On Point on PRE News & Ideas

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  • Hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti, Monday – Thursday; David Folkenflik, Friday

Go behind the headlines: From the economy and healthcare to politics and the environment – and so much more – On Point talks with newsmakers and real people about the issues that matter most.  Meghna Chakrabarti is your host  Monday – Thursday, and on Friday review the week's news with  David Folkenflik. 

Meghna Chakrabarti is a proven talent, hitting her stride. She’s recognized nationally for her work on Here & Now and the popular podcast Modern Love. Meghna has been the host of WBUR’s award-winning program Radio Boston and has served for the past five years as the permanent fill-in cohost at Here & Now.  She will host On Point Monday-Thursday from Boston.

David Folkenflik is NPR’s media correspondent, covering journalism, the media industry and the intersection between politics and the press. A highly regarded reporter for 15 years at NPR, David has been on top of major ongoing national stories including President Trump’s difficult relationship with the media. Before working at NPR, David was a media correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.  His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Politico Magazine, CBS This Morning among others. David will host On Point each Friday from New York including the popular ‘Week in the News.’ He will continue to cover the media for NPR based at the network’s New York City bureau.

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Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat studies authoritarian regimes, like Italy under Mussolini. Can a democracy pry itself out of a strongman’s grip?

Guest

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” (@ruthbenghiat)

The On Point Coronavirus Task Force

Nov 11, 2020

This year, we’ve talked to some of the top scientists and doctors in the country about the pandemic. We pull them back together for a meeting of our own task force to hear their advice for the Biden team.

Guests

Angie Rasmussen, associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. (@angie_rasmussen)

The Global View Of Election 2020

Nov 10, 2020

“I believe at our best, America’s a beacon for the globe.” So declared President-elect Joe Biden. But what does the world really think of the American example now? Does the international community see the U.S. as the leader it once was?  

Guests

Simon Kuper, life and arts columnist for the Financial Times. (@KuperSimon)

Elizabeth Saunders served five years in the U.S. Navy. And last Tuesday, she served her country again, by being a poll worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Specifically, at precinct 24 in North Tulsa.

“As a veteran, I don’t really care who you vote for, just that you are there showing up to actually engage in your civic duty to have your say in how this country is run,” Elizabeth says.

This was Elizabeth’s second stint as a poll worker. When she walked into the Sheridan Avenue United Methodist Church at 6:30 a.m. on Election Day, she’s the first to admit … she was pretty nervous.

The race for the presidency presses on, as Trump doubles down on baseless claims about election fraud. We sort through this historic week, and look ahead at what’s to come.

Guests

Ron Suskind, investigative journalist and author. (@RonSuskind)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

On Sunday, President Donald Trump made clear what he planned to do following the end of voting. Court battles have marked this entire election season. We look at the latest litigation around the 2020 presidential election.

Guests

Bertrall Ross, chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. (@Bertrall_Ross)

What We Know About Election 2020 Results

Nov 4, 2020

The day after election day. What tallies are known? Where are votes still being counted? We discuss the latest in the race for the White House and Senate and what’s next in this historic moment for the United States.  

Guests

Luis Carrasco, editorial writer and member of the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board. (@lfcarrasco)

We talked today about the mismanagement of coronavirus—the ways citizens and leadership have failed to take steps necessary to curb the spread. But in San Francisco, California, it is a different story.

San Francisco is the second densest city in the country. It also has the lowest coronavirus death rate compared to any other major city in the United States, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Regardless of election outcomes, one thing is certain: the coronavirus pandemic is surging. We talk about what to expect in the pandemic’s next phase.  

Guests

Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic. Author of “I Contain Multitudes.” (@edyong209)

Catherine Hill, epidemiologist.

Tomorrow is it. The end of voting. Up for grabs: the White House, and also the Senate. Republicans currently hold the Senate with a 53-47 majority. But with 35 seats on the ballot, the race is heating up.

On today’s show, we took a look at some of the close races, and why the balance of power in the chamber will determine the direction of governance for the next four years.

The White House isn’t the only thing on the ballot. Also at stake: control of the United States Senate, from Georgia to Maine. We discuss close Senate races and the impact they’ll have on national governance.

Guests

Anthony Brooks, On Point 2020 correspondent. WBUR senior political reporter.  (@anthonygbrooks)

For many health care workers, a new coronavirus spike means they’ve barely had a moment to step back from the first wave of cases this spring.

Those memories of that “first wave” are still fresh and raw. Emma Rome remembers watching evidence of the coronavirus’s deadliness literally walking into her hospital.

Campaigns make their last stand. The Supreme Court weighs in on ballot deadlines. Coronavirus numbers skyrocket. We make sense of the week’s news.

Guests

Molly Ball, national political correspondent for TIME. Author of “Pelosi.” (@mollyesque)

America's Authoritarian Threat

Oct 29, 2020

The United States has fought against authoritarian governments. Does that mean it can’t happen here?  

Both campaigns agree — the road to the White House runs through the Tar Heel state. In our final voter roundtable, we hear from voters in North Carolina.  

Guests

VonGretchen Pough, regional study coordinator. Voting for Biden.

Bill Poole, he works in sales for a local radio group. Voting for Trump.

Brandon Beavers, graduate student at Western Carolina University. Delivery driver. Board member for the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society. Undecided voter.

How is our economy doing seven months into the pandemic? And with winter on its way, are we prepared to handle the slew of challenges that will come with it? We talk about the state of our economy.

Over the course of today’s hour “Anatomy Of An Election Disinformation Campaign,” we spoke with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nina Jankowicz, our guest on today’s show, interviewed him for her book, “How to Lose an Information War,” about a 2016 referendum in the Netherlands over a trade agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

This diary originally aired on July 1, 2020.


We want to end the week by stepping away from the din and rancor. And to a place of remembrance and peace.

David Pettee used to take regular morning walks around Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David had cancer. The walks brought him hope and peace.

Faces Of The 'Shecession'

Oct 22, 2020

865,000. That’s the number of women pushed out of the workforce last month. But how much more, or less, is the number for men? Well, in September, 216,000 men had to exit the labor force. A quarter of the number for women.

It’s a consistent downward trajectory for women in this pandemic. Double digit female unemployment for the first time since 1948. And Black women and Latinas are suffering an unemployment rate that’s almost double that of white women and men.

And for so many of those women, there’s a family that depends on them. What’s happening to them?

The ‘shecession.’ More women are losing their jobs than men. What’s the long-term impact on families?

Guests

C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit. Author of “Born Bright.” (@cnicolemason)

On this week’s voter roundtable, we hear from people affected by COVID-19. How do they feel about President Trump’s response to the pandemic?  

Guests

David Dahlstrom, retired Air Force veteran from Goodyear, Arizona. He lost his wife, Cindy, to COVID-19. He voted Trump in 2016, and is voting for Biden in 2020.

Denise Carr, art teacher and yoga instructor in Buffalo, New York. She lost her father to COVID-19. She is voting for Biden.

Safeguarding The Electoral Vote

Oct 20, 2020

Worried about voting integrity — or what happens after your ballot is cast? We discuss what we know about the integrity of the votes cast by America’s 538 electors.  

Election 2020's Voter Suppression Reality 

Oct 19, 2020

Voting is one of the most essential rights of any democratic citizen. We take a look at the various forms of voter suppression we see across the country, and discuss how it’s affecting American democracy ahead of the November presidential election.

This week, a split screen on the future of American democracy. From early voting to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, we make sense of the week’s news.

Guests

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

The Department of Homeland Security says white nationalism is a major domestic terrorism threat. Is that, coupled with distrust in the electoral system, a recipe for political violence in November?

After President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized, plans started being made for a virtual debate.

That didn’t come to pass after President Trump refused to attend the virtual event. But if it had, it wouldn’t have been the first time two presidential candidates debated each other remotely.

With the help of two historians, we take a look back at the 1960 presidential race between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon.

What The President Knew

Oct 13, 2020

Why is it that sometimes Presidents know there is a danger to the wellbeing of Americans, and still do nothing? We talk with people who were in the room in 2001 and 2020.

Guests

Chris Whipple, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Author of “The Spymasters” and “The Gatekeepers.” (@ccwhip)

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing starts Monday, and the question of what her appointment could mean for women’s rights in the U.S. will hang over it. But feminism and gender equality have wide-ranging definitions, depending on who you ask. We’ll talk about the conversation surrounding Judge Barrett’s nomination.

President Trump started the week dismissing the virus that put him in the hospital and upended the White House. We’ll look at how the administration’s credibility and the President’s response have tinged almost everything that happened this week.

Guests

Paula ReidWhite House correspondent for CBS News. (@PaulaReidCBS)

Cozy Etta Bryant built a life and a nest egg for herself and her family, all while navigating the racism of 20th century America.

Bryant was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the daughter of a sharecropper. She moved north in the 1940s to escape the economic and social oppression of the Jim Crow south, bundling three children and an infant into a box train headed for Chicago.

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