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Fresh Air

Fresh Air

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.Subscribe to Fresh Air Plus! You'll be supporting the unique show you can't get enough of - and you can listen sponsor-free. Learn more at plus.npr.org/freshair

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Episodes

A NYC Maître D' Shares Secrets Of The Restaurant Industry

Michael Cecchi-Azzolina has worked in several high-end New York City restaurants ? adrenaline-fueled workplaces where booze and drugs are plentiful and the health inspector will ruin your day. His memoir is Your Table Is Ready.
2022-12-06
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'White Lotus' Creator Mike White

As the second season of HBO's The White Lotus comes to a close, creator Mike White reflects on how it examines the dark side of sex, and how at its heart is a mix of Laverne & Shirley, Fantasy Island and Survivor.

Also, Ken Tucker shares three songs that grapple with romance.
2022-12-05
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Best Of: 'Armageddon Time' Director / A Revolution In Cell Biology

James Gray's new film, Armageddon Time, was inspired by his childhood in Queens in the 1980s. Though his grandparents had fled antisemitism in Ukraine, his family didn't recognize their own biases against Black people. He talks about his life and the film.

Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her list for the best books of the year.

Physician Siddhartha Mukherjee writes about cellular science could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, HIV, Type 1 diabetes and sickle cell anemia. His new book is The Song of the Cell.
2022-12-03
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'Daily Show' Host Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is stepping down as host of The Daily Show after seven years. We'll listen back to portions of two 2016 interviews with Noah, whose newest standup comedy special just premiered on Netflix.

Also, Justin Chang reviews The Eternal Daughter starring Tilda Swinton.
2022-12-02
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How Should Nations Memorialize Their Atrocities?

In How the Word Is Passed, author Clint Smith explored U.S. sites that deal with the legacy of slavery. Now, in The Atlantic, he writes about German memorials to the Holocaust.
2022-12-01
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How To Stand Up To A Dictator

Nobel Peace Prize-winning Filipina journalist Maria Ressa faced criminal charges in the Philippines after her news organization's reporting angered government officials. She has a new memoir called How to Stand Up to a Dictator.

Critic Maureen Corrigan shares her list of the best books of the year.
2022-11-30
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Reporting On The Atrocities And Destruction In Ukraine

Guardian journalist Luke Harding shares his experience reporting from Ukraine. "It's almost impossible to process," he says. "You can see a flourishing city of half a million people with ports, with restaurants, with live music, with culture, coffee ? and now it's a ghostly ruin." We talk about how the war might end ? and why the West needs to pay attention. Harding's book is Invasion.
2022-11-29
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'Armageddon Time' Filmmaker James Gray

James Gray's new film was inspired by his childhood in Queens in the 1980s. Though his grandparents had fled antisemitism in Ukraine, his family didn't recognize their own biases against Black people. He talks about his life and the film.
2022-11-28
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Best Of: "Weird Al" Yankovic / To Retire, Or Not To Retire?

The hit parody artist "Weird Al" Yankovic talks about what made him weird ? and bringing "the sexy back" to accordion. The new movie Weird, inspired by the story of his life, is a parody of music biopics.

TV critic David Bianculli reviews Wednesday, an Addams Familiy spin-off.

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez turned the issue of retirement into a reporting project, speaking to geriatric experts, a psychiatrist, a rabbi, plus people who had retired and some who refuse. His book is Independence Day.
2022-11-26
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Brandi Carlile

The Grammy winner got her start onstage as a kid, singing backup for an Elvis impersonator. Her memoir, 'Broken Horses,' is about her early life and the family of misfits she's built. "I think I'm starting to really feel sort of solid and loved in my world. Like maybe I've kind of finally found my place," Carlile says.

John Powers reviews the Polish film EO about a wandering donkey.
2022-11-25
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'Peanuts' Cartoonist Charles Schulz

This week marks the centennial of the birth of Charles Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown and the beloved Peanuts comic strip. We'll listen back to our 1990 interview with him. Plus, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead talks about pianist Vince Guaraldi, who created the music for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck have recently been revived in the podcast, "Bugs and Daffy's Thanksgiving Adventure." We mark the occasion by listening to our 1989 interview with Jones, who died this year.
2022-11-24
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Comedy Legend Mel Brooks

Brooks wrote countless edgy jokes over the years, but he doesn't regret any of them. In fact, his only regret is the jokes he didn't tell. Brooks calls comedy his "delicious refuge" from the world. His memoir is All About Me! is now out in paperback.

David Bianculli reviews Wednesday, the new Addams Family spin-off.
2022-11-23
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To Retire, Or Not To Retire?

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez turned the issue of retirement into a reporting project, speaking to geriatric experts, a psychiatrist, a rabbi, plus people who had retired and some who refuse. His book is Independence Day.

Maureen Corrigan reviews Claire Keegan's Foster.
2022-11-22
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Siddhartha Mukherjee On A Revolution In Cell Biology

Physician Siddhartha Mukherjee explains how cellular science could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, HIV, Type 1 diabetes and sickle cell anemia. His new book is The Song of the Cell.
2022-11-21
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Best Of: Misty Copeland / Michael Imperioli

Misty Copeland was the first Black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre. We talk about the pressure of being first, touring with Prince, and experiencing homelessness as a child. Her memoir is The Wind at My Back.

Michael Imperioli plays a sex-addicted Hollywood producer on vacation in Sicily in HBO's The White Lotus. He's best known for his role as Tony Soprano's hot-headed protégé, Christopher Moltisanti. He talks about both roles with us.
2022-11-19
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Behind Yiddish 'Fiddler On The Roof'

We'll talk about the Yiddish language production of Fiddler on the Roof that's just returned to off Broadway. Our guests will be Joel Grey, who directed it, and Steven Skybell who stars as Tevye. And we'll hear songs from the Yiddish cast recording.

Also, Justin Chang reviews She Said, a new film about the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.
2022-11-18
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A Dangerous Game Over Taiwan

New Yorker staff writer Dexter Filkins says war games staged by U.S. commanders suggest a conflict over Taiwan could lead to U.S. attacks on China's mainland ? and Chinese attacks on Alaska and Hawaii.
2022-11-17
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Weird Al Yankovic

The hit parody artist Weird Al Yankovic talks about what made him weird, the legal gray area of parody, and bringing "the sexy back" to accordion. The new movie Weird, inspired by the story of his life, is a parody of music biopics.
2022-11-16
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'Sopranos' & 'White Lotus' Actor Michael Imperioli

Imperioli plays a sex-addicted Hollywood producer on vacation in Sicily in HBO's The White Lotus. He's best known for his role as Tony Soprano's hot-headed protégé, Christopher Moltisanti. In 2021, Imperioli published Woke Up This Morning, an oral history of the series based on his podcast, Talking Sopranos.

Podcast critic Nick Quah talks about white noise streams.
2022-11-15
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Ballerina Misty Copeland

Copeland was the first Black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre. We talk about the pressure of being first, the injury that nearly ended her career, and her mentor, pioneering Black ballerina Raven Wilkinson. Her memoir is The Wind at My Back.
2022-11-14
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WWII Veterans Reflect On Their Service

For Veterans Day, we feature archival interviews with two men who fought in World War II: Robert Kotlowitz was one of three soldiers in his platoon to survive an ill-advised assault on the Germans. For 12 hours, he lay in a foxhole without moving. Also, we hear from Robert Williams, one of the elite Tuskegee Airmen. The primarily Black group of military pilots faced scorn from the bomber pilots they flew to protect ? until it became clear how good they were at their job.

Justin Chang reviews Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
2022-11-14
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Best Of: Steven Spielberg / The Black Soldiers Of WWII

Steven Spielberg's latest project, The Fabelmans, is semi-autobiographical ? focused on his childhood and teen years and his parents' divorce. He jokingly refers to the film as "$40 million of therapy." He speaks with Terry Gross about the first movie he saw in theaters and growing up around Holocaust survivors.

Maureen Corrigan reviews Foster by Claire Keegan.

Historian Matthew Delmont talks about the more than one million Black people who served in the military in WWII, the contributions they made and discrimination they faced, and those who struggled for equality in civilian life. Delmont's book is Half American.
2022-11-12
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Our New Climate Reality

New York Times science writer David Wallace-Wells brings us some new thinking on global warming ? and it isn't all bad. He's been called an alarmist in the past for his warnings about the consequences of dumping carbon into the atmosphere. But in a new article, Wallace-Wells writes that the cost of solar and wind energy has fallen dramatically, and scientists now say the pace of global warming in coming decades will be slower than previously forecast. Wallace-Wells says we're still in for painful, long-lasting changes to the world we inhabit, and nations will have to decide how to adapt to the new climate reality.

TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new series Tulsa King starring Sylvester Stallone, and the new season of Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner.
2022-11-10
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Steven Spielberg

Spielberg's latest project, The Fabelmans, is semi-autobiographical ? focused on his childhood and teen years and his parents' divorce. He jokingly refers to the film as "$40 million of therapy." He speaks with Terry Gross about the first movie he saw in theaters, filming the iconic D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan, and growing up around Holocaust survivors.
2022-11-09
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Remembering Jerry Lee Lewis

We mark the life of the rock 'n' roll pioneer, who died Oct. 28, by listening to archival interviews with his sister, pianist/singer Linda Gail Lewis, and with Myra Lewis Williams, who married Jerry Lee when she was 13. And Ken Tucker reflects on Lewis' 1968 country album.
2022-11-08
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The Black Experience Of WWII

Historian Matthew Delmont talks about the more than one million Black people who served in the military in WWII, the contributions they made and discrimination they faced, and those who struggled for equality in civilian life. Delmont's book is Half American.

Justin Chang reviews Steven Spielberg's new semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans.
2022-11-07
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Best Of: 'Till' Director Chinonye Chukwu / 'Shutter' Author Ramona Emerson

Till tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, whose decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her murdered son Emmett served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement. We talk with director Chinonye Chukwu.

Ken Tucker reviews Taylor Swift's Midnights.

Ramona Emerson's novel, Shutter, is about a police department photographer, who, like Emerson, grew up in the Navajo Nation. The protagonist is haunted by the ghosts of victims from scenes she's photographed. We talk with Emerson about her own experience in forensic photography and how it informed the book.
2022-11-05
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'Pose' Actor Billy Porter

Porter won an Emmy for Pose, and a Tony for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots. In addition to performing, he's also a star on the red carpet. His memoir, Unprotected, is now out in paperback.
2022-11-04
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How Election Deniers Might Impact The Midterms

New York Times reporter Alexandra Berzon says election deniers are joining the electoral process at the precinct level. Their hope is to remake the machinery of American elections. She spoke with guest interviewer Arun Venugopal.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from the trio Thumbscrew. And David Bianculli reviews the Weird Al Yankovic biopic, Weird, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
2022-11-03
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Novelist Tells The Story Of A Haunted Crime Scene Photographer

Ramona Emerson's novel, Shutter, is about a police department photographer, who, like Emerson, grew up in the Navajo Nation. The protagonist is haunted by the ghosts of victims from scenes she's photographed. We talk with Emerson about her own experience in forensic photography and how it informed the book.

John Powers reviews two foreign crime films: Decision to Leave and Argentina, 1985.
2022-11-02
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'Till' Director Chinonye Chukwu

Till tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, whose decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her murdered son served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement. "Without Mamie Till-Mobley, the world wouldn't know who Emmett Till was," director Chinonye Chukwu says. "She wanted the world to witness what happened to her child so then this can stop happening to other Black children and Black people."

Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews a new biography of Samuel Adams.
2022-11-01
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Halloween Special: Part II

This Halloween, we're venturing into the crypt (our archives). We'll hear from Anthony Hopkins on playing Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Sissy Spacek on Carrie, George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, Kathy Bates on Misery, and Mercedes McCambridge, who voiced the demon in The Exorcist. Listen if you dare!
2022-10-31
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Best Of: MAGA's Chinese Billionaire / Sports Journalist Jemele Hill

New Yorker writer Evan Osnos traces the path of Guo Wengui, a billionaire who fled China and insinuated himself into the MAGA inner circle. But his true allegiances are suspect.

Maureen Corrigan reviews The Year of the Puppy, by Alexandra Horowitz.

Former co-anchor of ESPN's SportsCenter, Jemele Hill, faced criticism in 2017 for calling Trump a white supremacist. In her memoir, Uphill, she talks about her career and her life growing up in Detroit. She spoke with contributor Tonya Mosley.
2022-10-29
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Halloween Special Part I: Stephen King & Jordan Peele

We're dipping in the archive and finding our spookiest tape. Stephen King talks about what terrified him as a child ? and what frightens him as an adult. Director Jordan Peele talks about the scares that inspire his filmmaking.

Justin Chang reviews Armageddon Time.
2022-10-28
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Phillies Radio Announcer On The World Series & Changes In Baseball

Scott Franzke has been calling MLB games in Philadelphia since 2006. He sizes up the teams headed into the World Series and reflects on upcoming changes designed to put more action in the game.

Ken Tucker reviews Taylor Swift's new album, Midnights.
2022-10-27
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Did The "Deep State" Protect The Country From Trump?

David Rothkopf explains how veteran U.S. government officials, sometimes scorned as the so-called Deep State, repeatedly intervened in the Trump administration to undermine presidential orders they thought were illegal, immoral, unworkable, or against America's interests. His book is American Resistance.

Justin Chang reviews the Martin McDonagh film The Banshees of Inisherin.
2022-10-26
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Sports Journalist Jemele Hill

The former co-anchor of ESPN's SportsCenter faced criticism in 2017 for calling Trump a white supremacist. In her memoir, Uphill, she talks about her career and her life growing up in Detroit. She spoke with contributor Tonya Mosley.

Also, David Bianculli reviews Guillermo del Toro's horror anthology series on Netflix.
2022-10-25
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The "Sioux Chef," Sean Sherman

You won't find wheat flour, dairy or sugar at Sean Sherman's award-winning Minneapolis restaurant, Owamni. The menu has been "decolonized," but that doesn't mean it feels antiquated. "We look at showcasing the amazing diversity and flavor profiles of all the different tribes across North America, all the different regions, and really celebrating that and cutting away colonial ingredients," Sherman says.

Maureen Corrigan reviews The Year of the Puppy, by Alexandra Horowitz.
2022-10-25
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Best Of: Angela Lansbury / Culture Critic Hua Hsu

The legend of stage and screen died Oct. 11 at age 96. She starred in the TV series Murder, She Wrote and won Tony Awards for her performances as Mama Rose in Gypsy and the pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. We'll hear excerpts from Terry Gross's interviews with Lansbury from 2000 and 1980.

Justin Chang reviews The Banshees of Inisherin starring Colin Farrell.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu defined himself as a teen by the music he loved. The murder of a close friend when he was in college changed the course of his life. His memoir is Stay True.
2022-10-22
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Remembering Angela Lansbury

The legend of stage and screen died Oct. 11 at age 96. She starred in the TV series Murder, She Wrote, and in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and Disney's Beauty and the Beast. She won Tony Awards for her performances as Mama Rose in Gypsy and the pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Earlier this year, she received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. We'll hear Terry Gross's interviews with Lansbury from 2000 and 1980.
2022-10-21
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Tracing The Path Of Steve Bannon's Enigmatic Chinese Benefactor

New Yorker writer Evan Osnos traces the path of Guo Wengui, a billionaire who fled China and insinuated himself into the MAGA inner circle. But who is he really working for?
2022-10-20
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How The Far-Right Became The GOP's Center Of Gravity

Journalist Robert Draper says the GOP's embrace of extremism opened the door to fringe actors, who've become among the party's most influential leaders. His new book is Weapons of Mass Delusion.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews an album from saxophonist Bobby Watson.
2022-10-19
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'New Yorker' Writer Hua Hsu On Friendship, Grief, And Pop Culture

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu defined himself as a teen by the music he loved. The murder of a close friend when he was in college changed the course of his life. His memoir is Stay True.

David Bianculli reviews the new season of Documentary Now!
2022-10-18
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Chelsea Manning On Life Before & After WikiLeaks

The former military analyst has been called both a whistleblower hero and a traitor for leaking classified information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a new memoir, READ ME.txt, she talks about why she did it. We also talk about her childhood and gender dysphoria, her time in Iraq, and her experience in solitary confinement.
2022-10-17
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Best Of: One-Pan Recipes / The History Of Money

NYT Cooking food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark says she's always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen ? including ways to use fewer pans. Her latest cookbook is Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals.

John Powers reviews the Indian film RRR.

Author and podcaster Jacob Goldstein says we don't think of money as a technology, but we should. He traces the first paper currency to China's Sichuan province, and talks about the early days of dollar bills in the U.S. His book is Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing.
2022-10-15
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Linda Ronstadt

Ronstadt's career spanned rock, pop, country and everything in between. Her most famous recordings include "Heart Like a Wheel," "Desperado," "Faithless Love," and many more. In 2013, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing. Ronstadt has a new memoir called Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands. It's an exploration of her Mexican roots, with recipes of some of the dishes she grew up with. We listen back to her 2013 interview with Terry Gross.

Also, Justin Chang reviews Till, a new film about the lynching of Emmett Till.
2022-10-14
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The Sensory Perceptions Of Animals

There's a vast world around us that animals can perceive ? but humans can't. Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Ed Yong talks about some of the sights, smells, sounds and vibrations that other living creatures experience. His book is An Immense World.

John Powers reviews the new Masterpiece Mystery! series on PBS, The Magpie Murders.
2022-10-13
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Exploring The History Of Money

Author and podcaster Jacob Goldstein says we don't think of money as a technology, but we should. He traces the first paper currency to China's Sichuan province, and ponders the Fed's next move. His book is Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing.

Also, Ken Tucker reviews Ashley McBryde's concept album Lindeville.
2022-10-12
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Testing 'NYT Cooking' Recipes With Melissa Clark

NYT Cooking food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark says she's always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen ? including ways to use fewer pans. Her latest cookbook is Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals.

John Powers reviews the new epic Indian action film RRR.
2022-10-11
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Journalist Maggie Haberman On The Making Of Donald Trump

New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman talks about Trump's tactics for dealing with the media and explains why he's more concerned about the Mar-a-Lago documents than the Jan. 6 hearings. Her new book is Confidence Man.
2022-10-10
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