Current Run: Season Four

This Week

S4 E13. Broken News


More than half of American newspapers are now controlled by financial firms. And while media moguls wring more from smaller staffs to squeeze out bigger profits, journalism hangs in the balance. Two seasoned j-profs share their hopes for the news business in the 21st century. Read more >


All over the world, liberal democracy is getting turned upside-down. Autocratic leaders are using populist appeals, the partisan media and the power of their offices to short-circuit thoughtful deliberation and political consensus. They flout the rule of law, unleash the police on their own people, suppress dissent and attack voting rights. So what can you do about it?

Join hosts Will Hitchcock and Siva Vaidhyanathan — along with leading thinkers from around the world — as they put illiberal trends in context and explore ways to turn them around.

S4 E12. Criminal Laws

University of Virginia historian Deborah Kang unpacks the racist history behind American immigration law. Plus, two federal public defenders tell us how they’re fighting back against a discriminatory system in court — and winning. Read more >

S4 E11. Learning Curbed

School board meetings have been getting unruly lately, with parents decrying lessons on race and gender that sometimes aren’t even taught. The outrage may be manufactured, but the frustration it echoes is real, historian Natalia Petrzela says: Genuine shifts in public education have met pandemic fatigue. Read more >

S4 E10. Crisis of Faith

The power of white evangelical leaders in the United States has reached a kind of zenith. President Trump helped make their dreams possible — but Sarah Palin before him laid the rhetorical groundwork, historian Anthea Butler says. So did a little-known Supreme Court ruling in 1971. Read more >

S4 E9. False Flag

With a single video posted on social media, a little-known pastor launched a mass movement that helped oust the longtime president of Zimbabwe. But after a military coup kept the ruling party in power, pro-democracy groups splintered. So the struggle goes on. Read more >

S4 E8. Titans of Tech

The technologies developed in Silicon Valley launched Americans into space and laid the groundwork for the internet. But defusing the threats that Big Tech poses for self-government will take social and political innovation — not more gadgets or cleverer code. Read more >

S4 E7. On Edge

In October 2020, federal agents uncovered a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, put her on trial and possibly start a civil war. Given America’s current political climate, the idea may not have been so far-fetched. Read more >

S4 E6. Body Politics

The Supreme Court may dismantle the constitutional right to abortion found in Roe v. Wade. Either way, journalist Rebecca Traister says, abortion rights have never been secure in America. Read more >

S4 E5. Telltale Coup

Smedley Butler had served his country in nearly every foreign conflict of the early 20th century, earning him monikers like the “Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye.” But when a visitor tried to enlist him in one last mission, Butler had this warning: I am going to ... lick the hell out of you. Read more >

S4. Special Episode: War Comes to Ukraine

Western powers are taking extraordinary action to isolate and punish Russia as it wages war on its neighbor. This week we speak to a Ukrainian expat in Canada as she agonizes over the fate her native land and her family. The sanctions, says journalist Jane Lytvynenko, are long overdue. Read more >

S4 E4. Locked and Loaded

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Weird commas and all, historian Carol Anderson says the Second Amendment was drenched from the beginning in Black blood. Read more >

S4 E3. The New Old Dominion

Sally Hudson brings an economist’s eye to her work as a lawmaker. Maybe that’s one reason the math on ranked-choice voting makes so much sense to her. With Hudson’s help, we revisit the state of democracy in our home state and assess the new governor’s first month in office. Read more >

S4 E2. Disconnected

You’ve heard us gripe about conspiracy theories and disinformation flooding the online ecosystem. But this time, Will and Siva speak with a colleague who argues that Americans need more and better internet access — not less. Read more >

S4 E1. By Unpopular Demand

It’s a perfect storm: gerrymandering, the collapse of independent media and the pressure tactics of interest groups are reshaping the legal landscape in America, state by state. Ohio writer David Pepper unpacks this nefarious game plan. Read more >

Special Episode: Insurrection Reflection

A year ago, a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol in Washington and tried to stop lawmakers from certifying the 2020 election. Now their enablers in Congress and in the media have painted them as patriots and victims. Read more >

Archive: Season Three

Myanmar, Ukraine, Haiti, Charlottesville, trouble across the States — check out these shows and more in the three miniseries we dropped in the fall of 2021.

Plus, the anniversary of an insurrection.

Give them a listen.

Archive: Season Two

Russia, Brazil, climate change, the troubled relationship between democracy and capitalism — and much more.

And let’s not forget, an insurrection at the seat of American government.

See what you missed.

Archive: Season One

We were worried.

Really worried.

Relive why. After all, those demons are all still with us.

In the works


Next week: another look at the tragedy in Ukraine, this time from a reporter who has been there. And coming soon: the dilemma of social media regulation; plus our season finale, a show we’re going to be taping live at the American Political History Conference.

Want to suggest a topic for a future episode or tell us what you think of the show? Find us on Twitter or email

Our show is a project of UVA’s Deliberative Media Lab. It’s produced with support from the UVA Democracy Initiative and the College of Arts and Sciences, and syndicated in coordination with WTJU’s Virginia Audio Collective. We’re also a member of The Democracy Group, a podcast network that exposes the cracks and fissures in America’s democracy and equips concerned citizens with the tools to do something about it.

Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your audio.

Creative Commons License

Democracy in Danger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This license covers all audio available on these pages or directly from our RSS feed.


Submitted by Betty McCurdy (not verified) on

Robert Armengol was amazing. I would like to listen to him as cohost in other episodes in the future.

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