Best of In the Bubble: How Will COVID-19 End? (with Ed Yong)
Enjoy this Best of In the Bubble episode featuring Andy’s riveting conversation with The Atlantic’s Ed Yong, the journalist Andy thinks has done the best job writing about and analyzing the pandemic. We’re highlighting this conversation in part because Ed recently returned to writing about the pandemic after a few months away on book leave. They discuss America’s failed response, how this whole thing might end, and why wanting things to go back to “normal” isn’t the right mindset.
Check out In the Bubble’s Twitter account @inthebubblepod.
Follow Ed Yong on Twitter @edyong209.
Keep up with Andy in D.C. on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Read all of Ed Yong’s COVID-19 reporting in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ed-yong/
- Check out The New York Times piece “The Pandemic in Six-Word Memoirs” Ed mentions in today’s show: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-poetry-memoirs.html
- Read the paper Ed talks about by historian Howard P. Segal on “America as Techno-Fix Nation:” https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/utopianstudies.28.2.0231
To follow along with a transcript and/or take notes for friends and family, go to www.lemonadamedia.com/show/in-the-bubble shortly after the air date.
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia. For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com.
Andy Slavitt, Ed Yong
Andy Slavitt 00:06
Welcome to IN THE BUBBLE. This is Andy Slavitt. Ed Yong today. As you know, if you’ve been listening to this show, I have been working up to this episode, I’ve got my best game for who I think is the best gamer in the pandemic game. He is just an unbelievable writer, thinker, person who understands the issues and explains them extremely well. You are going to be blown away, I will be surprised that this isn’t one of your favorite episodes. Tell your friends. And by the way, he speaks with an English accent, which just works it really kills. Anyway. Here’s Ed.
Hey, can you hear me?
Okay, great. Does it sound okay?
You sound British.
I’ll take that as Yes.
I think you saw I wrote this on Twitter last night. But I don’t know if you appreciate the analogy. But I think what Ronan Farrow did for the Me-Too movement is essentially who you are to pandemic and the pandemic response, the long form pieces that you’ve written. And I’m sure most people have read them by now. And if, if you have if you’re listening, and you haven’t, you probably should stop listening and go read them or listen and then go read them. But incredible journalism, which I think does something that I haven’t seen other people do, which is combined the sociology of what’s happening with the science of what’s happening and explain it to people in a really, really nice way. So it’s great to have you on.
Yeah, it’s a delight to be here. Thanks for having me.
All right. So in the spirit of man, woman, person, camera TV, give us the five words that would describe what you think is the couple of mind when you think about our pandemic response.
Ed Yong 02:06
Didn’t someone just didn’t The New York Times just do like a series of like, small six-word summaries of the pandemic, and I think I wrote it this morning, mine would be the same mistakes we keep making. Because I just think that we were going round in circles. You know, I’m sitting here talking to you in September. And it feels like, while we have made some progress since March, when I first really started writing these long form pieces, you know, it does feel like we’re sort of in a bizarre stalemate with the pandemic, and that a lot of the problems that we encountered early on are still the same problems that we’re wrestling with right now, both in terms of the things that we have, you know, the lack of PPE, the problems with testing, but also just the conceptual problems, like the arrows of intuition that have been tripping us up for a long time.
How do you think it gets broken, this stalemate, that, you know, you’ve painted an image in one of your pieces about ants marching in a death spiral? How does it get broken?
I don’t know. I think the first step has to be some kind of radical introspection. And that’s what I’m hoping to do with these pieces to show like, where we’re going wrong. And, you know, to reiterate, I think where we’re going wrong isn’t just about things. It isn’t just about people, although that is a clearly part of it. I think that we are not rising to the challenge in terms of thinking about this problem at the scale and scope that it demands, you know, this is the pandemic is obviously a planetary problem. It affects us all, it has happened over a very short amount of time, and, you know, it involves a virus that no one had heard about until, you know, earlier this year. And because of that, it’s very confusing. The whole pandemic has been just riven with uncertainty and anxiety and fear.
Ed Yong 04:17
And that’s making us lapse into unproductive modes of thinking. And I talked a lot about this in the latest piece, which has the metaphor of the ant death spiral that you know, we are going round in circles. We are going from one silver bullet countermeasure to the next without thinking about them all in unison. You know, we’re embracing false dichotomies, magical thinking, people lapse into this complacency of inexperience where they haven’t encountered the virus firsthand. They’re too lackadaisical about it. We’re too reactive and not sort of proactive. We’re blaming individuals instead of fixing broken systems. So many of these and they have affected our attitudes to masks to social distancing, they’ll affect our attitudes to the vaccine.
And with the ant metaphor, army ants go round in circles till they die because they’re lonely sensing pheromone trails in front of them, which loop back on themselves, they don’t have a sense of the bigger picture. Now, we theoretically have the ability to sense the bigger picture, we have capacity for things like introspection, you know, we can listen to the experience of others. But we’re not doing that there unless we actually do that. And unless we really look at what’s going wrong, I think we’re just going to keep on going in circles. So that’s why I’ve written pieces about things like these conceptual errors about why the pandemic is so confusing about why America has been defeated thus far.
I’ve noticed that you start by writing about science and you realize, we have the science, at least the science we need before a vaccine, which is unlike global warming, we have masks, we have the ability not to breathe them one on one another. And we’re not using them. So the scientific insights have seemed to gotten less important to you than these sociological ones. And you know, how much of it is first world kind of island special nations, all those things you described are things that are kind of concepts of privilege, silver bullets, magical thinking, etc. I mean, you know, it strikes me that in Africa, which has, I think, what is it 1.3 billion people, there’s only been 28,000 deaths.
Andy Slavitt 06:34
And so, one would have thought at the beginning of this, if we would have said, Ed, there’s going to be a global pandemic, and there’s going to be 200,000 people dead in the United States, how many would be dead in Africa? We both probably say, oh, that’s over a million, because they don’t have this sanitation capabilities. They don’t have a whole bunch of other things. But they are used to dealing with and complying with public health crises. How much of this is something that it’s just because it’s our first time? And we will, we will learn to get better at this?
Yeah, I think there is an element of truth there. I think a lot of the people who I respect have made this point that this should shake up America’s attitude to global health where, you know, previously, there was this very, like, arrogant sense of exceptionalism, that America led the way and of course, you know, in many ways it did lead the way it did provide aid, it provided the model in terms of the CDC. But I think you’re right that that exceptionalism provided an unwarranted degree of complacency. So that when the pandemic first started, a lot of people can just I think, simply didn’t really understand that it could be this bad, and that the country as a whole has been lacks in taking up measures that other places implemented instantly.
You know, everything from masks are very commonly used in East Asia to just taking more steps to check people coming out of airports, to do contact tracing that a lot of people in countries where healthcare isn’t so focused in hospitals are more used to doing. You know, in many ways, America has just done what the rest of the world has already knows what to do, like quite late in the game. And that I think, explains some of the country’s shortfalls early on, I don’t think it explains like the continuing pattern to fail at this, throughout the pandemic, even when the virus has reached American shores, and is really making an impact within the country. America is still, like parts of America that are untouched, are still failing to learn the lessons from places like New York, that sense of exceptionalism and complacency extend like is both is within country problem, especially as well as between country problem.
Ed Yong 08:58
And I think what this makes me think more broadly is the global health and public health communities should have this like intense reckoning of how much do we actually understand about the concept of preparedness? Like when I wrote that 2018 feature for the Atlantic about pandemic preparedness, it was sort of to try and answer this question. And, you know, if you look at things like the global health security index, which had America ranked as like the number one most prepared nation in the world, I mean, that’s just ludicrous in hindsight, I think what that tells us is our ability to assess whether a country was prepared or not, was just seriously lacking like either we were looking at the wrong factors, or we were not weighting those factors appropriately or you will not like properly grappling with the ways in which one bad prop one bad factor can like topple a lot of other things.
Andy Slavitt 10:00
Here’s how I put it in. Tell me if you agree with this. I think we had two gates. Gate one, we counted on. Gate one was the gate we use it a bola and SARS original, which was we will have some side that the scientists and some high-tech solution. And you know, I don’t think we could have just all described it at the time but the work of the CDC the preparedness, and so we probably at one point, were very competent, relatively speaking, if gate one. The problem is, this is a virus that penetrate gate one quite easily. And Gate Two is us. Gate two is our own behavior. It’s NPI’s. It’s like a technology system that has one layer of security. But once you get past that layer of security, it’s a free for all, you can go anywhere and do anything. And so I think we’ve been wonderful hosts of this virus once you get past our bouncer.
Yeah, I was reading so for that new piece on the pandemic death spiral. I read this paper by a historian named Howard Segal, who makes this point that America has this long history, since it’s very inception of using techno fixes to bypass social problems rather than actually fixing them. And that leads to exactly the situation you described, where we have all these layers of plaster, or like all these band aids sitting over these deep social problems. And if the band aids fail, like if they all fall off, then we’re just left with these like wounds that have been festering for decades and centuries. So you know, in the big magazine story I wrote about how the pandemic defeated America, we talked about a lot of these, like the carceral state to the weird system of employer-based health insurance. The underfunding of public health and, you know, the legacy of racism and discriminatory policies that have jeopardized the health of black and brown and indigenous and other communities.
Andy Slavitt 12:05
The phony individualism.
Right, exactly. And there’s so many of these. And, you know, if I think yes, you could argue fairly, that in a more competent presidency, those band aid solutions might have worked, they might have held the line. But if they don’t work, then you’re right, then there are all these vulnerabilities for a pathogen of this kind to easily exploit.
Right. And by the way, like, if you are ranking this bug, against the potential for, I try for simplicity to say there’s two characteristics of a bug that are important to think about relative to other ones. One is how contagious is it? Including, you know, that’s both the R-naught but it’s also does it spread asymptomatically, etc. And then how lethal is it? And there are far more contagious viruses, and there are far more lethal viruses. You could you could imagine a measles with an Ebola lethality to it that strikes either indiscriminately or it strikes children. And so we ought to look at this as our starter bug.
Because if we don’t figure it out here and look, the truth is that because it was low tech, because it was really predominantly low tech and medium tech, I mean, diagnostics are not super high tech, but they’re also not low tech, like masks. You know, we were like in Africa, it’s clean water and clean air, save more lives than anything else. Here, if it was something we actually had to do, it turned out we weren’t very good at it. But in some respects, it had to happen. Because I think, you know, it’s not like this is a quote unquote, new normal. I think now we’re back to the normal that we are living with this virus. And now, for something we’d like to call advertising.
Andy Slavitt 14:01
I want to ask you a question about another element, you wrote, this element of blame. So people are unhappy, people are anxious, people are lashing out. And it’s very hard. It seems very hard for people to actually just blame the virus. People have to blame the fact that they’re being meant to stay at home or that their favorite businesses closed, and many, many other hardships and I don’t take away from any of those hardships people are experiencing. But the question is, people have sort of come to blaming other people even to the point where I wonder, you know, people like Mike Osterholm and Bill Gates and Bill Joy, Larry Brilliant, probably yourself. I can understand before there was an outbreak people saying oh, those people are fear mongers. They wouldn’t be right. But you can understand them saying it. You would have thought that once this broke out the people hey, you know what? My bad. These people were actually right. And it’s amazing I’m finding people are actually doubling down, even in the face of massive death.
Yeah, and I think there’s so much going on there, right? I think the virus is invisible to the naked eye, which is already like stacking the psychological odds against us because you can’t see it you can only see when people are sick, you know, that creates that this long-standing problem where the pathogen itself becomes conflated with the people who carry it. And then it means that the crisis is very difficult to visualize and appreciate. So unless you are sick yourself, or know someone who is like stuck on a ventilator, then you don’t you know, there’s no like, there’s no orange sky with this, right?
There’s no, you know, there’s no like winds blow whipping in from the ocean. And then after the crisis is over. There’s no sign that like, lasting damage has been incurred. There are no like, there’s no floodwater, around your ankles. There’s no like charred buildings. You know, there’s no like telegraph poles blowing over. There’s nothing right, like, I can go for a walk around my neighborhood. And if I, you know, had been in a cave for the last year, I wouldn’t know that was anything different other than that people are wearing masks now. That’s hard to appreciate.
Andy Slavitt 16:28
You add exponential growth to that, which is our brains don’t accept naturally.
Ed Yong 16:32
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s very hard to visualize. You know, the virus has the temporality of the virus is tricky, because it’s both very fast, like you said, exponential growth. So when things are really kicking off, they’re really kicking off. But it also, you know, it doesn’t, it’s not like it spreads fast enough that it’s everywhere in the US at once. So we’ve had this patchwork pattern that I’ve also written about where it kind of allows people time to have a false sense of security, you know, when New York is getting crushed, other places get to look at their own communities and go, is this really a big deal, I’m not seeing it here. It’s sort of spread slowly enough to exploit our kind of catastrophic lack of empathy and our ability to like, look at what’s going on outside the bounds of our personal experience, and actually learn from it before we get, you know, knocked for six ourselves.
So there’s that. And then I think the last piece I wanted to say on this was that, at the best of times, I think people in general do find it difficult to reconcile when they have been wrong. And when new evidence really does shake the long-standing beliefs. And I think that act of you know, changing your mind becomes even harder when you have so much fear and uncertainty and anxiety going on. Right? Like, I desperately want things to be okay. And I want to make sense of this thing, which just feels like it’s shaking everything up. It has, you know, and I feel that pull myself. So I totally get why people are, you know.
Andy Slavitt 18:19
You’d love to look out the window and say, everything’s the same or it’s good, it’s fine. Because it’s you suffer when you think differently. And plus, we’re not meant to think about things we don’t know. I mean, we’re designed to think about whenever we think about an uncertain future, we don’t have the mechanisms to do that very productively. So this becomes challenging, right, because it’s by definition, uncertain.
Right. And there’s also the fact that there are so many forces marshaled against our shared understanding of what is going on, you know, I’ve said before that to report on this virus, on this pandemic, is like being gaslit, on a daily basis, by everyone from some rando on Twitter to the President of the United States.
Who is that another rando on Twitter? In another world, without an electoral college, he would be a rando on Twitter.
Yes. So, you know, it’s hard, I get why people are confused, because like, I have to struggle through this, like all the time to make sense of what is going on.
There’s a lot of people with these sort of observational theories that are by definition flawed; around questions we don’t know. And I think it’s where people bring their confirmation bias. It’s like, you know, the President of Purdue saying, college kids don’t get sick. You know, AirGo I have no problem having them here. I don’t care if they have cases, or the curve in Phoenix or Florida flattens and people say we must have a lot of T-cell cross immunity. And I want to focus on that one in particular. Do you think that is people clutching at a theory and false fitting? Or do you think there are natural forces that are reducing susceptibility, like T-cell cross immunization or something like it?
Ed Yong 20:18
So, I think it’s not a ludicrous idea, right? But I think that there is this natural tendency to grasp the kind of magical solution that is going to lead us out of this without us having to make any effort, right? It’s not an implausible solution, it just happens to be a very convenient one, which means that we should think about it with the critical mindset that is warranted. So with the T-cells, so this, for listeners who don’t know the background of this, there’s a few studies now, which have found that somewhere between 20% to 50% of people have T-cells, which are immune cells that kill cells that have been infected by specific viruses. So they have T-cells that react to SARS-CoV-2.
So what this means is that some people may have immune cells that are ready to react to a SARS-CoV-2 infection, perhaps because they have been exposed to other milder coronaviruses that are a little that have similarities to this new one. What we don’t know, of course, is whether the cells will actually protect us at all, like I’ve written about this, too, the immune system is incredibly complicated. And what you think is intuitive is often not actually what happens. So those T-cells might do nothing, they could make things worse, they could make things better, we won’t know until we actually do the experiments. And those experiments have not been done, regardless of whether they do anything or not. If they do, you know, T-cells don’t block infections, they kill infected cells. So they might reduce the severity of an infection, which would be great, but they’re not going to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.
Andy Slavitt 22:07
Right. So they wouldn’t account for lower number of percent, say percent positives in a location.
Right. And yeah, and I think that, you know, I think the thing that I keep on coming back to is that this is an incredibly complex problem with lots of things that go into it.
Including randomness, right?
Yes. Ah, yes. So, so much that and people forget that, right. So it’s very easy to look at, you know, I’m not going to name a specific place, let’s say, like state x, you know, did not do the things that everyone else did, and seemed to not have a high spike in cases. Therefore, all those things that everyone else did, were wrong.
Right. That has been a common line of thinking. And state x could be you know, in a state of America, it could be a country, it could be a city. But when you have something that’s this widespread, you just have a lot of weirdness like a wider pandemic is a weirder pandemic or stuff that happens at the far ends of the probability distribution will actually happen. And sometimes people will get very unlucky. So you might get like, people being reinfected early, which is what we’re seeing. Or sometimes people get very lucky. They’ll get by even though they’ve done none of the things that will keep them safe. And we’ve probably seen examples of those too. So none of these should be like falsifications. Like, you know, why pandemic, lots of stuff will happen. Some of it will be weird. And not every place or every person will experience the same thing all the time, even though it’s the same virus.
Right. Boy, it sounds so right. And sounds way too much complexity for people to want to try to understand if, in fact, they have an agenda. If they don’t have an agenda. I think people can follow that. But if people have a preconceived view, and they’re looking for confirmation of that view, then you know, they won’t go to that length, because there’s too much you can find that just supports everything you see. And I want to ask you a question at the end about voices and places to trust. But one of the things that I continually say is if the people you’re getting information from don’t frequently and I don’t need What’s wrong, I don’t frequently say we don’t know, I don’t know that you’ve got the wrong source.
Ed Yong 24:35
I think you’re right that like it’s very easy to find data that support your own agenda if you have one. But I think also, we all have an agenda here to an extent because, you know, we’re all being affected by this. And, you know, I think in the main, it sucks like we are, you know, I don’t think many of us are happy having a very great 2020 and so I do get the desire for normality, the desire to think that things are better than they are to the desire to have it all. Just go away, that would be great.
Don’t go anywhere, we’ve got to go earn some money to donate to charity.
You wrote a piece called “How The Pandemic Will End”. Let’s talk about that. I will admit, I played some, some models over the weekend, to just sort of ask that question, the question I was trying to understand is, how much does a lack of trust in a vaccine elongate the virus? And how much does it add to the death toll? I’d rather start with the broader question, which is, how do you see the pandemic coming to an end?
Ed Yong 26:02
Yeah, I don’t know just to make sure that you trust me, I don’t know. I think probably the least likely outcome for me is that somehow we get to eradication. I just think that that’s like so unlikely now. So I think that we’re probably looking at this being an endemic part of our lives for some time. And then I think the variables there depend on a large number of factors of which the most important of the following. So the extent and nature of immunity, like how long it lasts for either through natural infection or through a vaccine, the extent of, you know, for the moment the extent of preexisting immunity, whether through these T-cells that may or may not provide some degree of pre-existing protection, or the extent to which, you know, or the proportion of people who’ve already been infected and may have immunity through that.
There is the sociological factors that we’ve already talked about to how, to what extent will people hold the line in terms of measures like social distancing or mask use? How many people will actually get a vaccine? How effective will that vaccine be? Or how good will the logistics be in terms of vaccine manufacturer and distribution; all of these factors will be huge.
So let’s assume that we’ll get it wrong at first and get it right eventually, in all these things, there’ll be vaccines that have some level of protection, there’ll be distribution, that’s not particularly good. But that over time, we eventually get it right. First of all, do you agree with that? And secondly, you see that us getting to enough of a level where spread can be really reduced to kind of European green levels sometime in, say, 2021?
I don’t know, I would hope for an outcome like that. I do honestly believe that. A lot of it probably depends on what happens in November with the election, I think our chances of doing better in the future become considerably greater if there is a coordinated federal strategy of the kind and you know, the detail and thought for most that has been lacking until now. But I think that it is a really complicated problem. And I keep on saying this. And it’s almost like..
Andy Slavitt 28:30
Let me take it from the United States, then, to say, Germany, let’s sell for the election. Let’s say there’s a competent leader in a country that can be unified under those circumstances. How do we go from? Is it simply when a vaccine is ready and available? Is it more than that? What do you see as the key? At least question?
I mean, I think it’s more than that. Because I think that a vaccine, even in a good situation, a vaccine is not. So it’s not just a light switch that turns off the COVID era and turns on, you know, 2019, again, I think we are going to be in a situation where we have to deal with the consequences of this virus, even after an effective vaccine comes out. In the best-case scenario, the vaccine is incredibly effective and is rolled out efficiently, that will still take time. And it’s time in which things like testing and masking and tracing and all the rest will still be important. So I think that, you know, in the most optimistic timescales, we’re still looking at an unsettled and a difficult start to 2021.
I have a request, if we’re going to go back in time, can we not go back to 2019? Can we go back to like 2014 or something?
I think like, let’s just not go back at all, you know, one crucial point that I’ve made in past and past pieces and a little bit now is that normal lead to this right normal was a world in which we had a ton of vulnerabilities, social inequities, all kinds of problems that made a crisis like this that much worse. And that will also affect our ability to deal with global warming with drug resistant bacteria with the biodiversity crisis, like, all the rest, normal was great for some people, it was terrible for a ton of other people. And we can do better than that. And this should be a call to action, I don’t really want to call it an opportunity, because it’s an opportunity at like, at what costs like hundreds of 1000s of deaths? But it is a moment in time that demands the full force of our imagination. And you know, anything, we fail the challenge, if all we do is go, is ping back to like some earlier save point.
Andy Slavitt 30:49
You know, I thought that was beautifully said. I was talking to a couple climate scientists yesterday. And I was just struck by something they said, which was climate change is basically imagine the pandemic but there’s no mask and no vaccine.
Right. Yeah. Yeah. So okay, so earlier you asked me about, about this virus as like a starter pandemic, right. Like, it could be worse. And yes, I, in the main, I agree with that analysis. I think some people have argued that maybe it’s like, I’ll describe this as like the anti-Goldilocks virus like, right, it’s just bad enough to fly to cause problems, but not bad enough, just okay enough that it flies under the radar. Put that aside, I agree that it could be worse. But it’s not just to start a pandemic. It’s like the startup planetary problem. So it’s, you know, it’s in many ways, it has commonalities with things like the biodiversity crisis with climate change, but it is happening on a much faster timescale, which means that we can see more clearly what is happening, you know, we don’t have to wait like decades for the western states to start burning down before we suddenly go, oh, maybe we should have done something about that.
Ed Yong 32:10
It really should galvanize us. If it fails to do that. The problem is that there are so many other problems that are knocking on our doors, which don’t create the same kind of urgency. One of the quotes from the pandemic, that spiral piece I wrote that really has still shaken me is this is one from Lori Peek is a sociologist at Colorado Boulder, who says, you know, our ability to deal with these social problems hinges on us having a shared understanding that it is a problem. And it is really shocking that we have failed to do that. Because you would have thought that with a pandemic, it will be very easy.
Our ability to deny is far greater than I imagined. You know, I think if you are somebody who sees what’s happening more clearly, and in greater context than just about anybody. Is that a burden?
So, you know, I don’t know, I don’t think that’s true.
I don’t want you to answer that whether you think it’s true, because I know it’s flattering, and I don’t want it to be awkward. And I don’t phrase it awkwardly. But you know what, I’m getting it.
Yes, it is. I did this piece on public health experts who are burning out. And Nicolette […] told me this brilliant point that to think about preparedness is very hard, because it means that you’re constantly trying to look several steps into the future at the worst-case scenario, which is already like a dismal, horrible headspace to try and inhabit all the time. And it’s even worse than when the predictions that you make come to pass. So this is a huge crisis, it. It’s not just a science problem. It’s a sociology problem. It’s a political problem. It’s a cultural problem.
Ed Yong 34:19
Any of those areas on its own, would be enormously challenging to try and come to grips with and try and come to grips with all of them at the same time. Organize that in a way that helps readers and then explain it in a way that people can understand and appreciate has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. That would be challenging enough, even if the stakes weren’t so high, and the stakes are incredibly high. So look, I don’t want to be you know, self-pacing about it. I’m not an essential worker. I’ve got a pretty you know…
I understand the context. And I appreciate your honest answer. Look, I am grateful for long form journalism that still exists. I’m grateful for The Atlantic, for having you and others who I think are doing a great, great job in the Atlantic. But you in particular, and I could. I’ve got, like so many other things I would love to talk to you about. maybe it’d be willing, if this was not too unpleasant experience to come back and talk. It’s more?
Yeah, of course, I’m always happy to. And you know, I think that, you know, thank you for mentioning the Atlantic where I work, there is something important there. I think when I started covering this, when I started doing long form pieces in March on this, my editors were very clear that they wanted big swings, they wanted pieces that were huge in scope and ambition, and that would genuinely help our readers to make sense of this fast changing, difficult to grasp moment in time. And so the mandate was always to do work of this kind. And that mandate is rare in journalism.
Ed Yong 36:10
You know, if you had, if you had told me at the start of this year, I would spend like six months trying to cover, you know, this incredible story that is moving so quickly. But I was going to do it through the medium of like a dozen consecutive 5000-word stories. I probably would not have you know, that’s probably not where I would have thought to go with it. But I think that’s what the moment demands. And I think that’s what I had the ability and the freedom to do because of the place where I work.
I know that people who listen to this show would say they don’t look, they love bad news. But they love getting it straight. And they don’t need to get it in […] and hushed tones and people screaming. They just want to hear facts from people who are putting them out there because we can deal better. I think it’s a lot. I think it’s less scary to feel like you’re getting a chance to see the truth. And you’ve, you’re doing an incredible job of doing that. And you’ve done a great job at helping me do that in the last 40 minutes or so. So I really appreciated it.
Oh, thank you. I’m always happy to share it. Thanks for thanks for taking the time. Yeah, well, I’ll see you on Twitter, I guess.
Wednesday, Governor Andy Beshear from Kentucky, he will talk about that state’s incredible response. It’s not such an easy state to govern. He’s done a phenomenal job to gets very, very high marks. Then on Monday, Rajiv Shah, which I think will be fascinating, he is head of the Rockefeller Foundation, you’re really going to enjoy that. And then Wednesday, we have an eviction problem in this country. We also have the rent coming due at one of the most prominent addresses in the country, the West Wing, I thought it would be interesting to have a special episode on what it is like in the West Wing, what it’s like to work in the West Wing what it’s like to do business in the West Wing. And for that Pete Souza, who is the White House photographer in the Obama administration, and also in the Reagan administration is going to be our primary guest. And then we have a secret hidden surprise guest, not Donald Trump. Not Joe Biden. But it’s an enjoyable secret hidden surprise guest. Thanks for listening. Let you go.
Thanks for listening IN THE BUBBLE. Hope you rate us highly. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen produced the show. Our mix is by Ivan Kuraev. My son Zach Slavitt is emeritus co-host and onsite producer improved by the much better Lana Slavitt, my wife. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs still rule our lives and executive produced the show. And our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at @Aslavitt on Twitter or at @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you liked what you heard today, most importantly, please tell your friends to come listen, but still tell them at a distance or with a mask. And please stay safe, share some joy and we will get through this together. #stayhome