On the Media

By WNYC Studios

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Subscribers: 6716
Reviews: 24


 Oct 25, 2020
A must-listen for all critical thinkers.

Richard
 Sep 28, 2020

Joel
 Aug 31, 2020
Some episodes are alright but at times they're way too bias. The BBC podcast The Media Show is more impartial.


 Jul 23, 2020
c ci gf gvg

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.

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
You Missed a Spot
50:11

Evidence shows that insurrectionists used the walkie-talkie app Zello to help organize the riot at the capitol. On this week’s On the Media, a look at how the platform has resisted oversight, despite warnings that it was enabling right-wing extremism. Plus, how to sniff out the real corporate boycotts from the PR facades. And, how to build social media that doesn't exploit users for profit. 

1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on Zello's role in last week's insurrection, and what the app is finally doing about its militia members. Listen.

2. Casey Newton [@CaseyNewton], writer for Platformeron why this wave of social media scrubbing might not be such a bad thing. Listen.

3. Siva Vaidhyanathan [@sivavaid], professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, and Americus Reed II [@amreed2], professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, on the true costs of corporate boycotts. Listen.

4. Eli Pariser [@elipariser], co-director of Civic Signals, on how to build digital spaces that do not monetize our social activity or spy on us for profit. Listen.

Music from the show:
Fallen Leaves — Marcos Ciscar
The Hammer of Loss — John Zorn — A Vision in Blakelight
Hard Times — Nashville Sessions — Songs of the Civil War
What’s that Sound? — Michael Andrews
In the Bath — Randy Newman
Boy Moves the Sun — Michael Andrews
Ain’t Misbehavin’ — Hank Jones

Jan 15, 2021
How the School Transmission Conversation Became So Muddled
17:50

Over the past 10 months, debates have raged over how to keep the coronavirus in check. What to open? What to close? Where does the virus spread, and where are we relatively safe? Through it all, one kind of space in particular has been the subject of vigorous debate — and, starting a few months into the virus, a kind of unexpected conventional wisdom emerged: that schools were relatively safe. In the midst of the darkness, it brought some welcome light: kids are safe! They can go to school! While other institutions closed, countries around the world — particularly in Europe and the UK — kept their schools open.

And yet, in response to rising rates and a new, more contagious variant, many of those same countries have since closed their school doors. It turns out that, if you believe the epidemiologists, schools do, in fact, bring risk of transmission. How could we ever have thought otherwise? Rachel Cohen has been covering the debates around school closings and openings, most recently at The Intercept. In this week's podcast extra, she tells Brooke about how the school transmission narrative has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, and how our understanding of the issue came to be so muddled.

Jan 12, 2021
Breaking the Myth
50:11

On this week’s On The Media, journalists struggle to find the words to describe what happened at the capitol on Wednesday. Was it a riot? A mob? An insurrection? Plus, why supporters of the president’s baseless election fraud theories keep invoking the “lost cause” myth of the confederacy. And, taking a second look at "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

1. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] and Bob [@bobosphere] on the events at the Capitol on Wednesday. Listen.

2. Caroline Janney [@CarrieJanney], historian of the Civil War at University of Virginia, on the evolution of the post-Civil War Lost Cause mythology. Listen.

3. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw [@sandylocks], professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, on how post-Civil War appeasement allowed for the perpetuation of white supremacy in the United States. Listen.

4. Jack Hamilton [@jack_hamilton], associate professor of American studies and media studies at the University of Virginia, on the mixed and missed messages in the rock anthem "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
Invitation to a Suicide — John Zorn
Sneaky Adventure — Kevin MacLeod

Glass House/Curtains — David Bergeaud
The Last Bird — Zoe Keating
Lost, Night — Bill Frisell
Using the Apostate Tyrant as His Tool — Kronos Quartet
The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down — The Band
The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down — Richie Havens

Jan 08, 2021
The World, Remade
49:59

With vaccinations underway, we’re edging closer and closer to the end of the pandemic. This week, On The Media looks at how the pandemic has shaped what’s possible for the future — from the built environment to the way we work to the way we learn. 

1. Sam Kling [@SamKling2], American Council of Learned Societies public fellow, on whether cities like New York were bound to become hubs for disease. Listen.

2.  Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts, explains how pandemics of the past have been instrumental in shaping architecture; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet] delineates the social model of disability; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], author of What Can A Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World, describes how the wisdom of people with disabilities can inform the redesign our post-pandemic world. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] tells the story of how distance learning saved his friend's life. Listen.

 

Jan 01, 2021
A Brief History of Timekeeping
19:36

We spend our lives bound to a clock and calendar that tell us what to do and what to expect. But now, millions of Americans are newly jobless, untethered from structure and predictability. Hundreds of of thousands fight a virus that could cut their time on earth dramatically short. And all of us wait out a life-stoppage of unknown duration. And so, we may find ourselves outside of time. Passing it, but no longer marking it. Anthony F. Aveni, professor emeritus of astronomy, anthropology, and Native American studies at Colgate University, says that to understand our current time consciousness, we have to return to a land before time — or at least, time as we know it. Aveni and Bob talk about the history of timekeeping, and how we might find our orientation during this collective time-out.

This is a segment from our April 24th, 2020 program, On Matters of Time and Space.

Dec 30, 2020
What Just Happened?!
51:28
Dec 25, 2020
Unlearning White Jesus
20:22

In a time where monuments are being toppled, institutions and icons reconsidered, we turn to a portrait encountered by every American: "White Jesus." You know, that guy with sandy blond hair and upcast blue eyes. For On the Media, Eloise Blondiau traces the history of how the historically inaccurate image became canon, and why it matters.

In this segment, Eloise talks to Mbiyu Chui, pastor at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit, about unlearning Jesus's whiteness. She also hears from Edward Blum, author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, about how the image came dominate in the U.S., and psychologist Simon Howard on how White Jesus has infiltrated our subconsciouses. Lastly, Eloise speaks to Rev. Kelly Brown Douglaswomanist theologian and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, about the theology of the Black Christ.

This is a segment from our October 1st, 2020 program, God Bless.

Dec 23, 2020
Who Owns the Future?
50:36

Facebook has already been accused of spreading lies and polarizing society. Now, the federal government says it illegally crushed competition. On this week’s On the Media, how to roll back a global power that has transformed our economy and warped our democracy. 

1. Dina Srinivasan [@DinaSrinivasan], author of the 2019 paper, “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” on digital-age interpretations of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Listen.

2. Carole Cadwalladr [@carolecadwalla], journalist for The Guardian and The Observer, on the harms of Facebook unaddressed by both antitrust law and the company's own attempts at self-regulation. Listen

3. Shoshana Zuboff [@shoshanazuboff], professor emeritus at Harvard Business School and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, on the data extraction and human futures markets that comprise much of our economy. Listen

 

Music:

Joeira by Kurup

Capernaum by Khaled Mouzanar

Okami by Nicola Cruz

Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg

Dec 18, 2020
Investigating the Toll of 2-Day Shipping
13:15

 Last year, the investigative podcast Reveal documented an extraordinary number of workplace injuries at Amazon warehouses around the country. It was a huge national story, bigger now because of the soaring reliance of Amazon amid pandemic conditions and with it Amazon's growing impact on the labor market. But the national story was essentially compilation of a hundred-some local stories. If broken out and reported locally, communities can be informed of the collateral damage attendant to new jobs dangled by a commercial colossus. So Reveal -- a product of the Center for Investigative Reporting -- built the “Behind the Smiles Network” enlisting local news organizations to investigate their own Amazon facilities with the help of date supplied to them by Reveal. In this podcast extra, Bob talks with Byard Duncan, Reveal's engagement and collaborations reporter and the liaison between his team's national reporters and the local reporting network.

Dec 16, 2020
Last Wish
50:14

Scientists and policymakers are hopeful about a slate of vaccines, but it may be a long time before everyone has access. This week, On the Media explores the ethical questions around vaccine distribution. Plus, how some pundits are inflating the odds of Donald Trump facing criminal charges. And, how death rituals can help us face our mounting grief.

1. Ankush Khardori, writer and former federal prosecutor, explains why we need to stop speculating about a post-presidency downfall for Trump. Listen.

2. Jordan Kisner [@jordan_kisner], author of "What the Chaos in Hospitals Is Doing to Doctors" for The Atlantic, on the burden of moral decision-making in the pandemic, and how it relates to the vaccine rollout. Listen.

3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM reporter/producer, talks to Brooke about how an article in the Washington Post shook him out of pandemic-induced numbness. Listen.

4. Amy Cunningham [@BrooklynFuneral], death educator and funeral director, on how to repair our relationship with death amid the pandemic. Listen.

Music:

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy/Tchaikovsky — Kevin Mcleod
Anything for Love — Daniel Birch
Quizas Quizas Quizas — Ramon Sole
Cellar Door — Michael Andrews
What’s that Sound — Michael Andrews
Boy Moves the Sun — Michael Andrews
The Beatitudes — Kronos Quartet

Dec 11, 2020
Shifting Baselines
16:51

David Roberts wrote for Vox.com in July, about the mental phenomenon of “shifting baselines,” in which we calibrate our expectations to the world we were born into, irrespective of what came before. And in so doing, he wrote, we unintentionally discount the severity of threats to our well-being. The term first came into fashion in 1995, when fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly observed that each generation of fisheries scientists accepts as a baseline the number of fish and the species composition at the beginning of their careers and uses that baseline to evaluate changes. Roberts spoke with Bob in the summer, about the social science of shifting baselines, generational amnesia and the psychological immune system — and what it all means for how we communicate about climate change.

This is a segment from our July 17th program, “This Is Fine”.

Dec 09, 2020
A Dose Of Reality
50:08

With the pandemic’s second wave in full-swing, two vaccine makers are seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA. This week, On The Media explores how to convince enough Americans to take a coronavirus vaccine so that the country can reach herd immunity. First we look to past vaccine rollouts for lessons, and then to how to identify and reach current skeptics. Plus, how a new voting conspiracy is taking hold on the right. 

1. Michael Kinch [@MichaelKinch], author of Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity, on lessons from vaccines past; and Matt Motta [@Matt_Motta], assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University, explains how to reach vaccine skeptics. Listen.

2. The Rev. Paul Abernathy on his work addressing vaccine skepticism in Black communities, starting by earning trust and recruiting vaccine trial volunteers in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Listen.

3. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], investigative reporter for NBC News, tells Bob about how science quackery transformed into a booming anti-vax industry. Listen.

4. In an essay, Bob explores the baseless Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy, and looks at the bizarre characters who have been embraced by an increasingly desperate right-wing media. Listen.

Dec 04, 2020
"Defund the Police" revisited
12:48

On Wednesday morning, former president Barack Obama appeared on “Snap Original Good Luck America,” which is an interview program on Snapchat — and thus a proper setting to chasten the young. He warned young activists, "I guess you can use a snappy slogan like 'defund the police,' but you know you've lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done." 

When the idea — not slogan — first became audible to the mainstream this summer, some politicians immediately sought to water it down, reinterpreting abolition as just another go at reform. Proponents, though, say that they mean exactly what they say. They also emphasize that the demand to remove money from police departments and redistribute it to improve the social conditions that drive criminality isn't new. In June, Bob spoke with Amna Akbar, law professor at The Ohio State University, about where the demand comes from, and what "abolition" really means.

This interview originally aired as part of our June 12, 2020 program, It’s Going Down.

Dec 03, 2020
No Ado About Much
49:56

With the an apparent second wave of COVID-19 in full force, the media are sounding the alarm on a deadly virus growing out of control. But during the Spanish Flu 100 years ago, the media downplayed the pandemic. On this week's show, a look at how the Spanish Flu vanished from our collective memory. Then, how Shakespeare, a British icon, became an American hero. 

1. John Barry [@johnmbarry], author of The Great Influenza, on how America forgot about the pandemic of 1918. Listen.

2. James Shapiro, author of Shakespeare in a Divided America, on what the Brit's plays teach us about life in the USListen.

Music:
Berceuse in D Flat Major, Op. 57 Chopin - Ivan Moravec
Crows of Homer - Gerry O'Beirne
The Dancing Master: Maiden Lane (John Playford) - The Broadside Band & Jeremy Barlow
John’s Book of Alleged Dances (John Adams) - Kronos Quartet
Fife Feature: Lowland’s Away (Roy Watrous) - Gregory S. Balvanz & The US Army Fife and Drum Corps    
Ballad No. 2 in F, Op. 38 (Chopin) - Ivan Moravec
Little Rose is Gone/Billy in the Lowground - Jim TaylorCollection
Frail As a Breeze - Erik Friedlander
The De Lesseps' Dance - Shakespeare in Love Soundtrack
Kiss Me Kate Overture - Kiss Me Kate Soundtrack
Brush Up Your Shakespeare - Kiss Me Kate Soundtrack
Love & the Rehearsal - Shakespeare in Love Soundtrack
Harpsichord - Four Tet

Nov 27, 2020
Epidemics Show Societies Who They Really Are
14:28

Communicable disease has haunted humanity for all of history. As such, the responses to coronavirus in our midst have a grimly timeless quality. In fact, to one scholar, epidemics are a great lens for peering into the values, temperament, infrastructures and moral structures of the societies they attack. Frank M. Snowden is a professor emeritus of the history of medicine at Yale and author of Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. An epidemic, he writes, “holds a mirror” to the civilization in which it occurs. In this podcast extra, he speaks to Bob about what we can learn about ourselves from the infectious diseases we've faced, from the bubonic plague in the 14th century to the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to COVID-19 today.

This interview originally aired as a segment in our March 6, 2020 program, Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Nov 25, 2020
EXTENDED VERSION The Ancient Heresy That Helps Us Understand QAnon
24:26

EXTENDED VERSION (includes content we had to leave on the cutting room floor to make the interview fit into the broadcast)

It’s been two weeks since Trump lost the election to Biden. But he and his followers are still claiming victory. Jeff Sharlet, who has been covering the election for Vanity Fair, credits two Christian-adjacent ideas for these claims. The first is the so-called “prosperity gospel”: the notion that, among other things, positive thinking can manifest positive consequences. Even electoral victory in the face of electoral loss. But the problem with prosperity gospel, like day-and-date rapture prophecies, is that when its bets don’t pay off, it’s glaringly obvious.

As prosperity thinking loses its edge for Trump, another strain of fringe Christianity — dating back nearly two millennia — is flourishing. Jeff Sharlet says an ancient heresy, Gnosticism, can help us understand the unifying force of pseudo-intellectualism on the right. Sharlet explains how a gnostic emphasis on "hidden" truths has animated QAnon conspiracies and Trump’s base.

This is the extended version of a segment from our November 20th, 2020 program, Believe It Or Not.

Nov 23, 2020
Believe It Or Not
50:07

As the pandemic spreads, officials are imposing new public health policies. On this week’s On the Media, why so many of the new rules contradict what science tells us about the virus. Plus, what a fringe early Christian movement can tell us about QAnon. And, a former White House photographer reflects on covering presidents in the pre-Trump era. 

1. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi], science journalist, on how political leaders have failed to consistently explain the science behind their policies. Listen.

2. Jeff Sharlet [@jeffsharlet], professor of English at Dartmouth College and author of This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers, explains how an ancient heresy serves as a blueprint for right wing conspiracies. Listen.

3. Pete Souza [@petesouza] examines the role of the chief White House photographer. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Chopin — Nocturne for piano in B flat minor
Gotan Project — Vuelvo al Sur
Hans Zimmer/The Da Vinci Code soundtrack — There Has To Be Mysteries
Michael W. Smith — Agnus Dei
Sentimental journey (instrumental)

Nov 20, 2020
Rewatching "Contagion" in a Pandemic
11:32

Back in February we spoke to Pulitzer Prize–winning science writer Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague, in an episode we called "Black Swans". The coronavirus had yet to make landfall in the US but the anxiety was building. After the segment aired, New York Times critic Wesley Morris told us that after he heard the part where Garrett described her role as a consultant on the movie, "Contagion" he felt compelled to rewatch the 2011 thriller. In the film, competency — specifically, within federal government agencies — is the solution to a destructive crisis. This is comforting to watch, like a sort of public health "West Wing." It is also unnerving, and heavy, to watch the thrilling procedural un-spool as people, on- and off-screen, die. Brooke spoke to Morris in March about how for him, it was the pandemic film that most perfectly fit with the current moment — down to Kate Winslet, playing a dogged pathogenic detective, reminding her colleague to stop touching his face. 

 

Nov 18, 2020
Another World Entirely
50:20

With President Trump refusing to accept the results of the election, analysts are asking if he’s trying to wage a coup. On this week’s On the Media, why so many Republicans support the president’s claims, despite the evidence. Don’t miss On the Media, from WNYC Studios.

1. Bob on the latest Trumpian Big Lie, concerning the very foundation of democracy. Listen.

2. Casey Newton [@CaseyNewton], author of the Platformer newsletter, on the surging post-election popularity of the social media platforms Parler and MeWe. Listen.

3. Matthew Sheffield [@mattsheffield], former conservative journalist and host of the Theory Of Change podcast, on why he hopes to "free people" from the very media ecosystem he helped build. Listen.

4. Samanth Subramanian [@Samanth_S], journalist, on the Trump administration's assault on public data. Listen.

 

Music:

Hidden Agenda  - Kevin MacLeod
Slow Pulse Conga - William Pasley
Accentuate the Positive - Syd Dale Double Dozen and Alec Gould
Blues: La dolce vita dei Nobili - Nino Rota

 

Nov 13, 2020
The Pfizer Vaccine Isn't a Home Run Yet
19:49

Pfizer announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine demonstrated more than 90% effectiveness and no serious bad reactions in trial results — an outcome that should enable the company to obtain an emergency authorization soon. Between the vaccine and the unveiling, also on Monday, of a Biden-led coronavirus task force, it seemed like the rare pandemic-era day in which the good news could compete with the tragic. But Pulitzer Prize–winning science writer Laurie Garrett wrote this week in Foreign Policy that even if this vaccine works as advertised, there are still plenty of reasons to worry about much good it can do. In this podcast extra, Garrett tells Brooke about what she views as caveats to the potential breakthrough. 

CORRECTION: This podcast contains an error concerning the timing of testing after the second dose of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate. According to a protocol released by Pfizer, Phase 3 study participants were tested for coronavirus "at least 7 days after receipt of the second dose," [emphasis added]. In this interview, Garrett says, "7 days after [the second dose], [participants] got a COVID test. The results presented are what was found at that seven-day point." Rather, the results announced by Pfizer earlier this month were based on testing conducted at least one week after the second dose. 

We reached out to Garrett for additional comment, and she added this: "All [Pfizer's] protocol required was a single test at the 7 day point. Eventually, Pfizer has extended that to 14 days. Since we don’t have any breakdown on numbers in the only published info — press release — we don’t know what % of the vax recipients were tested at 7 days, 8 days, 12 days…..no idea. So all we CAN say is that they all got a minimum of response time before testing. It’s a glass half full, half empty issue."

Nov 11, 2020
This Is Us
50:24

With Joe Biden approaching victory, Donald Trump and his political allies flooded the internet with conspiracy theories. This week, On the Media examines the misinformation fueling right-wing demonstrations across the country. Plus, why pollsters seemed to get the election wrong — again. And, how the history of the American right presaged the Republican Party's anti-majoritarian turn. 

1. John Mark Hansen, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, explains what exactly it would take to steal a presidential election. Listen.

2. Zeynep Tufecki [@zeynep], associate professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, argues in favor of doing away with election forecasting models. Listen.

3. Rick Perlstein [@rickperlstein], author of Reaganland: America's Right Turn 1976-1980, on the history of anti-majoritarian politics on the American right. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

White Man Sleeps — Kronos Quartet
L’Illusionista — Nino Rota
German Lullaby — The Kiboomers
Frail as a Breeze, Part 2 — Erik Friedlander
Wouldn’t It Be Loverly — Fred Hersh

Nov 06, 2020
Imprecision 2020
23:03

For election night 2020, while cable news had white boards and talking heads, the OTM crew hosted comedians, singers and friends for some great conversation with occasional updates on what was happening in the presidential race. In this podcast extra we highlight one of those conversations.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a writer and fellow at Type Media Center. Brooke spoke to him about his most recent book titled Stakes Is High: After The American Dream which focuses on the perils, for the individual, and the nation of embracing the American myth, better known as the American Dream, the idea that everything is possible for those who work hard. And she asked him what kind of changes the outcome of this election might herald.

To round out the broadcast, Bob and Brooke answered some audience questions...and revisited some of the issues in the conversation they had the day after the 2016 election, Now What? 

Nov 05, 2020
Chaos Reigns
50:13

The past few decades have been a time of deep partisan animosity. On this week’s On The Media, how we might move beyond the current polarization. Plus, how one man’s obsession with organizing the natural world led him down a dark path. 

1. Lilliana Mason [@lilymasonphd], political psychologist at the University of Maryland, on why our political landscape became so polarized, and where we might go from here. Listen.

2. Lulu Miller [@lmillernpr], author of Why Fish Don't Exist and co-host of WNYC's Radiolab, charts the quest of taxonomist David Starr Jordan to categorize the world. Listen.

 

Music:

Songs of War - US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

John’s Book of Alleged Dances - Kronos Quartet

Nocturne for Piano in B flat minor - Chopin

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini

Death Have Mercy/Breakaway - Regina Carter

Oct 30, 2020
The Amazing Randi (just don't call him a magician)
38:09

Famed conjurer, illusionist -- and even more famously exposer of supernatural fraud --  James Randi died last week at his Florida home at the age of 92. Co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry the Amazing Randi tirelessly exposed the deceit behind (as his New York Times obituary summarized): "spoon bending, mind reading, fortunetelling, ghost whispering, water dowsing, faith healing, U.F.O.-spotting and sundry varieties of bamboozlement, bunco, chicanery, flimflam, flummery, humbuggery, mountebankery, pettifoggery and out-and-out quacksalvery."

He’s lauded as a great “debunker,” but he didn’t like that descriptor, preferring “investigator.” And if you didn’t wish to be corrected, it was also wise not to call him a magician. Because “magic” isn’t really magic, is it? 

For The Genius Dialogues (Bob's Audible.com podcast series of interviews with MacArthur Genius Grant laureates) Bob visited the then 87-year-old Randi in Plantation, Florida. Here is that conversation. 

Oct 28, 2020
The Games We Play
52:01

With the election underway, both camps are pushing their “get out the vote” messages. This week, On the Media looks at the origins of the modern presidential campaign, and how livestream technology is transforming the look and feel of voter outreach. Plus, how a mysterious network of fake news sites duped real journalists into creating propaganda. And, the empty, recurring trope of Republicans "distancing" themselves from Trump.

1. Makena Kelly [@kellymakena] explains the rising role of fandom in politics, and how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's event on Twitch this week was a landmark in online organizing. Listen.

2. Greg Mitchell [@GregMitch] and Jill Lepore on how modern methods of seeding lies and hysteria into a campaign can be traced back to a single race in 1934. Listen.

3. Priyanjana Bengani [@acookiecrumbles] on the emergence of "pink slime" news outlets, which take legitimate journalism and use it as a cover for more nefarious goals at home and abroad. Also featuring Pat Morris and Laura Walters [@walterslaura]. Listen.

4. Bob [@Bobosphere] explains why outlets need to stop saying Republicans like Ben Sasse are "breaking" with Trump. Listen.

Oct 23, 2020
OTM presents - Blindspot Ep. 5: The Idea
54:45

For this week's podcast extra, we're once more highlighting the work of our colleague Jim O'Grady and his brilliant podcast "Blindspot: The Road to 9/11." This is episode 5: The Idea.

The World Trade Center was built with soaring expectations. Completed in 1973, its architect, Minoru Yamasaki, hoped the towers would stand as “a representation of man’s belief in humanity” and “world peace.” He even took inspiration from the Great Mosque in the holy city of Mecca with its tall minarets looking down on a sprawling plaza. What he did not expect was that the buildings would become a symbol to some of American imperialism and the strangling grip of global capitalism.

Our story picks up in Manila — January 6th, 1995 — where police respond to an apartment fire and uncover a plot to assassinate the Pope. A suspect gives up his boss in the scheme: Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef has been on the run for two years and has disappeared again. Port Authority Detective Matthew Besheer and FBI Special Agent Frank Pellegrino fly to Manila to follow his trail. They learn that Yousef has a horrifying attack in the works involving bombs on a dozen airplanes, rigged to explode simultaneously. President Bill Clinton grounds all U.S. flights from the Pacific as the era of enhanced airline security begins. Yousef’s plot is foiled. But what it reveals about his intentions is chilling. 

Oct 21, 2020
Emergency Mode
62:08

Premonitions of Election Day violence abound, especially with the growing visibility of extremist militia groups. This week, On The Media looks at a little-known app fueling those groups’ recruitment and organizing. Plus, why skepticism of election forecasts might be a good thing. And, how election coverage has changed (and stagnated) since 2016.

1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], media critic and author of the blog PressThink, on how political journalism needs to switch to an "emergency" setting. Listen.

2. Nate Silver [@NateSilver538], founder and editor-in-chief at FiveThirtyEight, on how his election forecast model has changed (and remained the same) since 2016. Listen.

3. Sam Jackson [@sjacks26], professor at University of Albany, on the debate over "militia member" vs. "domestic terrorist." Listen.

4. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] investigates how a walkie-talkie app called Zello is enabling armed white supremacist groups to gather and recruit. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
Mysterioso — Kronos Quartet
Full Tense — Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet
I Saw The Light — Hank Williams 
I Saw The Light — Hank Williams (reprise)

Oct 16, 2020
Brooke speaks with Lulu Miller about her new book, "Why Fish Don't Exist"
30:48

Earlier this month, Stanford University announced it would rename Jordan Hallnamed for David Starr Jordan, noted natural historian, ichthyologist, and Stanford's founding president back in 1891. Jordan's name is also coming off of several sites at Indiana University, where he also served as president. So who is this long-heralded, lately-demoted David Starr Jordan? He was, among many other things, a great obsession of Lulu Miller, co-host of Radiolab and author of the book, Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life. In this podcast extra, Brooke and Lulu discuss Jordan's history, as well as the author's obsession with him, as a supreme taxonomist who sought determinedly to order the natural world — at least, in part, by finding and naming its fish and later, notoriously, by ranking its people. 

Oct 14, 2020
The Unlucky Many
50:12

GOP Senator Mike Lee tweeted this week that “we are not a democracy.” On this week’s On the Media, why the Republican party’s political future may depend upon anti-democratic — small-’d’ — ideas. Plus, how the good luck of the so-called “silent” generation has shaped the politics of Joe Biden. And, how the bad luck of the millennial generation might shape our collective future.

1. Nicole Hemmer [@pastpunditry], Columbia University research scholar and author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, on the origins and evolution of the "republic, not a democracy" slogan. Listen.

2. Matthew Sitman [@MatthewSitman], associate editor at the Catholic journal Commonweal and co-host of the Know Your Enemy podcast, on the anti-democratic state of the Republican party. Listen.

3. Elwood Carlson, sociology professor at Florida State University, on the "silent generation," members of which comprise much of the governing elite. Listen.

4. Anne Helen Petersen [@annehelen], author of Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, on the downwardly mobile millennial generation. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
Prelude of Light — John Zorn  
Invitation to a Suicide — John Zorn
The Glass House - Curtains — David Bergeaud
Trance Dance — John Zorn
Whistle While You Work — Bunny Berigan And His Orchestra
Young At Heart — Brad Mehldau
The Invisibles — John Zorn

Oct 09, 2020
Trump's War on Critical Race Theory
20:35

The Trump administration issued executive orders last month that ban federal workers from participating in anti-racism trainings. Under the orders, such phrases as “critical race theory” and “white privilege” are verboten during executive branch on-boardings. The White House has previously issued guidance meant to stifle the teaching of negative aspects of American history — spurred, at least in part, by the overwhelmingly racist backlash to the New York Times' 1619 project. In this podcast extra, Bob talks with Georgetown law professor Paul Butler about how the president is using executive authority to curate a culture of white ignorance

Oct 08, 2020
God Bless
50:20

President Trump has once more tried to cast himself as an ally of the Christian right — this time, by nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. This week, On the Media explains how the religious right goes beyond white evangelicals and the persistent allure of persecution narratives in Christianity. Plus, we examine the overlooked religious left. And, we explore how the image of Jesus as a white man was popularized in the 20th century, and why it matters. 

1. Andrew Whitehead [@ndrewwhitehead], professor of sociology at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, explains how Christian nationalism holds the religious right together. Listen.

2. Candida Moss [@candidamoss], professor of theology and religion at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., on how false claims of persecution date back centuries, to the early Christian church. Listen.

3. Jack Jenkins [@jackmjenkins], national reporter at Religion News Service, explains why the religious left is harder to define, and its influence more difficult to measure, than its right-wing counterpart. Listen.

4. OTM reporter Eloise Blondiau [@eloiseblondiau] examines how "White Jesus" came to America, how the image became ubiquitous, and why it matters. Listen.

 

Music from this week's show:

Ave Maria — Pascal Jean and Jean Brenders
Amazing Grace — Robert D. Sands, Jr.
I Got a Right to Sing the Blues — Billy Kyle
What’s That Sound? — Michael Andrews
Wade in the Water — Charlie Haden and Hank Jones
For the Creator — Hildegard von Bingen
Walking by Flashlight — Maria Schneider (The Thompson Fields)

Oct 02, 2020
Covering the Proud Boys, Without Platforming Them
23:44

At the debate between Joe Biden and President Trump in Cleveland this Tuesday, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News gave the president an explicit opportunity to condemn white supremacy and white supremacist organizations. Trump deflected, but when Wallace and Biden prompted him to denounce the Proud Boys — a far-right fraternal organization known for enacting political violence — the president instructed the group members to "stand back and stand by."

The fiasco raises a question the press has been grappling with for the better part of four years: how does one report on a moment like that responsibly? Bob speaks with Dr. Joan Donovan, Research Director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, about how the press can cover the president's remarks without amplifying far-right ideologies.

Oct 01, 2020
The Politicization of the Justice Department Press Shop
18:55

Federal investigations seldom begin with an uproar. Internal rules keep fledgling probes on the down-low, lest evidence — or reputations — be destroyed. Before elections the Justice Department is (historically) especially mum, so as not to influence voters on the basis of mere suspicion. Not lately, however. In this pod extra, Bob talks with writer and former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori about the transformation of a historically circumspect Justice Department press office into a Trump propaganda machine.

Sep 30, 2020
Spheres of Influence
50:32

Conspiracy theories are spreading like wildfire on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This week, On the Media examines the role their slicker sister site Instagram plays in spreading disinformation online. Plus, a look at the "real" Paris Hilton in a new documentary. And, what the world of reality dating shows can teach us about America’s tenuous grasp on the truth.

1. OTM Reporter Leah Feder [@leahfeder] investigates how QAnon has infiltrated and donned the Instagram aesthetic, contributing to a toxic stew known as "conspirituality." Listen.

2. Director Alexandra Dean [@alexhaggiagdean] explains the process of making a new Youtube documentary called This is Paris, which paints a wholly unrecognizable portrait of the mogul. Listen.

3. OTM Producer Xandra Ellin [@xandraellin], tells us what watching reality dating shows has taught her about the truth. Listen.

 

Sep 25, 2020
Better Questions About Amy Coney Barrett's Faith
19:27

As Republicans rush to nominate a judge to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat, Amy Coney Barrett has emerged as a frontrunner. Democrats have plenty to fear about her appointment. But instead of poring over her judicial record, many of Barrett’s critics are making assumptions about how she might preside on the court based on her faith. Newsweek published a piece — now corrected — that claimed Barrett's faith community, called People of Praise, inspired Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Others inferred that when Barrett used the Christian phrase "Kingdom of God" she meant that she favored a theocracy. It’s a replay of sorts of her confirmation hearing for her appeals court seat in 2017. Whether or not Barrett is revealed to be Trump's pick, she will be remembered for inspiring some bad takes on religion.

So what assumptions about religion are distracting journalists? And what better questions should be put to Barrett about her faith and its role in her judicial decision making? In this podcast extra, Brooke speaks to Michael O'Loughlin, national correspondent at America Media, a Catholic news organization, and host of the podcast Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church.

Sep 24, 2020
The Wrong Fires
50:11

As wildfires blaze across the United States, some right-wing politicians and pundits are blaming racial justice protesters. On this week’s On the Media, how to stay focused on the realities of climate change when everything is politicized. Plus, the mistakes we make when we talk about human trafficking. And, the Gamergate playbook is the template for a coordinated attack on Netflix and an indie film on its platform.

1. Dave Karpf [@davekarpf], professor at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs, on the tension between business-as-usual campaign coverage and serious concerns about election integrity. Listen.

2. Kate Knibbs [@Knibbs], senior writer at Wired, on the Cuties controversy. Listen.

3. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], senior enterprise reporter at Huffington Post, on the disastrous effects of misreporting on child trafficking. Listen.

4. Amy Westervelt [@amywestervelt], climate journalist and host of the podcast "Drilled," on wildfire misinformation. Listen.

Sep 18, 2020
Joe Rogan: Debate Moderator?
18:06

Earlier this year we aired a profile of Joe Rogan. The unbelievably popular podcast host was in the headlines because then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had gone on his show — resulting in a kerfuffle in the progressive camp, because of Rogans misogyny and racism. He's back in the headlines again this week after Trump tweeted that he would gladly participate in a debate hosted by Rogan.

The fact that Joe Rogan wields so much influence is itself a kind of a head-scratcher for many coastal media observers. “Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular?” is the title of a profile in The Atlantic by Devin Gordon, a writer who immersed himself in Joe Rogan's podcast and lifestyle to understand his enormous popularity. In this segment, first aired in January, he and Brooke discuss Rogan's complicated appeal. 

Sep 16, 2020
What To Expect When You’re Electing
50:22

Voters looking for a quick resolution this November might have to wait longer than usual to learn who won the presidency. On this week’s On the Media, a look at what we might expect as election night approaches. Plus, lessons on electoral chaos from presidential contests past. And, how QAnon is moving from the web to the streets.

1. Walter Shapiro [@MrWalterShapiro], fellow at the Brennan Center, on why TV news outlets need to be more comfortable with uncertainty on election night. Listen.

2. Renee DiResta [@noUpside], Stanford Internet Observatory research manager, on how social media chaos sown by domestic actors could have disastrous consequences on election night. Listen.

3. Ed Kilgore [@Ed_Kilgore], political columnist at New York Magazine, on the what we can learn from the contentious election of 1876. Listen.

4. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], NBC News investigative reporter, on how QAnon falsehoods are motivating seemingly innocuous protests to "save our children" nationwide. Listen.

 

Music from this week's show:

Sneaky Snitch — Kevin MacLeod
The Builder — Kevin MacLeod
In the Hall of the Mountain King — Kevin MacLeod
Hidden Agenda — Kevin MacLeod
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies — Kevin MacLeod

Sep 11, 2020
OTM presents - Blindspot: The Road to 9/11
61:00

Every now and then we like to feature the work of our colleagues here at our producing station, WNYC. This week we want to introduce you to a new podcast a co-production of HISTORY and WNYC hosted by reporter, Jim O'Grady. Blindspot: Road to 9/11 is an eight part series that uses the voices of U.S. government and intelligence officials, national security experts, reporters, informants, and associates of the terrorists to tell the little-known story of the lead up to the events of September 11th 2001.

This is episode one: The Bullet. The 9/11 attacks were so much more than a bolt from the blue on a crisp September morning. They were more than a decade in the making. The story starts in a Midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom in 1990. Shots ring out and the extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, lies mortally wounded. His assassin, El-Sayyid Nosair, is connected to members of a Brooklyn mosque who are training to fight with Islamic freedom fighters in Afghanistan. NYPD Detective Louis Napoli and FBI Special Agent John Anticev catch the case, and start unraveling a conspiracy that is taking place in plain sight by blending into the tumult of the city. It is animated by an emerging ideology: violent jihad.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts. 

 

Sep 09, 2020
Armed and Dangerous
50:33

Armed right-wingers are stoking violence in cities across the country. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the origins of the American militia movement. Plus, as things heat up, Facebook is fanning the flames. And, in the face of an incendiary headline from the Kenosha News, a digital editor resigns.

1. John Temple [@johntemplebooks], author of Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America’s Patriot Movement, on the evolution of right-wing militias in the United States. Listen.

2. Julia Carrie Wong [@juliacarriew], senior technology reporter for The Guardian, on how Facebook is creating the conditions for violence on the streets. Listen.

3. Daniel Thompson [@olfashionednews], former digital editor for the Kenosha News, on his decision to resign over an editorial stand-off. Listen.

Sep 04, 2020
The Urban Exodus That Wasn't
13:04

As the president continues his verbal assault on America's urban centers, presenting nightmare scenarios of what will happen to the suburbs absent his protection, the story of a pandemic-induced mass migration from cities has proliferated in the media: families fleeing increasingly hellish virus-infested urban wastelands, making their way into the safe, idyllic suburbs where bluebirds sing, kids roam free and there’s a Mattress Firm in every strip mall. 

It all makes so much sense. But it's not true.

Jeff Andrews wrote about this media myth in a recent Curbed article called No, the Pandemic Is Not Emptying Out America’s Cities. In this podcast extra, Andrews joined Bob to dissect the tale of the urban flight that wasn't.  

Sep 02, 2020
Bizarro World
50:16

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed.

1. James Fallows [@JamesFallows] on the contrasting spectacles of this year's virtual Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Listen.

2. Scott Galloway [@profgalloway], professor of marketing at NYU and host of Pivot Podcast, on why so many colleges and universities decided to reopen despite the pandemic, and what it tells us about the future of higher education. Listen.

3. OTM producer/reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] tells the story of how remote learning saved his friend’s life. Listen.

Aug 28, 2020
With #SaveTheChildren Rallies, QAnon Sneaks Into The Offline World
22:29

On Saturday, more than 200 cities from Spokane to Scranton saw modest rallies for a cause so pure, so unifying, that who in their right mind wouldn’t want to join in? "Save the children" was the chant and child trafficking the scourge. But lately it is a movement being hijacked from within, which is just the latest instance of the QAnon conspiracy theory spilling out of its online domain. This we know from reporting by NBC News investigative reporter Brandy Zadrozny, along with reporter Ben Collins. In this podcast extra, Zadrozny explains how these rallies function as "information laundering," and how local journalists have inadvertantly taken part in QAnon's recruitment strategy

Aug 26, 2020
Don't Fall For It
50:13

Recently, the president threatened the post office — and with it, the November elections. On this week's On The Media, a look at how decades of cuts to the mail system led to this emergency. Plus, the “birther” lie reared its ugly head once more — but this time, journalists were ready for it. And, the so-called "rising stars" of the Republican Party.

1. Alex Shephard [@alex_shephard], staff writer at the New Republic, on the conservative tropes often employed by journalists covering the public sector — including the USPS. Listen.

2. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], opinion writer-at-large at the New York Times, on the deluge of information and misinformation unleashed by the post office scandal. Listen.  

3. Mark Joseph Stern [@mjs_DC], staff writer at Slate, on the think tank behind the Kamala Harris "birther" lie. Listen.

4. Eugene Scott [@Eugene_Scott], political reporter at the Washington Post, on how journalists have covered the latest unfounded birther conspiracy, compared with the original one nearly a decade ago. Listen.

5. Alex Pareene [@pareene], staff writer at the New Republic, on far-right fringe candidates finding a serious foothold in the Republican Party. Listen.

 

 

Music from this week's show:

Passing Time - John Renbourn

Cellar Door - Michael Andrews

Turnaround - Ornette Colema

Shoot the Piano Player Player - Georges Delarue

Sleep Talking - Ornette Coleman

Mysterioso - Thelonius Monk/Kronos Quartet

Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews

Aug 21, 2020
The Covid Conspiracy Boom on Facebook
19:24

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has taken a public stance against bogus health claims that discourage people from taking proper precautions against the virus. The company even gave the World Health Organization free advertising to help fight misinformation.

But research from Avaaz, a global non-profit that works to protect democracies from disinformation on social media, shows that global health misinformation accumulated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the past year. The conspiracies circulating on Facebook can be fatal — some of them suggest ingesting poisonous substances, while others tell people not to wear masks or to shun vaccines.

In this podcast extra, Bob talks to Fadi Quran, campaign director at Avaaz, about the "superspreader" pages that are amassing these page views, the most popular health conspiracies on Facebook, and whether there's any hope that Facebook will address the proliferation of disinformation on its site.

Aug 19, 2020
Apocalypse Now
50:12

Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world. **The recording of huia imitation heard in this segment was performed in 1949 by Henare Hāmana and narrated by Robert A. L. Batley at Radio Station 2YA in Aotearoa New Zealand. Julianne Lutz Warren, a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature, has written about it in "Hopes Echo" available here. Her work was also described by Macfarlane in his piece "Generation Anthropocene.” 

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!

Support On the Media by becoming a member today at OntheMedia.org/donate.

Aug 14, 2020
How Close is the End?
15:22

In this episode (which first aired in January), Brooke talks to journalist and devoted amateur historian Dan Carlin, the creator of the podcast, Hardcore History, and the author of a new book The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses about how history treats apocalypse.

Carlin explores what can seem impossible to us: that we might suffer the same fate that all previous eras did.

Aug 12, 2020
"A Kind of Permanent Battle"
49:49

As we approach November’s contentious presidential election, 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. Listen.

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. Listen.

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

This episode originally aired on November 29th, 2019.

Music:

Krzysztof Penderecki - 3 miniature: per clarinetto e pianoforte
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

Aug 07, 2020
Making Sense of 'Cancel Culture'
32:17

There’s a standard way the conversation on "cancel culture" goes: on the one side, male comedians and right-wingers saying cancel culture is out of control, you can't say anything anymore without getting dragged. On the other, progressive think piece writers saying cancel culture is blown way out of proportion, and is really just powerful people finally being held accountable for their actions. But according to YouTuber Natalie Wynn, creator of the channel ContraPoints, neither of these argument is quite correct.

Wynn herself has been canceled. Many times over. For a host of offenses. And it’s given her plenty of time to reflect on all the ways the dominant conversations around cancel culture miss the particular pernicious effects of the phenomenon. In her video, "Canceling," she takes an honest look at her own cancellations and its effects, and outlines a set of principles around cancel culture to help clarify what, exactly, it is — and what it can lead to. In this conversation, Wynn breaks those principles down for Brooke.

This is a longer version of an interview that originally in our January 31st, 2020 program, “Cancel This!”

Aug 05, 2020
Break Your Silence
50:03

Despite defiance from police departments and police unions, efforts to limit police secrecy have notched at least one recent victory. On this week’s On The Media, hear how the public can now view misconduct records that had long been closely guarded by the nation’s largest police force. Plus, how America's most famous cop-whistleblower views the present moment. And, the Black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking.

1. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], deputy managing editor at ProPublica, on never-before-seen New York Police Department misconduct records. Listen.  

2. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project [@GovAcctProj], and Frank Serpico [@SerpicoDet], former New York Police Department detective, on the whistleblower protections necessary in any police reform. Listen.

3. 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.

 

Jul 31, 2020
Why is Trump’s Campaign Suing a Small TV Station in Wisconsin?
29:44

In this week's pod extra, we bring you an episode from Trump, Inc., a podcast from our friends at WNYC Studios, about a new threat to press freedom. This year, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed defamation lawsuits against three of the country’s most prominent news organizations: the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. Then it filed another suit against a somewhat lower-profile news organization: northern Wisconsin’s WJFW-TV, which serves the 134th-largest market in the country. In this piece, Trump, Inc. reporters Meg Cramer and Katherine Sullivan tell the story of the Trump campaign's aggressive and exceedingly expensive legal operation. 

Jul 29, 2020
If You Build It...
50:26

The White House is sending troops into cities with the stated goal of protecting monuments. On this week's On The Media, a look at the clash over memorials going back to the American revolution. Plus, lessons for redesigning our post-pandemic built environment — from the disability rights movement. And, a conversation about the new documentary "Crip Camp" and the history of the disability rights movement.

1. Kirk Savage, professor of history of art and architecture at University of Pittsburgh, on the early origins of American anti-monument sentiment. Listen.

2. Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet]; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], on issues of accessibility and health in design — past, present, and future. Listen.

3. Judy Heumann [@judithheumann], disability rights activist, on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the documentary "Crip Camp." Listen.

Jul 24, 2020
The Lincoln Project Is Sorry About All That
12:28

It’s yet another day in Trump-era America. You know what that means: Another Lincoln Project ad going viral on Twitter, bound for the evening news. The anti-Trump political action committee's ads have been subject of much praise in the areas of the media that are generally skeptical of the president. Those mainstream media milieus have showed precious little skepticism, though, of the project itself. The president’s defenders on Fox have provided some critical coverage, but one of the few examples of such coverage from elsewhere in the televised political media came from a cartoon news show, Tooning Out The News, executive produced by Stephen Colbert. The Lincoln Project also received a sideways glance earlier this month from Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation. In this podcast extra, Jeet and Brooke discuss the Lincoln Project's funding, spending, style, politics, and its co-founders origins in Republican politics. 

Jul 23, 2020
"This is Fine"
50:12

As climate catastrophe marches apace and the nation's public health infrastructure continues to unravel, we take stock of how we got here and what it might be like to look back on this year in the future. Plus, the frightening encroachment of QAnon conspiracy theorists into mainstream politics.

1. David Roberts [@drvox], staff writer at Vox.com, on how "shifting baselines syndrome" clouds our perspective on climate chaos. Listen.

2. Sarah Kliff [@sarahkliff], investigative reporter at the New York Times, on the obstacles to effective sharing of health data, from politics to fax machines. Listen.

3. Anthea M. Hartig [@amhistdirector], director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, on archivists' efforts to document 2020 in real time. Listen.

4. Alex Kaplan [@AlKapDC], senior researcher at Media Matters, on how fringe conspiracy theory QAnon rose to prominence and has consumed segments of the political right. Listen.

Jul 17, 2020
Sorry Not Sorry
27:57

Fox Primetime host Tucker Carlson has already had quite the July. On the plus side, the latest ratings for his show have made him officially the most watched cable news host. On the other side of the ledger, advertisers are fleeing his show on the grounds of not wishing to be associated with lies and hate speech. Oh, also, his head writer Blake Neff, was forced out after his explicitly racist and misogynist social media posts were unmasked online. And now Tucker is off the show for two weeks, as he put it “on a long-planned vacation.” 


The last time Carlson was in the headlines — with the March 2019 resurrection of his very own hate speech — we spoke to writer Lyz Lenz, who wrote a profile of Carlson for CJR. 

Jul 15, 2020
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 the 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 [orangebegum], law professor at The Ohio State University, on the origins of the police abolition 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

**NOTE: In this episode, Bob refers to Jack Dorsey as "interim" CEO of Twitter. He is co-founder and CEO. Bob also refers to "common carriers" in a description of threatened changes to Section 230. "Common carriers" are not relevant to the subject at hand and we regret the errors. The sentence should have read: "Publishers, like the New York Times or Star magazine, can be sued over the content they print, but online platforms from Reddit to Pinterest to Wikipedia have immunity from that through Section 230. Without that protection, Twitter, Facebook and so on would have to either delete much of their content for fear of being sued, or simply stop policing it altogether." For more information on Section 230 can be found in this handy explainer from Verge.

Please see the transcript tab for precise locations about about where those mistakes are in the show.

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
52:00

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 to 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? It's part of the company's brand pivot — one of many that companies have performed in order to keep their goods and services relevant. Another trend? Lots of somber piano music

Despite the fact that most people are stuck at home watching Netflix, advertisers are still vying for their bucks — promising that consumers 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, dubbed "disaster-tising" in her recent 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 economic policies change societies. 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, physician and Harvard Medical School instructor Jeremy Samuel Faust 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 in fact be much lower. Faust analyzes the "unique petri dish" that is the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and explains that, of the 3,711 people on board, at least 705 tested positive for the virus and 6 people have died...indicating 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 increase, 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.

Further reading: "The Wuhan Virus: How To Stay Safe," by Laurie Garrett, published by Foreign Policy on January 25, 2020. Garrett also recommends reading coronavirus coverage and commentary from STAT's Helen Branswell, Science Mag's Jon Cohen and Kai Kupferschmidt, and John Hopkins's Tom Inglesby

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. Stranglehold 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 here. 

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.

Music by Nicola Cruz, Kronos Quartet, and Mark Henry Phillips

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