MSNBC launches new political history podcast with Rachel Maddow

Partnership represents first project of multi-year deal

MSNBC has launched a new political history podcast, Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra, in its first collaboration with the TV host and liberal politics commentator. 

The eight-part narrative series critically analyses the history of extremist “ultra right” American officials - who, 80 years ago, plotted to end democracy in the U.S. - and the lengths they went into to cover their tracks. Episode one explores the strange circumstances circling the disappearance of the 1940 Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 and how a U.S. senator was caught in the middle of it.

“We are not the first generation of Americans to have contended with a clear and present threat to our democracy”, Maddow said in a statement. “The history of this particular fight is less well known today, but it’s a fascinating example of how the criminal law can’t be counted on to do it all. Protecting democracy from its enemies takes all kinds of Americans working in all kinds of ways.”

Maddow has been a long-term TV host at MSNBC during the successful 14-season run of The Rachel Maddow Show. The podcast represents her first original project with the network since signing a long-term deal with parent company NBCUniversal last year. 

Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra spotlights what Rachel does best: masterfully breaking down complex stories and connecting history to our world today,” MSNBC President Rashida Jones said. “This is the first of many projects in the expanding Rachel universe that will allow audiences to see—or hear—Rachel on all of our platforms.

Episodes one and two debut on 10 October, with further episodes coming out every Monday. 

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Maddow said that the Ultra podcast is important in exploring the threat of authoritarianism and “the ability of powerful people to manipulate American systems”. Similarly, The Economist has launched a new documentary-format podcast, The Prince, that explores the secretive life of Authoritarian leader Xi Jinping and his rule on Chinese Politics.

This eight-episode podcast presented by The Economist's foreign correspondent Sue-Lin Wong, and has been released ahead of Jinping’s start of his third-term ruling on October 16 as general secretary of the Chinese Communist party. 

The series features interviews from people who have been impacted by Jinping’s rule and explores the world leader’s life from his childhood as the son of a high-ranking Communist party official to the major events that helped him rise to the top and exert control over his party, and what the future holds for the people of China after his third-term starts. 

"Chinese politics is a black box. Nobody at the top talks. Even ordinary people are afraid to express their opinions,” said Wong. “Despite those challenges, I was able to gain access to fascinating people who illuminate Xi Jinping's story. I hope listeners of The Prince learn not just about Xi, but also about China and its place in the world."