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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. 505 — Beth Macy The Axe Files with David Axelrod
When journalist and author Beth Macy first pitched a book about the opioid crisis in 2014, her publisher and editor rejected the idea. But Beth kept following the story, publishing “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America” in 2018. The book has since been adapted into an Emmy Award-winning Hulu miniseries. Beth joined David to talk about her upbringing in Urbana, Ohio, how the loss of manufacturing jobs and opioid use intersect, the stigmatization of addiction, Trump’s appeal in former factory towns, her thoughts on the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma, and her new book, “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of the Overdose Crisis.”
Sep 29, 2022
Ep. 504 — Chris Wallace The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Chris Wallace spent 18 years at the helm of Fox News Sunday, surprising viewers when he announced his resignation on-air in December 2021. Now at CNN with a new show streaming on HBO Max, Wallace has admitted that the lies about the 2020 election and anti-media rhetoric at Fox influenced his decision to leave. He joined David to talk about interviewing Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, how the media shifted under Trump, the state of the news business, how raising his kids led him to reflect on his own childhood, and his new show, Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?
Sep 22, 2022
Ep. 503 — Rep. Adam Kinzinger The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Rep. Adam Kinzinger was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the January 6 insurrection. After deciding to not seek reelection in 2022, Rep. Kinzinger has spent his last months in office as a member of the January 6 Committee, investigating the events of that day. He joined David to talk about his work on the Committee, tribalism in politics and its negative effect on leaders, why he thinks the Mar-a-Lago search could spell trouble for Trump, and his predictions for the midterms.
Sep 15, 2022
The Axe Files presents Offline with Jon Favreau The Axe Files with David Axelrod
This week we’re sharing a conversation between Jon Favreau, host of Offline, a podcast from Crooked Media, and Ev Williams, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter. The two discuss Twitter’s early years, including the design decisions behind some of the app’s most important features. They dive into the promise of Twitter and attempt to make sense of what’s changed. Ev also talks about Twitter’s newest board member and largest shareholder, Elon Musk, and if Donald Trump should be allowed back on. Pl...Show moreease note this conversation was recorded prior to Musk’s attempt to purchase Twitter.
For a closed-captioned version of this episode, click here. For a transcript of this episode, please email and include the name of the podcast.
Sep 8, 2022
The Axe Files presents Hell & High Water with John Heilemann The Axe Files with David Axelrod
This week The Axe Files team is sharing an episode of Hell & High Water with John Heilemann. This episode features a conversation with David Axelrod and was recorded in New York City in December 2021. Together they took a look back at the year in politics, from the Biden administration’s successes and mishaps, Covid-19, the polarization and paralysis in Washington, and Donald Trump’s continued stranglehold on the Republican Party. Axelrod reminisces about his storied career as a political re...Show moreporter, Democratic strategist, and architect of Barack Obama's rise to the White House. Looking ahead to 2022, Axelrod lays out what he sees as the greatest challenges ahead for Democrats — and American democracy.
Sep 1, 2022
The Axe Files presents Morning Brew’s Imposters The Axe Files with David Axelrod
In 2020, Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit & Founder of Seven Seven Six, broke ties with the $10 billion-dollar company he helped to build as an act of protest during the Black Lives Matter movement. In doing so, he stepped away from the business he’d known for most of his career, and instead decided to found a different kind of VC firm.
In this episode, Alexis tells Alex about the traumas he faced at the very start of his career, and how that has driven him towards the impact-focused mission he has today when it comes to 776, as well as how he approaches being as present as possible for both his family and his work.
Aug 25, 2022
Ep. 502 — Henry Kissinger The Axe Files with David Axelrod
As a young boy, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his family escaped Nazi Germany; later, as a soldier with the US military, he helped liberate the Ahlem concentration camp, a searing, surreal moment for a Jewish immigrant. Both revered and controversial, Kissinger is best known as a towering foreign policy figure, guided by his belief in realpolitik. He joined David to talk about working with President Nixon, opening relations with China, the current state of the US-China relationship, how to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, and his new book, “Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy.”
Aug 18, 2022
Ep. 501 — Jason Kander The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Ten years after serving in Afghanistan, Jason Kander was a rising star in the Democratic Party, testing the waters for a presidential run. In 2018, he shocked the political world when he ended his campaign for mayor of Kansas City to seek treatment for PTSD. He joined David to talk about falling in love with the Army, focusing on his career as a form of self-medication, trading presidential aspirations for personal healing, and his new book, “Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD.”
Aug 11, 2022
Ep. 500 — John Legend The Axe Files with David Axelrod
At 15, musician John Legend wrote an essay proclaiming he would one day become a famous singer and use his platform to advance civil rights. His words ended up being particularly prescient; he has since spent his life pursuing dual paths of artistry and social justice. For the 500th episode of The Axe Files, John talks with David about his musical roots in the church, his consulting gig at Boston Consulting Group while waiting for his big break, his focus on fighting for criminal justice reform, his disgust over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and navigating the intersection of celebrity and political activism.
Aug 4, 2022
Best of The Axe Files: Sen. Bernie Sanders The Axe Files with David Axelrod
As we prepare for the 500th episode of The Axe Files, we take a look back at the show’s very first episode featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders. David spoke with Sen. Sanders in September 2015, just a few months after he announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. In this episode, Sen. Sanders talks with David about his childhood in Brooklyn, his presidential campaign, and his stance on selfies.
Jul 28, 2022
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