Weekly Wrap: "Keep It Coming." Sam is joined by Jody Avirgan (@jodyavirgan) from 538 Politics and ESPN's '30 for 30' podcast series, along with Brittany Luse (@bmluse), co-host of Gimlet Media's 'The Nod,' to talk about the week that was: Michael Flynn, Republican progress on taxes, net neutrality, even more sexual assault firings, along with a call to a listener currently in Puerto Rico. It's all capped off with the best things that happened to listeners all week. Email the show at samsanders@npr.org or tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with your feedback. Follow Sam on Twitter @samsanders and producers Brent Baughman @brentbaughman and Anjuli Sastry @AnjuliSastry.
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Weekly Wrap: "Keep It Coming."

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Weekly Wrap: "Keep It Coming."

Weekly Wrap: "Keep It Coming."

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Hey, y'all. Before we start the show, I want to tell you about a new way that you can support this podcast, keep this show going and also help out local public radio stations. If you go to this website, donate.npr.org/sam, you can find a local station of your choosing and support it. And that will also support this show and keep it coming to you every week for free.

What I didn't say Tuesday is that this isn't just a giving challenge. It's a competition between me and other NPR podcast hosts to drive the most donations. I'll tell you more on that later in the show. But basically, let's win this thing, y'all. Go to donate.npr.org/sam. Keep this show going. Support local public radio and make me smile. Thank you.

AUNT BETTY: Hey y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week on the show, host of "The Nod," from Gimlet Media, Brittany Luse, and from FiveThirtyEight "Politics" and ESPN's "30 For 30," Jody Avirgan. All right, let's start the show.


JAGGED EDGE: This here is a remarkable...

SANDERS: Hey, y'all. This is NPR's Sam Sanders here - IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. Each week, we start with a different song. I'll explain this song in a second. But first, joining me from NPR studios in New York City while I'm here in D.C., Brittany and Jody. Hello.


JODY AVIRGAN: Hello - whoa.

SANDERS: Thanks for being here.

AVIRGAN: Sorry, let me do that one more time.

LUSE: (Laughter).


SANDERS: Keep the first take in there...


AVIRGAN: Holy crap.

SANDERS: ...So we can prove to the Internet that Jody's not perfect.

AVIRGAN: I thought I did all my coughing in advance of the taping. But no.

SANDERS: Do you guys know this song?

LUSE: Yeah. I - the last time that I heard it, I think I was at a party for people who are age 30 and over.


LUSE: I say that because I am age 30. But yeah, it was definitely, like, you could see the people who had been brought along by older friends because they were, like, 23 and they were, like, Bad Boy what?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

LUSE: Who? Huh? What?

SANDERS: Well, I'm playing this song in honor of the royal wedding that's coming up between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry the redhead.

LUSE: Yes, hot ging (ph). Prince Hot Ging.

SANDERS: (Laughter).


JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) Meet me at the altar in your white dress. We ain't getting no younger so we might as well do it.

SANDERS: So this is So So Def remix of the Jagged Edge classic "Let's Get Married."

JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) Let's get married. Baby, let's get married.

SANDERS: I love this song because there is a rap in the song from Run-D.M.C. member Reverend Run.


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) What's going on across the sea? It ain't nothin'. I ain't frontin'. Shorty coming with me.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: Brittany is mouthing along.

SANDERS: You know the words? Rap it.

LUSE: No, I just - I mean...


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) Girl you done made me change my life.

LUSE: (Rapping) Change my life.


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) Keys to the Bentley. Now, they call you the preacher's wife.

LUSE: (Rapping) Call you the preacher's wife.


SANDERS: Is it weird that my secret hope is that as he's walking down the aisle, Prince Harry busts out this rap?


LUSE: That shouldn't be a secret hope.

SANDERS: (Laughter) That's a public hope.

LUSE: That's a public hope.

SANDERS: That's a public hope.


JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) We ain't getting no younger. We might as well do it. Been feeling you all the while girl, I must confess.

SANDERS: Well, you guys, I'm so glad you're here. You both left your own podcasts for a bit to talk with me. Jody, from ESPN's "30 For 30," also the FiveThirtyEight's "Politics" podcast. Brittany, with her wonderful podcast at Gimlet all about black culture called "The Nod." Thanks for taking a break from those endeavors to chat with me today.

AVIRGAN: Of course.

LUSE: No problem. Like, it's...

SANDERS: We've got so much to talk about.


LUSE: I'm so excited.

AVIRGAN: I'm a big fan of both your podcasts.

LUSE: Man...

AVIRGAN: And I'm not just saying that to say that, though I would say it just to say it even if it wasn't true. But it is true.

LUSE: Thank you.


LUSE: That's like...

SANDERS: I was on a long road trip recently in Texas. And I played a lot of "The Nod." And let me tell you, the Drake episode was just the pinnacle.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: All right. We are here to talk about what happened this week - more movement from Republicans on a big tax bill, more sexual harassment literally everywhere and other stuff as well. But as we tape this, we got to say the week is not over yet for us. We're taping the show at 10 a.m. on Friday. And we just learned that Michael Flynn - he was a former Trump national security adviser - he is pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. So there's one more wrinkle in this whole Russia investigation. By the time you listeners hear this, you'll probably know more about it than we know now. But we wanted to mention that, so you'd know where we're coming from. I don't know what to make of this news. More to come, I'm sure, right?

AVIRGAN: Yeah. I mean, look, I'm processing this at the same time. I just got to the same four news alerts that everyone else did.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: I will say that, like, it's always worth reminding people that these are slow-moving things.

SANDERS: Exactly.

AVIRGAN: So we have these big moments where everyone's attention - but, you know, they - generally, investigations like this, at least, if you look at sort of history - they don't happen, you know, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. The pace can speed up. The pace can slow down.


AVIRGAN: And it's always just worth reminding people of that - that this - you know, this can take a while.

LUSE: Yeah. That's because, I think, that, like, a lot of people process stories like this long after they've already kind of been tied up through, like, movies and television - you know what I'm saying?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

LUSE: There's, like, a lot of fictional depictions of things that are similar to this. But in real life - like, when you're not trying to pay attention to, like, you know, how an audience is going to digest a narrative - in real life, you're just following trails of information. And trails of information can go in any direction. And it's just kind of, like, I don't - I have actually recently turned my news notifications back on.


LUSE: And I'm actually not regretting it.


LUSE: I think I needed a little bit of a break. And now I'm kind of back into it. But it's just important to take it with a grain of salt - that, like, just because there's, like, a bombshell on Friday doesn't mean that next Tuesday, Donald Trump is going to be walking out of the White House in handcuffs.

SANDERS: Exactly. So let's begin the show as we always do. We each have to describe this week of news and how it felt in only three words. Brittany, you're up to this challenge. I feel it. What are your three words?

LUSE: OK. So my three words are keep it coming. I felt like - OK, so, obviously, since October, it's just really been a deluge, like, even if...

SANDERS: Deluge of what?

LUSE: ...You really think about it - a daily trickle of a new sexual predator losing his job...


LUSE: ...Or at least getting found out...


LUSE: ...Which is, like, part frustrating and saddening when you think about, like, you know, survivors or victims of, you know, these guys' crimes. But also, it also does kind of get me to do just a little bit of a Crip walk to work. Like...

SANDERS: Really?

AVIRGAN: (Laughter).

LUSE: ...I am just so happy when these dudes get fired. You don't even know. But for me, I just really want to keep this coming and keep the conversation, like, going on because I couldn't help but think about Ann Curry...

SANDERS: Oh yeah.

LUSE: ...When I thought about Matt Lauer this week...

SANDERS: Or Tamron Hall...

LUSE: Or Tamron Hall.

SANDERS: ...Who I miss every day.

LUSE: I miss her every day. I mean...

SANDERS: Former host of the show.

LUSE: Yeah, I know. But the thing I keep thinking about is Ann Curry was all but pushed out of her position on the "Today" show through, like, bullish behavior - really ridiculous, really nasty behavior.

SANDERS: And she called out the kind of boys' club culture of that show.

LUSE: Exactly the words that she used. And, like, a lot of times the boys' club nature of a show go hand in hand with other types of abusive behavior. Do you know what I mean?

SANDERS: Oh yeah.

LUSE: And the thing I keep thinking about is people keep talking about men like Louis C.K. or Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose as sort of like these, you know - these fallen heroes or these men who have, you know, legacies that have now been besmirched. But my thought is, like, you - if the only way that you can maintain your power is through abuse and through assault and through bullying, then you were never savvy enough or good enough to have that position in the first place.


AVIRGAN: Also this notion that there is, you know, only one person in the world who could do that job. And when we've lost the, you know - often the white man who was doing that job - that, you know, it's going to be impossible to find someone to replace them or whatever. I mean, you know, I've been somewhat heartened that the conversation has turned, at least in some circles, to this notion of lost opportunity for so many people.

LUSE: Exactly.

AVIRGAN: It's not just about the predatory behavior and the sort of, awful - you know, the awful behavior by these men. But it's about the ripple effect of that and all of the things - all of the women who didn't get opportunities, all of the women who would be stars...

LUSE: Exactly.

AVIRGAN: ...That we don't know about because of this. And, you know, I think that we are having a real conversation about that in addition to, sort of, you know, having a skip in our heels as we see these men fall.


SANDERS: What I keep watching is how the men react and what statements they issue once they're called out.

AVIRGAN: Can I actually, like, start to float a half-baked idea that I've been a little afraid to say out loud...

SANDERS: Say it.

LUSE: We're open.

AVIRGAN: ...But I'm going to say it out loud here...


AVIRGAN: ...To you two. I'm curious if we think there is a good response possible. I mean, you know, there's part of me that says, no, you did these things, like, you don't get to have an opportunity to have a good response to these allegations or to losing your job. But we've seen a big variety of responses, all of which have spelled unsatisfactory.

LUSE: Yeah.

AVIRGAN: And I wonder if either of you feel like there is something that someone can say in that moment where we...

SANDERS: I mean, not really.

AVIRGAN: ...Wouldn't react that way.

SANDERS: It's like asking Judas for a good response after he...


SANDERS: ...Got the thirty pieces of silver.

LUSE: Yeah.

SANDERS: It doesn't matter. It's been done.

LUSE: That was a Bible reference that I don't know.

SANDERS: You know this. Oh my - come on, Brittany.

AVIRGAN: Yeah. But you get the gist?


SANDERS: Were you raised Christian?

LUSE: I get the gist. I was. And I tell you...

SANDERS: Judas killed Jesus...

LUSE: Judas killed Jesus with a kiss.

AVIRGAN: I feel like that's pretty high on the list of story.

SANDERS: Yeah. And then he got 30 pieces of silver for doing that.

LUSE: Now that's something I didn't know. There you go. Easter explained. But no. Jody, to your point, that's a question that I think about a lot. And to me, I think that, like, there's no good verbal response. People actually - they just don't want to hear from you.

SANDERS: Exactly.


SANDERS: They want you to go away.

AVIRGAN: Go away.

LUSE: They want to go away. But some of the things that really motivated this behavior, which is, like, a fear of loss of power and loss of money - you still have that power and that money, and I want that. That's the thing that I want - I'm, like, why don't you come - like, to me, you should be required when you're fired - you should be like, OK - someone needs to work with you. And you need to come up with a list of - I don't know - 30 women and people of color that should have your job instead of you.


LUSE: Then I'll be like, OK, I'm feeling this.

SANDERS: Jody, you're up next. Describe your week of news and such in only three words.

AVIRGAN: The three words I came up with are forest for trees.


AVIRGAN: You know, it's no great insight on my part to point out that, like, we're living in head-spinning times where it's kind of a little hard to tell which stories are of consequence and which are just the freak-out of the moment. But this week, I thought, was particularly one where it was a little hard to parse that. And, you know, I think there are some pretty distracting trees out there, often in the form of tweets from our president.

But, you know, as I was saying earlier, I think it's important to try and really figure out, what are the real conversations that deserve the time and the sort of mental energy? And what are the things that, you know - I don't like that word distraction, actually, because I think everything, you know, is important. But some - you can only sort of allocate your mental space and our sort of collective energy on so many things. And, you know, I think I'm obligated to talk about polling since I work for the FiveThirtyEight "Politics" podcast.

SANDERS: You're not. You're not. But you can.

AVIRGAN: But I'm going to, Sam.

SANDERS: (Laughter) OK.

AVIRGAN: But no. I think one prime example of this is actually in polling and, in particular, this Alabama senate race. We've seen a lot of people sort of glomming onto individual polls last week showing that the Democrat was up and this week showing that Roy Moore is coming back into the lead.

SANDERS: And now, Roy Moore...

AVIRGAN: Yeah, sorry.

SANDERS: For those who have forgotten, possibly, he's been accused of sexually, I guess, assaulting several teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

AVIRGAN: So, you know, last week, there were some polls that showed Doug Jones up, the Democrat. And the next week, there are some polls that showed Roy Moore up, the Republican. Obviously, whether Roy Moore wins by two points or loses by two points has an effect on whether there is someone who is accused of sexual predation in the Senate. But in a larger sense, whether Roy Moore wins by two points or loses by two points, as a Republican, in a state where you would expect the Republican to win by 20 points, that is a force that we should keep our eye on in terms of understanding the sort of national political climate. Like, regardless of whether he wins or not, this race says a lot about the state of the GOP.

SANDERS: But I want to push back a little bit...


SANDERS: ...Because Roy Moore is a very unique candidate. He is accused of sexually assaulting several teenage girls. Not every Republican that runs for Senate in 2018 will have that same baggage.

AVIRGAN: But people are forgetting that this race was really close even before those allegations about Roy Moore. This was within a few points. And so I think there are some tea leaves here about 2018. And, you know, I would say for a lot of Democrats who may find themselves disheartened if Roy Moore - for good reason - if Roy Moore wins by a couple of points, there is still, nevertheless, another broader storyline here that I think is probably baked in. I mean, we'll see. If Roy Moore ends up winning by 15 points then, you know, we're back to...

LUSE: Yeah.

AVIRGAN: ...Kind of changing our priors, as we were discussing before. But I think this race does say a lot about the national picture. And, you know, to be perfectly honest, I think it means that - I think it says a lot about how screwed the GOP might be going into 2018.

SANDERS: So my three words are still not there. And I'm talking about this GOP tax bill. As of this taping of the show on Friday morning, it seems like this tax cut bill will pass the Senate. But - and this is a big but - there are still some steps left in this process before that bill becomes a law. The Senate bill and the House version of that bill have to be reconciled. And there are a lot of things in the House bill that may not survive that final reconciliation process.

There's also still some really huge issues, in the Senate at least, about just how much these cuts will cost and how much it will affect the deficit. And to make it even more challenging for the GOP, some of the senators at play here that could decide this bill's fate - they are not up for re-election. They also don't like Trump that much, either. So the GOP is rushing to get this done this month because they really don't have any big, key signature bills that they've passed in this entire year. And don't forget we also might face a government shutdown next week.

AVIRGAN: Yeah. We'll see what happens with this bill. But we may come out of 2017 with very little signature legislation. And, I mean, I think the - you know, by all indications, as soon as we get to 2018, we're back in campaign mode. You know, it's not like Congress is going to get a bunch done.

LUSE: Yeah.

AVIRGAN: They're going to be right in campaign mode. And it will be very interesting to see what all these elected officials are going to be touting when they're back home, and there isn't much to tout.

SANDERS: All right. Time for a quick break. Coming up, more news of the week, a long-distance call to a police officer. And if you stick around, later we'll hear from listeners sharing the best thing to happen to them all week. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders, and we'll be right back.


SANDERS: We're back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. I'm Sam Sanders, talking today with two rock stars, Brittany Luse from Gimlet's "The Nod." Hi.

LUSE: Hello.

SANDERS: And Jody Avirgan from the FiveThirtyEight "Politics" podcast and also ESPN's "30 For 30." Hello.

AVIRGAN: Hello there.

SANDERS: All right, guys. Quick yes-or-no answer. This week, the No. 1 movie in theaters is "Coco." It's a big hit. Critics love it. It pays homage to Mexican and Latino culture. It's a great thing. But Pixar, who made the film, is getting lots of beef because before the film showed in theaters, there was a thing that viewers had to sit through. There was a 21-minute "Frozen" short that you had to watch before the movie. Apparently, everyone hated it. Turns out, this "Frozen" short was actually a half-hour "Frozen" TV special that never made it to TV.


SANDERS: So my question for you guys - would you ever sit through 21 minutes of something else that was not the movie that you paid to see before you got to the film that you paid to see? Yeah...

LUSE: I mean...

SANDERS: ...Or no?

LUSE: Yeah, I probably would.

AVIRGAN: I do want to say that many times, the shorts that run in front of Pixar films...

LUSE: Are so good.

AVIRGAN: ...Are fantastic.

SANDERS: Because they're seven or eight minutes long.

AVIRGAN: But because they're seven or eight minutes. Twenty-one is a lot of action.

SANDERS: You could give me 21 minutes of Beyonce and Jay-Z redoing their vows. I'm still like, if I didn't pay for that, I don't want to see it.

AVIRGAN: What if the lights go low...

SANDERS: Where's my movie?


AVIRGAN: What if the lights go low, and they play the first 21 minutes of this podcast?



LUSE: I was going to say, I think a lot of people...

SANDERS: I'm not paying $13 for no podcast episode.


LUSE: I was just about to say, my podcasts are online for free.

SANDERS: For free 99.

LUSE: For free.

SANDERS: Exactly. Anyway - apparently, they've already pulled the "Frozen" short from the film. Mexico theaters were like, we will not show this. So they just stopped.

LUSE: (Laughter).


SANDERS: Now, it's time for a segment that we call Long Distance.


SANDERS: We call a listener somewhere in the world and talk to them about the news. Today on the line, we have listener Charlie Velasco (ph). Charlie, you there?


SANDERS: Hey, Charlie. How are you?

VELASCO: I'm doing good. I'm doing good.

SANDERS: Good, good. First of all, you're on the phone with me and two of my friends, Brittany and Jody.

LUSE: Hey.

AVIRGAN: Hi, Charlie.

VELASCO: Hi, Brittany. Hi, Jody.

SANDERS: So we should say the service is a bit spotty because we're reaching you in Puerto Rico, right?

VELASCO: Yes, correct. I am in a little town called Humacao in Puerto Rico.

SANDERS: OK. How's it going out there?

VELASCO: It's great. I work with Las Cruces Police Department out of New Mexico. And we got asked by FEMA to come out and assist their state police officers.

SANDERS: Wow. So what does that have you doing every day?

VELASCO: Initially, when we - essentially, we didn't know what we were going to do. But once we touched ground, they have no lights. They have no service. They have no electricity. So we're running basic intersections. And we're helping people get to the places they need to be - get there safe and get there on time.

SANDERS: So like, crossing-guard-type stuff.


SANDERS: So just to give people context and the reason we called you this week, Charlie - it's been almost three months since Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico. And the island is still suffering. It's about - they said about 50 percent power generation right now, which means, among many other things, there are no streetlights.

VELASCO: Yes, no streetlights whatsoever. And everyone's trying to go to a bank. Everyone's trying to buy gas for their motors. Everyone's trying to get food. And we're just trying to get them there safe.

SANDERS: So many folks from your squad are out there?

VELASCO: There are six of us.


VELASCO: We have Sergeant Allen, Sergeant Quezada, Officer Prado, Officer Herrera, Officer Soto and myself.

SANDERS: How long will you guys be out there?

VELASCO: We got sent here on November 10 - what was supposed to be a two-week stay.


VELASCO: When we got here, FEMA and Puerto Rico state police asked for an extension. So we'll be staying until December 9.


AVIRGAN: Charlie, can I ask you a question? How much does it feel like you are still in crisis recovery mode? And how much does it feel like you've settled into some new normal?

VELASCO: This is a complicated question because when you drive around, there's no lights. Some places are abandoned. Roads are destroyed. Buildings are down. But then you meet the people. And you talk to the people. And the hospitality and their spirit is so up that it's a contrast to what you're seeing. And there's a saying around here that you see all over the places - it says Puerto Rico (speaking Spanish), which means, it stands up on its own. And it's basically what it's doing. Little by little, they're getting back to normalcy.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, it's so interesting because we hear these stories about the recovery still going on in Puerto Rico. But there's this other plot, as well. Like, so many Puerto Ricans have left the island and might not come back. When you talk to Puerto Ricans, is there this feeling that the island may not ever be the same, like the population might be drastically decreased for a while?

VELASCO: No. No. Actually, I have heard people left.


VELASCO: There's a (unintelligible) that I'm working with at the police force who sent out his son, 16 years old. He sent him to Indiana to live with family members.


VELASCO: But he sent him because he currently has no power and water. And he wanted his son to live a normal life in the next year and go to school.


VELASCO: He said, you're going to return. And they'll come back. And I've asked people, do you think Puerto Rico's going to be the same as it was before the hurricane? And they said yes.

LUSE: I'm wondering, Charlie, so just some background - so my boyfriend is from Puerto Rico. He moved here from San Juan five years ago to get his master's degree.


LUSE: And his parents still live in San Juan. So I hear so many different stories from people in different positions about what's going on in Puerto Rico. And I'm wondering from you, out in Humacao, what do you think the thing - the No. 1 thing is that news coverage is getting wrong?

VELASCO: Getting wrong. I would say how fast Puerto Rico is bouncing back from such a tragic disaster - and in the sense of when we - when I left the United States, when I left New Mexico to come here, I thought I was going to come into, like, total destruction. We've all seen the pictures of the palm trees...


VELASCO: ...And trees that are just bare.


VELASCO: But there's a lot more green that I've seen in the - since I got here three weeks ago. So I think the news is not covering how fast Puerto Rico is coming back together and the spirit that the people have.

SANDERS: Wow. Well, that's good to hear.

VELASCO: Yeah, it's really good to hear. It's getting there. It's getting there.

SANDERS: Yeah. But it is still - I mean - there are still some, I guess, troubling statistics. There's still - what? - hundreds, if not thousands, that are in shelters still. What is it? Fifty percent capacity of power right now. We don't even know, at this point, what the ultimate death count is going to be. There's still some unknowns.

VELASCO: There's a lot of unknown. And people here have been telling me that - oh, actually, you reminded me - they told me that the death count is one thing that the news is getting wrong because they don't know what happened to those people. They don't know where those people are.


VELASCO: And, yeah, places like San Juan, like Ponce - the bigger city areas are bouncing back a lot faster. But the more rural areas - those places are the ones that are hurting the most right now.

SANDERS: Well, I hope you get to take a little time off this weekend. But thank you so much for the work that you're doing. And stay strong.

VELASCO: Thank you, Sam.

AVIRGAN: Take care, Charlie.

VELASCO: Thank you.

LUSE: Thanks.



SANDERS: Listeners, we want to talk to you for this segment. If you want us to give you a call and hear about anything in your neck of the woods, just drop me a note. Tell me what's going on - SamSanders@NPR.org.

It's time to talk about our main story of the week. It is a thing that we did not see as much in the headlines this week, but it's still worth talking about because it's going to affect all of our lives. I'm talking about net neutrality. Basically, the idea is that Internet service providers cannot discriminate about the speed or access to any one site or part of the Internet. Everything on the net should be treated equally by these ISPs, basically.

And we're talking about this because on December 14, the FCC - Federal Communications Commission - led by Ajit Pai - they're set to drastically change how the government enforces these ideals of net neutrality. Basically, they want to take away a lot of the regulation, move the regulation from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission and kind of push more towards a free-market approach. And a lot of folks are very, very mad about that. And you've been hearing some hypotheticals that make it seem as if the world will end if these rules roll back.

So I wanted to spend some time now - if you guys are OK with it - to go over three big misconceptions about net neutrality. How long do you think this idea of net neutrality has been a thing?

LUSE: Maybe - I think it's been, like - what? - 20, almost 25 years.

AVIRGAN: I mean, legally, this FCC ruling would be about a 2010 and a 2015 law, but I don't know if the concept of net neutrality...

LUSE: Yeah, the...

AVIRGAN: ...How far back that goes.

SANDERS: So this is the thing. This is one of the big misconceptions. A lot of people that want to roll back the Obama era rules, they kind of assume that Obama made it up.

TIM WU: I think the biggest misconception is that this is an Obama administration invention.

SANDERS: I talked to Tim Wu. He teaches at Columbia Law School, and he actually created the term net neutrality. He basically told me that this idea has been around for decades - at least since the '70s. If you parse it pretty carefully, even before. But this idea that the Internet should be free and neutral, that's been around. And he also told me that the concept of net neutrality was enforced by the Bush administration - George W. Bush - but they didn't call it net neutrality. Because they're Republicans, they called it...

WU: Net freedom.

SANDERS: Net freedom.

AVIRGAN: Freedom.

LUSE: Oh, God.

AVIRGAN: Yeah, well, not surprising - I mean, it is interesting. That word, freedom, can kind of be embraced by both sides of this argument. You know, you could say net freedom, as in, the Internet should be a free space in which there's an equal exchange of ideas and access. But you can also say freedom from a marketplace standpoint, where, you know, we let the free market sort it out, and there are going to be winners and losers in the classic free market sense. But I do like your first point reminding us that this is, like, a more fundamental conversation about what the net should be.

SANDERS: Should be.

LUSE: Exactly.

AVIRGAN: And I think that a lot of early thinkers of - about the Internet - you know, people who grew up in an era when that - there was this incredible promise of the Internet being this place for free, democratic exchange of ideas have seen, over the last 30 years-plus, you know, that kind of slowly, slowly erode. And this, I don't think, is going to be the determining factor. I mean, I think this last election - certainly the last couple years - has shown us that the notion of a free, completely democratic Internet is not there, regardless of the specific rulings around net neutrality.

SANDERS: Yeah, you know, in talking about how Obama changed all of this - his FCC, they did classify the Internet differently, which allowed them to regulate it further. They basically argued in court that broadband Internet is a utility.


SANDERS: ...That it is a necessity for modern life, and because of that, they can regulate it even more. And that's really what the utility companies now are pushing against and what Pai, the current chairman, says that he really, really hates.

AVIRGAN: I mean, do you guys buy that argument - to think of this, you know - to change the paradigm and start thinking of this as a utility or start thinking of this as sort of an infrastructure thing that, you know, government has tended to have a role in those moments?

SANDERS: You know, every time I want to think that, I think about some auntie in my family or some cousin who just, like, does not use the Internet. So it's, like, people do live without it.

LUSE: They do live without it. But I think about, like - so I recently turned 30, and now I can, like, regularly look into other people's faces and just see how much younger they are than I am.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

LUSE: And, like, by the time my kids, let's say, are in high school, the - there's going to be a population shift in the United - like, enough of a population shift, enough changes in technology - and God, I just think about smart homes, and it's, like - and, like, how that's something that's slow - like, that used to be a Disney Channel original movie.


LUSE: Yeah, in, like, the late '90s - and now it's actually becoming a reality. By the time...

SANDERS: All of our life is "The Jetsons."

LUSE: All of our life is "The Jetsons." By the time my children are in high school, it's going to be increasingly difficult to say that it's not a utility in, like, at least the nominal sense.

SANDERS: That's true. That's true.

AVIRGAN: I mean, Sam, think about your auntie. I mean, a few generations ago, you may have had - we may have all had, you know, an auntie who didn't have a paved road in their neighborhood.

LUSE: Yeah.

AVIRGAN: You know, and then we had, you know, a government provide that. And so I think that there's some analogies there.

SANDERS: True, true. Second misconception - this idea that anyone knows what happens next, this idea that anyone actually knows what's going to happen once these rules are rolled back. I talked to Cecilia Kang. She covers tech for The New York Times, and she basically said, beware of any hypothetical that is too hyperbolic.

CECILIA KANG: What I do hear is that immediately, you're going to see big change. You're going to see sites that are blocked. You're going to see stifling of speech. And I'm fairly confident that the companies wouldn't want to do that because their consumers wouldn't stand for it.

SANDERS: Lots of advocacy groups say, well as soon as Comcast can block their competitor, they'll block their competitor. And the next day, you won't be able to access large portions of the Web. That's probably not going to be the case.

LUSE: No. It's rare that in any type of industry that you can just make a grand, sweeping change like that, especially one that, like - that consumers so directly interact with all of the time, you know?

SANDERS: Oh, yeah, because they will call you.

LUSE: Exactly. They will call you. They will blow you up. So I think that, like, on some level, I do think that, like, the industry is beholden to, like, its consumers. But I don't know. It's like boiling a lobster. Do you know what I'm saying? It's, like, by the time you realize that you're hot, you're about to die.

SANDERS: You're really hot.

LUSE: Exactly. And so I think it's just going to be - I don't think that anything's going to happen overnight. I just think there's going to become maybe, you know, the type of future that was described in the tape is something that could exist 10 years from now, but it's not going to happen, like, next April.

SANDERS: Yeah. What lots of folks that I talked to say will probably happen in the next few months once these rules are rolled back is, you'll start to see kind of a tiered pricing model for access to certain sites. So, like, your Internet service provider might say, this base package gives you X, Y, Z, but if you add 15 bucks a month, you also get fast Netflix access.

LUSE: Like cable.

SANDERS: Exactly. It's going to be cable-ified (ph).

LUSE: ...Like how I don't have OWN.

AVIRGAN: Yeah, well...

LUSE: ...Even though I pay $85 dollars a month (laughter).

SANDERS: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: So one thing - it is funny that in the cable world, where see people obsessed with unbundling, and then in this world, that notion of everything being tiered and split out is the kind of - is the clarion call that people are really worried about. I know that they're not pure, sort of one-to-one metaphors, but I also do think that we're going to see some backlash to the unbundling.

Then, all the people who've been calling for TV unbundling are going to start to realize like, oh, wait, now I'm lost in a sea where I have to pay, like, you know, X amount for this, HBO GO and then X amount for Netflix and X amount for this. And all of a sudden I'm like, going to a la carte a little too much; I wish someone would do this all together for me.

SANDERS: So the third misconception - there are a lot of people who are claiming the sky will fall with these new measures, and they say that, basically, if these changes happen, net neutrality is over. It's not actually that simple. I talked with Gigi Sohn. She was an Obama-era FCC senior staffer. She's now a fellow with Georgetown and Mozilla, who has a dog in this fight, and she basically says, it's not over yet.

GIGI SOHN: I think it's less about legislation in the short term than ensuring that we have legislators who support net neutrality in the future. So I believe that this issue and related issues around broadband privacy, and consumer protection, and the price of cable and broadband are going to become bread-and-butter issues that people will vote on in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

SANDERS: So basically, every advocacy group that is telling folks online to go call their senator or call the FCC or call Pai, the FCC chairman - they all know that the FCC has the numbers to make this rule change, and they will do so on December 14. What these advocacy groups want to do is keep this issue at the forefront so that you're voting on these kind of issues next time, and the next time and the next time. Also keep in mind, if this FCC can change these rules, under a new administration, they could push them back. It's not over yet, basically.

AVIRGAN: So Sam, in terms of that sort of whether people are going to keep their eye on this issue, it occurs to me, do we - I wonder what you guys think of the very name of this issue being a little too opaque. You know, four syllables in the word neutrality is a lot of syllables for people to get their head around.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Are we really? Oh...

AVIRGAN: I mean, look...

SANDERS: I have more faith in the American people. They can handle a four-syllable word.

AVIRGAN: Do you?

LUSE: Yeah, I'm like, I don't know about that.

AVIRGAN: I mean, it's not about faith in the American people. I mean, you know, the branding of issues - I mean, you know, the GOP has been really good about this - the death tax. You know, I mean, so why has no - neither of these sides embraced net freedom as their mantle?

SANDERS: Well, for a while, one side did. Then they stopped.

AVIRGAN: So but I do genuinely think, as cynical - you know, maybe I'm a little more cynical than you are, Sam - that that actually does set up some sort of barrier for this being an issue. I think we can all agree that people don't fully have their heads around, and they should. I mean, it's part of their day-to-day life. It's not that hard to sort of fundamentally understand. But I do think that that name is a little wishy-washy and a little opaque. And I guess I'm a little surprised that someone hasn't tried to really, fully, like, rebrand, in a way, to sort of - you know, if only from a sort of cynical political standpoint.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah. I also wonder, you know, there are other countries throughout the world that have just decided as countries, as a whole, that they really take internet seriously, and they've just built the infrastructure. And you have in some countries just really great, high-quality, high-speed Internet all over the country for free.

LUSE: So something - and that's something I think about a lot. So I visited Sweden last fall, and I remember talking to, like, other people in the podcasting space, and something that they said was that, like, we - I was shocked. I was with a colleague, and I was shocked that, like - I was like, I didn't know that, like, people in Sweden were so into podcasts. Like, what is that about? And they were like, well, they sort of attributed the success of podcasting as an industry or something that people are interested in in the fact that Sweden invested in having high-quality Internet.

SANDERS: Everywhere.

LUSE: ...Everywhere for all people in, like, the '90s. And so it became, like, a national value. I don't know. It makes me question sort of what our national values are when you think about, like, the innovation, the access to information and just the connectivity, that having a more - like, a stronger, more infrastructured (ph) internet would be like in the United States.

SANDERS: Also, just to underscore, you know, we have highlighted some voices that are on the side of stronger rules about this stuff. But Ajit Pai, the chair of the FCC - he basically says, roll back these rules so we can ensure more investment in this industry. And he also says that, you know, the market survived before the Obama-era rules were in place. They can survive without them.

LUSE: Yeah.

SANDERS: Before we go, one more quick question - if the Internet was throttled in such a way that you both only had access to one website for the rest of your lives, what would that site be?

LUSE: I'm so embarrassed. I'm so embarrassed.

SANDERS: Say it.

LUSE: It's so sad.

SANDERS: Say it.

LUSE: ...That it would probably be - ooh, you know what? I was going to say Twitter, but then I'm like, Netflix. I'm like, do I want to be informed, or do I want to stay sane? Which is it? I don't know.

SANDERS: (Laughter) What about you, Jody?

AVIRGAN: I mean, it would be YouTube. I mean, I think YouTube is - God, I'm about to say something way over the top.

SANDERS: Say it.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: But not for the first time, not for the first time.

SANDERS: Say it.

AVIRGAN: I think, like, YouTube is, like, the best invention of my lifetime. Like, I think it is.

SANDERS: Sit down. Get out of my house. I'm tired of you. I'm tired of your lies.

AVIRGAN: Name something else. I mean, I think it is, like - you know, it is a reflection of a lot of other big inventions. So, you know, but so - like...


LUSE: Best invention of your lifetime?

SANDERS: No, no.

AVIRGAN: In my lifetime, I think YouTube has been the most, like, kind of consequential and I think, you know, in many ways, like, wonderful thing.

SANDERS: The greatest invention of our lifetimes is Beyonce.


LUSE: I was just about to say - I'm like, so we're just going to gloss over Beyonce?

AVIRGAN: And sorry, so let's say you wake up, and you're like, oh, I would like to see a video by the greatest invention of my lifetime. Where would you go to see that video?

SANDERS: Beyonce.net/global or whatever the hell it is. I don't know.

LUSE: You know what? I got to give - Jody, I got to hand you that. That was savvy. That was smooth.

SANDERS: Jody wins, fine. All right, time for one more quick break, but before we do that, I want to give Jody and Brittany the space to plug their podcasts. Jody, you have a new season of "30 For 30" out, right?

AVIRGAN: Yeah. So "30 For 30" is this, you know, long-standing ESPN effort to make kind of sports documentaries, but really about much more than, you know, what happens on the field, but really about the sort of cultural impact of sports and the way people's lives are changed. And we're doing audio documentaries under that same umbrella. And in particular, I thought that our first episode of this new season, which was about a photo that the Miami Heat took in 2012 in response to the death of Trayvon Martin...

SANDERS: ...Of the entire team wearing hoodies with their heads bowed.

AVIRGAN: So in the documentary, we go and talk to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and we talk to Gabrielle Union, who was Dwayne Wade's girlfriend at the time - wife now - who was really the voice saying, you guys need to take a stand here about the death of Trayvon Martin. And we sort of trace how that came together, but in a larger sense, trace kind of why athletes and sort of culture in general was ready to have that moment.

SANDERS: Yeah. And I love the episode because you hear these athletes talk about these issues in such a thoughtful manner.


SANDERS: And so much of the narrative, particularly around this take-a-knee movement, is that these guys don't know what they're doing, that they're being impulsive or that they're being rash. But when you hear LeBron and Dwyane Wade and these others talk, they know what they're doing. They've thought this stuff out. They're doing it for a reason, and they get it. They get all that's involved in this. And I just loved how you guys unpack that.

AVIRGAN: Well, thank you.

SANDERS: Brittany, your show.

LUSE: So I am the co-host of a podcast called "The Nod." It is reported stories about black life. It's a podcast about black culture. I co-host it with my best friend of 12 years. His name is Eric Eddings. So a couple weeks ago, we put out an episode that was about patronizing black businesses, which was literally me and my co-host Eric in competition against each other, doing a scavenger hunt all around New York, trying to buy specific items from black-owned businesses. There are tears, there's laughter, we both get to drink a beer in the middle of the afternoon. It's super fun.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

LUSE: Also, the episode that we have coming out this coming Monday - I don't want to say too much about that. It's the first of a two-part series that Eric has been working on for a few months. But it is one of the most peculiar and, like, long-spanning stories about black American family history that I have ever heard. And I think that it's definitely going to be something that a lot of people have never heard before.

SANDERS: All right, thanks for your plugs, guys. One more quick break - we'll be right back with my favorite game, Who Said That?


SANDERS: Brittany, Jody, before we get back to the show, got to handle some business. Some listeners may know - some may have been tipped off at the start of the show - I'm in a friendly little fundraising competition battle with other NPR podcasts hosts. Basically, we are having a several-weeks-long campaign to get listeners to donate to their local public radio stations through their favorite podcasts.

So every podcast has a distinct link that will allow you to give to your station, and it's a competition to see who gets the most donations, the most donors for their show. I am locked in mortal battle with Peter Sagal of Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! and Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson of Pop Culture Happy Hour. I want to beat them - donate.npr.org/Sam. The /Sam means that whatever you give is little check mark on our tally.

AVIRGAN: Three letters - it's, like - it's got to be the shortest one.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

AVIRGAN: /S-A-M - so that's it. If only it will save you seconds off your day.

SANDERS: Exactly.

AVIRGAN: ...That you can use for other important things. Go with the shortest URL.

LUSE: It's a really smart idea. I mean, honestly, my thing is is that something that I know about this show is that it is a safe haven for people who are - you know, have the true - the one true belief system, which is that Beyonce is the greatest living entertainer of our times.


SANDERS: Of our times.

LUSE: And, you know, I have to say, y'all know I love Linda and Stephen. I love being on Pop Culture Happy Hour.


LUSE: But I have to say, when it comes down to the wire, I'm going to have to encourage everybody to go to - what is it? - donate.npr.org.

SANDERS: /Sam, yeah.

LUSE: Donate.NPR.org/Sam. If you...

SANDERS: Fam recognize fam.

LUSE: Exactly. We serve a mighty God.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yes. All right, we did it - back to the show.


SANDERS: We're back. All right, it's time for my favorite game. It's called Who Said That.


KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

SANDERS: Without fail, every week, someone emails and says, where can I find that audio? And I happily send the YouTube link - YouTube - to that "Real Housewives Of Atlanta" clip where it goes down.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: Is that - but that's a loop of one person saying, who said that, over and over.

SANDERS: It's loop of, like, 17 of them saying, who said that (laughter).

AVIRGAN: And they all say it. Ah, it's so good.

SANDERS: Yeah, it's amazing. All right, this game is simple. You know how it works. I share a quote from the week. You all have to guess who said that. We'll do three of these today. And keep in mind, the winner gets absolutely nothing. You ready?

LUSE: Yeah.

SANDERS: You guys are scared about this, huh?


LUSE: Yes.


LUSE: Terrified - because I'm not going to get it. And I'm - everyone's going to know.

AVIRGAN: Because Sam, as a radio host, it's not cool to set up segments that make your guests look dumb.

LUSE: That is the truth.

SANDERS: But it's fun.

AVIRGAN: Fun for the host.

SANDERS: It's fun for the host (laughter).

LUSE: It's fun for you, torture for me.

SANDERS: You guys can do this. Here's the first quote. Quote - "it's and then, not ooh wee. But really, it's whatever you want it to be." Who said that?

LUSE: Oh, it's T-Pain.


SANDERS: Oh, see, look at you. You got it. T-Pain. Do you...

LUSE: I didn't know you were taking it to the club. I know the club.

SANDERS: The clurb (ph), yes. So this week on Twitter, T-Pain...

AVIRGAN: I think my buzzer's broken.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. OK, OK. This week on Twitter, T-Pain - rapper turned singer - clarified a lyric from one of his biggest songs, "Buy U A Drank." That song is 10 years old now, if you can believe that - crazy, crazy, crazy. But there was this line in the chorus that I, for one, thought he was just saying, ooh wee. Turns out it was more than that.


T-PAIN: (Singing) I'm going to buy you a drank, whoa. And then, I'm going to take you home with me.

SANDERS: And then - did you hear it?

LUSE: I refuse.

SANDERS: Play it again, Brent. Listen. Listen under the ooh wee. It's and then.


T-PAIN: (Singing) And then...

SANDERS: (Singing) And then.

Did you hear it?


SANDERS: (Singing) And then.

LUSE: I don't recognize it. I don't recognize it. I don't recognize that

SANDERS: But if T-Pain says he was saying and then, do you believe that?

LUSE: We all fall from grace. We all are wrong sometimes. And I'm wrong. It is what it is.

SANDERS: (Laughter) T-Pain is wrong about his own song.

AVIRGAN: Yeah, that song belongs to us now, not him.

SANDERS: Oh, wow.

LUSE: Exactly. It's been 10 years. That's a common-law marriage.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Brittany's up one to zip. Next quote - ready? "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 people a day. More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined." Who said that?

AVIRGAN: I don't know what - well, maybe I'm wrong here. But isn't - is that not new language that is going to appear on cigarettes or something in some country? Am I totally off base there?

SANDERS: You're in the area. It's actually a domestic thing, and it was - it's some TV ads.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans every day.

SANDERS: That language is from an ad that ran on prime-time TV this week, and it was paid for by tobacco companies.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A federal court has ordered Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA to make this statement about the health effects of smoking.

SANDERS: So all these companies settled a lawsuit back in 2006. And the suit basically found that these tobacco companies lied - deliberately lied about the health effects of cigarettes. And so as part of this judgment against them, a court ordered the tobacco companies to run these ads, basically saying, cigarettes kill you. But it took the companies 11 years to agree on what the ad would actually be, and it's basically just a white screen with this voice reading these words.

AVIRGAN: Though, those are pretty compelling statistics. I mean, I think a lot of times stats, you know, don't scan for folks. But to say more than murder - what? - murder, suicide, AIDs...

SANDERS: Murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, alcohol...

LUSE: Suicide, AIDS, yeah, that is...

AVIRGAN: I mean, that's pretty startling.

SANDERS: Also, sidebar though - the CDC - Centers for Disease Control - they have found that teen smoking is at historic lows.

LUSE: Really?

SANDERS: ...Which is a good thing.

LUSE: That is a good thing.

SANDERS: Yeah. All right, next quote - "I love Star Wars, but I will protest this movie so fast." Who said that?

LUSE: I don't know.

AVIRGAN: Oh, shit.

SANDERS: What was the biggest "Star Wars" news story of the week? Did you guys follow this?

LUSE: Wait, they had the - the trailer came out for the new movie.

SANDERS: This is a tweet sent by a "Star Wars" fan. Her account's called mother of kittens, and she was responding to a tweet that said that Jar Jar Binks would make an appearance in the newest "Star Wars" film.

AVIRGAN: No, he's coming back?

LUSE: That's right, I did hear that, that Jar Jar Binks is going to come back.

AVIRGAN: So has he...

LUSE: I don't know why.

AVIRGAN: Has Jar Jar Binks gone through the full, like, backlash, backlash to the backlash, backlash to the back - and now he's, like, retro?

LUSE: Yeah.

SANDERS: He's cool again - ironic.

AVIRGAN: ...Ironic, cool again.

LUSE: But he - was he cool before?

AVIRGAN: No, this is the - this is where it's going...

SANDERS: He was just low-key racist, right?

AVIRGAN: He was universe - well, that.

LUSE: Yeah, that's what I thought.


AVIRGAN: And universally hated as just, like, a...

LUSE: Yeah, he was an annoying and a fake Jamaican (laughter).

SANDERS: Faux - like Drake.

LUSE: (Laughter) You said it.

SANDERS: I said it. No, here's the thing. So everyone thought this was a tweet from Variety, the trade magazine out of Hollywood. Turns out, it was a fake parody account, and everyone got Rickrolled when they clicked the link.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: But Jar Jar's actually not coming back.

SANDERS: Jar Jar's not coming back.


SANDERS: Do not fear, "Star Wars" fans. There's too many Drake albums out right now, and the new "Star Wars" movie comes out December 15.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: I'm done, I'm done (laughter). All right, Brittany, you won.

LUSE: Thank you.

SANDERS: Your prize is nothing. How do you feel about that?

LUSE: I feel pretty good. I - before I came here, I bought a sandwich. I put it in my purse because I knew that I'd be done close to lunchtime.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

LUSE: So I'm going to pretend like the sandwich is my prize.

SANDERS: What is the sandwich in your purse right now?

LUSE: I got one of those half sandwiches from Pret. There's a Pret next to the New York NPR bureau.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. I'm there all the time when I'm up there.

LUSE: Exactly. It's just so convenient. And so I got a half sandwich, and I had some chips, which Jody saw me eating before - basically, at breakfast time. And I also have a...

AVIRGAN: I brought you a tamale.

LUSE: He brought me a tamale.


LUSE: Yes.

AVIRGAN: I brought tamales.

SANDERS: Bring me a tamale.

AVIRGAN: I - can I send a tamale via ISDN?

SANDERS: Yeah, bro, 3-D print that ish (ph). 3-D print.

AVIRGAN: OK. I'm just going to stuff it microphone, and we'll see what happens, yeah.

SANDERS: Well, you know, holiday tamales are a thing.

AVIRGAN: They are?

SANDERS: In Texas, everyone brings out the tamales near Christmastime.

AVIRGAN: Whoa, whoa.

SANDERS: Yeah. Anyways, I digress. All right, you guys, we are almost done. You're almost out of here. But first, I want to plug our Tuesday episode. I recently had the honor of speaking with the one and only Dan Rather. He has a new book out, and we talked about his book, his thoughts on patriotism and what it means to be American. And we talked a lot about President Trump. It was quite nice.

When I met him, I was super scared, and I was like, Mr. Rather, so nice to meet you. And he had, like, Googled me, I guess. And the first thing he says to me, he goes, I know you're a Texan. I know exactly where you went to college. Then we start riffing on, like, where I went to school. He's such a nice guy. So check your feed on Tuesday morning for that.

With that, we're going to end the weekly wrap as we always do. Each week, we ask our listeners to send us a recording of their own voices sharing the best things that happened to them all week. I encourage folks to brag. They always do. Let's take a listen.

JAKE: Hi, Sam.

KATE: Hi, Sam.

JAKE: I'm Jake (ph).

KATE: This is Kate (ph).

JAKE: And the best thing about our week was getting to buy toys for the boys and girls...

KATE: Boys and girls.

JAKE: Boys and girls, that's right - for Toys for Tots.

KATE: Toys for Tots.

SANDERS: Oh, that's too cute.

JAKE: Thanks.

KATE: Thanks.

CHRIS: Hey, Sam. This is Chris (ph) out in Seattle, Wash. And for the first time in my life, without using any gadgets to help me, I just solved the jumble in the newspaper.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CHRISTOPHER: The best thing that happened to me all week was participating in the 35th annual Detroit Turkey Trot.

LAUREN: I just finished my first-ever law school exam.

SANDERS: Congrats.

LAURA: My brother got engaged.

BARBARA: I became an aunt for the first time.

BRANDON: I finally took a vacation to London.

MARNIE: My 5-year-old son got the lead in his elementary school production of "Where The Wild Things Are."


MARNIE: And he's going to be playing Max.

PETER: I got to celebrate my grandmother's 99th birthday.

SANDERS: Congrats.

PETER: ...With her in Lima, Peru.


BRIDGET: Hey, Sam. This is Bridget (ph) calling from Rome, Italy. I've been backpacking by myself for the last 61 days throughout Europe.

SANDERS: That's a lot.

BRIDGET: And the best thing that happened to me this week was that my two dear friends flew from Louisville, Ky., to make sure I wasn't alone on Thanksgiving.


BRIDGET: They're both married and have families of their own now, so it was awesome to have a girls' weekend, roaming the city and eating tons of gelato.

SANDERS: I'd read that screenplay.

KATIE: Hi, Sam. It's Katie (ph) from New York, N.Y. And the best thing to happen to me this week - and maybe this year - is after much work and school and practicing, I made my Metropolitan Opera debut this week.


KATIE: ...With the amazing Met Chorus.



KATIE: As a kid from New York, it was always my dream to sing there.

LUSE: Jeez.

KATIE: I'm going to be there all week, and I have to pinch myself every time I'm on my way to work.

SANDERS: Congratulations.

AVIRGAN: It's no 5-year-old getting to play Max, but still.


CAITLIN: Hey, Sam. This is Caitlin (ph) from Lafayette, La. And the best thing that happened to me all week is that I'm a public defender, and one of my clients who I've worked with for years - and he had been kind of resigned to spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. He got out of prison.


CAITLIN: And he sent me a picture of him teaching his niece how to ride a horse.


LUSE: Aw, man.

CAITLIN: I've only ever seen him for five years in an orange jumpsuit, and I got to see him today - he was in a T-shirt and jeans.


CAITLIN: And it made me so happy.


CAITLIN: Thanks.

BRIDGET: And Happy Holidays.

BRANDON: Cheers.

BRIDGET: Bye-bye.


SANDERS: Every week, it gets me.

LUSE: Wow.

SANDERS: Thanks to Jake and Kate, Chris, Christopher (ph), Lauren (ph), Laura (ph), Barbara (ph), Brandon (ph), Marnie (ph), Peter (ph), Bridget, Katie at the Met and Caitlin for, gosh, doing the lord's work out there. All of our listeners, thank you so much for sharing so much of your lives with us. We listen to every one of these things that comes in. We wish we had time to play all of them. We don't.

But if you want to share your best thing all week, you can do so at any time throughout the week. Just record the sound of your own voice, and send the file to me at samsanders@npr.org. Jody, Brittany, we're there. We made it. Jagged Edge will take us out.


JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) Do you think about...

SANDERS: I want to hit the rap again so you can rap the whole rap.

LUSE: I know.

SANDERS: Are you're going to do it?

LUSE: No. I don't remember all the words to the rap.

SANDERS: Yup. Pull it up. Go ahead.

LUSE: I don't remember all the words.

AVIRGAN: He's got it. He's just got it at the ready.

SANDERS: Go ahead, Brittany.


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) It ain't nothing. I ain't fronting. Shorty coming with me.

LUSE: (Rapping) It ain't nothing. I ain't fronting. Shorty coming with me.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Little pitchy - a little pitchy.


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) And your last name...

LUSE: (Rapping) ...About to change.


REVEREND RUN: (Rapping) Now you Mrs. Simmons, got a better living. What a difference Rev Run made.

LUSE: See, I can't remember this part here.

SANDERS: It's OK. The video is perfect, too.

LUSE: Oh, the video's perfect.

SANDERS: It's, like, the wedding. It's amazing. Anyway...

LUSE: Changed my life - also, it has Jagged Edge. Like, what's better than Jagged Edge? A lot of things.

SANDERS: Jagged Edge is - they were kind of a lower tier of the R&B groups of the day. They were no Dru Hill.

LUSE: They were no - we got to talk about Dru Hill sometime - not today, but sometime.

SANDERS: Not today. All right, we did it. We made it. The show this week was produced by Brent Baughman and Anjuli Sastry with Steve Nelson, our director of programming - also, editing help from Jeff Rogers. Our big boss is NPR's VP of programming here at NPR, Anya Grundmann. You can refresh your feed Tuesday morning for my wide-ranging chat with veteran journalist Dan Rather. And you can check out Brittany's show and Jody's show whenever you want - "The Nod" from Gimlet, the FiveThirtyEight "Politics" podcast and also ESPN's "30 For 30" podcast. Brittany, Jody, thank you, guys.

AVIRGAN: You got it, Sam. That was really fun.

LUSE: Thank you. This was so fun.

SANDERS: Thanks for listening. I'm Sam Sanders, talk soon.


JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) Meet me at the altar in your white dress. We ain't getting no younger.

SANDERS: They just holler so much. This is the thing with Jagged Edge.

LUSE: Well, also, they weren't - to me, they weren't that cute. That was the other thing is, I was like, who's sexy? And Jagged Edge just didn't light my fire when I was in the eighth grade.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Wow.

LUSE: I'm just being honest. It's how I felt.

SANDERS: That's going to be in the show so all the Jagged Edge fans can this slander.

LUSE: (Laughter).

AVIRGAN: All the Jagged Edge fans.

SANDERS: Like, all three Jagged Edge fans.


JAGGED EDGE: (Singing) We might as well do it, baby. Been feeling you all the while girl, I must confess.

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