Deep Background with Noah Feldman


Behind every news headline, there’s another, deeper story. It’s a story about power. In Deep Background, Harvard Law School professor and Bloomberg View columnist Noah Feldman will bring together a cross-section of expert guests to explore the historical, scientific, legal, and cultural context that help us understand what’s really going on behind the biggest stories in the news.iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries.

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Recent Reviews
  • Norwich42
    "I Don't Deal With Facts"
    You forgot to mention the death of The New York Times.
  • alucardi
    2022 + 2023 content status?
    I haven’t seen any recent episodes. Any reason?
  • false psychology
    Impressive !
    Reminds me of Charlie Rose debates and or discussions! Also similar to the Economist .. this is how I stay informed about important topics occurring everyday.
  • Tom Rubens
    Great podcast, BUT….
    Noah’s shows never fail to be interesting. I have learned so much from him and his guests. He clearly is prepared with great questions for his guests without pandering. When he disagrees, he does it with grace. The big BUT is this: I am a Pushkin subscriber and pay extra so that I don’t have to be assaulted by advertising. Noah betrays this agreement by having an advertisement featuring the most obnoxious voice this side of Tucker Carlson at the end of every episode. Not cool at all. There should at least be a warning that the show is a boot end and what follows is a paid advertisement. I’m profoundly disappointed with Pushkin and Feldman for this abuse of trust.
  • mc d-ren
    Facebook oversight
    This was a backslapping look how good we have done in creating and doing this thing. His answer on free speech was long winded and ridiculous. I got the sense these to men are super proud of themselves and take no responsibility for Facebook. Very odd.
  • Mr.Clark's
    James Carville
    Outstanding. That's one sharp set of eyes and ears. If Tarantino ever makes a film about politics, he would be wise to consult with Mr. Carville for dialog. Keep up the good work, sir. Cheers!
  • Nails-Chalkboard
    Get a better microphone.
    I love what Prof. Feldman has to say and his insightful questions, but I can’t listen to another episode until he gets a better microphone. The plosives and distortion from either being too close to the mic, or just poor quality make it impossible for me to pay attention to the content of what is being said.
  • City of Pittsburgh
    Spelled Pittsburgh wrong
    Episode 31 - forgot the H in Pittsburgh.
  • Dr lancha
    i love the show
  • Volunteer Listener
    Fareed Zakaria
    Thank you for this interview. Greatly appreciated.
  • ReedUSA
    Regarding Palestinian and/or Arabs and/or Israelis…
    Terrific episode! Just one bone to pick. Noah talked about Hamas launching “a handful of rockets.” It is my understanding that Hamas launched hundreds to thousands of rockets. Hardly a handful, if true?
  • Alexandria Law
    This podcast is amazing and really insightful! I have obtained a new point of view on many subjects that I had once never thought about. Thank you, Noah Feldman!
  • WalkFar
    Great interviewer
    Noah Feldman brings out the expertise of his guests. The last question is usually, What question did I not ask that you would like to answer.
  • marathon mom!
    Cryptocurrency show
    Trying to get my head around Bitcoin, blockchain and all that. I’m a definitely a tiny step closer but what stood out to me was Noah’s thoughtful and persistent pushback regarding the opportunity (?), responsibility (?), these “smart” people are averting their gaze from when it comes to energy usage. He wasn’t having any of the guest’s excuses and rationalizations. Bravo, Noah!
  • CrazyForSudoku
    Amazon and Inequality
    Overall, I love Deep Background. So much of our daily news diet is superficial, and Noah Feldman really digs into a topic and asks very insightful questions of his guests. His multi-part episode series “Deep Bench” on the rise of the Federalist Society was fascinating and revealing. The rest of this review is feedback on a specific episode. Because the overall quality is so high, that’s why I was disappointed in his recent episode on “Amazon and Inequality”. I’ll bring up two examples of why this episode left me feeling uninformed. Amazon is many businesses: a retailer; an advertising agency (one of the 5 largest in the world); a cloud hosting provider (AWS); and a logistics provider. Most of the focus of the episode was on the last, emphasizing the dehumanizing nature of the work. But when talking about alternatives, the suggestion was buying from other vendors such as local physical bookstores. Those books aren’t walking to those bookstores by themselves; there are logistics networks of warehouses and trucks that provide fulfillment to all those stores too. Are the workers in those warehouses notably better off than Amazon warehouse workers? I don’t know, and the show didn’t explore that at all. So I’m left wondering is Amazon being used as a way to explain a broader problem (logistics industry mistreats workers), or is it really just Amazon? Is it the nature of highly vertically integrated businesses to be like this? What about Walmart, another large, vertically integrated retailer? The second thesis is that Amazon (and tech companies in general) are increasing regional inequality by where they choose to locate their operations. Amazon doesn’t see like an ideal candidate for making this argument: even though they have a large tech workforce, that must be dwarfed by the number of employees in their logistics operations (warehouses, delivery). Hasn’t Amazon been building and opening warehouses all over the country to be closer to their customers to reduce delivery times? Wouldn’t that actually be creating new employment opportunities in many more places? Similarly, the pandemic has resulted in many tech and other knowledge workers who can work from home to relocate from expensive, crowded centers like Silicon Valley or Seattle and move to other areas of the country, including the midwest. How would that trend affect the author’s thesis? I haven’t read the book so perhaps author Alec MacGillis makes this all clear. But the interview left me more confused than informed.
  • RHJameson
    Always a delight - Professor Feldman’s grace, wit, charm, intelligence combine with a splendid range of topics - a great listen, learning around every corner - and I do go back and give more than a few episodes a second goround! Full marks!
  • Bill_Streeter
    News before it’s news
    This podcast regularly surprises by being out in front of issues that are important to us before we know they’re important to us. This is the program that made me realize that Coronavirus was going to be a devastating pandemic at least a month before it happened. It’s been instrumental in helping me better understand the world since. Highly recommended.
  • M_______L
    Next Level Analysis
    Really thorough, thoughtful analysis. I always come away learning something new. five stars!
  • lauren greil
    Great professor and great podcast
    Professor Feldman taught me in law school, and I greatly enjoyed his classes. I am also loving the podcast, which is always engaging, educational, and entertaining.
  • Marilyn Marin
    Love it!
    Reminds me of being back in Grad school. So honest and critical thinking. Thank you! 🙏
  • Blorpal
    Facebook oversight board is a jooooooke
    We all know that Facebook selected these people to ‘oversee’ them. There is a reason another board is being formed to oversee the oversight board
  • QuestR Chaz
    In my top 5 list
    I can give no better compliment. Then being in my top five podcast.
  • CEG 2316
    Episode 74 white Nationalism
    I had no idea. This episode is extremely important for understanding what is going on now.
  • Vegasmembers
    The world is changing very quickly. Feldman scoops up evolving topics, finds knowledgeable experts, and extracts the explanation thoroughly. I am a physician and his approach and explanation of Pfizer’s mRNA approach to developing a vaccine was extraordinary. But it wasn’t just the guest’s knowledge, it was Feldman’s interview, taking the reader into to topic and holding our hand that helped teach. The series on “Deep Bench” similarly explained a complex topic through the use of experts. Bravo!
  • pattiocon
    Noah Feldman is incredibly smart and articulate. I respected his participation in the impeachment proceedings. (Much good it did but that isn’t his fault.) But a couple things he has (rather glibly) stated or brought up in the recent past kind of grossed me out. The first was his friendship with Cheryl Sandberg. If they are so close he should use his influence to convince her that Facebook needs to seriously reconsider their algorithms and back off on fueling feuds in order to rake in more dough. I mean really- haven’t she and Zuckerberg made enough 💰 money? (See “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix). The second thing is the discussion of presidential pardons that dropped this week. It was very interesting but toward the end he and his guest started talking about defendants using the pardon system to get forgiven of their misdeeds. The guest was talking about high powered white collar criminals being the most likely to do anything possible to obtain a pardon. “They are used to pulling all the levers and using all their contacts to get what they want in life”.(that isn’t a direct quote but that was the gist). I wish that the guest (Seth someone) and/or Noah would have voiced a little more outrage around this subject. I think we all know the truth in this observation but it is exactly those kinds of people who have led us to our current political dysfunction, including the election of Donald Trump.
  • That One Lady E
    Noah is self-important and wants you to know it.
    Edit: Just listened to the Deep Bench series. My opinion of Noah is even lower. His ‘interviewing’ style has gotten worse. We get it you’re not conservative and you hate anything that may be considered as such. Wasted 4 more hours of my time thinking his ‘reporting’ would actually be better. Alas...I was wrong. Sorry to the Pushkin teams for the not great review. Your production of the podcast is worth 5 stars. Unfortunately, it gets averaged in with the -1 star Noah is worth. Noah: For the love of god, please let your guests speak. I get it, you’re a smart guy. You have lots to say. You want to impress your audience. You’re very eloquent. You were raised in privilege and went to Ivy League schools. But, you need to keep your lips together and let your experts speak. Period. I was pulled in to your podcast when it showed up in my ‘Revisionist History’ feed. I liked your chemistry with Malcolm Gladwell. I thought, ‘Self, this podcast will be great. Malcolm supports him, I support Malcolm, let’s get on this feed.’ So, I thought I’d hop onto this podcast and start listening. The sound engineering is impeccable. The topics are interesting, but I’m surprised that your guests haven’t reached out to shut your microphone off so that they could speak in complete and coherent sentences. Let your experts speak and only ask additional questions or contribute to enhance the topic. Don’t explain to the expert what you know about their topic. Maybe you feel inferior to Malcolm, as you did not talk over him or explain to Malcolm his own points when he was on your podcast. Please treat your guests with the same reverence and respect that you gave to Mr. Gladwell. Hopefully, since I haven’t made it far enough into the episodes, you have since changed your priggish ways. I sure as heck hope so as I plan to continue to listen. But, fix your bad habit. It’s obnoxious and you can do better. Thanks.
  • Tonysnyder1977
    Another Liberal Waste of Time
    Listened to two podcasts and had to give up. This guy is just a mouth piece for the DNC. What a liberal hack.
  • robertfrank72
    Love this podcast — deep dives into a range of fascinating topics. I learn so much with every listen Keep em coming!! In particular the deep bench series is so well done- fascinating, timely and necessary.
  • Ghm4
    I only signed on to this series recently but have been fascinated by all of Feldman’s episodes. He is smart, curious and particularly knowledgeable. And although he notes his personal political views, in these discussions he brings in a range of perspectives.
  • Sarah Felice
    Access to Great Experts
    Noah is one of the most arrogant people you could possibly listen to. Never misses an opportunity to talk about his fancy educational background or a prestigious career opportunity but this all has given him access to great experts so it is still worth a listen.
  • W.B. in washington DC
    A Must-Listen
    Thought-provoking. Super interesting. I learn something substantial from every single episode. “Deep Background” is well worth your time.
  • Senorita Anitala
    Deep Bench
    Complicated issues, explained so that the lay person can understand. A valuable resource to the general public. I recommend this to all those who want to understand the law. Thank you for your service.
  • FedSoccer
    A fan of the Deep Bench mini-series in particular. Detailed and timely, but never overwhelming.
  • MHugoK
    Deep Bench
    Well written, fun, informative, engaging sure to become a classic. Thank you.
  • gotoblob
    Deep Bench
    What a great series. Can’t wait for the next episode
    Word choice
    Wish you had said “equality” vs “liberty” in your discussion of progressive judicial goals. Much more inclusive and accurate
  • random123real
    Shallow background?
    Not worth the time investment, unless you like watching Jerry Springer.
  • melissabethk
    Deep Bench is Fantastic!
    I love this podcast and the new Deep Bench series is so interesting and a great listen! Can’t wait for more episodes.
  • teggebeen
    Fundamentlist Fumbling
    Your interview with Judge Jeffrey Sutton had me sorrifully chucklikng - I'm a retired Presbyterian minister, and listening to the judge sounded like dozens of conversations I've had with frightened fundamentalist christians. Frighted, which they all are, of making a miscall on what they believe about god, and frightened of what that god will do to them in some kind of a judgment day. The questions you asked the judge were wondrously evaded which an “originalist” or “textualist” has to do - they keep hiding in mumbo jumbo, pretending to have an unassailable point of view - as a fundamentalist christian might believe about “the bible” or “god says so.” It’s a position that doesn’t work, so challenges to it have to be evaded, or strongly condemned, and they need to keep talking with each other to bolster their courage, pretending to be “saviors” of a “corrupted world.” I would like to say to the judge, “Don’t be afraid of thinking for yourself, and don’t be afraid of working for the greater liberties, because if the Constitution has an original framework, it’s liberty.” I’m grateful for your work - careful, thoughtful, honest. The judge you interviewed may posses the first two elements, but entirely lacks the third, when it comes to history, how opinions are formed, and the patent pretending of Scalia and his school of “thought” claiming to have more than their fair share of the truth. Keep up the good work. Tom Eggebeen in Pasadena.
  • missliz
    Says things that are not true
    Refuses to go into historical context, or go deeper than a cartoon version of history. Wasted opportunity. The episodes on the Federalist Society are a travesty.
  • pmmcmu
    Great Podcast! A must listen.
    Great podcast!!
  • stuartsquires
    Shouting over top of your interviewee because you don’t like his judicial philosophy? Shame on you. You are no different than cable news.
  • atlantavoice
    Love the deep bench series !
    Highly highly recommend
  • Jena265
    A vision
    Please stop using Scalia and brilliant in the same sentence. This is a cult which is never brilliant but an excuse for not having independent thinking
  • lilnecky
    Finally, a great podcast!
    So obsessed with this podcast. I love the rigor
  • CharlesWesley
    Earnest Academic Interrogation
    Useful conversations about pragmatic approaches to real world problems. Bravo.
  • Ira Butterdud
    Good show, but is getting far away from background info.
    I am glad that Noah openly stated his desire to see trump defeated. It quickly becomes apparent that Deep Background really means it will only go to the “trump bad” level of deepness. I would suggest that Noah announce when he is leaving the deep background portion of the show and is entering into deep speculation. At that point, most of the guests travel outside their area of expertise. Before you know it, you’re way past background and into guesses and opinions, which are plentiful (and useless) on social media.
  • Bdawg1983!!
    Love the show
    This one of my favorite new podcasts. I love learning about the inner workings of politics and Noah does a great job presenting information. Too bad about the negative comments but sometimes the truth hurts.
  • Gnm98
    Free Speech...
    Just not objective. Too often a mutual political support group. No probing questions - Not much is challenged.
  • jerusalem gurl
    Free speech
    What I want to hear is how we change hearts and mind not the academic naval gazing which is not helpful. Jane Elliott’s classroom experiment as a part of every curriculum would be a good start start. If you have to be taught to hate you can be taught to be tolerant if not love.
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