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Full transcript: Vox Editor at Large Ezra Klein on Recode Media

He explains Vox’s new Netflix show, “Explained.”

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Ezra Klein onstage on the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” YouTube

On this episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Editor at Large Ezra Klein talks about Vox’s new Netflix series “Explained.” The first season of the show, which debuted May 23, features 20 mini-documentaries about topics such as monogamy, cryptocurrency and the racial wealth gap — topics that are too big to be tackled in a three-minute YouTube video.

You can read some highlights from the interview here or listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Below, you’ll also find a lightly edited transcript of the full episode.

Peter Kafka: This is Recode Media with Peter Kafka. That’s me. I am part of the Vox Media podcast network. I’m here at Vox Media headquarters in New York City. If you like this show, please tell someone else about this show.

This is a very exciting crossover episode of Recode Media. I’m sitting here with Ezra Klein, founder of What’s your current title, Ezra?

Ezra Klein: Editor at large.

Editor at large, polymath. You are ...

That’s not actually in my title.

TV guy, now a Netflix guy.

Now a Netflix guy.

Writing a book guy. Fighting for thousands of words with other podcast hosts via email guy. We’ll talk about all that. But we’re talking today specifically about the Netflix show. What’s the name of the Netflix show?


It’s just called “Explained?”

It is just called “Explained.”

I should know some of this as I’m a Vox Media employee.

This is some solid research you’ve done.

Yeah, I did some Googling.


I watched some episodes. They’re great. So this is ... In your words, tell me what the show is.

We came up with the idea for this show a couple years back. When we launched Vox, there were a couple of ideas behind the whole operation, I would say. And one of the big ones was that the underlying technology on which we were doing journalism had changed. It had changed in a bunch of ways, but one of the ways it had changed is that it had become persistent. When you’re writing in a newspaper or you’re showing something on cable news, one of the fundamental qualities of that is it’s going to go away. People can’t keep the newspaper in their house forever; they run out of room, it gets moldy, they breathe in spores, they get sick. Cable news, after something airs, it’s gone. Where do you find it?

One of the things about the digital era is that things stick around. You have links. And not only are those links always available if you’re doing your hygiene on your website correctly, but they can be updated, they can be put back on the front page. They’re always manipulable.

And similarly, at the same time, we were seeing the development — it was a little bit newer — but we were seeing the development when we launched Vox of the Netflixes and Amazon Primes and Hulus and so on of the world where you all of a sudden had these libraries of content, of video content that were, again, always there. And so we began thinking, how could we do ... What would it mean for explainer journalism, the kind of stuff we love — and we can talk about what that is — to be in a place where instead of going away, it stuck around? What would it mean to create a show where we’re telling people about and trying to help them understand really important things in the world around us, but we were doing it with the knowledge that somebody would be watching these episodes in a year, in three years?

This show “Explained” is ... What we’re doing with it is picking, every week, a new topic — the racial wealth gap or monogamy or cryptocurrency — and trying to give people a real understanding about that topic. Talking to the top people in it, trying to work our way through the thorniest questions of it and recognizing that what we’re doing here is laying the groundwork. We want it to be the case that if you watch our crypto episode, our racial wealth gap episode, that you now understand that issue well enough that all the stuff that will be new and disposable and changing about it in the coming years will make sense. That if there’s another Mt Gox hack or whatever, it’ll all make sense to you from here on out.

It’s a very Ezra Klein answer to, “What is your Netflix show?” That was great.

You’re welcome.

Another way of putting it, the shorter version is these are ...

I don’t do a shorter version.

I know, it’s great. Well, we were talking once about podcasts and he said, “You know, your podcasts are running half an hour at the time. That seems too short.” I’m like, “Eh, that’s about right for me.” He said, “I need to do at least 90 minutes.”

Oh yeah.

We’re not going to get to 90 today.

You haven’t seen how long my answers are.

These are 15- to 18-minute videos, which is unusual for Netflix. They have not really done short-form up until now. These are, if you’ve seen a video on YouTube or Facebook, pretty similar, right?

I don’t think so, actually. I think there are certainly ways in which they’re informed by ... There’s no doubt that this is a scaling up of journalism we’ve done.

By the way, I don’t mean that as insult.

I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think our videos are amazing.

They’re great. They’ve been nominated for big awards, people like watching them.

Emmys, Emmys are the awards you’re mentioning.

They like watching them, they’re genuinely good. It’s not like lots of other video you see on the internet. It’s really great stuff. And to me it seemed like, “Oh, you’ve taken a format that you’ve gotten really good at, you’ve taken the people who create that stuff, and you’re porting it to Netflix.” I talked to someone here who said, “Oh, there’s more budget.” But you can’t really tell there’s more budget unless you’re producing it.

Yeah, I disagree with that.

So again, it looks like you’ve taken one thing that works and said, “Well, we’re just going to move it over here and tweak it a little bit, but bring it basically to a new distribution format.”

The place where I’m not sure I buy into that, and I think that might just be ... look, I’m on the other side of the camera on this stuff so I see what goes in on the other end. The kinds of questions we have been able to take on and answer in the bulk of web video were just a very different kind of question. So the scale and ambition of the journalism was, we couldn’t hit some of the things we wanted to hit in the way we wanted to hit them.

When you’re doing a video and you are going for somewhere between three and seven minutes, and you’re doing it with one producer and you’ve got a week to work on it, at the beginning of the editorial process you have to define a question that you can actually take on that way. There are many questions you can. I think that the team, that we’ve in general, done a really good job on those kinds of questions. But say the racial wealth gap is not one of them. You can’t do the kinds of on-the-ground reporting combined with ...

One of your most successful videos explains the Syrian civil war, right?


That worked, right?

I agree with you.

That’s a pretty knotty, heavy question.

We have had some videos — we’ve not been able to do this in every one — we have had some videos that have been big, ambitious expansions of what our norms are. Over the past couple of years, we’ve begun to do more of them, but we have not been able to do that at a clip or honestly ... If you look at the Syrian civil war video , for instance, one of the things about it is there’s no on-the-ground reporting in it. There’s no interviewing in it. It’s an extraordinary video. It’s one of the best things Vox has ever produced. But the set of tools that we could bring to bear on it was really different.

Right, so I think if you’re inside, and I’m a little enough inside to go, “Oh, they went on location and they talked to so-and-so,” but I think if you’re a regular consumer, you think, “Oh, this is a short video. It’s shorter than an hour-long documentary. It’s short enough that I could watch it en route to something on my phone.” I made a point of watching your screeners on my phone; they work really well there.

It’s, again, it seems really like a logical extension of stuff you were already doing. It’s the same talent. You’re doing it, Joe Posner, the guy who creates all your videos, is doing it.

No, it’s a whole new team.

The credits look all the same. I know that you brought in all new people because I had to go to the WeWork for a while because I was displaced.

Sorry, I want to be careful on this because I don’t want people who deserve credit not to get it. As with a lot of things, there are members of our original team who were involved. I’m an EP, Joe’s an EP. We have a 20-person team that is all new on this show. Now, a lot of our other journalists are involved. Some of the episodes come from folks who’ve been on, some from folks who don’t. But I just want to be careful on this because a lot of people have come on in the past couple of months, worked incredibly hard, and I don’t ... Yeah, I don’t want to take credit from them.

Duly noted. Is this the show that you pitched? I know you guys were interested in TV for a while. Is this the show you thought you’d do from the beginning? Is this the show that once you got to Netflix, you said you wanted to do? How did this evolve?

This is the show we pitched. One of the really great things about working with Netflix on this has been from the beginning, they were into the thing we wanted to do, not the things we were a little worried but sort of willing to get cornered into doing, if that makes sense.

Because I’m assuming that a version of this, or a version of when you went out and talked to people at various networks, is, “Oh, let’s do an Ezra Klein interview show,” or other variants of that, or “Instead, let’s not take what you’re doing on the internet and put that on our TV network or on our SVOD. Let’s do something else.”

We never pitched to Netflix or most of these networks. We have ... I’ve talked to people about interview shows at different times and have not gone into that direction, but when we went out and did our roadshow with different networks, we decided that the first show we were going to do no matter what was going ... If we were going to go into TV or streaming or one of these networks, we were going to start with the explainer journalism, that if Vox was going to create a beachhead there, it was going to be in our core editorial mission for the audience. It wasn’t going to be a spinoff or secondary thing, which if it had been me or you can imagine a documentary series, it was based off a particular regular thing we did. There are things you can do where you’re monetizing some of the intellectual property you’ve created as a journalistic outlet into some kind of TV.

It was really important to us — who knows where we go from here? — but it was really important to us that the first thing we did was we have made a promise to the audience as Vox about what we were going to do for you, and the first show we create is going to fulfill that promise.

Netflix is core to what I think about and write about and talk about. I make a point of bringing on [people] who make Netflix shows, I want to ask them what that process is like. It’s one of the reasons you’re here. Inevitably, they say, “We pitched the show to Netflix and they said, ‘Great,’ and we went and made it.” They didn’t really have a lot of notes. I keep waiting for that to change, especially as Netflix gets bigger and has more power, and also has a better idea of what they want. So what was their level of input like on this show?

One thing, to be honest, is I don’t have anything to compare it to. I have never been an EP on a show that was working with a ... I found them really easy to work with. They’ve had notes, but I just found their notes, in general, really helpful.

Do they ever say, “Look, we have a 150 million, 125 million, 100 million subs. We know from our data ...” This was a big thing when they started doing “House of Cards,” this was going to be data-informed. “Our data tells us that our customers like X or Y and not Z.” Did you get that kind of feedback?


No. What kind of feedback did you get then?

I do not know what feedback I should convey here so I’m probably not going too deeply into it, but the kind of feedback I got is very much the kind of feedback we have expected. They watch the episodes and they send us a series of ideas on things they liked and didn’t like in them. We greenlight in consultation with them. They have, to my great gratitude, had a fair amount of trust in us. I think there have been places where we’ve been like, “Let’s try this.” And there’s been a little bit, but in the end, they’ve listened if we think something is a really good idea. And we also take their feedback seriously. It has been a partnership.

But again, one of the hard things for me here is that I can’t tell you if that’s different or it’s more notes or less.

Yeah, I’m not asking you to compare and contrast. I’m asking you to compare to what you thought it would be like going in.

This is mostly, to be honest, I think it’s been more or less what I thought it would be like.

And this is a little different. In addition to these being short-form, they’re going to release a bunch at a time, right?

We are going to release three at once on the 23rd, on May 23rd. And then after that, it’ll be one a week. The first season is 20 episodes, so it’ll be one a week for 17 weeks.

And these aren’t time-pegged, right? These will be about ...


And intentionally so?

The idea is that they can live for a long time. We’re intentionally ... One of the things that I think has been important in the editorial process is we are being pretty tough on ourselves, and Netflix has been very bought-in on this, that these are shows you should be able to watch in a year. We should at least be able to believe you can watch them in two years.

A lot of the things we are doing here, certainly there will be changes in the underlying topic, but they should not be big enough or we should not expect them to be big enough that this is disposable. We’re not doing the Trump in Russia investigation. That’s not a topic that would work for this show because by the time we brought that episode out, that episode would be outdated.

Right. Do you think, “Boy, it would be interesting, if we can’t do Trump Russia. There’s no way, it’s constantly going to get lapped by news. But is there something we can do that has echoes of this, that’s relevant, that goes 50 years back?”

We definitely are thinking a lot about that. We are definitely looking ... And this is the thing about expeditionary journalism in general. What we’re trying to do there is find the context around issues people are talking about, things people are seeing, things that they’re living out in their lives. What is this piece of news? Or what is this part of life actually part of? What is its bigger frame?

And so we’re often looking for what we call the zoom-out. We’re often looking for, “Okay, yeah, it looked like it was part of this, but step back, and it’s actually part of that.” So on a lot of these different topics, we are seeing something we see in the news or we are seeing something that people just talk about a lot and trying to then ask the question, “Okay, do we have something bigger we can put this in the context of after doing the reporting and after doing the research?” So you kind of look at it like, “Oh, okay. I get where this fits into everything. I get what this is really a part of.” is published on the internet, which really means you create stuff that is designed to be consumed on a mobile phone. I told you I made a point of watching this stuff on a phone. Netflix, the majority of their viewing still happens on a TV. Have you thought about, “All right, are people going to watch this on a phone? Are they going to watch it on TV? Do we create things differently with that in mind?”

This would probably be a better Joe Posner question because I’m a little bit less involved in the visual design of the show.

Or even just how they’re going to ... Or do you think about how they’re going to consume it time-wise? Anything else?

I have not beyond ... We try to be very audience-focused, but I don’t know. I have a little bit of a weird view on this compared to a lot of other editors in this space. I think that we, in the media, are spending too much time trying to game platforms and devices. There are, particularly early in the adoption of a new platform or device, there do tend to be quirks of that space that you can take advantage of and boost viewership or readership or whatever it is for a little while, but over the long run, actually, people tend to gravitate toward quality content across different areas.

So of course it has to be usable on different devices. If you have something that does not display on a phone, it is not going to get watched or read or whatever on a phone. But I am a lot less sold than other people are that these devices have very different habits or these platforms have very different habits.

And I think, to me, the archetypal example of this is Facebook silent video. Facebook comes out, they create a product that will do auto-play. You guys and your audience knows this story better than I do, probably, but everybody jumps on that and begins pumping out this silent newsreel video.

Silent newsreel that has to get your attention in the first few seconds. It’s front-loaded that way.

One way of interpreting that is, “Oh wow, people have found a whole new form of user behavior here. There’s this big untapped demand out there that there wasn’t before and we’ve gotta fill it.” Another version is, “Actually, we’re gaming the system and it’s going to work for like two years.” Our view at Vox is this is kind of gaming the system, we’re not going to do this.

So what is our biggest-ever Facebook video? As you’ve said, it’s a seven-and-a-half minute dive into the Syrian civil war. We began seeing that kind of thing really early. That informed us in saying, “You know what? People do not want this other thing.” They do not just want this low-touch, low-energy thing. They actually want good stuff. And it’s probably not there. Why are they not seeing it? This is not there.

There’s a corollary there where a couple years ago the most engaged story, 2016 I think it was, per Chartbeat, was a very long ISIS piece.

We again, at Vox we’ve seen this over and over and over and over again. There is also this whole thing about the YouTube and Facebook videos, super different. Some places have found it is, we have not. We have made decisions about how we did our video that we’re only going to do video ... we’re only going to judge the video we did on how people consumed it as video. The more we did that, the more we found that the things that really worked would work in a lot places.

When we thought about this show, we’re thinking a lot about the Netflix audience that has a different characteristic than the audience we’ve built. There’s going to be some overlap but obviously it’s a much bigger audience. We think a lot about that. But the question, are people going to watch it on the phone or a tablet, I think if it’s good they are going to watch it.

The other related interesting question — we can’t have an answer for it yet because you won’t know — is you have an idea of how things travel on YouTube and Facebook, for one thing, data. You get to see, “Oh, people came through this door to watch this show and they stayed this long.”

So one, Netflix is a black box. They’re not going to tell you what the viewership is and you also are not going to know how they’re getting to it. You’re not going to know how people found it and how much of this is dependent on Netflix putting it on their homepage versus you talking about it on your Twitter feed. People finding it that way. I would assume especially someone like you. You’ve grown up digitally, publishing things digitally, getting feedback.

A child of the web.

A child of the web, a child of feedback, right? This is one of the things Vox Media used to pride itself on. I think it still does. We know a lot about the work of publishing and seeing what works; being able to play with levers and guess, fundamentally. We want to make good content but we’re smart about this. Here you’re making your show, you’re handing it to Netflix, you’re done.

As you say, I don’t actually know what kinds of information we’re going to get back, that’s part of it. Let me say something, actually, about that. It’s actually a topic I would love to talk about. I think that a lot of the analytics talk in the media has been bullshit for a long time. I think that the amount that people do, that thing you’re talking about is not zero but it is like 15 percent of what ...

By the way, I agree, because I came to Vox Media and I thought, “All right show me the magical levers!” and there’s less levers there than you’d think. There’s some basic SEO stuff, and by the way, we’ve got smart people working on this stuff. They can tell you this thing performed this way. But fundamentally, there’s no magic key, but that’s different than having zero insight into what you make for Netflix.

Well, here’s where I was going to go with this. So I think that one of the places where there’s particularly no magic key is ... I think if you look at BuzzFeed — not BuzzFeed news but BuzzFeed’s core work, listicles, that kind of thing — which I’m not saying it with any ... I think there has been a lot of tremendous innovation there —I think they really did do a version of this, more than, I guess, anybody else did. Where they will say, “Okay, we have found a format and now we’re going to start plugging things into the format until the format dies on us. Then we’re going to find another format.” And this went on a lot of times.

When you’re doing news or news-adjacent work — here I’m not even talking yet about the Netflix show but just about what we’ve done at Vox — I think there’s a lot less of that. I think it’s true, I’ve been at the Post and know how people operate at a lot of other organizations. I think that it’s true actually about BuzzFeed News, would be my guess. You have a bit of a sense, right, there are things people care more about than they care about other things. But you are working, one, with an issues space, and like an actual news space you can’t control it. You can’t just say, “Well, two years ago people really loved reading about the Hillary Clinton campaign. So today we’re going to ...” You know what I mean? She’s not running for president anymore.

By the way, that’s a lot of the analytics there. “People like this thing, make more of this thing.” It’s basically that crude. You can see the effects of that all over media.

And so if you’re doing news, it just doesn’t work. Because you don’t have that control over it.

It works in a very bad way.

Or works in a very bad way.

Which is, “Do more of that story in every iteration. Do 20 versions of that story.”

It’s often the reason people even like that story, that the wave of the current events base had crested there for a minute. I mean, there is a week where you can write about ... Last week the Iran deal was in the news because Donald Trump tore it up. So writing a lot about that had a different Chartbeat valance than it will have three weeks from now. It isn’t what people’s energy and attention are focused on.

To bring this back to the Netflix show, this is something that we came to a long time ago. But I’ve a lot more comfort with the idea that a lot of what we do is employing an editorial taste in a sense of our audience and also a sense of what we think is important in the world. And where we can find good sets of answers, too.

When I launched Vox, I sat down ... I actually don’t remember who it was so I apologize to whoever gave me this advice. I was asking what is it like being an editor in chief. What do you do? What is your job? I’ve never done it before. He said to me, “The job of the editor in chief is to impose my editorial sensibility on the publication.” I recoiled. I had such a negative reaction to that. Like, who cares what you think, right? He was analytic. Have some sense of the world. And over time … I’m not saying it’s my sense. I don’t really ...

If there’s a sensibility, it wasn’t created out of nowhere. It wasn’t just created out of data.

I’ve come to believe a lot more that for an organization to develop a sensibility and a sense of what is important in the world, and how to write or video or podcast or whatever about these things in ways that are interesting, that that is actually more of the work. It’s funny, because you just asked me about ... I’ve not even been really thinking about the analytics of the show. I will be upset if Netflix comes to me and says, “Nobody is watching your show so we’re not going to air.” That will be sad.

In terms of how we’re thinking about coming up with the episodes, in a real sense it hasn’t changed our process at all. When we sit and think about features for Vox or when we sit down and think about videos for the YouTube channel or whatever, we’re not sitting around thinking about what worked on Chartbeat months ago. We’re actually asking these questions about what feels interesting and important and fundamental to us right now.

There’s a middle ground where you say, “Hey, we made this thing. We liked it. No one watched it. No one read it. So what went wrong here? Is the topic uninteresting? Did we deliver it correctly? Did we make incorrectly?” And I think that’s the middle of the road now for a digitally savvy publisher today.

That is, we’re thinking through that. I was here to cover news or I was here to do things that are important, but if we’re not finding an audience we have to think about why we’re not finding an audience.


For you, this is just, “Hand it back for Netflix.” You’re handing it to them and they’re going to come back and it’s going to be binary, basically. Yes, give us more, or no, don’t. If they say yes, give us more, they’ll give me some notes about maybe more or less of that. Probably not much more than that.

It’s a great question. You probably know it a lot better than me.

I hope we’re going to find out. All right, as you said, I asked you a good question, so I don’t want to press my luck. We’re going to take a break. We’re going to listen to an ad or two from the sponsor that lets you listen to this show for free. We’ll be right back.


I’m back here with Ezra Klein. You know I’m back here with Ezra Klein because you’ve listened to us talk for 22 minutes or so.

Yeah, but life is change. Like, who’s to even say we’re the same people we were a couple minutes ago?

Oh man, we’re all living in a simulation!

I just had Michael Pollan on my podcast talking about psychedelics. Constancy even in mental state is a real ...

When is that one going to air?

It just came out today.

I wonder if you beat Kara Swisher to the punch. She’s very excited by Michael Pollan, it blew her mind.

It is literally ... I think I called mine a mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan. It’s a mind-blowing conversation. Not so much for the psychedelics part of it as the theories of consciousness.

I want to stop this podcast and go listen to your podcast, but I can’t do that.

But you know what, if all Peter’s listeners want to stop this podcast and go listen to my podcast, I’m not going to argue.

Wherever you listen to podcasts like this one, g listen to the Ezra Klein show.

You were referencing a few times about launching That was how many years now?


Four years ago. Prior to that you were at the Washington Post, ran Wonkblog for them. You were at wunderkind. I’m pronouncing wunderkind correctly?

Well, that’s arguable. Not the pronunciation ...

On your profile it said so. It’s great when you get back and research someone and you find multiple competing profiles around the same time. There’s a great New Republic profile of you. There’s a great New York magazine profile of you, right before you launched, right after you launched. It’s great. And you referenced ...

I get uncomfortable just hearing the remembrance of these profiles.

If you don’t want any profiles, don’t launch a giant corporation from Vox Media. What has changed at from conception to today in terms of where you thought this thing is going to go? And where it has ended up?

A lot, actually. Here’s the biggest thing: I don’t think that our theory of the journalism has changed that much, but our theory of what that journalism would be? How we would show that theory has changed dramatically. We have this idea, and a big part of the idea was, to shorthand it, was this Wikipedia for the news.

I had been at the Post, as you say, and I covered policy. So I covered in the past couple years the Obamacare and the financial crisis and the debt ceiling fights in 2011 and all this things that are happening. One thing that united a lot of these issues was they had a fast-moving news story on top of a poorly understood but very important topic.

So take Obamacare. I would say by the time that passed — a year and a half or however long into debate over it — the number of people who could really explain that bill well, given how many times it had changed and so on, it was pretty small. And I explained at Wonkblog that we had done honestly the best coverage that we possibly could have of the question, “What happened in Obamacare today?”

What happened? What argument about the public option and the iterative stuff. I felt we were about as good as anybody was at that, because I think it’s genuinely the best health care port in the country. I mean, we really worked hard on that. But I would get all these emails from people saying, “I don’t understand the individual mandate or the subsidies or whatever,” and I’d be like “Oh yeah well, if you look back in June we had piece about the individual mandate.”

And you would link to them.

I’d link to them. But the degree to which across the entire media we were not giving you a patch to all these news stories we were doing, just like an ongoing, continuously updated, here’s what Obamacare is so that you could join the news story midstream and get caught up and then come in. It’s really frustrating to me ...

It’s much better than the pre-internet era ...


... where there’s literally no way to go back other than literally going to the library.

I don’t think it was that much better.

If you wanted to, you could go find this thing on the internet.

That’s exactly the thing. I think a huge failure is when we put the bulk of the work on the audience. You have to be a Google Jedi to understand what collection of keywords do I need to ... Because also, think about this, right? Let’s say it’s about the individual mandate. You’re searching “individual mandate.” The number of stories that have a recency bias in Google about the individual mandate ... I mean, if you’re trying to find when did Wonkblog at the Washington Post write its story, ‘Here’s what the individual mandate [is]’ — it’s very hard, actually. So I think we’re not doing a good job meeting people. Even if people had the curiosity for it, I don’t think we’re doing a good job meeting them. It is possible, but I think we were failing.

Then we have this idea of, okay, what if the reporters who are covering these stories are creating and continuously updating as they cover these stories? These sort of underlying topic guides. And that’s the kernel of the idea for Vox. When we came to Vox Media, we built a publishing platform that was really designed to showcase this idea. At that time, a particular product to me ... If you had asked me in 2014 what will be whether or not Vox succeeds or fails? What would be the hinge? I would say, “Do card stacks take off?”

This card stacks idea. If you’re very old like me, you remember hyper cards. Again, this digital version of index cards. Stuff you needed to know, it’s attached to the story. Your very product specifically ...

It was a product and workflow-based idea of expeditionary journalism. We did these card stacks and we had this whole thing and we had special links in the whole piece and there was yellow highlighting on the words. It’s like if we ever mentioned the individual mandate, you click on that and up will come the card for the individual mandate. And the card for individual mandate ...

We are going to bring this library to you, organize it and sort it so that you don’t have to go fetch it.

Would be embedded in broader cards for Obamacare. I loved it. I was still, I get excited and my heart races talking about it. What happened is, those worked great and some of them did incredibly well. Like, our card stack for ISIS had 10, 20 million views, something like that.

The thing that happened is the platforms fractured. When we launched Vox, there was no Facebook Instant Articles, no Google AMP, and Flipboard was much smaller than it is now. There is no Apple News, no Google Newsstand. The possible returns in very tightly designing a platform to do exactly what you wanted it to do were very high, potentially at least very high. Then very, very quickly the platforms began to splinter. It was very clear that the audience is going to be primarily offsite.

They were going to be reading you on Facebook, literally on Facebook on their phone. They were going to be reading you on Google on their phone. Apple News is a huge thing for us. And so product things we built couldn’t port. You think the problem is the distribution, not defective.

People didn’t really want to engage with the product that you made the way you wanted them to engage.

No, we actually found the engagement pretty good. I won’t remember the exact numbers but I think it was something like if you came to a Vox story — and again this is from memories so I apologize if I get it wrong — 7 percent of people would click on the card stacks, and if you clicked on the card stacks on average you would look at at least four or five cards. That to me was pretty good. That was the user behavior I was hoping for.

Now what I will say was that the two things that made this hard were one, the platforms began fracturing. So continuing to pump resources into that was not seeming ... we wanted to start to discover around this time. A lot was happening, we couldn’t do this. Then the other thing was that it was also a huge workload. Like a huge, huge, huge workload. So to have that much work going into something that only let’s say 30 percent or 40 percent of our audience could see, it just didn’t make sense.

To create this product, this bespoke product, and then the bespoke CMS doesn’t work and you replace it with what?

The thing that then happened — and it took me a while to see that this was happening — was that what we did was we built an organization around the values that got instantiated in card stacks. We trained writers. You would come in and, as a writer, you would have to ... one of the first things you do is we make you start doing card stacks, show you how to do it. And we do editing and maybe we’d release it, maybe we wouldn’t. Best thing you learned at Vox.

And we began to see that the ideas of that were inflecting a lot of different products we were making, our videos — which of course never had card stacks attached to them — they were really explanatory. They really had the same DNA in them but it was being interpreted in a different way, into a different form, into a different medium.

Some sort of creating a special content vessel for this, right? You just bring the idea of explaining, which you had from the get-go anyway ... You don’t call explainers, you make them more explainery.

Yeah, Snapchat Discover was a whole nother thing where, I think, we really created something cool there when we were on that. That was “Explained” on Discover. So overall, now you see it on “Today Explained,” our daily podcast, to me, it’s such a beautiful explainer project, “Explained” on Netflix. We ended up creating — and again, I didn’t see this happening as it was happening. I was very depressed. I felt the card stacks moment was going to pass by, because I had a lot of personal love invested in this project. But we’d created not a product but a culture. And as new opportunities came, one thing we were good at doing was, as Jim Bankoff put it, thriving on change. When things changed we were there, and we would jump in and figure it out.

Sometimes your call was a pivot, right? Pivot is a freighted word sometimes. But I think of it as in a good way of, “This thing isn’t working, let’s try a different thing.” And if you are not doing that, you’re probably not succeeding.

Maybe. You would probably know the language better than I do. As I understand, the pivot language is actually moving into a different idea of what you are selling?

Often it can be, yeah.

And that wasn’t what we did. We really held to explanatory journalism of which, in the end, card stacks was one product in it. It turned out instead of, in my head, to be the product of it, it was just one product of it. It worked in its time and then its time passed. But it was much more ... it turned out what we had built was much more of a culture and a training ground around explanatory journalism. But then as things came up we would create new products that we interpreted to that mission and those values and that approach in different ways.

Did you have second thoughts about the word “explain” and any derivations of it?

I don’t.

Sometimes it is used pejoratively. You guys ... I just saw it in my feed, “Vox tells you how you should feel about this.” Did you think, “Well, we don’t want to seem prescriptive.”

I always think that.

“We want to be useful.”

This is something I used to tell the staff, very early on. This is not going to succeed unless the brand of it becomes strong enough that people make fun of us for it. Would I love it if nobody ever heard it pejoratively? And I do. I don’t like it when people think that “Explained” has this definitive meaning, because that isn’t how we mean it. To do expoundatory journalism as an approach to doing journalism, it isn’t to say it’s the last word. A thing has many different explanations, potentially.

But that said, no, I think it does define the journalism we do. And also people understand, it is what we do. And in the same way that I don’t think there is a version where you get a space like that and you get it a little bit more to yourself and nobody ever has resentment around that. Nobody ever gives you shit for it — and by the way, sometimes the shit is deserved.

The version of it that I will say is what I hate is when we call something an explainer that isn’t. Then people are, “Well, Vox said this was an explainer and I don’t ...” That’s really bad. On the other hand, sometimes you do something that isn’t an explainer and some people would be, “Vox said it was going to explain but here they have done this thing ...” Well, that is okay with me, right? We are an organization, we do many things, and we have a code.

But so now the idea of actually defining ourselves around something has been such an incredible boon both internally and externally. Both internally in a way that we can help people who join the organization understand what we are and what we intend to be. Then externally in giving people a reason to want to work with us. Giving people something we actually do really well. And if they want this done for them, they should partner up with us. It’s actually, I think, the single best thing we ever did.

One reason Wikipedia sucks is that you have got all these different voices.

I really don’t think Wikipedia sucks, for the record.

Wikipedia is a great research tool, it’s terrible to read. It is super unsatisfying to read. It is a great thing to be able to Google, get some general background. But if the topic is any kind of new ones and any kind of debate, it often breaks, right? You can’t read Wikipedia with any Israeli and Palestinian conflicts. You see all these voices and they all do not agree on anything and it ends up as a muddle.

Vox has a voice, you talk about this kind of your voice. The center-of-the-left voice, it’s rational. In 2018 we are in a world where alternative facts and the entire spectrum instead of what is a fact and what the viewpoint is, it’s all muddled. How much time do you spend thinking about it? “All right, we want to make sure that we are clear about, this is our buyers, this is our ideological bent or we don’t think we have that ideological bent or we do and let’s counter it by getting in someone from the national review to come write stuff for us as well.” How do you think about balancing all that?

This is something I think about a lot, actually, and I have a couple answers on it. One is that I don’t really think that in 2018 it’s all that different from how it was in 2016 or 2014 or, you know, the issue set has changed. I am not someone who actually buys into the idea that alternative facts and fake news are some sort of very new thing or even the most difficult of the things we are facing.

I think they’re hyper charged.

They are hyper charged but ...

They are hyper charged and the range of bullshit that’s in the discourse, it’s gotten much broader. You used to have to work really hard to find extreme viewpoints and now they’re delivered to you by the president of the United States

Sure. For the work we do, I actually think the difficulty of something like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a lot harder than the president calling the crowd-size estimates at his inaugural “fake news.”

It’s really hamstrung lots of news organizations, who say, “Well, the president said it. We can’t just say that is a bunch of bullshit, we have to say the president said it.”

I don’t think it even hamstrings them anymore. I think now ...

They are getting better at it, but it’s a couple of years of them adapting to, “How do we deal with someone who does not believe what he says, knows he’s lying, doesn’t care?” And then it seeps all the way through the administration.

I don’t know, I have a little bit of an alternative-fact view on this where it is true that I think the media had for a little while, is somehow ridiculous to debate about whether or not you can call a flagrant untruth from President Trump a lie. Because maybe he believes in lies. I think, by the way, often he does believe things that are untrue. But I don’t think it’s truly reasonable to say that if you’ve been reading, say, the New York Times on Trump since 2016, you didn’t know the president lies constantly. I just don’t buy it. So that’s one thing.

You know, I agree. And by the way, if you’re getting any news from Sinclair or lots of other places right? And by the way, you are watching the news, you are doing your part to be an informed.

But that was just true ... Again, I don’t mean to be too contra in this but the Fox News thing was true. I covered it on Obamacare. In some ways the fact that it’s much more obvious now is more helpful to me because I can see what needs to be ...

But I was asking you about the Vox version of this.

There are a couple things here. One is really around this question of how, when you’re doing an explainer, do you simultaneously represent a debate that is contested. And also represent the fact that in the end maybe you’ve come to an explanation. Maybe you’ve come to believe that there is something true here versus something untrue. And how does that then differ from being a take? Are you just writing an op-ed column?

Or you start with a set of commonly assumed facts, what you believe to be commonly assumed facts, they never did occur to you that someone else has another version of this.

Or values. If you are explaining an issue related, say, to gay marriage and you believe that it is just true that it is a human right: You should be able to marry a same-sex partner you love. Your explanation of that issue can be different than if you believe it is contrary to God’s law.

The genetics episodes of the Vox show that I just watched starts with the assumption, yes of course we have science, people have the ability to manipulate this stuff and we’re not just leaving it up to ...

Of course, right, exactly. To me, this gets to some of this questions around ... you used the word objective earlier. I have worked in a lot of news rooms, including news rooms that were built around the idea of objectivity. I don’t believe — and I never have — in this concept of objective journalism. There is a great line from Hunter Thompson which is the only time you ever saw objective journalism was on a closed-circuit camera in a Woolworths, which I’ve always enjoyed. But obviously people can try very hard to represent, people can try very, very hard to represent multiple sides of an issue. But even in choosing what you are going to report on you are making important choices. If you decide that day as a journalist, if it turns out that in your work you only report on embarrassing things people on the right do, but every one of those stories you do ...

Every part of what journalism does has some kind of biased decision making process. There’s not a commonly received set of facts.

So what we’re trying to do is to be very transparent and open in our process, and here is the key, to me, distinction. Because I’m part of the generation of bloggers who came in and said all this objective journalism stuff it’s bullshit. I actually think a lot of that ended up going too far. We sort of threw the baby out with the bathwater. Because you decide that the decision that you were going to end with an even-handed product, despite the fact that reality may not be even handed, reality may be more to one side than the other. You then throw out the even-handed process too.

And the thing that we try to preach internally to Vox is we do not demand that you come out on both sides of an issue. But we do want you to have an open and neutral process on your way to finding an answer on that issue. So if you’re trying to do an explainer on something as contested and you haven’t spoken to the smartest people contesting it, then you’ve not done the explainer.

You have to earn the authority and you have to also show the best versions of the arguments you’re rejecting in the end to have done the work. And so I think there is a place to have what I call an even-handed process. Even if you have a result that comes down on one side of an issue or another. And I think that that is where a lot of good work not just at Vox but elsewhere is happening right now. Whereas pretending an issue does not have an answer is a way of not informing your audience.

And also, though, pretending the issue has a clear answer, when you’ve not done the work to even know if that answer is really true, when you’ve not done the work to understand the counterarguments .

You’re just giving a shrug and saying “Well, let’s hear from both sides.” And that’s not acceptable.

Yes, exactly.

I have a related question. But first, I want to take a quick break so we can hear from our sponsors and also I see Golda looking at me. I’ll ask Golda what her question is and we’ll be right back.


Back here with Ezra Klein and so are you. We had talked about bias and ideology. I have two related questions. Have you thought about saying, “Vox, we’re left-center, left-centrist, we’re a little to the left side of the political spectrum. Why don’t we bring in a consistent voice from the right to counterbalance this?” This is the New York Times op-ed version of this, which throws my Twitter feed into a frenzy. I’m a little confused about why the frenzy.

But you’ve seen versions of this now. The Times and the Atlantic and people are dipping their toe into saying, “We’re going to expose you to a view you’re not normally used to seeing. We think this is a good idea.” We can debate why that tends to end in flames, but why haven’t you guys tried that?

So my answers to these two questions are actually pretty linked. One reason that it’s important to me I did not say, “Hey, Vox is a liberal publication,” is that I’m not trying to have Vox be a liberal publication. And I should say, I’m now editor at large so I shouldn’t speak of it like these are all my calls. They’re not. When I was running it, it was important to me not to do that because that’s not my vision for it.

But it is a center-left publication, right?

So let me go through this. One, when we launched, particularly, we had some people in it who were on the right, who are libertarians and who had different views. So even then, it actually was not the case that everybody there was a liberal. But there’s no doubt that the bulk of the people there are center-left, and in some cases more left. Over those years, I made a couple hiring runs of conservatives and I didn’t do it to quote-unquote balance it out. I don’t think that does. I don’t think anybody cares. It’s not like if I hired three conservatives all of a sudden there’d be some ...

Forget balance, let’s just expose your readers to another viewpoint.

I think that there are things that — just as in other areas that are nonpolitical, we have people who are covering from different groups and covering from different perspectives and just people who I think are good and maybe I disagree with them on a bunch of things but I think they’re good at the work they do and we hired them. We made some hiring runs at folks who are on the right, and the folks we tried hiring didn’t work out in part because it ... One of the reasons it’s actually hard to create ideological diversity within a publication is that people do want to be in a publication where they feel their views are a little bit more the bulk of the views, it just feels more comfortable and I totally get that.

So that’s something that I wish I had been more successful at, to be honest. It’s something I’ve tried to do and it’s something we’ve tried to do in other ways, creating the big ideas section, which was something where we publish a lot of views and we actually disagree with. We make sure those views are not just a bunch of big ideas that Ezra Klein already holds.

One of my lessons of all that was that it’s tougher. I did, I made a very conscious choice in the beginning to not create a self-consciously liberal publication. But even so the way polarization even within hiring structures and the nature of the media works, it gets hard once there’s momentum internally around a kind of set of opinions, which are opinions that I hold and find congenial. It gets harder to diversify out from them just because it’s a little bit of a bigger ask to ask somebody to come in to an organization where they have to worry about that.

You’ve seen the Atlantic, the New York Times go ahead and hire Bari Weiss and Kevin Williamson and Bret Stephens. And it looks like from the outside that both the audience and then the people who work at these publications really reject the idea of having them there. What do you make of that? Do you think that would happen at Vox if you hired one of those folks?

Again having, one, had people at Vox who are libertarians and that didn’t happen, I don’t think it would happen. I want to be a little careful here, partly on what I comment on, because I have friends at the Atlantic and Kevin Williamson there was hired for the Ideas section. My wife works in the Ideas section at the Atlantic, so there are things that I don’t want to ...

Step back from the microphone. I understand.

Exactly. But to use the New York Times example, there are certain kinds of folks you can hire — and I’ve hired people who have created controversy, too. One of the early hires we had was a guy named Brandon Ambasino who had a lot of very heated arguments, he was an LGBT writer who had a lot of very heterodox opinions in that space, and it created a lot of backlash. It created a lot of backlash in part because he had been at places as a young writer where he was pushed to do very, very controversial forms of his opinions.

I think that there’s been a tendency — in part because organizations are looking to prove that they are balanced — to hire very provocative versions of the other side. Kevin Williamson is a very — whatever you want to say about him — an extremely unusually provocative conservative writer.

May I argue that some of these folks that are supposed to be provocative aren’t that provocative? Bret Stephens is fairly in the middle of the road.

I think that’s probably right.

But in my Twitter feed, “Oh my God, can you believe he said this?”

I think that the Bret Stephens thing is a little bit in a different — to me, and this is only my impression of these. I think that there’s been a lot of backlash on Bari Weiss particulary not when she was hired but for things that she said subsequently.

Tweeted subsequently.

Tweeted subsequently. Williamson was literally, the moment he was hired and things he had said. Stephens, I think some people didn’t love the hire. I don’t remember it — and again, this could be my ... I don’t remember it as being a total meltdown collision.

I think initially it was, “Oh!” because he was a never-Trumper. I think he’s sort of conservative but not too conservative, like, “He doesn’t like Trump, just like you.”

I think the Post has a lot of different people in these different spaces. I think we’ve been in a thing recently — and I’m not sure that this is not actually a new thing emergent, that this will get harder and harder and the Twitter outrage will get higher and higher — but I don’t know, I think that I could name a bunch of conservatives that the Times or the Atlantic could have hired who would not have created these kinds of problems despite not holding super-different views.

I think there is a question of — and this is true no matter which direction you’re hiring from — there are a lot of liberals I could hire who have made extremely provocative arguments who if I hired them there would be a backlash from the right or there would be a backlash from another part of the left, or maybe they have views on Israel that ... I’ve been around a lot of versions of this. And I think that part of it also is, well, literally not just imagining the conservatives or liberals or whoever as an undifferentiated mass, but who did you just hire? And what do they believe in? And do you want to stand by that or not?

I think in a lot of cases you should stand by it. I’ve had to made decisions like that and stood by them, and I think it was the right decision. But you have to make choices about individuals and I think we get into trouble when we just see them as everybody is just a nameless representer of an ideology.

You mentioned you’re no longer running You’re editor at large this is a site you launched four years ago. Why aren’t you running it?

One because we had amazing people who could run it better than me. The big reason is that I do sort of three things, or was doing three things. One is I was managing the organization, right, I was what I like to call a manager of last resort: If a problem didn’t get solved, eventually it came to me. Two is I have a big strategic role at Vox. I help imagine, I launch products, kind of chart our course. And then I have been my whole career a writer and a creator. I was never willing to give that up.

As we got bigger and bigger at Vox — I think it’s well over a hundred people now — I could not do all three of those things. And of those three things, the one that I am unquestionably the worst at and that I do not bear well myself is managing the personnel of a large organization.

Was that your roadmap? Or did you think, “I’m going to get this thing up to size and then I’m going to step aside”?

No, I actually didn’t realize ... It’s not that it wasn’t in my road map, it’s not that I thought I’d necessarily run it forever. I liked managing at the Post. I liked managing at Vox too, actually.

But by the way, I’ve seen you in meetings, you’re someone who gets passionate about workflow.

Absolutely I do.

You are into this stuff.

I am very into it. I found that when I was managing ... when we got big enough, I was managing the managers of managers. I was dealing with problems that I had — actually, just to be honest about it — trouble putting down myself. I can deal with the stress of a lot of our editorial management really well. I think I deal with the stress of my own editorial work really well. I can deal with the stress of launching a Netflix show pretty well. The stress of knowing people are unhappy, or knowing that I have to have a series of conversations with them about what’s going wrong, or even much more normal stuff than that. Just ... you’ve just got to deal with the day to day of redesigning an organization, but it’s not for me.

And over the years at Vox I wouldn’t have stepped down if it wasn’t the case that I could look around me and say people have risen up here and taken responsibility who are genuinely better at this than me. And so if I had thought — and I mean this very truly — if I had thought the best thing for the organization would have been for me to continue on in that role I would have done it. I feel a lot of responsibility towards Vox and a lot of love for it. It is the thing that I feel most passionate about in my working life. But I didn’t.

Lauren Williams is an incredible, incredible manager. Allison Rockey is an incredible, incredible manager. I could look around me and say there are parts of this job that I’m shirking that are becoming central to it that I can no longer pretend that by managing the product I’m actually managing the organization. And so it is no longer the best thing for me to be continuing on in this.

And to be practical about it, right, Jim Bankoff, Vox investors and folks like that, they’re happy because you’re still contributing to You’re making new products for them. You’re appearing on the site. You’re publishing even though you’re on book leave right now, you’re still publishing thousands of words there weekly. You’re doing a weekly story or periodically?

No, I published one story while on leave that was mostly written before I went on [leave]. While I’ve been on leave, I’m working a lot on the Netflix show and I’m doing my podcast. I’d mostly written it up before I left. It was like, I had to do some editing on it that hadn’t gotten done. That’s the only thing I’ve put up.

But this is where I was headed, which is you had this fight discussion with Sam Harris ...

A debate, not a fight.

He’s a podcaster, not an ideologue.

I think I will say he’s not a conservative, to be fair to him.

We would be here a whole nother hour to go deep into it so I’m not going to ask you to recast that discussion. The thing that amazes me — and other people noticed this as well — was both of you I think at one point published your email exchanges.

No, just he did.

They’re thousands of words, and most of them are from you. It’s you explaining your point, you going deep into why you said or didn’t think this or why you do think this. Again, I can’t summarize it adequately.

I was in between a piece we had published and his anger about a piece we had published. It was not my piece at this point. Later on, it would be my piece.

I read that as you initially being polite and thoughtful and trying to respond to someone who’s upset with you, and he’s a person of some stature and he won’t take you seriously, it becomes ... when you’re reading it, it becomes quite clear that he’s unhappy and is going to continue to be unhappy. You continue to respond with these emails that if you printed they’d go pages long. If you’re listening to this podcast, at this point you have a sense of Ezra can be verbose, which is good, but I just don’t understand how ...

I don’t even know if that’s negged. Just straight up ...

I literally don’t know how you had the time to engage in that, because you’re doing a lot of other stuff, like launching a Netflix show. If I write a paragraph or a paragraph-long email I feel like I kind of went off. Literally, is this standard for you to have that colloquy? What’s the right word for that? Epistolary conversation.

I went into that exchange expecting a very different outcome. What had happened there was, again, we had published a piece about his podcasts. He didn’t like the piece. He challenged me to do a podcast with him publicly. His producer emailed me, I said sure, give me Sam’s email, we’ll talk this out.

I’d just come back from a vacation and so had not actually been involved in the editing or commissioning of this piece. First, some of the emails from me were trying to understand what the nature of the fight was here. That’s what happens at the beginning. So I assumed this would come to some conclusion, either I would do the podcast or he would calm down. It didn’t go that way. And he kept getting angrier and angrier and so eventually it was like me trying to figure out, are we going to do the podcast? It was a pretty abnormal situation.

That is not your standard customer service.

I found his reactions to be part of why I kept trying to double down or re-explain was I was a little bit befuddled by his reactions. And so my impulse on that was I must just not be being clear enough.

These are things that a publishers says, yeah, “I’m going to publish the Ezra Klein emails and you’ll see.” And you’ll read them. And if you keep reading them you see Ezra is patiently trying to explain his argument, which doesn’t really change. You don’t appear to have lost that argument. It was a bizarre exchange.

I would say — because this plan is out there — found ultimately, then, we had a — like, this came out much later, when he published the emails — we had a sort of secondary debate. I debated him directly.

You did do the podcast initially, right? No.

No. He challenged me, he privately rescinded the thing. This all went fallow for a year, basically. Then he tweaked me on Twitter, I published an article that said things I had always wanted to say, things I said in those emails but I never published on this publicly at all. Then we did a podcast together a couple weeks ago. People can find it on my podcast under “the Sam Harris debate.”

I found it actually really helpful as a going through this as insight into ... I really, really hate that this thing has been called the intellectual dark web. I think that we are seeing the development of cleavage in American life that is not traditionally left-right but is a cleavage about social justice, is a cleavage about political correctness, is a cleavage about what people would call identity politics, although I don’t think that framing is exactly right. And really digging into what is uniting and seeing what is uniting folks like Sam Harris — who I think sees himself as actually a liberal — with a Ben Shapiro, with a Jordan Peterson, with a Dave Rubin, with an etc., etc.

For me it was a really helpful insight into something I’d been seeing and sensing for a long time but had not engaged with enough directly to understand what it actually was. So part of why I spent a lot of time on that is that I actually had been a listener of his podcast. I had enjoyed some of what ... I didn’t agree with them a lot of times and I thought it was interesting.

And so something was happening here that I didn’t understand and that’s where I get interested as a journalist. And you know, that whole situation to me has ended up being profoundly clarifying about things I think I’m going to end up covering, we’re all going to end up covering a lot in the coming years.

Some of this gets boiled down to race, because that discussion was about race. The last essay you put out is a lot about you guys think this is bad but actually if you’re African-American, American history has been pretty awful for a lot. It seems — I don’t know if it’s true — is race something that is newly interesting to you or increased interest?

I wouldn’t say newly interested but I think that to try to understand the politics of the Trump era, to try to understand the politics of this era broadly, an era where we just had the first African-American president, an era where in 2013 for the first time a majority of infants under 3 were nonwhite, an era where we’re going to become a majority-minority country by roughly 2045, so not that long, 25 years.

I think that the amount of this that is both explicitly and implicitly about race and worries about power. So much of the political correctness debate is actually about folks who are oftentimes not white the not exclusively folks who are nonwhite getting the numbers and power and confidence to say, “Actually the way you’ve been talking for a long time is incredibly hurtful or unnerving or just locks me out of the conversation.”

And I think a big question right now is when you hear that, do you say, “Oh that’s ridiculous,” or do you say “Oh if you think that, I need to take a second look at this.” And I think that there’s a lot of folks who this is very profoundly threatening. And it always is threatening, right, when you see this kind of change in society, and I think Trump is one expression of it. I think this kind of emergent more intellectual but nevertheless kind of anti-PC group is another expression of it. I think you see certainly also a lot of energy on the other side of this debate and you know that’s a side that I understand better.

But this cleavage which I think is very central — it explains Trump a lot better than a traditional taxes/no taxes cleavage does. I think you have to look at this as fundamentally about race and other kinds of demographic change. And the fundamental driver of political conflict right now and possibly in the coming couple of decades, unless we have something massive like a war or another financial crisis that displaces it.

This is why, of the three episodes of your show that I watched, it was the racial wealth gap one that I found the most intriguing.

I’m glad you enjoyed that.

Which by the way, I saw you co-wrote as well. And so I’ve tied it back to the show. Ezra, I figured this was going to be pushing up against an hour. We should make this a two-parter. We will do another one at the end of the year. Deal?

I’d love to.

Thank you for coming.

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