Audie Cornish talks her Crosscut Ideas Fest interview with Ibram X. Kendi

The host of CNN's podcast The Assignment previews her chat with the author of How to Be an Anti-Racist.

Audie Cornish

Audie Cornish talks about her upcoming interview with Ibram X. Kendi at the Crosscut Ideas Festival. 

“I am drawn to people who find themselves at the center of cultural maelstroms,” says Audie Cornish

As host of the weekly CNN Audio podcast The Assignment and in her appearances covering national, political and breaking news on CNN, Cornish has had a lot of opportunities to ask those people tough questions. Her interview subjects have ranged from stars such as singer Bruce Springsteen to political figures such as former President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren and literary icons like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Now she’s interviewing How to Be an Anti-Racist author Ibram X. Kendi, live on stage at the Crosscut Ideas Festival.

Every year, journalists, politicians, authors and newsmakers from our Pacific Northwest community and around the nation come together at the Crosscut Ideas Festival to take a hard look at the people, policies and events that shape our lives. (Interested? Get tickets now.) This year, podcast fans will be able to enjoy several live tapings in addition to The Assignment featuring Cornish. 

[In addition, our tech-savvy attendees will love The Vergecast's take on the most important industry news. Political junkies will enjoy The Weeds from Vox. And Supreme Court watchers won’t want to miss Slate’s Amicus podcast with Dahlia Lithwick.]

Cornish and Kendi will discuss the most recent developments in America's ongoing struggles with racism at the session “‘Woke’ and the Debate About Race” on Saturday, May 6. Kendi rose to fame when his books became a source for Americans trying to better understand structural racism following the murder of George Floyd. Then came a backlash: His books were banned by school libraries and he was accused of corrupting children and casting everyone as a racist. Kendi has commented, “The momentum was just crushed by a pretty well-organized force and movement of people who are seeking to conserve racism."

Ahead of this discussion at the Crosscut Ideas Festival, Cornish chatted with Crosscut about her hopes for the festival, the energy of live tapings and more. 

Why do you think podcasts are a popular way for people to consume news? What makes audio resonate with listeners?

We desire connection. Radio has always felt like an intimate, storytelling-focused medium. The best DJ’s, the best journalists, the best podcasters are first and foremost excellent storytellers. 

What are you hoping to address at your Crosscut Ideas Festival session with Ibram X. Kendi? 

I am drawn to people who find themselves at the center of cultural maelstroms. In this day and age, that could be any of us. In his case, it's the current culture-war battle over how and when we grapple with racism.

What makes a live taping (like this one at the Crosscut Ideas Festival) special to podcast fans? 

A live crowd brings a completely different energy to an interview. There can still be intimacy, but now you are building the story together. Their responses can affect the guest and vice versa. I think people who attend these kinds of events can feel that.

Looking forward to any part of your Seattle visit for the Crosscut Ideas Festival? Sights, food, etc.?

I rarely get to bow out of work to visit these kinds of events. I like that this one is so committed to a wide cross-section of ideas. And being from Boston, I love a good waterfront walk. It helps me decompress from the news. 

Join Audie Cornish and other podcasters at the Crosscut Ideas Festival

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors