Episode 27

Ukraine Invasion, COVID Origin Theories, KBJ to Supreme Court, Trump Probe

In today’s show, the hosts discuss Russia’s mounting invasion of Ukraine, updates to the CDC’s masking and COVID vaccination guidelines, new studies stirring debate on the origins of the virus, Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court and the surrounding discourse, and internal strife in the Manhattan DA’s office around its investigation into the Trump Organization.


Cory runs down the current state of play in Ukraine, including the courageous resistance to Russian troops and where the situation on the ground might go from here. (01:13)

Ravi explains Lost Debate’s role in the evolving discourse and touches on what we do to stay transparent and accurate in our reporting before acknowledging that we, and much of the Western media, may be looking optimistically at Ukraine’s chances of holding out. He goes on to discuss the setbacks for Russia’s initial incursion and how Putin might have underestimated the task before him. (02:08)

Rikki expands on the public blowback we’re seeing in Russia in response to the invasion before reporting on the civilian casualties in Ukraine thus far. She also talks about the ardent national pride on display in Ukraine and the spirited resistance that Putin didn’t anticipate, as well as the more troubling development taking shape now: the 40-mile-long convoy fast approaching the capital of Kyiv. (04:28)

Cory discusses how the international community has overwhelmingly rallied around Ukraine and how that’s turning Russia into even more of a global pariah. (05:45)

Ravi lists some of the many economic sanctions levied against Russia, such as their partial cut-off from SWIFT, the freezing of Russian assets in the EU and U.S., and the impact these sanctions could stand to have on Russia’s economy and currency. (06:53)

Rikki mentions the possibly related rally in cryptocurrency before touching on how Germany plans to ramp up military spending and energy independence, both major changes for Europe’s biggest economy. (09:08)

Ravi cautions us not to read too far into the early stages of this conflict and offers a sobering take on how the U.S. and world could eventually lose interest in the war we’re seeing unfold to such close attention right now. (09:57)

Ravi and Rikki discuss how alternative media figures like Saagar Enjeti and Matt Taibbi have issued apologies over their earlier coverage of tensions in Ukraine and argue whether that’s indicative of a wider problem in how they approach the news or a laudable admission of guilt. (17:16)

Rikki explains the latest updates to the CDC’s guidelines on masking and vaccinations, zeroing in on vindicatory new guidance to mitigate the risk of myocarditis. (24:40)

Ravi and Rikki talk about the further loosening of COVID mandates in New York and how it doesn’t align with Kyrie Irving’s continued inability to play home games in Brooklyn. (26:18)

Cory introduces a set of new studies reasserting that the pandemic originated in a wet market in Wuhan rather than leaking from a lab. Ravi talks about how his opinion has evolved with new information and breaks down why these studies, while hardly conclusive, further muddy the waters on where the virus came from. Rikki points out a few potential issues with the studies and why we still can’t prove where the virus came from with any real certainty. (28:03)

Clip mentioned: Revisiting The Wuhan Lab Leak Theory. What ACTUALLY Happened?

Ravi explains how this situation reflects America’s crisis of faith in its institutions as well as the rampant politicization that exacerbates that mistrust. (33:48)

Cory introduces Biden’s pick for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and lists her many qualifications and accomplishments. He argues that journalists’ and politicians’ fixation on her identity as a Black woman is overshadowing the resume that makes her a fitting nominee. (34:17)

Ravi reflects on how he can empathize with the critics who say the identity politics of her selection is problematic while also pointing out that it may be unrealistic to think a more representative Supreme Court can come about without paying more attention to its historical makeup. (36:58)

Rikki argues that Jackson makes a good choice on a purely strategic level, seeing as she had three Republican senators vote to confirm her to the D.C. Circuit Court within the year. (38:54)

Ravi emphasizes how mind-boggling it is that she would be the first African-American woman to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Cory talks about the various obstacles that have stood in the way of those like Jackson before arguing that identity politics played a troubling role in Vice President Kamala Harris’ selection as Biden’s running mate given how she’s acquitted herself in the East Wing thus far. (39:30)

Ravi gives us an update on two key resignations within the Manhattan DA’s office over differences on the investigation into the Trump Organization. Ravi notes that some of Bragg’s colleagues are aggravated to see him seemingly dragging his feet on prosecuting Trump. He argues that this validates his contention that Bragg and Letitia James should recuse themselves and leave the cases against Trump to impartial prosecutors. (41:28)

‘Can Russia Actually Control the Entire Landmass of Ukraine?’ (The Atlantic, 02/23)
Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat shows how much is going wrong for him in Ukraine (The Economist, 02/27)
Putin wants to bring back the Soviet Union. We must not allow that to happen (Fox News, 02/24)
Can Putin Recover From This? (The Atlantic, 02/27)
What Happened on Day 5 of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine (The New York Times, 02/28)
Thousands of protesters arrested in Russia as sanctions take toll on country’s economy (CBS News, 02/28)
Majority of Americans support placing additional economic sanctions on Russia (Ipsos, 02/24)
Post-ABC poll finds bipartisan support for sanctions on Russia as it invades Ukraine (The Washington Post, 02/25)
US to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany in ‘strategic’ move (BBC, 07/29/2020)
Ben Shapiro Tweet (02/24)
Taibbi Apology (02/24)
Breaking Points Apology (02/24)
CDC’s new approach to covid means most Americans can go without masks (The Washington Post, 02/25)
Adams to scrap NYC vaccine passports, school mask rules barring spike in cases (New York Post, 02/27)
CDC changes guidance and advises longer interval between vaccine doses (The Guardian, 02/23)
CDC says waiting longer between Pfizer, Moderna doses may reduce rare myocarditis risk for younger men (CNBC, 02/23)
What Prevention Steps Should You Take Based on Your COVID-19 Community Level? (02/25)
The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins (Vanity Fair, 06/03/2021)
Wuhan market was epicentre of pandemic’s start, studies suggest (Nature, 02/27)
New Research Points to Wuhan Market as Pandemic Origin (The New York Times, 02/27)
Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the environment and animal samples of the Huanan Seafood Market (Research Square, 02/25)
SARS-CoV-2 emergence very likely resulted from at least two zoonotic events (Zenoob, 02/26)
More evidence Covid was tinkered with in a lab? Now scientists find virus contains tiny chunk of DNA that matches sequence patented by Moderna THREE YEARS before pandemic began (Daily Mail, 02/24)
Tiny COVID-19 Gene Sequence Raises Valid Question or “Quirky Observation?” (BioSpace, 02/24)
NYC plans to lift one of its indoor vaccine mandates, but Kyrie Irving still won’t be able to play home games (CNN, 02/28)
Fauci dismissed Wuhan lab leak theory as ‘shiny object’ in April 2020 email (New York Post, 01/11)
Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to be first Black woman to sit on Supreme Court (CNN, 02/25)
Profile of a potential nominee: Ketanji Brown Jackson (SCOTUSblog, 02/01)
For Black women judges like Jackson, blazing a trail has meant opportunity, scrutiny (USA Today, 02/25)
Ketanji Brown Jackson has earned this moment to make history (The Hill, 02/26)
Potential pick Ketanji Brown Jackson would make history as first federal public defender on Supreme Court (The Washington Post, 02/11)
Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmation: 3 GOP Senators Who Voted For Supreme Court Nominee In Past Won’t Promise To Do It Again (Forbes, 02/25)
2 Prosecutors Leading N.Y. Trump Inquiry Resign, Clouding Case’s Future (The New York Times, 02/23)
Why Does New York’s Criminal Investigation of Donald Trump Appear All But Over? (The New Yorker, 02/24)
Jon Cooper Tweet (02/23)
Steven Beschloss Tweet (02/23)
Rob Reiner Tweet (02/23)