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
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
No concession!
The 45th president of the United States has thus far refused to acknowledge the 46th.
21 min
Biden’s coronavirus plan
And some big vaccine news, too.
24 min
Joe Biden wins
And Kamala Harris, too.
29 min
What happened to Congress?
Vox’s Ella Nilsen explains why Democrats are waving goodbye to the blue wave.
19 min
President Biden?
Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains the latest election math, and Ezra Klein argues that, despite record-setting turnout, it wasn’t a great night for American democracy.
27 min
Today (should be a holiday), Explained
This Election Day, voter turnout is projected to break records in the United States, but it won’t get anywhere close to Australia’s. Professor Lisa Hill explains what happens when you make voting mandatory.
19 min
What to expect when you’re electing
Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains how Joe Biden — or President Trump — could win 270 electoral votes.
25 min
The Trump Years: State of our union
In the final episode of our five-part series, New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister and Vox’s Ezra Klein explain how four years of the Trump presidency have changed the American people and their politics.
29 min
The Trump Years: Health of the nation
In the fourth of our five-part series, Vox’s Dylan Scott explains how a president with no plan on health care evolved into a president with no plan for the pandemic.
31 min
The Voters
Election turnout is on track to be the highest in a century. Farmers, essential workers, prisoners, and two ladies named Ruth explain their 2020 presidential pick.
23 min
The Supreme Court may disenfranchise you now
Pandemic or not, the highest court in the land won’t extend Wisconsin’s deadline for mailed ballots. Good thing it’s not a swing state. Oh, wait ...
16 min
Alexis Akwagyiram, bureau chief for Reuters in Nigeria, explains how a protest to reform the country’s police made its way around the world.
22 min
The Trump Years: Win at all costs
In the third of our five-part series, Vox’s Andrew Prokop says there’s one key takeaway from the Mueller investigation and impeachment: Trump will do anything to win an election.
29 min
“Hey Google,” the United States is suing you
Bill Barr and Elizabeth Warren have found a common enemy.
18 min
Will Covid-19 cancel the holidays?
Last Christmas, I gave you my health.
18 min
Block the vote?
The 2020 election is well underway, as are efforts to prevent people from voting.
19 min
The parody-proof president
Live from New York, impressions are trite! Vox critic-at-large Emily VanDerWerff explains why late-night TV struggles to satirize President Trump, and argues the internet is doing a much better job.
25 min
The Trump Years: America First
In the second of our five-part series, Vox’s Nicole Narea and Jenn Williams explain how President Trump has fundamentally changed the perception of the United States at home and abroad.
26 min
Do you believe in magic?
A Los Angeles magician struck gold with a glorified Zoom meeting. Some are asking if he’s figured out how to save theater.
19 min
Amy Coney Barrett’s originalism
The judge isn’t saying much in her confirmation hearing, but Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains how her legal theory will guide her on the Supreme Court.
23 min
The case for ending the filibuster
Even if Democrats win the White House, take the Senate, and hold the House, most of their legislation could be doomed because of the filibuster. Vox’s Ezra Klein says it’s filibusted.
21 min
The Trump Years: Deregulator in chief
In the first of our five-part series, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias explains why President Donald Trump seldom boasts about his biggest accomplishment.
21 min
Did anyone defund the police?
In June, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council stood onstage at a community rally and pledged to dismantle the police. Council member Alondra Cano returns to explain why it’s taking so long.
23 min
1600 Coronavirus Avenue
After months of downplaying the risks, the White House has come down with Covid-19. Vox’s Aaron Rupar gives the updates, and Future Perfect’s Sigal Samuel sifts through the moral complexities in the gleeful reactions.
19 min
Who are the Proud Boys?
President Trump told a fringe group of misogynistic racists to “stand back and stand by” at the first presidential debate. Vox’s Jane Coaston explains.
17 min
It’s time to talk about Mike Pence
President Trump is battling Covid-19 and the vice-presidential debate is days away. McKay Coppins from the Atlantic explains the man waiting in the wings.
27 min
Contact tracing President Trump
The president had a very busy week, then tested positive for the coronavirus. Vox’s Aaron Rupar traces his steps and Ella Nilsen explores the possible scenarios.
18 min
Missing Chapter
A forgotten protest movement in a seaside Florida town helped end legal segregation in the United States. Vox’s Ranjani Chakraborty explains.
33 min
Joe Versus the Volcano
While it might feel as though nothing could be worse than last night’s presidential debate, Vox’s Ezra Klein explains what could happen if President Trump loses the election and refuses to leave office.
24 min
Amy Coney Barrett
President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee first garnered attention after being questioned about her Catholic faith. Vox’s Ian Millhiser says that attention likely motivated her nomination.
20 min
That's how much "billionaire" President Trump paid in federal income taxes his first year in office, according to reporting from the New York Times.
20 min
Justice For Breonna Taylor (Part II)
One of the three officers who shot at Breonna Taylor’s apartment was indicted ... for endangering her neighbors. Tessa Duvall from the Louisville Courier-Journal explains. And Vox’s Fabiola Cineas says the ruling isn’t surprising.
21 min
Dr. Fauci on pandemic politics
With mounting concerns over the politicization of federal health agencies, Dr. Anthony Fauci explains why Americans should still trust the vaccine approval process.
24 min
Working from work
What do a bus driver, a teacher, a McDonald’s employee, and a project manager with a conference on her calendar all have in common?
21 min
RBG’s seat
Republicans appear ready to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the end of the year. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains Democrats’ last defense.
19 min
The fight over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat has already begun, but let’s not forget to celebrate her legendary life.
28 min
Class of Covid-19
Colleges reopened. Outbreaks followed. Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains why he still thinks bringing students back was the right decision.
24 min
ICE and involuntary hysterectomies
A whistleblower complaint alleges immigrants being detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Georgia have been subjected to involuntary procedures — including hysterectomies. Vox’s Nicole Narea explains.
18 min
A firefighter on battling wildfires
After 16 seasons of wildfires, Glen Haydon has figured out how to cope. For everyone else, there’s an app for that.
21 min
This is the future Joe Biden wants
Trillions spent on the environment, caregiving, manufacturing, and the racial wealth gap: Vox’s Dylan Matthews explains how Biden wants to “Build Back Better.”
22 min
Can the Democrats take the Senate?
Vox’s Ella Nilsen says the implausible is now looking possible.
22 min
The pandemic hasn’t stopped Americans from dating, hooking up, or tying the knot. In fact, lockdown has been helping people get down.
21 min
What was Putin the tea?
A chief political rival of Vladimir Putin has been poisoned in what Foreign Policy’s Amy MacKinnon says is a watershed moment for Russia.
18 min
The truth about herd immunity
Some people think it’s the only way out of the pandemic. Those people are very wrong.
17 min
A Fake News Survival Guide
As the election draws near, of fake news you must steer clear. For you (and your uncle), this episode is here.
20 min
The movies are back*
*But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should go see one.
25 min
Is the stock market bull?
Vox’s Emily Stewart clears up the mystery of the market, and Ella Nilsen offers an update on the stimulus that has collapsed into stalemate.
18 min
Let’s talk about ventilation
Ventilation is key to reopening office buildings safely. But The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson says many workers aren’t going back, even when it’s safer.
22 min
Is Facebook ready for the election?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company made an “operational mistake” in its handling of Kenosha militia groups. The Verge’s Casey Newton explains whether that has implications for November’s election.
21 min
Wakanda forever
The actor Chadwick Boseman died of cancer on Friday, but because of Black Panther he’ll live forever.
17 min
The Island of Explained: A Summer of Protest
All summer long, we have been explaining complex news stories to kids. In our final summer camp journey to the Island of Explained, we tackle the fight for racial justice in the United States.
24 min
Unconventional (Part II)
The GOP proved that laws were made to be broken at its 2020 convention.
24 min
Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by police and the protests escalated all the way to the NBA. Gina Barton, investigative reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, explains.
19 min
Optimism in 2020
Being an optimist can seem ridiculous right now, but in the inaugural episode of The Cut podcast, host Avery Trufelman is searching for some well-grounded positivity. She finds it in conversation with Cheer’s La’Darius Marshall.
29 min
Covid’s hottest new treatment is plasma. Vox’s Umair Irfan explains why, and where the world stands on a vaccine.
19 min
What is QAnon?
As the Republican National Convention gets underway, a bonkers (and dangerous) conspiracy theory is gaining a foothold inside the GOP. President Trump appears to be okay with it.
19 min
The Democrats proved a virtual convention doesn't have to be a downer. Especially when Rhode Island brings calamari.
21 min
Who polices the police?
ProPublica's Eric Umansky explains how the New York Police Department's Civilian Complaint Review Board has struggled for decades to hold the NYPD to account.
26 min
Class is in quarantine
Schools in the US are reopening even though kids play a key role in community transmission of Covid-19. Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter Ellen Eldridge explains how going back to school in her state became a national controversy.
23 min
A woman’s place is at the polls
The 19th Amendment’s centenary is today, but the fight for universal suffrage in the United States continues.
22 min
The mail, man
The House of Representatives is cutting its vacation short to block changes at the United States Postal Service that could affect the integrity and outcome of the election. Rep. Gerry Connolly explains why he's going a step further and calling for the postmaster general to resign.
20 min
The Island of Explained: Escape from Boredom
After hearing from kids around the world who are grappling with serious boredom, Noam Hassenfeld and Byrd Pinkerton venture deep into the belly of a whale to learn how to have fun in quarantine.
20 min
Well, this is awkward
The coronavirus is complicating our relationships with family, friends, and strangers. But it’s also making us better at life??
20 min
2020 makes no census
The 2020 census is fighting a losing battle against the coronavirus and President Trump. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang explains how a decade of money and power are at stake.
21 min
Biden picked Harris. Vox’s Fabiola Cineas explains the role race is already playing in the election, and Ezra Klein argues Donald Trump is making things easy for his opponents.
18 min
The dictator vs. the homemaker
The longtime leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is facing nationwide protests and accusations that he stole Sunday’s election. His opponent, a 37-year-old homemaker who entered the race in place of her imprisoned husband, has fled the country.
19 min
How Trump’s relief plan helps and hurts
President Trump wants to resolve the congressional deadlock over stimulus relief by himself. Vox’s Li Zhou rummages through the mixed bag.
18 min
TikTok, on the clock, Donald says your time is up
President Trump is threatening to ban TikTok, but Microsoft might be able to stop the clock.
22 min
Florida’s Covid-19 tragedy
The state saw Covid-19 coming. It still became an outbreak epicenter.
19 min
What’s going on in Lebanon
A chemical blast has made a very bad situation worse for Lebanon. Journalist Habib Battah explains from Beirut.
18 min
Everything that could go wrong with the Novembe...
A worsening pandemic. A poll worker shortage. A hobbled postal service. Russian hacking. Donald Trump. Vox’s Ella Nilsen explains the many obstacles facing the United States as Election Day nears.
17 min
Who’s “Karen?” And what’s BIPOC?
A Washington Post columnist named Karen explains her feelings about “Karen.” A University of Arizona linguist named Sonja explains BIPOC and the capitalization of “Black” and “White.”
19 min
The Island of Explained: Election Day
It’s Election Day on the Island of Explained! Will the candidate with the most votes win, or will the island’s Electoral College determine a different leader?
23 min
Tim, Mark, Jeff, and Sundar
The leaders of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google testified before Congress on Wednesday in what The Verge’s Casey Newton says might have been the most important Webex in human history.
24 min
Life after Covid-19, explained by Carl (who had...
Some people walk away from Covid-19 feeling fine. Others are dealing with a long list of lingering health issues.
19 min
Stimulating America
Democrats and Republicans have a $2 trillion disagreement on how to relieve Americans from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
21 min
Rural America meets Black Lives Matter
In Bethel, Ohio, a Black Lives Matter rally became a standoff between armed bikers and peaceful protesters. BuzzFeed’s Anne Helen Petersen explains.
20 min
Houston, we have a problem
Baseball’s back, but fans won’t get the chance to boo the cheating Astros.
20 min
The Anti-maskers
The United States has now confirmed 4 million cases of Covid-19. Some Americans still don’t want to wear a mask.
19 min
Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan
Joe Biden is tacking to the left and embracing a historic climate plan. Vox’s David Roberts explains whether it stands a chance.
18 min
Tucker Carlson’s America
The most popular host in the history of cable news returned from a week-long vacation after his head writer was exposed as a raging bigot. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple explains why the scandal won’t stick.
23 min
When the feds came to Portland
They came in military camouflage and unmarked vans. Now the state of Oregon is suing the federal government over its policing tactics. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Conrad Wilson explains.
18 min
The Island of Explained: Vaccines
We return to the magical Island of Explained with a microbiologist and a talking moth to find out what it will take to produce a coronavirus vaccine.
23 min
Eviction bans and expanded unemployment benefits are expiring, leaving millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes by the end of the summer.
19 min
What happened to California?
California once looked like an example of how to handle the pandemic. Now it’s a warning for other states looking to reopen.
21 min
The Washington Football Team
The District of Columbia's football team is abandoning the name it adopted almost a century ago. Paul Chaat Smith, a curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, hopes the country is at long last ready to reckon with its past.
16 min