Are the Extroverts OK?

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S1: Following recording may or may not include instances of words being said that the FCC would find me for if their long arm could ever reach.

S2: It’s Tuesday, March 30th, twenty twenty from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike PESCA. Yesterday, Donald Trump. Welcome to my pillow guy to a press conference. He thanked God for Donald Trump, said a prayer and pledge to throw in a free pillowcase if you call the number below. Today, Donald Trump had two choices. He could have gone with Matthew Lascaux and the Riddler ask asked dollar signs shoot to scream at us how phase four was giving us free government money.

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S3: Or he could have decided to it to quote another leading intellect of the late night infomercial salon. And so he went the other route. He stopped the insanity amidst fanfare on CNN and MSNBC about not taking the briefings live or vowing, as Chuck Todd did, to dump out of the briefing if they became too deleterious to the national interest. Trump stepped back. He actually didn’t lie. I don’t think he maybe even mind at all. I mean, he exaggerated. Sure. He fell back on some pat phrases about how the spike in Louisiana cases came out of nowhere. He expressed his usual unearned confidence, but he mostly let his experts bring on charts and deliver info and talk straight to the American people. And the message was a serious one that we should expect a hundred thousand or maybe upwards of 200000 deaths. And then came the proof the proof that he was serious. And this might just be the highlight of the Trump presidency.

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S4: Just to be clear, what is the projected death toll? Should people be reasonably good at following these mitigation measures? Well, as a reasonably good, I guess we could say, no, no, don’t do it. No.

S5: I’d like to have it be Decker. You or Deb.. Come up and say. But I have the numbers. But I’d rather have them say the numbers, if you don’t mind.

S3: Spig, don’t mind. We’d love it. Yes. Thank you. God, he let the experts answer at one point at a few points. In fact, Jim Acosta of CNN asked some annoying questions. And Trump, you’re ready. Let him be annoying. Unbelievable. I know. I know how it’s gonna go tomorrow. Ron Pompeo or Body by Jake or George Bluth and the corn baller will get center stage at a briefing. But for now, we were told almost as if we were adults that we should be prepared for a hundred thousand or more deaths. Maybe we can avoid it, but yes, be prepared. On the show today, the Cuomo brother dynamic how to tap into some of that communicative power of their message. Even if we don’t have 50 years of brotherhood to draw from. But first, introverts are having a moment. A moment of. See, this is what it’s like for us. But what if the extroverts, whether the extroverts. No spares a thought for the extroverts? Except I do. We do we here at the gist do. It’s a tough time for those outgoing amongst us. The gist is here for the extroverts, and the extroverts are here on the gist. I have assembled a panel of extroverts from far flung industries, including media, media and media. Well, specifically, magazine books and the number one Jewish themed podcast in America. Unorthodox. Oh, I can’t hold these extroverts back. Here they are, extroverts assembled. Up next.

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S6: These are tough times for all of us, all of us quarantined, all of us having to deal with ourselves. And of course, for the anxious, for people dealing with anxiety, it’s very tough, but I’m not talking about them. If you want to hear about the anxious. There are some excellent podcasts out there. Deep Background with Noah Feldman interviewed Laurie Santos, who is the professor of psychology at Yale. The three uncanny for podcast. Viral. Did an episode on panic. There’s a lot going on with the anxiety community. I am here to speak to another community, an underserved community in times like these, the extroverts. This is a very tough time for extroverts who have a need, a need for other people. On Twitter, the writer Amanda Maule tweeted out, she’s gone too long without a hug. And my heart went out to her, not only my heart, but my invitation to be on the show. We’ll also be joined in a second or two by a couple other extroverts, Stephen Wit, Mark Oppenheimer. But first, Amanda Maul. She’s a staff writer at The Atlantic where she writes the material world column about consumerism, health, culture, those sort of things. Thanks for joining me, Amanda. Thank you for having me. I can’t offer you a hug, but I can offer you a platform. What’s it been like? Define your extra-virgin. And what yearnings have you had during this time alone?

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S7: Well, I am a person who really likes to leave my house. I know it’s not trendy to be a person who likes to go out into the world and socialize. At this point, but even my little daily habits are sort of in normal times built around that. Even if I have coffee in my house, I will go out to get coffee because I live in a neighborhood surrounded by a lot of my friends. So I might run into somebody. I’m friendly with all the girls who work at my local coffee shop, so I like to chat with them like I like. That is just like the first part of my day that normally follows this sort of extroverted lions. This has been like like a real psychological disruption for me, not just a disruption in my like daily movements and stuff like that. So plus, like I said on Twitter, I’m a hugger. I like to hug my friends and, you know, physical touches, knife. So I said this is been like a really big disruption for me personally.

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S6: And you live alone. It’s just you and your Chihuahua. Is that right?

S7: Yes. Me and my Chihuahua, who does not like hugs that much. But yeah, it is nice at least to have another living thing in here interacting with me that fulfills part of it. But she doesn’t like hugs.

S6: Is it having an effect on your creativity? The idea is that you have beyond that, your mental health, just your intellect. I guess for extroverts, that’s a large way that we imbibe information through these encounters and now that valve is shut off.

S8: Yeah, it’s it would probably be a little bit worse if I was trying to do my regular coverage for the Atlantic and trying to do my regular creative projects. Most of my day job has shifted to Corona virus coverage. So there is no shortage of stories to be told about that. So for the meantime, that sort of fills in where my other creativity might be lagging a little bit, but definitely just in sort of like having random ideas and noticing things about the world as it is, which is such a big part of being a writer, you have to find new ways to do that. I was always a big Twitter user, but I found myself on an even more because that is sort of a source of a sort of unexpected interactions in a way that the physical world can’t be right now.

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S1: Yeah, well, this prompts me to bring in Stephen Witt, who’s an author and a longform journalist and a producer. His book that he’s best known for and I take that right from his his bio on his Web site. I am best known for the book, How Music Got Free. Hey, Stephen, how are you? Good. How are you, man? I’m good. So we were playing poker online via Xoom the other day. Yeah. It’s something that I what I wanted to pursue, which is I hate not going out. It’s where I get all my ideas from.

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S9: Yeah, it’s true of my entire career essentially is derived from going to parties and drinking with editors and other journalists. I met my fiancee at a bar. You know, we have a kid together now. So pretty much every aspect of my life that’s good or positive came from either being at a bar at 2:00 in the morning or at a cocktail party. And so this is just torture for me. The term extrovert kind of goes back to, I think, some kind of union thing, but most people will know it through the Myers-Briggs personality test. And when I take that online, I get a 99 percent extra extroversion score. So the big locked in the house with a 3 year old is just not not my cup of tea.

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S1: So Amanda, which is saying that, you know, all of her work has pretty much now about Corona. It makes sense. She’s a health reporter. But you do you know, you’ll do a profile of a rapper or you’ll write about you have you have very broad eclectic tastes. Is it the case that you’re worried about not getting enough ideas or is it more of the case that there’s just not a market for anything but Corona these days?

S9: No, my my mind is just. Wasteland of old tires and broken bottles right now. Like I I could not come up with anything. You know, the way I work is I will have a few kind of germs, couple seeds of ideas in my mind. And I develop those by getting drunk and haranguing people about them, you know, and I don’t know what I’m going to say next. As I talk about them and four times out of five, it turns out to be nothing. But every once in a while, in the course of a conversation, a big boy, I just had a really good idea. So I’m thinking as I’m talking. And so when I’m trapped in an office, as I am now by myself, I’m not really thinking. I’m sort of just stuck on a hamster wheel regurgitating the same two or three ideas again and again without developing them through that crucial process of cornering someone fortunate person at a bar.

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S1: All right. Now to talk about the the next generation of extroverts. Let’s bring in Mark Oppenheimer, who is the author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door America’s Religion and the Age of Counterculture and the Newish Jewish Encyclopedia. And he does a lot of stuff with tablet and their podcast. Hello, Mark. How are you?

S10: Hello. I am fine. And I’m also curious where Steven finds all of these parties now that he’s a grown man with a three year old like nobody’s nobody’s invite. I love Freeform, dazed and confused, you know, meet me at the moon tower keg busts. But like, where do you fight? Those are not going on in my middle aged cohort in New Haven on a Tuesday night.

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S9: Yeah, you got it. You’ve got to move to Los Angeles and kind of do microdots edibles with the other one.

S11: Sorry, dads, if I come to Los Angeles, will you give me microdots at all? You can fight at the store or they’re not hard to find. Okay. I’ve been living in the wrong state. Anyway, that wasn’t what you brought me. You didn’t bring me on to sort of to fanboy Stevens up partying life.

S1: Mike, my actually my secret ambition was just to unite extroverts. That’s right. All that I’m trying to do also with Amanda.

S10: I think, Amanda, you need cuddly or don’t you need bigger dogs is the thing because they want you need like pillow sized dogs. Right.

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S7: Well, the problem. The problem with that is I live in Brooklyn. And I have new, you know, New York City sized apartment. So she is she’s perfect. My Chihuahua is perfect for the scale of my apartment, but not perfect for making me feel like there’s another large living being here.

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S11: I’ll send you a dog and and three fifths of my children and you will feel very. Okay. You thought that by Amazon or your five children, Mark? Yes. Yes, I do.

S10: And ultimately, you know, the goal I mean, speaking the freelance life is, you know, fortunate. You can’t monetize for children ever be like like Michael Shavon, his four kids. Don Updike had four kids when you’re at five. You can sell stories around it. You can get invited on on podcasts to talk about five. Then you’re in.

S11: Yeah, you’re in Gaffigan territory. Yeah. It becomes a it becomes a career move.

S1: So but Mark, I did want to talk about so of your kids, you wrote about your daughter, who’s I guess which when you wrote about her, she was three and she’s a big extrovert. How old is she now?

S10: Right. So Anna. Six. And and she yeah. She makes me look like a sort of shy retiring, you know, MFA poetry type, which I’m I’m not she’s crazy extroverted. And she hugs almost everyone she sees. She’s very touchy and also just, you know, loves talking to people and doesn’t really. It’s it’s beautiful to see how how low her social barriers are. But this has been tough. We were outside walking the dogs the other day and she saw her her one of her old preschool teacher. She’s now in first grade, but one of her old preschool teachers lives on our street. And she always runs and hugs and and then she was running toward and to hug her and violating the 6 feet social justice, you know, and sort of dodged out of the way. And I just screamed, no. And, you know, you sort of do a slow mo dive in front of her. And it was very she started sobbing. I mean, she couldn’t understand why. Why does no one want my hugs anymore?

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S11: So that is kind of sad. It’s. Did we lose Mike? We lost our host.

S12: OK. Yeah. Look, think we lost my. All right. Well, I’m the host now. Art, when you’re all in. Okay. So what are you guys going to do with Tina is lifted.

S10: So I had this thought, wouldn’t it be a funny piece for Subway to like a sort of funny. Maybe it’s not. Maybe this is why I don’t write for The Onion. But, you know, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut get together and promise that if we observe quarantine now that when it’s lifted, all drugs will be free and monogamy will be suspended for a month. Oh, yeah. Their journal just look just pure like Ice Storm back in all four. We get our reward when it’s all over.

S9: Yeah, it’s like the purge. But for party animals.

S12: Oh, my back. GREENE Oh, you don’t need me. This is the best. This was my idea. Mike, I commandeered your podcast. Sorry. Amanda, how about you?

S7: The first thing that I went to do in quarantine is lifted is I have a favorite. Bar in Carroll Gardens called wing. Bar. That is what it sounds like it is. It is sort of a sort of a divey place that makes incredible wings and sells $10 pitchers of Coors Light, which is so hard to find in Brooklyn. And all I want to do is go sit at wing. Bar and over the course of like three or four hours, drink like two pitchers, of course, late and eat too many.

S9: Want a sense of just sounds amazing. Oh, yeah, yeah.

S7: I just want to be I just want to be in a public place I like without really thinking about it for an extended period of time.

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S10: I am completely with you guys. I mean, Amanda. I too, like give me a sort of long grocery line and it’s just like a chance for conversation. And and yes, I get all my best ideas, browsing, window shopping, browsing and, you know, secondhand bookstores. We just got we just like a year ago got a brand new sort of used vinyl record shop here in uncool New Haven. And I just would go in there and talk to the owner and just like kill time. And then I’d go home, feel so ready to write. And I just I just need more, more different physical spaces together. Get out. I miss that terribly.

S11: I’m going to host of a massive house party just so everyone on the pod is invited. If you could make it Chihuahua’s edibles.

S1: So I do have a couple. I do have a couple questions. One is the pop definition of introvert versus extrovert is an introvert is someone who goes to a party or social gathering and it draws energy from them. And an extrovert is someone who gains energy from such a situation. It’s one of those pop definitions that I just think works very well. Do you guys buy into that definition?

S9: Absolutely. You know, I haven’t been exercising. I’ve had very little energy. I just feel so sluggish and lethargic during this period. I mean, who is there to impress? You know, why would I do anything?

S7: Yeah, I think I think that that is like a big reason that like the every everyday going out to get coffee routine is important for me because like you get that like hit of social interaction and then I feel like ready to do things and ready to be a person who communicates out into the world.

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S8: The coffee itself is sort of incidental. I’m not that big of a caffeine person, but it’s what I have to buy in order to have social interaction between speaker.

S10: Amanda, I’m a thousand percent with you there. I don’t like coffee, but I feel like I’m paying a $5 sort of excise tax on the the social interaction that I need as part of my ritual. Like, you know, if I’m going to write at ten o’clock, at nine o’clock, I have to spend five dollars somewhere. Talk to the baristas. Talk to the other people. Bump into people. But yes, that definitely, definitely sustains me, gives me interaction. I have this thing. I live on a nice walkable street with sort of, you know, houses where people are often on their porches. And about four or five if I need if I need to do an hour more work, I kill half an hour for just walking up or down the street. Finding someone to talk to. And it can be anybody. I just go outside. Find someone to talk to. You have an interaction. Go home. Then I’m ready to type again.

S1: So look, part mark, part of your I guess running through the essay you wrote in The Washington Post about your daughter was an acknowledgement, almost a comic acknowledgement that this is not a condition. This is not a disease. You know, this is just this is just a character trait. But let’s think about the extroverts, too, when I wanted to do that in our time. I don’t know. Should people feel sad for us or just consider us? Or should they know that when this is over, we’ll be enjoying it so much more than even everyone else?

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S13: You know, I guess my take would be. Yeah. I mean, Andrew Sullivan and I mean what Amanda just said, echoing, you know how hard it is to get hugs if you live alone. Andrew Sullivan wrote in one of his essays, It’s been two weeks since I’ve had a hug and it kind of just brought tears to my eyes. I think that’s true for all human beings that we need physical contact. But sure, I mean, you know, my wife, who really likes her children and very few other people. That’s that’s a little unfair. But she just she makes that joke, she says. This is an introvert. That’s real unfair. She doesn’t like all her children. But, you know, she says this is introverts dreams like, wait, I get to stay home with just my dogs and my kids and cook and read novels and do some work remotely. But yeah, sure, I’d like I’d like a little compassion. I will extend it to the introverts when they are forced to go to the office party.

S1: Steven Wit, Amanda Maule, Mark Oppenheimer, three extroverts who are just raring to bust out. I’m glad to have given you the forum. Thank you, guys.

S13: Party at Stevens Place when this is over.

S12: Yeah, I’m hot. I’m holding you to bring the Chihuahua. It’s gonna be lit. You’re gonna love it.

S3: And now the schpiel, as you’ve no doubt heard, Chris Cuomo of CNN has been diagnosed with the Corona virus before, even heard the news, which is of course, very upsetting, especially for someone I personally know a little bit and quite like a great deal. I was thinking about a question, what are the elements of the Cuomo brother interplay that are so effective beyond just being interesting, captivating television? They actually are informative and they speak to our moment. Obviously, Andrew and Chris Cuomo have almost 50 years of brotherhood between them and also independently. They’re both well-known in their own realms and they’ve made a point not to do their jobs together, meaning Chris doesn’t usually interview Andrew for reasons of journalistic distance. So that means when we see them interacting, it’s a rarity. So there’s all of that. That’s true. It’s not like any other public officials can draw on those specific elements. But if you haven’t seen the brother on brother kitting and insulting, but also reminiscing and elevating of each other, here’s a snippet. This is from last night’s interview on Cuomo prime time before Chris knew he was covered 19 positive. So they were talking about the source, the source that their mom, Matilda, apparently taught only Chris, but not Andrew, how to prepare. Not at all a sore point or a shift to the ribs in the relationship. Listen.

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S14: And she called me and said, is Andrew there? I said, no, mom, I’m all alone here out on the island with my family. And she said, Where is he? And I said, he’s up in all the in the house with the big gates and the attack dog. And she said, oh, that’s too bad. And I said, it’s OK, mom, I love him. And I’ll make sauce for him, too. And she started to cry. And then I said goodbye.

S15: Yeah, that’s what you’ve always been good to manipulate. You’ve always been good at manipulation, you’ve always been the meatball of the family.

S16: Hey, look, some of us have to work, right? I don’t have the luxury of working one hour a day. God bless you. Well, firstly, it’s a phone work more than one hour a day.

S14: That’s all. You certainly have been working a lot. I’ll tell you what. Be careful on not just because you look like you’ve been burned in a lot of hours, but you show up in a lot of places. I know it gives comfort to people. But if you get sick, God forbid, God forbid, there’s only one of you right now. And if you get sick, it’s a problem. So I know you like to run around with your ill fitting jacket, but just remember that you’ve got to stay healthy. I need your big brother because I love you. And you’re the center of the family, but you’re the center of the state right now also.

S3: It’s all there, right? The family history, the unmistakable bond. But listen to how the interaction bypassed maudlin sentiment, which is usually a pretty comfortable realm for TV news. Doesn’t even touch on it. It jumps right to love. So it’s a lot of cutting humor. Boom, right to the expression of love. And through it we get to know both players via their interactions. Maybe if you grew up in that sort of house or perhaps amongst the Italians, you can relate. You can actually place yourself inside the dynamic. And therefore, Governor Cuomo’s message and Christie’s questions become all the more powerful.

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S17: Maybe it’s not that different from seeing any public figure who usually comes across one way, you know, in his or her official capacity. But then you see that person behave as an actual person. But you really believe it. You know, that it wasn’t born of, oh, my consultants say I need to be humanized. It’s just born of those people or that person actually being a human being. The brothers come across as humans. And today, one of those humans announced his frailty and the other was there to pick him up. But listen to how Andrew Cuomo did it. Balancing the personal with the public good.

S18: My brother Chris is positive for Corona virus found out this morning.

S19: The now he is gonna be fine.

S20: He’s young, in good shape. Strome not as strong as he thinks, but he will be fine.

S21: But there’s a lesson in this. He’s an essential worker member of the press.

S20: So he’s been out there. If you go out there, the chance that you get infected is very high.

S19: I spoke to him this morning and he’s gonna be quarantined in his basement at home.

S18: He’s just worried about his daughter and his kids that he hopes he didn’t get them infected. You don’t really know, Chris. You know, you see Chris. He has a show on night 9:00 on CNN. But you just see one dimension, right? You see a person in his job and in his job. He’s combative and he’s argumentative and he’s pushing people. But that’s his job. That’s really not who he is. He’s a really sweet, beautiful guy. And he’s my best friend. My father was always working. So it was always just me and Chris and my father was always working.

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S17: Oh, yeah. Who’s your father? When he owned a shoe store was an account. Oh, it was Governor Mario Cuomo. And it allows the listener to experience a little bit of pleasure upon the realization of that. It’s even a little thrilling to hear them talk about this, if not mythical or heroic or semi-fictional figure. You know, bridges are named after the guy to hear him talking about Mario Cuomo as if he’s just, you know, a working dad. Again, humanizing figureheads. Then Governor Cuomo engaged in some reverie about Chris, but less it becomes simply that which could have been forgiven given the circumstances Cuomo pulled back. He used the personal to make a point that many people will certainly relate to and to try to explain and convince us all of a necessary policy.

S19: But a sweet guy. And now he’s quarantined in the basement. But it’s funny how he says to me. Even the dogs won’t come downstairs.

S21: But he is concerned about his wife and his kids. But the reason I raise it is he’s smart. He. Social distancing. Yes. But you wind up exposing yourself. People wind up exposing you, and then they find out they’re positive a couple of days later. And I had a situation with Christopher two weeks ago that I even mentioned. My mother was at his house and I said, that is a mistake. Now, my mother’s in a different situation.

S20: She’s she’s older and she’s healthy.

S22: But I said, you can’t have mom at the house. And he said, no, no, no, mom is lonely. She wants to be at the house. I feel bad. She’s cooped up in the apartment. I said, yeah, I feel bitches cooped up in the apartment, too. But you bring her to your house, you expose her to a lot of things. You have the kids there, you have your wife there. You’re coming and going.

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S23: Your wife is coming and going and you could expose mom to the virus. And love is sometimes a little needs to be a little smarter than just reactive.

S22: And we had a whole discussion and truth. Now he’s informed. I’m informed. Was that dangerous? Was that not dangerous? So I went back to Dr. Zucker. I said, we have to tell people, what are the rules? How does this work? That’s when I came up with Matilda’s law, that pivot.

S17: It was not forced. He generalized from the specific. And he took sentiment and he made it relevant. And he did it at the time. Exactly when most people were apt to be paying the most attention was not forced. It wasn’t tagged on. He wasn’t using a moment for his political advantage. I mean, he was. But it didn’t seem contrived or cynical. He explained humanely why we need to do the things we absolutely need to do. And all of that is one reason why Governor Cuomo has been handling the crisis well. And you know, you’re probably thinking about the figure I’m thinking of were have been during this spiel and this figure came to mind and the figure is Donald Trump corduroys, think about Donald Trump and leaders communicating. And it’s hard not to think of these things through the lens of Trump to compare any figure to Trump, to think that Cuomo’s appeal and power is mostly or in large part in contrast to Trump. That is a phenomenon that we’re all dealing with. And you do hear Cuomo talking about family. And maybe you realize Trump has never even hinted at a human concern for the 14 year old son he has at home. For his wife, who must be as a fellow human being, must be worried for his 10 grandchildren. Never a word about actually wanting to touch your grandchild or grandchild, wanting to touch their grandpop with all deference to the privacy of members of the first family. This is clearly a deficiency. No president has ever expressed less humanity and human connection, especially at a time when expressions of connection are necessary stand ins for the lack of literal connection. But this isn’t about Trump. It’s really not. CUOMO Is it good because Trump is bad? Also, it’s not the case that Cuomo has been perfect or can do no wrong, or that he never says anything that is in any way comparable to Trump’s ill statements. I, for the record, very much approve of Governor Cuomo’s response. But if his words were picked over like the president’s, certainly some fault could be found. In fact, I found in instance this was him on March 8th.

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S24: There’s a level of fear here that is not connected to the facts. There’s more fear, more anxiety. Then the facts would justify. OK. That’s why I want to make sure everyone understands what we’re dealing with. You look at the facts here. This is not the Ebola virus. This is not the SaaS virus.

S17: OK, understandable. But if that were Trump, that would be a go to on the list of unfortunate utterances. But we do and we should give Cuomo less guff because he is coming across as a human in these times of humanity under stress. He is sharing his vulnerability. And that is a really attractive quality in times of uncertainty. The aspect of the Cuomo brothers dynamic that I think other leaders could emulate is to think about their vulnerability. That is a key component for a leader to have because it invites the public in and therefore opens them up to being led.

S25: And that’s it for today’s show. Priscilla Lobby is the justs associate producer. She has a kind of heavy friend, a little heavy, but this friend makes the situation all the more real to her. Kate Santa Claus. Toy Santa Claus. But he’s never failed her yet. Daniel Schrader is the producer of The Gist. He and his sister have an ongoing riff about who’s better at making their moms source, but they’re from Georgia. So I assume the source means moonshine. The gist the American people can rest assured we are going to thigh master ourselves out of this challenge. But remember to clean your hands and wipe all table tops and not just clean oxy clean. Cooper adepero, Peru. And thanks for listening.