Hell & High Water with John Heilemann

By The Recount and iHeartRadio

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Subscribers: 458
Reviews: 2


 Apr 15, 2021

Amy Williams
 Nov 3, 2020
You cannot beat the combination of John and Nicole. Great insight into politics and political campaigns. I could listen to them all day!

Description

A ravenous pandemic. A ruinous recession. Protests, riots, racial strife, police brutality. And, of course, Donald Trump. The turmoil and upheaval roiling America in 2020 is the subject of Hell & High Water with John Heilemann. Through a series of conversations with the people shaping our culture — in politics, entertainment, business, technology, sports, food, and beyond — best-selling author and TV host John Heilemann (Game Change, Double Down, Showtime's The Circus) explores how the country is grappling with this apocalyptic moment and its existential stakes... and attempting to pull through and rise above it.

Episode Date
SNEAK PREVIEW: Elie Mystal on “Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir"
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In which Hell & High Water is pleased to introduce you to another podcast in the Recount family: Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir.    Battleground episodes normally drop on Thursdays, but we're giving you a sneak preview of this week's edition, which features Elie Mystal – justice correspondent for The Nation and a frequent guest on MSNBC. If you're interested in the future of the Democratic Party — or American democracy — you're going to love Battleground. Amanda Litman is a co-founder and executive director of Run For Something, an organization that recruits young progressives to seek elective office and helps them do it. Faiz Shakir has been a leading progressive voice for more than a decade, most recently serving as campaign manager for Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential bid. Every week, Litman and Shakir and their guests — reporters, activists, operatives — explore the internal debates and external strategies of Democratic Party and the issues facing America's fragile democratic process through a progressive lens. Whether you're left-leaning, a political junkie, or simply care about the country, Battleground is essential listening.   Subscribe to “Battleground” with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir here: recount.co/BAT Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jun 15, 2021
Christopher Jackson
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In which John Heilemann talks with Christopher Jackson, the Tony award-nominated and Grammy and Emmy award-winning actor, singer, musician, and composer best known for playing George Washington in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. Heilemann and Jackson discuss his journey from growing up in Cairo, Illinois to becoming a bona fide theater and television star; how the traumas of Covid-19 and the post-George Floyd racial reckoning impacted the creative community; how Broadway is faring as it prepares for its long-awaited reopening in September; how Hamilton reflected the political zeitgeist of the Obama era but remains relevant today, and how it felt to perform at the White House for the first Black president; and his pride at seeing the hit Broadway musical In the Heights, in which he played a key role (Benny), turned into a splashy Hollywood film that is among the first to be widely released in movie theaters in the wake of the pandemic. Jackson also discusses his relationship with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind both In The Heights and Hamilton, and why their friendship is one of the most important in his life.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jun 08, 2021
Rick Doblin
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In which John Heilemann talks with Rick Doblin, the pioneering champion of psychedelics who has waged a decades-long crusade to bring about mainstream acceptance of psychoactive drugs for therapeutic and recreational use. Heilemann and Doblin have known each other for more than 30 years, and they discuss Doblin’s path-breaking work at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which he founded and has turned into a multimillion dollar research and advocacy group employing 130 neuroscientists, pharmacologists, and regulatory specialists; his focus on paving the way for MDMA (aka Ecstasy or Molly) to be used in clinical settings as a treatment for depression, addiction, PTSD, and other maladies; how the cultural acceptance of marijuana (first as a medicine and then more broadly) is a leading indicator of where things are headed with MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and other mind-altering compounds; the future of psychedelic medicine, now that FDA approval is on the horizon; and the coming psychedelics investment bubble. Doblin also describes his personal experiences with psychedelics and how they changed his life, as well as the potential for backlash to the psychedelic renaissance, especially from fundamentalist groups, as social mores change.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jun 01, 2021
Will Leitch
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In which John Heilemann talks with writer Will Leitch, sports columnist for MLB.com and New York magazine, founder of Deadspin, and author of a new novel, How Lucky. Heilemann and Leitch discuss the inspiration for How Lucky, including a friend of his young son with spinal muscular atrophy, the genetic disorder that Leitch gives to Daniel, the book's hero; Leitch's love for Athens, Georgia, where he and his family now live and where the book is set; how a complimentary tweet from Stephen King is tantamount to an Oprah's Book Club seal of approval; Leitch's time at Deadspin, including a famous televised confrontation with Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger; the real reason for Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta; and how the NBA is leading the way in political activism in sports. Leitch also discusses his hesitation about getting too excited about the recent success of the New York Knicks, with villainous team owner Jimmy Dolan forever lurking in the wings. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
May 25, 2021
Steven Johnson
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In which John Heilemann talks with Steven Johnson, New York Times best-selling writer on science, technology, and their intersection with human behavior. Heilemann and Johnson discuss his latest book, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, and the new four-part PBS documentary series of the same title based on the book, which explore what Johnson calls "one of our greatest achievements: the doubling of global life expectancy over the past century;" the historical roots of the anti-vax movement; the importance of networks of collaboration in discovery and what he regards as the myth of the "lone genius;" the cholera epidemic in London in the mid-1800s and what we can learn from it today; and the rarely examined environmental consequences of our great strides in public health. Johnson also shares his qualms about the possibility that medical advances might—just might—allow us to live forever. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
May 18, 2021
News Items Podcast with John Ellis and Rebecca Darst
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In which John Heilemann talks with John Ellis and Rebecca Darst, co-hosts of "News Items Podcast," a new daily show from The Recount. "News Items Podcast" is based on the influential "News Items" daily newsletter founded and run by Ellis, a longtime veteran of the news business. Both the podcast and newsletter focus on three big topic areas, with occasional forays into a fourth: (1) World in Disarray; (2) Financialization of Everything; (3) Advances in Science and Technology; (4) Electoral politics in the US and around the world. On this special episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann, Ellis, and Darst discuss these topics, including the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic in India; the importance of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and their potential effects on the global economy; the forces shaping this moment in American politics, from Joe Biden's ambitious agenda to the trajectory of Fox News; and the massive near-term impacts of the arrival of quantum computing and rapid progress on artificial intelligence. They also mull over recent research suggesting that too little sleep may lead to dementia, with Ellis comforting Heilemann—who, if the research is right, is in serious trouble—with the news that, by the time he reaches seventy, there will likely be a drug that cures Alzheimer's. (Phew.) Subscribe to “News Items Podcast with John Ellis” here: http://recount.co/NewsItemsPodcast Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
May 11, 2021
BONUS: Mika Brzezinski on "Just Something About Her" Podcast with Jennifer Palmieri
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Hell & High Water brings you a bonus episode from another podcast in the Recount family: "Just Something About Her" with Jennifer Palmieri. Palmieri spent more than two decades as a big-time political and communications strategist, serving as communications director for Barack Obama's White House and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. “Just Something About Her" was born out of Jennifer's experience working for Hillary, when she kept hearing people say, "I don't know, there’s just something about her I don’t like...". With her podcast, Palmieri is flipping that script, interviewing women who made it to the top of their fields on their own terms. This week's guest is Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," a best-selling author, and the founder of "Know Your Value," a movement in partnership with NBCUniversal that empowers women to recognize their worth and endeavor to get paid accordingly. Mika recently partnered with Forbes to create its first "50 Over 50" list to highlight women who have achieved success later in life. Palmieri and Brzezinski discuss how Mika "walks the walk" when it comes to supporting women. They discuss common mistakes they have made during pay negotiations, what women can learn from men about how to behave at the bargaining table, and what it might take for women to make a comeback from setbacks during the pandemic. Plus, Mika shares a traumatic experience from when her daughter was a newborn that taught her to slow down and focus on what matters. Subscribe to "Just Something About Her" with Jennifer Palmieri here: https://therecount.com/podcasts/just-something-about-her Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
May 06, 2021
Don Lemon
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In which John Heilemann talks with Don Lemon, host of CNN Tonight and author of the new book, “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism." Heilemann and Lemon, who opens his book with a letter to his nephew describing his emotional response to George Floyd's murder, discuss his reaction to the Derek Chauvin trial and the spate of police shootings during and after the proceedings; Lemon's place in the media landscape as the only Black male anchor in primetime cable news; his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the challenges he faced as he rose in the news business due to being both Black and gay; how Lemon sees the role of journalists at a time when democratic institutions are under threat; and his famously contentious relationship with Donald Trump.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
May 04, 2021
Introducing: News Items Podcast with John Ellis
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Ninety percent of the news out there tells you nothing about where the world is going — ten percent of it tells you everything. On the News Items Podcast with John Ellis, John and Rebecca Darst dissect news items that help you understand where the world is going. Tune in every Monday through Thursday afternoon to hear decades of journalistic experience packed into 20 minutes of insight, plus guest interviews on finance, U.S. politics, foreign affairs, science and technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 28, 2021
Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen
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In which John Heilemann talks with Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen, two public health rising stars who have emerged as influential and indispensable voices on Covid-19 in the past year. Heilemann, Gupta, and Wen discuss the Biden administration’s response to the pandemic and whether its success in exceeding its vaccination goals portends victory in the fight against Covid; the controversies over the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines in America and Europe, respectively; the factors behind vaccine hesitancy and what measures might be taken to overcome it; and the imperative of restarting the economy and why vaccine passports may be a big part of the solution. Drs. Gupta and Wen also share their fears about the future, especially on the international front, where new variants of the virus are springing up all the time; their views about whether Covid will ever be eradicated and what the new normal might look like; and what they would do if granted god-like powers to implement any regime they wished to combat the pandemic. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 27, 2021
The Lucas Brothers
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In which John Heilemann talks with Kenny and Keith Lucas, the 35-year-old identical twin comedians, actors, producers, and writers who share a 2021 Oscar nomination (with Will Berson and Shaka King) for Best Original Screenplay for "Judas and the Black Messiah." Heilemann and the Lucas Brothers discuss their decade-long quest to persuade Hollywood to green-light the story of Fred Hampton, the precocious and charismatic chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the late Sixties, and his assassination by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI; Keith and Kenny's unlikely rise from rough family circumstances and the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey through elite law schools (from which they both dropped out days from graduation) to acclaim in the world stand-up comedy, culminating in their 2017 Netflix special, "On Drugs"; the role of illicit substances in their art and lives; their mutual struggles with PTSD, addiction, depression, and suicide; their out-front, at times hilarious, codependency; their passions for politics and philosophy; and how "Seinfeld" saved their lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 20, 2021
Senator Cory Booker
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In which John Heilemann talks with Cory Booker, Demoratic senator from New Jersey. In the first single-topic episode of the podcast, Heilemann and Booker do a deep dive into an issue that's been central to Booker's career: criminal justice reform and racial equity. They discuss the Derek Chauvin trial and their fears if justice isn't served; the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, just recently passed by the House, and the criticism it has received from Black Lives Matter and others on left for not going far enough; the legalization of marijuana and the need to address the widespread inequities in America's drug laws; and Booker's view of Biden as ally in the cause of police, prison, and sentencing reform despite Biden's checkered history on these issues. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 13, 2021
Nicolle Wallace, Part 2
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In which John Heilemann talks with Nicolle Wallace, the host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC. Heilemann and Wallace discuss Joe Biden’s first 11 weeks in office and the striking boldness of the agenda he's pursuing; the state of the Covid-19 pandemic amid the vaccination boom and the series of moving COVID eulogies (Lives Well Lived) that Wallace has delivered on her show each day for the past year; the Republican Party as it struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era; the aftershocks from the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd and America's ongoing racial reckoning; and the wave of voter suppression measures in Georgia and elsewhere and their implications for our democracy. Wallace also shares what she’s missed most during the pandemic and is most eager to recover when things return to normal ... whatever that means. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 06, 2021
Nicolle Wallace, Part 1
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In which John Heilemann talks with Nicolle Wallace, the host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC. Heilemann and Wallace discuss Joe Biden’s first 11 weeks in office and the striking boldness of the agenda he's pursuing; the state of the Covid-19 pandemic amid the vaccination boom and the series of moving COVID eulogies (Lives Well Lived) that Wallace has delivered on her show each day for the past year; the Republican Party as it struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era; the aftershocks from the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd and America's ongoing racial reckoning; and the wave of voter suppression measures in Georgia and elsewhere and their implications for our democracy. Wallace also shares what she’s missed most during the pandemic and is most eager to recover when things return to normal ... whatever that means. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Apr 06, 2021
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
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In which John Heilemann talks with Michigan congresswoman Debbie Dingell, co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Heilemann and Dingell discuss the continuing fallout from the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and ongoing violent extremist threats; her recent grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the role of social media in spreading misinformation and disinformation; her view of President Biden's first ten weeks in office and the major items on his agenda going forward, including infrastructure, climate change, and voting rights. Dingell also addresses her experiences with domestic violence and drug abuse in her family growing up, as well as her late husband—the legendary Michigan congressman John Dingell, who held the seat his wife now occupies for 59 years before she succeeded him—and his evolution regarding gun control, in the context of the renewed debate over new gun safety measures following the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Mar 30, 2021
Franklin Leonard
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In which John Heilemann talks with Franklin Leonard, the founder and CEO of The Black List, a company best known for its annual survey of the most popular screenplays among Hollywood executives that remain unproduced. Heilemann and Leonard discuss this year's Oscar nominations, and in particular the historic levels of diversity among the slate of nominees, as well as the epic fail that was the recent Globe Globes; filmmaking amid the continuing threat of Covid-19, the explosion of streaming fueled by the pandemic, and what it might mean for the future of the industry; the story of how and why Leonard started the Black List and the long-term effects he hopes that his work and other democratizing influences will have on the entertainment industry; structural racism in Hollywood and new initiatives, including one led by Leonard, designed to combat it; and the powerful legacy of the late Chadwick Boseman. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Mar 23, 2021
Clint Watts
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Clint Watts has built his career around the study of extremism: online and off, foreign and domestic, from Russian disinformation campaigns and cyberwarfare to homegrown conspiracists, militia movements, and white supremacists. A former Army infantry officer and FBI special agent, he has served on the bureau's Joint Terrorism Task Force and consulted for its National Security Branch. Currently a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-resident fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and a national security contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, Watts is the author of “Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.” Watts first came to national prominence as one of the first experts to raise concerns about Russian online activity during the 2016 presidential campaign. But in the run-up to 2020, even as he kept an eye on the nefarious cyber exploits of foreign actors, Watts focused increasingly on the domestic front, where MAGA-fueled extremist activity was proliferating online and coalescing into a tangible terror threat. Watts warned that the threat would come to a head on or before Election Day — a fear that proved prescient, albeit ever so slightly premature. On this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Watts discuss the developments and dynamics that led to the insurrection at the US Capitol, with Watts laying out a taxonomy of extremism and suggesting that what lies ahead may prove even more violent, chaotic, and destabilizing than what took place on January 6. To read Watts's new "Selected Wisdom" Substack, subscribe here: https://clintwatts.substack.com/ Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Mar 16, 2021
Andrew Ross Sorkin
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Andrew Ross Sorkin is arguably the country's most important and influential financial and business journalist — and, without doubt, its most plugged in. Having started his career at the New York Times as intern when he was still in high school, he now presides over DealBook, which began its life in 2001 as a newsletter about Wall Street and the mergers and acquisitions game, but over the past 20 years has grown into a sprawling finance, business, and economic news fiefdom within the larger Times empire. At the same time, Sorkin is a co-anchor of Squawk Box, the daily CNBC morning show avidly watched by titans of industry and hopped-up day traders alike. He is also the author of "Too Big To Fail," the definitive chronicle of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which was adapted into a star-studded movie of the same name by HBO; a co-creator of the hit Showtime series "Billions"; and is currently developing another film for HBO on the GameStop/Robinhood meme-stock saga. On this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Sorkin discuss how big business sees the new political era dawning in Washington, DC: from President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and economic recovery legislation to the possibility of raising the minimum wage to the deep polarization that continues to hobble American politics in the wake (and still under the influence) of Donald Trump. They also dive into the many speculative manias currently gripping the financial markets, whether this latest Big Casino moment presages a long-predicted crash, and what if anything regulators might do about the stunning power being amassed by Big Tech. Finally, Heilemann asks Sorkin to list his top five Wall Street films, and the two men riff on the unique place that the financial masters of the universe occupy in popular culture — as objects of fascination, fetishism, reverence, and revulsion in roughly equal measure. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Mar 02, 2021
Daveed Diggs, Ethan Hawke, and James McBride
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The story of John Brown and Harpers Ferry is a pivotal piece of American history that's neither well-known nor well-understood — to the extent it's known or understood at all. In 1859, Brown, a militant white abolitionist and religious zealot, led a raid on the federal armory in that small Virginia (now West Virginia) town to acquire weapons and spark a slave revolt to end the peculiar institution and cleanse America of its original sin. The raid was a debacle, failing utterly in its immediate objectives, but ultimately helped to set in motion the chain of events that led to the Civil War. In 2013, the writer and musician James McBride published a novel, "The Good Lord Bird," that was a heavily fictionalized but also historically rooted account of Brown's life. The book went on to win the National Book Award for Fiction that year, and, last fall, spawned a seven-part Showtime mini-series, produced by Blumhouse Television, starring and co-created by the celebrated actor Ethan Hawke as Brown (a performance for which Hawke has been nominated for a Golden Globe this year) and Grammy and Tony Award-winning "Hamilton" phenom Daveed Diggs as the Black abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass. The TV incarnation of "The Good Lord Bird" is an incendiary, irreverent, at times hilarious, at times moving entertainment — beautifully written, gorgeously shot, studded with standout performances. But it's also something more than a stellar costume drama. In its treatment of racism not as an individual moral failing but a system of oppression; its examination of white guilt, ally-ship, and redemption; its illustration of the arguments between incrementalism and radicalism; and its forcing of the question of nonviolence versus by-all-means-necessary-ism, "The Good Lord Bird" is, as Matt Zoller Seitz put it in his review for Vulture, “a historical epic of real vision ... [that] speaks to the present as well as the past ... lead[ing] us to connect what happened back then with what’s happening on American streets right now.” As Black History Month comes to a close, Heilemann sits down with Diggs, Hawke, and McBride to discuss the series, their collaboration, and what Hawke has called the "dangerous" territory where art and race intersect — and that "The Good Lord Bird" illuminates so incandescently. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Feb 23, 2021
Jaime Harrison
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Jaime Harrison is one of the brightest young rising stars in the Democratic Party. Born and raised by a single mother in Orangeburg, South Carolina, educated at Yale and Georgetown Law, and mentored by legendary Palmetto State congressman Jim Clyburn, Harrison became the first African American chairman of his home state's Democratic Party in 2013, at the age of 37. After a stint as an Associate Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Harrison launched a campaign to topple incumbent South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham — a bid widely seen as a distant longshot at the outset, but that ultimately turned into one of the marquee races of the 2020 election cycle, with Harrison shattering all South Carolina fund-raising records with a $133 million haul. In the end, Graham beat back the upstart challenge, but Harrison's emergence as a national figure left no one surprised when President Biden chose him in January to be the new chairman of the DNC. In a conversation recorded as the Senate was rendering its verdict in Trump's historic second impeachment trial, Heilemann and Harrison delve into the short and long-term implications of Trump's acquittal for Republicans and Democrats alike, the existential questions it raises about our constitutional republic, and the inescapable racial dynamics at play in the terrible events of January 6. They discuss Harrison's youthful infatuation with politics, his quasi-filial relationship with Clyburn, and his ambitious plans for the DNC — from grassroots organizing to combating voter suppression to crafting a true 50-state strategy — as the national party gears up for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Feb 16, 2021
Joyce White Vance and Jill Wine-Banks
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Joyce White Vance and Jill Wine-Banks entered the Trump era with gold-plated resumes and sterling reputations in the legal world but modest public profiles outside it. Today, however, they are widely known as two members of a cadre of MSNBC legal analysts who conducted a four-year national civics lesson about the rule of law when it was being tested in unprecedented ways — a cadre notably dominated by women, many of them pioneers in their profession. Wine-Banks earned that status in the 1970s, when, after serving as one of the first female attorneys in the Department of Justice's organized crime section, she joined the staff of Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski; she later became the first female General Counsel of the U.S. Army and first female executive director of the American Bar Association. Vance, too, is a trailblazer: the first woman appointed U.S. Attorney (for the Northern District of Alabama) by President Obama, she established for the first time a civil-rights enforcement unit in that office, prosecuted numerous high-profile public corruption cases, and launched a statewide investigation into inhumane conditions in Alabama's prisons. Along with two other female legal analysts. Vance and Wine-Banks recently launched a new podcast, #SistersInLaw. And with Trump's second impeachment trial commencing this week, Heilemann invites his friends and colleagues to discuss the case against Trump and why it matters so much — even if Trump, as most expect, is ultimately acquitted. They also delve into the wave of defamation lawsuits and legal threats aimed at right-wing media companies and the former president's lawyers, the degree of legal peril facing Trump as a private citizen, and the challenges facing Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland in repairing the damage wrought by Trump at the Justice Department. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Feb 09, 2021
Sean Penn
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If you looked up the hyphenate "artist-activist" in an illustrated dictionary, next to the entry would likely be a picture of Sean Penn. In a film career spanning forty years, Penn has appeared in more than 50 features, received five Best Actor Oscar nominations and won the award twice — for his leading roles in "Mystic River" and "Milk" — and staked a plausible claim to being the preeminent actor of his generation. He has directed five films, three of which he wrote, as well as publishing two novels. At the same time, Penn has courted political controversy with high-profile trips to Iraq, Iran, and Cuba, and in particular with his friendship with former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.   But alongside his controversial forays on the world stage, much of Penn's time and energy in the past decade has been devoted to humanitarian relief efforts. In 2010, he founded a non-profit now known as CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) to mobilize emergency workers and distribute aid in Haiti after a devastating earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince that January. CORE did the same in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, and in Florida after Hurricane Michael. When COVID struck, CORE responded by opening 49 testing sites in the US, including the largest in the country at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. That facility has now been converted into a massive Covid vaccination center — without a dollar from the federal government. On this week’s episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann brings Penn on to discuss the fight against COVID, Penn’s activism and acting career, and the lasting cultural significance of Jeff Spicoli, his character in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." To learn more about CORE or make a donation to support their work, please visit coreresponse.org. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Feb 02, 2021
Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell
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Kurt Andersen and Lawrence O’Donnell first met 46 years ago as undergraduates at Harvard, forming a friendship that’s flourished alongside their careers as two of their generation’s most incisive, insightful observers of American politics and culture. Andersen made his mark in the 1980s as co-founder of the iconic Spy magazine, then went on to serve as editor-in-chief of New York magazine, host of the Peabody Award-winning radio program “Studio 360,” and best-selling novelist and non-fiction author. O’Donnell cut his teeth in Washington as staff director of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and protege to legendary New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then transitioned to the TV business — first as an Emmy Award-winning writer on “The West Wing” and currently as host of “The Last Word” on MSNBC. On this week’s Hell & High Water, Heilemann, a friend of both Andersen and O’Donnell, brings the two men together for their first-ever joint interview. They discuss the performances of Joe Biden and Amanda Gorman on inauguration day, O’Donnell’s insider’s perspective on the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, and Andersen’s “grand unified theory” of modern American life, as sketched out in his recent companion volumes, “Fantasyland” and “Evil Geniuses.” Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jan 26, 2021
Robert Reich
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Over the course of the past four decades, Robert Reich has worn a multitude of hats: professor and professional idea merchant; federal official in three presidential administrations, candidate for governor of Massachusetts, and economic adviser to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders; author of 18 books, creator of heralded documentaries, and wildly popular social media dynamo. But in all these roles — including the one for which he's best known, Clinton's first secretary of labor — Reich has staked out a unique and uniquely influential position at the nexus of policy and politics. All of which makes Reich an ideal guest to help sort through the cataclysmic events that have shaken Washington, DC, this month. Conveniently, Reich also happens to be so close to Heilemann that he officiated the host's wedding. So on this, the final Hell & High Water episode of Donald Trump's tenure, these two old friends come together to discuss the insurrection at the Capitol and Trump's second impeachment, how big business has reacted and how, more broadly, it has undermined our democracy, and whether the arrival of Joe Biden holds out hope of fundamental economic change. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jan 19, 2021
The Lincoln Project, Part 1
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The Lincoln Project launched in late 2019 with an op-ed in The New York Times under a headline that made the group’s identity and intentions clear: “We are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated.” Since then, the group has established itself as a leading force in the fight against Trumpism, becoming a household name in the process. Led by an array of lapsed Republican operatives including Heilemann’s guests this week, Jennifer Horn and Rick Wilson, the Lincolners have raised tens of millions of dollars, cranked out a stream of memorable ads and viral videos, and waged a devilish campaign to get inside Trump’s head. In this two-part episode, Heilemann talks with Horn and Wilson about Trump’s role in one of most terrible weeks in modern American political history, in which the US Capitol was stormed by far-right insurrectionists; the move to impeach him for a second time or remove him from office via the 25th Amendment; his banishment from Twitter (news that broke while the episode was being recorded); and the clear and present danger he poses to the country in final days as president. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jan 12, 2021
The Lincoln Project, Part 2
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The Lincoln Project launched in late 2019 with an op-ed in The New York Times under a headline that made the group’s identity and intentions clear: “We are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated.” Since then, the group has established itself as a leading force in the fight against Trumpism, becoming a household name in the process. Led by an array of lapsed Republican operatives including Heilemann’s guests this week, Jennifer Horn and Rick Wilson, the Lincolners have raised tens of millions of dollars, cranked out a stream of memorable ads and viral videos, and waged a devilish campaign to get inside Trump’s head. In this two-part episode, Heilemann talks with Horn and Wilson about Trump’s role in one of most terrible weeks in modern American political history, in which the US Capitol was stormed by far-right insurrectionists; the move to impeach him for a second time or remove him from office via the 25th Amendment; his banishment from Twitter (news that broke while the episode was being recorded); and the clear and present danger he poses to the country in final days as president. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jan 12, 2021
Shannon Watts
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Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America — a self-described “accidental activist” who, in less than a decade, went from being a stay-at-home mother in Indiana to the face of a national grassroots movement with more active members than the National Rifle Association. When Watts launched her advocacy group as a simple Facebook page in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, she had just 75 friends on the site but grand ambitions, boundless energy, and infinite chutzpah. Today, Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown For Gun Safety and a political juggernaut, deploying tens of thousands of volunteers and tens of millions of dollars to support candidates, legislative campaigns, and corporate reform efforts. Heilemann and Watts discuss the ways her group has changed the game on gun control, the role of women and young people in the movement, the crisis at the NRA, and why Watts believes the Biden administration will be “the strongest gun safety administration in history.” Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Jan 05, 2021
Tenacious D
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When Jack Black and Kyle Gass formed the mock-rock band Tenacious D in 1994, they were just a pair of unknown members of The Actors' Gang in LA with a spiritual and satirical kinship with Spinal Tap, a penchant for R-rated lyrics about their sexual prowess and prodigious cannabis consumption, and surprisingly serious musical chops. Twenty-six years later, Tenacious D has accumulated a large and passionate following, released three platinum albums and a feature film, and won a Grammy Award — and Black, of course, has become a movie star. In this final 2020 episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann talks with Black and Gass about the group's turn towards the political following Donald Trump's election, from its "South Park"-flavored album/YouTube series/graphic novel "Post-Apocalypto" to its viral, celebrity-studded, get-out-the-vote video cover of "Time Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (which included Heilemann) ... as well as Black's breakout role in "High Fidelity," his wildly popular quarantine videos on TikTok, and Tenacious D's top five records for celebrating the end of the Trump era. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 29, 2020
Aaron Sorkin
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Over the past three decades, Aaron Sorkin has staked a claim as America’s most renowned film and television writer. With a list of credits that runs from "A Few Good Men," "The American President, "The Social Network," and "Moneyball" on the big screen to "Sports Night," "The Newsroom," and his crowning achievement, "The West Wing," on TV, Sorkin's work has achieved vast popular success, critical acclaim, and cultural resonance. On this week’s episode, Hell & High Water continues its year-end review, with Heilemann and Sorkin discussing how COVID-19, Trump's final year in office, and the racial justice movement affected Hollywood in general and three of Sorkin's projects in particular: his stage version of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the reunion episode of "The West Wing," and his film "The Trial of the Chicago 7." Sorkin also offers his lists of top TV shows and movies of the year — and his favorite political films of all time. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 22, 2020
Rich Eisen
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Rich Eisen has been a fixture in the sports media firmament for a quarter century. Sharp and funny, as well-versed in pop culture as in the prevent defense or the pick-and-roll, Eisen was still in his twenties when he first lit up ESPN during its heyday in the 1990s, before becoming the face of the NFL Network and his eponymous talk show and podcast. But what sets Eisen apart from many of his peers is his comfort in the place where top-flight athletics collide with broader social and political dynamics — which set him up perfectly to cover the traumas and dramas of 2020, as the sports world was shaken by a raging pandemic and the upheaval spawned by the killing of George Floyd. With our annus horribilis finally coming to a close, Heilemann and Eisen reflect on the lessons that players, owners, and leagues have learned from grappling with COVID-19, the unprecedented wave of sports activism unleashed by Black Lives Matter, and the media's response to it all. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 15, 2020
Joe Scarborough
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Joe Scarborough is a rare figure in the news business: a broadcaster who has known both Donald Trump and Joe Biden well for years and will be as influential in the political era now dawning as the one quickly coming to a close. Though he first came to prominence in the 1990s as a firebrand Republican congressman from Florida, Scarborough is best known as the co-host and namesake of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" — and an outspoken GOP refugee and relentless critic of President Trump. On this week's episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann, a regular "Morning Joe" panelist since its launch in 2007, invites Scarborough to assess the 2020 election, Trump's efforts to overturn its results, and the future of the Republican Party. They also discuss Scarborough's new book, “Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization," and what Biden can learn from Truman's presidency. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 08, 2020
Killer Mike, Part 2
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Michael Santiago Render, aka Killer Mike, is one of the most vital figures in the worlds of both hip hop and progressive activism. Best known as one half of the acclaimed rap duo Run The Jewels, Render gained notoriety in the political realm as a prominent backer of Bernie Sanders and a fierce advocate for Black economic empowerment. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Render delivered a tearful televised plea to protestors not to torch his beloved home city of Atlanta; the video went viral and earned him a new legion of admirers around the country. A few days later, Run the Jewels released its fourth album, “RTJ4”, which captured the anger, despair, and calls for racial justice echoing from coast to coast and was widely hailed as the dystopian soundtrack of 2020. In this first-ever two-part episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Render discuss race and police violence, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Georgia's outsized role in the 2020 election, Ice Cube, Kanye West, Dave Chappelle, and much, much more.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 01, 2020
Killer Mike, Part 1
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Michael Santiago Render, aka Killer Mike, is one of the most vital figures in the worlds of both hip hop and progressive activism. Best known as one half of the acclaimed rap duo Run The Jewels, Render gained notoriety in the political realm as a prominent backer of Bernie Sanders and a fierce advocate for Black economic empowerment. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Render delivered a tearful televised plea to protestors not to torch his beloved home city of Atlanta; the video went viral and earned him a new legion of admirers around the country. A few days later, Run the Jewels released its fourth album, “RTJ4”, which captured the anger, despair, and calls for racial justice echoing from coast to coast and was widely hailed as the dystopian soundtrack of 2020. In this first-ever two-part episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Render discuss race and police violence, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Georgia's outsized role in the 2020 election, Ice Cube, Kanye West, Dave Chappelle, and much, much more.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Dec 01, 2020
Lawrence Lessig & Laurence Tribe
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Lawrence Lessig and Laurence Tribe are among the most important and influential legal minds of this or any era. Lessig, a pioneer in the field of cyber-law, is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and founder of Equal Citizens, a non-profit focused on the cause of electoral reform. Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard, is arguably the preeminent constitutional scholar of his generation, has argued 35 cases before the US Supreme Court, and was a key member of Al Gore's legal team in the 2000 Florida recount. Heilemann invites the Legal Larrys, as he calls them, to discuss Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election, how his efforts have revealed serious weaknesses in our democratic processes, and the increasingly urgent arguments for scrapping the Electoral College. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 24, 2020
Laurie Garrett
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Laurie Garrett has been tracking epidemics and outbreaks since the early 1990's. She is the author of The Coming Plague, Betrayal of Trust, and I Heard the Sirens Scream and has won a Pulitzer Prize, a George Polk Award (twice), and a Peabody Award. With Thanksgiving approaching, and Covid-19 infection rates shooting up in all 50 states, Heilemann turns to Garrett, one of the foremost science journalists in the world, for her incisive and unflinching look at the pandemic. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 17, 2020
Jon Meacham & Maya Wiley
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Maya Wiley is a nationally recognized racial justice and equity advocate. She is the former Counsel to the Mayor in New York City, the former Chair of the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board, and she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory on universal and inclusive broadband at The New School. Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer, a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor of Time magazine, and he holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, lives in Nashville. Heilemann brings these two brilliant mind together in order to step back and look at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris election victory through the lens of history, civil rights, and the upcoming fights to keep America democratic. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 10, 2020
The Recount's Election Bonus Episode
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For the first time ever, all four of The Recount podcast hosts team up for a bonus episode. Jennifer Palmieri, host of "Just Something About Her," David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt, hosts of "Battleground," and John Heilemann, Executive Editor of The Recount and host of "Hell & High Water," discuss the collision of expectations and reality, poll trouble, what may have held Democrats back from bigger wins, and what's next for the country. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 07, 2020
Nicolle Wallace
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Nicolle Wallace is a journalist, author, and the host of "Deadline: White House" on MSNBC. But, most importantly for the purposes of this podcast, she’s a dear friend of Heilemann’s. Their friendship began when Nicolle was the White House Communications Chief to George W. Bush and deepened after Heilemann published "Game Change." The book chronicles the 2008 Presidential campaign and, with it, Nicolle's role as a senior advisor to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. In this episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann and Nicolle discuss the Biden campaign, how Sarah Palin was a harbinger of what was to come for the GOP, and what America might look like after the election. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Nov 03, 2020
Axe, Plouffe, and Mastromonaco
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As former President Barack Obama hits the campaign trail, Heilemann chats with the crew that helped Obama get elected: David Axelrod, chief strategist for the '08 and '12 Obama campaigns and currently Director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics; David Plouffe, the '08 Obama campaign manager, former Senior Advisor to the President, and host of the podcasts Battleground (also from The Recount) and Campaign HQ; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling and Advance for the Obama '08 campaign and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff. Or, as Heilemann calls them, "the Obama Brain Trust." The three of them discuss the state of the race and President Obama's role in it, before taking a trip down memory lane and reliving some of the most emotional moments from Obama’s ’08 and ’12 campaigns. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Oct 27, 2020
Mike Murphy & Stuart Stevens
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Mike Murphy and Stuart Stevens are two of the most storied consultants in Republican history. Before 2016, they competed against Democrats in races and against each other for clients. Their combined list of clients includes all three Bushes, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, Bob Dole, and many more. But for these Republican stalwarts, Donald J. Trump was a bridge too far. Both are actively involved in the fight to defeat him – Murphy with the group Republican Voters Against Trump and Stevens with The Lincoln Project. They join Heilemann to discuss their take on the state of the race, and use Stuart's new book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, as a jumping-off point for exploring what happened to the GOP. Finally, the two look forward and imagine what a post-Trump party looks like – and what Trump may do as he fights to hold onto power. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Oct 20, 2020
James Carville
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James Carville is one of the most famous political strategists of all time. Known around the world as the "Ragin' Cajun," Carville came to national attention in 1992 as the presiding guru behind the campaign of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Since then, his hot temper, southern-fried charisma, and theatrical squalls of fury at the media have turned him into a cable news celebrity. Carville has never been shy about expressing his opinion, and in this episode of Hell & High Water, he expounds on his theory that Trump is running to stay out of jail, discusses his disdain for activists, and predicts a Biden landslide. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Oct 13, 2020
Ashley Parker & Jennifer Palmieri
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Ashley Parker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning White House reporter for The Washington Post. Jennifer Palmieri is a best-selling author and the former White House Communications Director for President Obama and Director of Communications for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Heilemann, Parker, and Palmieri discuss the unsurprising – nonetheless, jaw-dropping – news that President Donald J. Trump has contracted COVID-19 and its implications for the election. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Oct 06, 2020
Neal Katyal
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Neal Katyal is the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States under Barack Obama, a distinguished lawyer who has argued 41 cases before the Supreme Court and the Paul Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University. In this episode, Heilemann and Katyal explore all things SCOTUS. They discuss the late RBG, the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the high stakes at play and why Neal is still optimistic about the future of the Supreme Court. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Sep 29, 2020
Jeff Daniels
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Jeff Daniels is a celebrated film, television, and stage actor, who stars as former FBI director James Comey in the forthcoming Showtime mini-series “The Comey Rule.” Heilemann and Daniels discuss how the actor approached playing the controversial Comey, a rare public figure despised equally by the left and the right. They explore the motivations of the man who presided over the FBI's investigations of both Hillary Clinton's email and Russia's interference in the 2016 election and its ties to Donald Trump – and was later fired by Trump after refusing his demands of loyalty. Finally, they turn to Daniels's assessment of the existential stakes of the election, and his predictions of a bleak and dark future should Trump be reelected. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Sep 22, 2020
Dave Chang
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Dave Chang is one of the most influential restaurateurs of the 21st century. He's the presiding genius behind the Momofuku empire, the star of “Ugly Delicious” and “Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner” on Netflix, the host of The Dave Chang Show podcast, and the author of a new memoir called Eat a Peach. John talks to Dave about the new role he’s taken during the course of the pandemic, as a leading voice talking about the restaurant apocalypse brought on by COVID-19. They discuss how the industry is threatened with extinction, not just because of the virus and its implications, but because of structural flaws that existed even before the pandemic. Dave also tells John about his fears and motivations around the writing of a bracingly, brutally honest memoir about his mental health struggles and addiction to rage, and what he hopes people take away from the book.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Sep 16, 2020
Marques Johnson
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In the first episode of Hell & High Water, Heilemann talks to Marques Johnson, legendary point forward for UCLA and the Milwaukee Bucks in the seventies and eighties, now a broadcaster for the Bucks. They talk about race, sports, and the NBA playoff boycott, led by the Bucks, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI. Johnson discusses his experiences with racism growing up in Louisiana and Los Angeles, how a new generation of players is embracing social activism, and Donald Trump's efforts to politicize sports with his attacks on LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Sep 08, 2020
Introducing: Hell & High Water with John Heilemann
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Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com
Sep 01, 2020