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Left, Right & Center


Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.

Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.


Santa Monica, CA





Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.




1900 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-450-5183


Will it change us?

Halfway through an extremely eventful 2020, what is the outlook for persistent change? In this special midyear episode, Josh Barro speaks with Dorian Warren and Megan McArdle about whether this year’s events — in policing and racial justice, the economy, and public health — will make change in these areas more possible and more necessary. A lot of change is happening quickly. The government has spent trillions to support the economy, Americans’ lives are barely recognizable, and public...


The Center is right again

How’s this for a civilized yet provocative start to the show? This week, people finally started admitting Josh Barro has been right about Joe Biden. Though, for the record, a lot of people have been agreeing with him all along: voters. Now, many others are realizing maybe what America needs next in a president is a broadly acceptable leader with unifying messages that can make people feel good about the country again, and one who adopts broadly popular reform positions while resisting the...


A big week at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court delivered two major opinions this week and conservatives are not very happy with two Republican-appointed justices. Justice Neil Gorsuch — often held up as the example of why Republicans should tolerate President Trump’s antics — wrote the opinion in a 6-3 decision that said employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity because, well, Gorsuch argues that’s what the text of the law says. Might conservatives abandon...


Biden’s lead widens

Lots of people in Washington seem to want more distance from President Trump as his actions have grown even more erratic and his poll numbers have deteriorated. This week, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff apologized for appearing with President Trump in that infamous church photo opp. Mitt Romney got a lot of attention for marching in support of Black Lives Matter. Michael Steele says it was partially political because the senator is unlikely to face retribution...


Will waves of protest bring waves of change?

The killing of George Floyd by a white police officer who now faces murder charges set off a wave of peaceful protests nationwide. It also resulted in incidents of violence, with police officers blamed for using unnecessarily brutal methods to clear activists, while others have been accused of using the guise of activism to destroy and steal property. Meanwhile the president’s response has elicited criticism from some surprising sources, including the military community. The panel considers...


George Floyd

The death of George Floyd — who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for seven minutes in the process of arresting him — has reignited outrage over police treatment of black Americans. There have been protests in cities across the country in response to Floyd’s death and the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and in Minneapolis, a level of unrest led the governor to call in the National Guard. The panel discusses what’s driving the protests and...


Will President Trump ever wear a mask in public?

President Trump really doesn’t want to be photographed wearing a mask (even though he has a cool one with the Presidential Seal on it). But 72% of Americans say that they’re wearing masks all or most of the time when they’re out of the house. So why have masks become a political symbol? And will that interfere with efforts to contain the virus? Plus: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a relative light touch when it came to lockdown orders and many critics warned of dire outcomes from that....


Obamagate! Wait, what’s Obamagate?

President Trump is very upset about Obamagate. It seems to have to do with his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn — who the president fired after he lied to Vice President Pence and the FBI, and who pleaded guilty to charges that the Department of Justice is now seeking to drop. Is this a really important political issue? Or is this just President Trump’s effort to talk about anything besides the pandemic? Plus: Will Joe Biden leave his basement? Or, does laying low draw the...


Twenty million jobs lost in April

More than 20 million jobs were lost in April and it keeps getting worse. Millions of Americans continue to file for new unemployment benefits every week. Is there and end in sight? And what does a plan look like to keep Americans afloat through the rest of the crisis and ensure that business is there to employ them again? Former top Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling joins the panel to talk about economic dignity in a pandemic and after. Will there be significant policy changes to match...


When and what, but what about how?

Joe Biden says it never happened. Biden spoke publicly for the first time in response to an accusation from former Senate staffer Tara Reade, who says Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. How should voters evaluate this allegation? And how does Democratic support for Biden square with Biden’s own expressed standard from the Brett Kavanaugh fight that “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence” of these sorts of allegations is real. Dr. Ashish Jha of the...


LIBERATE some states but not others?

Congress agreed this week to replenish money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which makes loans to certain kinds of businesses that are hurt by the pandemic and then forgives those loans if businesses keep their workers on payroll. But there are some problems. There wasn’t enough money, smaller businesses without really deep banking relationships have been left behind, and some bigger “small” businesses have gotten the money while mom-and-pop businesses haven’t gotten any. Even with new...


Total authority? Not really

Regardless of who has the ‘total authority,’ the Left, Right & Center panel agrees we need a lot more to actually reopen the country: more testing, more hospital capacity, and other things that will inspire confidence in the public. And isn’t all this reopening talk a little premature? No public official can reopen the economy if the public is afraid to leave their homes. (Though some Michiganders protested Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders this week.) Another announcement...


It's Biden

Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his presidential campaign this week, making Joe Biden the official presumptive Democratic nominee. What is the legacy of his campaign? Does it signal a complete lack of interest in very left policies and a major win for conservatives in the US, or does it show gradual change? Wisconsin’s primary election went ahead this week as scheduled, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Is this a preview of future primaries and the general election in November?...


Front row at the Trump show

At least ten million Americans filed for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, and that’s not the end of it. Has the federal government done enough to support Americans financially through this crisis? Is there a missed opportunity for reform and bigger, longer term ideas in the response? And what will the government have to do more of as this crisis continues? Rich Lowry argues this real crisis puts previous crises in perspective, like impeachment and the Mueller investigation....


What’s our prognosis?

The US now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, but it appears we haven’t reached the worst yet.President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief package for Americans and businesses. How much relief is in the relief bill? And will it be enough? The president is also eager to reopen the country, which could be a disaster if it’s done too early. Is President Trump wrong to say he doesn’t think New York will need tens of thousands of ventilators? How is the American healthcare...


Stay at home

Californians and New Yorkers and people in many other jurisdictions are being ordered to stay at home, and it’s advised across the whole country. Is this going to work to stop the coronavirus outbreak? And are our hospitals ready for the surge of patients they are sure to see over the coming weeks? Dr.Kavita Patel will join us to discuss hospital preparedness, the shortage of coronavirus tests, and the prognosis for our fight against the epidemic.Conor Dougherty (economics reporter for the...


The coronavirus response gets real

The public health crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic is finally happening in the United States, but it’s not enough and it’s too late. President Trump has politicized the crisis. He’s minimized it, called out the “fake” media, worried about the wrong things, and not said the right things to prepare the public. Will Americans do what they’ve done in the face of a crisis before: fumble at the beginning but ultimately muster the response and resources needed? Samuel Brannen of the...


The right and wrong responses to the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak in the US is intensifying with hundreds of known cases and 14 deaths as of Friday afternoon. The stats on cases in China are a little better than a few weeks ago, but can we believe them? And beyond the $8.3 billion emergency spending package President Trump signed Friday, is our government taking the preparations that it needs to? Donald McNeil of the New York Times joins the panel. Then: Joe Biden came back in a huge way on Super Tuesday after a strong victory in...


Super Tuesday is days away

The coronavirus is bearing down on the United States. Is President Trump saying the right things? He tapped Vice President Pence to lead coronavirus task force. What of then-Indiana Governor Pence’s record during an HIV outbreak there? And as stocks nose-dived as the coronavirus news got worse, fears of economic tumult became more real. Meanwhile, Super Tuesday is mere days away. Where do the candidates stand after the Nevada caucuses and a chaotic South Carolina debate? What makes a good...


Finally, a real debate

Now that’s what we call a debate. The candidates stopped being polite and started getting real, and all it took was getting Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage. Though, with all the fighting and several direct hits from Elizabeth Warren on his company’s nondisclosure agreements, he didn’t really fight back that much. Is the Bloomberg bubble about to pop? Can anyone dislodge Bernie from the lead? Are we headed to a contested Democratic convention? The panel breaks down the Democratic debate:...