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Jan. 31 2014 2:38 PM

The State of the Union Cannot Be Saved Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about the problem with State of the Union speeches, and a slew of new digital news websites.

Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there. Or follow us @SlateGabfest!

To listen to the discussion, use the player below:


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On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss how to fix the State of the Union speech, whether immigration reform should include a path to citizenship, and why journalists like Ezra Klein are starting their own news websites.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • The text of Obama's 2014 State of the Union address.
  • A theme of this year's speech: Obama will act on his own if Congress won't cooperate.
  • Before the State of the Union, John had some suggestions for Obama on how to make the speech less boring. He wasn't impressed with what the president ultimately said.
  • If Obama is going to rely on executive orders, he should issue ones that will be hard for the next president to undo, Jeff Shesol writes in The New Yorker.
  • In Slate, Joshua Keating describes how American media would cover the State of the Union if it happened in another country.
  • House GOP leaders unveiled their framework for immigration reform on Thursday.
  • An editorial in the National Review argues that the GOP should leave immigration alone for now, because it will cause an intramural fight in an election year.
  • There are 108 majority-minority House districts in the United States. Republicans represent nine of them.
  • Ezra Klein is founding a new publication at Vox Media. He says his goal is to put the news in context.
  • Klein is the latest in a string of journalists leaving established publications to start their own sites; Nate Silver and Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have done the same. There's also Pierre Omidyar's $250 million venture with Glenn Greenwald.
  • Business Insider editor in chief Henry Blodget writes that digital journalism is as different from print as print is from TV.

Emily chatters about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ending the city's legal defense of stop-and-frisk.

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.



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