Starter episode: “Culture Cancel: The American Holocaust”
A beloved mainstay for many podcast fans, Slate’s weekly conversational show is roughly the same age as the format itself, having been going strong since 2005. The hosts, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson and David Plotz, break down the latest announcements, leaks and scandals from Washington in an approachable style that feels less like a news report and more like eavesdropping on a smart conversation between friends (all of whom happen to be veteran D.C. reporters). The show’s format has barely changed over its 16-year run, and that comforting consistency has made it an anchor through especially turbulent times.
Starter episode: “Midnight Train From Georgia”
It’s become common to lament how polarized our political climate has become, and despite President Biden’s professed desire for bipartisanship, the divisions seem as deep as ever in 2021. They’re so deep that any attempt to reach across the aisle is often derided as either naïve or disingenuous, but the hosts of “Pantsuit Politics” are determined to prove that genuine conversations between the left and the right are still possible. Sarah Stewart Holland (on the left) and Beth Silvers (on the right) are Kentucky-based friends who hail from opposite ends of the political spectrum, co-wrote a book entitled “I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening),” and now share down-to-earth conversations on this twice-a-week podcast. Though the hosts’ views are often more similar than this premise suggests, it’s compelling and thoughtful listening.
Starter episode: “We’re All Strange Combinations of Things”
Playfully inverting a well-worn adage (“don’t get lost in the weeds”), this Vox staple thrives on delving into the nitty-gritty of policy and the processes through which it’s created. Hosted by Matthew Yglesias and Dara Lind, alongside a revolving cast of other Vox staffers, “The Weeds” offers a twice-a-week examination of what’s happening in the corridors of power. The main feed sometimes includes limited spinoffs, like “The Next Four Years,” a three-month primer on the new administration’s cabinet appointments and policy plans. More recently, the show has offered detailed but accessible explainers on what the Biden era means for housing, voting rights and immigration policy.
Starter episode: “It’s Time for Class Warfare”
Though its scathing tone might sound like a product of the Trump years, this salty-mouthed political comedy has actually been running since 2015. Its hosts — Noah Lugeons, Heath Enwright, and Eli Bosnick — are perhaps better known for their long-running podcast “The Scathing Atheist,” an unapologetically savage and derisive discussion about religion. Here they take a similarly irreverent approach to politics, spotlighting hypocrisy, corruption and incompetence in government while also taking joy in purely ludicrous moments like Rudy Giuliani’s melting face.
Starter episode: “Jewish Space Laser Edition”
Perhaps the podcast that best defines Trump-era resistance podcasting, “Pod Save America” is the flagship show of Crooked Media, a left-wing podcast empire founded in 2017 by four former Obama staffers, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer. In twice-weekly episodes, the hosts riff on the latest political news and offer anecdotes and insights from their own time in Washington. Throughout the Trump years, the show was a mix of righteous anger and gallows humor, while also becoming a powerhouse for grass roots activism and fund-raising. The show also features plenty of big-fish guests, like Joe Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Barack Obama, who memorably recorded an interview on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.