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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. 536 — Michael Wilbon The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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
Ep. 535 — Sen. Mark Kelly The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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
Ep. 534 — Gretchen Carlson The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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
Ep. 533 — Gov. J.B. Pritzker The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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
Ep. 532 — Rep. Katie Porter The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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
Ep. 531 — Brandon Johnson The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Chicago mayor-elect Brandon Johnson started his campaign trailing in the polls with little name recognition among Chicago voters. But with the help of the Chicago Teachers Union, the former teacher and CTU organizer built a progressive movement, ultimately winning the mayor’s race. Mayor-elect Johnson joined David to talk about growing up as one of 10 children, his introduction to politics, making the shift from teaching to organizing, his philosophy on public safety and policing, and what he sees for Chicago’s future.
Apr 27, 2023
Ep. 530 — Asa Hutchinson The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson recently announced he’s running for president in 2024. While Gov. Hutchinson has less name recognition than other Republican primary contenders—primarily\ Donald Trump—he hopes to draw a contrast between himself and other candidates by eschewing outrage and focusing instead on bringing back civility and traditional conservative values to the GOP. After serving in Congress and holding leadership roles at the Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of...Show more Homeland Security, Gov. Hutchinson hopes his track record will speak for itself. Gov. Hutchinson joined David to talk about growing up in rural Arkansas, his stance on abortion, why he thinks improving mental health is the best way to combat gun violence, why he is critical of Alvin Bragg's prosecutorial judgement, and why he believes Trump can’t win in 2024.
Apr 20, 2023
Ep. 529 — Neil King Jr. The Axe Files with David Axelrod
From trying his hand as a monk at a monastery in Sri Lanka to reporting from Prague following the collapse of the Soviet Union, former reporter Neil King has traveled all over the world. In March 2021, he set out on a different kind of journey, walking from his home in Washington, D.C. to New York City. Along the way, he hoped to explore “a founding slice” of the country and take the pulse of present-day America. Neil joined David to talk about his decades as a reporter, his battle with esophageal cancer, the people he met and lessons he learned on his 26-day walk, and his new book, “American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal.”
Apr 13, 2023
Best of The Axe Files: Christiane Amanpour The Axe Files with David Axelrod
This week, we revisit a 2017 conversation with CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. She joined David in London to discuss growing up in Iran during the revolution, her experience covering the first Gulf War, her relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr., the refugee crisis, and much more.
Apr 6, 2023
Ep. 528 — Theo Epstein The Axe Files with David Axelrod
Theo Epstein made a name for himself in baseball by helping teams facing significant championship droughts, like the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, capture World Series wins using data and analytics. He now works for Major League Baseball, where he helped develop new rules intended to move the game away from data-driven play and improve the flow and entertainment value of the game. For opening day, Theo talked with David about the new rules this baseball season, the impact they’ll have on players and fans, and why he believes they’ll help the game “get closer to the very best version of baseball.”
Mar 30, 2023
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