, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo woman, was confirmed Secretary of the Interior. H...

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April 6, 2021 60 min

Does the nuclear command authority of the United States protect the world from an ill-considered strike by the Commander in Chief? Short answer: No. Before 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, many people may have thought that existential risk was the stuff of science fiction. Not anymore. Joan Rohlfing has been working on managing existential risk for decades. From arms control to disarmament, she has had a hand in almost every conceiv...

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March 30, 2021 54 min

In 2012, hundreds of fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job to demand higher wages and the right to unionize, in what would mark the beginning of the “Fight for $15.” In 2021, raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour nearly made it into the American Rescue Plan, the enormous COVID-19 relief package which President Biden signed in March. And from fast-food workers to home care workers and beyond, the Service Employees ...

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March 23, 2021 54 min

Do you eat food? If you answered yes, you are impacted by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the person who is currently in charge of it: former Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack. And it’s not just food: from environmental justice, to economic justice, to racial justice, to climate justice, agriculture sits at the nexus of many of the critical issues of our time. Basically, power isn’t always where you think it is, and the...

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Politicians have been trying to “fix” health care in the United States for nearly a century, and they really never manage to do it. Why? It has everything to do with money, and the moneyed interests--from health insurers to hospitals to pharmaceuticals--which have basically built the system we have today, and which spend more on lobbying to keep it that way than the military-industrial complex spends on defense. The Partnership for...

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March 9, 2021 56 min

In 2020, Arizona and Georgia, two traditionally red states, turned blue. And while Stacey Abrams has received a lot of credit and media attention for the organizing that led to Georgia turning blue, what happened in Arizona? Is there a Stacey Abrams of Arizona? To find out, Sean Morrow spoke with some of the observers who saw it coming and one of the organizers who made it happen, and discovered that Arizona turning blue is about c...

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March 2, 2021 63 min

One of the defining characteristics of the modern nation state is that the state has a monopoly on the use of force. In the United States, police officers are a manifestation of this agreement, to which we are all parties--whether we like it or not--and that is perhaps one reason among many why the apparent lack of accountability that seemingly pervades incidents of police misconduct is so troubling: it throws into question the ter...

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February 23, 2021 47 min

On April 19th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; 168 people were killed, and hundreds more injured, in what remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the United States. Twenty five years later, in 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that the United States had recorded the deadliest year for domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City...

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February 16, 2021 51 min

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is one of the most powerful and one of the most enigmatic people in the world. Often positioned as a primary global antagonist of the United States, Khamenei and his regime have endured five American presidents, and his story reveals, among other things, the consequences of American foreign policy. But Khamenei himself is a clever politician, a leader who has m...

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February 9, 2021 58 min

Ronald Reagan, a man who was first elected President more than forty years ago, remains one of the most impactful and influential conservative politicians in American history. Reagan, who made it in Hollywood before he made it to the White House, was a towering statesman, a favorite of Republicans and Democrats alike, and a man whose image recalls a past which may never have existed in the first place. How we view Reagan is one way...

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"Who Is?," an original podcast from NowThis News that explores the lives of the powerful, is back for a third season. On "Who Is?," host and NowThis correspondent Sean Morrow dives deep into the stories and backstories of the politicians, donors, media moguls, movements, and ideas that shape our lives, from Ronald Reagan to Inherited Wealth, and Domestic Violent Extremism to Police Unions. Featuring conversations wi...

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“Nobody would be fighting this hard to suppress the vote—the lie about voter fraud—if the vote was not powerful.” - Reverend Doctor William Barber II


Bonus episode!


If you listened to “Who Is Electoral College,” you heard from Reverend Doctor William Barber II. Reverend Doctor Barber is a major civil rights leader, organizer, and also a certified genius: he got the MacArthur grant in 2018, which is unofficially called the 'Genius...

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October 27, 2020 48 min

In 2000 and 2016, the candidate who lost the popular vote was elected president. Somehow, that’s democracy at work, and it’s thanks to a baroque institution called the Electoral College. Born out of the same contentious negotiations in 1787 that gave America the Three-fifths Compromise and the structure of the Senate, which bestows equal representation on Wyoming (the least populated state) and California (the most), the Electoral ...

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October 20, 2020 58 min

After a lifetime of firsts--from San Francisco District Attorney to California Attorney General to the Senate--Kamala Harris could become the first woman to serve as Vice President. Born in Oakland, California, and raised in Berkeley, Harris’s groundbreaking career in law enforcement has opened up space for women like Chicago’s Kimberly M. Foxx and Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby. But it has also on occasion put her at odds with the comm...

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