Allison Michaels and The Washington Post’s podcast team needed an innovative way to tell a big story.
In the weeks following Donald Trump being elected president, Michaels (M.J. ’13) and her colleagues saw an opportunity to use Post reporting to answer critical questions in a new way.
They looked to The Post’s audience for inspiration, and a common theme emerged.
“We saw a lot of people asking this question: ‘Can President Trump do some of the things he said during the campaign season?’” Michaels said.
A podcast, “Can He Do That?” was born. Michaels emerged as the best candidate to host. Recorded weekly since Trump’s inauguration in January, the chatty show was taped before a live audience Nov. 7 at the Warner Theater in Washington.
Michaels — who co-hosts each episode with a different Post reporter — will be joined by Post journalists Bob Woodward, 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner David Farenthold and Karen Tumulty for the live taping, hosted by The Post and Live Nation.
It’s the first time The Post hosted a live taping for one of its podcasts. Michaels said “Can He Do That?” was a natural choice.
In each episode, Michaels and a Post reporter dissect statements made by the president and dispassionately explain to listeners whether what Trump has promised is within the legal parameters of his office.
“Every episode we get feedback from listeners saying ‘this is a fair and balanced approach to the questions I have,’” Michaels said.
She said the live taping “would look back on an eventful year and analyze the significance of major events.”
“It’s been exciting to figure out exactly what it’s going to look like,” said Michaels, a newsroom projects editor after a stint on The Post’s national desk.
Rafael Lorente, associate dean for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said he was not surprised Michaels was telling stories “critically important to a democratic society in a way that is as engaging as it is informative.”
“We often tell students that we listen to them when they have suggestions about how and what we teach. Allison is one of the students whose words and actions had an impact on the school and its curriculum,” Lorente said. “She was thoughtful and hard working, but most importantly she seemed to constantly be searching for new and better ways to tell a good story. We are proud.”
Michaels said her experience at Merrill prepared her for success at The Post.
“I think that Maryland certainly prepared me for the diverse landscape of the media today,” Michaels said. “Not only did I learn critical reporting skills, which are the bedrock of everything I do at The Washington Post, but I also was able to learn different approaches across different platforms.”