Today, Explained

News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Today, Explained is your all killer, no filler, Monday to Friday news explainer co-hosted by Sean Rameswaram and Noel King. Every episode features the finest reporters from the Vox Media Podcast Network and beyond.

Daily News
Elon Musk says he wants to buy Twitter, but is also making 420 jokes. Kara Swisher (who knows him) and Liz Lopatto (who doesn’t) explain whether the world should take him seriously (or care).
23 min
How Dylan got inflation wrong
Last year, Vox correspondent Dylan Matthews didn’t think inflation would be a big deal. He wasn’t the only one to miss the mark.
23 min
The threat of Russian cyberwar
Russia is ramping up attacks on Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. The US could be next.
23 min
China’s grip on Hollywood
Warner Bros. is censoring the newest Fantastic Beasts movie for Chinese audiences. It’s the latest reminder that Hollywood’s reliance on China comes at a cost.
23 min
The end of January 6
The congressional committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has gathered an enormous amount of information. Now it must decide what to do with it. Politico’s Kyle Cheney explains five crucial decisions that remain.This episode was produced by Miles Bryan, edited by Matt Collette, engineered by Paul Mounsey, fact-checked by Laura Bullard, and hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
23 min
Let’s talk about Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden may not be the archcriminal that conservatives describe, but his actions present problems for his father (the president of the United States). Vox's Andrew Prokop explains.
23 min
Pakistan’s vote of no Khanfidence
Pakistan’s prime minister was ousted. He blames the US.
23 min
A grande victory for Starbucks workers
Starting a union can be a tall order, but many baristas have found it’s an effective way to venti their frustration with management.
23 min
Canceling Russian culture
Vladimir Putin says the West is trying to erase 1,000 years of culture. Arts organizations say they have an obligation to respond to the war in Ukraine.
23 min
Buffalo Billions
The Buffalo Bills are set to receive $850 million in public funds to build a new stadium — even though they’re owned by a fracking billionaire and weren’t threatening to leave. An economist explains whether publicly funded stadiums ever work out in the public’s favor.
23 min
Should Congress be able to trade stocks?
A 2012 law tried to limit lawmakers' ability to make money on Wall Street. It hasn’t worked.
23 min
The isolation of Vladimir Putin
The Russian president has come to rely on a skewed version of history and an increasingly small circle of advisers. Journalist Marvin Kalb explains what that means for the war in Ukraine.
23 min
Did we just invent telepathy?
A groundbreaking new study claims to have found a way for a fully paralyzed person to communicate entirely via thought. But the scientists behind it have a checkered past.
23 min
Umami Mama
For thousands of years, there have been four basic tastes recognized across cultures. But thanks to Kumiko Ninomiya (aka the Umami Mama), scientists finally accepted a fifth. As part of its Making Sense series, Vox’s Unexplainable podcast explores whether there could be even more.
34 min
Microdosing goes mainstream
There is growing support for psychedelics as performance enhancers, mood boosters, and a shortcut to therapy. The science is mixed.
19 min
Ukrainians (and Russians) meet US Border Patrol
The US southern border remains closed to asylum seekers on account of Covid-19, unless you happen to be Ukrainian.
22 min
The National Guard is tired
And in Texas, they’re trying to unionize.
21 min
“The greatest night in the history of television”
The Oscars were bordering on irrelevancy until Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage.
22 min
Is the war in Ukraine unwinnable?
One month in, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t going according to plan. Historian and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich explains how it might end.
22 min
(Ukrainian) refugees welcome!
As Poland welcomes almost 2 million Ukrainians in, it’s spending $4 million on a wall to keep Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans out. Vox’s Sigal Samuel explains the myth of the “deserving” refugee.
22 min
Mariupol under siege
The Russian military may have committed war crimes in its brutal attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. International law expert Philippe Sands explains how Vladimir Putin could be held accountable.
22 min
Permanent daylight saving time?
A bill to make daylight saving time permanent slipped through the Senate. Now, the real fight for time begins.
22 min
The Americans fighting for Ukraine
President Biden insists he won’t send American troops to join Ukraine’s war with Russia. Veterans like Alexander Szokoly joined the fight anyway.
23 min
South Korea’s incoming “anti-feminist” president
With its neighbor distracted by domestic culture wars, North Korea is making new moves.
22 min
“Don’t Say Gay”
The furor over Florida’s latest culture-war legislation has Disney, among the state’s largest employers, turning red.
22 min
Why Ukraine won’t quit
Millions of people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s war begin. We check back in with Kurii Vasyl, who stayed behind, and his niece Yulya, who fled.
22 min
Defunding Covid-19
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, but certain corners of Congress don’t want to spend a penny more on it. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel argues for $100 billion in new spending to fight Covid-19.
22 min
Beware the Madness of March
Americans bet more than $50 billion on sports last year, and that record will likely be broken in 2022 as more states legalize the practice. A professional named Captain Jack and a novice named Emily Stewart explain the perils and glory of betting on the game.
26 min
Radio, someone still loves you
The BBC is bringing back shortwave radio broadcasts to counter censorship and disinformation in Russia and Ukraine. Professor D.W. Stupples explains.
22 min
Putin’s war spills into space
Russia has threatened to let the International Space Station plummet. The Verge’s Loren Grush explains the Star Wars.
22 min
From Kabul’s airport to Virginia’s burbs
The world watched in horror as tens of thousands fled Afghanistan last August. Today, Explained’s Haleema Shah meets with an evacuee still stuck in immigration limbo.
26 min
Banning Russian oil
Gas prices hit a record high in the United States today. Then the White House put an embargo on Russian oil. The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer explains.
22 min
Breaking Russia’s banks
The US and EU are denying a handful of Russian banks access to SWIFT, a key tool in the global financial system.
22 min
Volodymyr vs. Vladimir
Volodymyr Zelenskyy went from a middling peacetime president to a heroic wartime president. Kyiv Independent’s Oleksiy Sorokin explains from an undisclosed location in western Ukraine.
22 min
The Texas transgender panic
Gov. Greg Abbott has instructed child protection officials to investigate the parents of transgender children. Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy explains why.
20 min
Why Ukraine has to fight Russia alone
And how the fight might end.
20 min
What Russians think of Putin’s war
It depends a lot on where they get their news.
25 min
Ketanji Brown Jackson
President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee is historic but may have little impact on American law. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains.
24 min
The real and imagined history of Ukraine
Vladimir Putin says Ukraine isn’t a country. He’s wrong.
25 min
A phone call from Ukraine
Kurii Vasyl and his niece Yulya try to make sense of Russia’s invasion of their country. And Kyiv Independent reporter Igor Kossov explains the latest from Ukraine’s capital.
20 min
Why Ukraine matters
Vox’s Jonathan Guyer explain how a Russian invasion of Ukraine could affect me and you and everyone we know.
26 min
The Olympics on thin ice
This year’s weird Winter Olympics were overshadowed by politics, Covid-19, and the threat of war. But as NPR’s Tom Goldman explains, the biggest scandals were still about the sports.
25 min
Weapons of cash destruction
The US hopes the threat of sanctions will dissuade Russia from invading Ukraine. Historian Nicholas Mulder explains the surprising history of economic penalties as a weapon of war.
27 min
Bitcoin Bonnie and Clyde
A tech investor and his rapper wife were busted for a multi-billion dollar bitcoin heist. They couldn’t really spend any of the money.
19 min
All-American divorce
In her Today, Explained debut, co-host Noel King heads to Atlanta to find out why some people in one of its wealthiest neighborhoods are trying to secede from the rest of the city.
26 min
What the truck is happening in Canada?
A convoy of truckers angry over Covid-19 mandates is disrupting life in Canada’s capital city. Their movement is gaining traction in cities around the globe.
22 min
Sarah Palin v. The New York Times
The New York Times published an editorial that made false claims about Sarah Palin. A lawsuit over the error could change American media.
24 min
The best and worst of Tom Brady
Quarterback Tom Brady will retire as the winningest football player in NFL history. ESPN's Seth Wickersham explains why so many people are happy to see him go.
32 min
How Brett Kavanaugh views time
When it comes to fixing discriminatory voting maps, nine months may not be enough for some justices. Ian Millhiser explains.
19 min
Why America loves a Jackass
The Oscar nominations are out, but the No. 1 movie in America features Johnny Knoxville and his friends hurting each other. He attempts to explain why, and Vox's Alissa Wilkinson picks up his slack.
26 min
How this Syria raid was different
President Biden gave strict orders to avoid collateral damage during a raid on an ISIS leader. Civilians still died, but it might be a sign of a shift at the Pentagon.
20 min
Why are colleges ditching the test? A) The SAT is biased B) Colleges want to admit more diverse students C) The pandemic D) All of the above
22 min
Is everything trauma now?
Psychologists are worried that "trauma" is losing its meaning. A trauma survivor says they shouldn't be.
26 min
The case against masks
At least in schools.
27 min
Throwing money at the migrant crisis
Vice President Kamala Harris just attended Honduras’s presidential inauguration. Her trip was really about the US-Mexico border.
18 min
Spotify’s Joe Rogan problem
The podcast host built a massive audience by speaking to fringe figures in culture, business, and science. During the pandemic, that got him in trouble with Neil Young, among others.
29 min
Honey, I shrunk the kids’ tax credit
The US government let the expanded child tax credit expire ... just as researchers produced a study showing giving parents money might help improve brain development in kids.
25 min
Ukraine’s pipeline problem
The US is negotiating to stop Russia from invading Ukraine, but a Germany-backed natural gas project complicates things.
19 min
Breyer to Reteyer
Vox’s Ian Millhiser says American politics shifted during Justice Stephen Breyer’s career, until he no longer had a place in them.
20 min
Joe Biden, r u ok?
Build Back Blunders, and other presidential misadventures.
24 min
A Syrian war criminal is actually going to prison
Crimes against humanity are rarely prosecuted successfully, but a Syrian colonel got a life sentence for just that. Documentarian Adithya Sambamurthy explains how Germany is spearheading the effort.
22 min
China’s Winter Olympics (feat. Covid-19)
The Games don’t begin until February 4, but the drama around the pandemic, free speech, and diplomatic boycotts has been building for months. NPR’s Emily Feng explains from Beijing.
25 min
10 Downer Street
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing political ruin because his aides partied while the UK locked down.
25 min
The man with a pig heart
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
24 min
The James Webb Time Machine
To look into deep space is to look back in time. Ahead of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, Unexplainable talked to scientists who hope to see “cosmic dawn,” a period long ago when the first starlight transformed the universe.
24 min
The James Webb Space Telescope
This Sunday, the greatest telescope in the history of humanity is scheduled to reach its destination nearly a million miles away from Earth. Vox’s Unexplainable explored what it will do when it gets there.
26 min
Chile’s millennial president
The 35-year-old president-elect in Chile loves tattoos, Taylor Swift, and progressive policies. Gabriel Boric will now try to overhaul the government as Chile rewrites its constitution.
24 min
Why Russia sent its janky version of NATO to Ka...
The speedy arrival of CSTO troops in Kazakhstan is unprecedented in the 30-year history of the Russia-backed regional security alliance.
16 min
"Break the Senate"
President Joe Biden wants to change how the Senate works to pass voting reforms. Sen. Mitch McConnell is threatening hell if it happens.
25 min
Novax Djokovic
How the best-ranked men’s tennis player in the world went to Australia to become the greatest of all time and ended up being detained.
27 min
No substitutes for the substitutes
What happens when all the teachers get sick?
21 min
The high cost of cheap clothes
Fast fashion took over the apparel industry, but consumers are tiring of its poor labor and environmental standards. Vox’s Terry Nguyen explains.
22 min
Life on the Russia-Ukraine border
Russia has kept its military at Ukraine’s doorstep for almost a decade. But a recent escalation on the border is creating fears of a full-blown invasion.
24 min
A tech startup said it could start a medical revolution with a little machine and a drop of blood. It was a fraud, but research into smarter, less invasive blood testing is a reality.
22 min
Will omicron speed up the pandemic’s end?
The omicron variant is very transmissible, but it might make Covid-19 less miserable.
20 min
America still can’t agree on its insurrection
One year later, the United States is still trying to wrap its head around what happened on January 6, 2021. (It was an insurrection.) This year, our democracy once again will be tested.
31 min
4 min
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s American dream
Giannis Antetokounmpo went from hawking watches and DVDs on the streets of Greece to winning an NBA championship for the Milwaukee Bucks. In this repodcast, the Ringer’s Mirin Fader tells the story of his improbable rise.
33 min
Taylor’s version
One of the biggest pop stars in the world is rerecording her first six albums at the artistic peak of her career. In this repodcast, the Atlantic’s Shirley Li explains Taylor Swift’s strategy.
26 min
The spike in gun violence
America's homicide rate rose by almost 30 percent in 2020. It was the biggest spike in 60 years, and the murder rate was even higher in 2021. In this repodcast, ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis explains what might be causing “The Great Regression."
47 min
Four days of work?
The pandemic changed how we think about work. In this repodcast, Vox’s Anna North says it might be time to change how much we work, too.
24 min
Good news
2021 was better than 2020. Here's proof.
16 min
Vanessa Nakate’s climate optimism
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate has been ridiculed, erased, and let down by the world's most powerful people. She explains how she remains hopeful for her movement and our planet.
24 min
We scored Biden’s first year
The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos evaluates President Biden’s first year in office and whether Biden managed to lower the temperature after the January 6 insurrection.
26 min
Who killed Malcolm X?
Nearly 60 years after the assassination of Malcolm X, some of the men wrongly put in prison for killing him are finally being redeemed. Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, from the documentary series "Who Killed Malcolm X?", explains whether the true killers will ever be brought to justice.
30 min
The blood diamond of batteries
Cobalt is powering the electric vehicle revolution, but much of the world’s supply is mined under deadly conditions in Congo. Journalist Nicolas Niarchos explains Congo's resource curse.
27 min
(Some) omicron answers
Thanks to South Africa, the world now has some data on omicron’s severity, transmissibility, and whether or not the vaccines will protect us from it.
21 min
Operation Flex
A bodybuilder posing as a Muslim convert was welcomed into a California mosque. When he showed signs of extremism, members reported him to the FBI, only to learn that he was their informant. Now, their story is before the Supreme Court.
31 min
Why we still can't predict tornadoes
Most people get about eight minutes' advance warning of a tornado. This episode of Vox’s Unexplainable podcast explores how scientists need to confront more of these storms, head on.
20 min
The new meth
While the nation’s attention has been focused on the opioid crisis, a new, more dangerous form of methamphetamine has swept across the country.
19 min
The fastest economic collapse ever
That’s what the United Nations says is taking place in Afghanistan right now.
22 min
Are you vaxxed, fellow kids?
Today, Explained returns to Cramer Hill Elementary School to explore the challenges of vaccinating children against Covid-19.
27 min
The shooter's parents
The mass killing at Oxford High School in Michigan may seem comparable to those that preceded it, but the aftermath has taken several new turns.
21 min
Africa wants its stuff back
The world’s most illustrious museums are finally having to reckon with the stolen art in their collections.
20 min
C is for Culture War
Big Bird got vaccinated, an Asian-American Muppet moved in, and conservatives got really mad at Sesame Street.
25 min
What happened to Peng Shuai
A tennis star accused a former top Chinese official of sexual assault. Then she vanished. Now her case is changing sports in China.
27 min
Unraveling Roe
The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains how the Court could undo Roe v. Wade without overruling it.
18 min
Space trash
Russia blew up a satellite and almost put the International Space Station in a precarious position. Recode’s Rebecca Heilweil explains how humans are trashing space. A space environmentalist (!) explains what cleanup might look like.
21 min
AA-muh-kraan or OH-muh-kraan
20 min
Salmonella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh
A deadly salmonella strain is spreading through American poultry, and there’s not much the government can do to stop it. ProPublica’s Bernice Yeung explains.
21 min