The Weekly Dish
The Dishcast with Andrew Sullivan
Isikoff & Klaidman On Trump's Trial In Georgia

Isikoff & Klaidman On Trump's Trial In Georgia

The reporters have a new book on the conspiracy case.

Michael Isikoff is the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, where he is also editor-at-large for reporting and investigations. Daniel Klaidman is the editor-in-chief for Yahoo News. The veteran reporters have new a book called Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election. We had a lively chat!

You can listen right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — the violent threats spurred by Trump’s conspirators, and the hero of the Georgia case — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: Mike as head of his college paper during Watergate and then working at the WaPo; Dan growing up with his dad at the WaPo during the WoodStein era; his mother a Holocaust survivor; Georgia as “ground zero for the most undemocratic plot in US history”; the Hugo Chavez conspiracy theory; Sidney Powell plotting a break-in and offering the henchmen preemptive pardons; Giuliani “drunk out of his mind”; the cyber-heist of Dominion software and voter data; Lin Wood and QAnon; the absurd Eastman memo; knowing the 2020 lawsuits would fail but nevertheless pressure the Electors; unfounded claims of ballot stuffing; Ruby Freeman and her daughter; Giuliani’s “racial dog whistles”; the infamous call to Raffensperger to “find votes” and “recalculate”; Stacey Abrams; whether Trump cynically or sincerely believed the election was stolen; Mike Flynn; whether the transfer of power was ever really in jeopardy; the principled Pence; the courts holding firm against Trump; autocracy as a “gradual slow burn” (e.g. Hungary); Fani Willis; her Black Panther father who dated Angela Davis; Fani’s sexual relationship with a prosecutor in the Georgia case after she hired him; the terrible optics of it all; the tough-on-crime campaign she ran in 2020 and getting endorsed by the police union; Barr and Esper keeping Trump from using the Insurrection Act; Trump fundraising off his mugshot; and whether he will have the same guardrails in a second term.

Browse the Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy (the first 102 are free in their entirety — subscribe to get everything else). Coming up: Nate Silver on the 2024 race, Christian Wiman on resisting despair as a Christian, Jeffrey Rosen on the pursuit of happiness, George Will on Trump and conservatism, and Abigail Shrier on why the cult of therapy harms children. Please send any guest recs, dissents, and other pod comments to

From a big fan of our latest episode:

I just reached my first-year anniversary as a paid subscriber! Very glad to be renewing for another year. I just finished listening to the episode with Justin Brierley, and I think it might be my favorite episode yet. Incredible guest and great conversation, which helped me with my own struggles with the faith.

On a more urgent note, I have a few people in my life who are struggling much more than myself — for example, my brother who is a recovering alcoholic, in and out of jail and rehab for over a decade. The bits near the end of this episode where you guys spoke about the “meaning crisis,” and the need for people to find God more than ever — it really resonated with me when I think of my brother and others who are in very real danger of losing their lives because of a lack of meaning, a lack of God.

Another also “really enjoyed your conversation with Brierley”:

As a committed atheist, I resonated with the nuanced way in which you discussed Christian faith as something between literal and metaphorical. The idea that humans have a religious impulse that will express itself one way or another is something I have come to accept as well.

Your discussion about the New Atheists, however, was overly dismissive. I strongly recommend you invite Sam Harris on the Dishcast. While I understand that some atheists sound as dogmatic in their lack of belief as the faithful do in their belief, Sam has done a great job of articulating ideas around developing an ethics and moral compass without belief in God.

He is also the best person I know to discuss non-Western traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism that preceded Christianity by 100s of years (and maybe by over a millennium). While many believers in the Abrahamic religions dismiss Hinduism as “idolatry”, that is not quite the case. And the idols are better understood as symbols, just like the crucifix is in Christianity. These religions have a very rich ethical framework around right thought, action, and duty, which have several things in common with Christian tradition, but perhaps some important difference as well. 

Thanks always for the fun and entertaining conversations. I am a very happy subscriber.

If you’d like to join him, subscribe here. Sam Harris has been on the Dishcast before — on Trump, wokeness, and the 2020 election — but maybe we’ll have him back to talk religion and fundamentalism. (He and I debated the topic 17 years ago in a long back-and-forth over email.) I should add that I have every respect for Buddhism, and for meditation.

Another listener on the “meaning crisis”:

I came of age politically in the early 2000s and had a deeper hostility to religion than almost anyone I knew. I longed for a time when we could shake ourselves of those silly superstitions and the intolerant views they led to, and transition to a golden age of logic and reason. I also despised what I regarded (and still regard) as a largely insincere and cynical attempt by the Bush administration to use religion to advance its indefensible positions, splashing in a few Bible verses into speeches.

It did not take me long, though, to realize that the absence of religion in the West does not lead to an increase in rational thought. On the contrary, people are so often left with a giant void from which to derive meaning, purpose, and a way to explain the mysteries and injustices of life. They turn to substitute religions that are often much more fanatically held and impervious to doubt. Many of them are far more dangerous, because they need a fundamental reorganization of society, instead of a private observance of a higher cause. For example, there is no concept of “live and let live” when you believe the destruction of the Earth is imminent due to human activity.

More importantly, I came to realize that many of the most basic ideas and values I took for granted as being part of Western civilization might not exist in the absence of Christianity and Judaism. I’ve asked some nonbelievers why murder is wrong, or why human life is more valuable than animal life, and find that almost none of them have a good answer. Kind of big issues!

What made me change my thinking most are the developments in the MAID program in Canada. In less than 10 years, the country has gone from allowing assisted suicide in cases of unbearable suffering and imminent death that cannot be relieved by medical means, to seriously considering it for poverty, mental health problems, and minors. Some people might not consider MAID radical and dystopian now, but what will the program will look like in 50 years, once the West has further secularized and shed its general Christian ethos?

To me, the main reason anyone has even pumped the brakes on MAID is that the West is still living off the fumes of Christian values and structures. Because it’s all they have ever known, many people assume that matters like the inherent value of human life will always be regarded as such.

The Dish covered the MAID program here and here. Another listener dissents over the following clip:

What are the odds of life emerging in the universe? Come on — that has to be the least convincing argument possible. What are the odds that there’s somebody up in the sky that listens to the things we say and answers our prayers? What are the odds that there’s something out there that snapped its fingers to create the entire universe?

I do, however, love the conversations you have on the Dishcast and appreciate the opportunity to hear both sides.

Another dissent:

While this atheist finds a lot of your discussion of the existence of God circular and deeply flawed, I won’t bother with detailed rebuttals. It’s well-trodden ground: many of the particulars you and Brierley discussed were long ago tackled convincingly by your friend Hitch — not only in God Is Not Great, but also in the conversation with him that you aired on the Dishcast. I can’t thank you enough for that, and given last week’s topic, it’s worth recommending to any newer listeners who enjoyed the Brierley chat.

I do, however, wish to challenge a few notions you raised with Brierley.

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