On the Media

By WNYC Studios

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Subscribers: 5830
Reviews: 20

Erika
 May 12, 2020
Clarity when the news is overwhelming. They show the big picture, the details that daily reporting is missing, and long term story that often goes untold.

Max Quinn
 Apr 22, 2020
The best way to step back and think about how we talk about what we're talking about it.

tim
 Apr 16, 2020


 Apr 16, 2020

Erin
 Apr 14, 2020
great podcast---been listening for years and it never disappoints

Description

The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine threats to free speech and government transparency, cast a skeptical eye on media coverage of the week’s big stories and unravel hidden political narratives in everything we read, watch and hear. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. © WNYC Studios

Episode Date
40 Acres
49:36

Home is in your heart and in your head, but mostly home is on land — acreage parceled out, clawed at, stolen, denied for decades and decades. First, there was Field Order No. 15, the Union Army’s plan to distribute 40-acre plots to the newly emancipated. That was a promise broken almost immediately. Later, there was the Great Migration, in which millions of African Americans fled north, where governments, lenders, and white neighbors would never let them own their land and build their own wealth. And now a system, purpose-built, extracts what it can, turning black and brown renters into debtors and evictees. 

In this excerpt from our series, The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis, we catalog the thefts and the schemes — most of which were perfectly legal — and we ask how long this debt will fester.

Matthew Desmond, founder of The Eviction Lab and our partner in this series, and Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, point us toward the legal and historical developments that evolved into the present crisis. And WBEZ’s Natalie Moore, whose grandparents moved to Chicago during the Great Migration, shows us around a high-eviction area on Chicago’s South Side.

 

Jul 10, 2020
Who Is Lady Liberty, And What Does She Want?
21:35

The Statue of Liberty is nearly 140 years old, but she's enjoying renewed relevance in the Trump era. In announcing hostile immigration policies, Trump administration officials have been questioned about Emma Lazarus' famous poem "The New Colossus" and its message about the monument in New York Harbor. Last year, Acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said on NPR’s Morning Edition, "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and will not become a public charge. That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge law was passed.That's a common nativist response to both the statue and poem, and it reveals some of the different ways the Statue of Liberty has reflected different attitudes towards migrants since 1886.

Paul Kramer is a professor of history at Vanderbilt University who has written about the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty and how it intersects with views of immigration in US history. Last year, he and Brooke visited Liberty Island and reflected on her different meanings and portrayals in American history. For this week's podcast extra, we're re-airing that segment.

You can read Professor Kramer's piece in Slate on President Reagan and the Statue of Liberty here. You can watch his presentation on the history of the three statues (The Guardian Statue, the Exile Statue, and the Imperial Statue) here.

Jul 08, 2020
The Worst Thing We've Ever Done
50:03

After World War II, Germany and the Allied powers took pains to make sure that its citizens would never forget the country’s dark history. But in America, much of our past remains hidden or rewritten. This week, Brooke visits Montgomery, Alabama, home to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum and memorial created by the Equal Justice Initiative that aim to bring America’s history of segregation and racial terror to the forefront.

1. Brooke talks to the Equal Justice Initiative's [@eji_org] Bryan Stevenson about what inspired him to create The Legacy Museum and memorial and to historian Sir Richard Evans [@RichardEvans36] about the denazification process in Germany after World War II. Listen.

2. Brooke visits The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Listen.

3. Brooke speaks again with Bryan Stevenson about his own history and America's ongoing struggle to confront our racist past and present. Listen.

This episode originally aired on June 1st, 2018. It was re-broadcast on July 3rd, 2020.

Jul 03, 2020
United States of Conspiracy
26:24

For much of the past month, a new addition has joined the audioscape of cities across the country: fireworks. Loud ones. Keep-you-up-all-night-ones. And during those sleepless hours in the dark of night, the brain can do some remarkable dot-connecting. One Twitter thread went mega-viral, conjecturing: “My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces. [...] It’s meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it’s about to become.” That the fireworks were being supplied by the NYPD to cause chaos and provide pretext for a violent police crackdown sounds unlikely. And people reporting out the story have found little evidence to back it up, finding instead that vendors in neighboring states were selling the fireworks in bulk, at a discount, to young people looking to blow off steam. 

But those drawing connections between fireworks and law enforcement should perhaps be given a pass. After all, some of most outlandish-sounding conspiracy theories in American history have, after a time, proven to be true. For this week's podcast extra, we're revisiting a conversation from last year between Bob and journalist Anna Merlan, author of Republic of Lies, who explained that conjuring up conspiracies is a pastime as old as history.

 

 

Jul 01, 2020
Your Lying Eyes
50:08

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has removed multiple people from key watchdog roles. On the week’s On the Media: how the president keeps weakening the tools meant to hold him accountable. Plus, looking for truth when police keep lying.

1. Liz Hempowicz [@lizhempowicz] of the Project on Government Oversight on the breakdown of the accountability state under President Trump. Listen.

2. Eric Boehlert [@EricBoehlert] on what stories that frame cops as victims teach us about the relationship between police and the press. Listen.

3. Kevin Riley [@ajceditor], Atlanta Journal Constitution editor, on what happens when reporters demand more skeptical coverage of law enforcement. Listen.

4. Dan Taberski [@dtaberski] on his podcast series “Running From Cops,” which interrogated how the newly-cancelled series COPS made the world seem like a more crime-ridden place. Listen.

Jun 26, 2020
"Abstinence-Only" Coronavirus Guidance Won't Save Us
15:03

When the US entered the early stages of the pandemic, federal and municipal leaders maintained that the best way to prevent the spread of the pandemic was for as many people as possible to "Stay Home." Technically, that advice was sound: the only surefire way to prevent illness is to eliminate contact with all possible vectors. Still, that advice was impossible to heed perfectly and indefinitely, and people almost immediately began taking risks to fulfill their basic wants and needs. Unfortunately, as a public health strategy, "Stay Home" offered no guidance for how to most safely take particular risks — as a consequence making already high-risk behaviors even less safe.

For public health professionals whose work involves sex safety, drug and alcohol use, and HIV/AIDS prevention, the discourse surrounding coronavirus — the absolutism, the moralism, the shaming and the open hostility towards public health recommendations — is familiar. As epidemiologist Julia Marcus wrote in a recent piece for The Atlantic, the "Stay Home" edict bears striking resemblance to that famous mantra preached by abstinence advocates: "Just Say No." In this podcast extra, Marcus and Brooke consider the shortcomings of an abstinence-only response to the pandemic, and how harm-reduction approaches could better serve the public.

Jun 25, 2020
The Undertow
50:10

We visualize the coronavirus pandemic as coming in waves, but the national picture of new cases shows no sign of abating. This week, On the Media examines the lack of urgency around upwards of 20,000 confirmed daily cases. And, making sense of how the current social uprisings fit into a cycle of social movements. Then, how the messiness of protests can be easily forgotten. Plus, efforts to remember one of the single worst incidents of racist violence in American history.

1. Caitlin Rivers [@cmyeaton], researcher at Johns Hopkins University, on the messaging surrounding the "second wave" of the pandemic. Listen.

2. Allen Kwabena Frimpong [@a_kwabena], co-founder of the AdAstra Collective, on how to situate the current uprisings for racial justice in the cycle of social movements. Listen.

3. Maggie Astor [@MaggieAstor], reporter at the New York Times, on how protest movements can be sanitized by history. Listen.

4. Russell Cobb [@scissortail74], author of The Great Oklahoma Swindle, on remembering the Tulsa Massacre. Listen.

 

Music from this week's show:

Let Yourself Go- Fred Hersch

Auf Einer Burg - Don Byron

Transparence - Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Love Theme from Spartacus - Fred Hersch

Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews...

Young at Heart - Brad Mehldau

Jun 19, 2020
The Military Stands Up To Trump
14:28

It began with the President’s notorious bible photo-op, preceded by a military crackdown north of the White House clearing protesters from Lafayette Square. Several days later, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly renounced his role in enabling the June 1st incident. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also spoke out, undercutting the president's apparent desire to use the Insurrection Act to quell protests across the country.

And just days before Trump’s commencement speech at West Point, several hundred alumni of the military academy signed an open letter urging new West Point graduates to approach future orders from the president, especially those concerning military force against civilians, with caution. According to Slate writer Fred Kaplan (full disclosure: he's married to Brooke), author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, such public insubordination from the general class down to the rank and file, is highly unusual. He and Bob discuss what these unprecedented events might tell us about Trump's standing. 

Jun 18, 2020
The Milkshake Duck-ing of Bon Appetit
15:39

There’s this old internet fable about a duck who liked milkshakes. Everyone loved the Milkshake Duck, until it turned out to be racist. The moral of the story is that everything online either turns to caca, or we learn it always was. The latest example, we submit, is the so-called Food Media — or at least its most prominent avatar, Bon Appetit.

Adam Rapoport resigned last Monday after weeks of furious attention to systemic racial inequality nation-wide, and after a month of similar scrutiny within food media, beginning last month with the tumble of viral-recipe-author Alison Roman. It was around then that technology and culture writer Navneet Alang wrote an essay for Eater titled “Stewed Awakening: Alison Roman, Bon Appetit, and the Global Pantry Problem.” In this podcast extra, Brooke and Navneet discuss the faulty editorial decisions and disastrous, un-inspected assumptions that led to food media's recent failings. 

Jun 17, 2020
It's Going Down
49:58

As public opinion catches up to the Black Lives Matter movement, some activists are calling to “defund the police.” On this week’s On the Media, the debate over whether to take that slogan literally. Plus, what investigative reporting tells us about how police departments protect abusive cops. And, the case for canceling movies and TV shows with police protagonists. Then, the story of a small town that prepared to go to war with imaginary Antifa hordes. 

1. Amna Akbar, law professor at The Ohio State University, on the origins of the police abolitionist movement. Listen.

2. George Joseph [@georgejoseph94], investigative reporter for WNYC and Gothamist, on how police departments skirt accountability. Listen.

3. Alyssa Rosenberg [@AlyssaRosenberg], Washington Post culture columnist, on why Hollywood should rethink cop-focused entertainment. Listen.

4. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], NBC News reporter, on how Antifa became the right's boogeyman du jour. Listen.

Jun 12, 2020
All The Opinion That's Fit To Print?
16:58

Two years ago, Vox's David Roberts wrote a piece arguing that The New York Times opinion section is not honest about the state of American conservatism. The animating force behind conservative politics in this country, he wrote, is Trumpism. Therefore, to invite conservative writers who truly articulated Trump's views to readers would mean inviting a strain of authoritarianism and illiberalism that would never actually be welcome in its opinion pages. Instead, they invite relatively palatable conservatives who make irrelevant arguments about politics. It's a losing game.

Last week, however, the paper invited Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to write an opinion piece arguing for the military to be sent to American streets to "restore order." Former Times opinion editor James Bennet (who has since resigned) also admitted that he had not read it before it was published. So, what does this latest episode tell us about the media's role in upholding America's values? This week, David Roberts once again wrote about the Times opinion section for Vox, in a post arguing that the Cotton op-ed "revealed a pathology on the editorial side... an insistence on extending the presumption of good faith to the GOP, even in the face of its rising authoritarianism."

Jun 10, 2020
No Justice, No Peace
50:08

In the midst of a historic week of protests, the national conversation about police is quickly transforming. This week, On the Media looks at the language used here and abroad to describe the "civil unrest" in America. Then, we explore how decades of criminal justice policy decisions brought us to this boiling point. Plus, are human beings, against all odds, actually pretty decent? 

1. Karen Attiah [@KarenAttiah], The Washington Post Global Opinions Editor, on how our media would cover American police brutality protests if they were happening abroad. Listen.

2. Elizabeth Hinton [@elizabhinton], historian at Yale University, on the historical roots of American law enforcement. Listen.

3. Rutger Bregman [@rcbregman], author of Humankind: A Hopeful History, on what our policies would like if we believed in the decency of people. Listen.

Jun 05, 2020
Trump and the Christian Persecution Complex
19:02

On Monday, President Trump stood outside St. John's Episcopal Church, which had caught fire the day prior in protests for racial justice. When he brandished a Bible before photographers, Trump knew exactly what message he was sending: Christianity is under siege and the president is the defender of the faith. Never mind the fact that peaceful protesters, clergy among them, were driven from the area minutes before with tear gas to make way for the photoshoot.

The narrative of Christianity under attack is a familiar one. Just a few weeks ago, Trump declared that houses of worship should open amid the pandemic on the grounds of religious liberty — despite the public health risk. But it turns out, the myth of Christian persecution can be traced far further back than the Culture Wars.

In fact, according to Candida Moss, Christian historians coined the idea that to be persecuted was to be righteous in the 4th Century and they exaggerated claims that Christians were persecuted in the first place. Moss is a professor of theology and religion at Birmingham University in the U.K., and author of The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom. Moss spoke to Bob just after Trump has announced his call for churches to open. In this week's Pod Extra she explains how Christian history has been revised for political means, from the early church to present day.

Jun 03, 2020
Boiling Point
50:09

Protestors are expressing outrage over police brutality while the president is threatening violence against them on Twitter. We follow how this latest chapter of unrest follows generations of pain, and how the Karen meme is shedding light on racism and entitlement during the pandemic. Plus: how do we get to a better place? And, Bob examines Twitter's efforts to address Trump's use of the platform.

1. Apryl Williams [@AprylW] of the University of Michigan examines the Karen meme and what it tells us about criticism of privilege in the pandemic. Listen here

2. Jessie Daniels [@JessieNYCof the CUNY Graduate Center on the history of white women in racial dynamics. Listen here

3. Kara Swisher [@karaswisherof Record Decode discusses Twitter's efforts this week, and attorney Bradley Moss [@BradMossEsq] on why Trump can't be sued for his tweets. Listen here

May 29, 2020
Chase Woodruff is angry and he thinks you should be too
14:31

As an On the Media listener, you follow the news - probably more so during this pandemic. And you will have noted articles filled with compassion for the families of those who have died, perhaps cynicism in the coverage of politicians’ motives and a ton of data analysis to interpret the numbers we’re bombarded with. 

Chase Woodruff, a journalist who was recently laid off from his alt-weekly job in Denver, Colorado thinks that’s all fine...but not enough. What’s missing from the media’s content checklist, he says, is anger. In an essay on the place of righteous indignation as a staple of the alt-weekly world he once inhabited, he wrote about his fears that as the so-called "rude press" die off at an even more rapid pace than dailies, vital outlets for resistance and emotion will be lost too. 

May 27, 2020
Mourning in America
50:21

As the Covid-19 death toll continues to climb, many Americans are struggling to mourn in the middle of an ongoing tragedy. This week, On the Media examines how ambitious obituary campaigns may allow our fractured country to grieve together, and help future generations tell the story of our chaotic moment. Plus, why stifled press coverage may have erased the 1918 flu from our collective memory. 

1. Terry Parris Jr. [@terryparrisjr], engagement editor at THE CITY, on the importance and challenge of building a citywide obituary archive for New York. Listen.

2. Janice Hume, author of Obituaries in American Culture, on the how obituaries will help historians make sense of our pandemic. Listen.

3. Colin Dickey [@colindickey], author of Ghostland & The Unidentified, on national grieving in a time of hyper-partisanship. Listen.

4. John Barry [@johnmbarry], author of The Great Influenza, on how the 1918 pandemic vanished from our collective memory. Listen.

May 22, 2020
Brooke speaks with "Mrs. America" creator Dahvi Waller
20:59

"Mrs. America," now streaming on Hulu, depicts the near-passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and portrays the preeminent voice of the opposition, Phyllis Schlafly. Brooke spoke with the show's creator and executive producer, Dahvi Waller, about what drew her to the era and what lessons she takes from that contentious decade. 

 

 

May 20, 2020
Communication Breakdown
50:20

In this episode, a tale of two cities. It turns out there’s a literal playbook for communications during an epidemic. Seattle followed it. New York didn’t. And, how incomplete information from leaders has created room for conspiracies to flourish — and what we can do about them. 

1. Phil McCausland [@PhilMcCausland], NBC News reporter, on how, absent federal data and directives about coronavirus, civilians in the American heartland are being left largely in the dark about the severity of their circumstances. Listen.

2. Charles Duhigg [@cduhigg], host of How To! With Charles Duhigg, on how Seattle and NYC's communications strategies following their Covid-19 outbreaks differed so widely — and what we can learn from the results. Listen.

3. Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill [@KELLYWEILL] on how Covid-19 disinformation may be leading some Americans to other dangerous conspiracy theories like QAnon. And, Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker [@jpinsk] on how to cautiously confront friends and family who may be in the early stages of a conspiracy theory kick. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
Zoe Keating - The Last Bird
Four Tet - Two thousand and Seventeen
John Renbourne - Passing Time
The Bad Plus - Time After Time

May 15, 2020
Are Online Courts Less Fair?
17:16

The pandemic has forced even the most technophobic online. After refusing for years, the Supreme Court is now hearing oral arguments over the phone and live streaming them, an initiative that — aside from the awkwardness that comes with conference calls — seems to be going well. On May 12, the public was able to tune in to hear arguments about whether or not the president's tax returns should be released.

Advocates for online courts cite low costs and efficiency. But in some cases, online courts can prove less fair than the courthouses people have historically visited in person. Public defenders say that they can't do their jobs online, and not all of their clients even have internet access, let alone a smartphone. Some research suggests that at hearings conducted by video, asylum applicants are twice as likely to be denied asylum and defendants are more likely to be deported.

Douglas Keith is counsel in the Democracy Program at The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. Keith says that if online courts are the future of justice, we need to set better guidelines to make sure they're fair.

 

May 13, 2020
No News Is Bad News
51:35

The news breaking every day and every minute makes it possible to miss the local news drought advancing all around us. Hundreds of papers have closed and tens of thousands of reporting jobs have been cut to satisfy a starving bottom line. On this week’s On The Media: the local news business, at the intersection of transformation and annihilation.

1. Penny Abernathy [@businessofnews], Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, on America's "local news deserts." Listen.

2. Bob [@Bobosphere], on the rise and fall of the ad revenue–supported newspaper business model, with Cynthia B. Meyers [@AnneHummert], Craig Forman [@cforman], Jeff Jarvis [@jeffjarvis], and Siva Vaidhyanathan [@sivavaid]. Listen.

3. Rachel Dissell [@RachelDissell], investigative reporter, spoke to us on April 21 about what her sudden joblessness means for her beat and her community. Listen.

4. Steven Waldman [@stevenwaldman], president and co-founder of Report For America, on his efforts to funnel non-profit money into much-needed reporting jobs across the country. Listen.

 

Music from the show:

Newsreel - Randy Newman / Cello Song - Nick Drake

Death Have Mercy/BreakAway - Regina Carter

I Moaned and Moaned - Regina Carter

Totem Ancestor - Kronos

Liquid Spear Waltz - Michael Andrews

Tribute to America (Medley)- The O’Neill Brothers

A Ride with Polly Jean- Jenny Scheinman

May 08, 2020
Waiting For a Game-Changer
15:43

Over the past few weeks, the public has been introduced — by way of Gilead Science, and a leaked video of doctors discussing their preliminary trial data — to a new potential therapy for Covid-19. Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication, was cleared by the FDA this week to treat severely ill Covid-19 patients, despite limited preliminary results from a handful of clinical trials.

Some in the media initially touted the drug as a potential miracle cure. But as the mounting pressure to cope with an increasingly dire pandemic makes anything less than a silver bullet difficult to swallow, Derek Lowe, the organic chemist behind the science blog In the Pipeline, urges caution. He speaks with Bob about how to report on the so-called "game changer" drugs, and where he believes reporting on the "race for a cure" falls short.

May 06, 2020
Open Season
52:01

Pressure is mounting for journalists to cover sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. This week on On the Media, we consider how the Democrats once on the front lines of the #MeToo movement are being forced to answer for their presumptive nominee. Plus, fringe groups are calling to reopen the economy early — but what does that even mean?

1. Rebecca Traister [@rtraister], writer-at-large at New York Magazine and The Cut, on who will have to answer for Joe Biden. Listen.

2. Emma Grey Ellis [@EmmaGreyEllis], writer WIRED, on the media's focus on anti-lockdown protests. Listen.

3. Timothy Mitchell, historian and political theorist at Columbia University, on how our understanding of "the economy" came to be. Listen.

4. Derek Thompson [@DKThomp], staff writer at The Atlantic, on how the pandemic could change the shape of the American marketplace. Listen.

May 01, 2020
The Art of Disastertising
16:57

Want do your part in this pandemic? Why don't you try becoming a Couch Potatotriot, someone who stays home to save lives, but also eats Burger King. This is just one of the many ways that brands have had to pivot in order to keep their goods and services relevant - including using lots of somber piano music

Despite being stuck at home, watching Netflix, advertisers are still vying for your bucks. Promising that you can buy what they’re selling without winding up on a ventilator. This stark change in tone and approach, is what -  Amanda Mull, staff writer at The Atlantic has dubbed disaster-tising in her latest piece, How to Advertise In a Pandemic

 

 

Apr 29, 2020
On Matters of Time and Space
50:06

Over the past two months, packed cities have been repeatedly blamed for the rapid spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, in jails and prisons, incarcerated people have been contracting the virus at alarming rates, in no small part due to their own overcrowded conditions. On this week's On the Media, we explore what gets lost in conversations about urban density, prisons and the climate amid coronavirus. Plus, what the history of timekeeping can teach us about our current disorientation.

1. Sam Kling [@SamKling2], Global Cities Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on why anti-urbanist tropes come up again and again in the fight against disease. Listen.

2. Ashley Rubin [@ashleytrubin], sociology professor at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, on how American jails and prisons became coronavirus epicenters. Listen.

3. Brian Kahn [@blkahn], editor at Earther, on the flawed and dangerous notion that coronavirus is good for the environment. Listen.

4. Anthony Aveni, professor emeritus of astronomy, anthropology and Native American studies at Colgate University, on the invention of time as we know it. Listen.

 

Music from the show:

Frail as a Breeze - Erik Friedlander

Prelude light - John Zorn

I’m Not Following You - Michael Andrews

River Man/Nick Drake - Brad Mehldau

The Glass House (Marjaine’s Inspiration) - Daniel Bergeaud

What’s that Sound - Michael Andrews

After the Fact - John Scofield

Apr 24, 2020
How The Environment Got Political
20:52

To mark the 50th Earth Day, we’re re-airing a piece from 2017.

In his proposed 2021 fiscal year budget, Trump has asked Congress for the fourth year in a row to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, essentially stripping away the last remaining programs aimed at curbing climate change. Earlier this month, as Americans were transfixed by the pandemic, EPA director (and former coal lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler announced that coal- and oil-fired power plants would no longer need to comply with regulations designed to reduce mercury and other toxic pollutants. 

But flash back to the late 1960s and it's a very different story. The environment was a bipartisan issue, and a Republican president created the EPA in 1970 in response to public pressure. So how did we get here? How did the environment go from universal concern to political battleground — with the EPA caught in the crossfire? 

With the help of Richard Andrews, professor emeritus of environmental policy at UNC Chapel Hill, and William Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator under presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Brooke considers the tumultuous history of the EPA, its evolving relationship with the public, and its uncertain future.

Apr 22, 2020
Model Behavior
50:22

As the coronavirus continues to devastate communities across the globe, the Trump administration and right-wing propagandists work to recast the White House response and redirect the blame. This week, On The Media considers partisan revisionist history in the White House briefing room and beyond. Plus, a peek inside the thorny world of infectious disease modeling.

1. McKay Coppins [@mckaycoppins], staff writer at The Atlantic, on the latest pivots in the Trump administration's ever-evolving "disinformation architecture." Listen. 

2. David Siders [@davidsiders], national political correspondent at Politico, on how coronavirus models became a partisan point of contention. Listen.

3. Joshua Epstein, director of New York University’s Agent-Based Modeling Lab, on how to best interpret and apply infectious disease modeling. Listen.

Music from the show:
The Glass House  - Marjane’s Inspiration - Daniel Bergeaud
The Hammer of Los  - John Zorn
Jeopardy (Think Music In the Style of Handel) - Malcolm Hamilton
Jesusland - Ben Folds 
Stay Away - Randy Newman

 

Apr 17, 2020
Virtual Worship Is Older Than You Think
17:36

Spring is peak holy season in the United States: Easter and Passover are underway and Ramadan starts next week. While most faith communities have moved worship online, a small number have refused to stop in-person services, with deadly consequences. (Jack Jenkins at Religion News Service is tracking which states have religious exemptions from their stay-at-home orders on a map you can find here.) 


Samuel Boyd is assistant professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He explains that there’s a tension common across faith traditions between the idea that God dwells in specific holy places, and the idea that God can be found in all places and things. According to Boyd, Zoom seders, Facebook Live Jummah prayers and online Mass all feel new, but virtual worship has historic roots. There’s a long tradition of religious communities adapting when they’re denied access to their houses of worship — like when, say, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Twice.

Apr 15, 2020
Blindsided
50:03

As the number of COVID cases rises, why are there still so many unknowns about its reach? This week, On the Media explores the lack of government transparency — and how third parties are filling in the gaps. Plus, as sports give way to socially distant e-sports, how broadcasters are adapting their playbooks to suit the moment. Don’t miss On The Media from WNYC Studios.

1. Alexis Madrigal [@alexismadrigal], staff writer at The Atlantic, tells us why the federal government's release of data has been in short supply. Listen.

2. Noam Levy [@NoamLevey], staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, on the questions of efficacy and transparency surrounding the federal government's efforts to distribute medical supplies. Listen.

3. Will Oremus [@WillOremus], senior writer at OneZero, on why the toilet paper shortage makes more sense than you think. Listen.

4. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], on the experimental state of no-sports sports TV. And, Ian Bogost [@ibogost], professor of media studies at Georgia Tech, on what this moments tells us about what sports really mean to America. Listen.

Music from the show:
Fellini’s Waltz — Nino Rota
The Artifact and Living — Michael Andrews
What’s That Sound — Michael Andrews
Cellar Door — Will Oremus
Liquid Spear Waltz — Michael Andrews 
Kernkraft 400 — Zombie Nation

 

Apr 10, 2020
How Hydroxychloroquine Became A Thing
19:15

President Trump has continued to push the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19, even though scientists say more research is needed to prove that it is safe and effective. But how'd we get here in the first place? Julia Carrie Wong is a reporter for The Guardian who has traced how a misleading, flawed study from France has become a widely-cited piece of evidence by media personalities on Fox and elsewhere. In this podcast extra, she explains what's deeply wrong with the study's conclusions and what happened when it got to be featured prominently by Trump's preferred television network. Wong talks to Bob about what's so appealing about the hydroxychloroquine narrative and why the administration might be so attracted to it. 

Apr 08, 2020
War, What Is It Good For?
50:08

Many elected officials have declared metaphorical war against the coronavirus. On this week’s show, On The Media examines the historical risks and benefits of relying on bombastic cliches. Plus, quarantined celebrities are revealing how they are and, more often, aren’t just like us. 

1. Jeet Heer [@HeerJeet], correspondent at The Nation, explains why treating the pandemic like a war might benefit essential workers on the frontline. Listen.

2. Nicholas Mulder [@njtmulder], historian at Cornell University, on how wartime socioeconomic policies lifted up the working class. Listen.

3. Eula Biss, author of On Immunity, on the perils of painting public health crises with the broad brush of war. Listen.

4. Bob [@bobosphere] reflects on famesplaining celebs, using their platforms for good and for not-good. Listen.

Apr 03, 2020
We Live On Zoom Now – And That Might Be a Problem
13:32

Since many of us have retreated to our homes in the past month, we’ve been connected to each other mostly through our screens. Work meetings, dinners, catch-ups with old friends, classes, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals. They’re all taking place in one location: our computers. And often, over an app called Zoom. A piece of software that until recently was mostly used for business-to-business conversations, Zoom has taken over lives... and, given the company's track record of misrepresenting its data and encryption policies, that might be a bit of a problem. For this podcast extra, Bob speaks with Motherboard journalist Joseph Cox, who recently broke the story that Zoom was sharing user data with Facebook.

Apr 02, 2020
Playing The Hero
50:09

Elected officials offer a flood of facts and spin in daily coronavirus briefings. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the press could do a better job separating vital information from messaging. Plus, a look at the unintended consequences of armchair epidemiology. And, how one watchdog journalist has won paid sick leave for thousands of workers during the pandemic. 

1. Bob [@bobosphere] on the challenges of covering the pandemic amidst a swirl of political messaging. Listen

2. Ivan Oransky [@ivanoransky], professor of medical journalism at New York University, on the rapidly-changing ways that medical scientists are communicating with each other. Listen

3. Ryan Broderick [@broderick], senior reporter at Buzzfeed News, on "coronavirus influencers." Listen

4. Judd Legum [@JuddLegum], author of the Popular Information newsletter, on pressing large corporations to offer paid sick leave. Listen

5. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] on the cost-benefit analysis being performed with human lives. Listen

 

Mar 27, 2020
When Coronavirus Isn't The Only Crisis
13:47

Last week, roughly 400 Israelis got an alert on their cell phone: “You must immediately go into isolation [for 14 days] to protect your relatives and the public.” Data-tracking suggested that they had recently spent time near someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. The next day, hundreds of Israelis set up a convoy of cars to demonstrate outside the Knesset, the Israeli parliament (since mass gatherings are prohibited, to slow the spread of the virus). Protestors said that the surveillance measures were just one of a series of undemocratic actions taken by Benjamin Netanyahu's government in a power grab that uses the coronavirus as a cover. So what happens when a country faces a series of crises on top of a pandemic? Bob spoke with Steve Hendrix, Jerusalem bureau chief for The Washington Post, about what the virus has meant for Israelis in the midst of a politically polarized maelstrom.

Mar 25, 2020
Bracing for Impact
50:04

As a global pandemic threatens to upend life as we know it, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to grapple with. On this week's On the Media, we turn to people who have been spent years readying themselves for societal collapse: doomsday preppers. Plus, how a different disaster — Hurricane Katrina — revealed inconsistencies in how we care for one another in times of crisis. 

1. As the pandemic continues to disrupt our communities and daily routines, the very passage of time feels distorted. Brooke [@otmbrooke] examines how covid-19 is warping a sense of chronology. Listen here.

2. OTM Producer Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] immerses himself in the survivalist media sphere, and talks to Richard Mitchell Jr., professor emeritus of sociology at Oregon State University, about how preppers are reacting to news that the moment they've been planning for may finally be here. Listen here.

3. Rebecca Onion [@rebeccaonion], staff writer at Slate, on survivalist novelist and blogger John Wesley Rawles and the rise of prepper fiction. Listen here.

4. Vann Newkirk II, staff writer at The Atlantic and host of the new podcast "Floodlines," on the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. Listen here.

 

Music from this week's show:

Time is Late by Marcos Ciscar

PRELUDE 8: The Invisibles by John Zorn

Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot

Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley

Down to Earth by Peter Gabriel

"Auf einer Burg" by Don Byron

Melancolia by Marcos Ciscar

 

Mar 20, 2020
Can Eviction Moratoriums Stop The Bleeding?
14:16

From Miami to Massachusetts, from San Francisco to Pittsburgh to New York, housing courts are closing up and marshals are standing down as various eviction moratoriums provide at least one answer to the mounting economic uncertainties caused by the coronavirus. In this podcast extra, Brooke and Matthew Desmond (Evicted author and producing partner of our series, The Scarlet E: Unmasking America's Eviction Crisis) discuss whether the policy changes we've seen can avert a total housing catastrophe — and whether the present crisis might cause us to ask deeper questions about housing affordability in America.

Mar 18, 2020
Civilization, Interrupted
62:46

The World Health Organization has officially declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic. On this week's On the Media, how coverage of the virus in the United States, overseas and onscreen is informing how we cope with the threat of infection.

1.  McKay Coppins [@mckaycoppins], staff writer at The Atlantic, on right-wing media's coronavirus misinformation campaign. Listen.

2. Rachel Donadio [@RachelDonadio], European politics and culture reporter for The Atlantic, on how the Italian media have been keeping a nation under lockdown informed. Listen.

3. Christopher Miller [@ChristopherJM], Buzzfeed News correspondent, on how coronavirus rumors decimated a small Ukrainian village. Listen.

4. Gideon Lasco [@gideonlasco], medical anthropologist at the University of the Philippines Diliman, on the symbolism of surgical masks. Listen.

5. Wesley Morris [@Wesley_Morris] of the New York Times, on rewatching the movie Contagion. Listen.

Mar 13, 2020
A Unique Petri Dish
8:47

The COVID 19 pandemic has expanded our vocabulary with terms like “social distancing” and “self-isolation.” In an article in Slate, Jeremy Samuel Faust who is a physician and instructor at Harvard medical school gave us one more; “case fatality rate” or CFR. Initial reports have the CFR for this disease at 2 to 3 percent but Faust writes that the actual numbers could be much lower. Using the cruise ship the Diamond Princess - a unique petri dish -  as his case study he explains that of the 3711 people on board, at least 705 tested positive for the virus and 6 people have died. A CFR of 0.85 percent. 

Mar 12, 2020
Why Nonvoters Choose to Opt Out
14:13

In advance of yesterday’s primaries, we saw some electoral anxieties of a slightly new variety: would voters turn out in the face of COVID-19? In the end, over 3.5 million people voted — not an appreciable decline, but then, the virus is still relatively limited here in the US. And even under the best of circumstances, over 40 percent of American citizens don’t vote. In fact, in November 2016, around 100 million eligible voters passed on the opportunity. That’s more people who voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. And it might be even more than that, since nonvoter statistics seem often to be underreported. Eitan Hersh, associate professor of political science at Tufts, was an academic adviser on a new Knight Foundation study, The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Non-voters. It was the largest survey of chronic nonvoters in history — and it overturned some age-old conventional wisdom.

Mar 11, 2020
Our Bodies, Ourselves
50:04

The press called out President Trump after he dismissed an alarming coronavirus statistic on – quote – a “hunch.” On this week’s On The Media, what both Trump and his critics miss in their pursuit of certainty. Plus, why the political scientist who predicted the 2018 midterms thinks Democrats will beat Trump in 2020. And, how the White House is seeking to re-write international norms about “women’s health,” “women’s rights,” and “gender equality” by avoiding those very words.

1. Jon Cohen [@sciencecohen], staff writer for Science, on the various difficulties of reporting on COVID-19. Listen.

2. Frank Snowden, professor emeritus of medical history at Yale University, on the lessons from historical epidemics. Listen.

3. Rachel Bitecofer [@RachelBitecofer], political scientist at Christopher Newport University, on what she sees as Super Tuesday's clear lessons. Listen.

4. Jessica Glenza [@JessicaGlenza], health reporter for The Guardian, on the embattled language of women's health. Listen

Music from this week's show:
Accentuate the Positive by Syd Dale Double Dozen and Alec Gould
Carmen Fantasy by Anderson and Roe
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Chicago Sunset by Charlie Musselwhite
First Drive by Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Fallen Leaves by Marcus Ciscar
Starlings by Vijay Iyer Trio

Mar 06, 2020
Covering a Pandemic When Institutions Go Dark
14:57

As the global death toll from novel coronavirus continues to skyrocket, the American media are looking to national public health institutions to make sense of the scope and severity of the damage. Much reporting has come from semi-regular phone pressers with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But over the past week, the CDC telebriefings have shifted — in tone, substance and frequency.

Gothamist senior editor Elizabeth Kim has listened in on the CDC coronavirus press briefings since the outbreak began in January. For this podcast extra, Kim joins Brooke to discuss what she and other reporters need from the CDC right now to keep the public informed in the face of a possible pandemic.

Mar 04, 2020
Black Swans
50:19

As coronavirus spreads, the Center for Disease Control is warning Americans to take urgent precautions. Meanwhile, the White House says tune out and calm down. On this week’s On the Media, what to expect as COVID-19 threatens to make its way through a ruptured body politic. Plus, amid so much focus on electability, a look at the millions of voters who swing from voting “blue” to simply not voting at all.

1. Journalist [@Laurie_Garrett] on the nature of contagions and how a nation of so-called “epidemic voyeurs” is reacting to a possible pandemic on American soil. Listen.

2. Farhad Manjoo [@fmanjoo]New York Times opinion columnist, on making prediction in an unpredictable world. Listen.

3. Ibram X. Kendi [@DrIbram], executive director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and author of How to be an Antiracist, on the "other swing voter." Listen.

Music:

John Zorn - Berotim

Cling Mansell & Kronos Quartet - Full Tense

Nino Rota/Enrico Peranunzi & Charlie Haden - Fellini’s Waltz

Martyn Axe - German Lullaby

Nino Rota - Il Casanova de Frederico Fellini

David Bowie/Meridian String Quartet - Heroes

 

Feb 28, 2020
MSNBC Is Being Very, Very Calm About Bernie Sanders
11:39

On Saturday, what most pollsters, politicos, and Bernie Sanders campaign organizers had been saying for days, if not weeks, proved true: namely, that the Democratic Socialist candidate for president had been well-poised for victory in Nevada, the most diverse state in the race thus far. Since the AP was able to call the race early in the day, the punditry had all the time they needed to speak to the moment. But, Columbia Journalism Review's Jon Allsop observed, despite the fact that Sanders's win had been predicted by analysts across the board, the day-of analysis had an unmistakable vibe of alarm. In this podcast extra, Bob and Allsop discuss the latest friction between the Sanders campaign and MSNBC, and what the network is doing — and can do moving forward — to avoid any repeat of Saturday's blunders.

CORRECTION: Iowa, not Nevada, is the most populous state to have already cast votes in the 2020 election. 

Feb 26, 2020
Money, Power, Glory
50:11

The showdown for the Democratic nomination continues, and the gloves have come off. This week, On the Media examines the conflicting narratives around how each candidate raises money. Plus, how changes at the National Archives could distort the historical record of the Trump administration.

1. Michael Grynbaum [@grynbaum], media correspondent for The New York Times, and Kathy Kiely [@kathykiely], former news director at Bloomberg Politics and journalism professor at University of Missouri School of Journalism, on how Bloomberg News is — and isn't — covering the candidacy of its owner. Listen.

2. Taylor Lorenz [@TaylorLorenz], reporter for The New York Times, on Bloomberg's meme-ification. Listen.

3. Sarah Bryner [@AKSarahB], Director of Research & Strategy at Open Secrets, on the state of campaign financing, ten years after Citizens United. Listen.

4. Matthew Connelly [@mattspast], history professor at Columbia University, explains how policy changes at the National Archives could distort the historical record about the Trump Administration. Listen.

Music from this week's show: 

David Holmes — $160 Million Chinese Man
Adrian Younge Turn Down the Sound
Billy Bragg and Wilco Union Prayer
Antibalas Dirty Money
Bill Frisell Lost, Night
Califone Burned by the Christians

Feb 21, 2020
Corporations Were Always People
12:10

No discussion of money and politics is complete without a tip of the hat to Citizens United, the landmark Supreme Court ruling of 10 years ago that recognized corporations as people and their money as speech. 

That ruling was followed a few years ago by the Hobby Lobby decision, giving business owners the right to flout federal law based on their religious beliefs. To many Americans, particularly on the left, both rulings were bizarre and ominous expansions of corporate rights. But, if you think this is the novel handiwork of a uniquely conservative Supreme Court, you haven't been paying attention to the past three or four hundred years of court cases and American history.

Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA, is the author of We the Corporations: How American Business Won Their Civil Rights. He told us in 2018 that the principle of corporate rights has been litigated forever and predates our very founding. 

 

Feb 19, 2020
Norm!
50:32

Attorney General Bill Barr appeared to spar with Donald Trump in the latest chapter of the Roger Stone case. On this week’s On the Media, why the apparent interference in the Justice Department’s work should cause concern. Plus, Customs and Border Patrol builds a new bulwark against disclosure and transparency. And, a family migration story three decades in the making. 

1. Dahlia Lithwick, writer for Slate, on what the latest Dept. of Justice news tells us about the fragility of American justice. Listen.

2. Susan Hennessey [@Susan_Hennessey], executive editor at Lawfare, on the latest threats to "prosecutorial independence." Listen.

3. Ken Klippenstein [@kenklippenstein], DC correspondent at The Nation, on Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)'s re-designation as a "security agency." Listen.

4. Jason DeParle [@JasonDeParle], author of A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves, on the 32-year process of reporting one family's migration story. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

In The Bath — Randy Newman
The Artifact & Living — Michael Andrews
String Quartet No. 5 — Philip Glass, performed by Kronos Quartet
The Glass House - Marjanes's Inspiration — David Bergeaud
Frail as a Breeze, Pt. 2 — Erik Friedlander
The Thompson Fields — Maria Schneider 

 

Feb 14, 2020
OTM Presents: U.S. of Anxiety's "40 Acres in Mississippi"
44:52

Elbert Lester has lived his full 94 years in Quitman County, Mississippi, on land he and his family own. That’s exceptional for black people in this area, and some family members even say the land came to them through “40 acres and a mule.” But that's pretty unlikely, so our WNYC colleague Kai Wright, host of The United States of Anxiety, went on a search for the truth and uncovered a story about an old and fundamental question in American politics, one at the center of the current election: Who are the rightful owners of this country’s staggering wealth?

- John Willis is author of Forgotten Time

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

- The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is located in Montgomery, Alabama. For more information about documented lynchings in Mississippi, and elsewhere, visit the Equal Justice Initiative's interactive report, Lynching in America. You can navigate to each county to learn about documented lynchings there.

Feb 12, 2020
Picture-Perfect Democracy
50:20

The sloppy roll-out of Iowa results prompted disinformation and confusion over the mechanics of the caucus system. This week, On the Media looks at the origins of the nomination process to explain how we got here. Plus, local reporters in New Hampshire examine the power struggle at the heart of the upcoming contest. 

1. Galen Druke [@galendruke] on the history of America's unique primary system. Listen.

2. Reporters Jack Rodolico [@JackRodolico]Lauren Chooljian [@laurenchooljian], and Casey McDermott [@caseymcdermott] on Dixville Notch's mythical status. Listen.  

3. Lauren Chooljian [@laurenchooljian] examines how New Hampshire's local press benefits from being a first-in-the-nation primary. Listen.

Music from this week's show: 

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn
Young at Heart by Brad Mehldau
The Camping Store by Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Milestones by Bill Evan Trio

Feb 07, 2020
How Rush Limbaugh Paved The Way For Trump
14:57

A lot was reported about Tuesday night's State of the Union address. President Trump's characteristic self-congratulation, the fact-checking of his error-filled speech, and Nancy Pelosi's sensational paper rip stunt. Tuesday night also solidified Rush Limbaugh's ascent to Republican royalty. By awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Trump inducted Limbaugh into a gilded class of American history, featuring Norman Rockwell, Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr. According to Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, the award could be seen as the culmination of the GOP's transformation, precipitated by Limbaugh and solidified by Trump. 

Feb 06, 2020
Cancel This!
50:07

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the World Health Organization has declared a state of emergency. This week, On the Media looks at how panic and misinformation are going viral, too. Plus, a controversial endorsement for Bernie Sanders puts the spotlight on Joe Rogan, and has renewed the debate over "cancel culture." And, the impeachment proceedings continue to move toward a conclusion. 

1. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] reflects on the impeachment proceedings as they come to an anti-climactic ending. Listen.

2. Alexis Madrigal [@alexismadrigalof The Atlantic explains how panic online is spreading faster than the coronavirus itself. Listen.

3. Devin Gordon [@DevinGordonX] talks about why Joe Rogan is so popular, and reflects on the controversy surrounding his tentative endorsement of Bernie Sanders. Listen.

4. Natalie Wynn, creator of the Youtube channel ContraPoints, lays out her criticism of "cancel culture" and takes an honest look at her own "cancellations." Listen.

Music: 

Roary's Waltz by John Zorn

Psychotic Girl by Black Keys

Baba O'Reilly by The Who

Life on Mars by David Bowie (covered by Meridian String Quartet)

River Man by Brad Mehldau

Jan 31, 2020
OTM presents: Here's the Thing with Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor
32:56

Our colleagues at "Here's the Thing" produced a great episode this week that we think you'll enjoy:

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are the New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story.  For five months -- perpetually in danger of losing the scoop -- they cultivated and cajoled sources ranging from the Weinsteins’ accountant to Ashley Judd.  The article that emerged on October 5th, 2017, was a level-headed and impeccably sourced exposé, whose effects continue to be felt around the world.  Their conversation with Alec Baldwin covers their reporting process, and moves on to a joint wrestling with Alec’s own early knowledge of one of the Weinstein allegations, and his ongoing friendship with accused harasser James Toback.  The guests ask Alec questions about the movie industry’s ethics about sex and “the casting couch.”  Over a respectful and surprising half-hour, host and guests together talk through the many dilemmas posed by the #MeToo movement that Kantor and Twohey did so much to unleash.

Jan 29, 2020
Optical Delusion
50:09

A gathering of thousands of armed protesters in Virginia last weekend prompted fears of mass violence. On this episode of On the Media, how some militia groups are spinning the lack of bloodshed as victory. Plus, fresh demands for accountability in Puerto Rico, and why the senate impeachment trial feels so predictable. 

1. Bob Garfield [@Bobosphere] on the present moment in the impeachment trial. Listen.

2. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], reporter at the Guardian, and OTM producer Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on the efforts to shape the media narrative among gun rights activists at Virginia's Lobby Day. Listen.

3. OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess [@AlanaLlama] on the "double-bind" Puerto Rico faces as earthquakes shake the state. Listen.

Music:

All the President's Men Theme by Nini Rosso
Joeira by Kurup
General Scott's March by Liberty Tree Wind Players
Original music by Mark Henry Phillips
Cantus for Bob Hardison by Michael Linnen
Kerala by Bonobo

Jan 24, 2020
The Alleged Crimes of Greenwald
9:33

The Brazilian federal government on Tuesday revealed charges of cybercrimes against Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his alleged role in the leaking of explosive messages written by high-ranking law enforcement officials. Press freedom advocates immediately decried the charges as a dangerous blow to basic press freedoms; Greenwald himself told Washington Post cybersecurity reporter Joseph Marks, "Governments [are] figuring out how they can criminalize journalism based on large-scale leaks." In this podcast extra, Marks breaks down the charges and draws comparisons (and contrasts) with the American government's prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. 

Jan 22, 2020
Family Feud
50:06

A pre-debate news drop from CNN threatened the relative peace between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. On this week’s On the Media, why the feud is more distracting than illuminating. Plus, why paying close attention to political news is no substitute for civic participation. And, the origins of two oligarchic dynasties: the Trumps and the Kushners.

1. Rebecca Traister [@rtraister], writer for New York Magazine, on the inevitability of the questions facing women in politics. Listen.

2. Eitan Hersh [@eitanhersh], political scientist at Tufts University, on the political hobbyism and news consumption. Listen.

3. Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaWNYC], co-host of WNYC's Trump, Inc. podcast, on the corruption, improbabilities, and ironies of the Trump and Kushner family histories. Listen.

Jan 17, 2020
Climate Change, News Corp, and the Australian Fires
18:27

For years, climate change experts have said that hotter and drier summers would exacerbate the threat of bushfires in Australia. Fires have been raging since September and a prolonged drought and record-breaking temperatures mean the blazes won't stop for weeks — if not months. 

But to read or watch or listen to the conservative press in Australia is to get an altogether different story: that it's arson, not climate change, that's mainly responsible for the deaths of nearly 30 humans and an estimated one billion animals. Damien Cave is the New York Times bureau chief in Sydney, and he recently wrote about "How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia's Bushfire Debate." He spoke to Bob about the media landscape of denial and deflection, and why critics say it's making it harder to hold the government accountable. 

Jan 15, 2020
Hurtling Toward Catastrophe
50:24

After the US military assassinated an Iranian military general, war propaganda kicked into overdrive. On this week’s On the Media, how news consumers can cut through the misleading claims and dangerous frames. Plus, how Generation Z is interpreting the geopolitical crisis through memes. And, how apocalyptic thinking is a near-constant through history. 

1. Nathan Robinson [@NathanJRobinson], editor of Current Affairs, on the most suspect tropes in war coverage. Listen.

2. Lee Fang [@lhfang], investigative journalist at The Intercept, on the pundits with unacknowledged conflicts of interest. Listen.

3. Ian Bogost [@ibogost], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on #WorldWar3 memes. Listen.

4. Dan Carlin [@HardcoreHistory], host of "Hardcore History," on apocalyptic moments throughout human history. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Nirvana/The Bad Plus — Smells Like Teen Spirit
Michael Andrews — The Artifact & Living
Unknown — March for the 3 Regt. of Foot
Thin Lizzy — The Boys Are Back In Town
John Zorn — Prelude 3: Prelude of Light
Hank Jones — Wade in the Water
John Zorn — Gormenghast

Jan 10, 2020
The Weinstein Trial Begins
11:00

In New York this week, jury selection began in the trial of former Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein. News of his alleged sexual predations launched the #MeToo movement in October 2017, through investigative reporting from both The New York Times and The New Yorker. Even as he prepares to stand trial in New York, sexual assault charges were filed against him in Los Angeles. To date, over eighty women in the film industry have accused him of rape and sexual assault and abuse. Weinstein claims they were all consensual acts. 

The reporting has been groundbreaking in its detail, laying out the allegations for the public. But in Hollywood, Weinstein’s abuses already were an open secret. In 2017, Brooke spoke with Buzzfeed senior culture writer Anne Helen Petersen about the essential role of gossip and whisper networks in protecting the vulnerable and spreading news that threatens the powerful. 

 

Jan 08, 2020
Can Restorative Justice Save The Internet?
50:33

As prison populations soar, advocates on both side of the spectrum agree that the law-and-order approach to criminal justice is not making us safer. On this week's On the Media, we look at restorative justice, an alternative to prison that can provide meaningful resolution and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, harassment and bullying are plaguing our online lives, but social media companies seem fresh out of solutions. OTM brings you the story of a reporter and a researcher who teamed up to test whether restorative justice can be used to help detoxify the web.

1. Danielle Sered [@daniellesered], author of Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair, on her promising foray into restorative justice. Listen.

2. Lindsay Blackwell [@linguangst], UX researcher at Facebook, and OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] share the story of their online restorative justice experiment. Plus, Jack Dorsey [@jack], CEO of Twitter, and Ashley Feinberg [@ashleyfeinberg], a senior writer at Slate, on the toxic state of Twitter. Listen.

Jan 03, 2020
Ken Kesey's Acid Quest
18:44

Happy New Year! In this pod extra, we're celebrating what might be your first hangover of 2020 — whether it's fueled by alcohol or just the thought of the year ahead. So, we thought we'd bring you the story of an odd holiday known as Bicycle Day, April 19: the day in 1943, when Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann rode his bike home from work after dosing himself with his lab concoction, lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. The first acid trip.

Hofmann’s wobbly ride is what launches us into an exploration of a moment, when Ken Kesey, an evangelist of acid would emerge from a Menlo Park hospital lab, and plow through the nation’s gray flannel culture in a candy colored bus. Some know Kesey as the enigmatic author behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — others, as the driving force in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s seminal work in New Journalism. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Acid Test, Brooke spoke in 2018 with Wolfe (since deceased) and writer River Donaghey about how acid shaped Kesey, spawned the book and de-normalized American conformity.

This segment is from our April 20, 2018 show, Moving Beyond the Norm.

Songs:

Holidays B by Ib Glindemann
Im Glück by Neu!
Apache '65 by Davie Allan and the Arrows
Selections from "The Acid Tests Reels" by The Merry Pranksters & The Grateful Dead
Alicia by Los Monstruos
The Days Between by The Grateful Dead (Live 6/24/95)

Jan 01, 2020
Hindsight Is 2019
50:36

2019 started on a note of fakery, as we made sense of the conspiracies and simulacra that distort our information field. It's ending with a similar air of surreality, with impeachment proceedings bringing the dynamics of the Trump presidency into stark relief. Along the way, we've examined forces, deconstructed narratives, and found the racist core at the heart of so much of the American project. And as we've come to look differently at the world, we've come to look differently at ourselves.

With excerpts from:

  1. When The Internet is Mostly Fake, January 11th, 2019
  2. United States of Conspiracy, May 17th, 2019
  3. Trump Sees Conspiracies Everywhere, October 4th, 2019
  4. Understanding the White Power Movement, March 22nd, 2019
  5. Why "Send Her Back" Reverberated So Loudly, July 19th, 2019
  6. The Scarlet E, Part II: 40 Acres, June 14th, 2019
  7. Part 1: The Myth Of The Frontier, March 29th, 2019
  8. Empire State of Mind, April 5th, 2019
  9. The Perils of Laundering Hot Takes Through History, March 1st, 2019

Music:

Sentimental Journey by Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra
Newsreel by Randy Newman
String Quartet No. 5 (II) by Kronos Quartet & Philip Glass
8½ by Rino Nota
Songs of War by United States Old Guard fife and Drum Corps
The Water Rises / Our Street Is a Black River by Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet 
Marc Phillips 
Tribute To America (Medley) by The O’Neill Brothers
Tomorrow Never Knows by  Quartetto d’Archi Dell’Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Merkabah by John Zorn

 

Dec 27, 2019
The Hidden Truths of Hanukkah
13:57

Today is Christmas, but it's also Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights. With its emphasis on present-giving, dreidel games and sweet treats, the holiday seems to be oriented towards kids. Even the story of Hanukkah has had its edges shaved down over time. Ostensibly, the holiday is a celebration of a victory against an oppressive Greek regime in Palestine over two thousand years ago, the miracle of oil that lit Jerusalem's holy temple for 8 days and nights, and the perseverance of the Jewish faith against all odds.

According to Rabbi James Ponet, Emeritus Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale University, the kid-friendly Hanukkah mythology has obscured the thorny historical details that offer deeper truths about what it means to be a Jew. In his 2005 Slate piece, "Hanukkah as Jewish Civil War," Ponet looked at the often-overlooked Jew-on-Jew violence that under-girds the Hanukkah story. In 2018, he and Brooke discussed how this civil war lives on in Jewish views on Israel, and how the tension between assimilation and tradition came to define the Jewish people. We're re-releasing it today in time for the holidays.

Dec 25, 2019
Let The Record Show
49:35

For only the third time in U.S. history, the American press is covering a presidential impeachment. On this week’s On the Media, a look at a few of the coverage missteps made along the way. And, the reporting process behind the Washington Post "Afghanistan Papers" scoop. Plus, the story of an unprecedented trove of TV news history, and the media activist who made it possible.

1. Jon Allsop [@Jon_Allsop], writer for Columbia Journalism Review, on the impeachment coverage that's been less-than-perfect. Listen.

2. Craig Whitlock [@CraigMWhitlock], investigative reporter for the Washington Post, on a once-secret internal government history of the Afghanistan War. Listen.

3. Matt Wolf, documentarian, on the life and work of the activist-archivist Marion Stokes. Listen.

Dec 20, 2019
Sons of the Soil
20:19

Last week, India’s ruling party (the BJP) passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. The legislation grants a clear path to Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Opponents pointed out flaws in the law almost as soon as it was introduced. The law fails to mention Muslim minorities who face persecution in their own countries, such as the Rohingyas in Myanmar. Critics see it as the latest step in the Hindu nationalist government’s steady march toward a Hindu nation-state. The move follows the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy this summer, and two million people losing statehood in Northeast India after being left off of a national register of citizens. The list requires citizens to provide documents to prove Indian ancestry. Many Muslims fear that the National Register of Citizens will be enacted across India, leaving religious minorities in the world’s largest democracy in danger of losing their home.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah twisted history to provide justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act, shouting to his colleagues in Parliament that decades ago it was the now opposition, Congress Party, that divided India and Pakistan along religious lines. As Indian historian Romila Thapar wrote in The New York Times earlier this year, “extreme nationalists require their own particular version of the past to legitimize their actions in the present.” This week, we go back to a piece reported by OTM Producer Asthaa Chaturvedi. She examines how Hindu nationalists are rewriting Indian history in the world’s largest democracy, with journalist Shoaib Daniyal, political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, and sociology professor Nandini Sundar.  

Dec 18, 2019
Body of Law: Beyond Roe
50:11

A majority of Americans polled by CSPAN last year couldn't name a Supreme Court case. Of those who could, Roe v. Wade was by far the most familiar, with 40 percent able to name it. (Only five percent could name Brown v. Board of Education.) And since it was decided in 1973, a majority — roughly 70 percent — have consistently said they want Roe upheld, albeit with some restrictions on legal abortion.

But what do we really know about Roe? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said she wishes it had been another case that the Supreme Court heard as the first reproductive freedom case instead. It was Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense, and it came to the high court during the same term as Roe

The year was 1970, and the Air Force (like the other branches of the military) had a regulation banning female service members from having a family. If a servicewoman got pregnant, she would get discharged. Captain Susan Struck was a nurse serving in Vietnam, and she challenged the decision in court with Ginsburg as her lawyer. However, the court never heard the case because the Air Force changed their policy first. For this week's show, we partnered with The Guardian (read their story here) to learn more about Susan Struck’s fight and its bigger lessons for reproductive freedom and for women in the workplace. 

Our producer Alana Casanova-Burgess and The Guardian's health reporter Jessica Glenza spoke to Struck about the difficult decision she made to give her baby up for adoption in order to fight the regulation. Plus, we hear why legal scholars think this case "deserves to be honored by collective memory," and how Ginsburg's arguments to the Supreme Court differed from what the justices decided in Roe

Then:

- Slate's Dahlia Lithwick explains the threats to reproductive rights in the court right now;

Neil Siegel of Duke Law School puts the Struck case in context and discusses what better questions we could be asking about women's equality;

- activist and scholar Loretta Ross explains the tenets of reproductive justice and how they expand the frame beyond Roe and abortion;

- and Reva Siegel of Yale Law School tells the story of how abortion was discussed before 1973, including during the Women's Strike of 1970. And she describes the framework of ProChoiceLife, which expands the idea of what pro-life policy is. She is also the co-editor of Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories

Read The Guardian’s print version here, and share your story with Jessica Glenza if you were a woman serving in the military before 1976.

Dec 13, 2019
The "Pentagon Papers" Of Our Time
35:09

On Monday, the Washington Post released the fruits of a three-year investigative effort: the "Afghanistan Papers," a once-secret internal government history of a deadly, costly, and ultimately futile entanglement. The hundreds of frank, explosive interviews — along with a new tranche of memos written by the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — revealed the extent to which American leaders misled the public on their efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, rout the Taliban, expel Al Qaeda, install democracy, and undo corruption. In this podcast extra, investigative reporter Craig Whitlock tells Bob about the monumental story that the Post uncovered — and the extraordinary effort it took to report it out. 

Dec 11, 2019
The Dead Consensus
50:09

As House leaders begin drafting articles of impeachment, examples from the Nixon and Clinton eras abound. This week, On the Media rewinds to the 19th century — and the turbulent impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Plus, what a debate between two right-wing intellectuals means for the future of conservatism.

1. Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers, on the acrimonious trial of Andrew Johnson. Listen.

2. Matthew Sitman [@MatthewSitman], co-host of the Know Your Enemy podcast, on the rise of illiberalism among the conservative intelligentsia. Listen

Music:

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Black Dyke Band
Gormenghast by John Zorn
Passing Time by John Renbourn
Prelude of Light by John Zorn
Psalom by Kronos Quartet
Purple Haze by Kronos Quartet

Dec 06, 2019
Tribalism, Anger and the State of Our Politics
23:34

If solidarity and the recognition of mutual self-interest are the keys to moving past our fractious moment, it can be hard to see how we'll get there. Anger and tribalism appear to be at an all-time high, creating political and societal rifts that seem unbridgeable. Indeed, it is hard to believe that only 70 years ago, the country was deemed by political scientists to be not polarized enough. In 1950, the American Political Science Association put out a report that suggested that the parties were not distinct enough and that it was making people's political decision making too difficult.

Over the next few decades, they became distinct alright. Lilliana Mason is a political psychologist at the University of Maryland. When we spoke to her last fall, she told us that most people think they know exactly what each party stands for — leaving us with two camps that both seek to destroy the other. 

Dec 04, 2019
We Need To Talk About Poland
50:22

With the US deep in questions of impeachment, what lessons can we learn from divided societies abroad? This week, On the Media travels to Poland, where conspiracy, xenophobia and the rise of illiberalism have the country in an existential fight for its future. On the Media producer Leah Feder reports.

1. Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum] on the conspiracy theories around a 2010 plane crash that redrew lines in Polish politics.

2. Pawel Machcewicz on the Law & Justice party's takeover of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk. Also featuring Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum], Janine Holc and Angieszka Syroka.

3. An exploration of left and right strategies in contemporary Poland, with Igor Stokfiszewski of [@krytyka], Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum] and Jaroslaw Kuisz of [@kultliberalna].

 

Music:

OldNova - Taniec Kikimory
Chopin - Nocturne en mi Bémol Majeur op 9 no° 2
Wojciech Kilar, Tadeusz Strugala, The Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland - Moving to the Ghetto Oct 31, 1940
Chopin - Nocturne no° 1 in B Flat Major
Chopin, Ivan Moravec - Berceuse in D Flat Minor, Op. 57
Przepis Po Polsku (Polish Recipe)
BOKKA - Town of Strangers

Nov 29, 2019
PURPLE EPISODE 4: Media to the Rescue?
10:31

As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy  and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers. In episode four, Bob examines the media’s responsibility for instilling devotion, or at least perspective, for our democracy.

A 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, showed only 23 percent of eighth graders in the United States attained “proficient” status in civics. A 2011 Newsweek survey found that 70 percent of Americans didn’t even know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And only 26% of those surveyed in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania could name all three branches of government. And no wonder: with STEM curriculum and standardized testing squeezing the school day, civics has become the snow leopard of the social studies curriculum. 

So if the knowledge vacuum is otherwise filled by misinformation and disinformation, and the result is a loss of faith and trust in democracy itself, who is left to intervene? Jan Schaffer — ombudsman for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, Pulitzer Prize–winning former journalist and founder of The Institute for Interactive Journalism — talks to Bob about what responsibility the media have to become educators, and maybe even re-assurers, of last resort.

Music:

Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar

 

Nov 26, 2019
PURPLE EPISODE 3: Let’s Not Discount Reality
10:06

As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, OTM is using its podcast feed for a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy  and what to do about it. Bob himself is one of the Purple Project organizers. We recommend that you listen to this four-part mini-series in order. In this third episode he explores some of the causes for disaffection.

One of the reasons so many Americans have lost trust and faith is democratic institutions is simple misunderstanding about how the system is designed to work.  Another, however, is familiarity with how the system does work which isn’t exactly of, by and for the People. Anand Giridharadas is author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. He says the founders also didn’t plan on politicians constantly trash-talking government itself and that a decline in trust in government is the result of a concerted, private sector propaganda war waged over the last four decades.

Music:

Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix

Nov 25, 2019
PURPLE EPISODE 2: “Low Information, High Misinformation Voters"
14:32

As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy –– and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers.

The Pizzagate pedophile conspiracy, crisis actors at Sandy Hook, the flat Earthers...and on and on. Absolute nonsense peddled by the cynical and the naive, and eagerly lapped up by the gullible. Misinformation is a problem that Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, has studied for years. In this interview, Brendan and Bob discuss new research on how Americans form their political beliefs and how civic institutions may begin to win back their trust.

Song:

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini by Nino Rota

Nov 24, 2019
PURPLE EPISODE 1: “Is Democracy up for grabs?”
16:23

As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy -- and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers.

Democracy is in trouble. Not necessarily because of our current political mayhem, or even because of the accumulated sins and failures of American society, but because vast swaths of the public are giving up on the system that has governed us for 243 years.

Here are some alarming data points: One, in 2018 only 33% of the general population expressed trust for government. Two, among 1400 adults asked about the importance of democracy, only 39% of younger participants said “absolutely important.” Three, in a 2018 Democracy Fund survey of 5000 Americans, 24% of respondents expressed support for “a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections,” and either a “strong leader” and 18% for “army rule.

The more complicated question is what as a society we are to do about it? In this mini-series we’ll be talking that over, but we’ll begin with the actual state of public sentiment and public participation. Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University and Co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. He and Bob discuss potential solutions for taking on widespread disaffection.

Music:

We Insist by Zoë Keating

Nov 23, 2019
The Disagreement Is The Point
49:47

In hearings this week, House Democrats sought to highlight an emerging set of facts concerning the President’s conduct. On this week’s On the Media, a look at why muddying the waters remains a viable strategy for Trump’s defenders. Plus, even the technology we trust for its clarity isn’t entirely objective, especially the algorithms that drive decisions in public and private institutions. And, how early radio engineers designed broadcast equipment to favor male voices and make women sound "shrill."

1. David Roberts [@drvox], writer covering energy for Vox, on the "epistemic crisis" at the heart of our bifurcated information ecosystem. Listen.

2. Cathy O'Neil [@mathbabedotorg], mathematician and author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, on the biases baked into our algorithms. Listen.

3. Tina Tallon [@ttallon], musician and professor, on how biases built into radio technology have shaped how we hear women speak. Listen.

Nov 22, 2019
We Made a Lipstick For You!
12:47

What are media? For us, its any medium through which we express ourselves, whether from one to one, from one to many, or just from one, to one’s own self. 

We can do it with our style. Our hair, even our glasses, choices that express not just our aesthetics, but our politics, too. 

And so for this seasonal fundraising effort, we are offering something new. It was Poppy King’s idea, lipstick designer extraordinaire. Last year Elle Australia listed her Frog Prince lipstick as one of the most iconic lipstick shades of all time. She’s a devoted listener too, so she designed in collaboration with the show, a special lipstick that she named Well Red and she offered them entirely free of charge, to us that is. Not to you. 

We are offering these very special lipsticks to you for a donation of $12 a month or $144 for a year's worth of support for this show. 

If you donate by December 6th, we can GUARANTEE delivery in time for the holidays – Christmas, Chanakuh, Kwanzaa  - we have your lipstick gifting needs covered. 

When you get this lipstick as a thank-you gift, you’re checking 2 important year-end items off your list – you’re supporting OTM to help fund another year of reporting,  AND you’re getting a unique gift for yourself or a loved one.

Go to onthemedia.org/donate or text lipstick to 70101.

Thank you so much!

Nov 19, 2019
Designed to Intimidate
50:40

Millions tuned into impeachment hearings this week — the first two of five already scheduled. On this week’s show, why shifts in public opinion may not necessarily sway the GOP. Plus, what we can learn from the predatory tactics that enriched Bill Gates.

1. Nicole Hemmer [@pastpunditry], author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politicson the false premise underlying hope for President Trump's removal. Listen.

2. John Dean [@JohnWDean] former White House counsel, on the lessons he's applying from Watergate to the impeachment hearings for President Trump. Listen.

3. Former Labor Secretary Rob Reich [@RBReich] and Goliath author Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller] on how billionaires like Bill Gates use their power and wealth to force their vision on society. Listen.

Music:

Zoe Keating — We Insist
Donnie Darko — Cellar Door
Chicago Sunset — Charlie Musselwhite
Carmen Fantasy — Anderson and Row
Tongue in cheek — Gaurav Raina Tarana Marwah
Ototoa — Malphino

Nov 15, 2019
OTM presents: Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture
55:32

You really have a feeling that here is a building that looks fantastically beautiful, and it’s got its whole façade simply blown off by this war.

                                                                                                      -Philipp Blom

World War I presented civilization with unprecedented violence and destruction. The shock of the first modern, “industrial” war extended far into the 20th century and even into the 21st, and changed how people saw the world and themselves. And that was reflected in the cultural responses to the war – which included a burgeoning obsession with beauty and body image, the birth of jazz, new thinking about the human psyche, the Harlem Renaissance, Surrealism...and more.

WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests sift through the lingering effects of the Great War on modern art and life in Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture.

Guests include Jon Batiste, Ann Temkin, David Lubin, Philipp Blom, Jay Winter, Ana Carden-Coyne, Sabine Rewald, David Levering Lewis, Emma Chambers, Marion von Osten, Emily Bernard, and Gail Stavitsky

Producer/Host: Sara Fishko
Associate Producer: Olivia Briley
Technical Director: Ed Haber
Editor: Karen Frillmann

Production help from Terence Mickey, Meara Sharma, and Frederic Castel

With the voices of Michael Wist and Alexis Cuadrado

Thanks to Loren Schoenberg, Jennifer Keene, Jo Fox, Katy Wan, Marion von Osten, Marion Kiesow II, Patrick Helber, Shannon Connolly, and Natalia Ramirez

Shell Shock 1919 is supported by the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family

Nov 13, 2019
Curiouser and Curiouser
50:37

President Trump’s concerns about corruption in Ukraine began, in part, with a series of articles in a publication called The Hill. On this week’s On the Media, a close-up on the columnist whose dubious tales may lead to an impeachment. Plus, the black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking.

1. Paul Farhi [@farhip], Washington Post media reporter, and Mike Spies [@mikespiesnyc], ProPublica reporter, on John Solomon's role in the impeachment saga. Listen

2. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen

 

Music from this week's show:

How Strange by Nicola Cruz
I'm the Slime By Frank Zappa
Suite for Solo Cello No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: I. Prelude by Yo Yo Ma
Lachrymae Antiquae by Kronos Quartet
Two Thousand Seventeen by Four Tet

Nov 08, 2019
Can We Govern Ourselves?
23:20

As Americans battle for control of the future of the United States, it seems that we're always going back to founding documents and core principles: relying on them and reinterpreting them, in what seems to be an increasingly arduous effort to govern ourselves. It all starts to beg an uncomfortable question: in the end, can we govern ourselves? John Adams didn’t think so. He said that all political systems, whether monarchy, democracy, aristocracy, were equally prey to the brutish nature of mankind.

Harvard historian Jill Lepore wrote a sweeping history of the American experiment called These Truths: A History of the United States. Brooke spoke with Lepore about this country's history and the history of the contested — and supposedly self-evident — truths under-girding our shaky democracy. 

This segment is from our November 9th, 2018 episode, We're Not Very Good At This.

Nov 06, 2019
Band-Aid On A Bulletwound
50:17

As wildfires tear through California, our decades-old infrastructure comes back to bite us. On this week’s On the Media, how we can understand this latest climate catastrophe through a metaphor from the computer world. Plus, the on-going struggle over the fate of the internet message board 8chan. And, Radiolab's Molly Webster digs into the right to be forgotten. 

1.  Writer Quinn Norton [@quinnnorton] on how California's wildfires are caused in large part by infrastructure decays, or the "technical debt" being accumulated by the state, and governments around the country. Listen.

2. Producer Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] reports on whether 8chan can remain dead after being de-platformed in August, featuring a conversation with the founder of the site Frederick Brennan [@HW_BEAT_THAT], who now advocates for shutting it down. Listen.

3. Radiolab [@Radiolab] producer Molly Webster on a group of journalists in Ohio trying an experiment: unpublishing content they’ve already published. Listen

Music from this week's show:

John Zorn — Prelude 7: Sign and Sigil
John Zorn — Night Thoughts
Clint Mansell & Kronos Quartet: Coney Island Dreaming
Korla Pandit  Procession of the Grand Moghul
Michael Andrews: The Artifact and Living

 

Nov 01, 2019
OTM presents Trump Inc: All the President's Memes
26:28

This week on the OTM pod we feature another episode from Trump Inc. 

Read more about who makes money when a bunch of conspiracy theorists throw a party at Trump's hotel. Stay up to date with email updates about WNYC and ProPublica's investigations into the president's business practices.

President Trump's Doral resort has been in the news a lot lately. His chief of staff announced from the White House that America would host the next G-7 summit there. Then, Trump backed off. We're looking at a conference that did happen at Doral. A conference that attracted conspiracy theorists, where a violent video featuring a fake Trump massacring members of the media was shown. (The conference organizers say they "condemn political violence.")

Trump, Inc. was there.

So was the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

This week: The business of conspiracies.

Oct 30, 2019
When They Come For You
50:11

There’s a growing movement on the left and right for prison reform. On this week’s On the Media, a deep dive into the strange bedfellows coalition working to close prisons down. Also, in speeches, testimony, and leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg has been trying to make a case for free expression — and for Facebook. Plus, what the TV show COPS reveals about our fascination with punishment. 

1. Kate Klonick [@Klonick], assistant professor at St. John's Law School, on Mark Zuckerberg's pronouncements this month on democracy, free expression, and the future of Facebook. Listen.

2. David Dagan [@DavidDagan], post-doctoral political science scholar at George Washington University; Mark Holden, senior vice president of Koch Industries; and Brittany Williams, activist with No New Jails in New York City, on the closing down of prisons and jails.

3. Dan Taberski [@dtaberski], host of the podcast "Running From Cops," on what he and his team learned from watching hundreds of episodes of "COPS." Listen.

 

Music:

Okami - Nicola Cruz
Dirty Money - Antibalas
Chez Le Photographe Du Motel - Miles Davis
I Feel Fine - Bela Fleck and Tony Trishka  

 

Oct 25, 2019
OTM presents: Impeachment Pod, the Taylor Testimony
22:36

This week's OTM pod extra is another episode from the new podcast hosted by WNYC's Brian Lehrer: 

Where are we on impeachment today?
Yesterday evening, the public got the chance to read the opening statement of U.S. emissary to Ukraine William Taylor's testimony. In it, he described "two channels of U.S. policy-making" in Ukraine, official State Department and security channels, and the "highly irregular" efforts by others in the President's circle to undermine the longstanding policy in Ukraine. Taylor laid out the most complete timeline of those efforts available thus far, and cited contacts he'd had with others that indicate President Trump's direct involvement. 

On today’s episode:
Michael Isikoff
, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo! News, host of the podcast "Conspiracyland," co-host of the "Skullduggery" podcast and co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump  

Oct 23, 2019
Hanging In The Balance
49:27

In covering President Trump’s decision to stop protecting Kurdish fighters in Syria, press reports have focused on the Kurds as US allies and tools in fighting ISIS. This week, On the Media looks at a different aspect of Kurdish life: the experiment in direct democracy that has flourished in northern Syria for the past five years. Plus: how debate moderators fail audiences when they focus on taxes. And, how reporters have negotiated dangerous conditions while reporting on the Turkish operation in Syria. 

1. Daniel Estrin [@DanielEstrin], NPR international correspondent, on the difficulties in reporting from Syria, from outside Syria. Listen

2.  Jenna Krajeski [@Jenna_Krajeski], a journalist with the Fuller Project for International Reporting, on the Kurdish political project, and Rapareen abd Elhameed Hasn, a 27-year-old activist and co-president of her local health authority in Rojava, on what it's been like on the ground. Listen.

3. Arthur Delaney [@ArthurDelaneyHP], on the worst debate question moderators keep asking. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Marcus Ciscar — “Fallen Leaves”
Michael Linnen — “Cantus for Bob Hardison”
Zoe Keating — “We Insist”
Mark Henry Phillips — [untitled track]
Mark Henry Phillips — [untitled track]
Gaurav Raina and Tarana Marwah — “Tongue in Cheek”
Howard Shore — “Cops or Criminals”

Oct 18, 2019
Introducing... Impeachment: A Daily Podcast
19:47

The pace of impeachment-related revelations is breathtaking, and it isn't slowing yet. With each day comes yet another executive branch staffer defying the White House by testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill — new names, fresh allegations, and ever more twists and turns. To help us follow the developments, Brian Lehrer — whose office here at WNYC is mere steps away from OTM HQ — has started a daily podcast: Impeachment. In this second episode of the podcast, New York Times reporter Katie Benner explains why George Kent, a senior State Department official for Ukraine policy, told Congressional investigators that he was instructed by a supervisor to "lie low" after raising concerns about the Trump administration's conduct. 

Oct 16, 2019
Sticks and Stones
50:09

“The right to throw a punch ends at the tip of someone’s nose.” It’s the idea that underlies American liberties — but does it still fit in 2019? This week, On the Media looks back at our country’s radical — and radically inconsistent — tradition of free speech. Plus, a prophetic philosopher predicts America 75 years after Trump.

1. Andrew Marantz [@andrewmarantz], author of Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation — and our guest host for this hour — explains what he sees as the problem with free speech absolutism. Listen

2. john powell [@profjohnapowell], law professor at UC Berkeley, P.E. Moskowitz [@_pem_pem], author of The Case Against Free Speech: The First Amendment, Fascism, and the Future of Dissent, and Susan Benesch [@SusanBenesch], Director of the Dangerous Speech Project, on our complicated legal right to speak. Listen

3. Andrew and Brooke discuss the philosopher Richard Rorty, whose work can teach us much about where the present approach to speech might take us, as a nation. Listen

Oct 11, 2019
"The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee"
22:07

This coming Monday, some states and cities will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, renamed from Columbus Day to honor the lives and history lost due to centuries of colonialism. Meanwhile, the few American Indian stories most Americans learn in school, like those found in Dee Brown's best-selling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, only reinforce simplistic narratives of genocide, disease, and suffering.

David Treuer, an Ojibwe professor of literature at the University of Southern California, offers a counter-narrative to this tragic account of Indian life in his book, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present. In this interview from fall of 2018, he and Brooke discuss the overlooked American Indian Movement that informed the viral 2016 protest at Standing Rock, and the means by which Indians have been fighting for social and political change for centuries.

This is a segment from our October 5, 2018 program, The Victimhood.

Oct 09, 2019
A Likely Story
50:40

The talk from the Trump team is becoming increasingly hard to follow. This week, On the Media takes a look at the conspiracy thinking that’s taken over the executive branch. Plus, leaders at Fox News search for a path forward amidst infighting and impeachment drama. And, a deep dive into Ukrainian politics and the Trump connection.

1. Alex Ward [@AlexWardVox], staff writer at Vox, and Jeet Heer [@HeerJeet], national affairs correspondent at The Nation, on the conspiracies fueling Trump's policies and behaviors. Listen.

2. Trump, Inc.'s Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaWNYC] and Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritz] take a deep dive into Ukrainian politics and the origins of Giuliani's "investigations." Listen.

3. Gabriel Sherman [@GabrielSherman], special correspondent at Vanity Fair, on the chaos at Fox News. Listen.

Oct 04, 2019
Go and Get Yourself a Whistle and Blow
9:17

Ever present in the Snowden and Manning era, the word "whistleblower" is again dominating the airwaves. But where exactly did the word come from? Who gets to decide who qualifies as a whistleblower? Back in 2015, Brooke spoke to language columnist Ben Zimmer, legal director for the Government Accountability Project Tom Devine, and progressive icon Ralph Nader--who "rehabilitated" the word in the 1970's--about the history of the popular epithet.

Oct 02, 2019
Nice Democracy You've Got There...
50:05

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump is tangled up in Ukrainian politics, but few Washington reporters understand the dynamics at play. This week, On the Media looks at what we all need to know to make sense of the news. Plus, why there are no whistle-blower protections for those in the intelligence community. And, how the Nixon impeachment makes a case for a more deliberate Trump inquiry. Don't miss...

1. Tim Naftali [@TimNaftali], historian at New York University, on what the Nixon impeachment teaches us about the need for a deliberate process. Listen

2. Tom Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project, on the poor protections for intelligence community whistle-blowers. Listen.

3. Adam Entous [@adamentous], staff writer at The New Yorker, on the patchy validity of Trump's Hunter Biden accusations. Listen.

4. Kyrylo Loukerenko [@K_Loukerenko], executive director at Hromadske Radio, helps us make sense of the misinformation about Ukraine. Listen.

Music:

Nuages (Clouds) by James Carter

Life On Mars? by Meridian String Quarter

A Ride With Polly Jean by Jenny Scheinman

Nocturne for piano in B flat minor 

 

Sep 27, 2019
Live Streaming Truth and Reconciliation
13:44

Its been two years since the brutal and bloody 22-year reign of Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh ended and the country is now embroiled in a uniquely transparent truth and reconciliation process. Officials are interviewing killers and victims about the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of people and its all being livestreamed via a feed that sends testimony through youtube, facebook and traditional media. 

Bob spoke to New York Times correspondent Julie Turkewitz who wrote about how the process has become must-see-tv in Gambia.

Sep 25, 2019
Too Hot For School
49:52

Roosevelt’s New Deal remade American society, and now climate activists are pushing for a Green New Deal to do it again. This week, On the Media looks at the attacks from conservatives against both projects, and why congress underestimates support for climate action. Plus, how a wave of labor strikes might be a crucial component in building momentum towards Green New Deal adoption. And, the teenage girls spreading climate awareness on Tik-Tok.

1. Jane McAlevey [@rsgexp], writer and organizer, on why striking is essential to effect meaningful social change. Listen. 

2. Kim Phillips-Fein, historian at New York University, on lessons from the origins of and fights against the original New Deal. Listen.

3. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], writer at The Intercept, on what a popular meme tells us about climate activism permeating youth culture. Listen.

4. Leah Stokes [@leahstokes], professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, on the misunderstandings about public opinion and climate action. Listen.

 

Sep 20, 2019
OTM presents Trump Inc: The Family Business
34:45

This week we are featuring a brand new episode from our friends at Trump Inc, a podcast produced here at WNYC. Here's a message from Trump Inc's producers: 

When we started all the way back in early 2018, we laid out how we'd be digging into the mysteries around President Donald Trump's business. After all, by keeping ownership of that business, Trump has had dueling interests: the country and his pocketbook. 

We've done dozens of episodes over the past 18 months, detailing how predatory lenders are paying the president, how Trump has profited from his own inauguration and how Trump's friends have sought to use their access in pursuit of profit

We've noticed something along the way. It's not just that the president has mixed his business and governing. It's that the way Trump does business is spreading across the government. 

Trump's company isn't like most big businesses. It is accountable to only one man, it has broken the rules, and those promoting it have long engaged in what Trump has dubbed"truthful hyperbole."

Those traits are now popping up in the government. It may seem like the news from Washington is a cacophony of scandals. But they fit clear patterns — patterns that Trump has brought with him from his business.  

Sep 18, 2019
A Very Bitter Joke
50:12

Good riddance, John Bolton! By dismissing his third National Security Advisor, President Trump prompted renewed concern over White House instability. This week, On the Media makes the case that John Bolton’s outster is good news for the republic. Plus, after four decades of progress, domestic abuse is on the rise and Senate Republicans are stymieing the Violence Against Women Act. And, Brooke visits Lady Liberty to learn about the 130-year political war over the meaning of the statue. 

1. Fred Kaplan [@fmkaplan], writer at Slate, on the press coverage surrounding John Bolton's ouster. Listen.

2. Rachel Louise Snyder [@RLSWrites], author of No Visible Bruises, on the legacy and future of the Violence Against Women Act. Listen.

3. Paul Kramer, history professor at Vanderbilt University, on the conflicting depictions and interpretations of the Statue of Liberty. Listen.

 

Music:

Frail as a Breeze by Erik Friedlander

The New Colossus by Saunder Choi

Toccata and fugue in D minor by J. S. Bach played on glass harp by Robert Tiso

 River Man by Brad Mehldau Trio

Sep 13, 2019
Why Many Afghans Don't Understand 9/11
11:56

This weekend in a series of tweets, President Trump both disclosed and scrapped secret talks with the Taliban in Camp David. Of course, the Taliban did not perpetrate 9/11. But they did offer safe haven in Afghanistan to Al Qaeda, whose hijackers turned passenger airplanes into bombs in the most deadly act of terrorism on US soil.

A few weeks later, America invaded the central Asian crossroads whose history has been one of occupation. "Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," President George Bush said at the time. "Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocence, they have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril." The whole world understood.

Or, almost the whole world. One country that was unclear about the US mission and its motives was Afghanistan itself. According to a November 2010 study by the International Council on Security and Development, during the height of fighting in Helmand and Kandahar, 92 percent of southern Afghan males there had never heard of 9/11. The staggering statistic caught the eye of Stars & Stripes reporter J.P. Lawrence — himself a Iraq-war veteran; to mark the anniversary of 9/11 he decided to conduct his own survey last year. In this podcast extra, he and Bob talk about why misconceptions persist about the 18-year war in Afghanistan. 

Sep 11, 2019
Pressure Drop
50:34

As Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Democratic presidential candidates promised climate action in an unprecedented televised event. On this week’s On the Media, how CNN’s town hall advances the climate conversation. Plus, how the bulk of gun violence coverage fails to address the root causes of the crisis. 

1. David Roberts [@drvox], writer at Vox, on how the CNN climate town hall advances the conversation on climate change.

2. John Morales [@JohnMoralesNBC6], Chief Meteorologist at WTVJ NBC-6 Miami, on how a meteorologist reports the weather as the climate changes.

3. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], Senior Reporter at The Guardian, on how the climate debate obscures the path to optimal solutions.

Sep 06, 2019
Remembering Les Gelb
17:43

On Saturday, Leslie Gelb died at the age of 82. A Senate aide in his 20's, a NewYork Times diplomatic correspondent in his 30's, assistant secretary of state as he neared 40, then back to the Times as national security correspondent, editor, columnist, part of a Pulitzer prize winning team, and rounding out his career, as Head of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also made several memorable appearances on OTM. Brooke remembers him this week and we revisit a conversation they had back in 2018 after the release of the Spielberg movie, The Post. 

Sep 04, 2019
Whose Streets?
50:05

The message from Silicon Valley seems to be that self-driving cars are the way of the future. This week, On the Media considers the history behind the present-day salesmanship. Plus, why transit rights mean much more than point-A-to-point-B mobility. Also, a new opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. 

1. Angie Schmitt [@schmangee], national reporter at Streetsblog, on the "heartwarming" stories of Americans who walk miles and miles to work. Listen.

2. Peter Norton, professor of history at University of Virginia's Department of Engineering and Society, and Emily Badger, urban policy reporter for the New York Times, on the past, present and dazzling future of self-driving car salesmanship. Listen.

3. Judd Greenstein [@juddgreenstein], composer, on the in-progress opera, A Marvelous Order. Listen.

4. Kafui Attoh, professor of urban studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, on the deeper political meanings of "transit rights." Listen.

This episode originally aired on November 23, 2018.


Music from this week's show:

Dan Deacon — USA III: Rail
Iggy Pop — The Passenger
Gary Numan — Cars
Judd Greenstein — Change
Judd Greenstein — A Marvelous Order
Brian Eno — Music For Airports

Aug 30, 2019
A History of Persuasion: Part 3
30:22

Silicon Valley’s so-called “millionaire maker” is a behavioral scientist who foresaw the power of putting persuasion at the heart of the tech world’s business model. But pull back the curtain that surrounds the industry’s behemoths, and you'll find a cadre of engineers and executives that's small enough to rein in. This is the final installment of a three-part series from The Stakes. If you haven't heard parts one and two, start there first.

In this episode, we hear from:

- Alexandra Rutherford, Professor in the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto and author of Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner's Technology of Behaviour from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s

- Ian Leslie, author of “The Scientists Who Make Apps Addictive

- B.J. Fogg, Director of the Stanford University "Behavior Design Lab”

- Tristan Harris, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Humane Technology

- Dorothy Glancy, Professor of Law at Santa Clara University

- Senator Mark Warner of Virginia

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Amanda Aronczyk.

Aug 28, 2019
Empire State of Mind
49:53

In a special hour this week, On the Media examines the history of US imperialism — and why the familiar US map hides the true story of our country. Brooke spends the hour with Northwestern University historian Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.

This is Part 2 of our series "On American Expansion." This episode originally aired April 5th, 2019.

 

Music:

Bill Frisell - Lost Night

The O’Neil Brothers - Tribute to America

Eileen Alannah - Original recording from 1908

Ali Primera - Yankee Go Home

Michael Andrews - The Artifact and Living

Michael Andrews - Liquid Spear Waltz 

Matt Farley - Bird Poop Song 

Aug 23, 2019
A History of Persuasion: Part 2
24:40

Ted Kaczynski had been a boy genius. Then he became the Unabomber. After years of searching for him, the FBI finally caught him in his remote Montana cabin, along with thousands of pages of his writing. Those pages revealed Kaczynski's hatred towards a field of psychology called "behaviorism," the key to the link between him and James McConnell.

This is part two of a three-part series from our colleagues at The Stakes. If you haven't heard part one, listen here first.

In this episode, we hear from:

- Philip Bradley, Harvard contemporary of Ted Kaczynski

- Alston Chase, author of A Mind for Murder: The Education of the Unabomber and the Origins of Modern Terrorism

- Donald Max Noel, former FBI agent and author of UNABOMBER: How the FBI Broke Its Own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski

- Dr. Charles Seigerman, former student of James McConnell and Certified Neuropsychologist

- Greg Stejskal, former FBI agent

- Larry Stern, Professor of Sociology at Collin College

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Amanda Aronczyk.

Aug 21, 2019
A Civilization As Great As Ours
50:02

The Indian government has revoked autonomy for the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. This week, a close look at how Hindu nationalists are rewriting Indian history in the world's largest democracy. Plus: what are the stories that America has told about itself? 

1. Producer Asthaa Chaturvedi [@Pasthaaa] examines the ways Hindu nationalists have sought to rewrite history in and outside the classroom in an effort to glorify India's Hindu past, and what this movement means for a country founded on principles of multiculturalism. Listen

2. What are the stories that America has told about itself? Historian Greg Grandin [@GregGrandin] talks about his book, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, and the old idea about limitless growth that influenced American policy and psychology. Listen

Aug 16, 2019
A History of Persuasion: Part 1
20:07

Infinite scrolling. Push notifications. Autoplay. Our devices and apps were designed to keep us engaged and looking for as long as possible. Now, we’ve woken up from years on social media and our phones to discover we've been manipulated by unaccountable powers using persuasive psychological tricks. But this isn’t the first time.

In this three-part series from our colleagues at The Stakes, a look at the winding story of the science of persuasion — and our collective reaction to it. In part one, a once-famous psychologist who became embroiled in controversy, and how the Unabomber tried to kill him. 

We hear from:

- Larry Stern, Professor of Sociology at Collin College

- Nicklaus Suino, writer, martial arts expert, attorney and business consultant

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Amanda Aronczyk.

Aug 14, 2019
The Democracy We Think We Live In
49:52

The pathways and origins of white nationalist thought were a matter of deadly importance in coverage of last weekend’s shootings. On this week’s On the Media, how mainstream punditry launders a tolerance for xenophobia. Also, the history of American presidents and media figures dismissing black and brown claims to power in a democracy. Plus, what calls for additional federal oversight in Puerto Rico mean for Puerto Ricans.

1. Tom Scocca [@tomscocca], politics editor at Slate, on the journalists, writers and political figures who cater to America's racist id. Listen.

2. Adam Serwer [@AdamSerwer], staff writer at The Atlantic, on the catastrophic, deadly idea that "only white people are fit for self-government." Listen.

3. OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess [@AlanaLlama] reports on the conversations some Puerto Ricans are having in Puerto Rico in a historic moment for the island, including demands more democracy -- and what that means in a colonial context. Listen.

Music

Exurgency by Zoe Keating

Aug 09, 2019
Deciphering the White Power Movement
12:58

When events like the shooting in El Paso happen, the elements may indeed be obvious: Guns. Sociopathy. Alienation. But the obvious is also reductive, and risks obscuring larger forces at play. The same goes with the vocabulary of race violence: White nationalist. White identity. Alt-right. White supremacy. White power. They’re used interchangeably, which further clouds the picture. Following the events in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year, we spoke to University of Chicago professor Kathleen Belew. She told us that the shooting was not just born of resentment and paranoia, or even radical racism, but of a clearly defined revolutionary movement: the white power movement. Belew is author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, which describes the history of the white power movement that consolidated after the Vietnam War. She argues that if society is to wage an effective response to the white power threat, we need to work to understand it.

This segment is from our March 22nd, 2019 program, Hating In Plain Sight.

Aug 07, 2019
Repairing Justice: How to Fix the Internet
50:09

Harassment and bullying are plaguing our online lives, but social media companies seem fresh out of solutions. This week, On the Media experiments with a radical approach for detoxifying the web. Can theories of criminal justice reform rehabilitate trolls and fix the internet? 

1. Lindsay Blackwell [@linguangst], Facebook user experience researcher and PhD student at the University of Michigan School of Information, on the source of online harassment. Plus, Jack Dorsey [@jack], CEO of Twitter, and Ashley Feinberg [@ashleyfeinberg], a senior writer at Slate, on how Twitter can improve. Listen.

2. Danielle Sered [@daniellesered], executive director of Common Justice, on the power of replacing punishment with restoration. Producer Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] and Lindsay Blackwell [@linguangst] team up to implement a "restorative justice" approach in r/ Christianity, one of the largest forums for discussing the religion. Listen.

This is the 3rd and final part in our “Repairing Justice” series.

Aug 02, 2019
Repairing Justice: An Alternative to Prison
31:06

Last week on the show, we examined the power of the prosecutor in our justice system, and how voters are electing a new wave of so-called “progressive prosecutors” to try to turn the tide on mass incarceration. If you haven’t heard it yet, be sure to check it out. It was part one of a three-part series we’re calling “Repairing Justice”; this is part two. We’ve talked about how the law-and-order approach doesn’t work, and that we don’t want to keep locking people in jail for every infraction. But that raises the question: what, then, do we do to address injustice when it appears?

Rather than the isolation and violence that prison breeds, some advocates are pushing for a new approach… one based not on punishment, but on truth and reconciliation. It’s called "restorative justice," and in this podcast extra, Bob speaks with Danielle Sered, executive director of Common Justice and a pioneer of the practice

Jul 31, 2019
Repairing Justice: The Prosecutor
50:28

It was the week of the prosecutor, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller grabbing most of the attention. But on this week’s On the Media, a closer look at the “progressive prosecutor” movement — from neighborhood politics to local media to the presidential debate stage. 

1. Lara Bazelon [@larabazelon], law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles, on Sen. Kamala Harris's record as a prosecutor. Listen.

2. Emily Bazelon [@emilybazelon], staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and author of Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, on how the power of the prosecutor has grown to be so big. Listen.

3. Emily Bazelon [@emilybazelon] on the national movement to elect progressive prosecutors. Plus, progressive prosecutors Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner [@DA_LarryKrasner] and Suffolk County, MA DA Rachael Rollins [@DARollins] on their time in office and the pushback they've received. Plus, Staten Island DA Michael McMahon [@StatenIslandDA] on his skepticism about the movement. Listen.

This is Part 1 of our “Repairing Justice” series. 

Jul 26, 2019
What, Me Worry?
13:45

Earlier this month, DC Comics announced that MAD Magazine will mostly stop doing what it’s done for some six decades, which is to pointedly mock American politics and culture. Barring the occasional end-of-year special, future copies of MAD will consist solely of old material. The publication, which first appeared in 1957 and hit a peak circulation of 2.8 million in 1973, has been in decline since. 

MAD Magazine defined an entire generation’s distrust in the media, politicians, advertisers, and all forms of authority. For this podcast extra, Brooke spoke to Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation, about his recent article on the history of MAD.

Jul 24, 2019
Internal Scream
49:53

Puerto Ricans packed the streets night after night this week to call for Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation. On this week’s On the Media, what happens when a leader’s mockery becomes too much for citizens to bear — in San Juan, and in Washington. Plus, coming-of-age on the far-right and far-left, on YouTube.

1. Ibram X. Kendi [@DrIbram], founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, on who gets to be American. Listen.

2. Pedro Reina-Pérez [@pedroreinaperez], journalist and historian with both the University of Puerto Rico and Harvard University, and Jay Fonseca [@jayfonsecapr], television and radio host, on the profane, homophobic and sexist chat messages that pushed Puerto Rico to the breaking point. Listen.

3. OTM Producer Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] considers how YouTube creators on the left, like Natalie Wynn [@ContraPoints], are challenging the platform’s surge of far right extremism. Listen.

Jul 19, 2019
The Right-Wing Web Goes to the White House
17:25

On this show, we’ve often observed that what happens online rarely stays online. In the age of Pizzagate, Trump tweets and Wiki Leaks data dumps, it is obvious that conversations online increasingly dominate, even define, our politics — a fact demonstrated yet again last Thursday when the president invited his favorite online trolls, memers and political operatives to clink champagne glasses in the White House and discuss an alleged anti-conservative bias on social media. Will Sommer, tech reporter for The Daily Beast, wrote about the odd cast of characters and what this social media summit tells us about the president’s 2020 re-election strategy.

Jul 17, 2019
Uncomfortably Numb
50:03

Migrants in detention centers, another assault allegation against the President, and the start to a potentially devastating hurricane season… On this week’s On the Media, how painful news might be making America numb. And, why sometimes it’s okay to tune out. Plus, what Jeffrey Epstein's arrest teaches us about the Q-Anon conspiracy theory. 

1. Max Read [@max_read],writer and editor at New York Magazine, on the partial fulfillment of a "message-board prophecy." Listen.

2. David Corn [@DavidCornDC], Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, and Priya Shukla [@priyology], PhD candidate at the University of California-Davis, on the psychological effects of climate change on those who study it. Listen.

3. Dan Degerman [@ddegerman], philosophy researcher at Lancaster University, on the political implications of "Brexit anxiety." Listen.

4. Jenny Odell [@the_jennitaur], author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, on how to protect our attention in the face of information overload. Listen.

Jul 12, 2019
The Epstein Story Didn't Just Happen Overnight
26:07

Julie Brown of the Miami Herald conceived, reported, and wrote one of the most explosive criminal justice stories in recent memory. She revealed the shutting down of an FBI investigation that may have been on the verge of discovering the full extent of a child-sex-trafficking operation run by politically-connected billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The prosecutor allegedly behind that decision, Alex Acosta, is now President Trump's Secretary of Labor.  Acosta offered Epstein a plea deal in which Epstein pleaded guilty to recruiting underage girls for sex and spent about a year in the local lockup, with work release.  The deal also proactively protected from prosecution any potential co-conspirators.  Brown pored over internal emails to see exactly how Acosta and other powerful law-enforcement officials made these decisions.  While in New York to receive a Polk Award for her work, Brown stopped by WNYC's Greene Space to talk to the host of "Here's the Thing" Alec Baldwin about her reporting.

Jul 10, 2019
Full Faith & Credit
49:41

Ten autumns ago came two watershed moments in the history of money. In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency.

1. The life and work of JSG Boggs, the artist who created hand-drawn replicas of currency that he used to buy goods and services. With Lawrence Weschler and MIT's Neha Narula [@neha]. Listen.

2. A brief history of money with UC Irvine's Bill Maurer and Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] from Brown UniversityListen. 

3. How cryptocurrency could shape the future of money, with MIT's Neha Narula [@neha], New York Times' Nathaniel Popper [@nathanielpopper], Vinay Gupta [@leashless] of Mattereum, Brown University's Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] and artist Kevin Abosch [@kevinabosch]Listen.

Jul 05, 2019
The Sound of America
25:44

There are many Americas. Nowadays they barely speak to each other. But during the most perilous years of the last century, one young composer went in search of a sound that melded many of the nation's strains into something singular and new. He was a man of the left, though of no political party: gay, but neither closeted nor out; Jewish, but agnostic, unless you count music as a religion. His name was Aaron Copland. On this July 4th weekend, WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells his story.

Jul 03, 2019
The Scarlet E, Part IV: Solutions
50:52

We have an eviction crisis, which is really just one part of a broader housing affordability crisis. Incomes are too low for rents. Rents are too high for incomes. The barriers to home-buying are growing, especially for younger Americans. The wealth gap between black and white Americans is spreading, driven largely by inequalities in housing. The shockwaves from the foreclosure crisis continue. And in some cities, gentrification drives up costs and drives away low-income families.  

Luckily enough, there are solutions — quite a few of them, in fact. In this fourth and final episode of The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis, we evaluate the proposals, which range from subtle to significant.

First, a look back on a solution that worked in some places and was allowed to fail in many others. We visit Atlanta, home to the nation’s first public housing projects. We learn how the city has since destroyed or converted all of its public housing. And with the help of Lawrence Vale, author of Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities, we look at one public housing project, in Boston, that continues to thrive.

And then we look at solutions, both proposed and in-play. Again in Atlanta, we meet landlord Marjy Stagmeier, whose unique model improves nearby schools’ performance — and still turns a profit. We speak with sociologist Matt Desmond about the need to fully fund our Section 8 housing voucher program, and to encourage, or compel, landlords to accept voucher-holders. And we touch on the housing proposals from several Democratic candidates for president. Matt wonders whether our federal housing policies — for instance, the mortgage interest deduction — are subsidizing those most in need. We also ask New York City Councilmember Mark Levine and South Carolina legislator Marvin Pendarvis about possible reforms in our housing courts. We hear from Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, about how Richmond turned its shame over its high eviction rates into policy. And we consider ways that some cities might increase their affordable housing supply by doing away with restrictive, exclusionary zoning policies.


Music by Mark Henry Phillips.

To hear other episodes of The Scarlet E and to learn about the eviction stats in your own state, visit onthemedia.org/eviction.

Support for “The Scarlet E” is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Melville Charitable Trust. Additional support is provided by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and “Chasing the Dream,” a WNET initiative reporting on poverty and opportunity in America.

Support for On the Media is provided by the Ford Foundation and the listeners of WNYC Radio.

 

Jun 28, 2019
Coming Out Posthumously
7:11

June marks LGBTQ Pride month, and fifty years since the Stonewall riots. In the past five decades, the conversation around gay rights has moved so quickly that it can be hard to remember where it was in the very recent past. 

After the 2012 death of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go to space, the world learned something new about the pioneering astronaut: she was gay, and was survived by her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy. This previously unknown detail of Ride's life was mentioned in one line at the end of a lengthy obituary in The New York Times, and the reaction from readers ranged from criticism for posthumously outing Ride to criticism for not honoring the detail enough. Bob spoke with Bill McDonald, the obituary editor at The New York Times, about the ethics and obligations of obituary writers in creating a bigger picture of the lives of the dead. 

Jun 26, 2019
The Scarlet E, Part III: Tenants and Landlords
50:24

This is episode three in our series, “The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis.” It’s the dollars-and-cents episode, in which we account for what we know and don’t know about those who own and those who rent.

We digest some new data — compiled and analyzed, in part, by our collaborator, Matthew Desmond — that demonstrate the extent to which landlords often profit in impoverished communities. We speak with the founder of a massive online eviction platform, who defends his company’s “standardized process.” In Camden, New Jersey we hear the story of Destiny, a social worker whose corporate landlord showed no reluctance to bring her to housing court, month after month. In Indianapolis we meet a mom-and-pop landlord who doesn’t deny her profits in the low-income market — she’s a businesswoman, after all — but who also has often given delinquent tenants the chance to get caught up. And in Richmond, Virginia we learn the hard truth about landlords’ comfortable place in the American legal system — even in spite of unmistakable neglect.

Jun 21, 2019
How to Influence US Iran Policy ... Without Actually Existing
17:03

Heshmat Alavi, an Iranian commentator, has been portrayed as a courageous dissident with a broad constituency and rare insight into the inner workings of the Iranian theocracy. His columns have been printed in Forbes, The Diplomat, The Federalist, Voice of America, The Daily Caller and The Hill. And his analysis, such as his assertion that Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran pumped money into the mullah's military budget, has been cited by the White House to justify leaving the agreement. But what if...he doesn't actually exist?

The Intercept's Murtaza Hussain reported on Heshmat Alavi, and found that the columnist is not who he purports to be.

Jun 18, 2019
40 Acres
50:08

President Trump claims to have struck a deal with Mexico to settle a dispute of his own making. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the lives of the people who stand to suffer most. Plus, how the path to America’s eviction crisis begins, in part, with the Great Migration. 

1. Bob Moore [@BobMooreNews], freelance reporter based in El Paso, on the human reality at the border amidst the latest Trumpian mendacity. Listen.

2. We continue our four-part series on eviction by charting the persistent line between racist housing policies, localized profiteering and the devastating plunder of generations of wealth. Guests include Matt Desmond [@just_shelter], founder of the Eviction Lab; Natalie Moore [@natalieymoore], reporter for WBEZ; and Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. Listen.

Jun 14, 2019
What "Running From Cops" Learned From "Cops"
20:40

The first episode of the TV show "Cops" aired thirty years ago, and in the ensuing decades it's become influential enough to mold the attitudes of new aspiring police officers. But if the show holds up a mirror to law enforcement in this country, it shows a warped reflection.

In the podcast series "Running from Cops", host Dan Taberski and his team watched nearly 850 episodes of the show and tallied what they saw: roughly four times the amount of violent crime than there is in real life, three times as many drug crimes, and ten times the amount of prostitution. "Cops", as the podcast points out, makes the world seem more crime-ridden than in reality. It has also inspired copy-cat shows, like the popular "Live PD," that also warp depictions of what's appropriate (and legal) in policing. In this OTM podcast extra, Bob talks to Dan Taberski about the podcast's findings and what the popularity of these shows says about viewers.  

Jun 12, 2019
Introducing: The Scarlet E
50:31

Millions of rent-burdened Americans face eviction filings and proceedings every year. On this week’s On the Media, what we think we know, and what we definitely don’t know, about America’s eviction crisis. Plus, how local journalists failed the Central Park Five. 

1. Jim Dwyer [@jimdwyernyt], columnist for The New York Times, on his experience reporting on the Central Park Five trial. 

2. We hear the story of Jeffrey, a security guard in Richmond, Virginia whose severe rent burden caused his family to be evicted. 

3. Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], founder of the Eviction Lab, explains what he and his fellow researchers have learned from their massive collection of eviction data. 

Jun 07, 2019
Making America Antitrust Again
15:36

This week, the US House Antitrust subcommittee announced a probe into the mainly-unchecked power of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. The investigation could include public hearings and subpoenas toward antitrust intervention into the businesses of Silicon Valley leviathans. The news came on the same day that The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are expanding their oversight into Facebook and Google's anti-competitive practices.

Last November, Brooke spoke with Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, about Amazon’s domination over industry after industry and where we stand in the arc of antitrust regulation. In 2018, Mitchell wrote an article for The Nation called “Amazon Doesn't Just Want to Dominate the Market — It Wants to Become the Market.” 

Jun 05, 2019
Climate Obscura
50:09

The Trump administration has ordered federal agencies to stop publishing worst-case scenario projections of climate change. This week, On the Media examines the administration’s pattern of attacks on climate science. Plus, a look at the dark money behind environmental deregulation.

1. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], fellow at the Type Media Center, on the White House's suppression of climate warnings. Listen.

2. Jane Mayer [@JaneMayerNYer], staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, on the billionaires supporting the modern conservative intellectual framework. Listen.

3. Jan Zalasiewicz, Anthropocene Working Group Chair, on the traces that today's humans might leave behind for future civilizations, and Benjamin Kunkel [@kunktation] on whether the Age of Capitalism might be a more appropriate term to describe our epoch. Listen.

May 31, 2019
Hurricane Season is Nearly Here. Brace Yourself for the Coverage.
20:40

Tornadoes ripped across multiple states on Tuesday, killing at least one person. It was the twelfth straight day of tornado activity in the U.S. — a new record, according to the National Weather Service. But as the New York Times reported yesterday, limited data make it difficult to draw explicit connections between a warming climate and trends in tornadic activity. Even in our hyper-quantified time, there's still an element of mystery to where, why, and how twisters strike. 

And then there are hurricanes.

For media professionals, hurricanes offer the very best kind of bad news, because the story arc is predictable, and invariably compelling. In our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbooks, we examine the myths, misleading language, and tired media narratives that clog up news coverage at a time when clarity can be a matter of life and death.

Since the Atlantic hurricane season begins this week, we're republishing our guide to consuming the coverage to come. In this segment, which originally aired in Sept. 2017, Brooke speaks with Dr. Robert Holmes, National Flood Hazard Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey; Gina Eosco, a risk communication consultant; and Scott Gabriel Knowles of Drexel University, author of The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America.

 

May 29, 2019
On Matters of War
49:59

Controversy erupted over news that President Trump may grant more pardons for alleged war criminal Edward Gallagher and others. This week, On the Media looks at Fox News’s influence on the president’s decision. And, how the Navy may be spying on a reporter who's tracked Gallagher's case. Plus, how the latest Julian Assange indictment could spell disaster for the future of investigative journalism. 

1. James Goodale, former General Counsel for The New York Times and author of Fighting For The Press, on the disastrous new Julian Assange indictments. Listen

2. Adam Weinstein [@AdamWeinstein], an editor with The New Republic, on the unofficial Fox News campaign to push the president to pardon alleged war criminals. Listen.

3. Andrew Tilghman [@andrewtilghman], Executive Editor of the Military Times, on the Navy's troubling assault on press freedom. Listen.

4. Scott J. Shapiro [@scottjshapiro], professor of philosophy and law at Yale, on how militaries across the globe navigate the horrors of war. Listen.

Songs:

All the Presidents Men Theme by David Shire
Okami by Nicola Cruz 
Capharnaüm by Khaled Mouzanar
R+B = ? by Aeroc 
Farewell My Good One Forever by Phantasm
Agnus Dei by Martín Palmeri

 

May 24, 2019
Solving the Facebook Problem at Home and Abroad
16:20

When former Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes penned a New York Times op-ed calling for the breakup of the platform, he was lauded by anti-corporate politicians and the press. Then came a series of hard questions: how exactly would breaking up Facebook, which owns WhatsApp and Instagram, address free speech concerns? Or help stifle the spread of propaganda on the platform? And how would American regulations affect the majority of Facebook users, who live in the global south? According to Michael Lwin, an American-born antitrust lawyer living in Yangon, Myanmar, US regulators should tread lightly. He and Bob speak about how calls to break up Facebook could have wide ranging unintended consequences, especially outside of the US.

May 22, 2019
Constellation of Secret Evil
49:16

A controversial bill in Alabama is the latest in a wave of different abortion bans sweeping the country. This week, On the Media looks at the influence of Janet Porter, a little-known lobbyist who has been pushing what are misleadingly referred to as “heartbeat” laws. And, a deep dive into the rise of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and what his autocratic regime tells us about the future of Europe. Plus, a new book reveals how conspiracy theories became a fact of American life.

1. Jessica Glenza [@JessicaGlenza], health reporter at the Guardian US, on the influence of Janet Porter, the lobbyist behind the so-called "heartbeat" abortion laws. Listen.

2. Paul Lendvai, author of Orban: Hungary's Strongman, on the rise of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Listen.

3. Anna Merlan [@annamerlan], author of Republic of Lies, on the long arc of conspiratorial thinking in the United States. Listen.

Support On the Media today at onthemedia.org/donate

Songs: 

Dame tu Mano by Combo Chimbita

Passing Time by John Renbourn

The Glass House by Marjane's Inspiration

Califone by Burned by Christians

We Insist by Zoe Keating

Green Onions by Booker T. and The MG's

X-File Theme

High Water Everywhere Part 1 by Charlie Patton

Bullwinkle, Part II by The Centurians

May 17, 2019
The Past, Present and Future of Nikole Hannah-Jones
28:24

This week, we want to bring you a terrific new episode of Death, Sex and Moneyanother WNYC show that we think our listeners will appreciateThe show's host, Anna Sale, is on maternity leave, and an exciting cohort of former guests and friends of the show are hosting in her absence, talking with the people they're most curious about.

The episode this week is hosted by Al Letson. Normally he hosts the podcast Reveal, but here he’s talking with Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine. If you’re familiar with Nikole’s reporting (and even if you're not), we think you’ll enjoy this conversation about how her life brought her to the work she does today. 

May 14, 2019
Impossible!
49:36

The political press has long used the vague notion of “electability” to drive horserace coverage of presidential candidates. This week, On the Media considers how the emphasis on electability takes the focus away from the issues and turns voters into pundits. Plus, the shady dealings of the tax preparation industry, and how FOIA has been weaponized. And, how Trump duped financial journalists about his net worth in the 1980s.

1. Investigative journalist Jonathan Greenberg [@JournalistJG] on how Trump obscured his finances to wind up on the Forbes list of richest Americans — and why it mattered so much to him.

2. Dennis Ventry, professor at UC Davis School of Law, on how the tax preparation industry united to shield themselves from a publicly-funded alternative.

3. OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess [@AlanaLlama] speaks with Dennis Ventry, Michael Halpern [@halpsci], Eric Lipton [@EricLiptonNYT] and Claudia Polsky about a bill in California that seeks to curb the weaponization of FOIA.

4. Alex Pareene [@pareene], staff writer at The New Republic, on how the idea of "electability" has metastasized among democratic voters.

May 10, 2019
Werner Herzog on Gorbachev
20:33
Renowned director and documentarian Werner Herzog's latest filmmaking endeavor examines the legacy of the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. For the film, Herzog sat down with the 88 year-old former General Secretary for a candid conversation about his complicated legacy. In the latest installment of Bob's Docs, Herzog joins Bob to discuss his filmmaking process and the history of the man he profiled.
May 08, 2019
A High State of Agitation
49:14

After accusations that he mischaracterized the Mueller investigation’s findings, Attorney General William Barr blames the media for muddling the story. This week, On the Media dissects Barr’s deflections. And, how a Jewish satirist uses grotesque caricatures to cut to the heart of the discourse on antisemitism and why effectively combating hate requires building coalitions. Plus, how ABC's The View became one of the biggest political stages on television.

1. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], host of the Amicus podcast and writer at Slate, on Barr's mischaracterization of the Mueller report.

2. Leo Ferguson [@LeoFergusonnyc], organizer with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, on the ways to understand and combat antisemitism.

3. Eli Valley [@elivalley], comic artist and satirist, on feeling gaslit by the antisemitism debate.

4. Ramin Setoodah [@RaminSetoodeh], author of Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View and the New York bureau chief for Variety, on The View's surprising role in American politics.

 

May 03, 2019
Is True Crime Jinxed?
11:54

Whether Robert Durst confessed on camera will become a relevant legal matter in the real estate figure's upcoming trial. The supposed confession — "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." — at the end of HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst has recently been revealed to have been seriously, deceptively edited. In 2015 Bob spoke with documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, co-creater of the Paradise Lost trilogy, about modern filmmaker, the responsibility of the artist and different interpretations of "truth." It's a relevant conversation to revisit, this week in particular.

 

May 01, 2019
Justice Interruptus
49:20

A week after the redacted Mueller report’s release, Democrats weigh the risks — and imperatives — of impeachment. On this week’s On the Media, why our founders gave congress the power to oust the president in the first place. Plus, the forgotten roots of May Day, the international workers’ holiday.

1. Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1], columnist and senior writer for the American Prospect and the Washington Post, on the politics and virtues of impeachment. Listen.

2. Jeffrey Engel [@jeffreyaengel], the founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, and coauthor of Impeachment: An American History on the the history of impeachment. Listen.

3. Zephyr Teachout [@ZephyrTeachout], author of Corruption in America, on how our nation lost its original anti-corruption zeal. Listen.

4. Donna Haverty-Stacke, [@DHavertyStacke], professor of History at Hunter College, CUNY, on the U.S. origin of May Day and how it has come to be forgotten. Listen.

Music:

Time Is Late by Marcos Ciscar

 

Jeopardy: Think Music (in style of Handel) by Donald Fraser, Merv Griffin, Donald Fraser

Here It Comes by Modest Mouse

Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews

Tymperturbably Blue (Live 1959) by Duke Ellington

Into the Streets May First: written by Aaron Copland; performed by Jon Hanrahan (direction, piano); vocals by Alana Casanova-Burgess, Leah Feder, Micah Loewinger, Brooke Gladstone, Karen Frillman, Jim O’Grady, Philip Yiannopoulos, engineered by Irene Trudel

 

Apr 26, 2019
How Is Lead Still A Problem?
29:38

Once in a while, in this space, we offer you an episode of another podcast that we think is pretty aligned with our goals here at On the Media. This week, we’re offering you the first episode of a new podcast from WNYC Studios, called The Stakes. The angle is: we built the society we've got. And maybe it's time to build a new one.

You can and should subscribe to The Stakes wherever you get your podcasts (we are). But in the meantime, here's their first episode all about the pervasive problem of lead paint still poisoning children. The ancient Greeks knew lead is poisonous. Ben Franklin wrote about its dangers. So how did it end up being all around us? And how is it still a problem?

Apr 23, 2019
Harm To Ongoing Matter
49:11

After years of waiting, journalists finally began digging into the redacted version of the Mueller report. On this week’s On the Media, how the special counsel’s findings confirm years of reporting about turmoil within the White House. Plus, what the Notre Dame fire and the Sacklers show us about the dark side of philanthropy, and how the Justice Department stopped prosecuting executives. And, an undercover investigation shines a light on the NRA’s PR machinery. 

1. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], deputy editor at ProPublica and co-host of the Trump Inc. podcast, on the Mueller revelations. Listen.

2. Anand Giridharadas [@AnandWrites], author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, on the dark side of philanthropy. Listen.

3. Jesse Eisinger [@eisingerj], author of The Chickenshit Club, on how the Justice Department stopped prosecuting executives. Listen.

4. Peter Charley, executive producer of Al Jazeera's "How To Sell a Massacre," on the NRA's PR machinery. Listen.

Songs:

Okami by Nicola Cruz
Capicua by Animal Chuki
Colibria by Nicola Cruz
Let's Face the Music and Dance by Harry Roy
Lost, Night by Bill Frissell
This is NRA Country by Justin Moore
Apr 19, 2019
Who Profits When You File Your Taxes?
15:20

Tax Day is behind us, but the Taxpayer First Act is not. The bipartisan proposal passed the House last week and is now under consideration in the Senate — and one of the provisions is exactly what the for-profit tax preparation industry has been pushing for. 

Through an agreement with the IRS, companies like H&R Block and Intuit currently offer free tax filing services to taxpayers making less than $66,000 dollars a year. But only 1.6 percent of taxpayers actually use Free File, and critics say that the companies engage in aggressive up-selling through the portal. A provision in the Taxpayer First Act would bar the IRS from developing their own free system. 

Dennis Ventry is a tax scholar at the University of California, Davis. He has written about the shortcomings of the Free File program, and explains to Bob why he thinks the IRS isn't doing enough to protect taxpayers who try to use it. He wrote an opinion piece last year titled "Free File providers scam taxpayers; Congress shouldn't be fooled" — which made him the target of a public records request from an industry group. 

 

Apr 16, 2019
Wake Up, Sheeple!
49:13

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London, and now faces prosecution. On this week’s On the Media, a look at what Assange’s arrest may mean for press freedom. Plus, what the new image of a black hole tell us about the power of science in the face of a conspiracy theory minefield. And, a look at a new documentary about former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

1. Bob [@bobosphere] opines about what Julian Assange's arrest means — and doesn't mean — for the future of press freedom. Listen.

2. Yale astronomy and physics professor Priyamvada Natarajan [@SheerPriya] finally gets a glimpse at what she's spent years theorizing about: a black hole. Listen.

3. New York Magazine's Madison Malone Kircher [@4evrmalone] on how YouTuber Logan Paul stokes the conspiracy flames. Listen.

4. New York Magazine's Max Read [@max_read] on how the Matrix's "red pill" idea has been so foundational for modern-day skeptics. Listen.

5. Alison Klayman [@aliklay], director of "The Brink," a new documentary about Steve Bannon, on what we can learn by looking at Bannon's role in our political and media world. Listen.

 

Apr 12, 2019
Spy vs. Spy
16:54

New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz set out to investigate a series of assassinations in Ukraine with low expectations. Reporting on a homicide as a member of the foreign press is daunting enough to begin with. His assignment was formidable beacuse many of the murders were linked to Russia — a government hostile to the media at best and notorious for murdering foreign journalists at worst.

But when Schwirtz approached alleged Russian assassin Oleg Smorodinov to question him about a murder, the accused provided an unexpected bit of testimony: a confession. And on top of that, Smorodinov disclosed the specific role the Kremlin played in ordering and directing his crime.

Schwirtz published his findings in a New York Times feature last week. Bob spoke with Schwirtz about spies, state-facilitated assassination and the experience of following a true story that reads like a Russian mystery novel.

Apr 11, 2019
Empire State of Mind
50:09

Recently, a member of the Trump administration called Puerto Rico “that country,” obscuring once more the relationship between the island colony and the American mainland. In a special hour this week, On the Media examines the history of US imperialism — and why the familiar US map hides the true story of our country. Brooke spends the hour with Northwestern University historian Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.

This is Part 2 of our series, "On American Expansion."

 

Music:

Bill Frisell - Lost Night

The O’Neil Brothers - Tribute to America

Eileen Alannah - Original recording from 1908

Ali Primera - Yankee Go Home

Michael Andrews - The Artifact and Living

Michael Andrews - Liquid Spear Waltz 

Matt Farley - Bird Poop Song 

Apr 05, 2019
Policing the Police
13:15

California recently passed a law that eliminates some of the barriers to accessing records on egregious police misconduct and deadly use of force. With the floodgates open, journalists, like KPCC investigative reporter Annie Gilbertson, are elated and terrified. Just one police violation can come with hundreds of associated documents for journalists to comb through. 

So, instead of fighting tooth and nail for the scoop, over 30 media organizations across the state are teaming up to share resources, bodies and insight as they begin the arduous task of combing through the newly-available records. The coalition is called the California Reporting Project. Bob Garfield talked with Gilbertson about what the project is uncovering.

 

Apr 02, 2019
The End of Magical Thinking
49:06

With the Mueller investigation complete, talking heads have given the short public summary their usual spin. This week, On the Media looks at why the framing of the report produced so much misunderstanding. Plus, how historical amnesia and old ideas about limitless growth have influenced American psychology and foreign policy. 

1. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], writer for Slate and host of the Amicus podcast, on how the summary of Mueller's findings is being spun. Listen.

2. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], political science professor at Brooklyn College, on Americans' flawed historical memories. Listen.

3. Greg Grandin [@GregGrandin], history professor at New York University, on his latest book, The End of The Myth: From Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America. Listen.

 

MUSIC:

Prelude 8: The Invisibles - John Zorn

Trance Dance - John Zorn

Kronos - Purple Haze

Sacred Oracle - John Zorn

Rebel Soldier - The Nashville Sessions

Mar 29, 2019
The Opioid Narratives
20:59

Purdue Pharma has settled a lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million, a larger figure than two other cases the company has settled with other states. In doing so, the company also avoided a televised trial in May at a time when there's been growing public pressure on Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family, amid allegations that they misled the public about the dangers of OxyContin. 

Back in 2017, Bob spoke with Barry Meier about how public discourse about chronic pain and treatment have been shaped by companies like Purdue with help from physicians, consultants, and the media. Meier is a former reporter for The New York Times and author of Pain Killer: A "Wonder" Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death

Bob also interviewed journalist Anna Clark about her reporting for the Columbia Journalism Review on opioid-related death notices. Sites like Legacy.com, she explained, have often chronicled the crisis' individual human toll. 

 

Mar 27, 2019
Hating In Plain Sight
49:11

In the aftermath of white supremacist attacks in New Zealand, there's a tension between reporting on the shooter's motivations and not amplifying his message. This week, On the Media examines how the press can navigate that persistent dilemma. Plus, the debate over whether online archives of jihadi terrorist propaganda should be open to the public. 

1. Joan Donovan [@BostonJoan] describes the way the press has evolved in its responses to far-right terrorism, and argues for continued caution in coverage of white supremacists. Listen.

2. Kathleen Belew [@kathleen_belew] describes the White Power roots of the Christchurch attack, and argues that to effectively fight this hate, we must understand the movement in which it grows. Listen.

3. Dan Feidt [@HongPong] of Unicorn Riot [@UR_Ninja] on what alt-right groups are discussing in their secret online chatrooms, and what we learn by reading them. Listen.

4. Charlie Winter [@charliewinter], Rukmini Callimachi [@rcallimachi], Ali Fisher [@WandrenPD], Amarnath Amarasingam [@AmarAmarasingam], Pieter Van Ostaeyen [@p_vanostaeyen], and Seamus Hughes [@SeamusHughes] on the debate over whether online archives of jihadi terrorist propaganda should be open to the public. Listen.

Songs:
Capicua by Animal Chuki
Untitled by Aphex Twin (Four Tet remix)
Chrysanthemum Complex (Contagion OST) by Cliff Martinez 
Capernaum OST by Khaled Mouzanar
Meg Erase Meta by Qasim Naqvi
Its Motion Keeps by Caroline Shaw
Lo by Dawn of Midi

Mar 22, 2019
No Notoriety
8:25

The details are different but the story is the same. A mass shooting, scores of people dead, another nation traumatized. Although in the aftermath of the events in New Zealand last week there is a wrinkle. In her first speech to parliament since the attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that she will never speak the killer's name and she asked the press and others to follow suit.

Ardern said the shooter would not get notoriety, perhaps a nod to the group “No Notoriety” started by Tom Teves and his wife Caren. The Teves lost their son in the 2012 shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and later formed the group to beseech news outlets not to turn mass killers into media icons. Bob spoke to Tom back in 2015 as jury selection was beginning for the trial of his son’s killer.

Mar 19, 2019
The Myth of Meritocracy
49:05

A college admissions scandal has highlighted what people refer to as "the myth of meritocracy." But actually, meritocracy itself is a myth. This week, On the Media looks at the satirical origins of the word and what they tell us about why the US embraces it. Plus, the messaging for and against Medicare for All, as well as a historical look at why we don't have universal healthcare. And economic historian and Tucker Carlson antagonist Rutger Bregman.

1. John Patrick Leary [@JohnPatLeary], professor at Wayne State University, on the history of the satirical origins of the word "meritocracy". Listen.

2.  Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1] of The Washington Post on the messaging war over Medicare for All and what the media is getting wrong about the proposal. Listen.

3. Jill Quadagno of [@floridastate] on the history of why the U.S. has shunned universal healthcare. Listen.

4. Rutger Bregman [@rcbregman] on the myths about wealth and who creates it. Listen.

Mar 15, 2019
Tucker Was Tucker All Along
26:55

To suggest that Tucker Carlson has a tendency to hint at deeply discriminatory tropes would be cliché — but also dead-on. Just this week, thanks to newly unearthed audio released by Media Matters, the Fox News darling ditches his signature dog whistle in exchange for unmistakable and unapologetic hate speech.

Who is Tucker Carlson, really? In this week's pod extra, Bob delves into the origins of the now-notorious commentator with Lyz Lenz, a writer for Columbia Journalism Review who profiled Carlson in September.

Mar 13, 2019
Crossing the Line
49:21

Mexican officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are using a secret database to target journalists and advocates at the southern border. This week, On the Media speaks with a reporter on the list who was detained for questioning by Mexican authorities. Plus, what the Obama Library’s unique arrangement with the National Archives means for the future of presidential history. And, the grotesque origins of segregation. 

1. Mari Payton [@MariNBCSD], reporter at NBC 7 in San Diego, and Kitra Cahana, freelance photojournalist, on the secret government database of immigration reporters and advocates. Listen.

2. Tim Naftali [@TimNaftali], historian at New York University and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and Louise Bernard, director of the museum at the Obama Presidential Center, on the Obama Foundation's decision to curate its own presidential museum. Listen.

3. Steve Luxenberg [@SLuxenberg], author of Separate, on the history of Plessy v. Ferguson. Listen.

 

Music in this week's show:

Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar 

Gormenghast by John Zorn

With Plenty of Money and You by Hal Kemp And His Orchestra

 

Let's Face This Music And Dance by Roy Fox And His Orchestra

Wade in the Water by Charlie Haden and Hank Jones

Get Back - Black, Brown And White by Big Bill Broonzy

Moulin Rouge by Toots Thielemans

Mar 08, 2019
The Myth That Fuels the Anti-Vaxx Agenda
6:34

This Tuesday, lawmakers in Washington heard from an 18-year-old who, against all odds, got his shots. Ethan Lindenberger, who fought with his own mother to get vaccinated, told senators, "for my mother, her love, affection, and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress."

That "anti-vaxx" agenda, the dangerous legacy of a thoroughly debunked 1998 study in the British medical journal Lancet, was dealt yet another devastating — though not mortal — blow this week, courtesy of epidemiologists from Denmark’s Staten Serum Institute. Their new study, which included more than 650,000 children, found that the MMR vaccine did not raise the risk of developing autism

And yet, even in the face of study after study, and even as websites like Pinterest have moved to stamp out the spread of anti-vaxx materials on their websites, the debunked vaccine-autism link and its impact on public health live on. In this 2012 interview, Brooke spoke with Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear, about why these myths persist.

 

Mar 06, 2019
Look Back in Anger
50:07

When President Trump’s former personal lawyer testified in front of Congress this week, it was both captivating and oddly familiar. This week, On the Media looks at the tropes that ran through the hearings, and offers a guide to news consumers trying to understand the tangled threads of the Mueller investigation. Plus, a sideways glance at historical hot takes and a second look at an infamous Nazi rally in the heart of New York City. 

1. Bob and Brooke on Michael Cohen's enthralling testimony this week. Listen.

2. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], co-host of Trump, Inc. from WNYC Studios and ProPublica, on how news consumers can best understand Mueller-related news. Listen.

3. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], political theorist, on the tendency for journalists to launder their hot takes through history. Listen.

4. Marshall Curry [@marshallcurry], documentary filmmaker, on his Oscar-nominated short, A Night At The Garden. Listen.

CORRECTION: In the opening segment, we describe U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, of Tennessee, as belonging to the wrong political party. Rep. Cooper is a Democrat.

 

Music in this week's show:

Enrico Pieranunzi: Fellini's Waltz
Angelo Badalamenti: Audrey's Dance
John Zorn: The Hammer of Los
Stonemason’s March
The Kiboomers: German Lullaby

Mar 01, 2019
Longing for Wakanda
13:09

On Sunday night, Marvel’s Black Panther film won the Oscar for three of its six Academy Award nominations: Ludwig Göransson for Best Original Score, Ruth E. Carter for Best Costume Design and Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart for Best Production design — just a few of the artists who helped bring Wakanda, the Black Panther’s mythical homeland, to life.

A persistent site for utopian longing, Wakanda has once more captured the public imagination: endowed with unlimited access to the most precious natural resource in the world, unsullied by the ravages of colonialism, Wakanda has reignited conversations about what black liberation can and should look like. According to Johns Hopkins University history professor Nathan Connolly, this latest chapter is part of a much longer tradition of imagining and reimagining black utopias. Connolly speaks with Brooke about how Wakanda arises from a 500-year history — from Maroon communities to Haiti to the actual Black Panther movement — a journey that takes us from "dreams to art to life, and back again."

This segment originally aired on February 23rd, 2018.

Feb 26, 2019
Twitch and Shout
49:28

Twitch.tv is a video streaming platform where millions of people broadcast their lives and video game action in real-time. It's like unedited, real, reality TV. This week, On the Media digs into why so many people want to share so much on Twitch, and what it tells us about the future of entertainment. First, a look at a couple of the biggest streamers of the platform, Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, who command devoted audiences and giant paychecks. Then, Bob dives into the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, the most expensive and highly produced pro gaming venture to date. Finally, Brooke speaks with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about the life of a homeless streamer who's life was saved by Twitch.

1. Julia Alexander [@loudmouthjulia] and Allegra Frank [@LegsFrank], two writers with Polygon, on the pitfalls and para-social allure of Twitch. Listen.

2. Cecilia D'Anastasio [@cecianasta] a reporter with Kotaku, Saebyeolbe [@saebyeolbe] and Pine [@tf2pine], two pro gamers, and Farzam Kamel, a venture capitalist with Sterling VC, on the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. Listen.

3. Jad Abumrad [@JadAbumrad] of Radiolab and VP Gloves, a homeless Twitch streamer, on the murky ethics of Twitch's IRL (in real life) section. Listen.

This hour was originally broadcast on August 18th, 2018. 

Feb 22, 2019
When 20,000 Nazis Gathered in New York
19:34

Founded in 1936, the German-American Bund had approximately 25,000 members and 70 chapters around the country. While the Nazis were building concentration camps, the Bund held pro-Hitler retreats and summer camps. February 20th marks the 80th anniversary of the Bund’s most notorious event when 20,000 of its members gathered at Madison Square Garden for a "Pro-American Rally" featuring speeches and performances, staged in front of a 30-foot-high portrait of George Washington.

The rally is the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary short "A Night at The Garden" by filmmaker Marshall Curry. In this On the Media podcast extra, Brooke talks with Curry about how the film's themes resonate today and how a 30-second broadcast spot has had a media moment of its own.

 

Feb 20, 2019
Bad Reputation
49:39

The 2020 Democratic field is the most diverse ever, and five women are running to be the party’s presidential nominee. This week, we look at the sexist coverage of female candidates with a new Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Gender and Politics Edition. Then, a re-examination of a 90's tabloid spectacle, Lorena Gallo (Lorena Bobbitt), arrested for cutting her husband's penis off after he raped her. Plus, how Black History Month undermines black history. 

1. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the sexist coverage of women in politics. Listen.

2. Joshua Rofé [@joshua_rofe], filmmaker, and Lorena Gallo (FKA Lorena Bobbitt) on the new documentary "Lorena." Listen.

3. Doreen St. Félix [@dstfelix], staff writer at The New Yorker, on the commercialization of Black History Month. Listen.

Songs:

The Crave by Jelly Roll Morton

Juliet of Spirits by Nino Rota and Eugene Walter

Okami by Nicola Cruz

River Man by Brad Mehldaw Trio

Mai Nozipo by Kronos Quartet

 

Feb 15, 2019
A Century of Free Speech
30:27

For this week's pod extra, we feature a conversation from WNYC'S Brian Lehrer Show. Brian talked with Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone, editors of The Free Speech Century, a collection of essays by leading scholars, marking 100 years since the Supreme Court issued the three decisions that established the modern notion of free speech.

Whether it’s fake news or money in politics, we’re still arguing over the First Amendment, and their book lays out the origins of the argument just after the first World War.  

Feb 13, 2019
The World's Biggest Problem
49:48

At Tuesday's State of the Union, President Trump continued to call for a wall at the southern border. Meanwhile, some Democrats point to the real crisis: climate change. A look at the messaging of urgency and hope around the Green New Deal. And, a former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg lays out his deep criticisms of Facebook. Then, a Facebook employee makes the case for one potential solution. Plus, a new documentary about Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin, two New York City reporters, who helped turn column writing into an art form.

1. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], contributing writer with The Intercept, on how Democrats are selling the urgent need to address climate change. Listen.

2. Roger McNamee [@Moonalice], author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, on the damage that Facebook has done. Listen.

3. Andy O'Connell [@facebook], manager of content distribution and algorithm policy at Facebook, on the network's new "Supreme Court" for content moderation.  Listen.

4. Jonathan Alter [@jonathanalter], filmmaker and journalist, on the legacy of two masterful newspaper columnists. Listen.

Songs:

Mermelada by Como Las Movies
I Am Not A Farmer by Bill Frisell 
Coconut Wireless by Moonalice
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Superstition by Sungha Jung
Chez Le Photographe Du Motel by Miles Davis
Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry by Raymond Scott

Feb 08, 2019
The Too-Good-To-Be-True Cancer Cure
9:10

Despite steadily declining rates of cancer deaths over the past two decades, cancer remains responsible for 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide. It’s a scourge. So when, this week, an Israeli company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies captured the news cycle with promises of a complete cure for cancer within the year, the story caught fire.

The company’s technology is called “MuTaTo” — that's multi-target toxin. And, to judge from the news media this week, it seems vetted, verified and veering us all toward a cancer-free future. Reports began in the Jerusalem Post, but quickly took off, making their way into various Murdoch-owned publications like FOX and the New York Post and landing in local news outlets around the country and the globe.

A couple days into the fanfare, the skeptics started coming out: for one thing, as oncologist David Gorski points out in his blog “Respectful Insolence,” the claims are based on experiments with mice: no human trials have yet started. For another, they haven’t been sufficiently peer reviewed. In fact, the company won’t share its research, claiming it can’t afford the expense. The too-good-to-be-true story appears to be just that, built on PR puffery. But who can resist a good cancer cure?

With Mutato in mind, for this week’s podcast extra, we revisit our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Health News edition, with Gary Schwitzer, publisher & founder of HealthNewsReview.org.

Feb 04, 2019
Misery in the Name of Liberty
49:34

The Venezuelan press has been facing repression for years. This week, On the Media explores how journalists in the country are struggling to cover the standoff between two men who claim to be president. Also, how both the history of American interventionism and the legacy of Simón Bolívar color coverage of Venezuela. Plus, a critical look at the images coming out of Chinese internment camps.

1. Mariana Zuñiga [@marazuniga], freelance reporter based in Caracas, on her experience covering Venezuela's presidential standoff. Listen

2. Miguel Tinker Salas [@mtinkersalas], professor of history at Pomona College, on the legacy of Simón Bolívar. Listen.

3. Stephen Kinzer [@stephenkinzer], professor of international relations at Brown University, on the history of American intervention in Latin America. Listen

4. Rian Thum [@RianThum], senior research fellow at the University of Nottingham, on the internment of Uighurs by the Chinese government. Listen

Songs:

Sueno en Paraguay by Chancha Via Circuito
Mermelada by Como Las Movies
Contradanza Del Espíritu by Roberto Fonseca
La Canción Bolivariana by Alí Primera
Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley
Mi Guitarrita by Manuel Silva
Chrysanthemum Complex (Contagion OST) by Cliff Martinez
Bizning Naxshimiz by Ayshemgul Memet, Shohrat Tursun & Ilyar Ayup

Feb 01, 2019
A Tell-All Memoir And An NDA
29:55

This week, the latest tell-all memoir from a former White House staffer hit bookstores. Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House is by Cliff Sims — who was, depending on who you ask, either key player as Director of Message Strategy or, as Trump tweeted this week, “nothing more than a gofer.”

The book, of course, is a landfill of trash and dirt on his former colleagues. And even as Sims toured the morning shows, the late shows and the everything-else shows to hawk his book, Trump Campaign COO Michael Glassner was threatening to sue him for violating the campaign's non disclosure agreement. Sims says he remembers signing some paperwork, but doesn’t remember if there was an NDA in there and, as other lawyers have since chimed in, there is established precedent that would make it very hard for the campaign to silence a former federal employee.

The subject of NDAs comes up a lot for people in Trump’s orbit — which is why the team at Trump, Inc. (produced here at our station, WNYC) did a whole episode on the topic. We present that episode for you as our podcast extra this week. Enjoy!

Jan 30, 2019
Close Encounters
49:45

The Lincoln Memorial debacle showed how vulnerable the press are to a myriad of social and political forces. This week, we examine how the outrage unfolded and what role MAGA hat symbolism might have played. And, a graphic photo in the New York Times spurs criticism. Plus, a reality show that attempts to bridge the gap between indigenous people and white Canadians. 

1. Bob's thoughts on where the Lincoln Memorial episode has left us. Listen.

2. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], tech writer, on the zig-zagging meta-narratives emerging from the Lincoln Memorial episode, and the role played by right-wing operatives. Listen.

3. Jeannine Bell [@jeanninelbell], professor at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law, on MAGA hat symbology. Listen.

4. Kainaz Amaria [@kainazamaria], visuals editor at Vox, on the Times' controversial decision to publish a bloody photo following the January 15 attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Listen.

5. Vanessa Loewen, executive producer of the Canadian documentary series First Contact and Jean La Rose, CEO of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, on their televised effort to bridge the gap between indigenous and settler Canadians. Listen

Jan 25, 2019
Rethinking MLK Day
19:22

When he was still in his twenties, Martin Luther King Jr. was, among other things, an advice columnist for Ebony magazine. Writer Mychal Denzel Smith studied those columns for an article this week in The Atlantic, and he found that readers asked the civil rights leader about everything from race relations to marriage problems.

In some instances Dr. King was surprisingly unorthodox — the preacher's thoughts on birth control are particularly eloquent — and in others, his advice was less than sage. When one reader complained about her philandering husband, he told her to self-reflect: "Are you careful with your grooming? Do you nag? Do you make him feel important?" When another described her husband as a "complete tyrant," self-reflection on the part of the woman was, again, the answer. 

Denzel Smith joins Brooke to discuss Dr. King's mid-century masculinity, how it is still wielded as a cudgel against young black Americans, and why he thinks Americans — black and white — are due for a vacation from MLK-mania. 

This segment is from our April 6, 2018 program, Paved With Good Intentions.

Jan 22, 2019
The Giant Referendum On Everything
49:26

For the past month, journalists have been reporting on the anxieties of furloughed federal workers. This week, On the Media learns that many reporters face a new threat to their own job security. Plus, an on-screen dramatization of Brexit, and a likely sea-change in Youtube's rankings. 

1. Dave Krieger [@DaveKrieger], former editorial page director of the Boulder Daily Camera, on the latest newspaper target of vulture capitalism. Listen.

2. James Graham [@mrJamesGraham], screenwriter of "Brexit," on his star-studded depiction of an urgent, present-day dispute. Listen.

3. Matthew Goodwin [@GoodwinMJ], professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, on why so many people got the Brexit narrative wrong. Listen.

4. Clay Shirky [@cshirky], Ajey Nagar [@CarryMinati], Sarah Moore [@sarahlynn_1995] and others on the global culture war over PewDiePie and T-Series. Listen.

Jan 18, 2019
That time Brooke met Rosanne Cash
40:31

Rosanne's Cash's new album features 10 new songs, all written and co-written by Cash, that find her "speaking out and looking inward" (The Boston Globe) from a uniquely female perspective. It features contributions from Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Colin Meloy and Sam Phillips, plus three extra tracks that appear on the deluxe edition of the record. The album's title track was just named one of the Top 5 songs of 2018 by The New York Times.  She sat down with Brooke for an evening of talk and music at WNYC's very own theater, The Greene Space. 

Jan 15, 2019
Everything Is Fake
49:33

On Thursday, President Trump flew down to McAllen, Texas to push his pro-wall, anti-immigrant narrative. This week, On the Media examines how the community tells a more welcoming story about the border — and a dogged presidential fact-checker joins us to pick apart the Oval Office address. Plus, how some progressives used Russian election interference tactics against a right-wing senate campaign. Also, is everything online fake? 

1. Lorenzo Zazueta [@lorenzozazueta], immigration reporter for The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, on the theatrics of a political border visit. Listen.

2. Daniel Dale [@ddale8], Washington bureau chief for the Toronto Star, fact-checks President Trump's Oval Office address. Listen.

3. Scott Shane [@ScottShaneNYT], national security reporter for the New York Times, on the Russian interference social media tactics used by some progressives in the run-up to the 2017 Alabama special senate election. Listen.

4. Matt Osborne [@OsborneInk], progressive Alabama activist, on his own deceptive role in the political battle between Roy Moore and now–Senator Doug Jones. Listen.

5. Max Read [@max_read], writer and editor at New York Magazine, on the overwhelming fakeness of the internet. Listen.

Jan 11, 2019
10 Things That Scare Jeff VandeMeer
6:52

Is it too ordinary to be afraid of your cat dying?

Jeff VanderMeer is an author based in Tallahassee, Florida. This week he is the featured guest on the podcast "10 things that scare me: a tiny podcast about our biggest fears," produced by WNYC Studios.

We spoke to Jeff a year ago about the impending climate change disaster for a show we called Apocalypse, Now. His award-winning Southern Reach trilogy has been published in over 35 languages. 

Join the 10 Things That Scare Me conversation, and tell them your fears here. And follow 10 Things That Scare Me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Jan 09, 2019
Africatown
49:41

Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination, a living monument to a lingering past — or whether shadows cast by highway overpasses and gasoline tanks will erase our country's hard-learned lessons. 

Brooke spoke with Deborah G. Plant, editor of a new book by Zora Neale Hurston about a founder of Africatown, Joe Womack, environmental activist and Africatown resident, Vickii Howell, president and CEO of the MOVE Gulf Coast Community Development Corporation, Charles Torrey, research historian for the History Museum of Mobile, and others about the past, present, and future of Africatown, Alabama. 

**This episode was originally aired in May of 2018.**

Songs:

Traditional African Nigerian Music of the Yoruba Tribe
Death Have Mercy by Regina Carter
Sacred Oracle by John Zorn and Bill Frisell
Passing Time by John Renbourn
The Thompson Fields by Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra

Jan 04, 2019
Remembering Joe Frank
17:10

Joe Frank -- the radio producer’s radio producer, the ultimate acquired taste -- died last January. He was 79. For over four decades Frank hosted late-night shows that could float between hilarious dreams and suspenseful nightmares, between fact and fiction. And though his shows were rarely mainstream hits, cultural figures like Ira Glass of This American Life and film director Alexander Payne consider Frank a major influence on their own work.

Brooke discussed Joe Frank's life, style and legacy with Jad Abumrad, co-host of WNYC's Radiolab, and Mark Oppenheimer, host of Tablet magazine's Unorthodox podcast, who wrote an article in Slate titled "Joe Frank Signs Off."

Jan 02, 2019
The Worst Thing We've Ever Done
51:22

After World War II, Germany and the Allied powers took pains to make sure that its citizens would never forget the country’s dark history. But in America, much of our past remains hidden or rewritten. This week, Brooke visits Montgomery, Alabama, home to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum and memorial created by the Equal Justice Initiative that aim to bring America’s history of segregation and racial terror to the forefront.

1. Brooke talks to the Equal Justice Initiative's [@eji_org] Bryan Stevenson about what inspired him to create The Legacy Museum and memorial and to historian Sir Richard Evans [@RichardEvans36] about the denazification process in Germany after World War II. Listen.

2. Brooke visits The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Listen.

3. Brooke speaks again with Bryan Stevenson about his own history and America's ongoing struggle to confront our racist past and present. Listen.

This episode originally aired on June 1st, 2018. It was re-broadcast on December 28, 2018.

Dec 28, 2018
10 Things That Scare Brooke
7:33

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate! To those who don't (and, aw heck, to those who do too) we offer a very special end-of-year gift: fear. More specifically, Brooke's greatest fears, courtesy of our WNYC colleagues, 10 Things That Scare Me. Fear is a subject — and experience — near and dear to our beloved Brooke, so we can assure you that this is not a conversation to skip. 

Dec 25, 2018
The Seen and the Unseen
50:14

Two weeks ago, a seven-year-old girl died in Customs and Border Patrol custody. This week, On the Media considers how coverage of her death has resembled previous immigration story cycles. Plus, we make an year-end review of cabinet officials shown the door as the result of investigative reporting — and we honor the 80 journalists killed around the globe this year. Also, we explore the subversive, revolutionary art of Hilma af Klint.

  1. Aura Bogado [@aurabogado], immigration reporter at Reveal, on the conditions migrants experience when they cross the border and the importance of hearing them in their own words. Listen.
  2. Columbia Journalism Review's Jon Allsop [@Jon_Allsop] on how reporters have cut through the noise of the Trump administration to uncover stories with impact. Listen.
  3. Brooke on this year's slain journalists and the risks they took in pursuit of their reporting. Listen.
  4. Tracey Bashkoff, curator at the Guggenheim Museum, walks Brooke through an exhibition of Hilma af Klint's work. Listen.
  5. Harvard University historian Ann Braude on the relationship between 19th century spiritualism and the women's rights movement. Listen.
Dec 21, 2018
What We Learned — And Didn't Learn — From the Pentagon Papers
15:57

In 1971, federal investigators convened two grand juries to investigate, among other things, the publishing, by major newspapers, of thousands of pages of secret government documents reviewing the history from 1945 on, of the still ongoing war in Vietnam. 

The Pentagon Papers' consequences were vast — including that historic effort by the federal government to investigate — under the Espionage Act — staffers at the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe. As tends to be the case with sprawling grand jury cases, the investigators’ questions and methods remain a secret.

But Jill Lepore hopes to change that. On Monday of this week, Lepore — Harvard historian, New Yorker staff writer, and author of These Truths: A History of the United Statesasked a federal court to order the release of documents related to those grand juries. “Why and when was the investigation opened?” Lepore demands in court documents. “Why was it closed? To what lengths did the government go in conducting the investigation?” A half-century after Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg’s mammoth revelations, questions still linger. 

Earlier this year, Brooke spoke with Les Gelb, one of the drafters of the original papers, about what journalists and historians previously failed to understand about the Pentagon Papers.

Dec 19, 2018
Plague of Suspicion
50:23

It’s been 100 years since one of the deadliest diseases... well, ever. The 1918-1919 flu pandemic (usually and mistakenly called the “Spanish Flu”) infected roughly a third of the world’s population and killed somewhere on the order of 50-100 million people, leaving no corner of the world untouched. It came just as the world was beginning its recovery from the other global catastrophe of the time — the First World War. The pandemic is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten Plague” because the extent of the devastation wasn’t realized at the time, and it’s been missing from most history books since.  

This week on On the Media, we look back at what happened and ask: could it, would it happen again?

This hour of On the Media is part of “Germ City” a series produced by the WNYC newsroom in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Academy of Medicine.

  1. Laurie Garrett [@Laurie_Garrett], author and infectious disease expert, and Nancy Tomes, historian at Stony Brook University, on the 1918 flu pandemic. Listen.
  2. Dr Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, on the 1976 swine flu fiasco. Listen.
  3. Matthew Gertz [@MattGertz], senior fellow at Media Matters, on the media’s coverage of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Listen.
  4. Dr Amesh Adalja [@AmeshAA], Senior Scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security and Dr Hoe Nam Leong, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore, on airplanes and infectious disease. Listen. 
  5. Professor Dominique Brossard [@brossardd], Chair of the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on how media covers pandemics. Listen.
Dec 14, 2018
Three Years for Michael Cohen
26:37

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for financial crimes and for lying to Congress. In rendering the sentence,  Judge William H. Pauley said Cohen’s crimes — among them, tax evasion and campaign finance violations — were “motivated by personal greed and ambition.”

The case has implications for Trump himself; Judge Pauley noted at the sentencing that Cohen's campaign finance crimes were designed to affect the outcome of the election. But court filings from this case and from the separate case against Paul Manafort offer many, many threads to follow. In this podcast extra, we turn to our colleagues at the Trump Inc. podcast, an open investigation from a team of ProPublica and WNYC journalists. This week, they unpacked what can be learned from the sentencing memos and what remains a mystery. Also, they just won a prestigious Dupont award! 

Dec 12, 2018
How Quickly We Forget
50:12

The death of George H.W. Bush brought us a week’s worth of ceremony, eulogy and wall-to-wall coverage. This week, a look at the choices journalists made when they set out to memorialize the president. And, immigration stories in our media focus on the U.S.–Mexico border — but what about immigration elsewhere in Latin America? Is there a journalistic solution to the scale of global immigration? Plus, a baseball metaphor and a bit of forgotten Hanukkah history.

1. Anne Helen Petersen [@annehelen], senior culture writer at Buzzfeed, and David Greenberg [@republicofspin], historian at Rutgers University, on the history — and pitfalls — of presidential eulogies. Listen.

2. Bob on the speculation surrounding Robert Mueller's investigation. Listen.

3. Diego Salazar [@disalch], journalist, on the immigration crisis within Latin America.  Listen.

4. Masha Gessen [@mashagessen], staff writer at The New Yorker, on her modest proposal for immigration coverage. Listen.

5. Rabbi James Ponet, Jewish chaplain emeritus at Yale University, on the historical origins of Hanukkah. Listen.

Songs: 

Ototoa by Malphino
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Wallpaper by Woo
String Quartet, No. 2 by Kronos Quartet
Viderunt Omnes by Kronos Quartet

Dec 07, 2018
The Centuries-Old Practice of "Slaying Lewks"
12:59

Satisfaction at the political enemy’s hypocrisy can be so rich that partisan critics strain — sometimes absurdly — to locate it. Such is the case with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, newly elected member of Congress from New York and avowed democratic socialist.  How to prove she is a phony? Why, her clothes, of course. It’s an absurd attempt at gotcha, but not an uncommon one. Bob spoke with Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, historian at Case Western Reserve University, about the long history of media obsession with the clothing of outspoken women — in particular, the thousands of garment workers who went on strike in 1909.

Dec 05, 2018
Laugh Until You Cry
50:23

The White House tried to bury a devastating climate assessment on Black Friday; this week, On the Media documents how TV talk shows gave climate change deniers a platform to spin the report for their own ends. We look back on Fox News' coming-of-age under Roger Ailes and we consider what comes next for the company amidst pressure, transition and unprecedented proximity to power. Plus, a pro-migration video goes viral in Honduras for all the wrong reasons.

1. Lisa Hymas [@lisahymas], director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America, on climate denialism in environmental coverage. Listen.

2. Alexis Bloom, director of Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes [@rogerailesfilm], on Ailes' role as newsman and political kingmaker. Listen.

3. Sarah Ellison [@Sarahlellison], staff writer at the Washington Post, on what comes next for "New Fox." Listen.

4. Alana Casanova-Burgess [@AlanaLlama], producer for On the Media, on how a pro-migration satire got out of its creators' hands. Listen.

Songs:

Ototoa by Malphino
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
String Quartet No. 2 (Company) by Kronos Quartet
Viderunt Omnes by Kronos Quartet

Nov 30, 2018
The Long History of Ignoring Climate Scientists
20:21

A government climate change report was released last week and summarily dismissed...by the government. It was a worrying development, to be sure — but it was also only the latest chapter in the long history of scientists' unheeded warnings. Back in 1988, Andrew Revkin started covering global warming, beginning with a cover piece for Discover Magazine (and later for The New York Times). Last summer, he spoke with Brooke about the lessons he's learned in thirty years of coverage — and what they mean for how humankind might be able to navigate a much warmer future. 

Revkin's piece on thirty years of climate change reporting was in the July issue of National Geographic. He is also the co-author of Weather: An Illustrated History: From Cloud Atlases to Climate Change. He is now Strategic Adviser for Environmental and Science Journalism at the National Geographic Society.

Nov 28, 2018
Whose Streets?
50:15

The message from Silicon Valley seems to be that self-driving cars are the way of the future. This week, On the Media considers the history behind the present-day salesmanship. Plus, why transit rights mean much more than point-A-to-point-B mobility. Also, a new opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. 

1. Angie Schmitt [@schmangee], national reporter at Streetsblog, on the "heartwarming" stories of Americans who walk miles and miles to workListen.

2. Peter Norton, professor of history at University of Virginia's Department of Engineering and Society, and Emily Badger, urban policy reporter for the New York Times, on the past, present and dazzling future of self-driving car salesmanship. Listen.

3. Judd Greenstein [@juddgreenstein], composer, on the in-progress opera, A Marvelous Order. Listen.

4. Kafui Attoh, professor of urban studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, on the deeper political meanings of "transit rights." Listen.

 

Music from this week's show:

Dan Deacon — USA III: Rail
Iggy Pop — The Passenger
Gary Numan — Cars
Judd Greenstein — Change
Judd Greenstein — A Marvelous Order
Brian Eno — Music For Airports

Nov 23, 2018
The Civil War, One Day at a Time
10:34

On the 155th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, we bring you a conversation with Professor Adam Goodheart. He ran The New York Times blog, Disunion, which covers the American Civil War as if it were a real-time event unfolding today. Goodheart's used Civil War Era journalism as one of his primary sources and says that sharing updates about the war gives his readers a sense of immediacy that a traditional history book can't provide. He spoke to Brooke in 2010, also on November 19th, the anniversary of The Gettysburg Address. 

Nov 19, 2018
Do Not Pass Go
49:39

Over a week after the midterms, there's uncertainty in key races in Florida and Georgia. We examine the pervasive conspiracy theories around vote counting. Plus, Amazon has concluded their infamous HQ2 search. At the time, it seemed like a reality show contest. What did it cost the participants? Also, how Amazon fits into a history of anti-trust attitudes in the U.S. And, a look back at a time when capitalism squared off against Jim Crow — and won. 

1. Will Sommer [@willsommerdigs into the conspiratorial buzz around the Florida recounts and how right-wing media is fueling doubt. Listen.

2. David Dayen [@ddayen] talks about Amazon's HQ2 sweepstakes and what the contest may have cost participants and the public. Listen.

3. Stacy Mitchell [@stacyfmitchell] goes through the history of anti-trust regulation and where Amazon fits in as a monopoly. Listen.

4. Sears once disrupted the power structure of Jim Crow with a mail-order catalog. Louis Hyman [@louishyman] tells the story of how American consumerism squared off against racism. Listen.

Songs:

The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
Through the Street by David Bergeaud
With Plenty Of Money And You by Hal Kemp
Don't Dream It's Over by The Bad Plus
Avalon by Randy Newman

Nov 16, 2018
The Stories Fires Tell
13:13

The Camp Fire in California is the deadliest in the state's history, leaving the entire city of Paradise in ashes. Parts of Malibu were destroyed by the Woolsey Fire, which firefighters are still trying to bring under control as of this writing. Every year, the press rushes to the scene to capture the fury and the heroic images of efforts to manage fires, but we may be missing a deeper, more dangerous story. In August, when the Mendocino Complex Fire was raging, Bob spoke to historian Stephen J. Pyne about what the typical media narratives overlook and how we can rethink them. 

Nov 13, 2018
We're Not Very Good At This
58:20

America’s divisions are all the more clear after another frenzied news cycle. This week, we ask a historian and a data scientist whether we humans are capable of governing ourselves. Plus, the post-midterm prognosis on climate change, and how our media have often complicated our country’s founding spirit of self-reflection.

1. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] looks at the Shepard tone of anti-democratic news developments over the past week. Listen.

2. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], contributing writer at the Intercept, on how climate change fared in this week's midterms. Listen.

3. Mary Christina Wood, University of Oregon law professor, on the public trust doctrine. Listen.

4. Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, on the enduring argument over the role of government in American life. Listen.

5. Joshua M. Epstein, director of NYU's Agent-Based Modeling Lab, on the computerized models that can teach us about how we behave in groups. Listen.

 

Nov 09, 2018
Why We're So Polarized
25:25

Last week on our show, Bob spoke with Lilliana Mason, a University of Maryland political psychologist and author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, about the reasons behind the tribalism and enmity that characterize our politics. The conversation covered a lot of ground, and much of it — including the political decisions that have shaped the two major parties over the past 50 years, as well as the distinct ways that Republicans and Democrats deploy partisan rage — didn’t make it into our tightly packed show. But, it’s too interesting and important to leave on the cutting room floor, so we’re sharing it as this week’s midterm edition podcast extra. Enjoy!

Nov 06, 2018
The Others
49:24

After a week of hate-fueled attacks, we examine the "dotted line" from incitement to violence. We dig deep into tribalism and how it widens the gulf between Republicans and Democrats. Plus, the history of antisemitic propaganda and how it inspires modern-day violence. Also, why is the GOP running against California in midterm races around the country? 

1. A look at the possible connections between hateful rhetoric and violent acts, with law professor Garrett Epps [@Profepps], historian Michael Beschloss, and writer Amanda Robb. Listen.

2. Leo Ferguson [@LeoFergusonnyc] of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice on the history of antisemitic propaganda. Listen.

3. Lilliana Mason [@LilyMasonPhD], author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, on tribalism and partisanship. Listen.

4. Why is California the bogeyman in the midterms? Lawrence Wright [@lawrence_wright] on the California/Texas relationship, KQED's Marisa Lagos [@mlagos] with the view from California, and Seth Masket [@smotus] of the University of Denver on the Californication of Colorado. Listen.

Nov 02, 2018
Gab is Back in the Headlines and Off the Web
11:47

The social media website Gab has faced sanction and scorn in the days since one of its active users killed 11 members of Pittsburgh's Jewish community. Gab had, for the past few years, made itself out as a "free speech" harbor, safe from the intellectual strictures of the mainstream web. That is to say, it attracted — and very rarely rejected — hordes of neo-nazis, anti-PC provocateurs and right-wing trolls. 

When Brooke interviewed Gab's then-COO Utsav Sanduja last fall, the company was in the midst of an anti-trust lawsuit against Google, claiming the the tech titan had wielded its monopoly power to silence a competitor. Brooke spoke with Sanduja about that lawsuit — and about his website's frequently deplorable content. 

Oct 30, 2018
Knock, Knock
49:35

With the midterms approaching, Democrats and Republicans are fighting to control the national conversation. This week, On the Media looks at how to assess the predictions about a blue or red wave this November. Republican messaging — especially from the White House — has emphasized the dangers presented by the so-called caravan. How did that caravan begin? And, what is the history behind the documents that regulate international travel? Plus, how transgender rights activists in Massachusetts are deploying a counter-intuitive door-to-door tactic.

1. Clare Malone [@ClareMalone], senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight, on the electoral reporting tropes that dominate midterm coverage. Listen.

2. Sarah Kinosian [@skinosian], freelance reporter, on the origins of the current Central American caravan. Listen.

3. John Torpey [@JohnCTorpey], historian at the CUNY Graduate Center, on the history of passports. Listen.

4. David Broockman [@dbroockman], political scientist at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Matt Collette [@matt_pc], producer of WNYC's Nancy, on the activism surrounding a transgender rights referendum in Massachusetts. Listen.

Oct 26, 2018
West Virginia's "Genius" Watchdog
19:38

Nearly two years since the 2016 Presidential Election, much of the press are still covering so-called "Trump country" using a series of simplistic narratives, blaming these states for Trump and portraying them as irrevocably scarred by the decline of the coal industry. That doesn't mean there aren't real problems surrounding the fossil fuel industry.

Ken Ward Jr. is a reporter at West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette-Mail, where since 1991 he’s been covering the coal, chemical and natural gas industries, and their impact on communities that were promised a better future. Bob speaks with Ken about the reporting that earned him a 2018 “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, and how West Virginia's coal country is moving forward.

Oct 24, 2018
Bloodlines
49:52

In using a genetic test to try to prove her Native ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren inadvertently stepped into a quagmire. This week, we examine the tensions around DNA and identity. Plus, after Jamal Khashoggi’s death, revisiting the trope of the so-called reformist Saudi royal. And, a look at what we can learn — and how we've tried to learn it — from twins, triplets and other multiple births.

1. Abdullah Al-Arian, [@anhistorian] professor of Middle East History at Georgetown University, on the decades-long trope in American op-ed pages about reformist Saudi royals. Listen.

2. Kim TallBear, [@KimTallBearprofessor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta and author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, on the way "blood" has been used to undermine tribal sovereignty. Listen.

3. Alondra Nelson, [@alondra] president of the Social Science Research Council, professor of sociology at Columbia University and author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome, on why DNA testing has been so valuable to African-American communities. Listen.

4. Nancy Segal, [@nlsegal] director of the Twin Studies center at California State University at Fullerton and author of Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture, on what we've learned about human nature from the study of twins. Listen.

Songs:

The Glass House (End Title) by David Bergeaud
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley
Turn Down the Sound by Adrian Younge
I Wish I Had An Evil Twin by The Magnetic Fields

Oct 19, 2018
The Radical Catalog
16:41

Another chapter in the history of American consumerism came to a close this week when the retail giant Sears announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing 142 of its unprofitable stores. As experts sifted through the details about what doomed Sears, we found ourselves reading a Twitter thread about a little-known bit of shopping history. Louis Hyman is an economic historian and professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He tweeted: "In my history of consumption class, I teach about Sears, but what most people don't know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of Jim Crow." In this week's podcast extra, Hyman talks to Brooke about what we can learn from the way Sears upended Jim Crow power dynamics, and what lessons it offers about capitalism more broadly. His latest book is Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary.

 

Oct 18, 2018
Full Faith & Credit
49:38

Ten autumns ago came two watershed moments in the history of money. In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency.

1. The life and work of JSG Boggs, the artist who created hand-drawn replicas of currency that he used to buy goods and services. With Lawrence Weschler and MIT's Neha Nerula [@neha]. Listen.

2. A brief history of money with UC Irvine's Bill Maurer and Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] from Brown UniversityListen. 

3. How cryptocurrency could shape the future of money, with MIT's Neha Narula [@neha], New York Times' Nathaniel Popper [@nathanielpopper], Vinay Gupta [@leashless] of Mattereum, Brown University's Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] and artist Kevin Abosch [@kevinabosch]Listen.

Oct 12, 2018
Reimagining History
16:46

Last week, the MacArthur Foundation awarded genius grants to 25 creatives in art, literature, science and music. John Keene, a writer of poetry, fiction and cultural criticism, was one of them. He was recognized for his innovative use of language and form, and the way his work “exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy” people of color and queer people. Keene spoke to Brooke back in 2015 about his story collection, Counternarratives, which centers the voices of the marginalized in both imagined and reimagined historical moments.

Oct 10, 2018
The Victimhood
50:00

On Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged his sharp tone in recent hearings. This week, we examine the anger and resentment driving the #MeToo backlash. Plus, a deep dive into into our flawed narratives about Native American history, and a close look at the role problematic fantasies about indigenous people play in German culture.

1. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the purposeful role of male anger in the Kavanaugh nomination process. Listen.

2. David Treuer [@DavidTreuer], writer and historian, on the simplistic, flawed narratives tied up in popular Native American history. Listen.

3. Frank Usbeck, historian and researcher-curator at the State Ethnographic Collections of Saxony, and Evan Torner, German Studies professor at the University of Cincinnati, on the fantasies about indigenous people involved in German politics and culture. Listen.

Songs:

Rebel Soldier by Nashville Sessions
Prelude of Light by John Zorn
Puck by John Zorn
Tribute to America by The O'Neill Brothers Group
Her Avwerah by Norfolk and Western
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Oct 05, 2018
Trump, Inc.: The Business of Silence
29:12

President Donald Trump has had many roles in his life: Real estate scion, reality show star, Oval Office holder. But through it all, one thing has remained consistent. He tries to control what information becomes public about himself and his business.

In the latest episode of Trump, Inc., a WNYC collaboration with ProPublica, our colleagues look at the ways Trump has tried to buy and enforce silence — and how it matters more than ever now that he’s president. They talk to The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow about just one of the tactics used by those helping the president: the “catch and kill.”  

Oct 03, 2018
What Goes Around, Comes Around?
50:01

The Kavanaugh-Ford hearings this week felt like a watershed moment — but it’s not yet clear what long-term impact they’ll have. This week, we examine some of the policies that could be affected by the Supreme Court if Kavanaugh is confirmed, including dark money disclosure and voting rights. Plus, a moment of zen during trying times. 

1. Brooke on this week's Kavanaugh-Ford hearings. Listen. 

2. Carol Anderson [@ProfCAnderson], professor of history at Emory University, on how voter suppression is destroying democracyListen. 

3. Michelle Ye Hee Lee [@myhlee], national reporter for the Washington Post, on the recent Supreme Court action regarding the disclosure of dark money donationsListen.

4. Robert Wright [@robertwrighter], author and professor at Union Seminary, on how living a mindful life can make us savvier, saner news consumers. Listen.

 

Songs:

Black Coffee by Galt MacDermot
Melancholia by Marcos Ciscar

Sep 28, 2018
It's Time for Justice
8:02

On Tuesday, nearly four years since a viral comedy routine helped usher a long list of rape and sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby into the fore, the once-beloved artist was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison. Years before Cosby's predatory behavior became public knowledge, rumors circulated in Hollywood and privileged circles, well within earshot of journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. But, in a 2008 profile of Cosby for The Atlantic, Coates merely mentioned some of the sexual assault accusations in passing, without digging into the damning details. Whether willful denial or reckless mistake, this oversight would come to haunt him — so much that he fessed up and agreed to mull it all over with Bob back in 2014.

Sep 26, 2018
Make Amends
49:52

Senators are weighing serious allegations of attempted rape as they consider Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, McDonald's employees in ten cities went on strike to bring attention to sexual harassment at the fast food chain. This week, we look at the ripples from the #MeToo movement and how much further they have to go. 

1. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's expected testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has echoes of Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas in 1991. Kai Wright [@kai_wright] of the podcast The United States of Anxiety revisits how that moment led to a "Year of the Woman" in 1992. Listen. 

2. Disgraced former radio hosts Jian Ghomeshi and John Hockenberry recently wrote essays reflecting on their lost status after #MeToo allegations. Slate's Laura Miller [@magiciansbookdiscusses the serious shortcomings of those essays. Listen.

3. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg [@TheRaDR] explains what atonement and repentance actually mean, and why a clear definition matters in the context of the #MeToo movement. Listen.

4. History professor Annelise Orleck [@AnneliseOrleck1] puts this week's McDonald's strike over sexual harassment allegations in its global and historical context. Listen.

 

Songs:

Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
John’s Book of Alleged Dances by Kronos Quartet
Human Nature by Steve Porcaro, John Bettis, Vijay Iyer
Love Theme from Spartacus by Yusef Lateef

Sep 21, 2018
An Obit, This Time For Real
8:51

This past week’s coverage of Hurricane Florence has had all the trappings of a terrible storm: the satellite images, the sandbags and empty grocery stores, the newscasters dressed in flood gear.  One recurring side character we seem to have avoided this time around, though, is the doctored image of a shark swimming on a flooded highway.

It’s a preposterous hoax that succeeds, occasionally, on the merits of some kernel of truth; for instance, whole swathes of interstate highway in North Carolina are, as of this moment, covered with water. That kernel of truth is what hoaxers and jokers build their handiwork upon — as did the veteran hoaxer Alan Abel, who passed away late last week at the age of 94.

Abel made a name for himself inventing characters and causes and turning the joke on the media; in 1980 he staged his own death and got himself an obituary in the New York Times.

Brooke spoke to Abel — and his daughter, Jenny Abel, the director of the documentary, "Abel Raises Cain" — in 2008.

Sep 18, 2018
Doomed to Repeat
50:09

The anniversary of a disaster gives us a moment to reflect on whether we have learned the right lessons — or any at all. This week, we examine the narratives that have solidified ten years after the financial crisis, and one year after Hurricane Maria. 

1. Political anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla] on how we can focus our attention on Puerto Rico's structural challenges even as the president spouts falsities about the "unsung success" of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. Listen.

2. Dean Starkman [@deanstarkman], author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, on how the signs of the financial crisis had been visible leading up to it but many journalists were looking elsewhere. Listen.

3. Brown University professor Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] takes on the most popular narratives of the financial crash. Listen.

4. Copenhagen Business School business historian Per Hansen on Hollywood's depiction of the board room and Wall Street from 1928 to 2015. Listen.

Songs:

Marjane's Inspiration by David Bergeaud
Glass House by Bonobo
Dinner Music For A Pack of Hungry Cannibals by Raymond Scott
With Plenty Of Money And You by Hal Kemp
Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
Modern Times OST by Charlie Chaplin

Sep 14, 2018
FEMA Time
11:47

On Wednesday, as Florence swirled ominously off the coast of the Carolinas, and states prepared for imminent disaster, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) thought it would be a good time to draw everyone’s attention to the shifting priorities of this administration. Specifically, he released a budget that showed the Department of Homeland Security had transferred nearly 10 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for detention and removal operations.

FEMA officials maintain that the smaller budget won’t hinder their operations, but as wildfires rage and hurricanes make landfall, they have a lot on their plate. We don't think about FEMA much, until that's all we think about. Historian Garrett Graff says the agency’s, quote, “under-the-radar nature” was originally a feature, not a bug. Graff wrote about "The Secret History of FEMA" for Wired last September and he spoke to Bob about the agency's Cold War origins as civil defense in the event of a nuclear attack and how it transitioned to "natural" disaster response. Plus, they discuss the limitations to FEMA's capabilities and why it has such a spotty record. Graff is also author of Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While The Rest of Us Die.

Sep 12, 2018
O See, Can You Say
50:11

Between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill and an anonymous op-ed from within the Trump White House, a wave of rule-bending and -breaking has crashed on Washington. This week, we explore how political decorum and popular dissent have evolved since the early days of our republic — and how the legal protections for those core freedoms could transform our future.

1. Brooke and Bob on how best to cover the anonymous op/ed written by a "senior official in the Trump administration." Listen.

2. Geoffrey Stone, professor of law at University of Chicago, on our evolving — and occasionally faulty — interpretations of the first amendment. And, Laura Weinrib, professor of law at University of Chicago, on how early-20th century labor struggles gave birth to our modern ideas about freedom of speech. Listen.

3. Tim Wu [@superwuster], professor of law at Columbia University, on how the first amendment could inform new regulations for Silicon Valley. Listen.

Music:

John Renbourn - Passing Time
Puck - John Zorn
Joeira - Kurup
Mulatu Astatke - Tezeta

 

Sep 07, 2018
CNN's Lanny Davis Problem
12:07

Six weeks ago, CNN broke a blockbuster story: According to several anonymous sources, President Trump had advance knowledge of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. It was a potential smoking gun, until one of those sources — Lanny Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen — recanted.

Beyond that headache for CNN, there was another. The original article had claimed, "Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen's attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment." Depending on how you understand the word "comment," and depending your general disposition, that claim could be technically true or woefully, mendaciously disingenuous. Bob spoke with Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi about the implications — and dangers — of this latest media mishap. 

Sep 05, 2018
Summer Series Episode 4: Tectonic Edition
14:27

After an earthquake struck Nepal in April of 2015, the post-disaster media coverage followed a trajectory we'd seen repeated after other earth-shaking events. We put together a template to help a discerning news consumer look for the real story. It's our Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Tectonic Edition. Brooke spoke to Jonathan M. Katz, who wrote "How Not to Report on an Earthquake" for the New York Times Magazine

Aug 29, 2018
Fallout
51:05

End-of-times narratives themselves are nothing new; only the means have changed. While once a few horsemen and a river of blood were enough to signal the dusk of man, apocalypse now requires the imaginations of entire atomic laboratories — or roving squads of special effects crews. This week we look through a few recent highlights from the genre: from a 1980's made-for-TV spectacle, to a new piece of speculative fiction documenting a hypothetical nuclear conflict with North Korea.

1. Jeffrey Lewis [@ArmsControlWonk], author of "The 2020 Commission Report," on what we might say to ourselves after a devastating war with North Korea. Listen.

2. Marsha Gordon [@MarshaGGordon], film studies professor at North Carolina State University, on the 1983 film "The Day After," which imagines a massive nuclear strike in the Midwestern U.S. Listen.

3. Anne Washburn, playwright, on "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play," in which she imagines American cultural life after a devastating nuclear event. Listen.

4. Andrew Fitzgerald [@magicandrew], chief digital content officer at Hearst TV, on what journalists, seven years ago, thought about the prospect of covering the end of the world. Listen.

Aug 24, 2018
Summer Series Episode 3: Airline Crash Edition
11:42

When a commercial plane goes down, media speculation ensues. With the help of The Atlantic's James Fallows, we give you some tips that can help you comb through the coverage.

 

 

Aug 22, 2018
Twitch And Shout
58:59

Twitch.tv is a video streaming platform where tens of thousands people broadcast their lives and video game game-play in real-time. It's like unedited, real, reality TV. This week, On the Media digs into why so many people want to share so much on Twitch, and why the site draws more than 15 million viewers. First, a look at a couple of the biggest streamers of the platform, Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, who command devoted audiences and giant paychecks. Then, Bob dives into the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, the most expensive and highly produced pro gaming venture to date. Finally, Brooke speaks with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about the life of a homeless streamer who's life was saved by Twitch.

1. Julia Alexander [@loudmouthjulia] and Allegra Frank [@LegsFrank], two writers with Polygon, on the pitfalls and para-social allure of Twitch. Listen.

2. Cecilia D'Anastasio [@cecianasta] a reporter with Kotaku, Saebyeolbe [@saebyeolbe] and Pine [@tf2pine], two pro gamers, and Farzam Kamel, a venture capitalist with Sterling VC, on the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. Listen.

3. Jad Abumrad [@JadAbumrad] of Radiolab and VP Gloves, a homeless Twitch streamer, on the murky ethics of Twitch's IRL (in real life) section. Listen.

Correction: The original broadcast of this hour includes the statistic that Twitch draws more viewers than HBO and Netflix. Upon request for comment, Twitch did not offer sufficient information to confirm that figure. 

Aug 17, 2018
Summer Series Episode 2: Military Coup Edition
11:43

Back in the summer of 2016, Turkish putschists shut down highways, attacked government buildings and took broadcasters hostage, world media outlets struggled to provide sober reports of the coup. During the chaos, some listeners told us on Twitter that they’d appreciate an OTM Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Coup Edition. Coups are especially tricky to report on because they're mainly about perception and narrative. Plotters and the government are both trying to establish dominance, and misreporting can determine whether the attempt succeeds or not. 

Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups, says the first step for a successful military coup is to take control of radio and tv broadcasters. From there, they can literally and figuratively control the narrative. 

Brooke spoke to Singh about how to understand coups through the media, and how to understand whether an attempt will succeed or fail. 

Song:

"Cops or Criminals" by Howard Shore

Aug 15, 2018
Planet Fire
50:15

People like neo-nazi Andrew Anglin and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have long tested the limits of permissible speech. On this week’s On the Media, hear from a lawyer who defends the First Amendment rights of society’s worst actors. Plus, a lawyer suing in defense of government transparency, a fire historian weighs in on the coverage of the California wildfires, and a Texas journalist who has reported on hundreds of executions.

1. Marc Randazza [@marcorandazza], first amendment lawyer, on Alex Jones, the Unite the Right rally, and free speech. Listen. 

2. Mark Pedroli [@MarkPedroli], attorney, on the technology used by former Missouri governor Eric Greitens to skirt transparency lawsListen. 

3. Stephen Pyne, fire historian and professor at Arizona State University, on the tropes, faults, and failings of wildfire coverageListen. 

4. Michael Graczyk, recently retired A.P. reporter, on his experience covering more than 400 executions in TexasListen.

 

Frail as a Breeze, Erik Friedlander

Solace, The Sting Soundtrack

Mulatu Astatke, Tezeta (Nostalgia)

Kokoroke, Abusey Junction, We Out Here

Aug 10, 2018
Summer Series Episode 1: US Storm Edition
28:23

For media professionals, hurricanes offer the very best kind of bad news because the story arc is predictable and invariably compelling. In this summer series revisiting some of our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbooks, we examine the myths, misleading language, and tired media narratives that clog up news coverage at a time when clarity can be a matter of life and death.

Brooke speaks with Dr. Robert Holmes, National Flood Hazard Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey; Gina Eosco, a risk communication consultant; and Scott Gabriel Knowles of Drexel University, author of The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America.

 

Aug 08, 2018
Enemy of the People
50:23

At a rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump supporters attacked CNN reporter Jim Acosta, prompting the president to double down on his anti-press "Enemy of the People" rhetoric. A look at how and why the president incites his base — and where it all might lead. And, as the regulatory battle surrounding 3D gun blueprints rages on, we dive into the worldview of Cody Wilson, the man who started the controversy. Plus, why we’re still living in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s killing, six years later.

1. Greg Sargent [@ThePlumLineGS], columnist at the Washington Post, on the president's dangerous anti-press rhetoric. Listen.

2. Andy Greenberg [@a_greenberg], reporter for Wired, on the regulatory battles surrounding 3D gun blueprints. And, Cody Wilson [@Radomysisky], founder of Defense Distributed, speaking on his vision for an open source library for gun schematics. Listen.

3. Benjamin Crump [@AttorneyCrump], civil rights attorney, and Jenner Furst, one of the filmmakers behind the docu-series "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story," on Trayvon Martin's legacy. Listen.

Songs:

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn (feat. Bill Frisell)
String Quartet No. 5 (II) by Kronos Quartet & Philip Glass
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Walking By Flashlight by Maria Schneider
Melancolia by Marcos Ciscar

Aug 03, 2018
Journalism To The Rescue
11:33

This summer, in a project designed by ProPublica, 10 news organizations are sharing information to flesh out the hidden details of families separated by the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. Bob speaks with Selymar Colón, digital managing editor at Univision News, one of the organizations involved in the collaboration, about how the consortium has investigated and reported on some of the 200 tips it has received —and about the four families that were reunited after their stories were published.

Aug 02, 2018
The Center Folds
50:17

Socialism is having a moment in the sunlight — that is, on daytime television. Yet at the same time that the left earns a closer look from political pundits, Democrats and Republicans still fail to understand each other with nuance. Plus, after newspaper layoffs and a White House lockout this week, we assess the press’s appetite for solidarity. 

1. Nathan Robinson [@NathanJRobinson], editor-in-chief at Current Affairs, on socialism's renewed place in mainstream political discourse. Listen.

2. Perry Bacon Jr. [@perrybaconjr], political writer at FiveThirtyEight, on the misconceptions Democrats and Republicans have about each otherListen.

3. Pete Vernon [@byPeteVernon], writer at the Columbia Journalism Review, on the White House's decision this week to bar a CNN reporter from a press event. Listen.

4. Chelsia Rose Marcius [@chelsiamarchius], former staff reporter at the New York Daily News, Tom Laforgia [@thomaslaforgia], former editor at the NYDN, and Molly Crane-Newman [@molcranenewman], reporter at the NYDN, on the layoffs at the tabloid earlier this weekListen.

5. Felix Salmon [@felixsalmon], financial journalist, on the motivations — and, he says, incompetence — behind tronc's business decisionsListen.

Songs:

Carnival of Souls by Verne Langdon
Uluwati by John Zorn
Going Home for the First Time by Alex Wurman
Frail as a Breeze, Pt. 2 by Erik Friedlander
Fellini's Waltz by Enrico Pieranunzi & the Charlie Haden
Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me by Ben Webster

Jul 27, 2018
On the Media presents Episode 1 of The Realness
30:32

This week On the Media recommends a new podcast from our colleagues at WNYC. Check it out.

Prodigy and Havoc begin laying down rhymes together in high school. When their first album flops, they come up with a new sound that's directly influenced by P's sickle cell, and it helps define a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell attack he’ll never forget.

 LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 

WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

Audio of Prodigy on Questlove Supreme is provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" performed by Nas.

Jul 25, 2018
Blah Blah Blah... BANG
49:57

In a matter of months, we've moved from bipartisan immigration talks to calls to abolish ICE. On this week’s On the Media, a look at how leftists are employing a right-wing communications strategy in order to change the national debate. Plus, thirty years into the conversation on global warming, what have we really learned? And in the days following the Trump-Putin summit, what did we miss? 

1. Brooke on this week's coverage of the Trump-Putin summit, and on a new metaphor for the Trump era: the Shepard toneListen. 

2. Joseph Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy; Laura Marsh [@lmlauramarsh], literary editor at The New Republic; and Sean McElwee [@SeanMcElwee], activist and contributor at The Nation, on the Overton WindowListen. 

3. Andrew Revkin [@Revkin] of the National Geographic Society on thirty years of global warming coverageListen. 

Music from this week's program:

Whispers of Heavenly Death — John Zorn
String Quartet No. 5 — Philip Glass
The Mole — Hans Zimmer
Flugufrelsarinn — Kronos Quartet
Long Ge — Kronos Quartet
A Ride With Polly Jean — Jenny Scheinman

 

Jul 20, 2018
I Can't Breathe
14:33

Four years ago this week, on July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island at the hands of a New York City police officer. We probably wouldn't have known if it hadn't been for a cellphone video that captured his arrest, the excessive force that killed him, and his final words. The national media couldn’t look away, until they did look away.

Matt Taibbi is a journalist and author of the book, I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street, an exploration of Eric Garner’s life and death in the media — and of his real life, too. Brooke spoke to him last year.

Jul 17, 2018
Russian Dressing On Everything
50:10

Reporting on the Russia investigation is not for the faint of heart. This week, a look at how a journalist became entangled in the investigation when she turned her source over to the FBI. Plus, how another reporter avoided common journalistic mistakes during the Iraq War and a conversation with the director of the new documentary The Other Side of Everything about the end of Yugoslavia.

1. Tom Nichols [@RadioFreeTom], professor of national security at the Naval War College, on separating the signal from the noise in stories about Trump's relations with RussiaListen.

2. Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel], national security blogger, on her decision to out a source to the FBIListen.

3. Jonathan Landay [@JonathanLanday], national security correspondent at Reuters, on his reporting at the outset of the Iraq WarListen.

4. Mila Turajlić, director of "The Other Side of Everything," on her mother's dissent against the former Yugoslavian governmentListen.

Jul 13, 2018
Big Sky, Dark Money
14:14

With President Trump's nomination of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court will likely be locked up by the political right for a generation. This is in large part thanks to a historic decision made in 2010 by the court’s then-shakier conservative majority: the Citizens United ruling, which fundamentally reshaped the political landscape of the United States by unleashing floods of political spending, particularly in the form of untraceable "dark money." 

For the state of Montana, the post-Citizens United world has brought back old memories: over a century ago, copper kings like William A. Clark used their vast wealth to control the state and buy up political power. In 1912, the state responded by passing one of the first campaign finance laws in the nation, banning corporate political spending entirely. That law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012, but Montanans have continued to push back against corporate political spending using other means.

A new documentary, Dark Money, uses Montana as a microcosm to explain the reality of campaign finance in the United States today. Bob speaks with director Kimberly Reed about the documentary and why she's hopeful that, despite the unbalanced playing field, positive change is possible.

Jul 10, 2018
Blame It On The Alcohol
49:31

This week, we devote an entire hour to what one important scholar deemed “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” From its earliest role as a source of nourishment to its depictions in ancient literature, we examine the roots of mankind’s everlasting drinking problems. Plus, how a bizarre 60 Minutes piece spread the idea that red wine has medicinal effects. Then, a look at how popular culture has incorrectly framed Alcoholics Anonymous as the best and only option for addiction recovery. And, a scientist cooks up a synthetic substitute for booze.

1. Iain Gately, author of Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol, on the ancient origins of our core beliefs about booze. Listen.

2. Robert Taylor, assistant managing editor at Wine Spectator, on red wine's constantly changing reputation as a healthy substance. Listen.

3. Gabrielle Glaser [@GabrielleGlaser], author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink - And How They Can Regain Control, on the history and P.R. methods of Alcoholics Anonymous. Listen.

4. David Nutt [@ProfDavidNutt], psychologist at Imperial College London, on his new alcohol substitute, "alcosynth." Listen.

Songs:

When I Get Low I Get High by Ella Fitzgerald

Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto D/Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica Di Milano

Il Casanova Di Federico Fellini by Solisti E Orchestre Del Cinema Italiano

Option with Variations by Kronos Quartet/composer Rhiannon Giddens

Jul 06, 2018
Polite Oppression
50:23

Following a string of landmark Supreme Court rulings and a surprise retirement, this week On the Media examines the conservative culture on the bench and wonders what we can expect from the court going forward. Plus, is civility really dead or only sleeping? And what is the view from small-town America?

1. Adam Serwer [@AdamSerwer], senior editor at The Atlantic, on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Trump administration's travel ban decision. Listen.

2. Teresa Bejan [@tmbejan], professor of political theory at the University of Oxford, on the historical origins of our "crisis of civility." Listen.

3. Keith Bybee, professor of judiciary studies at Syracuse University, on the oft-repeated deaths of American civility — and how notions of civility can be a tool of oppression. Listen.

4. Deborah Fallows, author and linguist, and James Fallows [@JamesFallows], national correspondent at The Atlantic, on the societies thriving outside the media lens. Listen.

Jun 29, 2018
A Guide To SCOTUS News
13:07

There’s a reason why Supreme Court reporters know to never to take a vacation in June.

The end of this season’s term brought us a head-spinning drumbeat of huge 5-4 decisions, from upholding the Muslim travel ban to dealing a huge blow to organized labor to siding with anti-abortion pregnancy centers. 

Understanding the Supreme Court is difficult for myriad reasons. So, with the expertise of seasoned SCOTUS reporters, in 2015 we put together a handy guide for the discerning news consumer to make sense of the court, its decisions, and its coverage. We're revisiting it this week. 

 

Jun 28, 2018
Chaos Agents
50:06

Family separation, a re-framed immigration debate and Trump's misleading executive order: why news fatigue about the border isn’t an option. This week, we explore multiple sides of the asylum policy — including the view from Central America. Plus, a look back at US repatriation policy in the 1930's, and six decades of American culture wars. 

1. Dara Lind [@DLind] and Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick] on how Trump's family separation policy attempts to re-frame the immigration debate, and why news fatigue isn't an option. Listen.

2. Carlos Dada [@CarlosDada] on the way the family separation and zero-tolerance asylum policy are changing the way Central Americans see the United States. Listen.

3. Francisco Balderrama on the mass expulsion of Mexican immigrants and their American-born children from the United States during the Great Depression. Listen.

4. Brian Lehrer [@BrianLehrer] on six decades of culture wars in the United States. Listen.

Songs:

Texas Polka by Bonnie Lou
Marjane’s Inspiration by David Bergeaud
The Invisibles by John Zorn
Maria Christina by Los Lobos
Blackbird by Brad Mehldau

Jun 22, 2018
The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes
19:08

In 2014, Fortune magazine ran a cover story featuring Elizabeth Holmes: a blonde woman wearing a black turtleneck, staring deadpan at the camera, with the headline, “This CEO’s out for blood.”

A decade earlier, Holmes had founded Theranos, a company promising to “revolutionize” the blood testing industry, initially using a microfluidics approach — moving from deep vein draws to a single drop of blood. It promised easier, cheaper, more accessible lab tests — and a revolutionized healthcare experience.

But it turns out that all those lofty promises were empty. There was no revolutionary new way to test blood. This past spring, Holmes settled a lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission, though admitted no wrongdoing. Last Friday, another nail in the coffin for Theranos came in the form of federal charges of wire fraud, filed against Holmes and the company's former president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. 

The alleged fraud was uncovered by the dogged reporting of John Carreyrou, an investigative journalist at the Wall Street Journal and author of "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup." 

 

Jun 19, 2018
Using My Religion
50:12

More than two thousand reporters went to Singapore to cover the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. This week, we examine how so much coverage can lead to so little understanding. Plus, at long last, Justin Trudeau is subjected to media scrutiny in the US. And, the latest threat to American newspapers, the trouble with a new bill meant to battle anti-Semitism, and Jeff Session's fraught theology.

1. Noah Bierman [@Noahbierman], White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, on his experience reporting from Singapore. Listen.

2. Margaret Sullivan [@Sulliview], media columnist for the Washington Post, on American media falling for Trumpian stagecraft at the summit. Listen.

3. Jesse Brown [@JesseBrown], host of the CANADALAND podcast, on U.S. media's renewed interest in Justin Trudeau. Listen.

4. Erin Arvedlund [@erinarvedlund], reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, on the dangers of a tariff on Canadian newsprint. Listen.

5. Michael Lieberman [@ADLWashCounsel], Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, and Kenneth Stern, executive director of the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation, on the proposed Anti-Semitism Awareness Act; Brooke on Jeff Sessions biblical defense of the Trump administration's immigration policies. Listen.

Songs:

Puck by John Zorn (feat. Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel & Kenny Wollesen)
Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry by Raymond Scott
The Party's Over by Dick Hyman
Paperback Writer by Quartetto d'Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Guiseppe Verdi

Tilliboyo by Kronos Quartet

Jun 15, 2018
Seymour Hersh Looks Back (extended mix)
48:49

For decades, Seymour Hersh has been an icon of muckraking, investigative reporting: his work exposed such atrocities as the massacre of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai and the torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. He also documented the US's development of chemical weapons in the 60s, CIA domestic spying in the 70s, wrote a highly critical piece on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2015 and did a whole lot more. Hersh speaks with Brooke about his latest book, Reporter: A Memoir, which chronicles his half century of reporting and the various obstacles he's encountered along the way.

We spoke to Hersh in 2008 about his My Lai reporting. Listen here.

We spoke to Hersh in 2015 about his bin Laden reporting. Listen here.

This segment is from our June 8th, 2018 program, "Perps Walk."

Jun 12, 2018
Perps Walk
50:14

Justice for whom? President Trump’s controversial pardoning spree has benefited political allies and nonviolent drug offenders alike. This week, we look at whether the President’s unorthodox use of clemency might not be such a bad thing. Plus, why the Justice Department curbed prosecution of white collar crime, and Seymour Hersh revisits highlights from his storied investigative reporting career.

1. Mark Osler [@Oslerguy], Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, on why President Trump's unorthodox approach to clemency might not be such a bad thing. Listen.

2. Jesse Eisenger [@eisingerj], senior reporter at ProPublica, on why federal prosecutors have adopted such a lenient approach to white collar crime. Listen.

3. Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist, on some of the personal experiences and incredible stories that have defined his half-century-long reporting career. Listen.

 Music:

"Going Home for the First Time" by Alex Wurman

"Tymperturbably Blue" by Duke Ellington

"Let's Face the Music and Dance" by Duke Ellington

"Purple Haze" by Kronos Quartet

 

 

Jun 08, 2018
Hurricane Season
16:43

Puerto Rico was (briefly) back in the news this week when a Harvard study shed more light on many people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The study has a wide range of estimated deaths, but the mid-point is stunning: 4,645 people died as a result of the storm, the researchers found. 

Meanwhile, a judge on the island ruled that the Puerto Rican government has seven days to release death certificates and data related to the death toll of Hurricane Maria. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by CNN and the Puerto Rican-based Center for Investigative Journalism, or CPI. Both organizations have been investigating the death toll following the storm and question the government’s official tally of 64. CPI's estimate is that 1,065 more people than usual died in the weeks after the storm. We take this opportunity to revisit our reporting from the island in the aftermath of that devastating storm.

Hurricane Maria's category-five winds and torrential rain stripped away much of the island's lush vegetation, leaving behind a strange and alien landscape. But more was exposed than barren tree branches. The storm also called attention to, and exacerbated, the island's high poverty rate. Further-flung regions, outside of metropolitan San Juan, found themselves in the spotlight. And longstanding questions of identity and relationship to the mainland U.S. were brought to the fore.

In the three months since Hurricane Maria, those who have remained on the island have faced a choice. They could face Puerto Rico as Maria left it—stripped away of vegetation, infrastructure, and assumptions—and rebuild the island and its society anew. Or they could become acostumbrados: accustomed to a frustrating new normal. 

Alana Casanova-Burgess looks at what the storms have exposed and at a path forward through a thicket of fear, adaptation, and hope, featuring:

  • Benjamin Torres Gotay [@TorresGotay], columnist for the newspaper El Nuevo Día
  • Walter Ronald Gonzalez Gonzalez, director of Art, Culture and Tourism for the region of Utuado
  • Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla], anthropologist at Rutgers University
  • Alfredo Corrasquillo [@alcarrpr], psychoanalyst and expert on leadership at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan
  • Sandra Rodriguez Cotto [@srcsandra], host at WAPA Radio
Jun 06, 2018
Fact Checking #WhereAreTheChildren
15:39

We talk a lot about right wing news outlets picking up out-of-context facts and amplifying them in their outrage machine, so as to infuriate and validate their angry audiences. But this phenomenon is not solely the province of the political right, as we saw last week when two separate stories about immigration policy in the Trump era morphed into one outrage-inspiring tale.

Paige Austin is an immigration lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union. She explains to Bob how liberals came to believe that the Trump administration had torn nearly 1,500 children from their parents' arms, and then lost them — and how this conflation presents potential dangers for the very population that she hopes to defend. 

May 30, 2018
Technical Foul
50:08

Rudy Giuliani has been warning the press that the president may not testify in the Russia investigation, but Trump has signaled otherwise. This week, we untangle the White House’s mixed-up messaging on the Russia investigation. Plus, after reports that companies like Amazon and Google are seeking, or have received, massive contracts with the Pentagon, we take a look at the internet’s forgotten military origins. And, a new book re-imagines major moments in athletics history. 

1. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], legal correspondent at Slate, on Giuliani's claim of a Mueller "perjury trap." Listen.

2. Kate Conger [@kateconger], senior reporter at Gizmodo, on partnerships between tech titans and the US militaryListen.

3. Yasha Levine [@yashalevine], investigative journalist, on the internet's forgotten military originsListen.

4. Mike Pesca [@pescami], host of Slate's The Gist, on his new book, Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports HistoryListen.

May 25, 2018
Glenn Beck Reverses His Reversal
19:27

In November 2016, Bob spoke to Blaze bloviator Glenn Beck to hear about how he was a changed man. More compassionate, a better listener and very opposed to Donald Trump. This weekend, Beck proudly donned a MAGA hat. Why the turnaround? According to Beck, it was in reaction to the media's reaction to something Trump said about immigrants.

So the old Beck is back. But to Bob, he'd been there all along. Enjoy.

May 24, 2018
Africatown
50:33

Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination, a living monument to a lingering past — or whether shadows cast by highway overpasses and gasoline tanks will erase our country's hard-learned lessons. 

Brooke spoke with Deborah G. Plant, editor of a new book by Zora Neale Hurston about a founder of Africatown, Joe Womack, environmental activist and Africatown resident, Vickii Howell, president and CEO of the MOVE Gulf Coast Community Development Corporation, Charles Torrey, research historian for the History Museum of Mobile, and others about the past, present, and future of Africatown, Alabama. 

Songs:

Traditional African Nigerian Music of the Yoruba Tribe
Death Have Mercy by Regina Carter
Sacred Oracle by John Zorn and Bill Frisell
Passing Time by John Renbourn
The Thompson Fields by Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra

May 18, 2018
The Recording of America
9:02

Studs Terkel, born 106 years ago on this date, May 16, spent the majority of his life documenting the lives of others – very often everyday, working-class people he believed were “uncelebrated and unsung.” From coal miners and sharecroppers to gangsters and prostitutes, every American had a story to tell and Terkel wanted to hear it. After Terkel died in 2008, publisher Andre Schiffrin, who edited Terkel's writing for more than four decades, spoke with Bob about Terkel's singular gift for oral history.

May 16, 2018
This Is America
50:56

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So in 2016, we presented "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but by private presumptions, media narratives, and the tales of the American Dream. This week we're revisiting part of that series. 

1. Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], author of "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," on the myriad factors that perpetuate wealth inequality and Jack Frech [@FrechJack], former Athens County Ohio Welfare Director, on how the media's short attention span for covering inequality stymies our discourse around poverty. Listen.

2. Jill Lepore, historian and staff writer for the New Yorker, on the long history of America's beloved "rags to riches" narrative and Natasha Boyer, a Ohio woman whose eviction was initially prevented thanks to a generous surprise from strangers, on the reality of living in poverty and the limitations of "random acts of kindness." Listen.

3. Brooke considers the myth of meritocracy and how it obscures the reality: that one's economic success is more due to luck than motivation. Listen.

“Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.

May 11, 2018
An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country
33:47

Back in the early 1980s, thousands of followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh descended upon a 64,000 acre piece of land in central Oregon to found their utopia. The Rajneeshees had millions of dollars at their disposal and an ideology based on meditation, raising consciousness and free love — one that Bhagwan’s young American and European followers found seemingly irresistible. And one that the local people in the adjacent town of Antelope, Oregon, population 40, saw as an evil threat.

Cult or utopian project? Menace or marvel? Brothers MacLain and Chapman Way, directors of the new Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, leave it to their viewers to decide, presenting the story in a way that illuminates how the conventions of documentary shape our perceptions. In this expanded version of the interview, Bob speaks with the Way brothers about the challenges they faced and choices they made in presenting wildly conflicting narratives about this truly bizarre chapter in Oregonian history.

May 08, 2018
Dark Twisted Fantasy
50:09

After last month’s terrorist attack in Toronto, the media attempted to make sense of the term “incel,” or involuntary celibate. We situate the subculture within the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Plus, a conversation with the directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," about their experience revisiting a forgotten utopian project. And, a look at how the press has responded to repeated attacks from President Trump. 

1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism at New York University, on the media losing the battle for the freedom of the press. Listen.

2. Will Sommer [@willsommer], editor at The Hill and author of Right Richter, on the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Listen.

3. Michael Kimmel [@MichaelS_Kimmel], professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University, on the roots of masculine frustration. Listen.

4. MacLain Way and Chapman Way, directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," on the brief and infamous story of the Rajneesh commune. Listen.

 

May 04, 2018
Mayday, May Day
24:33

International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1st, but it's not a big deal in the United States. In this podcast extra, Brooke speaks to Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the U.S. origin of May Day and how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886 -- and contrary to what you've heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also author of America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1st, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time. 

The OTM crew sings "Into The Streets May First," a never-before-professionally-recorded 1935 Aaron Copland anthem in honor of May Day:

 

May 02, 2018
Dog Whistle
58:58

This week, we explore the ways white Americans — in the voting booth, and on T.V. — deal with a changing society. A new study finds that many white voters supported Donald Trump out of a fear of losing their place in the world. "Roseanne" gets a reboot, and "The Simpsons" reacts poorly under pressure. Plus, a closer look at the company Trump kept and the deals he sought before his presidency, with the hosts of the WNYC podcast "Trump, Inc."

1. Thomas Frank [@thomasfrank_], author of Listen, Liberal, on the economic factors that could lead to a second term of Trump. Listen.

2. Diana Mutz, political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, on the fears and anxieties that motivated Trump voters. Listen.

3. Willa Paskin [@willapaskin], T.V. critic at Slate, on the Roseanne reboot. Listen

4. Hari Kondabolu [@harikondabolu], comedian, on sloppy cultural representation in "The Simpsons." Listen

5. Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritz] and Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaWNYC], reporters at WNYC, and Eric Umansky [@ericuman], deputy managing editor at ProPublica, on the company Trump kept and the business deals he sought before his presidency. Listen

Music:

Puck (feat. Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel & Kenny Wollesen) by John Zorn

Baba O'Riley by The Who

Life on Mars? by Meridian String Quartet

Roseanne Theme Song by Dan Foliart and Howard Pearl

Apu's Theme from The Simpsons: Hit and Run by Marc Baril, Allan Levy, and Jeff Tymoschuk

Here It Comes by Modest Mouse

Cops or Criminals by Howard Shore

Apr 27, 2018
Introducing Nancy: a podcast about all things LGBTQ
24:30

This week we want to introduce you to some friends of ours at WNYC. Nancy is a podcast hosted by best friends Tobin Low and Kathy Tu and its about all things LGBTQ. 

This week’s episode has Kathy solving a mystery on behalf of our WNYC colleague Kai Wright. As a young, black, gay man living in Washington DC around 2000, Kai saw a film called Punks. It was a movie about gay life but it wasn’t just about white people and it wasn’t rooted in tragedy. It was a romantic comedy about men like him – something he’d never seen before. But when he tried to track down the film almost 20 years later, he couldn’t find it anywhere. This episode has Kathy on the case to track down the film, and find out how a piece of media can essentially disappear.

Want to see Punks? Claim tickets now for the one-night-only screening, featuring a Q&A with director Patrik-Ian Polk. You can also join Tobin and Kathy for a special pre-screening reception.

Special thanks to the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC. Original music by Jeremy Bloom with additional music by Ultracat ("Little Happenings"). Theme by Alex Overington.

Support our work! Become a Nancy member today at Nancypodcast.org/donate.

Apr 24, 2018
Moving Beyond the Norm
50:13

Alex Jones built his Infowars brand on conspiratorial thinking and table-pounding rage. This week, we look at the three lawsuits testing whether Jones can sustain his business on lies alone. After the LGBT-rights advocate David Buckel committed suicide in Brooklyn's Prospect Park this past weekend, we review the difficult history of self-immolation and we zoom in on one such incident, in Texas in 2014. Plus, an LSD retrospective, featuring never-before-heard audio from author Ken Kesey's acid-fueled hijinks. 

1. Lyrissa Lidsky [@LidskyLidsky], professor at University of Missouri's School of Law, on the legal threats to Alex Jones' conspiratorial media business. Listen

2. Andrew Poe, professor of political science at Amherst College, on the history of self-immolation. Listen

3. Michael Hall [@mikehalltexas], executive editor at Texas Monthly, on the life and death of pastor Charles Moore. Listen

4. River Donaghey and Tom Wolfe, author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, on the legacy of author and LSD evangelist Ken Kesey. Listen

Music:

Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot

Whispers of Heavenly Death by John Zorn

Unaccompanied Cello Suite No.4 in E-Flat Major by Yo-Yo Ma

Walking by Flashlight by Maria Schneider

Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto D'Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica Di Milano

Apr 20, 2018
The One and Only, Carl Kasell
11:28

This week the venerable Carl Kasell, legendary newscaster and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me scorekeeper, died aged 84, from complications related to Alzheimer's. Brooke sat down with Carl back in 2014 on the occasion of his retirement to commemorate a distinguished, and deeply baritone, public radio career.

 

Apr 18, 2018
Who's In Charge Here?
50:08

After Mark Zuckerberg's two-day testimony before Congress, we consider whether a reckoning for the social media giant might finally be on the horizon. A new documentary looks at how the state of Montana has been fighting back against dark money ever since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and a legal scholar explains the unlikely history of corporations' rights. Plus, a second look at two infamous, misunderstood crimes: the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Steubenville rape case. 

1. Bob on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony this week, with anti-trust expert Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller]. Listen.

2. Kimberly Reed [@_kimreed], filmmaker, on her new documentary, Dark Money. Listen.

3. Adam Winkler [@adamwinkler], professor of law at UCLA, on the history of corporations' legal rightsListen.

4. Melissa Jeltsen [@quasimado], senior reporter at the Huffington Post, on the mistaken narratives that followed the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Listen.

5. Derek L. John [@DerekLJohn], radio producer and reporter, on what internet vigilantes got wrong about the Steubenville rape caseListen.

Apr 13, 2018
Trump Inc.: Trump, the Ex-Lobbyist and 'Chemically Castrated' Frogs
20:27

From our colleagues in the WNYC newsroom who produce Trump Inc.:

This week, we’re doing a couple of  things differently on Trump, Inc. Instead of focusing on President Trump’s businesses, we’re looking more broadly at business interests in the Trump administration. We’re also giving you, our listeners, homework.

Last month, ProPublica published the first comprehensive and searchable database of Trump’s 2,685 political appointees, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. It’s the result of a year spent filing Freedom of Information Act requests, collecting staffing lists and publishing financial disclosure reports.

We’ve found plenty in the documents. We know there are lots of lobbyists now working at agencies they once lobbied (including one involving an herbicide that could affect the sexual development of frogs). We know there are dozens of officials who’ve received ethics waivers from the White House. We know there are “special-government employees” who are working in the private sector and the government at the same time.

But there’s so much more to do. Remember, we have multiple documents for nearly 2,700 appointees. And we need your help. For example, you can help us unmask who is actually behind LLCs listed in officials’ financial disclosures. (A reader did that last year and turned us on to an interesting below-market condo sale the president made to his son, Eric Trump.)  

Here’s step-by-step-instructions on how you can dig in.

You can also contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.

You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.

 

Apr 10, 2018
Paved With Good Intentions
50:15

With a caravan of activists making its way through Mexico, President Trump signed a proclamation to send troops to defend the border. This week we examine that caravan’s unintended consequences, as well as the unintended consequences of a bill, recently passed by Congress, to combat online sex trafficking. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Maybe. Plus, we take a judicious look back at Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. 

1. Carrie Kahn [@ckahn], international correspondent for NPR, Alberto Xicotencatl [@BETTOXICO], director of Saltillo Migrant House, and Alex Mensing [@alex_mensing], organizer for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, on the stories and faulty narratives coming out of Mexico over the past week. Listen.

2. Carolyn Maloney [@RepMaloney], congresswoman from New York's 12th district, Elliot Harmon [@elliotharmon], from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Kate D'Adamo [@KateDAdamo], sex worker rights advocate, on the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which currently awaits President Trump's signature. Listen. 

3. Mychal Denzel Smith [@mychalsmith], writer, on how Martin Luther King Jr.'s masculinity impacts young black Americans todayListen. 

 

Apr 06, 2018
TV News Anchors Speaking From the Heart — Uh, TelePrompter
11:47

Did you see the video that was making the rounds this weekend? It features a seemingly endless parade of Sinclair Broadcast Group TV news anchors — those smiley folks so trusted by their local audiences — speaking from the heart.

OK, not from the heart, necessarily, but from the TelePrompter, all with the same script. The video was put together by Timothy Burke at Deadspin, and to date it’s been viewed over 7.5 million times. And it has put the spotlight back on Sinclair's political activism.

Its 2016 election coverage fawned over Trump and its ongoing White House coverage still does. Meanwhile, Sinclair is in negotiations with the FCC and the Department of Justice over its purchase of Tribune Media, a deal that would expand its reach to 72% of US households, and with it a vast platform — over public airwaves — for its conservative message.

Last summer Bob spoke to Felix Gillette, who profiled Sinclair for Bloomberg News, about the company's focus on profit above all. 

Apr 03, 2018
We, the Liberators
50:00

In March of 2003, U.S.–led coalition forces invaded Iraq, sparking a seemingly endless conflagration that claimed tens of thousands of lives and continues to shape events both international and domestic. Fifteen years later, what have we forgotten? What lessons can we carry forward? And what, if anything, of life in pre-invasion Iraq remains? 

1. Max Fischer [@Max_Fisher], editor and writer at the New York Times, on the ideologies that led the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003Listen. 

2. Deb Amos [@deborahamos], international correspondent for NPR, and John Burnett [@radiobigtex], Southwest correspondent for NPR, on their experiences reporting on the early months of the Iraq WarListen.

3. Sinan Antoon [@sinanantoon], writer and New York University professor, on watching from afar as the Iraq War destroyed his home countryListen.

4. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], political science professor at Brooklyn College, on Americans' flawed historical memoriesListen.

Music:

Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Berotim by John Zorn featuring Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel, and Kenny Wollesen

Long-Ge by Kronos Quartet

Frail As A Breeze, Part 2 by Erik Friedlander

Whispers of Heavenly Death by John Zorn

Purple Haze by Kronos Quartet

Mar 30, 2018
Iraq's Accidental Journalists
18:19

Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the night of “Shock and Awe” exploding across the night sky over Baghdad, the opening salvo in an ongoing war.

It was a deadly conflict to cover and foreign reporters increasingly relied on Iraqis to take the risks on the ground. Back in 2006, Brooke spoke to three Iraqis who were pulled into journalism by a trick of fate and caught up in the wave of correspondents pouring in from the West. Then, we caught up with them years later. 

Mar 28, 2018
Big, If True
50:52

Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users' data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn't be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook.

1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur, on Cambridge Analytica's "psychographic" techniques. Listen.

2. Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of University of Virginia's Center for Media and Citizenship, on past regulatory efforts to reign in Facebook. Listen.

3. Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic, on what he sees as Facebook's war on free will. Listen.

4. Clay Shirky, author, educator and tech writer, on what real change for Facebook might look like and why he is still an optimist when it comes to the internet. Listen.

Music:

Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto D'Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica Di Milano

Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley

Passing Time by John Renbourn

Transparence (Instrumental) by Charlie Haden

Mar 23, 2018
Crowdsourcing Justice: The Truth Behind the Steubenville Rape
15:55

Five years ago, two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio were found responsible in juvenile court for the rape of a 16-year-old girl.  For much of the national media, that was the end of  the story — but for those in Steubenville who lived through it, the truth never caught up to the lies that spread online and the vigilante terror that resulted. A new, three-part audio documentary from Audible examines the case and the danger of crowd-sourcing justice to online activists. Bob spoke to producer Derek John who, along with Anders Kelto, reported the series for Audible’s new podcast, “Gamebreaker.” 

Mar 20, 2018
The Past Is Never Dead
49:39

This week, we look at how selective coverage shapes our view of foreign borders, conflicts and historical figures — from Syria to Winston Churchill. Plus, a conversation with the editor-in-chief of National Geographic about their latest issue unpacking tricky issues of race, starting with the magazine's troubled past.

1. Thalia Beaty [@tkbeaty], reporter for Storyful, on the latest coverage of the war in Syria. 

2. Miranda Bogen [@mbogen], policy analyst at Upturn, on the perilous geopolitics of Google Maps

3. Susan Goldberg [@susanbgoldberg], editor-in-chief of National Geographic, on how the magazine is reckoning with racist coverage in its past. 

4. Madhusree Mukerjee [@Madhusree1984], author of Churchill's Secret War, on the ruthless legacy of Winston Churchill you didn't see in his latest Hollywood treatment. 

Songs:

Psalom by NYYD Quartet and Paul Hillier

Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief by Kronos Quartet

Mazen Dha Nahar El Youm by Abdeslam Khaloufi

Her Averah by Norfolk & Western

Auf Einer Burg by Robert Schumann

Flugufrelsarinn by Kronos Quartet

Mar 16, 2018
Did Farhad "Unplug"?
12:13

Last week we spoke with New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo after he published an article titled, “For two months, I got my news from print newspapers. Here’s what I learned.” He wrote that, earlier this year, "after the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers.” It was a crash diet.  Lots of healthy analog, and just a little digital — podcasts, email newsletters — for dessert.

Farhad found the experience so uplifting and liberating that he was moved to evangelize. He told Bob during their conversation, which you can still listen to, "I boiled it down into three Michael Pollan-esque prescriptions: Get news, not too quick, avoid social."

The only problem was, according to analysis by Dan Mitchell in the Columbia Journalism Review and Joshua Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Lab, Farhad spent most of his 48-day diet sneaking into the fridge. In the time that he was supposedly “unplugged” from Twitter news, he had tweeted hundreds and hundreds of times. Not the crime of the century — but still, oops.

And so Farhad spoke with Bob once more, to explain his rather involved definition of the word "unplugged," and to admit that old habits die hard.

 

 

Mar 13, 2018
Like We Used To Do
45:41

In an age of constant breaking news, it can be hard to tell what matters and what’s just noise. This week, a look at what we’ve learned from recent coverage of the Russia investigation, and what we’ve missed everywhere else — particularly in West Virginia, where a recent teachers' strike made history. Plus, a dive into the complicated history of country music and why we so often get it wrong.

1. Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel], independent investigative reporter, on decontextualized Mueller scooplets. Listen.

2. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and co-host of the podcast Belabored, on the teachers' strike in West Virginia, and Elizabeth Catte [@elizabethcatte], historian and writer, on the news media's narratives regarding Appalachia. Listen.

3. J. Lester Feder [@jlfeder], world correspondent for Buzzfeed News, on the political history of country music. Listen.

4. Nadine Hubbs [@nadinehubbs], author of Rednecks, Queers and Country Music, on our assumptions about the working class. Listen.

**Note: This program originally contained an interview with the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo discussing an experiment in which he got his news only from print journalism and "unplugged from Twitter and other social networks" for two months. That interview was pulled after further reporting revealed that he did no such thing.**

Music:

"Tipico" by Miguel Zenon

"Susan (The Sage)" by The Chico Hamilton Quintet

"Death Have Mercy / Breakaway" by Regina Carter

"Dinner Music for a Pack" of Hungry Cannibals by Raymond Scott

"Okie from Muskogee" by Merle Haggard

"Fightin' Side of Me" by Merle Haggard

"The Pill" by Loretta Lynn

"Watching You" by Rodney Atkins

"Pictures from Life's Other Side" by Hank Williams, Sr.

"Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks

"Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson

"Take This Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck

"F— Aneta Briant" by David Allan Coe

"Irma Jackson" by Merle Haggard

"They Don't Know" by Jason Aldean

"Wild Mountain Thyme" by Buddy Emmons

Mar 09, 2018
Everything You Love Will Burn
30:07

Last week, we put out a special show hosted by The Guardian US’s Lois Beckett, devoted to how reporters should approach the alt-right, and white supremacy, in America, called "Face the Racist Nation."

As a bonus, we're putting out a full interview with one of the voices in that show: Norwegian journalist Vegas Tenold, whose new book, “Everything You Love Will Burn” chronicles his time covering the far right, up close and personal, for close to a decade. Lois talks to Vegas about how he has seen the far right evolve, the mistakes he sees journalists making and his relationship with the co-founder of the racist Traditionalist Worker Party, Matthew Heimbach.

In addition to listening to the full show, make sure to go to our website to check out the special quizzes we made that delve further into the sticky issues in this hour.

Mar 07, 2018
Face the Racist Nation
49:38

For the past year, Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter at The Guardian US, has been showing up at white nationalist rallies, taking their pictures, writing down what they say. And she finds herself thinking: How did we get here? How did her beat as a political reporter come to include interviewing Nazis? And what are the consequences of giving these groups this much coverage?

In this week's program — the culmination of a months-long collaboration between On the Media and The Guardian US — we take a deep dive into what the news media often get wrong about white supremacists, and what those errors expose about the broader challenge of confronting racism in America.

1. Elle Reeve [@elspethreeve], correspondent for VICE News, Anna Merlan [@annamerlan], reporter for Gizmodo Media’s special projects desk, Vegas Tenold [@Vegastenold], journalist and author of Everything You Love Will Burn, and Al Letson [@Al_Letson], host of Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting, on the pitfalls and perils of covering white supremacist groups. 

2. Felix Harcourt [@FelixHistory], professor of history at Austin College and author of "Ku Klux Kulture," on the history of the Ku Klux Klan in the press in the 1920s. 

3. Anna Merlan, Elle Reeve, Al Letson, Gary Younge [@garyyounge], editor-at-large for The Guardian, and Josh Harkinson [@joshharkinson], former senior writer at Mother Jones, on how individual identity impacts reporting on discriminatory movements. 

4. Ibram X. Kendi [@DrIbram], professor of history and international relations at American University and author of "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," on the enduring myths surrounding the perpetuation of racist ideas and whose interests these misconceptions serve.

Songs:

Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Disfarmer Theme by Bill Frisell

I Am Not a Farmer by Bill Frisell

Gone Tomorrow by Lambchop

 


 

One crucial question during the Trump presidency has been whether racist rhetoric has influenced public policy. And so we put together a quiz! Is it just a germ of a garbage idea? Or is it wriggling its way into our laws? Click "Start" below to, you know, start. 

 

And if you're really hoping to lose faith in our historical figures, you're in luck — we made a second quiz! Who said it: An elder statesman? Or a reviled white supremacist? 

Mar 02, 2018
Follow The Money
24:31

The podcast Trump Inc. is a collaboration between WNYC Studios and ProPublica. A team of investigative reporters is examining whether and how the Trump family is profiting from the presidency, and they've organized the show around an "open investigation" so listeners and tipsters can contribute and follow along. We featured the first episode on our podcast feed a few weeks ago, and this week we're checking back with Episode 4. Ilya Marritz of WNYC and Eric Umansky of ProPublica speak with David Farenthold of The Washington Post about what he's been able to learn about President Trump's business dealings, and take calls from listeners with questions about possible profits and motives. 

Feb 28, 2018
Back to the Future
49:39

Since the Parkland school shooting, the student-led #NeverAgain movement has kept gun control in the headlines. This week, we look at how the movement began — and how pro-gun internet trolls have tried to undermine its message. Plus, how the world of Black Panther taps into a long history of black liberation struggles, and why Black History Month, in the Trump era, can feel both righteous and corporate, dignified and farcical. 

1. Emily Witt [@embot], writer and reporter at the New Yorker, on the genesis of the #NeverAgain movement

2. Jason Koebler [@jason_koebler], editor-in-chief at Motherboard, on the "crisis actor" conspiracy

3. Adam Fletcher [@bicyclingfish], co-founder of the Freechild Project, on the history of student-led movements. 

4. Doreen St. Félix [@dstfelix], staff writer at the New Yorker, on the commercialization of Black History Month.

5. Nathan Connolly [@ndbconnolly], history professor at John Hopkins University, on the origins of "Black Panther"'s Wakanda

Songs:

The Glass House - End Title by David Bergeaud

The Stone by The Chieftains

Trance Dance by John Zorn

Smells Like Teen Spirit by The Bad Plus

Rescue Me by Fontella Bass

Mai Nozipo by Kronos Quartet

Feb 23, 2018
Rinse and Repeat

In the wake of the school shooting in Florida we are recycling two interviews that we recorded following two other mass shooting tragedies. The first is about a chapter in the NRA's history that not many people know about. We’ve become accustomed in the past 20 years to seeing the issue of guns in America broken down into two camps: gun control advocates — led by police chiefs and Sarah Brady — and the all-powerful National Rifle Association. In an interview that originally aired after Sandy Hook in 2012, Bob talks to Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America, who says there was a time, relatively recently, in fact, when the NRA supported gun control legislation, and the staunchest defenders of so-called "gun rights" were on the radical left.

The second interview we thought deserved another airing is about the dearth of research into these events. Hours before the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a group of physicians petitioned Congress to end the so-called Dickey Amendment, a nearly twenty-year-old ban that effectively prevents the CDC from researching gun violence. Brooke spoke to Todd Zwillich, acting host of The Takeaway, about the history of the ban and its current political state.

Feb 22, 2018