The Scramble

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Lawrence Lessig recently ended his pursuit of running for president as a Democrat. But his mission to take money out of politics and fix corruption is not over. He recently slammed Connecticut Democrats who proposed suspending the state’s Citizens Election Program. He joins us to discuss his experience and struggles in running for president and Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Peter Hapak /

You may best remember Ana Gasteyer eating Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls as Margaret Jo, the NPR co-host of The Delicious Dish on "Saturday Night Live." She was also a real-life Broadway actor and cabaret singer, and she just released her new album of jazz standards, I'm Hip. We talk about her upcoming appearance at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center on November 24, part of CPTV's new national music series, The Kate.

Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Bob Woodward thought he knew everything about Watergate. Then Alexander Butterfield, now in his late 80's, told him there were other stories never spoken of. Woodward focuses on these stories in his latest book on the Watergate scandal called The Last of the President's Men. This hour, we hear from the legendary Washington Post journalist.

Also, the Wesleyan Argus faces an uncertain financial future. In September, the paper published an op-ed criticizing the "Black Lives Matter" movement. The backlash now threatens funding for The Argus next year.

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Public radio is one of the few places where you can avoid ads for daily fantasy football companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. If you go anywhere else on the radio dial or turn on the TV, you'll probably encounter at least a few commercials. Now the industry is under intense scrutiny after an employee at DraftKings won $350,000 at FanDuel using insider information.

Emily Stanchfield / Creative Commons

Our weekly Monday afternoon "Scramble" continues the conversation arising from last week’s school shooting in Oregon. As the number of mass shootings continues to rise, the nationwide discussion has reached a stalemate. Is there a different, more effective way to talk about guns? 

European Union 2014 - European Parliament

There's a lot of great TV. We already knew that, but the Emmy Awards reiterated that we live in a golden age of television. "TV is where you meet people who are recognizably people, people with whom you are willing to spend your time — either once a week, or in intense hours-long bursts," said Alexandra Petri from the Washington Post. This hour, we recap the Emmys.

We also preview Pope Francis' trip to the United States this week. His visit comes at a time of political divide and presidential politics.

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Does it seem like there are a lot of bears in Connecticut? It's hard to have a conversation this summer without someone mentioning they spotted a bear. While most of us are in awe of the size and majesty of these animals, most of us don't know much about bears. In light of this weekend's closing of Sessions Woods, now might be a good time to talk about what's already on everyone's minds.

Steven L. Shepard / Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs

Officials in France and the United States are celebrating the actions of three brave passengers aboard a train who thwarted an attack. Did these passengers do what you're supposed to do in that situation? This hour, we hear from a retired FBI special agent who will tell us how bystanders should respond to violence.

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Earlier this summer, we spent a full hour listening to candidates for "song of the summer." Now that summer is winding down, we’re still trying to figure out the winner. Was there a song you just couldn’t get enough of recently? We talk to someone who says for the first time in a long time, there was no "Call Me Maybe," "Blurred Lines," or "California Gurls" (for better or worse).

Also, one popular retailer for music (and everything else) is under harsh criticism. The New York Times reported on the working conditions at "The Everything Store."

In the final segment, we address tall person guilt. Should they feel obligated to stand in back?

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Athletes have always used their elevated platform to advance products and ideas. After a game winning play, it's almost expected to hear the star thank either God, the Lord, and/or Jesus. But you won't hear that from Houston Texan running back Arian Foster. He just came out as an atheist playing football for a NFL team in the bible belt. How will that play out?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Internally, NPR has debated when and where it is appropriate to swear. If the President of the United States says the N-word, should it be bleeped on the radio? Can a public radio host swear on a podcast? There are lots of questions about offensive language in 2015, with so many different mediums and changing social norms.

We also discuss news that Vice President Joe Biden might be looking for a promotion to the Oval Office.

Finally, is Yelp in a "death spiral"?

Jonas Dahlbert

In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Norway, most of them teenagers. He's serving a 21-year prison term, which can be extended. But in the meantime, he'll study political science at Oslo University from his prison cell. 

This week, the long-awaited sequel to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird hits bookshelves. Since it was announced, questions were raised about Lee's involvement in the release of this book. But now the conversation has changed to the content of the book. A New York Times review reveals the much beloved character of Atticus Finch was a racist during the Brown v. Board of Education era of the 1950s.

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In the wake of another mass shooting, President Barack Obama took the podium in the White House press briefing room to address reporters. The shooting in a black church brings up a "dark part" of United States history. "This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals," Obama said.

This hour, we explore several threads of the post-Charleston shooting, from the symbols of racism to the use of mental health to explain tragedy.

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You get that Facebook invite. You think to yourself, "Yeah, that could be fun." You get reminders in the days leading up to the event. As the clock ticks down, you think yourself, "I like the person who invited me, but that dinner starts at 8pm on a Tuesday night. Do I really want to go?" No, you don't want to go but the RSVP says yes. You did what Henry Alford refers to as an "aspirational RSVP."

Diana Robinson / Creative Commons

Lots of awards were handed out in New York this weekend. The annual Tony Awards were given to the best Broadway productions of the year. But no amount of theatrical showmanship could top what happened in the Belmont Stakes.

American Pharoah completed horseracing's elusive Triple Crown.  Finishing a few lengths behind him in third place was Keen Ice, who is part-owned by two Connecticut residents. This hour, we speak with one of the local owners.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Last week, we went up to do our annual live show from Great Barrington, Massachusetts at the Berkshire International Film Festival. Our usual host, The Triplex, had technical problems, so we pulled the plug with a few minutes left to go, which is why you heard a re-run about movie trailers. Meanwhile, we recorded this show so you could hear it today.

Yusuf Syed

If you listen to public radio, you probably know her name. If you don’t listen to public radio, then you probably know her name from the massively popular Serial podcast. Julie Snyder is the senior producer of This American Life and she’s the co-creator of that show’s spinoff podcast, which told the story of Hae Min Lee's murder in 1999 and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The discussion about race and police started long before the recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, Staten Island, and many other communities. Last year, former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN analyst Doug Glanville was questioned by West Hartford police in his own Hartford driveway while shoveling snow. That led to his widely distributed and discussed piece, "I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway." This year, Glanville took it a step further and became a vocal supporter of legislation that would limit the jurisdiction of police when enforcing local ordinances.

Robert D. Ward / Public Domain

Former general and CIA director David Petraeus will not go to jail for leaking classified information to his biographer and mistress. Last week, he was sentenced to two years probation and a fine. Meanwhile, other leakers without the stars or stature are spending years behind bars. There are other discrepancies in military justice too. This hour, we talk to journalist Peter Maass from The Intercept.

Also we check in on local Nepalese residents who are grappling with this weekend's earthquake in their home country.

Wally Gobetz / Creative Commons

Patriots' Day is a time for celebration in Boston and across the nation. The biggest event held on this day every year is the Boston Marathon, which has turned it into a day for remembrance as well. The second race since the 2013 bombings is underway and this hour, we check-in with a public radio reporter at the finish line.

Also, the UConn Foundation has been under increased scrutiny both in the media and at the state capitol where a bill that would open up the non-profit to the state's Freedom of Information laws, was defeated.

Finally, we talk Star Wars with someone who actually took a ride in a X-Wing! Really. Ok - kind of really.

Drew Bennett / Creative Commons

The stage is set for the national championship in men's Division I college basketball. Sure, your team might not be there, but you know who to root against in Monday night's game: Duke. Why? This hour, we ask that question of a filmmaker who produced a film on one of Duke's biggest villains.

Also, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is everywhere on the cable news circuit lately. Is his national star rising, or does it just seem that way in Connecticut?

Finally, what are the takeaways from a review of a retracted Rolling Stone report on campus sexual assault?

The Scramble Goes Clear

Mar 30, 2015
Aaron Stroot / Creative Commons

This weekend, HBO premiered a documentary about the Church of Scientology that has been generating headlines and controversy for months. What new information was learned from the film? This hour, we talk with someone who has written extensively about the church.

Also, a "religious freedoms" bill was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Some businesses in the state are already receiving backlash from customers who won't do business in the state because of the law. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to announce an executive order that will ban state-funded travel to Indiana. However, Connecticut is one of 19 other states with similar religious freedom laws on the books.

Marle Hale / Creative Commons

On Wednesday we find out the finalists for Hartford's new minor league baseball team. Will it be the Hartford Blue Frogs? How about the Hartford Honey Badgers? Do you like the Hartford Yard Goats better? I got it! How about the Hartford Huckleberries! What do you mean it's not on the list? 

This hour, lots of people call and tweet with their favorites. Take a listen. 

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Arthur Chu argues that Andrew Jackson is the worst president we've ever had, and his face should be removed from the $20 bill. For starters, Andrew Jackson removed about 46,000 Native Americans from their established homelands to make way for White settlement leaving a "Trail of Tears" of starvation, disease, and death.

That's just the beginning of a long line of horrors: he annexed Florida, executed militia members after the War of 1812, and dismantled the central bank to push wildcat banks. Maybe America has never been a paragon of the ideals we hold dear, and maybe America would rather forget our past than deal with it. 

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There is a lot of news about the fallibility of memory. Brian Williams is currently out of the NBC Nightly News anchor chair because of problems with some of his war stories. Coincidentally, Maria Konnikova wrote about "flashbulb memories" for the, which is what Williams' problems may be attributed to.

This weekend, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted a request to review the case of Adnan Syed. His conviction of murdering his ex-girlfriend was the subject of the podcast Serial, but in many ways was also about memory.

In many high schools over the last few decades, students have been introduced to author Harper Lee through her debut and only novel To Kill A Mockingbird. Many people never expected a follow-up book but last week, it was announced that Go Set A Watchman will be released later this year.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We decided to bow to reality, and make this hour all about getting ready for the storm. You’ve heard about the storm, right? We begin today with NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan, and find out why this particular storm has his profession in such a lather.

Then we move on to what most -- ideally all -- of you will be doing from Monday night through Wednesday morning: staying put.

Culture critic Linda Holmes and I will discuss some viewing recommendations. Watch them until the power goes out. If and when that happens, maybe you’ll still be able to read. You’ve still got time to add to your e-reader or physically pick up some of the books our final guest John Warner and I will be discussing. Warner is one of the commentators in a March tournament of literary fiction.

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The Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2014 is vape. I can get behind that. It's a word that describes something a lot of people are doing and it really did come of age in the last 12 months. The American Dialect Society, not so much. Their controversial word of the year is #blacklivesmatter, which is not a word or even close to being one word.

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Today on the Scramble, we talk to two cartoonists about the road ahead from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I'm still wrestling with some of my own questions about what this story means to the world of satire, which I consider vitally important to the health of the world.

Mark Wyman / Creative Commons

The year is off to a tumultuous and sad start. Some New York Police Department officers continued their protest of Mayor Bill de Blasio at a funeral for a fallen colleague and reducing arrests for minor offenses. The protest is entering what Matt Taibbi described as "surreal territory." We also remember the iconic ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott, who died Sunday. Finally, we discuss the news out of New Haven that The Anchor served its last drink this weekend.