In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Masha Gessen about Vladimir Putin, the problem of gauging public opinion in Russia, Trump’s fondness for dictators, the challenges of immigration, comparisons between Christian and Muslim intolerance, “fake news” and the health of journalism, the #MeToo movement, and other topics.
Masha Gessen began contributing to The New Yorker in 2014, and became a staff writer in 2017. Gessen is the author of nine books, including The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the National Book Award in 2017; and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Gessen has written about Russia, autocracy, L.G.B.T. rights, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, among others, for The New York Review of Books and The New York Times. On a parallel track, Gessen has been a science journalist, writing about aids, medical genetics, and mathematics; famously, Gessen was dismissed as editor of the Russian popular-science magazine Vokrug Sveta for refusing to send a reporter to observe Putin hang-gliding with the Siberian cranes. Gessen is a visiting professor at Amherst College and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, a Nieman Fellowship, and the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Commentary. After more than twenty years as a journalist and editor in Moscow, Gessen has been living in New York since 2013.