Slow Burn

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In 1978, state Sen. John Briggs put a bold proposition on the California ballot. If it passed, the Briggs Initiative would ban gays and lesbians from working in public schools—and fuel a growing backlash against LGBTQ+ people in all corners of American life. In the ninth season of Slate’s Slow Burn, host Christina Cauterucci explores one of the most consequential civil rights battles in American history: the first-ever statewide vote on gay rights. With that fight looming, young gay activists formed a sprawling, infighting, joyous opposition; confronted the smear that they were indoctrinating kids; and came out en masse to show Briggs—and their own communities—who they really were. And when an unthinkable act of violence shocked them all, they showed the world what gay power looked like.

Want more Slow Burn? Join Slate Plus to immediately access all past seasons and episodes of Slow Burn (and your other favorite Slate podcasts) completely ad-free. Plus, you’ll unlock subscriber-exclusive bonus episodes that bring you behind-the-scenes on the making of the show. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Subscribe” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/slowburnplus to get access wherever you listen.

Season 8: Becoming Justice Thomas
Where Clarence Thomas came from, how he rose to power, and how he’s brought the rest of us along with him, whether we like it or not. Winner of the Podcast of the Year at the 2024 Ambies Awards.

Season 7: Roe v. Wade
The women who fought for legal abortion, the activists who pushed back, and the justices who thought they could solve the issue for good. Winner of Apple Podcasts Show of the Year in 2022.

Season 6: The L.A. Riots
How decades of police brutality, a broken justice system, and a video tape set off six days of unrest in Los Angeles.

Season 5: The Road to the Iraq War
Eighteen months after 9/11, the United States invaded a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. Who’s to blame? And was there any way to stop it?

Season 4: David Duke
America’s most famous white supremacist came within a runoff of controlling Louisiana. How did David Duke rise to power? And what did it take to stop him?

Season 3: Biggie and Tupac
How is it that two of the most famous performers in the world were murdered within a year of each other—and their killings were never solved?

Season 2: The Clinton Impeachment
A reexamination of the scandals that nearly destroyed the 42nd president and forever changed the life of a former White House intern.

Season 1: Watergate
What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down President Nixon?

Recent Episodes
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Recent Reviews
  • angrylf
    Season 9 is great so far!
    Working my way through season 9 and it is nice to hear historical fact being reported where lesbians and gays get the credit they deserve - thankfully trans activists have not been shoehorned into the story claiming a part of history that doesn’t belong to them.
  • notafanofnewlineup
    I really like this podcast but…
    I don’t like how they put selective episodes behind a paywall. For example, the whole first season is available except the last ep. Which, I mean, do your thing, but it doesn’t make me want to listen to any more since I’m worried I won’t be able to hear the ending. Other slate podcasts offset with more ads, etc.
  • 6for5for4
    Great podcast!
    Enjoying this and looking forward for more!
  • DrDK2
    Season 9 is So Timely
    Season 9 is about the fight for gay rights. And the parallel with the current anti-trans hate sweeping the nation is chilling! Let’s hope we as a nation have learned from the prior fight for gay rights and motivate EVERYONE to stand up NOW and fight for trans rights!
  • The Real Zen Boy
    SB Is Great, but they keep dumping garbage into the feed
    The podcast Slow Burn is great, but they keep trashing the feed with garbage podcasts they can’t get anyone to listen to. Decoder Ring is absolutely awful. People talking about things they know nothing about and putting some stupid modern interpretation on it. They have also stuck One Year in the feed, which is pretty good, but I’m already subscribed to One Year. So I get double episodes. It’s so disrespectful listeners. If I want to hear these podcasts I will subscribe to them. They just don’t seem to have a basic understanding of how podcasts work. At some point, you realize it’s all about greed and trying to get more unwilling listeners to increase their ad dollars. So, I have unsubscribed.
  • B C V
    Great whether or not you lived it
    Each season is a great trip to the past whether it’s a decade I lived in or not.
  • Jack 204
    Weak
    First the childhood acquaintance that reports with obvious amusement that Thomas was a nerd and bullied. Then we have the college acquaintance who chuckles when he says Thomas had no game with women. Then we have the ex girlfriend who says he was a drunk and wore shabby clothes and liked porn (but she still dated him). Also, apparently he can’t dance either. Cheap shots by false friends who are probably jealous of his success or craving attention. None of this is newsworthy. Actually it’s all pretty common human experiences. It is a shabby attempt to shame and bully a man because you don’t like his politics. Waiting for the podcast about how well Hillary or Biden can dance.
  • RS-123
    Subbed to Slow Burn but get Decoder Ring
    I subbed to Slow Burn, not Decoder Ring yet it keeps pushing Decoder Ring.
  • Moshi Monsters
    Love the Zionist ads
    Stop antisemitism
  • Devlynmc
    Fascinating show, but…
    I love this podcast. However, Slate keeping the ‘Roe v Wade’ season behind a paywall is pretty counterintuitive to making that season in the first place. Don’t yall want people to learn this history?
  • Ccarre5
    Allows Israel ads to play on their episode
    Absolutely disgusting to allow Zionist ads on your show. Shame on you.
  • Mark48185
    Twist The Meaning to Fit The Narrative
    Mislabeling is a Liberal trend. Reproductive rights? To reproduce something is to produce something again or to generate (offspring) by sexual or asexual means. Abortion is the opposite of “Reproductive.” This is not an opinion but a scientific fact.
  • 1stUse
    Please do a season on Bush Jr and WMDs
    Great show - keep it up thanks
  • Abz.123
    Season 8
    Last sentence of season 8 is such a burn!! Looove This series. Listening 5 years now
  • legallybrunett69
    Fab
    I love this podcast. I listen religiously.
  • bostonme
    Slate
    Not for me Too woke Thanks
  • MotherDebz
    Evolution, Devolution and a Mirror
    I realized as a kid that the hearings were bogus and made me furious. I was an adolescent and yelled back at the TV that “SHE was the one who was electronically lynched, not HIM”. Having more diversity in the media has helped SOME but clearly isn’t enough in the era of “grab ‘em by the p*ssy” and senators who allow judicial candidates to skirt hard questions saying they won’t act as legislators from a bench seat with almost no oversight with weasely “settled law” or “precedent” nonsense. It is a boon that those of the Alito and Thomas ilk feel empowered to dissemble at such a degree that the USA has lost some reverence for the SCOTUS, finally. Nobody in power should be there for life and nobody in public service is exempt from accountability. Thanks for speaking truth to power and providing a platform for all people to reclaim our voices even though we do live in an ever approaching caliphate that denies the fact that the only mechanism available to regular people for a leg up and opportunity is often a government at some level. A State that considers and meets the needs of collective humanity is a key for a more equitable society, in my opinion. Your work is stellar, Slate. Thank You.
  • Lunatopia Productions
    The Plantation Podcast
    Liberal racism is alive and well, and this podcast proves it.
  • FYouRivalz
    Extremely glitchy playback
    Podcast content is OK, but I’d sure like it more if it didn’t seem to skip chunks of content and repeat other parts. Doesn’t happen to me on any other podcast.
  • kh-ne
    Episodes stop half way through
    The episodes that you don’t need a subscription for freeze about 28 to 32 minutes into the episode and will not play any further.The content is great, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t listen to it.
  • DarthJader27
    Don’t waste your time
    I got really into season 3, but the last two episodes are behind a paywall so you can finish it without paying $15. They did a really good job and had great content. Would have been a 5 star rating if I could finish.
  • Nikkitest
    Test
    Test
  • Owsleyowl44
    Great content, horrible playback!!!
    Most of Seasons 1-4 are subjected to random repeated content, only half episodes playing, episodes not playing at all. The content is great but if I can’t hear it I am frustrated.
  • bunnyravitz
    Remarkable.
    I was 20 when Anita Hill testified at Thomas’ confirmation hearings. I remember being outraged that they didn’t believe her but was too young, too inexperienced in the world to really take on the full emotional load of what happened. I am now staring down the barrel of 52 and have practiced as a white, female lawyer since 1997 and experienced my own versions of sexism and sex harassment in the profession even when working amongst fellow liberals and in the court system. I’m only 51 but remember being told not to wear pants to Federal court appearances or I would lose. Never mind the overt harassment I experienced every time I appeared in state court (in ‘liberal’ New York, now less) and at the hands of colleagues and coworkers. And I had white privileged that provided a measure of bubble wrap to my experiences that women of color did/so not. The humanity you imparted to Professor Hill while laying bare her trauma - no less stunning and painful than that of Christine Blasey-Ford - could not have been in easy tightrope to walk but you did so beautifully. I also so appreciate your vulnerability in conveying your experience as a Black man against the dissonance of Thomas’ evisceration of case law that protected Black and brown students, voters, and others. I have loved all seasons of Slow Burn but this one will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you so much.
  • lordemsworth
    How dare they
    The last two episodes only available to subscribers! How will I ever know how watergate ends!!!
  • Sheep tracks
    Difficult subject well done
    I appreciated the respect given to all people interviewed for this, especially Thomas’s mother. The story is upsetting on many fronts but very important documentation of something we should all pay attention to.
  • papabev
    Good podcasts
    As always the left media can’t have any conversation with out brining up trump and their hatred towards him stick to the subject. Apparently if it’s a fetus it can die but calling it a baby is too far. It’s a left wing hit piece but what else is new they play to the audience’s ignorance for emotional reactions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going on a trip with a friend.
  • FCol8
    Great podcast
    Joel’s voice is great. This story about Clarence Thomas was very informative. I am happy I tuned in. Every episode was narrated great.
  • Lolapants
    Would love to hear more
    As a slate plus member of several years, i can’t seem to get access to the exclusive content for this series. It’s not included in the overarching, and quite messy, Slate Plus podcast hub, and I can’t seem to login to my account through here. 😩 any help would be appreciated!
  • wats spy gurl
    Beating down a blk conservative
    One star is man try to find any way possible to make this person look bad wonder why is it because he was a conservative and not a Democrat? Just confused, unhappy with the podcast.
  • LordFrieza91
    Hit Piece
    I cannot understand why people can’t figure out how to respect people you disagree with. You don’t have to like him, but have some respect
  • rudyard circle
    Insightful and informative
    Insightful and informative Thank you for reporting
  • cpaige1911
    Outstanding work Joel!!!
    Appreciate you for your work on all of the Slow Burn podcasts you have hosted!! Thank you again and keep up the good work… Also, as Josh stated, Episode 3 was truly a BANGER!!!
  • Rebecca.riot
    Impeach Clarence Thomas and Abortion is healthcare
    Edit to include newest season: Clarence Thomas and Kegstand Kavanaugh should have never been sworn in as Supreme Court Justices. People who dismiss women as casually and caustically as they do, do not deserve a mantle that allows them to make decisions over whether we should have rights over our own bodies. Clarence Thomas is and has been a bitter man with a vendetta, and who has no respect for women. Impeach Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Barret. Dear John Doe 1 2, You obviously don’t know what it is to menstruate, have a pregnant body, or give birth. You’re also clearly not a doctor, obstetrician, nor a gynecologist. You don’t know the myriad ways pregnancies can go wrong and threaten the life of the pregnant person. You also don’t know squat about biology, because life does NOT begin at conception. That is a strictly religious belief and does not belong in legislating, nor in a uterus that does not belong to you. You don’t know what it’s like to be a single mother in this country facing insane housing costs, childcare costs, rising food prices, formula shortages, minimum wages, and the stigma of being a single mother, or a woman in general. You have all the care for a clump of forming cells, but none for the human beings right in front of your face. Your opinion is fed by disinformation and mysoginy, and you can shove it where the sun don’t shine.
  • echo dog
    Superb.
    This was such an interesting, compassionate, detailed and incredibly well presented “story”. Understanding Justices Thomas’ journey does not make me agree with him any more, but it does help me to understand him a bit better. Great reporting. Recommending this to many friends.
  • Black Man hates coons
    Slow burn
    Good show, if you are non-black or a sell out you will probably think it’s “racist” about black ppl calling out a black man who hates black ppl
  • clothlady
    Season 8 incomplete and anticlimactic
    Listening to season eight about Clarence Thomas as a regular listener seemed very incomplete. I missed out of half of the story because I would have to pay for those special episodes, and the last episode just seem to hang in the air.
  • Dodgerdog 65
    People do grow up
    Life was tough for a black person in the south all those years ago. What Mr Thomas’ experiences as a young man is what made him who he is today. Why can’t people judge people by their character instead of their color. I still enjoy your podcast because I like to hear what the other side has to say. Despite what the liberal media says, Clarence Thomas is a great man.
  • Pods14679
    Excellent
    Truly great show.
  • runfastlikeagirl
    Beautiful storytelling!
    🙌love this pod!
  • gogreendtab
    Well Done
    Well researched, captivating narration, impressive ability to cover a lifetime in 4 succinct episodes that still left you feeling like you read an in-depth biography.
  • lovenews
    Fascinating…Absolutely Riverting
    I’d just arrived from Africa when the Thomas confirmation was on TV. Young me found that process fascinating and was shocked how it was all televised. Democracy in action, I thought. Fast forward to now, and I am truly disappointed and shaken by what America’s experiment is looking like. But I digress. I am fascinated by this podcast. A lot about Thomas now makes sense to me. Not an enigma. Just a survivor, by any means necessary. And an angry sad man. #inferioritycomplex
  • Loganfool
    Clarence is a disgrace.
    Clarence hates Black people, and he hates white people. He hates being black. He holds it against everybody! He sure didn’t close his hand while he was getting affirmative action. He was right there in line getting his share, but he doesn’t want anybody else to get it?
  • iris murdocock
    Excellent reportage
    My only complaint is that there are just four episodes. But I imagine if—as one of Thomas’s friend’s claims—this brother will be on the bench til his last breath that he will continue to scandalize SCOTUS and himself in the eyes of the American public. Great work, Slow Burn Team!
  • theshycholo
    Interesting from beginning to end
    Great podcast and investigating, I know have a better understanding of the man Clearance was and who he became.
  • Lanerdius
    Riveting
    The Clarence Thomas season is thoughtful, nuanced and engaging! Joel did an amazing job on this whole series.
  • parul jones
    Such a good season
    I learned so much about Thomas. I gotta say: I don’t like the guy, but I understand him and can at least appreciate his talents and smarts. Just can’t respect the man.
  • TTYllkubvgvbb
    So bias!
    Bias! No need to listen, typical liberal bias!
  • jaldenfig
    Job Well Done
    As he did with his previous Slow Burn seasons, Joel Anderson does an exceptional job putting together the narrative for this season. A gripping tale of Thomas’s evolution told through primary sources and interviews with some of the most important people in Thomas’s life. Cannot recommend highly enough!
  • cowgirlcarrie
    “Owned by someone else”
    Thank you for this important episode… the trial of Anita Hill was the first time my barely adult self truly understood what happens to women in the world. Have things changed? Have they changed enough? What is my role in that change?
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