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
Vaccine passport, please
Recode’s Rebecca Heilweil explains how proving you got the shot became controversial.
20 min
Or maybe, after listening to this episode, it’ll be more like CICADAPALOOZA!
24 min
Taylor Swift rewrites her story
One of the biggest pop stars in the world is rerecording her first six albums at the artistic peak of her career. The Atlantic’s Shirley Li explains Swift’s gambit to reclaim her catalog.
25 min
KKK High
A group of students in Topeka, Kansas, discovered their high school was named after an exalted cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan. Then they tried to change it.
27 min
Hot Senate procedural news
On Monday night, the Senate parliamentarian gave Democrats an unprecedented blessing. Vox’s Ella Nilsen and Li Zhou explain what they might do with it.
16 min
MLB to Georgia: You’re out!
Major League Baseball, Delta, and Coke are calling out Georgia for its new voting reforms, but some of these corporations were involved in crafting the legislation. WABE’s Emma Hurt explains.
25 min
“My friend” has a question about the vaccine
We asked if you still had vaccine questions, and you did. We found answers.
26 min
High crimes
New York is the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana, but President Joe Biden won’t budge. This means that it’s possible to become a billionaire or a convicted felon for selling weed in the US.
25 min
Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan
It’s infrastructure week in America. President Joe Biden unveiled a plan to spend trillions on bridges, roads, housing, and clean energy to prove it.
20 min
Making tennis a misdemeanor
More than half of US states are working to ban, or even criminalize, trans athletes playing sports. Vox contributor Katelyn Burns explains how conservative politicians came to care so much about women’s sports.
29 min
Ship happens
After six days, a very big boat is finally afloat. While stuck, it brought international trade through the Suez Canal to a halt and cost companies billions of dollars.
20 min
The original anti-vaxxer
When a Swedish American pastor refused to get a smallpox vaccine in 1902, he ended up in the United States Supreme Court. The Atlantic’s new podcast The Experiment tells the story of Pastor Henning Jacobson.
38 min
The end of minty cigarettes?
With Democrats in charge, there is a lot of talk about big ideas for the country, including … banning menthol cigarettes? Politico’s Sarah Owermohle explains why Black lawmakers are split over whether a ban would help or hurt Black communities.
26 min
Would NOT demanding gun control be more effective?
The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia explains why two gun reform bills the House recently passed are likely to fail in the Senate. Patrick Blanchfield from the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research argues the American gun control debate is a big part of the problem.
23 min
WTF is an NFT?
On Monday, a tweet sold for $2.9 million. That followed a JPEG that went for $69 million. The Verge’s Liz Lopatto explains how internet ephemera turned to gold.
22 min
The United States and China met in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday to air grievances, and the cameras were rolling. Vox’s Alex Ward explains how the meeting set the stage for one of the world’s biggest rivalries.
22 min
Why America needs a national pandemic memorial
People want to move on from Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean forgetting its victims. Historian Paul Farber and Vox reporter Alissa Wilkinson explain why a memorial could help us all heal and find accountability.
20 min
Racism, misogyny, and the shootings in Georgia
Eight people were killed in shootings at three Atlanta-area spas. Most of the victims were women. Six were Asian American.
20 min
Why are more children crossing the border?
A growing number of unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border is highlighting President Biden’s struggle to fulfill his campaign promises on immigration — as well as the difficult path to comprehensive immigration reform.
19 min
Who gets to vote?
It’s a question the US has struggled with since its founding.
22 min
President Biden says all adults will be eligible for a vaccine by May 1. But for the world to truly return to normal, young people will need shots, too. ProPublica’s Caroline Chen explains how, and when, that might happen.
24 min
No one nose
Believe it or not, scientists still don’t know how the sense of smell works. But that isn’t stopping one guy at MIT from trying to reverse-engineer it. Sounds like a job for Vox’s new podcast, Unexplainable.
27 min
It’s been a year
The year in revue.
18 min
Biden’s Big F***ing Deal
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has been approved by Congress. It’s a revolution in American welfare disguised as stimulus.
20 min
You’re vaccinated. Now what?
New guidelines from the CDC for fully vaccinated people suggest it’s finally time to hug your grandparents. Dr. Kavita Patel explains the do’s and don’ts as we inch back towards “normal” life.
24 min
Alabama shakes up Amazon
Darryl Richardson, a worker at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, explains why he helped initiate a unionization effort that now has President Biden’s support. Recode’s Jason Del Rey explains how the Bessemer vote could be a game changer for American labor.
27 min
The Bachelor meets reality
Beset by controversy, The Bachelor’s latest season is winding down with an identity crisis. It’s a rare case of reality TV reflecting our cultural reality.
30 min
The surge of anti-Asian violence
The United States is stumbling through two racial reckonings at once. Author Jeff Chang says it’s an inflection point centuries in the making.
25 min
Manchin in the middle
Joe Biden won the presidency, but it’s Joe Manchin from West Virginia who seems to be the decider. The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Joe Severino shadowed Senator Joe in the spotlight. Mountain State Spotlight’s Greg Moore explains why this is West Virginia’s moment.
23 min
The $15 dream
Washington’s hottest policy fight is over raising the minimum wage to $15. Emily Stewart explains the Democrats’ effort to get it through Congress, and Dylan Matthews explains whether it will cost the country jobs.
22 min
How acid trips led to better policing
Thirty years ago, Eugene, Oregon, figured out an alternative to the police. They called it CAHOOTS. Seriously.
29 min
Canceling Keystone XL
President Biden finally wants to put the Keystone XL pipeline to bed. But if the last 12 years of environmental fights are any indication, it won’t be easy.
26 min
The case for Covid-19 optimism
Vox’s German Lopez explains why he feels optimistic about the end of the pandemic even though 500,000 Americans have died, the virus is mutating, and it’s going to take a long time to vaccinate the world.
21 min
A tale of two governors
Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom were hailed for their leadership early on in the pandemic. Now, the former is mired in scandal and the latter is facing a recall campaign.
29 min
What’s taking so long? What’s happening with those $1,400 checks? Are the Democrats betraying the people who voted for them? Vox’s Li Zhou and Andrew Prokop explain.
25 min
Australia just reined in Google. Dozens of other countries want in on the action. The latest season of Land of the Giants explains how two grad students turned a search engine into what might be the most powerful company in history.
41 min
A tough week for Texas
First it was brutal winter weather, power outages followed, and then came a poorly timed trip to Cancun. Texas Public Radio’s Joey Palacios explains what comes next.
22 min
Rush Limbaugh’s legacy
Author Nicole Hemmer explains how Limbaugh helped pave the way for Fox News, OAN, and Newsmax.
26 min
Biden at the border
President Biden says he wants to undo his predecessor’s immigration policies, so why are some of them still in effect? The El Paso Times’s Lauren Villagran and the New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman explain.
25 min
Democrats made a strong case against Donald Trump. Republicans are being punished for supporting it. Vox’s Zack Beauchamp explains.
23 min
The movement to liberate Britney Spears from her conservatorship may not succeed, but it’s revealing a lot about how we treat young women. Vox’s Constance Grady explains.
25 min
The Republican(!) plan to give parents money
Sen. Mitt Romney wants to throw money at parents, Andrew Yang-style. President Biden is into it, too. Vox’s Dylan Matthews explains.
21 min
Vaccine hoarding
Poorer countries have received less than 1 percent of the Covid-19 vaccines distributed around the world. Vox’s Julia Belluz explains what the WHO is calling a “catastrophic moral failure.”
16 min
26 Words
A quarter-century after it was signed, Section 230, the law that made the modern internet, has done the impossible: united Democrats and Republicans.
25 min
Capitol punishment
Vox’s Andrew Prokop previews the historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Law professor Alan Rozenshtein explains what the Justice Department can and cannot do to prosecute insurrectionists.
26 min
The Senate’s $1.9 trillion all-nighter
The Senate voted on more than 40 pieces of legislation overnight. Vox’s Li Zhou explains what the “vote-a-rama” means for President Biden’s agenda.
15 min
The Arab Spring, 10 years later
Ten years ago, a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire and set off a revolution across the Middle East and North Africa. The Independent’s Borzou Daragahi says the Arab Spring never ended.
33 min
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “loony lies”
Vox’s Aaron Rupar explains why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has likened a fellow Republican’s views to cancer. And New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi explores what lawmakers peddling conspiracy theories means for the future of the GOP.
23 min
The coup in Myanmar
Some would say the military has always been in control of Myanmar. On Monday morning, they made it official once again.
18 min
Introducing Chicano Squad
After the 1977 murder of a young Latino man, the Houston Police Department created a team of five young Latino officers to solve homicides in their community. True crime meets forgotten history in the Vox Media Podcast Network’s 'Chicano Squad.'
47 min
Biden’s latest 13 actions (in 13 minutes)
And whether or not any of it will last beyond his presidency.
20 min
Vox’s Emily Stewart explains how GameStop’s stock jumped by 1,700 percent this month. Bloomberg’s Matt Levine ponders the purpose of the stock market.
24 min
The military’s far-right problem
Sen. Tammy Duckworth wants the military to do a better job of rooting out extremism in its ranks. A military investigator explains how to solve a decades-old problem.
23 min
Coronavirus, 365 days later
One year after our first episode on the novel coronavirus, Vox’s Julia Belluz explains what we got right, what we got wrong, and what comes next.
21 min
Marianne Williamson on healing America’s soul
Marianne Williamson was applauded as well as ridiculed on the presidential debate stage when she warned of the “dark psychic forces of collectivized hatred.” Now, just a few weeks after a lethal insurrection, a historic second impeachment, and the inauguration of President Joe Biden, she talks about the possibility of unity.
23 min
Second in command, first in history
Kamala Harris has already broken barriers, but ahead lies the rare task of leading a polarized and evenly divided Senate.
24 min
Biden’s first 17 actions (in 17 minutes)
In his first few minutes in office, President Biden hit CTRL+Z on former President Trump’s agenda.
20 min
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in today and got straight to work. Vox’s Laura McGann and Dylan Matthews explain what will be done immediately, and what’s possible with the slimmest of majorities in Congress.
34 min
Abolish the lame-duck period?
America’s two-month lame-duck period gave supporters of the outgoing president ample time to plan a violent uprising. Vox’s Ian Millhiser argues the long transition needs to end.
22 min
The first global vaccination
Was distributed by 22 orphans.
19 min
Okay, Google: unionize!
A very big tech company now has a very small union. Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary explains why highly paid workers in an anti-union industry still organized and made history.
23 min
The people behind the insurrection
President Trump has been impeached for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol one week ago. CNN’s Elle Reeve was there and explains who was duped into mobbing the government. Plus, Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe reports on how the government plans to prevent another mob from wreaking havoc.
21 min
A step past impeachment
Impeachment won’t stop the United States’ slide towards authoritarianism. Voter reform might.
22 min
Deplatforming Donald
First he lost his Facebook. Then he lost his Twitter. As of today, President Trump had been limited or booted by more than a dozen platforms. Casey Newton, editor of Platformer, explains the historic shift on social media.
26 min
The flamethrowers and the fire extinguishers
Infighting among Republican lawmakers reached a breaking point this week. The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins explains why and the tough road ahead for the GOP.
33 min
How security at the Capitol failed
Washington Post national security reporter Dan Lamothe explains how a number of agencies and politicians put together a historically bad security plan for Congress on Wednesday.
25 min
The breach, explained by Rep. Maloney (locked i...
Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York explains what it was like to live through today’s violent transfer of power.
11 min
The virus gets more contagious
Viruses mutate, but this time it’s different.
18 min
All eyes on Georgia
Tuesday’s election will decide who controls the Senate, but the president is still hung up on the election he already lost.
25 min
The year in revue
It’s been a year.
6 min
How 2020 changed us
In the final episode of our five-part series, “You, Me, and Covid-19,” people look back on a very long year.
26 min
Animals catch Covid-19, too
In the fourth of our five-part series, “You, Me, and Covid-19,” a reminder that we’re not the only animals who got Covid-19 this year. Science writer David Quammen explains why our health and theirs are intertwined.
20 min
Dr. Fauci’s nightmare before Christmas
In the third of our five-part series, “You, Me, and Covid-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci reflects back on his pandemic year, what he’s learned, and what he’d do differently.
21 min
The year live music died
In the second of our five-part series, “You, Me, and Covid-19,” musicians explain how they got creative when live shows and tours were canceled.
26 min
Moving home
In the first of our five-part series, “You, Me, and Covid-19,” millennials are moving back in with their parents (again), but they are discovering multigenerational living has its perks.
18 min
A climate change of address
An estimated 143 million people will relocate to escape climate change in the next three decades. Quartz’s Amanda Shendruk explains how cities can transform themselves into climate havens.
19 min
How Netscape created our tech world
In this episode of the Go for Broke podcast, host Julia Furlan travels back to the mid-’90s to explain how a bygone web browser set the stage for modern tech.
29 min
Pornhub just deleted 80% of its videos
One of the most popular porn sites on the internet just purged more than 10 million videos. Vice’s Samantha Cole explains why.
18 min
Your vaccine questions, answered
The Covid-19 vaccine is being distributed in the United States, and you have questions. Vox’s Umair Irfan has answers.
29 min
India’s farmers strike
The world’s biggest democracy is contending with what might be the world’s biggest labor stoppage.
21 min
How movie theaters might survive
On this episode of the Decoder podcast, host Nilay Patel speaks with Shelli Taylor, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse.
41 min
The vaccine, explained by Martin (who got it)
Martin Kenyon was one of the first people to get the Covid-19 vaccine this week. He talks about his experience, and an epidemiologist explains how to talk to the “vaccine hesitant” people in your life.
21 min
No coup for you!
Joe won. And won. And won. Rudy can fail. And fail. And fail.
22 min
How Melbourne eradicated Covid-19
Melbourne, Australia, had a first wave. Then it had a second wave. Then it decided it was done with Covid-19.
18 min
It’s beginning to look a lot like stimulus
In an end-of-year plot twist, Congress is working on a fresh bipartisan stimulus bill.
22 min
A woman’s work is never done
Millions of women left the workforce as Covid-19 forced school closures, but that doesn’t mean they have less on their plates. Is government-funded child care the answer?
20 min
God-given right?
The Supreme Court ruled that New York State can’t limit how many people gather in church, even during a pandemic. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains why this is one of the most significant religious liberty cases in the last 30 years.
21 min
America Offline
Low-income students are dropping out of college because many don’t have a reliable way to get online. Vox’s Emily Stewart says the solution is simple: Give everybody the internet.
18 min
The key to the Cabinet
President-elect Biden has started announcing his Cabinet nominees, but Matthew Yglesias says the most important positions aren’t the ones you’d think.
20 min
What if developing a vaccine was the easy part?
Covid-19 vaccines are coming out faster than many thought possible. But distributing the vaccines could be an even tougher challenge.
15 min
Scientists all over the world are searching for dark matter: an invisible, untouchable substance that holds our universe together. But they haven’t found it. Are they chasing a ghost?
31 min
Withdrawing won’t end the war
With two months left in the Trump presidency, the US is reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan in an attempt to end America's longest war. But Biden will still inherit the conflict.
19 min
All the mall things
Retail was struggling. Then came the virus. Recode’s Jason Del Rey explains how the American mall will never be the same, and how the machines might save retail.
20 min
The peacemaker’s civil war
An ethnic conflict in Ethiopia has thrown the Horn of Africa into disarray and could upset order on the continent.
18 min
Covid-19 is surging across the United States, just in time for cold weather and major holidays. North Dakota is doing particularly badly. Vermont may offer hope.
19 min
America said yes to drugs
Oregon decriminalized all drugs. Red states and blue states are doing the same with weed. It’s the culmination of a failed drug war.
23 min
A weekend of protests, violence, and enmity in DC revealed what Donald Trump has planned post-presidency.
20 min
(Home)school is cool
Covid-19 is surging (again). Schools are closing (again). Kids are learning online (again). And more American parents than ever are turning to homeschool (for the very first time).
23 min
They fought the Lyft and the Lyft won
California tried to strengthen labor rights for gig workers. Uber, Lyft, and their food-delivering cohorts responded with a $200 million propaganda offensive
19 min
Fox & Frenemies
After a fraught Election Week, cable news is finally cutting away from President Trump’s falsehoods.
18 min