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The Axe Files with David Axelrod

David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.

Ep. 587 — Jon Favreau The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Political commentator and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau watched the first 2024 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden with great concern. Now, he’s questioning whether Biden should stay in the race. He joined David to talk about voters feeling “gaslit” by the Biden campaign and White House, poll denialism, why a stellar convention performance by Biden and his supporters won’t move the needle, and the allure of the demagogue and need for citizens to reengage in democracy.
Jul 11, 2024
Ep. 586 — Doris Kearns Goodwin The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is known for chronicling the lives and leadership styles of some of America’s most prominent presidents. But for her latest book she focused on a different sort of subject: her husband, the late political adviser Dick Goodwin. Part memoir, part history, “An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s” tells the story of the decade through more than 300 boxes of Dick’s archives. Doris joined David to talk about the book, the parallels between the 1960s and today, the state of American democracy, and what can be learned about the present by looking to the past.
Jul 4, 2024
Ep. 585 — Dr. Anthony Fauci The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Dr. Anthony Fauci became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic. While Dr. Fauci stepped down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2022, he still has stories to share. His new book, “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service,” recounts his triumphs and heartbreaks over 50 years in public health combatting everything from Ebola to SARS to HIV. He joined David to discuss his new book, lessons learned from the pandemic response, what he tells his medical students at Georgetown about weathering political attacks on science, and the dangers of political interference in public health.
Jun 27, 2024
Ep. 584 – Evgenia Kara-Murza The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Evgenia Kara-Murza did not intend to become a public figure. But that all changed after her husband, Russian political opposition leader and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, was arrested in Moscow in 2022. With Vladimir now serving a 25-year sentence in a Siberian prison, Evgenia has taken up his mission, advocating for the freedom of political prisoners and a democratic Russia. She joined David to talk about growing up during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Putin’s regime in Russia, the war in Ukraine, and why she won’t give up on fighting for her husband.
Jun 20, 2024
Mayor Mike Duggan The Axe Files with David Axelrod
From darkened streetlights and abandoned homes to pervasive graffiti and long waits for emergency services, Mayor Mike Duggan inherited a Detroit rife with problems, but also potential. Since he took office in 2014, Mayor Duggan has helmed a turnaround for the city, overseeing rising standards of living and significant economic growth. Mayor Duggan joined David at the newly re-opened Michigan Central to talk about the revitalization of Detroit, how Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer would fare as a presidential candidate, and the deeply felt ramifications of the Israel-Gaza war in his home state.
Jun 13, 2024
Ep. 582 - Leon Panetta The Axe Files with David Axelrod
When Leon Panetta was growing up in Monterey, California, his Italian immigrant parents often invited soldiers training at nearby Fort Ord to holiday dinners before they shipped out to World War Two battlegrounds. Later, as Secretary of Defense, Panetta’s thoughts returned to those service members when deploying young men and women to war. He sat down with David to talk about his long political career, his thoughts on the war in Ukraine, the intelligence lapse around the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and what Israel is doing wrong in its fight against Hamas.
Jun 6, 2024
Best of The Axe Files: Bill Walton The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Bill Walton, one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history and former basketball announcer, died this week. David talked with Bill back in 2016 about leadership, what he learned playing for John Wooden at UCLA, how his back troubles nearly drove him to suicide, his love of the Grateful Dead, and much more. We revisit that conversation this week.
May 30, 2024
Ep. 581 — George Stephanopoulos The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Originally built in just two weeks for $30,000, the White House Situation Room has been the nerve center during some of history’s most seismic events, from the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. In his new book, “The Situation Room: The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis,” George Stephanopoulos chronicles 60 years of American politics through spotlighting the historic room. George joined David onstage at the Chicago H...Show moreumanities Festival to talk about his time working in the White House, how failed missions hashed out in the Situation Room informed future presidencies, and the responsibility of the media in covering Donald Trump in the 2024 election.
May 23, 2024
Ep. 580 — Jen Psaki The Axe Files with David Axelrod
For former press secretary and current MSNBC anchor Jen Psaki, clear communication has long been a hallmark of her success, from door knocking in Iowa as a young campaign staffer to explaining to her kids why they should eat vegetables. With her new book, “Say More: Lessons from Work, the White House, and the World,” Psaki delves into what she’s learned about effective communication over the years. She joined David to talk about her book, the Biden administration’s messaging on the economy, how people are multilayered yet often caricatured, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the ongoing war in Gaza.
May 16, 2024
Ep. 579 — Cyrus Habib The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Cyrus Habib was a political rising star when he made the surprise announcement that he was leaving elected office to join the Catholic ministry. Cyrus lost his eyesight to cancer at 8 years old, but that didn’t stop him from collecting such accolades as degrees from Yale and Oxford and the role of Washington state lieutenant governor by the age of 35. While he valued helping those in need, he felt he could make a difference more authentically by removing the ego of political office and leaning i...Show morento his faith. He joined David to talk about growing up as the son of Iranian immigrants and how his parents taught him his blindness was not his identity, interning for then-Senator Hillary Clinton following 9/11 and how it changed his outlook on public service, and deciding to convert to Catholicism and join the Jesuit order.
May 9, 2024
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