On Point

Weekdays 9-10 a.m.

Hear provocative voices and passionate discussion of the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.


Election 2020 again proved there’s a problem with polling. But when it comes to understanding the electorate, are there any better options? We discuss the problems with polling, and how to fix it.  


Natalie Jackson, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). (@nataliemj10)

Matthew Sheffield started his career as a conservative blogger. He says many Americans don’t understand how powerful right-wing media really is — or how damaging it is to American democracy. Now, he says he wants to free people from it.  

President Trump has fired several top level members of his administration in the past couple of weeks. So what else can we expect from the president in his remaining days in office?  


Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is one of the largest intact temperate rainforests left in the world. And as a national forest, the land serves many purposes, from fishing to logging. Now, the Trump administration wants to open up half the forest to logging and development. We’ll discuss the complex story of a forest’s future.


Joel Jackson, tribal president of the Organized Village of Kake.

Early data shows that two COVID-19 vaccines are over 90% effective. So what’s next? We follow the vaccine’s journey from testing to public distribution.


Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations for the Arkansas Department of Health. (@ADHPIO)

Why Voters Are Rejecting The War On Drugs

Nov 17, 2020

Wherever the war on drugs was on the ballot this year, the war on drugs lost. In Oregon, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and Mississippi, too, voters approved measures to legalize recreational or medical marijuana. We discuss the drug-related ballot measures that passed on Election Day and the shift in American drug policy.

South Dakota family doctor Tom Dean knows his community well — he’s been in practice there for 42 years. And he’s seen a lot in that time. But nothing like COVID. We get a South Dakota family physician’s message for his patients, his community and his state.  


Dr. Tom Dean, family physician in Wessington Springs, South Dakota.

Much of the GOP in Washington won’t acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect. What about the consequences for the country? We look at a week of presidential transition and Republican intransigence.

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat studies authoritarian regimes, like Italy under Mussolini. Can a democracy pry itself out of a strongman’s grip?


Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” (@ruthbenghiat)

The On Point Coronavirus Task Force

Nov 11, 2020

This year, we’ve talked to some of the top scientists and doctors in the country about the pandemic. We pull them back together for a meeting of our own task force to hear their advice for the Biden team.


Angie Rasmussen, associate research scientist at Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. (@angie_rasmussen)

The Global View Of Election 2020

Nov 10, 2020

“I believe at our best, America’s a beacon for the globe.” So declared President-elect Joe Biden. But what does the world really think of the American example now? Does the international community see the U.S. as the leader it once was?  


Simon Kuper, life and arts columnist for the Financial Times. (@KuperSimon)

Elizabeth Saunders served five years in the U.S. Navy. And last Tuesday, she served her country again, by being a poll worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Specifically, at precinct 24 in North Tulsa.

“As a veteran, I don’t really care who you vote for, just that you are there showing up to actually engage in your civic duty to have your say in how this country is run,” Elizabeth says.

This was Elizabeth’s second stint as a poll worker. When she walked into the Sheridan Avenue United Methodist Church at 6:30 a.m. on Election Day, she’s the first to admit … she was pretty nervous.

The race for the presidency presses on, as Trump doubles down on baseless claims about election fraud. We sort through this historic week, and look ahead at what’s to come.


Ron Suskind, investigative journalist and author. (@RonSuskind)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

On Sunday, President Donald Trump made clear what he planned to do following the end of voting. Court battles have marked this entire election season. We look at the latest litigation around the 2020 presidential election.


Bertrall Ross, chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. (@Bertrall_Ross)

What We Know About Election 2020 Results

Nov 4, 2020

The day after election day. What tallies are known? Where are votes still being counted? We discuss the latest in the race for the White House and Senate and what’s next in this historic moment for the United States.  


Luis Carrasco, editorial writer and member of the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board. (@lfcarrasco)

We talked today about the mismanagement of coronavirus—the ways citizens and leadership have failed to take steps necessary to curb the spread. But in San Francisco, California, it is a different story.

San Francisco is the second densest city in the country. It also has the lowest coronavirus death rate compared to any other major city in the United States, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Regardless of election outcomes, one thing is certain: the coronavirus pandemic is surging. We talk about what to expect in the pandemic’s next phase.  


Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic. Author of “I Contain Multitudes.” (@edyong209)

Catherine Hill, epidemiologist.

Tomorrow is it. The end of voting. Up for grabs: the White House, and also the Senate. Republicans currently hold the Senate with a 53-47 majority. But with 35 seats on the ballot, the race is heating up.

On today’s show, we took a look at some of the close races, and why the balance of power in the chamber will determine the direction of governance for the next four years.

The White House isn’t the only thing on the ballot. Also at stake: control of the United States Senate, from Georgia to Maine. We discuss close Senate races and the impact they’ll have on national governance.


Anthony Brooks, On Point 2020 correspondent. WBUR senior political reporter.  (@anthonygbrooks)

For many health care workers, a new coronavirus spike means they’ve barely had a moment to step back from the first wave of cases this spring.

Those memories of that “first wave” are still fresh and raw. Emma Rome remembers watching evidence of the coronavirus’s deadliness literally walking into her hospital.

Campaigns make their last stand. The Supreme Court weighs in on ballot deadlines. Coronavirus numbers skyrocket. We make sense of the week’s news.


Molly Ball, national political correspondent for TIME. Author of “Pelosi.” (@mollyesque)

America's Authoritarian Threat

Oct 29, 2020

The United States has fought against authoritarian governments. Does that mean it can’t happen here?  

Both campaigns agree — the road to the White House runs through the Tar Heel state. In our final voter roundtable, we hear from voters in North Carolina.  


VonGretchen Pough, regional study coordinator. Voting for Biden.

Bill Poole, he works in sales for a local radio group. Voting for Trump.

Brandon Beavers, graduate student at Western Carolina University. Delivery driver. Board member for the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society. Undecided voter.

How is our economy doing seven months into the pandemic? And with winter on its way, are we prepared to handle the slew of challenges that will come with it? We talk about the state of our economy.

Over the course of today’s hour “Anatomy Of An Election Disinformation Campaign,” we spoke with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nina Jankowicz, our guest on today’s show, interviewed him for her book, “How to Lose an Information War,” about a 2016 referendum in the Netherlands over a trade agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

This diary originally aired on July 1, 2020.

We want to end the week by stepping away from the din and rancor. And to a place of remembrance and peace.

David Pettee used to take regular morning walks around Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David had cancer. The walks brought him hope and peace.

Faces Of The 'Shecession'

Oct 22, 2020

865,000. That’s the number of women pushed out of the workforce last month. But how much more, or less, is the number for men? Well, in September, 216,000 men had to exit the labor force. A quarter of the number for women.

It’s a consistent downward trajectory for women in this pandemic. Double digit female unemployment for the first time since 1948. And Black women and Latinas are suffering an unemployment rate that’s almost double that of white women and men.

And for so many of those women, there’s a family that depends on them. What’s happening to them?

The ‘shecession.’ More women are losing their jobs than men. What’s the long-term impact on families?


C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit. Author of “Born Bright.” (@cnicolemason)

On this week’s voter roundtable, we hear from people affected by COVID-19. How do they feel about President Trump’s response to the pandemic?  


David Dahlstrom, retired Air Force veteran from Goodyear, Arizona. He lost his wife, Cindy, to COVID-19. He voted Trump in 2016, and is voting for Biden in 2020.

Denise Carr, art teacher and yoga instructor in Buffalo, New York. She lost her father to COVID-19. She is voting for Biden.

Safeguarding The Electoral Vote

Oct 20, 2020

Worried about voting integrity — or what happens after your ballot is cast? We discuss what we know about the integrity of the votes cast by America’s 538 electors.