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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.

Best of The Axe Files: Anderson Cooper The Axe Files with David Axelrod
This Thanksgiving, we're revisiting a conversation with Anderson Cooper from October 2021. Anderson is now a well-known CNN anchor and host of the new podcast, All There Is with Anderson Cooper, but he got his start in journalism armed with just a camcorder and a fake press pass. Anderson is also part of the storied Vanderbilt family, which he wrote about in the book Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty. He joined David to talk about the corrosive power of money and how its effec...Show morets can ripple through generations, his mother’s life and her capacity for overcoming trauma, losing his father at 10 years old, and how he hopes his book teaches his children to feel connected to something beyond themselves.
Nov 24, 2022
Ep. 512 — Sen. Alex Padilla The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Just months after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in engineering, California Senator Alex Padilla was drawn to politics, outraged by a state ballot initiative regarding undocumented immigrants. He soon became the youngest Los Angeles City Council president and is now the first Latino senator from California. Sen. Padilla joined David to talk about the 2022 midterms, election deniers and voter suppression, policing and public safety, his relationship with California Governor Gavin Newsom, the diversity of the Latino community, and his dedication to immigration reform.
Nov 17, 2022
Ep. 511 — Speaker Rusty Bowers The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, is a Mormon and conservative Republican. He is also a sculptor and painter with a love of the outdoors who likes to sketch satirical drawings of his fellow legislators. After years in the state legislature, Speaker Bowers rose to national prominence when, as he said, he chose his oath to the Constitution over pressure from Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Arizona's results in the 2020 presidential election. Speaker Bowers join...Show moreed David to talk about his lifelong passion for art, how working with the Indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon changed his life, election deniers and what happens if they win elected office, the current state of the Arizona GOP, and facing off against Trump.
Nov 10, 2022
Ep. 510 — Major Garrett The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Journalist Major Garrett caught the journalism bug early, chasing fire trucks down the street in search of a story as a kid. He has since spent his career as a Congressional and White House correspondent, most recently at CBS. Major joined David to talk about the upcoming midterm elections, what he believes is hurting Biden and Democratic candidates, the state of democracy, and his new book written with David Becker debunking the myth that the 2020 election was stolen, “The Big Truth: Upholding Democracy in the Age of the Big Lie.”
Nov 3, 2022
509 — Rep. Liz Cheney The Axe Files with David Axelrod
In the span of 15 months, Rep. Liz Cheney went from House GOP conference chair to losing her primary by more than 30 points. Her fall within the Republican Party began with her vote to impeach President Donald Trump after the January 6 attack on the Capitol and accelerated when she joined the House committee investigating the events of that day. Rep. Cheney joined David to talk about Trump and his supporters in Congress, her work on the Jan. 6 committee, how the threats to American democracy go beyond the ballot, and her hopes for the country’s political future.
Oct 27, 2022
Ep. 508 — Maggie Haberman The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Journalist Maggie Haberman began covering Donald Trump as a reporter for the New York tabloids in the early 2000s. Now at The New York Times, Maggie rose to national prominence churning out scoops on the Trump White House. Maggie joined David to talk about her complex relationship with Trump, what she believes is Trump’s legacy, what a second Trump administration would look like, and her new book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.”
Oct 20, 2022
Ep. 507 — Cody Keenan The Axe Files with David Axelrod
In high school, Cody Keenan wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. But a challenging college chemistry course led him to pursue a degree in political science instead. He got his start working in the mailroom for Sen. Ted Kennedy, eventually becoming chief speech writer for President Barack Obama. Cody joined David to talk about the challenges of speech writing, battling imposter syndrome, the joys and frustrations of working in politics, and a whirlwind 10 days chronicled in his new book, “Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America.”
Oct 13, 2022
Ep. 506 — Doug Jones The Axe Files with David Axelrod
While in law school, former Alabama Senator Doug Jones skipped class to watch the trial of Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977 for his role in the deadly 1963 Birmingham church bombing, which killed four Black girls. Decades later, as a US attorney, Jones successfully prosecuted two others involved in the attack. Doug joined David to talk about the state of the Democratic Party and why Alabama voters have turned their backs on Democrats, why curriculum that teaches America’s flaws demonstrates p...Show morerogress rather than failure, his thoughts on Biden’s political accomplishments and Trump’s legal troubles, and serving as Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s guide through her Senate confirmation.
Oct 6, 2022
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
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