This week The Axe Files team is sharing an episode of CNN’s The Assignment with Audie Cornish. One year after Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, we were wondering: what is happening to people caught up in the web of changing law? It’s been a tumultuous and uncertain era for reproductive rights, so this week The Assignment checks in on the activists at the frontline defending women who are being criminally prosecuted under state laws that restrict or ban abortion. Amanda Allen, Senior Counsel and Director at the Lawyering Project, and Dana Sussman, Acting Executive Director at Pregnancy Justice, speak to Audie about their work in this post-Dobbs world.
Jul 6, 2023
Lifelong Republican Bill Gates was working as a lawyer and serving on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona’s most populous county when the 2020 election upended his life. Maricopa County became a hub of the Stop the Steal movement, and Bill, who defended the safety and legitimacy of the election, became a top target. Bill joined David to talk about navigating vicious attacks from those within his own party, the toll it took on his mental health and that of his family, and his hopes for the future of the Republican Party.
Jun 29, 2023
This week, we’re revisiting a 2018 interview with Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition activist who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in April 2023 after speaking out against the war in Ukraine. Vladimir was just 10 years old during the Russian Democratic Revolution in 1991. Witnessing a revolution was a formative experience that led to a lifetime of pro-democracy activism. In 2018, Vladimir sat down with David to discuss Putin’s Russia, the importance of the Magnitsky Act and what it’s like to put his life on the line for democracy.
Jun 22, 2023
Since leaving office in 2016, former President Barack Obama has been a careful observer of the ebbs and flows of democracy around the globe, speaking out on the subject and building coalitions through the Obama Foundation. President Obama joined David to talk about the state of democracy at home and abroad, how the economy and technological advances impact politics and polarization, the weaponization of the word woke, race, and his advice to the GOP.
Jun 15, 2023
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins arrived at college as a chemistry major, but the die-hard Crimson Tide fan soon realized life in a science lab was not her calling. After scouring the university’s course book, she decided to give journalism a try. Now, at just 31 years old, she is about to take over anchor duties for the 9 p.m. hour on CNN. Kaitlan joined David to talk about how her upbringing in Prattville, Alabama informs her reporting, her path to becoming a White House correspondent in her mid-20s, her move from the Daily Caller to CNN, what it was like covering the Trump administration and her relationship with Donald Trump, and her new 9 p.m. show.
Jun 8, 2023
As a child, Michael Wilbon was allowed to argue about sports and politics at the dinner table—as long as he backed up his point. That early training helped launch Michael into a distinguished career as a sportswriter, columnist, and co-host of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” Michael joined David to talk about growing up on Chicago’s South Side, joining the Washington Post in the afterglow of Watergate, the central role of sports figures in the civil rights movement, covering Michael Jordan, and his current favorites in the NBA.
Jun 1, 2023
Arizona Senator Mark Kelly never planned to go into politics. But in the years after his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot in an assassination attempt, the former astronaut decided to put aside his space suit and run for office. Sen. Kelly joined David to talk about gun violence, moving forward in the wake of Gabby’s injury, immigration and the Arizona border, the debt ceiling, and the importance of believing in science.
May 25, 2023
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson sued the network’s longtime boss Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in 2016, catapulting her into a broader fight for women’s rights. Since leaving Fox News, Gretchen has become a force in advocating for safer workplaces for women and other marginalized groups through her organization, Lift Our Voices, which has helped enact legislation banning forced arbitration and non-disclosure agreements. Gretchen joined David to talk about her early days as a violin prodigy, competing in Miss America as a Stanford undergrad, her decades in television news, suing Roger Ailes, and her mission to make it impossible to sweep workplace sexual misconduct under the rug.
May 18, 2023
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has carved out a national profile as a staunch advocate for abortion rights and gun control, raising speculation last summer that a 2024 presidential run was in his future. While he confirmed he won’t take on President Joe Biden, Gov. Pritzker joined David to talk about governing through Covid-19, the rise in anti-Semitism and attacks on minorities, his views on immigration and gun violence, and why he can’t rule out an eventual presidential run.
May 11, 2023
California Rep. Katie Porter is best known for wielding a whiteboard during congressional hearings, stumping CEOs and government officials on how their actions impact everyday Americans. As a single mother who grew up on a farm in Iowa, Rep. Porter has said she entered Congress with a different perspective than many of her colleagues on what exactly an everyday American is, inspiring her jump to politics. She joined David during a live recording to talk about her path from law professor to Congress member, her roots in Iowa politics, her passion for consumer protection issues, how she made the whiteboard famous, and her new book, “I Swear: Politics is Messier Than My Minivan.”
May 4, 2023