Maggie Haberman covers the White House for The New York Times.

“If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I'm being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about [the stakes]. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.”

Thanks to MailChimp, Bombfell, Babbel, and HelloFresh for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._254_-_Maggie_Haberman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24am EDT

Steven Levy writes for Wired, where he is the editor of Backchannel.

“It’s about people. Travis Kalanick’s foibles aren’t because he’s a technology executive. It’s because he’s Travis Kalanick. That’s the way he is. There is a certain strain in Silicon Valley, which rewards totally driven people, but that is humanity. And advanced technology is no guarantee—and as a matter of fact I don’t think it’ll do anything—from stopping ill-intentioned people from doing ill-intentioned things.”

Thanks to MailChimp, Audm, Rover, and Babbel for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Steve_Levy_Full_Episode_EDIT_2_-_NO_POST.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:46pm EDT

Mark Bowden is a journalist and the author of 13 books, including Black Hawk Down and his latest, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

“My goal is never to condemn someone that I’m writing about. It’s always to understand them. And that, to me, is far more interesting than passing judgment on them. I want you to read about Che Thi Mung, an 18-year-old village girl, who was selling hats on corners in Hue in the daytime and going home and sharpening spikes to go into booby traps to try and kill American soldiers and ARVN soldiers in the evening. I want to understand why she would do that, why she would be so motivated to do that. And I think I did.”

Thanks to MailChimp, LeVar Burton Reads, Babbel, and HelloFresh for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Mark_Bowden_Full_Episode_EDIT_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

Brian Reed, a senior producer at This American Life, is the host of S-Town.

“It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.”

Thanks to MailChimp, Babbel, and Squarespace for sponsoring this episode.

Direct download: LF170704_Reed_RERUN2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm EDT

Ginger Thompson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica. Her most recent article is "How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico."

“How many times have I written the phrase ‘a town that was controlled by drug traffickers?' I had no idea what that really meant. What does it mean to live in a town that’s controlled by drug traffickers? And how does it get that way? One of the things I was hoping that we could do by having the people who actually lived through that explain it to us was that—to bring you close to that and say, ‘No, here’s what that means.’”

Thanks to MailChimp, Casper, and Outside the Box for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ginger_Thompson_Full_Episode_EDIT_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm EDT

Patricia Lockwood is a poet and essayist. Her new book is Priestdaddy: A Memoir.

“[Prose writing is] strange to me as a poet. I’m like, ‘Well I guess I’ll tell you just what happened then.’ But the humor has to be there as well. Because in my family household…the absurdity or the surrealism that we have is in reaction to the craziness of the household. So something like your underwear-clad father with his hand in a vat of pickles, sitting in a room full of $10,000 guitars and telling you that he can’t afford to send you to college—that’s bad. That’s a sad scene. But it’s also totally a lunatic scene. It’s, just the very fact of it, all these accoutrements, all the elements of the scene—they are funny.”

Thanks to Audible and MailChimp for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._250_-_Patricia_Lockwood_-_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

John Grisham is the author of 38 books, including his latest novel, Camino Island.

A Time to Kill didn’t sell. It just didn’t sell. There was never any talk of going back for a second printing. No talk of paper back. No foreign deal. It was a flop. And I told my wife, I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna do it one more time. I’m gonna write one more book…hopefully something more commercial, more accessible, more popular. If this doesn’t work, forget this career. Forget this hobby. I’m just gonna be a lawyer and get on with it.”

Thanks to Casper, Squarespace, and MailChimp for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._249_-_John_Grisham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

Erin Lee Carr is a documentary filmmaker and writer. Her new film is Mommy Dead and Dearest.

“I feel like I’ve always had the story down—that’s not been really difficult for me. So the difficult thing, I think, for me, has always been access. Can I get the access? Can I withstand the pressure? You know, there’s been so many times where I wasn’t being paid to do the job, and I had to wait on the access. And it’s not for the faint of heart. You know, I could have spent a year and a half of my life doing [Mommy Dead and Dearest] and I could’ve not gotten the access to Gypsy, and it kind of would’ve been a wash.”

Thanks to MailChimp, Kindle, Squarespace, V by Viacom, and HelloFresh for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._248_-_Erin_Lee_Carr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27pm EDT

Ariel Levy, a New Yorker staff writer, is the author of The Rules Do Not Apply.

“I don’t believe in ‘would this’ and ‘would that.’ There’s no ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Everything happens, and then you just fucking deal. I mean we could play that game with everything, but time only moves in one direction. That’s a bad game. You shouldn’t play that game—you’ll break your own heart.”

Thanks to MailChimp, Kindle, V by Viacom, and 2U for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._247_-_Ariel_Levy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

Jeffrey Gettleman is the East Africa Bureau Chief for the New York Times and the author of Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival.

“I’m not an adventure-seeking adrenaline junky. I like to explore new worlds, but I’m not one of these chain-smoking, hard-drinking, partying types that just wants thrills all the time. And unfortunately that’s an aspect of the job. And as I get older and I’ve been through more and more, the question gets louder. Which is: Why do you keep doing this? Because you feel like you only have so many points, and eventually the points are going to run out.”

Thanks to MailChimp, V by Viacom, 2U, and Kindle for sponsoring this week's episode.

Direct download: Ep._246_-_Jeffrey_Gettleman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18pm EDT