Even recent history is rich with surprising subplots, strange details, and forgotten characters.
On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history—and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
Slow Burn is a production of Slate Plus. Slate Plus members support our work—and they get a bonus episode every week, with exclusive interviews and conversations that go deeper into the story.
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Season 2: The Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Read Leon Neyfakh’s introduction to Season 2.
EPISODE 1: DEAL OR NO DEAL
For 11 hours, Monica Lewinsky faced off against federal prosecutors who threatened her with decades in prison if she refused to help them take down the president. (Notes and sources; transcript.)
EPISODE 2+: AHEAD OF HER TIME
Leon talks to former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, who resigned from the Clinton administration amid a fracas about sex education and masturbation. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 3: CRED
When Bill Clinton went to Washington, rumors and accusations from his past in Arkansas came to the capital with him. But even his most dedicated political enemies couldn’t predict where their efforts would lead. (Transcript)
EPISODE 3+: CLINTON V. JONES
An interview with Walter Dellinger, who argued Clinton v. Jones before the Supreme Court while serving as the president’s acting solicitor general. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 4+: COLD LUMP OF METAL
Leon talks to Dick Morris, the notorious political consultant who worked for Bill Clinton until resigning amid a sex scandal of his own. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 5+: WHERE LINDA TRIPP IS COMING FROM
More from Leon’s interview with Linda Tripp, including Tripp’s feelings about the Bushes, why she disliked the Clintons, and how she feels about her role in history. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 6+: FORMER KIDS
More from Leon’s interview with Ken Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated President Clinton. Plus, hear how a group of “former kids” remember the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 7+: EXIT THROUGH THE ROSE GARDEN
Madeline Kaplan interviews Dillon Teachout, who describes her experience working what might be one of the oddest summer jobs of all time: as an intern in the independent counsel’s office in the summer of 1998. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 8: MOVE ON
In 1998, Congress weighed whether Juanita Broaddrick’s rape accusation against Bill Clinton was grounds for impeachment. Why did her story never really become part of his? (Transcript)
EPISODE 8+: FLYTRAP
Leon Neyfakh talks to David Plotz, Seth Stevenson, and Emily Yoffe, who wrote for Slate during the late 1990s, about covering the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. For Slate Plus members only.
Live on stage, Leon is joined by Ruth Marcus and Rick Perlstein to explore lingering questions about the Clinton legacy. Plus, a story from the Season 2 cutting-room floor.
THE SLOW BURN READING LIST
The eight books host Leon Neyfakh and his tireless researcher depended on the most.
Season 1: Watergate
Read Leon Neyfakh’s introduction to Season 1.
EPISODE 1: MARTHA
People called her crazy, and to be fair she must have seemed crazy. But she was onto something. How Martha Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on Watergate—and ruined her life.
EPISODE 1+: DICK CAVETT ON WATERGATE AND TRUMP
More about Martha Mitchell, and an interview with Dick Cavett, who interviewed many of the primary Watergate figures on his talk show. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 2: THE DEFEAT OF WRIGHT PATMAN
In 1973, the Senate Watergate hearings gripped the nation. But the first congressional hearings on the scandal took place a year earlier—and featured an angry Texan shouting at four empty chairs.
EPISODE 2+: HOW THE BURGLARY WAS FUNDED
How a new campaign finance law spurred an unprecedented flood of anonymous contributions to the Nixon campaign—and an interview with a Senate staffer who believes her office phones were being wiretapped. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 3: A VERY SUCCESSFUL COVER-UP
Woodward and Bernstein, Walter Cronkite, and a host of other journalists tried to make people care about Watergate in the run-up to the 1972 election. They totally failed.
EPISODE 3+: WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG BEFORE ANYONE CARED ABOUT WATERGATE?
Joseph Califano Jr., a lawyer who represented both the Democratic National Committee and the Washington Post at the time of the break-in, discusses the million dollar lawsuit the DNC filed against the Nixon campaign in an effort to make the scandal a campaign issue. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 4: LIE DETECTORS
In 1973, a folksy segregationist senator, a team of young investigators, and a few whistleblowers staged the hearings that made Watergate must-see TV.
EPISODE 4+: JOIN UNCLE SAM’S FAN CLUB
A conversation with the founder of the National Sam Ervin Fan Club, and a discussion of Mary McCarthy’s Watergate book Mask of State. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 5: TRUE BELIEVERS
From the bars of Queens to the Senate offices, Nixon’s supporters stood with him long after it was clear his hands were dirty.
EPISODE 5+: WHY DID WOODWARD AND BERNSTEIN REALLY SAVE THE REPUBLIC?
An FBI agent who worked on the Watergate investigation talks about why the Bureau’s role in exposing the scandal has largely been forgotten. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 6: RABBIT HOLES
Why were so many Americans ready to believe conspiracy theories after Watergate? And how did their beliefs help trigger Nixon’s downfall?
EPISODE 6+: THE LEGACY OF JUDGE SIRICA
What did it mean that the judge who oversaw the Watergate trials was highly suspicious of the administration? For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 7: SATURDAY NIGHT
What did Richard Nixon do when he felt the walls closing in?
EPISODE 7+: INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DEAN
Was the 18-minute gap in Nixon’s White House tapes an accident? For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 8: GOING SOUTH
How Nixon desperately tried to save himself in the last days of Watergate.
EPISODE 8+: A WATERGATE SCRAPBOOK
Three siblings reminisce about what it was like to grow up and come of age in the age of Watergate. For Slate Plus members only.