The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with host Sean Illing is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity, and get some cool takes on a very hot world. Formerly the Vox Conversations podcast. New episodes drop every Monday and Thursday.

News Commentary
Sarah Kliff grades Biden and Trump's health car...
Sarah Kliff and I wonk out on the 2020 healthcare stakes
73 min
Trumpism never existed. It was always just Trump.
American Affairs editor Julius Krein on Donald Trump and the decay of the American right
55 min
What should Democrats do about the Supreme Court?
Ganesh Sitaraman on court packing, democracy reform, and the future of the Democratic Party
81 min
Marilynne Robinson on writing, metaphysics, and...
A joyful, cathartic conversation with Marilynne Robinson
70 min
The case for Trump’s foreign policy
Rebeccah Heinrichs on great power competition, China, and how Trump sees the world
68 min
Fareed Zakaria on how Biden and Trump see the w...
The scholar and pundit discusses China, American exceptionalism, and foreign policy
76 min
How a climate bill becomes a reality
How to craft a climate bill that will actually work
82 min
The meat we eat affects us all
The human costs of eating meat
33 min
A dark, dangerous debate
In a special, post-debate episode, I'm joined by Matt Yglesias to discuss the most unnerving presidential debate I've ever seen.
68 min
A radical — or obvious? — plan to save American...
Lee Drutman's case against America's two party system
66 min
RBG, minority rule, and our looming legitimacy ...
Political scientist Suzanne Mettler on whether American democracy will survive 2020
70 min
David French and I debate polarization, secessi...
Competing paths to solve our polarization crisis
87 min
The Matt Yglesias Show
Vox's Matt Yglesias on Twitter, climate change, and one billion Americans
88 min
Race, policing, and the universal yearning for ...
52 min
How to think about coronavirus risk in your life
Julia Marcus on how to make important life decisions in a pandemic
64 min
Black Republicans, Donald Trump, and America's ...
83 min
Andrew Yang on UBI, coronavirus, and his next j...
The 2020 candidate on how to fix the economy, and the government
83 min
Why the hell did America invade Iraq?
The enduring relevance of America's disastrous Iraq invasion.
79 min
How to decarbonize America — and create 25 mill...
The US has the technology to decarbonize by 2035. Here's a plan to do it.
65 min
Isabel Wilkerson wants to change how we underst...
A new way of thinking about race and class
93 min
What it would take to end child poverty in America
Rep. Barbara Lee on why rebuilding the economy means investing in our kids
48 min
Hannah Gadsby on comedy, free speech, and livin...
How Hannah Gadsby's mind works
88 min
What would Keynes do?
What the 20th century’s most influential economist can teach us about rebuilding the US economy
98 min
A devastating indictment of the Republican Party
An insider perspective on the GOP’s march to Trumpism
56 min
How inequality and white identity politics feed...
Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the conservative dilemma
73 min
Best of: Jia Tolentino on what happens when lif...
The New Yorker writer explains how technology has transformed the very nature of human interaction
100 min
Dadding out with Mike Birbiglia
73 min
A rabbi explains how to make sense of suffering
Why God can't solve our suffering problem
52 min
The crisis in the news
Margaret Sullivan on the disastrous state of local journalism -- and what we can do about it
46 min
Bryan Stevenson on how America can heal
A conversation is about truth and reconciliation in America
75 min
What a post-Trump Republican Party might look like
How Oren Cass is challenging conservative economic orthodoxy
76 min
Free speech, safety, and ‘the letter’
Yascha Mounk and I discuss free speech, safety, and ‘the letter’
85 min
The frightening fragility of America's politica...
Masha Gessen on whether American democracy can survive Donald Trump
63 min
Can artificial intelligence be emotionally inte...
A fun conversation about emotional intelligence, machine learning, and AI
72 min
Danielle Allen on the radicalism of the America...
The Harvard political theorist on democracy, prison abolition, and the American founding
67 min
Land of the Giants: The Netflix Effect
Land of the Giants is a podcast from our friends at Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network that examines the most powerful tech companies of our time.
17 min
Nicholas Carr on deep reading and digital thinking
How technology literally changes our brains
70 min
Your questions, answered
Ask Ezra Anything 2020 edition
78 min
Which country has the world's best healthcare s...
Ezekiel Emanuel on healthcare reform, coronavirus response and presidential leadership
68 min
The transformative power of restorative justice
sujatha baliga on how to radically reimagine our criminal justice system
72 min
Ross Douthat and I debate American decadence
Ross Douthat on American decline, utopian ambition, and the Catholic right
89 min
A serious conversation about UFOs
A religion scholar on UFOs, belief systems, and purgatory
88 min
A former prosecutor's case for prison abolition
Paul Butler on how our criminal justice system is broken — and how to fix it
64 min
Why Ta-Nehisi Coates is hopeful
The award-winning author on police violence, protest, and "the public"
89 min
Are humans fundamentally good? (with Rutger Bre...
Rutger Bregman on human nature, hierarchy, and hunter-gatherer societies
94 min
From politician to priest
Why Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib is giving up elected office and joining the Jesuits
118 min
Robert Frank's radical idea
Using contagion economics to solve our hardest problems
69 min
Why “essential” workers are treated as disposable
Mary Kay Henry on essential jobs, organizing, and the future of work
66 min
"The world’s scariest economist” on coronavirus...
Mariana Mazzucato on her "plan to fix capitalism".
79 min
A mind-bending conversation about quantum mecha...
Sean Carroll answers my dumb quantum mechanics questions — and yours.
76 min
Why the coronavirus is so deadly for black America
David R. Williams on the science behind Covid-19’s massive racial disparities
76 min
Jenny Odell on nature, art, and burnout in quar...
A truly cathartic conversation with Jenny Odell
63 min
An unusually honest conversation about wielding...
Rep. Pramila Jayapal on stimulus negotiations, the economy, and progressive power.
81 min
What should the media learn from coronavirus?
Coronavirus exposed weaknesses in our media ecosystem. Can we fix them?
91 min
Bill Gates’s vision for life beyond coronavirus
Bill Gates saw coronavirus coming. Here’s his plan to beat it.
48 min
An epic conversation with Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller on myth, translation, and writing a perfect sentence
77 min
The loneliness pandemic/Betraying “essential wo...
We have something a bit different today. Two episodes from our extraordinary colleagues at Today, Explained, both of them close to my heart.
44 min
Why Bernie Sanders lost and how progressives ca...
Sean McElwee on what the left got wrong in 2020
96 min
Scott Gottlieb on how, and when, to end social ...
When will social distancing end? When will life return to “normal”? And what will it take to get there?
45 min
Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and...
81 min
Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too
Sen. Elizabeth Warren on coronavirus, leadership, and intergenerational justice.
47 min
What social solidarity demands of us in a pandemic
Social distancing isn’t enough. We need social solidarity.
62 min
Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to th...
What’s happening between the US and China is truly scary
56 min
Is the cure worse than the disease?
Are we overreacting to coronavirus? An economist and a bioethicist weigh in.
62 min
An economic crisis like we’ve never seen
Annie Lowrey on the coronavirus depression
79 min
"The virus is more patient than people are"
Obama's Ebola Czar on why coronavirus is much worse
75 min
A master class in organizing
116 min
Weeds 2020: The coronavirus election
Ezra and Matt on dueling pandemic response plans from Sanders and Biden, and Trump's oval office address.
51 min
Dan Pfeiffer on Joe Biden, beating Trump, and s...
The former Obama White House communications director has some critical feedback for the Democratic party
92 min
Are you a "political hobbyist?" If so, you're t...
Political scientist Eitan Hersh on how political hobbyism is ruining politics
80 min
What would a Sanders or Biden presidency look l...
Matt Yglesias and I talk foreign policy, staffing, the Democratic Party and more.
69 min
Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein, feminism, a...
The radical wisdom of Rebecca Solnit
102 min
Weeds 2020: The Bernie electability debate
Welcome to Weeds 2020! Every other Saturday Ezra and Matt will be exploring a wide range of topics related to the 2020 race.
55 min
Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry
America’s two-time poet laureate on love, language, and erasure
84 min
Barbara Ehrenreich on UBI, class conflict, and ...
Ezra Klein and Barbara Ehrenreich discuss our most pervasive cultural myths from rugged individualism to positive thinking
62 min
What Donald Trump got right about white America
AEI's Tim Carney on how social breakdown killed the American Dream
69 min
Ta-Nehisi Coates on my “cold, atheist book”
Ezra is joined by Ta-Nehisi Coates to discuss "Why We're Polarized" live from Brooklyn, NY.
70 min
If God is dead, then … socialism?
Philosopher Martin Hagglund and Vox's Sean Illing discuss the meaning of life
59 min
Tim Urban on humanity’s wild future
The Wait But Why creator thinks the human species is at an existential fork-in-the-road. Is he right?
84 min
Jill Lepore on what I get wrong
Easily the toughest interview of my book tour so far
79 min
Is Tom Steyer the solution to our dysfunctional...
Why the presidential candidate thinks we need another billionaire to beat Trump
60 min
Why We're Polarized, with Jamelle Bouie (live!)
In conversation with Jamelle Bouie on my new book, "Why We're Polarized"
70 min
Antisemitism now, antisemitism then
Antisemitism is called “the oldest hatred.” But what is it, and where, exactly, does it come from?
86 min
Book excerpt: A better theory of identity politics
A special preview of Ezra's book; Why We're Polarized.
58 min
The war on Muslims (with Mehdi Hasan)
Mehdi Hasan on the rise of global Islamophobia
85 min
Post-debate special!
Matt Yglesias and I unpack the debate that did, and didn't happen.
54 min
An “uncomfortable” conversation with Cory Booker
Cory Booker is one of most promising candidates in the 2020 Democratic field. So, why is his campaign struggling?
88 min
The conservative mind of Yuval Levin
The AEI scholar discusses human nature, the conservative movement, and the case against socialism
75 min
How an epidemic begins and ends
A preview of season 3 of Vox's The Impact
37 min
Nathan Robinson’s case for socialism
The editor of Current Affairs discusses Bernie Sanders, libertarian socialism, utopian thinking and more
97 min
How to topple dictators and transform society (...
Harvard political scientist Erica Chenoweth on why nonviolent resistance succeeds -- and fails
47 min
Ask Ezra Anything
Ezra answers listener questions about free will, polarization, capitalism, Twitter and more
88 min
Best of: Work as identity, burnout as lifestyle
Anne Helen Petersen and Derek Thompson on what happens when work becomes an identity, and capitalism becomes a religion.
77 min
Republicans vs. the planet
Vox's Dave Roberts on the politics of climate change
97 min
The geoengineering question
Jane Flegal on the idea that could shatter the link between emissions and global warming
71 min
How to solve climate change and make life more ...
Entrepreneur Saul Griffith on why we have all the tools we need to fix climate change
91 min
Paul Krugman on climate, robots, single-payer, ...
The Nobel-prize winning economist explains it all
84 min
The moral philosophy of The Good Place (with Mi...
The geniuses behind TV's most philosophically-inclined sitcom discuss what it means to be a good person
99 min
When doing the right thing makes you a criminal
Direct Action Everywhere co-founder Wayne Hsiung explains why he decided to risk his freedom to expose extreme injustice.
99 min
Peter Singer on the lives you can save
Ezra chats with Peter Singer about the re-release of his book "The Life You Can Save".
73 min