The Gist

The Puppet Masters

Grigori Rasputin’s gift was in controlling the more powerful. And there are plenty like him in today’s world.

Listen to Slate’s The Gist:

Listen to The Gist via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play

The worst part about the Trump administration’s high turnover? Every cabinet member is worse than the last.

In the interview, Grigori Rasputin bent the ear of the last Russian tsar, manipulating affairs of state behind the scenes as he saw fit. But how did a man like him rise to such power? And what about his spiritual successors like Phil Spector or Tom Brady’s trainer? Amos Barshad, author of No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World, has our ear.

In the Spiel, what does Joe Biden stand to gain from apologizing—and shouldn’t a (likely) contender for president think in those terms?

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.

Twitter: @slategist

Podcast production by Pierre Bienaimé and Daniel Schroeder.