Political Flavors

Fun Fridays – Podcast Review – Both Sides Now

Posted in Podcast Reviews on February 11th, 2011

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see that one of the descriptive terms I use for myself is “podcast addict.” I first got into them during the days of Air America Radio and they’ve since become an integral part of my exercise routine, daily commute and errand running. In no particular order, I’d like to review some of my favorites. To see all of my podcast reviews, click here.

Both Sides Now

Liberal icon Arianna Huffington debates Republican strategist Mary Matalin every week while Mark Green, a New York City Democratic politician moderates. It’s not as annoying as it sounds. In fact, it’s worlds beyond any television counterparts like the past Hannity & Colmes or the current Parker Spitzer.

Huffington is always delightful and brings her sparkling personality, sharp wit and intelligence to every show. Fans of hers will not be disappointed.

I’ve come to really respect and admire Mary Matalin. She is an extremely intelligent woman, and she is much warmer and wittier on “Both Sides” than anytime I have seen or heard her acting in an official capacity for a Republican politician. Although she does occasionally drop a buzzword or talking point that makes me cringe (like this past week on climate change) she is genuine on this show in a way most conservative talking heads never are. For example, when she spoke about hugging her daughters and shedding a tear when Hillary Clinton dropped out of the Presidential race in 2008, I was really moved. And I give her credit for talking a stand on gun control in the wake of the Giffords shooting.

As for Mark Green, I was a bit apprehensive about another foray of his into radio – Air America collapsed under his watch. But he does do a good job moderating the show with a goofy charm. Civil debate is a cornerstone of Both Sides, and so there is no screaming to shout over or name calling to be reprimanded. No one pretends that Green is not unbiased, he is admittedly left of center, and I do like the questions that he asks of both women.

Several topics are covered every week, with enough time for some nuance, but it’s not a heavily wonky analysis either. At the end of the show each person shares something going on in their personal life and also something they are looking forward to in the coming week.

I come away from listening to Both Sides Now usually having learned something new about current events and like I just had a really stimulating discussion with smart, genial friends. Huffington, Green and Matalin are more like college professors debating their opinions at a department brown bag lunch than gladiators fighting to the death for the last word. It shouldn’t be so refreshing to hear people talk about politics in a fair and respectful way, but it is. It’s also the only space I’ve ever seen a liberal debate a conservative without any absurdities like the phony false equivalence insinuations made by the Daily Show and others. No one pretends that Democrats and Republicans don’t have deep philosophical differences. Both Sides Now is also unique in that it features two highly savvy women pundits, something I only otherwise see when Rachel Maddow welcomes a female guest.

Both Sides Now will probably never be as popular as forums where more sensational arguments occur, but Arianna Huffington has created something worthwhile and I hope that it is around for a long time.

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