Jon Meacham, David McCullough, and more explore American presidents with host Lillian Cunningham on ‘Presidential’

History February 21, 2022
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“Presidential” investigates former American presidents’ stories, their journeys to office, decisions made, crisis management, and more. The podcast is hosted by reporter Lillian Cunningham with appearances from historians, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers like David McCullough, and Washington Post journalists like Bob Woodward.

“Presidential” started in 2016 and released 51 episodes leading up to the 2020 election. Stream the episodes in any order, running under an hour each. If you want to hear about the presidents in chronological order, start with the first episode on George Washington all the way to an episode on Joe Biden featuring the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

John F. Kennedy historians and biographers Robert Dallek, Michael Beschloss, and Fredrik Logevall stopped by an episode to discuss JFK and his death but not his assassination. Historians Jon Meacham and Annette Gordon-Reed unpacked Thomas Jefferson’s best and worst moments, controversies, and details of his presidency. In the Andrew Jackson episode, Jon Meacham was joined by Barbara Bair and Steve Inskeep to explain Jackson’s personal life, battles, policies against Native Americans, and conflicts.

The Library of Congress’ Michelle Krowl and author Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals) shared how Abraham Lincoln’s writing talents, love of language, and oratory skills were instrumental in his leadership. Krowl appeared on an additional episode about Donald Trump with Julie Miller, also from the Library of Congress, and Washington Post journalist Dan Balz.

Eleanor Roosevelt papers’ editor, Allida Black, FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow, and White House speechwriter Sarada Peri, analyzed Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency via the first lady’s contributions in office. The Harry S. Truman episode examined the greatest polling failure in history with biographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough and Washington Post polling manager Scott Clement.

Bob Woodward was one of Washington Post‘s journalists who helped expose the Watergate scandal, and he joined the Richard Nixon episode with Lillian and Washington Post executive editor, Marty Baron.

There are four bonus episodes from 2020 covering “What books about Trump say about America,” the 1918 influenza pandemic, President Woodrow Wilson, and propaganda. There’s an episode about a 1939 concert that impacted the Civil Rights Movement. A live event titled “Unprecedented Presidents” was recorded in Boston and uploaded as an episode in a live panel discussion about Trump’s presidency with Lillian and historians Alexis Coe, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Julian Zelizer.

“Presidential” is brought to you by Washington Post Audio. If you enjoyed this series, you might want to check out Lillian’s additional history podcasts including “Constitutional” and “Moonrise.”

Listen to ‘Presidential’

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