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Left, Right & Center
Saturdays at 6am

Left Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture, a conversation that is needed more than ever… not just in your feed, but on public radio, available to all. That’s a powerful combination. With a rotating cast of left and right panelists bringing you a wider spectrum of viewpoints, some of these voices will be familiar to many political observers, podcast listeners, and public radio audiences... some may be brand new to you.

For more information on what you heard this week on Left, Right & Center, click here.

  • At a Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, rally on July 13, former President Donald Trump narrowly dodged an assassination attempt. The moment left both parties reeling as they came to terms with a landscape that prioritizes extremes and is ripe for political violence. Just 48 hours later, the Republican National Convention kicked off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump, with a bandage over his ear, pushed for unity within his party and across the country. But did his speech on the last day of the convention reveal actual changes in his vision for the GOP?Earlier in the week, Trump announced his vice presidential nominee: Ohio Senator JD Vance. Their messages of isolationism, nativism, and a reinforcement of traditional masculinity were echoed by the convention’s speakers. With the demographics of the Republican and Democratic parties going through dramatic changes, will Trump and Vance’s vision appeal to women voters?
  • This past week, President Biden ended the NATO three-day summit with a solo press conference. Since the first presidential debate, Americans have questioned his ability to fulfill another term in the White House. Journalists brought up this issue again to Biden during today’s press conference — did he smooth over concerns?The Republican National Committee’s party platform hones in most on the “migrant invasion.” Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” opens the 20-item agenda, which is an attempt to distance the campaign from Project 2025. Noticeably less prevalent in the platform: abortion. The panel looks at what’s currently in the platform and whether the proposals will lead to policy.In 2022, the state of Alabama voted to ban slavery — including its use as punishment for a crime. This year, six incarcerated people are suing Governor Kay Ivey and the Department of Corrections for forced labor. The lawsuit is the first of its kind to prohibit involuntary servitude and protect the prisoners from retaliation. As part of Left, Right, and Center’s 50 states series, the panel looks at the rights of people behind bars in Alabama.
  • On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Trump’s actions during his presidency were within constitutional power. The prosecution of his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection will be delayed until after the election this November. The Left, Right, and Center panel discusses concerns about presidential power and what this would mean after the election. In Oklahoma, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters released a memo saying the Bible will be taught from grades 5 to 12. Walters said numerous Bible references are in political documents, therefore they are part of history. Similarly, Louisiana has made it the law to include the Ten Commandments in classrooms. School systems have become the battleground of church and state separation.This week’s installment of our 50 states series looks at anti-masking laws. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, along with leaders in North Carolina and New York, are looking to ban masks in light of protest clashes over the conflict in Gaza. Would these laws encroach upon the rights of demonstrators? What about medical concerns in light of the COVID pandemic?
  • This week in Atlanta, Georgia, a current and former president debated each other for the first time in U.S. history. But the highly anticipated clash between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump may have left many viewers with more questions than answers. Biden’s weak performance sparked panic among Democrats — will his campaign overcome this? Will the bluster and falsehoods of Donald Trump stick with voters? Plus, what impact did CNN’s moderators and a new set of debate rules have?U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently declared gun violence a public health crisis, and that young people are particularly likely to become targets. The announcement came after a school shooting occurred in one Seattle community, reigniting discussions about the role of on-campus law enforcement officers. Can those officers effectively keep kids safe?
  • How voters feel about the presidential candidates — and what issues are most important to them — are the focus of a new PBS/Marist poll. The economy is their top priority, and democracy comes in second. Hot-button subjects like abortion and foreign policy are noticeably absent. Meanwhile, how much impact will culture wars and tribalism have on winning over voters?In North Dakota this week, voters approved a ballot measure that set an age limit on the state’s members of Congress. It says that if a Senate or House candidate would be 80 or older at the end of their term, they would be ineligible to run for those positions. The Supreme Court may have to review the measure’s constitutionality. Joe Biden and Donald Trump will debate at CNN’s Atlanta studios next Thursday. Saying the wrong thing can sink campaigns and become tent poles for lasting narratives. KCRW reviews quips and blunders from past presidential debates, and previews what to expect from Biden and Trump now.
  • Following his felony conviction, Donald Trump has spent the last week talking about revenge on his political enemies, such as throwing the president’s wife in jail. Some voters are concerned about the dramatics and inflammatory terminology, particularly Project 2025, the conservative playbook for realigning the federal government. How realistic are those ideas, and what are the safeguards to maintain the balance of prosecutorial power?Over the weekend, an IDF operation led to the rescue of four Israeli hostages and the reported deaths of over 200 Palestinian civilians. Journalist Abdullah Al-Jamal and his family were killed in the raid. Initial reports from Israel claimed that three of the hostages were in Al-Jamal’s home. The reporter was also linked to Al-Jazeera, an international media outlet that the Israeli government banned last month for alleged ties to Hamas. The Palestinian Chronicle, where Al-Jamal worked, is now disputing his connection to Al-Jazeera, as well as the initial reports on the hostage claims. The messy situation raises larger questions about the role of activism in journalism. Last year, a commonwealth judge in Pennsylvania ruled that the state’s public school system was unconstitutional. The verdict found that outdated textbooks, dilapidated facilities, and inadequate funding failed to produce fair academic opportunities for students in low-performing districts. Like in many other states, school choice advocates in Pennsylvania are promoting a new voucher program as a solution to their education system’s woes. The vouchers would give scholarships to students in the lowest-achieving schools, so they could transfer to private institutions. Results on voucher effectiveness are mixed. As part of our 50 states series, KCRW discusses the choices parents are weighing in the ongoing debate over vouchers and public school funding.