Podcast

On the Media

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 th...more

Episodes

  • Harm To Ongoing Matter

    Apr 19 2019

    After years of waiting, journalists finally began digging into the redacted version of the Mueller report. On this week’s On the Media, how the special counsel’s findings confirm years of reporting about turmoil within the White House. Plus, what the Notre Dame fire and the Sacklers show us about the dark side of philanthropy, and how the Justice Department stopped prosecuting executives. And, an undercover investigation shines a light on the NRA’s PR machinery.  1. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], dep...more

  • Who Profits When You File Your Taxes?

    Apr 16 2019

    Tax Day is behind us, but the Taxpayer First Act is not. The bipartisan proposal passed the House last week and is now under consideration in the Senate — and one of the provisions is exactly what the for-profit tax preparation industry has been pushing for.  Through an agreement with the IRS, companies like H&R Block and Intuit currently offer free tax filing services to taxpayers making less than $66,000 dollars a year. But only 1.6 percent of taxpayers actually use Free File, and critics ...more

  • Wake Up, Sheeple!

    Apr 12 2019

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London, and now faces prosecution. On this week’s On the Media, a look at what Assange’s arrest may mean for press freedom. Plus, what the new image of a black hole tell us about the power of science in the face of a conspiracy theory minefield. And, a look at a new documentary about former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. 1. Bob [@bobosphere] opines about what Julian Assange's arrest means — and doesn't mean — for the future of press freedom. Liste...more

  • Spy vs. Spy

    Apr 11 2019

    New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz set out to investigate a series of assassinations in Ukraine with low expectations. Reporting on a homicide as a member of the foreign press is daunting enough to begin with. His assignment was formidable beacuse many of the murders were linked to Russia — a government hostile to the media at best and notorious for murdering foreign journalists at worst. But when Schwirtz approached alleged Russian assassin Oleg Smorodinov to question him about a murder, ...more

  • Empire State of Mind

    Apr 05 2019

    Recently, a member of the Trump administration called Puerto Rico “that country,” obscuring once more the relationship between the island colony and the American mainland. In a special hour this week, On the Media examines the history of US imperialism — and why the familiar US map hides the true story of our country. Brooke spends the hour with Northwestern University historian Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States. This is Part 2 of our serie...more

  • Policing the Police

    Apr 02 2019

    California recently passed a law that eliminates some of the barriers to accessing records on egregious police misconduct and deadly use of force. With the floodgates open, journalists, like KPCC investigative reporter Annie Gilbertson, are elated and terrified. Just one police violation can come with hundreds of associated documents for journalists to comb through.  So, instead of fighting tooth and nail for the scoop, over 30 media organizations across the state are teaming up to share resourc...more

  • The End of Magical Thinking

    Mar 29 2019

    With the Mueller investigation complete, talking heads have given the short public summary their usual spin. This week, On the Media looks at why the framing of the report produced so much misunderstanding. Plus, how historical amnesia and old ideas about limitless growth have influenced American psychology and foreign policy.  1. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], writer for Slate and host of the Amicus podcast, on how the summary of Mueller's findings is being spun. Listen. 2. Corey Robin [@Co...more

  • The Opioid Narratives

    Mar 27 2019

    Purdue Pharma has settled a lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million, a larger figure than two other cases the company has settled with other states. In doing so, the company also avoided a televised trial in May at a time when there's been growing public pressure on Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family, amid allegations that they misled the public about the dangers of OxyContin.  Back in 2017, Bob spoke with Barry Meier about how public discourse about chronic pain and treatment...more

  • Hating In Plain Sight

    Mar 22 2019

    In the aftermath of white supremacist attacks in New Zealand, there's a tension between reporting on the shooter's motivations and not amplifying his message. This week, On the Media examines how the press can navigate that persistent dilemma. Plus, the debate over whether online archives of jihadi terrorist propaganda should be open to the public.  1. Joan Donovan [@BostonJoan] describes the way the press has evolved in its responses to far-right terrorism, and argues for continued caution in c...more

  • No Notoriety

    Mar 19 2019

    The details are different but the story is the same. A mass shooting, scores of people dead, another nation traumatized. Although in the aftermath of the events in New Zealand last week there is a wrinkle. In her first speech to parliament since the attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that she will never speak the killer's name and she asked the press and others to follow suit. Ardern said the shooter would not get notoriety, perhaps a nod to the group “No Notoriety” started by Tom T...more

  • The Myth of Meritocracy

    Mar 15 2019

    A college admissions scandal has highlighted what people refer to as "the myth of meritocracy." But actually, meritocracy itself is a myth. This week, On the Media looks at the satirical origins of the word and what they tell us about why the US embraces it. Plus, the messaging for and against Medicare for All, as well as a historical look at why we don't have universal healthcare. And economic historian and Tucker Carlson antagonist Rutger Bregman. 1. John Patrick Leary [@JohnPatLeary], profess...more

  • Tucker Was Tucker All Along

    Mar 13 2019

    To suggest that Tucker Carlson has a tendency to hint at deeply discriminatory tropes would be cliché — but also dead-on. Just this week, thanks to newly unearthed audio released by Media Matters, the Fox News darling ditches his signature dog whistle in exchange for unmistakable and unapologetic hate speech. Who is Tucker Carlson, really? In this week's pod extra, Bob delves into the origins of the now-notorious commentator with Lyz Lenz, a writer for Columbia Journalism Review who profiled Car...more

  • Crossing the Line

    Mar 08 2019

    Mexican officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are using a secret database to target journalists and advocates at the southern border. This week, On the Media speaks with a reporter on the list who was detained for questioning by Mexican authorities. Plus, what the Obama Library’s unique arrangement with the National Archives means for the future of presidential history. And, the grotesque origins of segregation.  1. Mari Payton [@MariNBCSD], reporter at NBC 7 in San Diego, and Kitra C...more

  • The Myth That Fuels the Anti-Vaxx Agenda

    Mar 06 2019

    This Tuesday, lawmakers in Washington heard from an 18-year-old who, against all odds, got his shots. Ethan Lindenberger, who fought with his own mother to get vaccinated, told senators, "for my mother, her love, affection, and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress." That "anti-vaxx" agenda, the dangerous legacy of a thoroughly debunked 1998 study in the British medical journal Lancet, was dealt yet another devastating — though not mortal — blow this week, courte...more

  • Look Back in Anger

    Mar 01 2019

    When President Trump’s former personal lawyer testified in front of Congress this week, it was both captivating and oddly familiar. This week, On the Media looks at the tropes that ran through the hearings, and offers a guide to news consumers trying to understand the tangled threads of the Mueller investigation. Plus, a sideways glance at historical hot takes and a second look at an infamous Nazi rally in the heart of New York City.  1. Bob and Brooke on Michael Cohen's enthralling testimony th...more

  • Longing for Wakanda

    Feb 26 2019

    On Sunday night, Marvel’s Black Panther film won the Oscar for three of its six Academy Award nominations: Ludwig Göransson for Best Original Score, Ruth E. Carter for Best Costume Design and Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart for Best Production design — just a few of the artists who helped bring Wakanda, the Black Panther’s mythical homeland, to life. A persistent site for utopian longing, Wakanda has once more captured the public imagination: endowed with unlimited access to the most precious ...more

  • Twitch and Shout

    Feb 22 2019

    Twitch.tv is a video streaming platform where millions of people broadcast their lives and video game action in real-time. It's like unedited, real, reality TV. This week, On the Media digs into why so many people want to share so much on Twitch, and what it tells us about the future of entertainment. First, a look at a couple of the biggest streamers of the platform, Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, who command devoted audiences and giant paychecks. Then, Bob dives into the inaugural season of the Ove...more

  • When 20,000 Nazis Gathered in New York

    Feb 20 2019

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

  • Bad Reputation

    Feb 15 2019

    The 2020 Democratic field is the most diverse ever, and five women are running to be the party’s presidential nominee. This week, we look at the sexist coverage of female candidates with a new Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Gender and Politics Edition. Then, a re-examination of a 90's tabloid spectacle, Lorena Gallo (Lorena Bobbitt), arrested for cutting her husband's penis off after he raped her. Plus, how Black History Month undermines black history.  1. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], ...more

  • A Century of Free Speech

    Feb 13 2019

    For this week's pod extra, we feature a conversation from WNYC'S Brian Lehrer Show. Brian talked with Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone, editors of The Free Speech Century, a collection of essays by leading scholars, marking 100 years since the Supreme Court issued the three decisions that established the modern notion of free speech. Whether it’s fake news or money in politics, we’re still arguing over the First Amendment, and th...more

  • The World's Biggest Problem

    Feb 08 2019

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

  • The Too-Good-To-Be-True Cancer Cure

    Feb 04 2019

    Despite steadily declining rates of cancer deaths over the past two decades, cancer remains responsible for 1 in every 6 deaths worldwide. It’s a scourge. So when, this week, an Israeli company called Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies captured the news cycle with promises of a complete cure for cancer within the year, the story caught fire. The company’s technology is called “MuTaTo” — that's multi-target toxin. And, to judge from the news media this week, it seems vetted, verified and veeri...more

  • Misery in the Name of Liberty

    Feb 01 2019

    The Venezuelan press has been facing repression for years. This week, On the Media explores how journalists in the country are struggling to cover the standoff between two men who claim to be president. Also, how both the history of American interventionism and the legacy of Simón Bolívar color coverage of Venezuela. Plus, a critical look at the images coming out of Chinese internment camps. 1. Mariana Zuñiga [@marazuniga], freelance reporter based in Caracas, on her experience covering Venezuel...more

  • A Tell-All Memoir And An NDA

    Jan 30 2019

    This week, the latest tell-all memoir from a former White House staffer hit bookstores. Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House is by Cliff Sims — who was, depending on who you ask, either key player as Director of Message Strategy or, as Trump tweeted this week, “nothing more than a gofer.” The book, of course, is a landfill of trash and dirt on his former colleagues. And even as Sims toured the morning shows, the late shows and the everything-else shows to hawk his b...more

  • Close Encounters

    Jan 25 2019

    The Lincoln Memorial debacle showed how vulnerable the press are to a myriad of social and political forces. This week, we examine how the outrage unfolded and what role MAGA hat symbolism might have played. And, a graphic photo in the New York Times spurs criticism. Plus, a reality show that attempts to bridge the gap between indigenous people and white Canadians.  1. Bob's thoughts on where the Lincoln Memorial episode has left us. Listen. 2. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], tech writer, on the zig-...more

  • Rethinking MLK Day

    Jan 22 2019

    When he was still in his twenties, Martin Luther King Jr. was, among other things, an advice columnist for Ebony magazine. Writer Mychal Denzel Smith studied those columns for an article this week in The Atlantic, and he found that readers asked the civil rights leader about everything from race relations to marriage problems. In some instances Dr. King was surprisingly unorthodox — the preacher's thoughts on birth control are particularly eloquent — and in others, his advice was less than sage....more

  • The Giant Referendum On Everything

    Jan 18 2019

    For the past month, journalists have been reporting on the anxieties of furloughed federal workers. This week, On the Media learns that many reporters face a new threat to their own job security. Plus, an on-screen dramatization of Brexit, and a likely sea-change in Youtube's rankings.  1. Dave Krieger [@DaveKrieger], former editorial page director of the Boulder Daily Camera, on the latest newspaper target of vulture capitalism. Listen. 2. James Graham [@mrJamesGraham], screenwriter of "Brexit,...more

  • That time Brooke met Rosanne Cash

    Jan 15 2019

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

  • Everything Is Fake

    Jan 11 2019

    On Thursday, President Trump flew down to McAllen, Texas to push his pro-wall, anti-immigrant narrative. This week, On the Media examines how the community tells a more welcoming story about the border — and a dogged presidential fact-checker joins us to pick apart the Oval Office address. Plus, how some progressives used Russian election interference tactics against a right-wing senate campaign. Also, is everything online fake?  1. Lorenzo Zazueta [@lorenzozazueta], immigration reporter for The...more

  • 10 Things That Scare Jeff VandeMeer

    Jan 09 2019

    Is it too ordinary to be afraid of your cat dying? Jeff VanderMeer is an author based in Tallahassee, Florida. This week he is the featured guest on the podcast "10 things that scare me: a tiny podcast about our biggest fears," produced by WNYC Studios. We spoke to Jeff a year ago about the impending climate change disaster for a show we called Apocalypse, Now. His award-winning Southern Reach trilogy has been published in over 35 languages.  Join the 10 Things That Scare Me conversation, and t...more

  • Africatown

    Jan 04 2019

    Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination, a liv...more

  • Remembering Joe Frank

    Jan 02 2019

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

  • The Worst Thing We've Ever Done

    Dec 28 2018

    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 Eq...more

  • 10 Things That Scare Brooke

    Dec 25 2018

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

  • The Seen and the Unseen

    Dec 21 2018

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

  • What We Learned — And Didn't Learn — From the Pentagon Papers

    Dec 19 2018

    In 1971, federal investigators convened two grand juries to investigate, among other things, the publishing, by major newspapers, of thousands of pages of secret government documents reviewing the history from 1945 on, of the still ongoing war in Vietnam.  The Pentagon Papers' consequences were vast — including that historic effort by the federal government to investigate — under the Espionage Act — staffers at the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe. As tends to be the cas...more

  • Plague of Suspicion

    Dec 14 2018

    It’s been 100 years since one of the deadliest diseases... well, ever. The 1918-1919 flu pandemic (usually and mistakenly called the “Spanish Flu”) infected roughly a third of the world’s population and killed somewhere on the order of 50-100 million people, leaving no corner of the world untouched. It came just as the world was beginning its recovery from the other global catastrophe of the time — the First World War. The pandemic is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten Plague” because the e...more

  • Three Years for Michael Cohen

    Dec 12 2018

    Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for financial crimes and for lying to Congress. In rendering the sentence,  Judge William H. Pauley said Cohen’s crimes — among them, tax evasion and campaign finance violations — were “motivated by personal greed and ambition.” The case has implications for Trump himself; Judge Pauley noted at the sentencing that Cohen's campaign finance crimes were designed to affect the outcome of the election. Bu...more

  • How Quickly We Forget

    Dec 07 2018

    The death of George H.W. Bush brought us a week’s worth of ceremony, eulogy and wall-to-wall coverage. This week, a look at the choices journalists made when they set out to memorialize the president. And, immigration stories in our media focus on the U.S.–Mexico border — but what about immigration elsewhere in Latin America? Is there a journalistic solution to the scale of global immigration? Plus, a baseball metaphor and a bit of forgotten Hanukkah history. 1. Anne Helen Petersen [@annehelen],...more

  • The Centuries-Old Practice of "Slaying Lewks"

    Dec 05 2018

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

  • Laugh Until You Cry

    Nov 30 2018

    The White House tried to bury a devastating climate assessment on Black Friday; this week, On the Media documents how TV talk shows gave climate change deniers a platform to spin the report for their own ends. We look back on Fox News' coming-of-age under Roger Ailes and we consider what comes next for the company amidst pressure, transition and unprecedented proximity to power. Plus, a pro-migration video goes viral in Honduras for all the wrong reasons. 1. Lisa Hymas [@lisahymas], director of ...more

  • The Long History of Ignoring Climate Scientists

    Nov 28 2018

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

  • Whose Streets?

    Nov 23 2018

    The message from Silicon Valley seems to be that self-driving cars are the way of the future. This week, On the Media considers the history behind the present-day salesmanship. Plus, why transit rights mean much more than point-A-to-point-B mobility. Also, a new opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs.  1. Angie Schmitt [@schmangee], national reporter at Streetsblog, on the "heartwarming" stories of Americans who walk miles and miles to work. Listen. 2. Peter Norton, professor of history at Uni...more

  • The Civil War, One Day at a Time

    Nov 19 2018

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

  • Do Not Pass Go

    Nov 16 2018

    Over a week after the midterms, there's uncertainty in key races in Florida and Georgia. We examine the pervasive conspiracy theories around vote counting. Plus, Amazon has concluded their infamous HQ2 search. At the time, it seemed like a reality show contest. What did it cost the participants? Also, how Amazon fits into a history of anti-trust attitudes in the U.S. And, a look back at a time when capitalism squared off against Jim Crow — and won.  1. Will Sommer [@willsommer] digs into the con...more

  • The Stories Fires Tell

    Nov 13 2018

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

  • We're Not Very Good At This

    Nov 09 2018

    America’s divisions are all the more clear after another frenzied news cycle. This week, we ask a historian and a data scientist whether we humans are capable of governing ourselves. Plus, the post-midterm prognosis on climate change, and how our media have often complicated our country’s founding spirit of self-reflection. 1. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] looks at the Shepard tone of anti-democratic news developments over the past week. Listen. 2. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], contributing writer at the I...more

  • Why We're So Polarized

    Nov 06 2018

    Last week on our show, Bob spoke with Lilliana Mason, a University of Maryland political psychologist and author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, about the reasons behind the tribalism and enmity that characterize our politics. The conversation covered a lot of ground, and much of it — including the political decisions that have shaped the two major parties over the past 50 years, as well as the distinct ways that Republicans and Democrats deploy partisan rage — didn’t ma...more

  • The Others

    Nov 02 2018

    After a week of hate-fueled attacks, we examine the "dotted line" from incitement to violence. We dig deep into tribalism and how it widens the gulf between Republicans and Democrats. Plus, the history of antisemitic propaganda and how it inspires modern-day violence. Also, why is the GOP running against California in midterm races around the country?  1. A look at the possible connections between hateful rhetoric and violent acts, with law professor Garrett Epps [@Profepps], historian Michael B...more

  • Gab is Back in the Headlines and Off the Web

    Oct 30 2018

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

  • Knock, Knock

    Oct 26 2018

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

  • West Virginia's "Genius" Watchdog

    Oct 24 2018

    Nearly two years since the 2016 Presidential Election, much of the press are still covering so-called "Trump country" using a series of simplistic narratives, blaming these states for Trump and portraying them as irrevocably scarred by the decline of the coal industry. That doesn't mean there aren't real problems surrounding the fossil fuel industry. Ken Ward Jr. is a reporter at West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette-Mail, where since 1991 he’s been covering the coal, chemical and natural gas indus...more

  • Bloodlines

    Oct 19 2018

    In using a genetic test to try to prove her Native ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren inadvertently stepped into a quagmire. This week, we examine the tensions around DNA and identity. Plus, after Jamal Khashoggi’s death, revisiting the trope of the so-called reformist Saudi royal. And, a look at what we can learn — and how we've tried to learn it — from twins, triplets and other multiple births. 1. Abdullah Al-Arian, [@anhistorian] professor of Middle East History at Georgetown University, on t...more

  • The Radical Catalog

    Oct 18 2018

    Another chapter in the history of American consumerism came to a close this week when the retail giant Sears announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing 142 of its unprofitable stores. As experts sifted through the details about what doomed Sears, we found ourselves reading a Twitter thread about a little-known bit of shopping history. Louis Hyman is an economic historian and professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He tweeted: "In my history of consumpt...more

  • Full Faith & Credit

    Oct 12 2018

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

  • Reimagining History

    Oct 10 2018

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

  • The Victimhood

    Oct 05 2018

    On Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged his sharp tone in recent hearings. This week, we examine the anger and resentment driving the #MeToo backlash. Plus, a deep dive into into our flawed narratives about Native American history, and a close look at the role problematic fantasies about indigenous people play in German culture. 1. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the purposeful role of male anger in the Kavanaugh nom...more

  • Trump, Inc.: The Business of Silence

    Oct 03 2018

    President Donald Trump has had many roles in his life: Real estate scion, reality show star, Oval Office holder. But through it all, one thing has remained consistent. He tries to control what information becomes public about himself and his business. In the latest episode of Trump, Inc., a WNYC collaboration with ProPublica, our colleagues look at the ways Trump has tried to buy and enforce silence — and how it matters more than ever now that he’s president. They talk to The New Yorker’s Ronan ...more

  • What Goes Around, Comes Around?

    Sep 28 2018

    The Kavanaugh-Ford hearings this week felt like a watershed moment — but it’s not yet clear what long-term impact they’ll have. This week, we examine some of the policies that could be affected by the Supreme Court if Kavanaugh is confirmed, including dark money disclosure and voting rights. Plus, a moment of zen during trying times.  1. Brooke on this week's Kavanaugh-Ford hearings. Listen.  2. Carol Anderson [@ProfCAnderson], professor of history at Emory University, on how voter suppression i...more

  • It's Time for Justice

    Sep 26 2018

    On Tuesday, nearly four years since a viral comedy routine helped usher a long list of rape and sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby into the fore, the once-beloved artist was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison. Years before Cosby's predatory behavior became public knowledge, rumors circulated in Hollywood and privileged circles, well within earshot of journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. But, in a 2008 profile of Cosby for The Atlantic, Coates merely mentioned some of the sexual ...more

  • Make Amends

    Sep 21 2018

    Senators are weighing serious allegations of attempted rape as they consider Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, McDonald's employees in ten cities went on strike to bring attention to sexual harassment at the fast food chain. This week, we look at the ripples from the #MeToo movement and how much further they have to go.  1. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's expected testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has echoes of Anita Hill's testimony against Clarence...more

  • An Obit, This Time For Real

    Sep 18 2018

    This past week’s coverage of Hurricane Florence has had all the trappings of a terrible storm: the satellite images, the sandbags and empty grocery stores, the newscasters dressed in flood gear.  One recurring side character we seem to have avoided this time around, though, is the doctored image of a shark swimming on a flooded highway. It’s a preposterous hoax that succeeds, occasionally, on the merits of some kernel of truth; for instance, whole swathes of interstate highway in North Carolina ...more

  • Doomed to Repeat

    Sep 14 2018

    The anniversary of a disaster gives us a moment to reflect on whether we have learned the right lessons — or any at all. This week, we examine the narratives that have solidified ten years after the financial crisis, and one year after Hurricane Maria.  1. Political anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla] on how we can focus our attention on Puerto Rico's structural challenges even as the president spouts falsities about the "unsung success" of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. L...more

  • FEMA Time

    Sep 12 2018

    On Wednesday, as Florence swirled ominously off the coast of the Carolinas, and states prepared for imminent disaster, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) thought it would be a good time to draw everyone’s attention to the shifting priorities of this administration. Specifically, he released a budget that showed the Department of Homeland Security had transferred nearly 10 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for detention and removal...more

  • O See, Can You Say

    Sep 07 2018

    Between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill and an anonymous op-ed from within the Trump White House, a wave of rule-bending and -breaking has crashed on Washington. This week, we explore how political decorum and popular dissent have evolved since the early days of our republic — and how the legal protections for those core freedoms could transform our future. 1. Brooke and Bob on how best to cover the anonymous op/ed written by a "senior official in the Trump administration." L...more

  • CNN's Lanny Davis Problem

    Sep 05 2018

    Six weeks ago, CNN broke a blockbuster story: According to several anonymous sources, President Trump had advance knowledge of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. It was a potential smoking gun, until one of those sources — Lanny Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen — recanted. Beyond that headache for CNN, there was another. The original article had claimed, "Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen's attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment." Depending on how you understand the word "comment," and dependi...more

  • Summer Series Episode 4: Tectonic Edition

    Aug 29 2018

    After an earthquake struck Nepal in April of 2015, the post-disaster media coverage followed a trajectory we'd seen repeated after other earth-shaking events. We put together a template to help a discerning news consumer look for the real story. It's our Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Tectonic Edition. Brooke spoke to Jonathan M. Katz, who wrote "How Not to Report on an Earthquake" for the New York Times Magazine. 

  • Fallout

    Aug 24 2018

    End-of-times narratives themselves are nothing new; only the means have changed. While once a few horsemen and a river of blood were enough to signal the dusk of man, apocalypse now requires the imaginations of entire atomic laboratories — or roving squads of special effects crews. This week we look through a few recent highlights from the genre: from a 1980's made-for-TV spectacle, to a new piece of speculative fiction documenting a hypothetical nuclear conflict with North Korea. 1. Jeffrey Lew...more

  • Summer Series Episode 3: Airline Crash Edition

    Aug 22 2018

    When a commercial plane goes down, media speculation ensues. With the help of The Atlantic's James Fallows, we give you some tips that can help you comb through the coverage.

  • Twitch And Shout

    Aug 17 2018

    Twitch.tv is a video streaming platform where tens of thousands people broadcast their lives and video game game-play in real-time. It's like unedited, real, reality TV. This week, On the Media digs into why so many people want to share so much on Twitch, and why the site draws more than 15 million viewers. First, a look at a couple of the biggest streamers of the platform, Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, who command devoted audiences and giant paychecks. Then, Bob dives into the inaugural season of t...more

  • Summer Series Episode 2: Military Coup Edition

    Aug 15 2018

    Back in the summer of 2016, as Turkish putschists shut down highways, attacked government buildings and took broadcasters hostage, world media outlets struggled to provide sober reports of the coup. During the chaos, some listeners told us on Twitter that they’d appreciate an On the Media Breaking News Consumers Handbook coup edition. Coups are especially tricky to report on because they're mainly about perception and narrative. Plotters and the government are both trying to establish dominance,...more

  • Planet Fire

    Aug 10 2018

    People like neo-nazi Andrew Anglin and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have long tested the limits of permissible speech. On this week’s On the Media, hear from a lawyer who defends the First Amendment rights of society’s worst actors. Plus, a lawyer suing in defense of government transparency, a fire historian weighs in on the coverage of the California wildfires, and a Texas journalist who has reported on hundreds of executions. 1. Marc Randazza [@marcorandazza], first amendment lawyer, on Ale...more

  • Summer Series Episode 1: US Storm Edition

    Aug 08 2018

    For media professionals, hurricanes offer the very best kind of bad news, because the story arc is predictable, and invariably compelling. In the latest edition of our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbooks, we examine the myths, misleading language, and tired media narratives that clog up news coverage at a time when clarity can be a matter of life and death. Brooke speaks with Dr. Robert Holmes, National Flood Hazard Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey; Gina Eosco, a risk communication cons...more

  • Enemy of the People

    Aug 03 2018

    At a rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump supporters attacked CNN reporter Jim Acosta, prompting the president to double down on his anti-press "Enemy of the People" rhetoric. A look at how and why the president incites his base — and where it all might lead. And, as the regulatory battle surrounding 3D gun blueprints rages on, we dive into the worldview of Cody Wilson, the man who started the controversy. Plus, why we’re still living in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s killing, six years later. 1. G...more

  • Journalism To The Rescue

    Aug 02 2018

    This summer, in a project designed by ProPublica, 10 news organizations are sharing information to flesh out the hidden details of families separated by the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. Bob speaks with Selymar Colón, digital managing editor at Univision News, one of the organizations involved in the collaboration, about how the consortium has investigated and reported on some of the 200 tips it has received —and about the four families that were reunited after their ...more

  • The Center Folds

    Jul 27 2018

    Socialism is having a moment in the sunlight — that is, on daytime television. Yet at the same time that the left earns a closer look from political pundits, Democrats and Republicans still fail to understand each other with nuance. Plus, after newspaper layoffs and a White House lockout this week, we assess the press’s appetite for solidarity.  1. Nathan Robinson [@NathanJRobinson], editor-in-chief at Current Affairs, on socialism's renewed place in mainstream political discourse. Listen. 2. Pe...more

  • On the Media presents Episode 1 of The Realness

    Jul 25 2018

    This week On the Media recommends a new podcast from our colleagues at WNYC. Check it out. Prodigy and Havoc begin laying down rhymes together in high school. When their first album flops, they come up with a new sound that's directly influenced by P's sickle cell, and it helps define a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell attack he’ll never forget.  LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive.  WNYC’s health covera...more

  • Blah Blah Blah... BANG

    Jul 20 2018

    In a matter of months, we've moved from bipartisan immigration talks to calls to abolish ICE. On this week’s On the Media, a look at how leftists are employing a right-wing communications strategy in order to change the national debate. Plus, thirty years into the conversation on global warming, what have we really learned? And in the days following the Trump-Putin summit, what did we miss?  1. Brooke on this week's coverage of the Trump-Putin summit, and on a new metaphor for the Trump era: the...more

  • I Can't Breathe

    Jul 17 2018

    Four years ago this week, on July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island at the hands of a New York City police officer. We probably wouldn't have known if it hadn't been for a cellphone video that captured his arrest, the excessive force that killed him, and his final words. The national media couldn’t look away, until they did look away. Matt Taibbi is a journalist and author of the book, I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street, an exploration of Eric Garner’s life and death in the media...more

  • Russian Dressing On Everything

    Jul 13 2018

    Reporting on the Russia investigation is not for the faint of heart. This week, a look at how a journalist became entangled in the investigation when she turned her source over to the FBI. Plus, how another reporter avoided common journalistic mistakes during the Iraq War and a conversation with the director of the new documentary The Other Side of Everything about the end of Yugoslavia. 1. Tom Nichols [@RadioFreeTom], professor of national security at the Naval War College, on separating the si...more

  • Big Sky, Dark Money

    Jul 10 2018

    With President Trump's nomination of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court will likely be locked up by the political right for a generation. This is in large part thanks to a historic decision made in 2010 by the court’s then-shakier conservative majority: the Citizens United ruling, which fundamentally reshaped the political landscape of the United States by unleashing floods of political spending, particularly in the form of untraceable "dark money."  For the state of Montana, the p...more

  • Blame It On The Alcohol

    Jul 06 2018

    This week, we devote an entire hour to what one important scholar deemed “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” From its earliest role as a source of nourishment to its depictions in ancient literature, we examine the roots of mankind’s everlasting drinking problems. Plus, how a bizarre 60 Minutes piece spread the idea that red wine has medicinal effects. Then, a look at how popular culture has incorrectly framed Alcoholics Anonymous as the best and only option for addiction reco...more

  • Polite Oppression

    Jun 29 2018

    Following a string of landmark Supreme Court rulings and a surprise retirement, this week On the Media examines the conservative culture on the bench and wonders what we can expect from the court going forward. Plus, is civility really dead or only sleeping? And what is the view from small-town America? 1. Adam Serwer [@AdamSerwer], senior editor at The Atlantic, on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Trump administration's travel ban decision. Listen. 2. Teresa Bejan [@tmbejan], professo...more

  • A Guide To SCOTUS News

    Jun 28 2018

    There’s a reason why Supreme Court reporters know to never to take a vacation in June. The end of this season’s term brought us a head-spinning drumbeat of huge 5-4 decisions, from upholding the Muslim travel ban to dealing a huge blow to organized labor to siding with anti-abortion pregnancy centers.  Understanding the Supreme Court is difficult for myriad reasons. So, with the expertise of seasoned SCOTUS reporters, in 2015 we put together a handy guide for the discerning news consumer to make...more

  • Chaos Agents

    Jun 22 2018

    Family separation, a re-framed immigration debate and Trump's misleading executive order: why news fatigue about the border isn’t an option. This week, we explore multiple sides of the asylum policy — including the view from Central America. Plus, a look back at US repatriation policy in the 1930's, and six decades of American culture wars.  1. Dara Lind [@DLind] and Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick] on how Trump's family separation policy attempts to re-frame the immigration debate, and why new...more

  • The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes

    Jun 19 2018

    In 2014, Fortune magazine ran a cover story featuring Elizabeth Holmes: a blonde woman wearing a black turtleneck, staring deadpan at the camera, with the headline, “This CEO’s out for blood.” A decade earlier, Holmes had founded Theranos, a company promising to “revolutionize” the blood testing industry, initially using a microfluidics approach — moving from deep vein draws to a single drop of blood. It promised easier, cheaper, more accessible lab tests — and a revolutionized healthcare experi...more

  • Using My Religion

    Jun 15 2018

    More than two thousand reporters went to Singapore to cover the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. This week, we examine how so much coverage can lead to so little understanding. Plus, at long last, Justin Trudeau is subjected to media scrutiny in the US. And, the latest threat to American newspapers, the trouble with a new bill meant to battle anti-Semitism, and Jeff Session's fraught theology. 1. Noah Bierman [@Noahbierman], White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, on...more

  • Seymour Hersh Looks Back (extended mix)

    Jun 12 2018

    For decades, Seymour Hersh has been an icon of muckraking, investigative reporting: his work exposed such atrocities as the massacre of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai and the torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. He also documented the US's development of chemical weapons in the 60s, CIA domestic spying in the 70s, wrote a highly critical piece on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2015 and did a whole lot more. Hersh speaks with Brooke about his latest book, Reporter: A Memoir, which chronicles...more

  • Perps Walk

    Jun 08 2018

    Justice for whom? President Trump’s controversial pardoning spree has benefited political allies and nonviolent drug offenders alike. This week, we look at whether the President’s unorthodox use of clemency might not be such a bad thing. Plus, why the Justice Department curbed prosecution of white collar crime, and Seymour Hersh revisits highlights from his storied investigative reporting career. 1. Mark Osler [@Oslerguy], Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, on why President Trump'...more

  • Hurricane Season

    Jun 06 2018

    Puerto Rico was (briefly) back in the news this week when a Harvard study shed more light on many people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The study has a wide range of estimated deaths, but the mid-point is stunning: 4,645 people died as a result of the storm, the researchers found.  Meanwhile, a judge on the island ruled that the Puerto Rican government has seven days to release death certificates and data related to the death toll of Hurricane Maria. The ruling was in response to a la...more

  • Fact Checking #WhereAreTheChildren

    May 30 2018

    We talk a lot about right wing news outlets picking up out-of-context facts and amplifying them in their outrage machine, so as to infuriate and validate their angry audiences. But this phenomenon is not solely the province of the political right, as we saw last week when two separate stories about immigration policy in the Trump era morphed into one outrage-inspiring tale. Paige Austin is an immigration lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union. She explains to Bob how liberals came to beli...more

  • Technical Foul

    May 25 2018

    Rudy Giuliani has been warning the press that the president may not testify in the Russia investigation, but Trump has signaled otherwise. This week, we untangle the White House’s mixed-up messaging on the Russia investigation. Plus, after reports that companies like Amazon and Google are seeking, or have received, massive contracts with the Pentagon, we take a look at the internet’s forgotten military origins. And, a new book re-imagines major moments in athletics history.  1. Dahlia Lithwick [...more

  • Glenn Beck Reverses His Reversal

    May 24 2018

    In November 2016, Bob spoke to Blaze bloviator Glenn Beck to hear about how he was a changed man. More compassionate, a better listener and very opposed to Donald Trump. This weekend, Beck proudly donned a MAGA hat. Why the turnaround? According to Beck, it was in reaction to the media's reaction to something Trump said about immigrants. So the old Beck is back. But to Bob, he'd been there all along. Enjoy.

  • Africatown

    May 18 2018

    Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination, a liv...more

  • The Recording of America

    May 16 2018

    Studs Terkel, born 106 years ago on this date, May 16, spent the majority of his life documenting the lives of others – very often everyday, working-class people he believed were “uncelebrated and unsung.” From coal miners and sharecroppers to gangsters and prostitutes, every American had a story to tell and Terkel wanted to hear it. After Terkel died in 2008, publisher Andre Schiffrin, who edited Terkel's writing for more than four decades, spoke with Bob about Terkel's singular gift for oral h...more

  • This Is America

    May 11 2018

    Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So in 2016 we presented "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but ...more

  • An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country

    May 08 2018

    Back in the early 1980s, thousands of followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh descended upon a 64,000 acre piece of land in central Oregon to found their utopia. The Rajneeshees had millions of dollars at their disposal and an ideology based on meditation, raising consciousness and free love — one that Bhagwan’s young American and European followers found seemingly irresistible. And one that the local people in the adjacent town of Antelope, Oregon, population 40, saw as an evil thre...more

  • Dark Twisted Fantasy

    May 04 2018

    After last month’s terrorist attack in Toronto, the media attempted to make sense of the term “incel,” or involuntary celibate. We situate the subculture within the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Plus, a conversation with the directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," about their experience revisiting a forgotten utopian project. And, a look at how the press has responded to repeated attacks from President Trump.  1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of j...more

  • Mayday, May Day

    May 02 2018

    International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1st, but it's not a big deal in the United States. In this podcast extra, Brooke speaks to Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the U.S. origin of May Day and how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886 -- and contrary to what you've heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also au...more

  • Dog Whistle

    Apr 27 2018

    This week, we explore the ways white Americans — in the voting booth, and on T.V. — deal with a changing society. A new study finds that many white voters supported Donald Trump out of a fear of losing their place in the world. "Roseanne" gets a reboot, and "The Simpsons" reacts poorly under pressure. Plus, a closer look at the company Trump kept and the deals he sought before his presidency, with the hosts of the WNYC podcast "Trump, Inc." 1. Thomas Frank [@thomasfrank_], author of Listen, Libe...more

  • Introducing Nancy: a podcast about all things LGBTQ

    Apr 24 2018

    This week we want to introduce you to some friends of ours at WNYC. Nancy podcast is hosted by best friends Tobin Low and Kathy Tu and its about all things LGBTQ.  This week’s episode has Kathy solving a mystery on behalf of our WNYC colleague Kai Wright. As a young, black, gay man living in Washington DC around 2000, Kai saw a film called Punks. It was a movie about gay life but it wasn’t just about white people and it wasn’t rooted in tragedy. It was a romantic comedy about men like him – some...more

  • Moving Beyond the Norm

    Apr 20 2018

    Alex Jones built his Infowars brand on conspiratorial thinking and table-pounding rage. This week, we look at the three lawsuits testing whether Jones can sustain his business on lies alone. After the LGBT-rights advocate David Buckel committed suicide in Brooklyn's Prospect Park this past weekend, we review the difficult history of self-immolation and we zoom in on one such incident, in Texas in 2014. Plus, an LSD retrospective, featuring never-before-heard audio from author Ken Kesey's acid-fu...more

  • The One and Only, Carl Kasell

    Apr 18 2018

    This week the venerable Carl Kasell, legendary newscaster and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me scorekeeper, died aged 84, from complications related to Alzheimer's. Brooke sat down with Carl back in 2014 on the occasion of his retirement to commemorate a distinguished, and deeply baritone, public radio career.

  • Who's In Charge Here?

    Apr 13 2018

    After Mark Zuckerberg's two-day testimony before Congress, we consider whether a reckoning for the social media giant might finally be on the horizon. A new documentary looks at how the state of Montana has been fighting back against dark money ever since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and a legal scholar explains the unlikely history of corporations' rights. Plus, a second look at two infamous, misunderstood crimes: the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Steubenville rape case.  1....more

  • Trump Inc.: Trump, the Ex-Lobbyist and 'Chemically Castrated' Frogs

    Apr 10 2018

    From our colleagues in the WNYC newsroom who produce Trump Inc.: This week, we’re doing a couple of  things differently on Trump, Inc. Instead of focusing on President Trump’s businesses, we’re looking more broadly at business interests in the Trump administration. We’re also giving you, our listeners, homework. Last month, ProPublica published the first comprehensive and searchable database of Trump’s 2,685 political appointees, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. It’s the ...more

  • Paved With Good Intentions

    Apr 06 2018

    With a caravan of activists making its way through Mexico, President Trump signed a proclamation to send troops to defend the border. This week we examine that caravan’s unintended consequences, as well as the unintended consequences of a bill, recently passed by Congress, to combat online sex trafficking. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Maybe. Plus, we take a judicious look back at Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.  1. Carrie Kahn [@ckahn], international correspondent for NPR, Alberto Xicotenca...more

  • TV News Anchors Speaking From the Heart — Uh, TelePrompter

    Apr 03 2018

    Did you see the video that was making the rounds this weekend? It features a seemingly endless parade of Sinclair Broadcast Group TV news anchors — those smiley folks so trusted by their local audiences — speaking from the heart. OK, not from the heart, necessarily, but from the TelePrompter, all with the same script. The video was put together by Timothy Burke at Deadspin, and to date it’s been viewed over 7.5 million times. And it has put the spotlight back on Sinclair's political activism. It...more

  • We, the Liberators

    Mar 30 2018

    In March of 2003, U.S.–led coalition forces invaded Iraq, sparking a seemingly endless conflagration that claimed tens of thousands of lives and continues to shape events both international and domestic. Fifteen years later, what have we forgotten? What lessons can we carry forward? And what, if anything, of life in pre-invasion Iraq remains?  1. Max Fischer [@Max_Fisher], editor and writer at the New York Times, on the ideologies that led the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003. Listen.  2. Deb Amos [@...more

  • Iraq's Accidental Journalists

    Mar 28 2018

    Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the night of “Shock and Awe” exploding across the night sky over Baghdad, the opening salvo in an ongoing war. It was a deadly conflict to cover and foreign reporters increasingly relied on Iraqis to take the risks on the ground. Back in 2006, Brooke spoke to three Iraqis who were pulled into journalism by a trick of fate and caught up in the wave of correspondents pouring in from the West. Then, we caught up with them years later. 

  • Big, If True

    Mar 23 2018

    Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users' data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn't be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Faceboo...more

  • Crowdsourcing Justice: The Truth Behind the Steubenville Rape

    Mar 20 2018

    Five years ago, two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio were found responsible in juvenile court for the rape of a 16-year-old girl.  For much of the national media, that was the end of  the story — but for those in Steubenville who lived through it, the truth never caught up to the lies that spread online and the vigilante terror that resulted. A new, three-part audio documentary from Audible examines the case and the danger of crowd-sourcing justice to online activists. Bob spok...more

  • The Past Is Never Dead

    Mar 16 2018

    This week, we look at how selective coverage shapes our view of foreign borders, conflicts and historical figures — from Syria to Winston Churchill. Plus, a conversation with the editor-in-chief of National Geographic about their latest issue unpacking tricky issues of race, starting with the magazine's troubled past. 1. Thalia Beaty [@tkbeaty], reporter for Storyful, on the latest coverage of the war in Syria. 2. Miranda Bogen [@mbogen], policy analyst at Upturn, on the perilous geopolitics of ...more

  • Did Farhad "Unplug"?

    Mar 13 2018

    Last week we spoke with New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo after he published an article titled, “For two months, I got my news from print newspapers. Here’s what I learned.” He wrote that, earlier this year, "after the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers.” It was a crash diet.  Lots of healthy anal...more

  • Like We Used To Do

    Mar 09 2018

    In an age of constant breaking news, it can be hard to tell what matters and what’s just noise. This week, a look at what we’ve learned from recent coverage of the Russia investigation, and what we’ve missed everywhere else — particularly in West Virginia, where a recent teachers' strike made history. Plus, a dive into the complicated history of country music and why we so often get it wrong. 1. Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel], independent investigative reporter, on decontextualized Mueller scooplet...more

  • Everything You Love Will Burn

    Mar 07 2018

    Last week, we put out a special show hosted by The Guardian US’s Lois Beckett, devoted to how reporters should approach the alt-right, and white supremacy, in America, called "Face the Racist Nation." As a bonus, we're putting out a full interview with one of the voices in that show: Norwegian journalist Vegas Tenold, whose new book, “Everything You Love Will Burn” chronicles his time covering the far right, up close and personal, for close to a decade. Lois talks to Vegas about how he has seen ...more

  • Face the Racist Nation

    Mar 02 2018

    For the past year, Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter at The Guardian US, has been showing up at white nationalist rallies, taking their pictures, writing down what they say. And she finds herself thinking: How did we get here? How did her beat as a political reporter come to include interviewing Nazis? And what are the consequences of giving these groups this much coverage? In this week's program — the culmination of a months-long collaboration between On the Media and The Guardian US...more

  • Follow The Money

    Feb 28 2018

    The podcast Trump Inc. is a collaboration between WNYC Studios and ProPublica. A team of investigative reporters is examining whether and how the Trump family is profiting from the presidency, and they've organized the show around an "open investigation" so listeners and tipsters can contribute and follow along. We featured the first episode on our podcast feed a few weeks ago, and this week we're checking back with Episode 4. Ilya Marritz of WNYC and Eric Umansky of ProPublica speak with David ...more

  • Back to the Future

    Feb 23 2018

    Since the Parkland school shooting, the student-led #NeverAgain movement has kept gun control in the headlines. This week, we look at how the movement began — and how pro-gun internet trolls have tried to undermine its message. Plus, how the world of Black Panther taps into a long history of black liberation struggles, and why Black History Month, in the Trump era, can feel both righteous and corporate, dignified and farcical.  1. Emily Witt [@embot], writer and reporter at the New Yorker, on th...more

  • Rinse and Repeat

    Feb 22 2018

    In the wake of the school shooting in Florida we are recycling two interviews that we recorded following two other mass shooting tragedies. The first is about a chapter in the NRA's history that not many people know about. We’ve become accustomed in the past 20 years to seeing the issue of guns in America broken down into two camps: gun control advocates — led by police chiefs and Sarah Brady — and the all-powerful National Rifle Association. In an interview that originally aired after Sandy Hoo...more

  • The Safety Net Just Got a Little Less Safe

    Feb 14 2018

    On Monday, Donald Trump released the second budget proposal of his presidency. There’s lots in it — more money for defense, veterans and border security and some tax changes too. But what really jumps out is the proposal to cut funding for federal assistance programs including a 20 percent cut to Section 8 housing, a 22 percent cut to Medicaid and a brutal 27 percent cut to SNAP (the benefit formerly known as food stamps). Bobby Kogan, who on Twitter identifies himself as “chief number cruncher ...more