Podcast

On the Media

The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Host Brooke Gladstone examines 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.

Episodes

  • The Subversion Playbook

    Sep 24 2021

    By now, we’re familiar with voter suppression tactics, from long voting lines to voter ID laws. On this week’s On the Media, hear how election subversion takes the anti-democratic playbook to the next level. Plus, how the Russian government is using bureaucracy to stifle elections — and the press.  1. Dan Hirschhorn [@Inky_Dan], assistant managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, on why his paper won't use the word "audit" to describe the wave of partisan "election reviews." Listen. 2. Rick ...more

  • From Birtherism to Election Theft

    Sep 22 2021

    In their new book "Peril," Bob Woodward and Robert Costa released a previously unpublished memo by a man named John Eastman, who served as an attorney advising President Trump during the 2020 election. That memo outlined an anti-democratic six-step plan for Vice President Pence to overturn the election results — stealing the election in favor of Trump — by refusing to tally votes from states with "multiple slates of electors," throwing the final decision to the House of Representatives. It was p...more

  • Fire and Brimstone

    Sep 17 2021

    Throughout the pandemic, religious rights advocates have protested some public health measures like bans on large gatherings. Now, some Americans are making the case for religious exemptions to President Biden's new workplace vaccine mandate. On this week’s On the Media, why religious protections are deliberately vague. Plus, hear how the current Supreme Court has been quietly bolstering the power of Christian interest groups. And, a look at climate coverage during storm season, and how the foss...more

  • The Trial of Elizabeth Holmes

    Sep 15 2021

    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 is 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 exper...more

  • Aftershocks

    Sep 10 2021

    Twenty years after the Twin Towers came down, we’re still wrestling over how to make sense of what happened. On this week’s On the Media, how the conspiracies birthed in the aftermath of 9/11 set the stage for the paranoia to come. Plus, how Afghanistan’s thriving new media scene hopes to survive Taliban rule. And, how Ivermectin became politicized. 1. Tolo founder Saad Mohseni [@saadmohseni] on the mounting threat to journalism in Afghanistan. Listen. 2. NYTimes television critic James Poniewoz...more

  • Hey Everyone, Meet Sacha Pfeiffer!

    Sep 08 2021

    By way of introduction to the person who will be sitting in for Brooke for a few weeks, we are revisiting our interview about "Spotlight." The 2015 movie depicts the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered the systemic sexual abuse and widespread cover up in the Catholic church. Brooke spoke with Walter Robinson, who headed the investigation and is played by Michael Keaton in the film, and Sacha Pfeiffer, who was one of the four reporters on the team and is played by R...more

  • Organizing Chaos

    Sep 03 2021

    A debate has been raging among the librarians of the world, and it's all about order. The Dewey Decimal System became our way of managing information long ago, but it may be time to reassess. Plus, how one man’s obsession with ordering the natural world took a very dark turn. 1. 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. 2. On the Media producer Molly Scwartz [@mollyf...more

  • Biased Algorithms, Biased World

    Sep 01 2021

    Algorithms are everywhere, making crucial decisions at almost every juncture of our lives. But, while we may believe in the objectivity of these mathematical models, they're made from and produce far more bias than we think. Mathematician and former Wall Street quant, Cathy O'Neil wants us to question our unexamined faith in predictive algorithms. Her book, Weapons of Math Destruction, calls out an urgent need to investigate these black box constructions that govern so much of our lives, from go...more

  • Constitutionally Speaking

    Aug 27 2021

    “The right to throw a punch ends at the tip of someone’s nose.” It’s the idea that underlies American liberties — but does it still fit in 2021? We look back at our country’s radical — and radically inconsistent — tradition of free speech. Plus, a prophetic philosopher predicts America 75 years after Trump. 1. Andrew Marantz [@andrewmarantz], author of Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation — and our guest host for this hour — explains wha...more

  • A New First Amendment

    Aug 25 2021

    Nearly six decades ago, the Supreme Court made a decision in the case New York Times v. Sullivan that would forever alter the way journalists practiced journalism. Brooke spoke with Andrew Cohen, senior editor at The Marshall Project and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, about the decision's impact on the First Amendment. Supreme Court audio courtesy of Oyez®, a multimedia judicial archive at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

  • Maligned Women

    Aug 20 2021

    Cries to free Britney Spears from her conservatorship this summer have prompted a reevaluation of how the pop star was covered by the press decades ago. This week, On the Media looks at how the maligned women of the 90s and 2000s help us understand our media — and ourselves.  1. Joshua Rofé [@joshua_rofe], filmmaker, and Lorena Gallo (FKA Lorena Bobbitt) on the documentary "Lorena." Listen. 2. Sarah Marshall [@Remember_Sarah] and Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], hosts of the You're Wrong About...more

  • How Radio Makes Female Voices Sound Shrill

    Aug 18 2021

    "Shrill" popped back up in the national lexicon in the coverage of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, and again, in a 2020 race filled with female candidates. "This spike in usage is hardly a revelation," writes University of Florida professor Tina Tallon, in a piece for The New Yorker. "Women who speak publicly and challenge authority have long been dismissed as 'shrill' or 'grating.'" But these slurs are not just the product of age-old misogynistic stereotypes. Biases against female voic...more

  • A 40 Acre Promise

    Aug 13 2021

    Last week, the federal government, in a limited way, extended the eviction moratorium in place since the start of the pandemic. It's a temporary solution to a long-looming crisis — a crisis we explored in our series "The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis" back in 2019. In this excerpt from that series, we catalog the long line of thefts and schemes — most of which were perfectly legal at the time — that led to where we are today: a system, purpose-built, that extracts what it can, t...more

  • I'm Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker

    Aug 11 2021

    In September 1966, Gene Roddenberry dispatched the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage through space and time and into the American living room. In a vintage OTM piece, Brooke explores the various television incarnations of the franchise and the infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan.

  • Bad Idea Machine

    Aug 06 2021

    With Delta Variant cases surging, public health officials are pleading with Americans to get vaccinated ASAP. This week, we examine at how some journalists are turning anti-vaxxer deaths into COVID-19 fables. Plus, we hear from the reporter who tracked down Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. 1. Rebecca Onion [@rebeccaonion], historian and staff writer at Slate, on her latest article "The Fable of the Sick Anti-Vaxxer," and how stories of remorse may only appeal to the vaccinated. Plus, NBC senior report...more

  • "Haiti Needs a New Narrative"

    Aug 04 2021

    In the wake of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on July 7th, international media rushed to cover Haiti’s latest political crisis—painting a familiar picture of a nation in turmoil, Haitians in need, and an international community offering rescue. In this week's podcast extra, Nathalie Cerin, co-founder and lead editor of the online Haitian media project Woy Magazine, argues that news consumers just tuning in after the assassination after may miss the bigger picture. Haiti is ...more

  • Undercover and Over-Exposed

    Jul 30 2021

    This week, we consider whether information should ever be off-limits to journalists. It’s a thorny ethical question raised by FBI informants, hacked sources and shockingly intimate personal data. Plus, why a conservative Catholic publication’s outing of a gay priest has garnered criticism from all sides.  1. Ken Bensinger [@kenbensinger], investigative reporter for Buzzfeed News, on what new evidence surrounding the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer says about the how the governm...more

  • Occupational Hazards

    Jul 23 2021

    A look at how journalism selectively judges objectivity and bias… Which produces better reporting: proximity to the community you cover? Or distance? Who gets to decide?  1. Joel Simon [@Joelcpj], outgoing executive director of the The Committee to Protect Journalists, on why it's a dangerous time to be a journalist. Listen.  2. Bruce Shapiro [@dartcenter], executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School, on why trauma shouldn't disqualify reporters ...more

  • How a Nightclub Fire Brought Down a Government

    Jul 21 2021

    In 2015, a tragedy gripped Romanian consciousness when a fire at a popular club in the country's capital killed 27 people, injured nearly 200 more, and sparked national protests about corruption. In the weeks following the fire, 37 of those injured died in hospitals — a statistic that authorities and doctors claimed was simply a result of their injuries.  But the victims' families and a small team of reporters at the Romanian daily paper the Sports Gazette had their doubts — doubts that were con...more

  • As You Like It

    Jul 16 2021

    As numbers of the vaccinated rise, theaters around the country are once again opening. In celebration, this week’s show is all about Shakespeare, including how the quintessentially English Bard became an American icon, and what a production in Kabul, Afghanistan meant to the community that produced it. 1. James Shapiro, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, explains how Shakespeare was absorbed into American culture and identity. Listen. 2. Qais Akbar Omar, auth...more

  • Painting for the Future and Talking to the Dead

    Jul 14 2021

    Hilma af Klint was a Swedish painter born in 1862 who painted big, bold canvases suffused with rich, strange colors denoting masculine and feminine, the gush of life and the serenity of cosmic order. She found inspiration in unorthodox places, including the spirit realm. And she had a vision: that her work would one day be displayed in a spiral temple. For decades after her death, her work was hidden away — at first by her request, and then because it couldn't find an audience. Now that it's on ...more

  • Blame It On the Booze

    Jul 09 2021

    Nearly a quarter of American adults reported drinking more at home to cope with their pandemic blues. This week, we take a deep dive into the ancient history of booze, how Americans normalized drinking alone, and how the media shaped the shifting reputation of red wine. Plus, can scientists cook up a synthetic alcohol with all its perks, and none of its dangers? 1. Kate Julian [@katejulian], senior editor at the Atlantic, on America's long and fraught history with solitary drinking. Listen. 2. I...more

  • Aaron Copland's Sound of America

    Jul 07 2021

    There are many Americas. Nowadays they barely speak to each other. But during the most perilous years of the last century, one young composer went in search of a sound that melded many of the nation's strains into something singular and new. He was a man of the left, though of no political party: gay, but neither closeted nor out; Jewish, but agnostic, unless you count music as a religion. This independence day (or near enough!), we revisit Sara Fishko's 2017 piece on the story of Aaron Copland....more

  • The Road to Insurrection

    Jul 02 2021

    This week marks six months since January 6th, the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol. Over 500 rioters have since been arrested, but the legal consequences of what they did are only just beginning to roll in. In this hour, we revisit reporting by OTM's Micah Loewinger surrounding the organizing tactics, media narratives, and evolution of far-right militias.  1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on the efforts to shape the media narrative among gun rights activists at Virgini...more

  • Is 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' a Neo-Confederate Anthem?

    Jun 30 2021

    It's been noted that Trump’s Big Lie and the violence it produced is reminiscent of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy — a potent narrative of grievance after the Civil War recasting the South’s stand as heroic and patriotic. Undergirded by racism, the Lost Cause apologia would stymie Reconstruction, justify decades of lynching and throughout the South, and prove as impossible to uproot as Kudzu. When it comes to art identified with the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, “The Night They Drove Old Dix...more

  • "We Are Putting Out A Damn Paper"

    Jun 25 2021

    June 28th marks the anniversary of a mass shooting that took place inside a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five journalists. On this week's On the Media, an intimate portrait of the staff of the Capital Gazette in the immediate aftermath of the death of their colleagues — and then over the next several years as they contend with a corporate takeover, buyouts, and the loss of their newsroom. Reported by Chris Benderev of NPR's Embedded. Part 1: The Attack. Listen. Part 2: The Aftermath....more

  • A New Model for Local Journalism?

    Jun 23 2021

    In the 1800s, New Bedford, Massachusetts was the world’s “center of whaling.” More than half of the world’s whaling ships in the 1840s came from New Bedford. The small city was so emblematic of a New England whaling town that it served as the setting for Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. According to the New York Times, it was then the richest city per capita on the continent.  Now, more than a fifth of its approximately 95,000 citizens live in poverty.  But this exceptional historic town is re...more

  • Behind Closed Doors

    Jun 18 2021

    New reports show that the Trump Department of Justice spied on reporters. But that’s just a small part of a much longer story, going back decades. This week, we examine when and why the government surveils journalists. And, following their first meeting this week, is there a headline beyond “Putin and Biden talked to each other?” Plus, on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, how the story’s biggest lessons were lost to time.  1. Alexey Kovalev [@Alexey__Kovalev], investigative editor at ...more

  • From Public Shaming To Cancel Culture

    Jun 16 2021

    Over the last couple of weeks we’ve taken on some of the battles in the ongoing culture war. The granddaddy of them all is cancel culture. Michael Hobbes, co-host of the podcast You’re Wrong About, told us that there isn’t a situation that has been labeled a cancellation that couldn’t benefit from a more accurate word to describe what had happened. So and so was fired...such and such was met with disagreement on twitter. Cancel need not apply. He also explained on his own podcast with Sarah Mars...more

  • Little Fires Everywhere

    Jun 11 2021

    Trump may be out of office, but the GOP's campaign to limit voting rights, free speech, and reproductive rights is still in full-swing. On this week’s On the Media, where do you focus your attention when there are little fires everywhere? Plus, a look at a chilling new look for America: the "authoritarian mullet" — culture war in the front, the destruction of democracy in the back. And, how critical race theory became a right-wing bogeyman.  1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism ...more

  • One of the Most Influential Black Journalists You Probably Never Heard Of

    Jun 09 2021

    Record numbers of journalists formed unions over the last few years, surpassing data even from the surges of labor organizing in the 1930s. And the pandemic didn't slow the trend. Just this week journalists at the Atlantic announced that they were forming a union affiliated with the News Guild. But even with all the recent coverage, it's unlikely that you've heard of the very first person to lead a journalism unionization effort. Marvel Cooke was a crusading Black journalist who organized one of...more

  • Shamed and Confused

    Jun 04 2021

    After a young Associated Press journalist lost her job last month following online attacks, On the Media considers how bad faith campaigns against the media have become an effective weapon for the far right. Plus, should we cancel the word “cancel”? One journalist argues, yes, and one academic says, no. Plus, the origins of "cancelled" in Black culture.  1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on the A.P.'s firing of Emily Wilder, and how newsrooms can learn to respond to right-wing sm...more

  • OTM Presents: "Blindspot: Tulsa Burning"

    Jun 02 2021

    On May 31, 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District was a thriving Black residential and business community — a city within a city. By June 1, a white mob, with the support of law enforcement, had reduced it to ashes. And yet the truth about the attack remained a secret to many for nearly a century. Chief Egunwale Amusan grew up in Tulsa — his grandfather survived the attack — and he’s dedicated his life to sharing the hidden history of what many called “Black Wall Street.” But Dr. Tiffany Cru...more

  • Not a Perfect Science

    May 28 2021

    COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are falling and the number of the vaccinated continue to rise, but the pandemic’s harm to our mental health is still beyond measure. This week, On the Media explores how society is describing its pandemic state of mind. Plus, a look at the high-stakes fight to drag science out from behind paywalls. 1. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with Science Magazine staff writer Meredith Wadman [@meredithwadman] on the Global Initiative On Sharing All Influenza Data, known as GI...more

  • I Would Prefer Not To

    May 26 2021

    We live in a time of sensory overload and overwhelm. A global pandemic, an ongoing climate catastrophe, and online discourse run amok. And a sense that we are powerless to do anything about any of it. In response, artist and writer Jenny Odell has a curious prescription: do nothing. In her 2019 book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Odell advocates for occupying a space of "critical refusal": rejecting the terms of engagement as they're handed down to us and removing ourselves ...more

  • How It Started, How It's Going

    May 21 2021

    A year and a half into the pandemic, we still don’t know how it began. This week, a look at how investigating COVID-19’s origins became a political and scientific minefield. Plus, how a mistake of microns caused so much confusion about how COVID spreads. And, making sense of the "metaverse." 1. Alina Chan [@Ayjchan], postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, on the lack of investigation into COVID's origins. Listen. 2. Megan Molteni [@MeganMolteni], science writer at Sta...more

  • The Ghosts of the Rust Belt

    May 14 2021

    The old US Steel building in Pittsburgh, PA is a black monolith, symbol and fortress of industrial power, soaring above the confluence of three mighty rivers. But its vista has changed. Gone is the golden, sulfurous haze. Gone are the belching smokestacks, blazing furnaces and slag-lined river valleys snaking along Appalachian foothills. The industry that sustained a region, girded the world’s infrastructure and underwrote a now-vanished way of life has long since crossed oceans. Steel City is n...more

  • The Price of a Free Market

    May 13 2021

    Last Friday, the Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report, and the numbers were...disappointing. Expectations had rested around adding approximately a million jobs, and April yielded a meager 266,000. In a rare moment of genuine surprise in Washington, some economists said they didn’t know the exact cause of the drop. But for weeks prior to the report, the press had offered stories across the country with a simple explanation: there are jobs, but no one wants them. The great labor sh...more

  • Trans* Formations

    May 07 2021

    There’s a long history of campaigns to “save the children,” whether they need saving or not. This week, On the Media looks at the latest: an effort to block access to medical care for trans kids. Plus, how years of Hollywood representation — from The Crying Game to Transparent — have shaped the public’s ideas about trans people. 1. Katelyn Burns [@transscribe], freelance journalist and co-host of the "Cancel Me, Daddy!" podcast, on the the politics and propaganda behind the recent wave of anti-...more

  • Still Processing the MOVE Bombing, 36 Years Later

    May 05 2021

    Last Friday, remains of at least one victim of the infamous 1985 MOVE bombing were turned over to a Philadelphia funeral home, capping more than a week of confusion and re-opened wounds. MOVE members claim the remains were those of 14-year-old Tree Africa and 12-year-old Delisha Africa, among the five children and six adults killed 36 years ago this month after an anti-government, pro-environment, Black liberation group called MOVE defied arrest warrants and barricaded themselves in a West Phila...more

  • War of the Words

    Apr 30 2021

    This week we take a close look at how the words we choose can unknowingly condemn people caught up in the criminal justice system. Plus, the costs and complications of working as a journalist while incarcerated. And, the overlooked, self-trained women journalists of the Vietnam War. 1. Brooke tracks the evolution of language in the early days of Biden's presidency. Listen. 2. Akiba Solomon [@akibasolomon], senior editor at The Marshall Project, explains how terms like "inmate" and "offender" can...more

  • It's Gonna Be May Day

    Apr 28 2021

    International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1, but it's not a big deal in the United States. Back in 2018 , Brooke spoke with Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the American origin of May Day — and about how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886; contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also...more

  • Not Ready For That Conversation

    Apr 23 2021

    A jury has found Derek Chauvin guilty in the case that sparked a historic wave of protests last summer. This week we examine how fears over those protests are being channeled into restrictive new legislation across the country. And, what it’s like to drive the Mars rover from your childhood bedroom. Plus, a former child actor grapples with how his character defined him. 1. Tami Abdollah [@latams], national correspondent for USA Today, on how Republican-controlled legislatures across the country ...more

  • A Little-Known Statute Compels Medical Research Transparency. Compliance Is Pretty Shabby.

    Apr 21 2021

    Evidence-based medicine requires just that: evidence. Access to the collective pool of knowledge produced by clinical trials is what allows researchers to safely and effectively design future studies. It's what allows doctors to make the most informed decisions for their patients. Since 2007, researchers have been required by law to publish the findings of any clinical trial with human subjects within a year of the trial's conclusion. Over a decade later, even the country's most well-renown rese...more

  • You Better Work!

    Apr 16 2021

    From the Johnson & Johnson pause to talk of “break-through cases” among the already-vaccinated, we’re facing an onslaught of dispiriting and confusing vaccine news. On this week’s On The Media, a guide to separating the facts from the noise. Plus, why pro-labor journalists got the story of an Amazon warehouse union drive so wrong. And, how media coverage of labor movements has morphed over the past century. 1. Nsikan Akpan [@MoNscience], health and science editor at WNYC, and Kai Kupferschmi...more

  • On the Inside Looking Out

    Apr 13 2021

    The past year most of us were awash in a news cycle driven by the pandemic. Daily we grappled with infection data, vaccine updates, social restrictions, and public officials trying to balance fatigue, facts, and safety. But there are some in the country cut off from the deluge, offered instead, merely a trickle. Obviously the American prison system wasn’t built with a pandemic in mind — with inadequate spacing for quarantine, cleaning supplies, and access to healthcare, but the pandemic has focu...more

  • Broken Promise

    Apr 09 2021

    With Congress set to consider bills next week that could set the future of Puerto Rican self-determination, we consider how a 70-year-old promise to decolonize the island keeps getting broken. Plus, how Puerto Ricans notched a hugely symbolic victory over the U.S. — during the 2004 Olympics. 1. Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla], political anthropologist at Hunter College, examines the afterlife of Puerto Rico's political experiment. Listen. 2. Julio Ricardo Varela [@julito77], co-host of In the ...more

  • SLAPP Un-Happy

    Apr 07 2021

    For over four years, Reveal, an award-winning program from the Center for Investigative Reporting, was embroiled in a multimillion-dollar libel suit. Planet Aid, a non-profit known for clothing collection, had sued the podcast over an intensive two-year investigation that "tied the charity to an alleged cult and raised significant questions about whether the funds from the U.S. and other governments actually were reaching the people they were intended to help." Two weeks ago, a judge in Californ...more

  • The End Of The Promises

    Apr 06 2021

    La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode seven. Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States has long been a subject of intense debate. In 1952, Puerto Rico adopted a new status that was meant to decolonize the island. In Englis...more

  • The View From Everywhere

    Apr 02 2021

    The trial of the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd has been broadcasting live all this week. This week, we examine what effect the cameras in the court can have on the verdict and on us, watching from home. Plus, how striving for the appearance of journalistic “objectivity” can make newsrooms less diverse, and how trauma informs journalism. 1. Steven Zeitchik [@ZeitchikWaPo], entertainment business reporter at the Washington Post, explains how Court TV became the world’s...more

  • "You Don't Belong Here"

    Mar 31 2021

    Before the Vietnam War there was a law that banned women from reporting on the frontlines of any war for the U.S. When President Johnson refused to officially declare a state of war in Vietnam, an opening appeared: no war, no ban. A handful of pioneering women bought one-way tickets into the battlefield. They had no editors, no health insurance and little or no formal training. This week, Brooke spoke about this time to reporter Elizabeth Becker, formerly a Washington Post war correspondent in C...more

  • The Bankruptcy Letters

    Mar 30 2021

    La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode six. Luis J. Valentín Ortiz from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo tells a hidden story  from Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, that of the micro-creditors — thousands of low-income retirees and...more

  • How to Lose Friends and Influence People

    Mar 26 2021

    A so-called surge of migrants at the southern border has caught the attention of immigration reform advocates, conservative trolls, and TV news crews, but alarming headlines may not tell the full story. Plus, a #MeToo reckoning on YouTube has caused a new media empire to crumble. Then, a look at the controversy surrounding the newsletter site Substack, home to "sustainable journalism" and culture war punditry. And, the internet's most innovative observer on the cultivation of her misunderstood b...more

  • Corruption At the Highest Levels, Exposed

    Mar 25 2021

    In 2015, a tragedy gripped Romanian consciousness when a fire at a popular club in the country's capital killed 27 people, injured nearly 200 more, and sparked national protests about corruption. In the weeks following the fire, 37 of those injured died in hospitals — a statistic that authorities and doctors claimed was simply a result of their injuries.  But the victims' families and a small team of reporters at the Romanian daily paper the Sports Gazette had their doubts — doubts that were con...more

  • Basketball Warriors

    Mar 23 2021

    La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode five. In this episode: David and Goliath play basketball in Athens.  Despite being a U.S. colony, Puerto Rico competes in sports as its own country on the world stage. Since the 70s, Puerto Ri...more

  • Pain, Power, Poets

    Mar 19 2021

    Police statements about the Atlanta shooter’s motives defined early media reports and earned swift derision. This week, we examine how bad habits in the press undermined coverage of the tragedy. Plus, how we equate presidential power with presidential willpower. And a behind-the-scenes look at a new radio play that interweaves Shakespeare’s English with its Spanish translation. 1. Erika Lee [@prof_erikalee] Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota, o...more

  • The Summer Camp That Inspired A Disability Rights Movement

    Mar 17 2021

    The movement surrounding the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act introduced some ubiquitous elements of our public infrastructure, but many of the activists who were key players in lobbying for the law's passage met in an unlikely way: as campers at Camp Jened, or lovingly, "Crip Camp," a place of liberation for disabled kids and teenagers. A Netflix documentary called Crip Camp, nominated for an Oscar on Monday, explores the history of the movement and its leaders, including Judy Heu...more

  • Vieques and the Promise To Build Back Better

    Mar 16 2021

    La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode four. Weeks after Hurricane Maria, the Government of Puerto Rico accepted an emphatic suggestion from officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), put it in writing as if it we...more

  • Home Green Home

    Mar 12 2021

    As Biden-era climate policy begins to take shape, many corporations assure the public that they’re all-in on going green. This week, On The Media considers whether pledges from energy utilities, plastics manufacturers, natural gas providers, and fake meat wunderkinds are all they’re cracked up to be. 1. Alicia Kennedy [@aliciakennedy], food, drink, and climate writer, on the overly-ambitious promises of alt-meat. Listen. 2. Leah Stokes [@leahstokes], energy policy expert at the University of Cal...more

  • To Name, or Not to Name

    Mar 11 2021

    It's been a staple of local, nightly news for decades: while an anchor recites a vivid crime report, sometimes embellished with security footage or street interviews, a name and mugshot flash across the screen. Then, in the paper the next day, a column full of all the details a reporter could obtain on the alleged culprit appears. Beyond our own hometowns, national news often gives us the names of criminals before they give us anything else—sometimes that's all they've got. But is that right?  T...more

  • Encyclopedia of Betrayal

    Mar 09 2021

    La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode three. Photographer Chris Gregory-Rivera examines the legacy of the surveillance files known in Puerto Rico as las carpetas — produced from a decades-long secret government program aimed at fr...more

  • Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

    Mar 05 2021

    The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was approved this week, expanding the nation’s supply and moving us closer to the end of the pandemic. On this week’s On the Media, why unvaccinated people should resist the urge to comparison shop. And, how will we know when, if ever, the pandemic is over? Plus, how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s TV persona has helped him skate past previous scandals in the past — and why it’s not working as well this time. 1. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, preparedness fellow at the Ha...more

  • The Decline of Cuomo, the TV Personality

    Mar 03 2021

    During the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo transformed into a fully fledged TV star — propelled by his daily coronavirus briefings, which reassured an anxious, leaderless public. Comedians fawned over him. New fans declared their adoration in TikTok videos, memes, and... song. And the chummy treatment of the governor of course extended to news networks like CNN, where his brother asked him the tough questions. But in the past few weeks, Cuomo’s television persona as the deeply principle...more

  • OTM Presents: La Brega

    Feb 26 2021

    This week, OTM presents stories from a new series hosted by our own Alana Casanova-Burgess, called "La Brega." Hear what that term means, how it's used, and what it represents. Also, how one of the most famous homebuilding teams in American history tried to export American suburbanism to Puerto Rico... as a bulwark against Cuban communism.  1. Alana [@AlanaLlama] explores the full meaning(s) of la brega, which has different translations depending on who you ask. According to scholar and professo...more

  • Beware Trump Investigation Big-Talk

    Feb 24 2021

    With the news this week that the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to obtain key financial documents relating to Donald Trump, some news consumers may find themselves wrapped up in the delectable prospect of seeing a rule-breaking, tax-dodging, Constitution-shedding president on trial. They have been encouraged by commentators who claim that every little investigatory development is "very, very bad for Trump"; that the prosecution of Donald Trump "could go ...more

  • No Silver Bullets

    Feb 19 2021

    In a reversal of the past four years, President Biden has vowed to take on the violent threat posed by the far-right. But how? On this week’s On the Media, a look at the techniques and tactics used to undermine extremism, here and abroad. 1. Brad Galloway [@bjgalloway1717], a former neo-Nazi and now case manager with Life After Hate and ExitUSA and coordinator at the Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, on how he and his colleagues work to get far-right extremists to a...more

  • How Rush Limbaugh Paved The Way For Trump REBROADCAST

    Feb 17 2021

    What more can we say: El Rushbo is dead. He died Wednesday after a months-long bout of lung cancer, and following decades of racist invective, misogynistic bombast, and other assorted controversy. He had become the most listened-to voice on talk radio, wielding a towering, destructive influence on the American body politic. He was 70.  Early last year, President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, inducting him into a gilded class of American history alongside Norma...more

  • Toxic

    Feb 12 2021

    It’s been a week of legal battles, from Donald Trump’s second impeachment to Britney Spears’s fight for control over her finances and her career. On this week's On the Media, a look at the new documentary that’s put the pop star back in the spotlight. Plus, how revisiting stories of maligned women from the 90s can help us understand our media — and ourselves.  1. Brooke considers the developments this week in the impeachment trial, and also its wild distortion in some corners of the media. Liste...more

  • Its Tax Time!

    Feb 10 2021

    Few clichés are as well-worn, and grounded in reality, as the dread many Americans feel towards doing their taxes and the loathing they have for the IRS. But as much as the process is despised, relatively little is known about how it could be improved. Pro Publica's Jessica Huseman said that's largely because tax prep companies keep it that way. Brooke spoke to Huseman in 2017 about what an improved system might look like and how tax prep companies work to thwart any such changes. One of the pri...more

  • Slaying the Fox Monster

    Feb 05 2021

    Fox News has been stoking rage on the right for decades. As the former president faces an impeachment trial for his role in the invasion of the Capitol, some are asking whether Fox News also bears responsibility for the violence. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the arguments for and against the de-platforming of Fox News. 1. Bob [@bobosphere] talks to Angelo Carusone [@GoAngelo], Nandini Jammi [@nandoodles], Jason Hirschhorn [@JasonHirschhorn] and Steven Barnett [@stevenjbarnett] about th...more

  • OTM Presents - The Experiment: The Loophole

    Feb 04 2021

    This week, OTM presents the first episode of a new weekly show hosted by our WNYC colleague Julia Longoria: The Experiment. When Mike Belderrain hunted down the biggest elk of his life, he didn’t know he’d stumbled into a “zone of death,” the remote home of a legal glitch that could short-circuit the Constitution—a place where, technically, you could get away with murder. At a time when we’re surrounded by preventable deaths, The Experiment documents one journey to avert disaster. • Mike Belderr...more

  • Billion Dollar Idea

    Jan 29 2021

    On this week’s show, we look at what happens when scientists try to save the public...from itself. Plus, why vaccine distribution might be slowed down by intellectual property rights. And how, memers and righteous redditors used GameStop to upend Wall Street.  1. Zeynep Tufecki [@zeynep], associate professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explains why public health officials send mixed messages on everything from masks to variants. Listen. 2. Dean Baker [@DeanBaker13], senior ...more

  • Did Lulz Break Wall Street?

    Jan 28 2021

    GameStop is a corporation that sells digital cartridges containing video games, and also video game consoles and other fun widgets, from brick-and-mortar stores to flesh-and-blood consumers. It is a thing of the natural world, and so must abide by its fundamental, physical laws. GamesStop’s stock, on the other hand... well, for most of last year, the company was “worth” a pretty dismal 250 million dollars. But you may have heard that lately GameStop stock has soared upward into the exosphere, b...more

  • Well, That Was Some Weird Sh*t

    Jan 22 2021

    On this week’s show, we take a deep breath. Plus, journalists reflect on the deep damage done to our information ecosystem and how we can begin to repair it. And, Brooke and Bob take a journey through 20 years of OTM. 1. Brooke and Bob on the (short-lived) reprieve following the 45th president's departure, and McKay Coppins [@mckaycoppins], staff writer at The Atlantic, on how the environment for "elite" journalists has changed in the past four years. Listen. 2. Yamiche Alcindor [@Yamiche], Whit...more

  • The Trump Inc. Podcast Made a Time Capsule

    Jan 20 2021

    This story was co-published with ProPublica. A birth certificate, a bar receipt, a newspaper ad, a board game, a Ziploc bag of shredded paper, a pair of museum tickets, some checks, and a USB drive. The series finale of Trump, Inc. This episode was reported by Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer, Anjali Kamat, Ilya Marritz, Katherine Sullivan, Eric Umansky, and Heather Vogell. We assembled our time capsule at Donald J. Trump State Park; it will be stored until 2031 with WNYC's archives department. Thi...more

  • You Missed a Spot

    Jan 15 2021

    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 t...more

  • How the School Transmission Conversation Became So Muddled

    Jan 12 2021

    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! Whil...more

  • Breaking the Myth

    Jan 08 2021

    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...more

  • The World, Remade

    Jan 01 2021

    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 pande...more

  • A Brief History of Timekeeping

    Dec 30 2020

    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 Nat...more

  • What Just Happened?!

    Dec 25 2020

    The new year approaches, marking an end to a truly unexpected trip around the sun. This week, On the Media reflects on our 2020 coverage, from the pandemic to the global uprising to the rise of the anti-majoritarian right.  With excerpts from: The Virality of Virality, January 31, 2020 Epidemic Voyeurs No More, February 28, 2020 Infectious Diseases Show Societies Who They Really Are, March 6, 2020 Why The Toilet Paper Shortage Makes More Sense Than You Think, April 10, 2020 Is The Pandemic Maki...more

  • Unlearning White Jesus

    Dec 23 2020

    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 Edwa...more

  • Who Owns the Future?

    Dec 18 2020

    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 Guard...more

  • Investigating the Toll of 2-Day Shipping

    Dec 16 2020

     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 jo...more

  • Last Wish

    Dec 11 2020

    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. Liste...more

  • Shifting Baselines

    Dec 09 2020

    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 ...more

  • A Dose Of Reality

    Dec 04 2020

    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: ...more

  • "Defund the Police" revisited

    Dec 03 2020

    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 mai...more

  • No Ado About Much

    Nov 27 2020

    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,...more

  • Epidemics Show Societies Who They Really Are

    Nov 25 2020

    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 ...more

  • EXTENDED VERSION The Ancient Heresy That Helps Us Understand QAnon

    Nov 23 2020

    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...more

  • Believe It Or Not

    Nov 20 2020

    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...more

  • Rewatching "Contagion" in a Pandemic

    Nov 18 2020

    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 ...more

  • Another World Entirely

    Nov 13 2020

    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 platfor...more

  • The Pfizer Vaccine Isn't a Home Run Yet

    Nov 11 2020

    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 ...more

  • This Is Us

    Nov 06 2020

    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 woul...more

  • Imprecision 2020

    Nov 05 2020

    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...more

  • Chaos Reigns

    Oct 30 2020

    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'...more

  • The Amazing Randi (just don't call him a magician)

    Oct 28 2020

    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...more

  • The Games We Play

    Oct 23 2020

    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 i...more

  • OTM presents - Blindspot Ep. 5: The Idea

    Oct 21 2020

    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 dow...more

  • Emergency Mode

    Oct 16 2020

    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. Li...more

  • Brooke speaks with Lulu Miller about her new book, "Why Fish Don't Exist"

    Oct 14 2020

    Earlier this month, Stanford University announced it would rename Jordan Hall, named 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 Exis...more

  • The Unlucky Many

    Oct 09 2020

    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: Conservat...more

  • Trump's War on Critical Race Theory

    Oct 08 2020

    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 extr...more

  • God Bless

    Oct 02 2020

    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 [@ndrewwhi...more

  • Covering the Proud Boys, Without Platforming Them

    Oct 01 2020

    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 b...more

  • The Politicization of the Justice Department Press Shop

    Sep 30 2020

    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 pro...more

  • Spheres of Influence

    Sep 25 2020

    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 t...more

  • Better Questions About Amy Coney Barrett's Faith

    Sep 24 2020

    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...more

  • The Wrong Fires

    Sep 18 2020

    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 o...more

  • Joe Rogan: Debate Moderator?

    Sep 16 2020

    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...more

  • What To Expect When You’re Electing

    Sep 11 2020

    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. Re...more

  • OTM presents - Blindspot: The Road to 9/11

    Sep 09 2020

    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 ...more

  • Armed and Dangerous

    Sep 04 2020

    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 r...more

  • The Urban Exodus That Wasn't

    Sep 02 2020

    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 ...more

  • Bizarro World

    Aug 28 2020

    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 ho...more

  • With #SaveTheChildren Rallies, QAnon Sneaks Into The Offline World

    Aug 26 2020

    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 Coll...more

  • Don't Fall For It

    Aug 21 2020

    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 s...more

  • The Covid Conspiracy Boom on Facebook

    Aug 19 2020

    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 co...more