Death, Sex, and Money’s Anna Sale on bringing empathy to politics

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There’s much talk of “empathy” in today’s politics, but it’s a cramped, weaponized form of empathy — an empathy designed to force us to grudgingly tolerate each other, or an empathy used to explain away the reasons we hurt each other.
You can glimpse something better in the space Anna Sale creates on the WNYC podcast Death, Sex, and Money. Her show is, in this moment, powerful; the empathy she extends to her guests feels real and deep; the conversations she holds are bracingly difficult while still being honest and kind.
Sale, it turns out, developed the idea for Death, Sex, and Money when she was a reporter covering politics, shouting questions at Anthony Weiner, crisscrossing the campaign trail. As we discuss in this podcast, that’s no accident.
Sale and I talk about what she learned covering politics, as well as how she’d cover it if she were to do it again today. We dive into her interviewing technique — you’ll hear her turn it on me more than once — and the wonderful story behind her marriage, in which former Sen. Alan Simpson plays an unexpected but crucial role. We talk about death, about religion, and about what she learned from Bill Withers. Enjoy!
Books:
  • “Goodnight Moon," by Margaret Wise Brown
  • "Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood," by Kai T. Erikson
  • “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls," by Mary Pipher

75 episodes available. A new episode about every 6 days averaging 78 mins duration .