Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes”
When I caught up with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes by phone on a recent afternoon, he was taking advantage of some downtime by enjoying the simple pleasure of walking his dog with his father. It’s because his parents happened to be in town visiting — and, more important, it was also a manifestation of one of the big changes brought about by the pandemic that the host of All In with Chris Hayes told me he’s become intentional about making a permanent part of his life.
Ever since Covid-19 inverted our relationship with home and the office, among other profound adjustments to the way we live and work, the host of MSNBC’s 8 pm hour has found that the emphasis on remote work and the like have given him more time to spend with family. And especially more face time with his three children who might have been lucky to see him for an hour each day, if that, prior to the pandemic.
The two of us were talking about all this, because this notion of what our world looks like going forward, thanks largely to disruptions wrought by the global health crisis, also happens to be the subject of a new four-part podcast miniseries that Hayes is launching today. It’s called The Future of, and it’s available on all the major podcast platforms. Moreover, it can be found within the feed of Hayes’ existing podcast series, titled Why is this Happening? that Hayes launched in May 2018.
These new podcast episodes are built around conversations with experts in specific fields — entertainment, innovation, energy, and even friendship — and will focus on probing what’s changed, and why, because of what we’ve all just lived through over the past couple of years. It’s about taking a beat, in other words, outside of the too-often manic ebb and flow of the day’s news cycle, and talking about the kind of changed world that we want, as opposed to what’s too often required of journalists — the task of simply responding to the world, and of bearing witness to it.
“I’ve been thinking about all this a lot during the pandemic — and I’ve been very, like future-obsessed recently,” Hayes told me, in a conversation that also comes just ahead of his MSNBC show’s ninth anniversary on April 1.
That obsession, as he put it, has included “dealing with the sheer scope of the destruction of the last two years, which I think we know on an intellectual level, and we’ve all felt emotionally, because we’re humans. We’re good at acclimating. And then this question of: What stays, and what goes, from the changes we’ve made? A plague is certainly one of the elemental human experiences, and one of the elemental forcing mechanisms of human history in all kinds of ways.
“And then the other thing that I think (the new series) is partly about is — trying to conceive of and talk about visions for the future that aren’t purely dystopian and doom-laden. Which, I think, is really a challenge. Particularly as a land war in Europe breaks out.”
The first episode in this podcast miniseries that’s now available, The Future of Entertainment, includes a conversation with NBC late-night host Seth Meyers. Each subsequent episode of the series will drop weekly, on Tuesday.
The other topics and guests include:
Seth Meyers, the host of NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” speaks onstage at an event in New York … [+]
“In both the Seth Meyers episode, and in the one about friendship, there’s a lot of, like — I think we found interesting ways in which the adaptations born of this period of disruption produced interesting and perhaps long-lasting results,” Hayes told me. “Seth talked about the ways it changed his show, the way of relating to audiences and how that might carry forward.
“In the friendship conversation, we talk about different ways of staying close to people when you couldn’t physically be close. And how much that will carry through and will be a defining feature of friendships and how they operate, post-pandemic.”
With Covid cases now broadly on the decline, and the pandemic nowhere near the kind of urgent and blinking red catastrophe that it was in 2020, there’s been an unspoken shift in many people’s behavior back toward the normal-life things we used to take for granted. It’s the phenomenon that public health officials promised us would come, eventually. Covid will never disappear, but the emergency will — and not all at once, either.
All of which is to say, it’s a pretty good bet that if you’re reading these words, your life right now in 2022 might more closely resemble the one from 2019 than 2020’s version, though there are of course a multitude of caveats and exceptions. The front pages of newspapers, news websites, and newscasts certainly bear this out, too. Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine might be the first truly global story that bumps Covid from the pole position of news coverage — and keeps it that way.
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: Elena Quiles and Oleksandra Yashan join other demonstrators gathering … [+]
“One of the conversations we have in the series is about energy, and what the future of energy looks like,” Hayes told me. “On energy, we basically have, say, 300 years or so, thereabouts, of carbon capitalism. Basically, fossil-fuel based industrialization, modernity, and the entire creation of the industrialized capitalist world based on that — and we’re going to have to transition off of that very fast. That will be the story.
“And there’s all kinds of related ways that’s going to affect us. Whether we go into the office every day or whether we’re still having resource wars or allowing petrol states to throw their weight around, because we need to buy their oil.”
Continued Hayes: “I don’t think people necessarily want to talk that much about how life has changed (because of the pandemic), but I think actually it’s pretty important to. Because there’s a bunch of choices about how we order our lives that were opened up by the disruption of the pandemic that we should follow through with. If we want to be intentional about the kind of world we want to live in.”