Want to get up-to-date with the current news stories of the moment? These podcasts dive deep into the topics currently shocking the world, including Jeffrey Epstein, Elizabeth Holmes and Brexit.
How many podcasts do you listen to? How long is a piece of string?
We are truly living in the golden age of podcasts, with more than 660,000 shows in the world producing more than 28 million episodes for us all to consume on our long commutes and runs through the park.
One of the best things about a podcast is that they are agile, by which we mean they can be easier to produce than other forms of audiovisual media and, therefore, can be some of the first pieces of reporting on some of the biggest issues of the day. Longform documentary takes time, but an in-depth deep dive via a podcast can be produced even as a story is unfolding, which makes is the perfect medium for tackling the most talked-about subjects of the moment.
Here are a few of our favourites:
BROKEN: Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein died in prison on 10 August while he faced charges of sex trafficking. But the scandal surrounding him did not die with him.
Every single day sees new information and victims brought to light. And BROKEN is here to help us make sense of it all, telling the full story of Epstein, his accomplices, and the broken systems that enabled his crimes.
Hosted by Ariel Levy from the New York Times and produced with Julie K. Brown, the journalist responsible with exposing Epstein’s crimes.
When it comes to the amount of Elizabeth Holmes content we’re looking to consume, the limit does not exist. (To borrow some Mean Girls parlance.)
We want to know everything it is humanly possible to know about this disgraced tech founder whose company Theranos allegedly defrauded investors out of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars courtesy of its inaccurate, inconsistent blood-testing technology. We want to know about her deep voice and the fact that she reportedly didn’t blink, and we want to know about the people who helped bring her down.
You can read the book Bad Blood, written by investigator reporter John Carreyrou, the man who first exposed the Theranos fraud at the Wall Street Journal in 2015. If you’re in America, you can watch HBO’s The Inventor, an in-depth documentary about Holmes’ fall from grace. And if you still need more, you can listen to The Dropout, an addictive five-part podcast that goes deep inside the Theranos scandal and sheds some light on how Holmes is spending her days in San Francisco as she awaits trial.
This podcast, which was also adapted into a television special, is an in-depth look at Holmes’ life, from her student days through the development of her idea for Theranos, the creation of the company and its inevitable downfall. Featuring interviews with former Theranos employees and investors as well as testimony from Holmes’ deposition as part of the fraud case against her, aired for the first time.
You Must Remember This
In August, it will be 50 years since the horrific murders carried out by Charles Manson’s followers killed seven people and shocked Hollywood.
And trust us, you’re going to know that it’s an anniversary, because before the end of the year is out at least three movies and many more books and magazine articles will be released on the subject, from Matt Smith’s Charlie Says to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which isn’t expressly about the Manson murders but is Manson-adjacent. (Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a television star who moves in next door to Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie).
If you want to get inside the context of the Hollywood scene in this era – something that Manson was fascinated with and motivated by – you need to listen to You Must Remember This. Hosted by historian and journalist Karina Longworth, each series of the podcast focuses on a different slice of cinema history. Other seasons have included deep dives into the studio system and a look at the life of Marilyn Monroe, but it’s in talking about the Manson murders that this podcast really comes into its own.
Oh no! A Brexit podcast. But there’s no way you could list the podcasts that go deep on the issues of the day without naming a podcast that talks about one of the biggest issues of the day. But we promise that Brexitcast, hosted by Chris Mason, Adam Fleming, Laura Kuenssberg and Katya Adler isn’t dry. In fact, it’s the opposite, a hilariously energetic way of looking at the thing that’s holding every conversation, news outlet and family dinner in a vice like grip. Listen to this and you’ll never look at Brussels the same way again.
Still Watching: Game of Thrones
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then you’ll either be elated or devastated that the series is about to end next month. And if you’re not a fan, well, we apologise for all of the stories about Samwell Tarly and Jaime Lannister killing the Night King.
If you’re a fan interested in preparing for the coming season, and if you’re an agnostic looking to get into Game of Thrones, then you need to listen to Still Watching. A podcast about television from Vanity Fair, each season focuses on the most-talked about series of the moment. And right now, there’s no television show more talked about than Game of Thrones.
Until the new episodes start, hosts Joanna Robinson and Richard Lawson are charting the 15 most important episodes from the back catalogue of the series, including the pilot, Ned Stark’s infamous death scene and the battle of Blackwater Bay. Each episode also features an interview with a key person from the Game of Thrones cast and crew, from directors to production designers and weapon co-ordinators. Only on GoT, right?
It has taken 21 years, but finally the world has begun to reckon with the shame cycle around Monica Lewinsky. The way that she was treated in comparison to the way Bill Clinton was treated during the fallout of their 1998 affair is telling. It says a lot about the way that men and woman in the public eye are treated completely differently, and no more so than when it comes to sex.
Slow Burn’s first season focussed on the Watergate investigation, but its second season dives deep into more recent political memory and exposes the troubling treatment of Lewinsky in a pre-#MeToo era.
In fact, host Leon Neyfakh believes that understanding the #MeToo movement, which is one of the biggest issues of today, is all about understanding the way that the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal unfolded.
“I think some people feel a lot of residual guilt about how Lewinsky was treated,” Neyfakh told the Guardian. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that guilt, that sense that ‘We got this wrong 20 years ago’ partially fuelled the passion with which people responded to Weinstein and the #MeToo movement.”
Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.