Early last year, Kevin Roose wrote an article about Andrew Yang’s entry into the 2020 presidential campaign. At the time, Yang’s candidacy was quixotic — he was not well known and had never held elected office — and Kevin’s tone was skeptical.
After interviewing Yang about his platform, Kevin called him “a longer-than-long-shot” candidate and figured his campaign would more or less fizzle out over time.
Fast forward almost two years. Yang is running an unexpectedly robust campaign, addressing the perils of automation, that qualified him to stand on stage alongside Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
For Kevin, the question was inevitable: What had he missed?
“Daily” producers wondered if Kevin could somehow answer that on the show. We asked him to re-interview Yang and, afterward, talk to me about what he had learned since his original story.
Kevin flew to Houston, where Yang was preparing for Thursday night’s debate and met the candidate at a nearby studio. Kevin began the conversation with a dose of humility. “It seems like there was something in your message that I didn’t expect to become a sort of a kitchen table issue for America.”
From there, the episode unfolded as a searching conversation about Yang’s ideas, especially his plan to give every American $1,000 a month (a concept called universal basic income, or U.B.I.); the thinking that lay behind the idea; and why it has resonated with so many Democratic voters.
The episode ended where it began, with Kevin articulating what he failed to foresee in his article back in 2018, when he called Yang’s platform a longshot.
“Since then, he’s been able to turn it into a discussion about what it means to be a human — about what we would do if we weren’t so worried about making ends meet,” Kevin explained. “And I think that’s the part that I didn’t see when I first met him was that this argument — this sort of wonky economics argument about automation and U.B.I. and G.D.P. and all these other three-letter acronyms — that he could make it appeal to people on an emotional level by saying this is not just about giving you free money. But instead, he’s saying it’s not about the money. It’s about what the money can allow you to do. And that’s the part that I think I missed.”
Throughout the coming months, we will keep finding new ways to introduce you to the 2020 presidential candidates. We welcome your feedback on the best ways to do that.
Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.
In the Studio with Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
In the course of breaking open the Harvey Weinstein investigation, which helped spark the MeToo movement, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey uncovered a hidden system around the allegations of sexual assault by powerful men. It’s a system more messy and complicated than previously reported — one that empowers victims and silences them at the same time. That system is now at the center of their new book, “She Said,” which was just released. Next week on “The Daily,” Jodi and Megan will be our guests, sharing their new reporting about how that system operates.
“It Took a Death Sentence”
“Because my uncle did not have health insurance they would not give him the tests that he probably needed to find out what was going on,” Nikole Hannah-Jones says. It took “my uncle getting a death sentence before he was able to get health insurance.”
In this new episode of “1619,” which airs on “The Daily” tomorrow, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jeneen Interlandi discuss how our current health care system has everything to do with race. Plus, Yaa Gyasi, author of “Homegoing,” reads a short piece she wrote about the haunting legacy of the Tuskegee Study.
“1619” is a new Times podcast that you’ll hear “on “The Daily” on Saturdays. We’re also releasing it as a stand-alone show, with new installments published on Fridays. Listen to the latest at nytimes.com/1619podcast or by searching for “1619” wherever you get your podcasts.
On ‘The Daily’ this week
Monday: Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to cut Parliament out of Brexit, but Parliament struck back.
Tuesday: Peter Baker on how a historic peace deal between the United States and the Taliban went off the rails.
Wednesday: John Bolton was fired after clashing with President Trump over foreign policy issues like Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea. Or did he resign?
Thursday: Even as well known Democratic lawmakers failed to qualify for this week’s debates, Andrew Yang did. Kevin Roose on what makes Yang’s campaign so compelling.