The Assignment with Audie Cornish

The Assignment with Audie Cornish

Every Monday on The Assignment, host Audie Cornish explores the animating forces of American politics. It’s not about the horserace, it’s about the larger cultural ideas driving the American electorate. Audie draws on the deep well of CNN reporters, editors, and contributors to examine topics like the nuances of building electoral coalitions, and the role the media plays in modern elections. Every Thursday, Audie pulls listeners out of their digital echo chambers to hear from the people whose lives intersect with the news cycle, as well as deep conversations with people driving the headlines. From astrology’s modern renaissance to the free speech wars on campus, no topic is off the table.

Episodes

May 16, 2024 25 mins
What can we learn from the first great rap battle of the streaming age? Like the ones that came before, the recent rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake is defined by lyrical dexterity and sheer intensity. But UNLIKE past battles this one was remarkable for its speed. Both rappers released songs within hours and even minutes of each other. Audie talks with CNN Entertainment Reporter Lisa Respers France about this moment, and ho...
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Vice President Kamala Harris thinks about everything as a lawyer first. That's an observation CNN Senior Reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere has made after many interviews with the Veep. Audie talks with Dovere about how Harris has deployed her prosecutorial skills against Wall Street CEOs, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and even President Biden in a debate moment that nearly derailed his campaign. And they talk about how she is u...
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Bad trips, anti-drug PSAs, and the crackdown under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 helped stigmatize psychedelics in the U.S. But now, there’s renewed clinical inquiry into whether these drugs can ease emotional trauma. To understand the future of psychedelics, Audie calls up Ernesto Londoño, reporter at the New York Times and author of the new book, “Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics.” They discuss his ...
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When Mike Johnson worked with Democrats to pass Ukraine war funding, he knew it would enrage the extreme right-wing and threaten his speakership. So far, Johnson has survived the challenge to his job, and as Doug Heye puts it, “survival is strength.” Heye has worked for Republicans in the House and Senate and is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. He’ll describe the tightrope Mike Johnson must wa...
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Pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses have been met with suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. This week, Audie talks with two people in the middle of the story to understand how they view and talk about this moment. We hear from Krasimir Staykov, a junior and an activist at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He and others were arrested for staging a sit-in in the university president’s office. We also hear from Michae...
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Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett were speechwriters in the Obama White House who, along with Tommy Vietor, decided to venture into media with a podcast now called Pod Save America. The show became a hit, so they founded a whole company around it called Crooked Media. Now, they produce a plethora of podcasts, host a full schedule of live shows, and even write books like their new title, Democracy or Else. Favreau & Lovett go behind the fi...
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April 25, 2024 35 mins
And does Country need Beyoncé? The likely answer to both of those questions is no. But the discussion Beyoncé sparked seems to be the larger point of her new album, Cowboy Carter. Sidney Madden is a reporter for NPR Music, and has delved deep into the intricate dynamics of race, genre, and industry politics addressed on the album. Audie and Sidney talk about these bigger themes and explore the conversation that's been started by Be...
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While the political world fixates on Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial, the Supreme Court is weighing two decisions that could re-define the November election and invalidate charges for hundreds of January 6th defendants. CNN’s Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic is here to explain what’s at stake and read the tea leaves as to which way the justices are leaning. Joan’s book, Nine Black Robes, is now out in paperback. L...
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This week, the Supreme Court ruled that Idaho could temporarily enforce a law that would ban providing gender-affirming care to minors. That means doctors who administer puberty blocking-drugs, hormone therapy, and perform certain surgeries could face up to 10 years in prison. It’s the latest move to prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. With politicians passing anti-trans bills and hospitals an...
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April 16, 2024 31 mins
When Arizona’s Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law reinstating a near-total ban on abortion, it took most of the country by surprise. For plugged-in journalist Jim Small of AZ Mirror, this was the expected result of a deliberate effort by Republicans to arrive at precisely this outcome. Now that the great backpedal is underway, Small tells Audie how we got here and how Arizona politics will affect the elections in November. Learn more...
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The new movie “Civil War” asks: what could happen if the system of checks and balances that hold the United States together falls apart? Audie talks with the writer and director of the film, Alex Garland. It follows journalists as they make their way through a war-torn American landscape, one where Texas and California have gone to war against a three-term president who has disbanded the FBI and deemed journalists enemy combatants ...
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April 9, 2024 29 mins
Last week, “No Labels,” the centrist group seeking to field a “unity ticket” for the presidential election, announced that despite raising $70 million and securing ballot access in key states, they had failed to secure a candidate and would drop their effort for the 2024 cycle. This news elicited sighs of relief all over Washington, including at Third Way, a center-left think tank. Kate deGruyter is communications director at Third...
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What is driving the concern over online gambling? The lawyer who took on Big Tobacco, Richard Daynard, says it is an addictive product. The Public Health Advocacy Institute, which he heads up, is suing the sports betting platform DraftKings for deceptive advertising. Audie talks with Daynard, who’s made a career of bringing lawsuits in pursuit of public health, a strategy he calls “wholesale” rather than “retail.” We also hear from...
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When James Carville criticized the “preachy females” at the forefront of Democratic politics, he kicked off a firestorm of outrage and perhaps a little introspection. Did “The Ragin’ Cajun” have a point, however impolitely made? Do Democrats have a problem with men? Especially Black men and other men of color? Jamil Smith is an award-winning writer and the new editor-in-chief of The Emancipator, a nonprofit newsroom run by the Cent...
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We're taking a short break on The Assignment, and today we’re bringing you a powerful episode from the latest season of All There Is with Anderson Cooper. Following Naomi Judd's death by suicide in 2022, her daughter Ashley discovered her body. In a poignant and candid discussion, Ashley Judd opens up about the challenges she has confronted in addressing her own mental health struggles, the profound sense of loss she experiences, a...
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March 26, 2024 36 mins
Sarah Longwell always felt she could argue the big issues with her fellow Republicans and still have a place in the “big tent” party. That all changed with the emergence of Donald Trump, who espoused policies and politics Longwell could never accept. Instead of sulking over her lost party, Sarah got to work, trying to bridge the gap between the Republican party she knew and what it’s become. Longwell is publisher of the center-righ...
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We're taking a short break on The Assignment, and we want to bring you an episode of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s excellent CNN podcast Chasing Life. It's a special episode he put together about IVF after the Supreme Court of Alabama declared embryos as children, potentially subjecting those who discard frozen embryos to wrongful death charges. This decision raises questions about the implications for fertility doctors and patients in the st...
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Audie talks with journalists Amy Chozick and Abby Phillip about being a reporter on a presidential campaign bus. Amy is the creator and executive producer of the new Max dramedy “The Girls On The Bus,” which follows a group of four women on a fictional campaign trail. Amy covered Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. CNN’s Abby Phillip was a consultant on the show, she is the host of NewsNi...
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March 14, 2024 36 mins
Kara Swisher is a journalist turned entrepreneur, a podcast star with high wattage guests, a punchy interviewer who never backs down, and now an important voice in the public debate over whether and how to regulate tech companies.  Audie talks with Kara about her new memoir, “Burn Book: A Tech Love Story.” Their conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at American University’s Sine Institute of Policy & Politics, where...
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When the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that fertilized embryos should be treated as “extrauterine children,” they threw IVF procedures into the abortion rights fight. In his State of the Union speech, President Biden warned Republicans that they “have no clue about the power of women.” And Senator Katie Britt — from the state that has put IVF in peril — was chosen to give the Republican response. Audie talks with writer Ana Marie Cox...
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