Fiery Twitter threads and endless news notifications never capture the full story. Each week on The Assignment, host Audie Cornish pulls listeners out of their digital echo chambers to hear from the people who live the headlines. From the sex work economy to the battle over what’s taught in classrooms, no topic is off the table. Listen to The Assignment every Thursday.
This week, the Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy addressed the epidemic of loneliness Americans are facing. As a way of combatting the feelings of isolation, Dr. Murthy laid out a six-pillar plan rooted in social connection. What's not mentioned in his plan... artificial intelligence or chatbots. But that hasn't stopped folks from turning to them in times of distress. In this episode, we explore the communities that are leaning on AI and chatbots for comfort and the ripple effects this could have on how we connect with one another.
Remember the Chinese spy balloon? Since then, we’ve seen leaked Pentagon spy documents on Discord and the discovery of fake Chinese police stations used for surveillance in the U.S. The line between espionage and everyday surveillance/data collection is more blurred than ever, thanks to the integration of technology into our daily lives. All of us are walking pieces of data being gobbled up and analyzed by spy agencies around the world. All of this spy news is a reminder of how high the stakes a...Show morere, and how little we really know about the global fight for information. Audie talks with CNN Anchor and Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto, and former FBI intelligence official Javed Ali about what can spy balloons, leaked documents, and AI tell us about the state of spying today. Jim Sciutto is co-anchor of “CNN News Central” weekday afternoons from 1 to 4. His latest book is “The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America.” Javed Ali is an associate professor of practice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Thanks to the Hayden Center at George Mason University for letting us use audio from their panel on “Counterintelligence Today.”
Are we cycling through fashion trends faster than ever? Cores, aesthetics, and those big red boots! Our Assignment this week is a deep dive into how the social media algorithm is turning each of us into mini-fashionistas, and whether fashion trends can help us understand the state of the economy. Audie’s guests are trend forecaster Agustina Panzoni and culture critic Terry Nguyen.
Can Country music help lead the U.S. out of the gun debate? There is a long history of famous country musicians using their platforms to comment on social and political issues. But since the lead singer of The Chicks, Natalie Maines, was ostracized after criticizing then President George W. Bush, country music stars have felt safer keeping their political views out of the public eye. Musician Ketch Secor of the band Old Crow Medicine Show is trying to change that. After the shooting at Covenant ...Show moreSchool in Nashville, Tennessee, Ketch wrote an Op-ed in The New York Times calling for country music stars to let go of the fear of retaliation from their fanbase, and to break their silence on the gun debate. Audie talks with Ketch about what it’s like to be a musician and a parent in Nashville right now and what he thinks country musicians can do to help prevent another mass shooting.
Why is everyone talking about their “attachment style” or “boundaries” and “triggers”? Therapy speak, both online and IRL, has become a normal part of our daily discourse – especially since the pandemic brought mental health issues to the forefront. Audie talks to two psychologists, Dr. Arianna Brandolini and Dr. Luana Marques, about how widespread use of the language of their profession can both increase access to certain resources, and at the same time be a poor substitute for treatment.
We have trained a generation of people how to think about, respond to, and survive a mass shooting, including children. Educators and law enforcement officials have developed curricula for schools to help teachers and students survive a shooting. The foundation for this teaching comes in large part from the work of Katherine Schweit. She is a former FBI Agent, author of the book, “Stop the Killing: How to End the Mass Shooting Crisis,” and co-host of the podcast Stop the Killing. At the time of ...Show morethe Sandy Hook shooting she realized that training and education would be key in preventing more deaths. She developed the active shooter training program for the FBI. Its mantra of “Run, Hide, Fight” is now an essential element in mass shooting education. Audie talks with Katherine about how she came to this work, and what it’s like to do it in the midst of political paralysis.
The past few weeks have been head spinning: U.S. job numbers? Solid... except for those layoffs in the tech sector. Inflation? Slowly dropping... but still high. Not to mention the bank failures... It all has made us wonder: Why was it so hard for economists to predict this? What will happen next? And what does it mean for folks caught in the middle of high inflation? Audie gets an assignment from a listener and asks economists Gary “Hoov” Hoover, Executive Director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University, and Alfredo Romero, Associate Professor at North Carolina A&T University, to make this economy make sense.
The Assignment is returning with new episodes every Thursday, and we're taking some of our assignments from you, including: trying to figure out our baffling economy, the rise of therapy speak online and in our daily lives, and delving into the world of absurdist fashion trends. New episodes start dropping March 23rd. Thanks for listening!
The Assignment is hard at work reporting more stories about the people living the headlines. We’ll have new episodes in the feed starting March 23rd. In the meantime, here’s a special episode of another podcast that we think will bring a smile to your face. It’s called Story of the Week. Each week, journalist Joel Stein chooses an article that fascinates him, convinces the writer to tell him about it, and then interrupts a good conversation by talking about himself. In this episode, Choire Sicha...Show more, the editor of the New York Magazine piece on the new rules of etiquette that went viral in early February 2023, discusses the almost 200 dos and don’ts that will supposedly help us be better behaved in modern, polite society. Listen to new episodes of Story of the Week every Thursday at https://apple.co/3IRfQIE. You can read the full list from New York Magazine here: https://www.thecut.com/article/tipping-rules-etiquette-rules.html
The Assignment is taking a short break, we’ll be back with new episodes on March 23rd. In the meantime, we want to highlight the good work of some our colleagues and partners. This week, Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In this sixth season, he explores how technology has disrupted our lives, the ways we interact with each other, work, learn, and even grow up. This season looks at the impact all this technology is having on young people. Like many parents, this topic is personal for Dr. Sanja...Show morey Gupta. We hear Sanjay speak with one of the people most directly impacted by it all: his daughter Soleil. Plus, a conversation with Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, about how social media is affecting youth mental health.