Days before Super Bowl LIII we ask, can you keep politics out of football?

🎙This Week in Dystopia
Feb 1 · 5 min read
Event attendee looks up special New England Patriots edition of Sam Adams beer (photo credit: Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School)

Can you keep politics out of football? The second season of This Week in Dystopia kicks off (get it?) with a discussion about the NFL, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick, The Patriots, and more.

In advance of Super Bowl LIII, Christopher Robichaud talks to Mark Leibovich, Chief National correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, author of Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, and Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

“Mark Leibovich on Political Culture and the NFL” in JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School

Special thanks to the JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard’s Institute of Politics for letting us share this discussion. You can watch a full recording of this event ⬇️

This Week’s Guests

Mark Leibovich is the chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. Based in Washington, he specializes in national politics, media, and profiles of figures in public life. Before joining the magazine, he was a political correspondent in The Times’s Washington bureau, where he covered, among other things, the presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012, the Obama presidency and the so-called swamp of Washington. He is the recipient of the of the National Magazine Award for profile writing.

He came to The Times in 2006 after 10 years at The Washington Post and three at The San Jose Mercury News. He is also a contributing political analyst for CBS.

Mr. Leibovich is the author of three books, including “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital.” The book debuted at №1 on The Times’s nonfiction best-seller list in July 2013 and remained on the list for 12 weeks.

Mr. Leibovich was born in Boston, raised in the suburbs and attended the University of Michigan. He lives in Washington.

Leah Wright Rigueur is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. An historian by training, she received her B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Before joining the Kennedy School faculty, Leah was a professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Leah’s research interests include 20th Century United States political and social history, and modern African American history. Her work emphasizes race, civil rights, political ideology, the American two-party system and the presidency. At the Kennedy School, she teaches courses on race, riot and backlash in the United States, and the Civil Rights Movement, race and policy in Modern America. Beginning in Fall 2015, Leah will also lead Race and American Politics, a multidisciplinary series of seminars and roundtables, co-sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, and dedicated to the most pressing political and social issues related to race in the United States.

Leah’s first book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers more than four decades of American political and social history, and examines the ideas and actions of black Republican activists, officials and politicians, from the era of the New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential ascent in 1980. Her work ultimately provides a new understanding of the interaction between African Americans and the Republican Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism. Her book takes a long approach to American history and not only tells an important story about race and the Republican Party, but also expands our understanding of the evolution in opinions and behaviors of everyday African Americans that supported or rejected the GOP on a local, state, and national level, between 1936 and present day. Read the introduction to the book here.

Leah’s research, writing, and commentary has been featured in a number of different outlets including Polity, Souls, Federal History Journal, CNN, PBS, NPR, Sirius Radio, Washington Post, The Guardian, MSNBC, Politico, The Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, Daily Beast, Huffington Post Live, and Salon. Currently, she is working on several projects, including a piece on black women and the Republican Party, an article on black “celebrity” and modern conservatism/neoconservatism, and a book manuscript on African American appointees in the Reagan and Bush administrations, with a focus on economic justice and social welfare policies.

Season Two

During season two of This Week in Dystopia we’re going to focus on the intersection of politics and pop culture. No matter how hard we might want to keep these two topics apart, they’re constantly smacking into each other. From Kanye West to Taylor Swift and Spiderman into the Multiverse, we’ll be tackling what these things mean about politics, our democracy, and civil society.

Is there something you want to hear on This Week in Dystopia? Reach out to the show’s producer Sarah at or message us on Twitter @WeekinDystopia.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @WeekinDystopia, like us on Facebook, and subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. If you like us, rate us and share the show. 👍

This podcast is produced by Harvard Ash Center.

This Week in Dystopia

This Week in Dystopia is a new podcast hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer. A podcast of politics, theory, and pop culture, This Week in Dystopia, brings commentary from the halls of Harvard to everyone's headphones.

🎙This Week in Dystopia

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A podcast about the promise and perils of democracy, hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer.

This Week in Dystopia

This Week in Dystopia is a new podcast hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer. A podcast of politics, theory, and pop culture, This Week in Dystopia, brings commentary from the halls of Harvard to everyone's headphones.

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