On the Media

By WNYC Studios

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Subscribers: 7438
Reviews: 26

Peter
 May 16, 2021
Great analysis of news stories and how the media covers them.

Alan
 Mar 19, 2021
it's great


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

Richard
 Sep 28, 2020

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

Description

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.

Episode Date
Occupational Hazards
50:22

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 from reporting on topics into which they have insight. Listen. 

3. Ernest Owens [@mrernestowens], Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists president, about the double-standards facing journalists who have identities or lived experiences that are different from editors who still determine what constitutes "objectivity." Listen. 

4. Steve Friess [@stevefriess], editor at Hour Detroit and contributor for Newsweek, looks back at how he covered gay marriage when his own marriage hung in the balance. Listen. 

5. Lewis Raven Wallace [@lewispants], author of The View from Somewhere, on why what we call "neutrality" so often reflects the ideological assumptions of the status quo. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Frail As a Breeze — Erik Friedlander
Night Thoughts — John Zorn

Fallen Leaves — Marcos Ciscar
Middlesex Times — Michael Andrews

Bubble Wrap — Thomas Newman 
Transparence — Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Carmen Fantasy — Anderson + Row
Tribute to America — The O’Neill Brothers

 

Jul 23, 2021
How a Nightclub Fire Brought Down a Government
24:13

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 confirmed when the Gazette learned that a national supplier of medical disinfectants was diluting their products, nearly ten times over, to reap profits and pad the pockets of its CEO. The burn victims of the fire hadn't died from injuries; they died from preventable bacterial infections, a consequence of malpractice that stemmed from doctors, hospital managers and the highest officials in government. 

In 2019, filmmaker Alexander Nanau wrote, produced and directed the film Collective, chronicling this saga. Last year, the film was released in the US, and in early 2021 it received two Academy Award nominations. In this podcast extra, recorded in March, Nanau speaks with Brooke about why he decided to follow the story, how the pieces fell into place, and how this single story changed Romania's relationship with the press — possibly for good. 

Watch Collective here

Jul 21, 2021
As You Like It
49:58

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, author of A Fort of Nine Towers, on how a production of Shakespeare resonated in Kabul, Afghanistan. Listen.

Music:

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

Jul 16, 2021
Painting for the Future and Talking to the Dead
24:16

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 display in a building like the one she imagined, her work is a sensation that has invited a radical re-imagining of the history of abstract art. In 2019, Brooke walked through the exhibit with senior curator Tracey Bashkoff, who brought af Klint's work to the Guggenheim after discovering it in a catalogue.

Next, Brooke explores Spiritualism — a movement that shaped af Klint's life and work. Broadly defined as a religious movement based on the idea that the living can communicate with spirits dwelling in the afterlife — that we can talk to the dead — Spiritualism grew quickly. After all, the telegraph was allowing people to communicate across time and space; why not spiritual realms?

At the time, the ideal spirit medium was thought to be an adolescent girl, unencumbered by education and thoughts of her own. But a curious thing happened as women started speaking as spirit mediums: they became accustomed to speaking in public, and others became accustomed to hearing them. And on top of that, the spirits had some radically progressive ideas about individual self-sovereignty, abolition and women's rights. Brooke speaks with Ann Braudedirector of the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School and author of Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, about this curious moment in American history, and how it helped bring women — and reformist ideas — into the public sphere.

Jul 14, 2021
Blame It On the Booze
50:20

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. Iain Gately, author of Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol, on the ancient origins of our core beliefs about booze. Listen.

3. Robert Taylor, managing editor at Wine Spectator Video, on red wine's constantly changing reputation as a healthy substance. Listen.

4. David Nutt [@ProfDavidNutt], psychologist at Imperial College London, on his alcohol substitute, once called "alcosynth," now rebranded as "alcarelle." Listen.

Music:

When I Get Low I Get High - Ella Fitzgerald
Tomorrow Never Knows - Quartetto D/Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica Di Milano
Il Casanova Di Federico Fellini - Solisti E Orchestre Del Cinema Italiano
Option with Variations - Kronos Quartet/composer Rhiannon Giddens

Jul 09, 2021
Aaron Copland's Sound of America
25:34

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.

 

Jul 07, 2021
The Road to Insurrection
49:37

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 Virginia's Lobby Day. Listen.

2. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] and Militia Watch founder Hampton Stall [@HamptonStall] investigate how a walkie-talkie app called Zello is enabling armed white supremacist groups to gather and recruit. Featuring: Joan Donovan [@BostonJoanResearch Director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, and Megan Squire [@MeganSquire0] Professor of Computer Science at Elon University. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on Zello's role in the January 6th insurrection, and what the app is finally doing about its militia members. Featuring: Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel] national security reporter for Emptywheel, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss [@milleridriss] Director of Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University. Listen.

Music:

Tick Of The Clock by Chromatics
Cyclic Bit by Raymond Scott
Genocide by Link Wray

Procession Of The Grand Moghul by Korla Pandit 
Gormenghast by John Zorn

Jul 02, 2021
Is 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' a Neo-Confederate Anthem?
19:34

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 Dixie Down” by The Band may be pop culture’s most celebrated, and misunderstood, contribution. Despite its charged subject matter, the song is rock-and-roll canon, listed as one of the best of all time by Time Magazine and Rolling Stone.

On paper, its lyrics read as if lifted from the Lost Cause playbook: a nostalgic retelling of the end of the Civil War history seen through the eyes of a downtrodden Southern farmer, laden with grief but not a trace of white supremacy. But the song is not what it seems, or what it seemed when it was first loosed upon the world. The Band’s lead guitarist Robbie Robertson, a Canadian, hadn’t logged much time in the South when he penned “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” in 1969. But in the ensuing decades, some have claimed it as a Neo-Confederate anthem. This uncomfortable fact led Early James, a songwriter from Alabama, to alter the lyrics when he performed the song at an annual The Band tribute concert last summer. Inspired by last summer's racial reckoning, James sang about toppling Confederate monuments. 

According to Jack Hamilton, Slate pop critic and author of Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, the meaning behind the song is both more and less complex than many fans know.

Jun 30, 2021
"We Are Putting Out A Damn Paper"
50:33

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. Listen.

Part 3: The Layoffs. Listen.

Music in this week's show:

Time Is Late — Marcos Ciscar feat. Joakim Johansson

We Insist — Zoë Keating

Jun 25, 2021
A New Model for Local Journalism?
15:56

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 representative of a phenomenon happening in small towns across the United States. It’s local daily newspaper, The Standard-Times, has been bought by Gannett, a hedge fund-backed news conglomerate and stripped down to barebones. It’s become what’s known as a “ghost newspaper," called such for its trimmed down staff and scant original reporting. The mayor of New Bedford was quoted in the New York Times saying: “It used to be that I couldn’t sneeze without having to explain myself. Now, I have to beg people to show up at my press conferences. Please, ask me questions!” 

A year and a half ago, a small group of concerned community members gathered to try to address this dearth of local journalism. The result? A new, non-profit news outlet called The New Bedford Light. Brooke talks to Barbara Roessner, the founding editor of The New Bedford Light, about the challenges facing the fledgling outlet and the benefits that local journalism brings to the civic health of a community. 

Jun 23, 2021
Behind Closed Doors
50:19

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 Meduza, on what Russian and American media got right and wrong about Putin and Biden's first meeting. Listen.

2. Matt Apuzzo [@mattapuzzo], New York Times reporter, on how the government seizes journalists’ records and chills speech under guise of protecting national security. Listen.

3. Kurt Andersen [@KBAndersen], host of Nixon At Warsays Watergate might have been Nixon's downfall, but the Vietnam War was his real undoing. Listen.

4. The late Les Gelb, the man who supervised the team that compiled the Pentagon Papers, explains how the media misinterpreted the documents. Listen.

Music:

Tymperturbably Blue by Duke Ellington
Fergus River Roundelay by Gerry O’Beirne
Whispers of a Heavenly Death by John Zorn
Trance Dance by John Zorn
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Tribute to America (Medley) by The O’Neill Brothers Group

Jun 18, 2021
From Public Shaming To Cancel Culture
25:14

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 Marshall that there were a few pivotal events along the way that led to the term cancel culture becoming the moral panic that it is today. One of them was the 2015 release of Jon Ronson’s book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” A series of case studies of people who were canceled before we started using that word. 

 

Jun 16, 2021
Little Fires Everywhere
50:09

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 at New York University and media critic for PressThink, on why journalists should still be in "emergency mode." Listen.

2. Jake Grumbach [@JakeMGrumbach], assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington, on how Republican state lawmakers reduce "democratic performance" when they take power. Listen.

3. Ryan P. Delaney [@rpatrickdelaney], education reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, on a Missouri school district's debate over Critical Race Theory, and Adam Harris [@AdamHSays], staff writer at The Atlantic, on how conservatives constructed the critical race theory boogeyman. Listen.

Music:

Little Motel - Modest Mouse 

Auld Lang Syne  - Salsa Celtica 

L’Illusionista - Nino Rota  

Paperback Writer - Quartetto d'Archi Dell'orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Guiseppe Verdi

Milestones - Bill Evans Trio

Going Home - Hank Jones & Charlie Haden  (post at 2:24 or 3:07)

Quizás, Quizás, Quizás - Ramón Solé (back time this)

In the Bath - Randy Newman

Jun 11, 2021
One of the Most Influential Black Journalists You Probably Never Heard Of
24:26

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 the first chapters of the Newspaper Guild...and she reported on labor and race until she was pushed out of journalism by redbaiting.  

Lewis Raven Wallace is the creator of The View from Somewhere, a podcast about journalism with a purpose, and author of the book The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity

For years he’s been researching journalists in U.S. history whose stories haven’t been thoroughly told — because they were marginalized by a structure that didn’t see them as “real” “objective” reporters. And that’s what happened to Marvel Cooke...

Jun 09, 2021
Shamed and Confused
50:11

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 smears without firing valued journalists. Listen

2. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], co-host of You're Wrong About, on the anecdotes that fuel "political correctness" and "cancel culture" panics. Listen

3. Erec Smith [@Rhetors_of_York], associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the York College of Pennsylvania, on his experience being "cancelled" within an academic context. Listen

4. Clyde McGrady [@CAMcGrady], features writer for The Washington Post, on the derivation and misappropriation of the word "cancelled." Listen

 

Music from this week's show:

Main Title, Ragtime - Randy Newman
What’s that Sound?  - Thomas Newman
Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap - Thomas Newman
Blues: La Dolce Vita dei Nobili - Nino Rota
Bubble Wrap - Thomas Newman
You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate

Jun 04, 2021
OTM Presents: "Blindspot: Tulsa Burning"
36:05

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 Crutcher, also a descendant of a survivor, didn’t learn about her family history or the massacre until she was an adult. Together, they’re trying to correct the historical record.  As Greenwood struggles with the effects of white supremacy 100 years later, people there are asking: in this pivotal moment in American history, is it possible to break the cycle of white impunity and Black oppression? Our WNYC colleague KalaLea tells the story. 

This podcast contains descriptions of graphic violence and racially offensive language. This is the first episode of Blindspot: Tulsa Burning, a new series from WNYC Studios and The HISTORY Channel. 

Jun 02, 2021
Not a Perfect Science
50:03

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 GISAID. Listen.

2. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with Bloomberg's Justin Fox [@foxjust] and Josh Sommer [@sommerjo] about the movement to make science journals open access. Listen.

3. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with The Cut's Molly Fischer [@mollyhfischer] about the rise of therapy apps. Listen.

4. OTM producer Eloise Blondiau [@eloiseblondiau] with Jerry Useem, Adam Grant [@AdamMGrant], Dr. Laurence Kirmayer, Anne Harrington and Dr. Monnica Williams [@DrMonnica] on naming and soothing our pandemic mental health woes. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

John Zorn — Prelude 4: Diatesseron
Jack Body/Kronos Quartet — Long-Ge
Unknown — Solo Cello Suite No. 1
John Zorn — Night Thoughts
Marcos Ciscar — Time Is Late
Kronos Quartet — Misteriosos
Franck Pourcel — Story Weather

 

May 28, 2021
I Would Prefer Not To
18:49

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 from the clamor and undue influence of public opinion. With lessons from ecology, art, history and beyond, Odell tells Brooke about her own journey toward more context and contemplation, and offers listeners an alternative way to think and be in relation to an overstimulating world.

This segment is from our July 12th, 2019 program, Uncomfortably Numb.

May 26, 2021
How It Started, How It's Going
50:21

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 Stat News, on the 60-year-old mix-up that helped COVID-10 kill. Listen.

3. Gene Park [@GenePark], gaming reporter for The Washington Post, on what the "metaverse" really means. Listen.

4. Margaret Atwood [@MargaretAtwood], novelist, on submitting a manuscript to a library of the future. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Sacred Oracle - John Zorn
Eye Surgery - Thomas Newman   
The Old House  - Marcos Ciscar 
Tomorrow Never Knows -  Quartetto d’ Archi Dell'orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi 
72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas Newman
Viderunt Omnes - Kronos Quartet
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads

May 21, 2021
The Ghosts of the Rust Belt
50:36

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 now Healthcare City, representing almost 1 in 4 jobs in the region. Some 92,000 of them work for just one employer, the sprawling, omnivorous University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, whose logo now adorns the black-skyscraper sentinel of the Three Rivers.

But this is not just a case of a clean economy displacing a filthy one. To Gabriel Winant, author of The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, the story of economic transformation in the Rust Belt is the story of disparity — of wealth, income and political power — that didn't vanish when the smokestacks came down. 

In this special hour, Winant tells Bob the real story behind the economic transformation that took place in the rust belt, and what it tells us about our economy, and our future, more broadly.

Music from this week's show:

Flugufrelsarinn — Kronos Quartet
Steel Mill Blues — Joe Glazer
Liquid Spear Waltz — Michael Andrews
Sacred Oracle — John Zorn (feat. Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel & Kenny Wollesen)
Human Nature — Vijay Iyer
Pittsburgh—Joe Glazer

 

May 14, 2021
The Price of a Free Market
19:04

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 shortage. And as anecdotes of fast food chains begging for workers and local restaurants limiting hours poured in, so did theories of an alleged culprit keeping potential employees away: covid-era unemployment benefits were depressing America’s work ethic. Bob spoke with Heidi Shierholzdirector of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, and former chief economist for the Department of Labor during the Obama administration, to find out what the numbers can really tell us, and what they can't.

May 13, 2021
Trans* Formations
50:05

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-trans legislation, and Jack Turban [@jack_turban], fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, on what the science tells us about gender affirming care in adolescence. Listen.

2. Jules Gill-Petersen [@gp_jls], professor of english and gender, sexuality, and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Histories of the Transgender Child, on the long history of trans children. Listen. 

3. Imara Jones [@imarajones], creator of TransLash media and host of the TransLash podcast, on how trans visibility paves the way toward trans liberation. Listen.

4. Sam Feder [@SamFederFilm], director of the Netflix documentary “Disclosure," on how Hollywood representations of trans lives have shaped the public understanding of who trans people are. Listen.

 

Music:

Prelude 7: Sign and Sigil - John Zorn

Totem Ancestor - John Cage

Blackbird - Brad Mehldau

Harpsichord - Four Tet

Peace Piece - Bill Evans - Kronos Quartet

Black Is the Color / Theme from "Spartacus" - Fred Hersch

After the Fact - John Scofield

May 07, 2021
Still Processing the MOVE Bombing, 36 Years Later
10:01

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 Philadelphia rowhouse. On May 13, 1985, C-4 explosives dropped on that home by Philadelphia police led to a fire that destroyed 61 homes in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Though consciousness of the bombing seems to have grown in recent years, when native Philadelphian and NPR correspondent Gene Demby reported on the 30th anniversary of the bombing back in 2015, he got a reaction he wasn't expecting: much of his audience hadn't heard of it before. 

May 05, 2021
War of the Words
50:14

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 distract, dehumanize, and mislead, and why "people-first" language is more appropriate for journalists. Listen.

3. John J. Lennon [@johnjlennon1], contributing writer at The Marshall Project and contributing editor Esquire, tells us what it's like to read and report the news while inside prison. Listen.

4. Elizabeth Becker, author of You Don't Belong Here, on how women journalists covered the Vietnam War in groundbreaking ways, and yet were forgotten by history. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Tilliboyo (“Sunset”) — Kronos Quartet
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered — Brad Mehldau  
The Butterfly — The Bothy Band
Clonycavan Man — Gerry O’Beirne
John’s Book Of Alleged Dances  — Kronos Quartet
Carmen Fantasy —  Anderson & Row

Apr 30, 2021
It's Gonna Be May Day
17:51

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 author of America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time. 


 The OTM crew (in 2018) sings "Into The Streets May First," a never-before-professionally-recorded 1935 Aaron Copland anthem:

  

Apr 28, 2021
Not Ready For That Conversation
53:24

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 have been introducing bills to criminalize protests — or as they put it, to stop the rioting. Listen.

2. Brendan Chamberlain-Simon, a robotics technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains what it's like to live on Mars Time, and the questions that led him to space. Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, makes a compelling case for intelligent life beyond Earth. Listen.

3. OTM Reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] presents the case of Spencer Fox, the former child actor who played Dash in the first Incredibles film, but not the second. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Equinox - John Coltrane
Night Thoughts - John Zorn
72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas Newman
Horizon 12.2 - Thomas Newman
Eye Surgery - Thomas Newman
The Glory Days - Michael Giacchino

Apr 23, 2021
A Little-Known Statute Compels Medical Research Transparency. Compliance Is Pretty Shabby.
16:17

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 research institutions sport poor reporting records. This week, Bob spoke with Charles Piller, an investigative journalist at Science Magazine who's been documenting this dismal state of affairs since 2015. He recently published an op-ed in the New York Times urging President Biden to make good on his 2016 "promise" to start withholding funds to force compliance. 

Apr 21, 2021
You Better Work!
50:06

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 Kupferschmidt [@kakape], contributing correspondent at Science Magazine, on how best to consume the non-stop vaccine news. Listen.

2. Jane McAlevey [@rsgexp], labor organizer and senior policy fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center, on how the mood in Bessemer, Alabama turned from optimism to defeat. Listen.

3. Chris Martin [@chrismartin100], professor of digital journalism at the University of Northern Iowa, on the historical devolution of the labor beat. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Fallen Leaves  - Marcos Ciscar 

Let’s Face The Music & Dance - Harry Roy & His Orchestra

Apr 16, 2021
On the Inside Looking Out
20:31

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 focused a brighter light on decades-old issues surrounding incarceration. Including access to information about news and policies that could be matters of life and death. John J. Lennon has been especially concerned, he’s written about prison life under Covid in the New York Times Magazine and he’s contributing writer for the Marshall Project, contributing editor at Esquire, and an adviser to the Prison Journalism Project. He’s also serving an aggregate sentence of 28 years to life at Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York. That accounts for the quality of the phone line when he spoke to Brooke this week.



 

Apr 13, 2021
Broken Promise
51:35

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 Thick and editorial director at Futuro Media, on what the showdown between the Puerto Rican and U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 2004 meant to him then and now. Listen.

Music:

We Insist by Zoe Keating
YUMAVISION by ÌFÉ
Malphino by Ototoa

La Brega is a 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. 

Apr 09, 2021
SLAPP Un-Happy
17:44

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 California dismissed the case. Here's the judge's full ruling.

Despite being a fairly straightforward SLAPP casethe case required dozens of reporter hours that took away from crucial reporting work—the newsroom only managed to stay afloat long enough to fight the suit because of generous pro-bono support. This week, Bob spoke to Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel at Reveal, about what small newsrooms stand to lose in court battles with wealthy public figures and organizations.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After publication, we were contacted by a PR firm representing Planet Aid. They took issue with our characterization of Reveal’s reporting on “abuse of US Foreign Aid by the charity and its subcontractors.” Although the Reveal series reported on Planet Aid’s use of grant money, following a two-year investigation, and the judge dismissed Planet Aid’s lawsuit with prejudice under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, we acknowledge, at the request of Planet Aid, that the judge also held in the recent ruling (full decision available above) that Planet Aid had demonstrated that a number of specific factual assertions made by the Center of Investigative Reporting were false. Planet Aid also reached out to the Center of Investigative Reporting prior to filing its lawsuit asking for a retraction and correction.

 

 

 

Apr 07, 2021
The End Of The Promises
48:08

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 English, we call it a “Commonwealth.” In Spanish, it’s called “Estado Libre Asociado”, or ELA. Puerto Ricans were promised for decades that this unique status meant they had a special kind of sovereignty while maintaining ties to the US. Now, a series of recent crises on the island have led many to question that promise, and to use the word “colony” more and more. In this episode, political anthropologist and El Nuevo Día columnist Yarimar Bonilla looks for those who  still believe in the ELA, and asks what happens when a political project dies.

You can get more resources for related issues at the Puerto Rico Syllabus website

Apr 06, 2021
The View From Everywhere
52:15

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 window into the Derek Chauvin trial. Listen.

2. Ishena Robinson [@ishenarobinson], staff writer at The Root, about the mounting toll of watching Black people lose their lives on camera. Listen.

3. Bruce Shapiro [@dartcenter], executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School, on why trauma shouldn't disqualify reporters from reporting on topics into which they have insight. Listen.

4. Ernest Owens [@mrernestowens], Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists president, about the double-standards facing journalists who have identities or lived experiences that are different from editors who still determine what constitutes "objectivity." Listen.

5. Steve Friess [@stevefriess], editor at Hour Detroit and contributor for Newsweek, looks back at how he covered gay marriage when his own marriage hung in the balance. Listen.

6. Lewis Raven Wallace [@lewispants], author of The View from Somewhere, on why what we call "neutrality" so often reflects the ideological assumptions of the status quo. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Frail As a Breeze — Erik Friedlander
The Artifact and the Living — Michael Andrews
Night Thoughts — John Zorn

Fallen Leaves — Marcos Ciscar
Middlesex Times — Michael Andrews

Bubble Wrap — Thomas Newman
Carmen Fantasy — Anderson + Row
Tribute to America — The O’Neill Brothers

Apr 02, 2021
"You Don't Belong Here"
36:13

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 Cambodia, NPR's foreign editor and then national security correspondent for the New York Times. Becker is the author of a new book: You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War.

Mar 31, 2021
The Bankruptcy Letters
40:04

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 former public employees with claims that the government may never pay, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. As a federal judge prepares to make a decision on whether they’ll get paid, this episode asks: how can the government settle its many debts — not just monetary — with its citizens? 

You can read more about micro-creditors in this piece from CPI.

We also recommend this Radio Ambulante episode, produced by Luis Trelles, for more context about the debt crisis. 

Mar 30, 2021
How to Lose Friends and Influence People
50:04

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 beat.

1. Tom K. Wong [@TomWongPhD], founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, on misleading coverage about the southern border. Listen.

2. Kat Tenbarge [@kattenbarge], digital culture reporter at Insider, and Taylor Lorenz [@TaylorLorenz], tech reporter for The New York Times, on the exploitation behind YouTube's viral prank culture. Listen.

3. Peter Kakfa [@pkafka], senior correspondent at Recode, and Taylor Lorenz [@TaylorLorenz], tech reporter for The New York Times, on the promises and controversies at the heart of Substack. Listen.

4. Taylor Lorenz [@TaylorLorenz], tech reporter for The New York Times, on how she keeps her finger on the internet's pulse. Listen.

 

Music from this week's show:
Whispers of a heavenly death — John Zorn
The Desert and Two Grey Hills — Gerry O’Beirne
Investigations — Kevin MacLeod
Il Casanova de Frederico Fellini — Nino Rota
String Quartet No. 5 - Philip Glass — Kronos Quartet
What’s that Sound — Michael Andrews
Trance Dance — John Zorn

 

Mar 26, 2021
Corruption At the Highest Levels, Exposed
24:00

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 confirmed when the Gazette learned that a national supplier of medical disinfectants was diluting their products, nearly ten times over, to reap profits and pad the pockets of its CEO. The burn victims of the fire hadn't died from injuries; they died from preventable bacterial infections, a consequence of malpractice that stemmed from doctors, hospital managers and the highest officials in government. 

In 2019, filmmaker Alexander Nanau wrote, produced and directed the film Collective, chronicling this saga. Last year, the film was released in the US, and, this month, it received two Academy Award nominations. In this podcast extra, Nanau speaks with Brooke about why he decided to follow the story, how the pieces fell into place, and how this single story changed Romania's relationship with the press — possibly for good. 

Watch Collective here

Mar 25, 2021
Basketball Warriors
37:55

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 Rico’s national basketball team has been a pride of the island, taking home trophy after trophy. But in the 2004 at the Athens Olympics, the team was up against the odds, with an opening game against a U.S. Dream Team stacked with players like Lebron James and Allen Iverson. Futuro Media’s Julio Ricardo Varela tells the story of a basketball game that Puerto Ricans will never forget, and why he thinks now, more than ever, is a crucial moment to remember it. 

The documentary "Nuyorican Basquet" is here.

If you want to see the famous photo of Carlos Arroyo, click here.  

To read more about sovereignty and sports, we recommend The Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico, by Antonio Sotomayor. 

Mar 23, 2021
Pain, Power, Poets
50:11

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, on how Asian women have been targets of exclusion in the U.S ever since they first arrived in the United States. And Jason Oliver Chang [@chinotronic], Associate Professor of History and Asian/Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut, explains how the model minority myth has cloaked patterns of brutality against Asian-Americans in the U.S. long before Tuesday's tragedy. Listen.

2. Brendan Nyhan, [@brendannyhan] professor of government at Dartmouth College, on his "Green Lantern theory of the presidency," the limits on executive power, and the history of presidents who thought they could expand it. Listen.

3. Saheem Ali, director of Romeo y Julieta from New York’s Public Theater and WNYC Studios, on the aim to both entertain and show that language need not divide us. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
The Glass House — David Bergeaud
Misterioso (Thelonoius Monk) — Kronos Quartet
Someday My Prince Will Come — Fred Hersch
Uluwati — John Zorn

 

Mar 19, 2021
The Summer Camp That Inspired A Disability Rights Movement
17:43

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 Heumann, a Jened camper turned lifelong disability rights activist. She served as Special Advisor for International Disability Rights for the Obama administration and wrote the book Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. In July, on the anniversary of the ADA, Judy and Brooke discussed how the egalitarian values of Camp Jened helped inspire the ADA, and how social and political change takes shape.

This segment originally aired in our July 24th, 2020 program, If You Build It....

Mar 17, 2021
Vieques and the Promise To Build Back Better
46:18

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 were its own decision, and celebrated it would be used to rebuild in a “resilient” way. On the island of Vieques — which has a very high rate of cancer — they were supposed to rebuild its only hospital, destroyed by the hurricane in 2017. Now, a young girl has died from lack of care, and a neglected community fights for their basic human right: access to quality medical services. Reporter Cristina del Mar Quiles from El Centro de Periodismo Investigativo explains how federal red tape has hindered hurricane recovery.

A guide to understanding the bureaucracy around "recovery" in Puerto Rico, including Section 428, is here

You can read more about the lawsuit brought by the family of Jaideliz Moreno Ventura against the government of Puerto Rico here.

Mar 16, 2021
Home Green Home
50:08

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 California, Santa Barbara, on “The Dirty Truth About Climate Pledges,” specifically from energy companies. Listen. 

3. Rebecca Leber [@rebleber], reporter at Mother Jones, on empty promises of "clean natural gas" for the home. Listen.

4. Laura Sullivan [@LauraSullivaNPR], NPR investigative correspondent, explains why plastic recycling rarely works. Listen.

Songs:
In The Bath by Randy Newman
Harpsichord by Four Tet
Crow Of Homer by Gerry O’Beirne
Accentuate The Positive by Syd Dale Double Dozen & Alex Gould
Young At Heart by Brad Mehldau

Mar 12, 2021
To Name, or Not to Name
22:21

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? 

This week, Bob spoke with Romayne Smith Fullerton, a journalism professor at the University of Western Ontario, and Maggie Jones Patterson, a journalism professor at Duquesne University, to talk about their book Murder in Our Midst: Comparing Crime Coverage Ethics in an Age of Globalized News.” Fullerton and Patterson spent a decade studying how ten different countries publicize criminals and crime. And what they found was a world of journalists unaware that everyone does it differently. 

Mar 11, 2021
Encyclopedia of Betrayal
41:10

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 fracturing the pro-independence movement. Gregory-Rivera looks at las carpetas through the story of one activist family, the traitor they believed was close to them, and the betrayal that holds more mystery than they realize.

Chris' photographs and photos the police took as part of their surveillance are here.

If you're in the New York area, you can see his show at the Abrons Art Center until March 14, 2021. 

The documentary "Las Carpetas" is here. 

Mar 09, 2021
Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?
49:48

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 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate research scientist at the NYU School of Global Public Health, on when the pandemic will be over, and what people can safely do now. Listen.

2. Helen Branswell [@HelenBranswell], senior writer about infectious diseases at STAT, on why people should resist the impulse to "vaccine shop" for a seemingly superior vaccine. Listen.

3. Derek Thompson [@DKThomp], staff writer at The Atlantic, on overcoming vaccine hesitancy. Listen.

4. Alex Pareene [@pareene], staff writer at The New Republic, on how the recent reporting about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has allowed television news consumers to see what close readers of newspaper coverage of the governor have been seeing for some time. Listen.

 

Music:

Prelude 7: Sign and Sigil - John Zorn

Tilliboyo (Sunset) - Kronos Quartet

Ain’t Misbehavin’ - Hank Jones

Tomorrow Never Knows  - Quartetto d'Archi Dell’Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi

Mar 05, 2021
The Decline of Cuomo, the TV Personality
22:22

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 principled, self-aware fatherly truth-talker has faltered. A report from the state attorney general and a court order found the official count of deaths of nursing home residents was nearly double the figure first reported by Cuomo’s administration. Plus, so far three women have accused the governor of sexual harassment, including two former aides. But for close readers of reporting on the governor in print media, this fall from grace is less surprising.

This week, Alex Pareene, staff writer at The New Republic, talks to Brooke about the collision of Cuomo’s “newspaper” and “television” personas in this moment.

Mar 03, 2021
OTM Presents: La Brega
50:10

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 professor emeritus at Princeton, Arcadio Diaz Quiñonez, the closest English word is " to grapple." Alana also speaks to Cheo Santiago [@adoptaunhoyo], creator of "Adopta Un Hoyo" (Adopt a Pothole), which encourages people to paint around and photograph potholes to alert other drivers. Because the roads are rarely fixed properly, the challenges of potholes and what people do to get around them is a metaphorical and literal brega in Puerto Rico. Listen.

2. Next, Alana turns to the boom and bust of Levittown, a suburb that was founded on the idea of bringing the American middle-class lifestyle to Puerto Rico during a time of great change on the island. Alana (herself the granddaughter of an early Levittown resident) explores what the presence of a Levittown in Puerto Rico tells us about the promises of the American Dream in Puerto Rico. Listen.

Created by a team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and diaspora, "La Brega" uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico. All episodes are out now, and available in English and Spanish. 

Listen to the full series: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts

Music in this series comes from Balún and ÌFÉ

Feb 26, 2021
Beware Trump Investigation Big-Talk
12:12

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 to trial sooner than you think"; and that Trump's post-election behavior "basically guarantees" criminal charges. 

Writer, lawyer, and former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori has his critiques of this genre of punditry — in August he described some of it as "insane" in the Wall Street Journal — but he has also published his own theory for prosecuting the president. In this interview, originally recorded in December, he and Brooke discuss what he sees as the "structural flaws" in most discussions of post-presidential prosecution.

This interview originally aired as part of our December 11th, 2020 program, Last Wish.

 

Feb 24, 2021
No Silver Bullets
49:39

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 accept responsibility for their choices and move beyond hate. Listen.

2. Kurt Braddock [@KurtBraddock], professor of communications at American University, and the author of Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization, on messaging campaigns designed to neutralize rightwing propaganda, conspiracy theories, and calls to action. Listen.

3. Ross Frenett [@rossfrenett], co-founder of Moonshot CVE, on redirecting people away from extremist search results online. Listen.

4. Stig Jarle Hansen [@stigjarlehansen], co-editor of the Routledge Handbook for Deradicalisation and Disengagement on the long, checkered history of global de-radicalization efforts, and Michael German [@rethinkintel], fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, and author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracyon how the term "radical" has always swayed in the wind of power and the perils of the "de-radicalization" framing. Listen.

Music:

Schubert — Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat Major, Op. 100
Khaled Mouzanar — Cockroachman
Marcos Ciscar — The Old House
Tom Waits  Way Down in the Hole
Chopin — Berceuse In D Flat Major, Op. 57
 
Feb 19, 2021
How Rush Limbaugh Paved The Way For Trump REBROADCAST
14:36

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 Norman Rockwell, Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We spoke then with Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, who explained how the award could be seen as the culmination of the GOP's transformation, precipitated by Limbaugh and solidified by Trump. 

Feb 17, 2021
Toxic
49:51

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. Listen.

2. Samantha Stark [@starksamantha], director of the New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” on the #FreeBritney movement and the #WeAreSorryBritney reckoning. Listen.

3. Sarah Marshall [@Remember_Sarah] and Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], hosts of the You're Wrong About podcast, on how coverage of maligned women in the 1990s fueled lasting and harmful myths. Listen.

Music from this week's show:
Equinox — John Coltrane
Invitation to a Suicide — John Zorn
Baby One More Time — Britney Spears
Cello Song — Nick Drake
Fellini’s Waltz — Nino Rota
La Vie En Rose — Toots Thielemans

Feb 12, 2021
Its Tax Time!
16:04

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 primary roadblocks to change, said Huseman, is an organization called the Free File Alliance, a public-private partnership whereby private tax companies agree to provide a free service for most Americans in exchange for the IRS not offering any such service itself. Brooke spoke with Tim Hugo, Executive Director of the Free File Alliance, about whether it is really the best way to help American taxpayers.

Feb 10, 2021
Slaying the Fox Monster
49:55

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 the ethics and efficacy of the "deplatform Fox" movement. Listen.

2. Rod Smolla, dean and professor of law at the Delaware Law School of Widener University, on the free speech protections afforded by a classic first amendment case, Brandenburg v. Ohio. Listen.

3. Nicole Hemmer [@pastpunditry], Columbia University research scholar, on why the Fairness Doctrine won't fix Fox News. Listen.

 

Music:

Mysterioso - Kronos Quartet

Oboe Mambo - Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra

Stormy Weather - Franck Pourcel

Night Thoughts - John Zorn

Feb 05, 2021
OTM Presents - The Experiment: The Loophole
34:31

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 Belderrain is a hunter and former outfitter in Montana.
• C. J. Box is the author of more than 20 novels, including Free Fire, a thriller set in Yellowstone National Park. 
• Brian Kalt teaches law at Michigan State University. He wrote a 2005 research paper titled “The Perfect Crime.
• Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic.

Here's the link to the episode at The Atlantic

Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.comListen and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts


This episode was produced by Julia Longoria and Alvin Melathe, with editing by Katherine Wells and sound design by David Herman.

Feb 04, 2021
Billion Dollar Idea
50:01

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 economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, on why intellectual property may be getting in the way of vaccine distribution. Listen.

3. James Surowiecki [@JamesSurowiecki], unpacks what GameStop's wild week reveals about Wall Street, the economy, and memes. Listen.

Music:

Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Life on Mars (David Bowie) by Meridian String Quartet
The Artifact and Living by Michael Andrews
Shoot the Piano Player  by Georges Delerue
Uluwati by John Zorn

 

Jan 29, 2021
Did Lulz Break Wall Street?
26:06

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, ballooning the company’s “worth” to somewhere in the ballpark of 20 billion dollars. That is, last we checked. 

How this happened — how the very laws of gravity seemed to break this week on Wall Street — is best explained not by corporate actions or the current milieu of the actual American economy, but rather, as writer James Surowiecki explained this week in Marker, as a meme. In this podcast extra, Surowiecki explains how the on-going short squeeze originated on forums like r/WallStreetBets, and how it reminds us of the internet's ability to meme itself into reality.  

CORRECTION: As Brooke said, she paid so little attention to her investment in GameStop that she misremembered the exact size of her holdings. She owned 42 shares of GameStop, not 65, and sold them for a total of $4,200, not $6,500. She deeply regrets the error. 

Jan 28, 2021
Well, That Was Some Weird Sh*t
50:11

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], White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], media critic and journalism professor at New York University, and Karen Attiah [@KarenAttiah], global opinions editor at the Washington Post, on what they've learned as journalists from the Trump era, and what comes next. Listen.

3. Bob and Brooke reflect on more than a thousand shows together, and twenty years of On the Media. Listen.

Music from the show:
Misterioso — Kronos Quartet 
Passing Time — John Renbourn 
Newsreel — Randy Newman
A Ride with Polly Jean — Jenny Scheinman
You're Getting to be a Habit with Me — Bing Crosby & Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians

 

Jan 22, 2021
The Trump Inc. Podcast Made a Time Capsule
48:56

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.


This is the last episode of Trump, Inc. But it's not the end of our reporting: subscribe to our newsletter for updates on what we're doing next. Show your support with a donation to New York Public Radio.

Jan 20, 2021
You Missed a Spot
50:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 12, 2021
Breaking the Myth
50:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 08, 2021
The World, Remade
49:59

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music:

Joeira by Kurup

Capernaum by Khaled Mouzanar

Okami by Nicola Cruz

Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg

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

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

Dec 16, 2020
Last Wish
50:14

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

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

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

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

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

Music:

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

Dec 11, 2020
Shifting Baselines
16:51

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

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

Dec 09, 2020
A Dose Of Reality
50:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 03, 2020
No Ado About Much
49:56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 23, 2020
Believe It Or Not
50:07

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

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

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

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

Music from this week's show:

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

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

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

 

Nov 18, 2020
Another World Entirely
50:20

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music:

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

 

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

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

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

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

Nov 11, 2020
This Is Us
50:24

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

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

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

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

Music from this week's show:

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

Nov 06, 2020
Imprecision 2020
23:03

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

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

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

Nov 05, 2020
Chaos Reigns
50:13

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

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

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

 

Music:

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

John’s Book of Alleged Dances - Kronos Quartet

Nocturne for Piano in B flat minor - Chopin

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini

Death Have Mercy/Breakaway - Regina Carter

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

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

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

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

Oct 28, 2020
The Games We Play
52:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 21, 2020
Emergency Mode
62:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 14, 2020
The Unlucky Many
50:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 08, 2020
God Bless
50:20

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music from this week's show:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 30, 2020
Spheres of Influence
50:32

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Sep 24, 2020
The Wrong Fires
50:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music from this week's show:

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

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

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

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

Listen wherever you get your podcasts. 

 

Sep 09, 2020
Armed and Dangerous
50:33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 02, 2020
Bizarro World
50:16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Music from this week's show:

Passing Time - John Renbourn

Cellar Door - Michael Andrews

Turnaround - Ornette Colema

Shoot the Piano Player Player - Georges Delarue

Sleep Talking - Ornette Coleman

Mysterioso - Thelonius Monk/Kronos Quartet

Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews

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

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

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

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

Aug 19, 2020
Apocalypse Now
50:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we approach November’s contentious presidential election, what lessons can we learn from divided societies abroad? This week, On the Media travels to Poland, where conspiracy, xenophobia and the rise of illiberalism have the country in an existential fight for its future. On the Media producer Leah Feder reports.

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

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

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

This episode originally aired on November 29th, 2019.

Music:

Krzysztof Penderecki - 3 miniature: per clarinetto e pianoforte
Chopin - Nocturne en mi Bémol Majeur op 9 no° 2
Wojciech Kilar, Tadeusz Strugala, The Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland - Moving to the Ghetto Oct 31, 1940
Chopin - Nocturne no° 1 in B Flat Major
Chopin, Ivan Moravec - Berceuse in D Flat Minor, Op. 57 
Przepis Po Polsku (Polish Recipe)
BOKKA - Town of Strangers

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

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

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

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

Aug 05, 2020
Break Your Silence
50:03

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 17, 2020
Sorry Not Sorry
27:57

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


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

Jul 15, 2020
40 Acres
49:36

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 03, 2020
United States of Conspiracy
26:24

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

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

 

 

Jul 01, 2020
Your Lying Eyes
50:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 25, 2020
The Undertow
50:10

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music from this week's show:

Let Yourself Go- Fred Hersch

Auf Einer Burg - Don Byron

Transparence - Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Love Theme from Spartacus - Fred Hersch

Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews...

Young at Heart - Brad Mehldau

Jun 19, 2020