On the Media

By WNYC Studios

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 Jun 3, 2022

 Nov 28, 2021

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

 Mar 19, 2021
it's great

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


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.

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Are the women-led protests in Iran powerful enough to force change when past attempts have failed? On this week’s On the Media, a look at the moments that ignite movements, both online and in the streets. Plus, how silly videos built one of the largest media companies in the world, and the story of how one Twitch streamer successfully took down an army of harassers. 

1. Fatemeh Shams [@ShazzShams], poet and professor of Persian literature at the University of Pennsylvania, on how the recent wave of protests in Iran differs from previous movements. Listen.

2. Ben Collins [@oneunderscore__], senior reporter for NBC, on how a famous Twitch streamer got an online forum taken down. Listen.

3. Mark Bergen [@mhbergen], journalist and author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination, on how YouTube transformed from a dating site to an essential part of society. Listen.


Sep 30, 2022
In John Waters' Home (But Not In His Colon)

John Waters is the writer and director of such cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, and his biggest mainstream success, Hairspray. He’s been making movies since the 1960s and this year he released his debut novel, Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance.

The novel is an incredibly dirty romp filled with the kind of taboo storytelling that John Waters revels in. In his work, he shines a light on the worst of us but rarely to ridicule, more as a reminder of how gloriously sinful we can be, as we discussed when I spoke with him in his Manhattan home. His interest in the carnal, though, has its limits. “When I got a colonoscopy, they said, do you wanna watch? No!” he told us. “Why do I wanna go on a fantastic voyage up my a–hole?” 

We also talked about money management, aging, and his secret to maintaining his many long friendships. “I do stay in touch and if anything bad happens to you, I call. If you get a bad review, I call. If you go to jail, I definitely am your first visit,” he laughed. “I never don't come visit you if you're in jail.” 

Sep 28, 2022
Case Closed?

Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit podcast Serial, left prison this week after serving two decades for a murder conviction. On this week’s On the Media, Brooke speaks to the friend whose call to the podcast producers started the chain of events that ended this week with Syed's release. Plus, how Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard was a made-for-Fox News event.

1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent The Washington Post, on the manipulative plan for 48 Venuzulean migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard. Listen.

2. Rabia Chaudry [@rabiasquared], attorney and friend of Adnan Syed, on Syed's recent release and what was left out of his story on Serial. Listen.

Sep 23, 2022
No. The Medieval Times Were Not All Game of Thrones

Today, when we encounter the medieval world it’s mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the “Dark Ages,” and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze. 

This is a segment from our January 14th, 2022 program A Question of War.

Sep 21, 2022
The Fine Print

The federal court is hearing a case that could change the publishing industry as we know it. On this week’s show, hear what readers will lose if conglomerates further monopolize the market. Plus, print sales far exceed expectations — it turns out readers do not want to curl up with a good ebook. 

1. Alexandra Alter [@xanalter], reporter at the New York Times, on how the booming publishing industry is wrestling with supply chain nightmares and more to meet reader demand. Listen.

2. Katy Waldman [@xwaldie], writer at The New Yorker, explains what's at stake in the DOJ v. Penguin Random House case. Listen.

3. Margot Boyer-Dry [@M_BigDeal], freelance culture writer, on why book covers are looking more and more similar, blobs and all. Listen.

4. John B. Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, on how Amazon changed the book market for good, and why the appeal of the print book persists. Listen.

Music in this week's show:
Paperback Writer - Quartetto d’Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano
Guiseppe Verdi
Tymperturbably Blue - Duke Ellington
I Could Write A Book - Miles Davis
Tateh’s Picture Book - Randy Newman
My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors - Moxy Fruvous

Sep 16, 2022
How a Russian Sleeper Agent Charmed Her Way Onto NATO's Social Scene

This week, Brooke talks to Christo Grozev, lead Russia investigator with Bellingcat, about how he uncovered the real identity of a Russian "sleeper" agent who went by the name Maria AdelaGrozev tells Brooke about how rarely these kinds of spies are discovered, what made "Maria Adela" an unlikely spy and what kind of information she could have gathered on NATO.

Sep 14, 2022
Lock Him Up?

As the government continues its investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s home, a tough question has emerged. On this week’s On the Media, hear how democracies around the world have grappled with whether to prosecute a former leader. Plus, why new leadership at CNN is reigniting the debate over the place of objectivity in journalism.

1. James D. Long [@prof_jameslong], associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, on the consequences of modern democracies across the globe prosecuting — or choosing not to prosecute — their former leaders. Listen

2. Rachel Donadio [@RachelDonadio], a journalist and contributing writer for The Atlantic, discusses what we can learn from Italy’s experience with trying Silvio Berlusconi for crimes relating to his business and personal life. Listen

3. Yael Freidson [@YaelFreidson], the Legal and Jerusalem affairs correspondent for Haaretz, on Israel's struggle around prosecuting a sitting prime minister. Listen.

4. Rick Perlstein [@rickperlstein], a journalist and author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, explains the continuing impact of Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon for his crimes. Listen.

5. Jon Allsop [@Jon_Allsop], a freelance journalist and author of a daily newsletter for Columbia Journalism Review titled, The Media Today, on CNN's new leadership and the long-reigning debate over impartiality in political journalism. Listen.


Sep 09, 2022
"Library With A Turret On Top"

This week saw the conclusion of the campaign to shut down one of the internet’s most toxic forums, Kiwi Farms.

Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti aka “Keffals” led the charge against the site after she was targeted by anonymous users of Kiwi Farms for being a trans woman and speaking out against anti-LGBTQ laws. Stalkers repeatedly doxxed her and her family members, and left them threatening voicemail messages.

Harassment campaigns against trans people, journalists, influencers, activists, sex workers, all sorts of people, effectively became the site’s raison d'etre after it was founded in 2013. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger spoke to NBC's Ben Collins about the life and death of Kiwi Farms.


Sep 07, 2022
Ukraine's Fight

Six months into Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians are still fighting back on all fronts. On this week’s show, hear how Ukraine’s newest struggle is for our attention, and how Big Tech is letting Russian propaganda spread. Plus, the story of a Ukrainian gaming influencer who turned to video games and his internet community to survive the conflict.

1. Olga Tokariuk [@olgatokariuk], Ukrainian journalist, describes watching international attention on the war wane in real time, and its consequences. Listen.

2. Andrey Boborykin [@mediaborscht], Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda. Listen.

3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on the Ukrainian Twitch streamer who used his virtual military skills and online community to get his family to safety when the invasion began (Part One). Listen

4. Micah Loewinger revisits his reporting on Bobi, the Twitch streamer who escaped war in Ukraine, to learn what has happened since (Part Two). Listen

Sep 02, 2022
Big Tech vs. Ukraine's Local Media

For most of the 20th century, during which time it was the control of a Moscow-based government for nearly 70 years, Ukraine didn't have an independent press. Over the past two decades, an ecosystem of independent press has grown in Ukraine. This Ukrainian press corps has been tirelessly covered the Russia's invasion of Ukraine over the past six months. But even as their audiences grow, funding from advertising for their reporting has dried up as Ukraine's economy struggles. Ukrainian media have also been subject content bans on Facebook for "glorifying violence" as they report on the war. Andrey Boborykin, Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about the ongoing information war between Ukraine and Russia, how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda, and what local Ukrainian media outlets are doing to keep their doors open. 

Aug 31, 2022
Russia's War

Six months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Putin has rallied the Russian population around the brutal conflict. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the Kremlin’s crackdown on the press paved the way for war. Plus, a look inside the world of Russian propaganda, and how it influences people.

1. OTM Producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication] speaks with Alec Luhn [@ASLuhn] and Veronika Silchenko [@NikaSilchenko], freelance journalists for Vice, on reporting in Russia under repressive new laws. And Kirill Martynov [@kmartynov], Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta Europe, and Katerina Kotrikadze [@katyakotrikadze], news director and anchor at TV Rain, and Roman Dobrokhotov [@Dobrokhotov], Editor-in-Chief of The Insider, on working as Russian journalists-in-exile. Listen.

2. Thomas Rid [@RidT], author of the book Active Measures, on the the long ancestry of modern-day Russian info ops, and Francis Scarr [@francis_scarr], senior digital journalist at BBC Monitoring, on the false narratives that Russian state TV broadcasts about the war in Ukraine. Listen

3. Anastasiia Carrier [@carrierana22], freelance journalist, on growing up with Russian propaganda and unlearning the Kremlin's lies. Listen.


String Quartet No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki
Exurgency by Zoe Keating
We Insist by Zoe Keating
The Artifact & Living by Michael Andrews
I Got a Right to Sing the Blues by Billy Kyle

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
The Hammer of Los - John Zorn
Khovanshchina Overture (remix) 
Blackbird by Brad Mehldau


Aug 26, 2022
Softening Expectations

This week OTM shares the third and final episode of Hard, a series about Viagra from our colleagues at Death, Sex & Money. In this episode we hear from Viagra users past and present whose ideas about sex have shifted—from being a goal-oriented pursuit to one that is much more about pleasure and acceptance. 

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here.

Aug 24, 2022
We Are Family

When you hear the word “Neanderthal,” you probably picture a mindless, clumsy brute. It’s often used as an insult — even by our president, who last year called anti-maskers “Neanderthals.” But what if we have more in common with our ancestral cousins than we think? On this week’s On the Media, hear how these early humans have been unfairly maligned in science and in popular culture.

1. John Hawks [@johnhawks], professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, on our biological family tree—and the complicated branch that is Neanderthals. Listen.

2. Rebecca Wragg Sykes [@LeMoustier], archeologist and author of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, on and what we know about how they lived. Listen

3. Clive Finlayson [@CliveFinlayson], Director, Chief Scientist, and Curator of the Gibraltar National Museum, on how studying what’s inside Gorham and Vanguard caves can help reconstruct Neanderthal life beyond them. Listen

4. Angela Saini, science journalist, on how Neanderthals have been co-opted to push mythologies about the genetic basis of race. Listen.


Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
Young Heart by Brad Mehldau

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn
Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto d’ Archi Di Dell’Orchestra di Milano Guiseppe Verdi
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod

Aug 19, 2022
Little Pill, Big Pharma

This week OTM shares the second episode of the three-part series, Hard, produced by our WNYC colleagues at Death, Sex & Money. In this installment, the team dives into the scientific advancements that led to Viagra's FDA approval in 1998. From an unforgettable conference presentation...to an overnight drug study, where an unexpected side effect kept popping up. Also the intentionality around the early marketing of Viagra—when former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole encouraged men to summon the bravery to talk to their doctors—and how that message has shifted over the years. 

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here

Aug 17, 2022
Reading the Room

An old threat has returned to classrooms across the country — and it’s made of pages and ink. On this week’s On the Media, hear what it means to ban a book, and who has the right to choose what kids learn. Plus, meet the student who took his school board all the way to the Supreme Court in the 80s. 

1. Kelly Jensen, editor for Book Riot who writes a weekly update on “book censorship news,” on what it means to ban a book. Listen.

2. Jennifer Berkshire [@BisforBerkshire] and Jack Schneider [@Edu_Historian], hosts of the education podcast “Have You Heard,” on the rights—both real and fictional—of parents to shape what their kids learn. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] takes a deep dive into our nations history of taking books off shelves, with the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Island Trees School District v Pico. Featuring: Steven Pico, then student and plaintiff in the case and Arthur Eisenberg, New York Civil Liberties lawyer, who represented him. Listen.

Tymperturbably Blue by Duke Ellington
York Fusiliers by Douglas Monroe & Yorktown Fife and Drums
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Viderunt Omnes by The Kronos Quartet

Aug 12, 2022
Erectile Disappointment

In 1998, when Viagra was approved by the FDA, it suddenly opened up new sexual possibilities for people who had previously had none. The drug also sparked an earnest and very public conversation about erectile dysfunction — one that quickly veered toward late-night punchlines. And yet, despite the millions of prescriptions written during its nearly 25 years of existence, for some, Viagra did not prove to be the quick fix they had hoped for. This month, OTM shares the first episode of a compelling 3-part series about the drug from our colleagues at Death, Sex & Money

You can hear more from Death, Sex & Money here.

Aug 10, 2022
Handle with Care

A group of climate scientists warn that the potential for humanity's mass extinction has been dangerously underexplored. On this week’s On the Media, we hear how facing our planet’s fragility could inspire hope, instead of despair, and a physicist explains how creation stories are essential for understanding our place in the universe.

  1. Luke Kemp [@LukaKemp], a Research Associate at Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, on a new study that says we need to put more attention on the possibility of human extinction and other climate catastrophes. Bryan Walsh [@bryanrwalsh], editor of Vox’s ‘Future Perfect,’ also explains why our brains have a hard time processing catastrophes like climate change. Listen.

  2. Charles Piller [@cpiller], investigative reporter for Science Magazine, on his six month investigation into how faulty images may invalidate groundbreaking advancements in Alzheimer's research. Listen.

  3. Guido Tonelli, a particle physicist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on the importance of creation myths, and what scientists can tell us about the fragility of the universe. Listen.
Aug 05, 2022
Under The Table

This week’s podcast extra is about podcasts, but this story has its roots in the early days of rock 'n' roll. Alan Freed was a celebrity DJ on WINS in New York, famous for helping popularize the nascent genre through the 1950s. But, unbeknownst to his listeners, record promoters were secretly bribing Freed and other popular disc jockeys across the country for extra air time for their artists — in a rampant practice known as “payola,” which eventually caught the eye of regulators. In 1960, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlawed payola, requiring broadcasters to disclose any payments received. However, members of the music industry would continue to blow the whistle on similar behavior in the decades that followed.

According to Bloomberg reporter Ashley Carman, a similar culture of pay-to-play is taking hold in the world of podcasting. Her latest piece is titled, “Podcast Guests Are Paying Up to $50,000 to Appear on Popular Shows.”

Aug 04, 2022
The Cold Shoulder

Former president Donald Trump is trying to bury the January 6th committee’s findings, but his old allies aren’t helping. Meanwhile, we take a look at the governor of Florida’s polarizing press strategy, and why reporters think presidential hopefuls are no longer returning their calls. 

  1. David Folkenflik [@davidfolkenflik], media correspondent for NPR, on the resurgence of Trump-related news. Listen

  2. David Freedlander [@freedlander], freelance political journalist, on why he thinks Republicans are no longer speaking to the press. Listen

  3. Dexter Filkins, staff writer at The New Yorker, on Ron DeSantis’ press strategy and where politicians' relationship with the press went wrong. Listen

  4. Kate Kelly [@Kate_Kelly_Esq], human rights attorney, on the importance of the the Equal Rights Amendment and how it can protect abortion rights. Listen


Jul 29, 2022
Great White Lies

It's Shark Week. This year's Discovery programs boast flashy titles like Stranger Sharks, Air Jaws, Great White Serial Killer, and Rise of the Monster Hammerheads, and feature sharks writhing through murky water, their jaws clenching on dead fish bait, sharp teeth snapping at divers. 

Sharks first splashed into Hollywood — and widespread infamy — with the 1975 blockbuster Jaws. It's the type of horror film that sticks with you, especially when you're on a swim at the beach and think, what's out there? Over the last few decades, beachgoers have encountered a slight uptick in shark sightings and incidents. This summer is no exception. 

But even as these predators shut down beaches, many marine biologists have waged a counter PR campaign for sharks, arguing that popular media have far overstated their danger. Chris Pepin-Neff is a senior lecturer of Public Policy at the University of Sydney, and author of the book Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking. They say that the maligning of these fish harms not only sharks — but humans as well.

Jul 28, 2022
In This Economy?

Gas prices are coming down. Inflation is still going up. Jobs are strong, yet recession fears abound. This week, On the Media dives into the contradictory mess of money news – and what it ultimately says about us. 

1. John Cassidy [@JohnCassidy], staff writer at the New Yorker, on why Americans feel gloomy about the economy, even when it isn't affecting their spending. Listen.

2. Rani Molla [@ranimolla], senior data reporter at Vox's Recode, on the data behind today's weird job market. Listen.  

3. Felix Salmon [@felixsalmon], chief financial correspondent at Axios, on the power of the price of gas. Listen.

4. Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth], professor of International Economics and Public Affairs at Brown University, on how the economy is ultimately a mirror of our accomplishments, advances, fears, and mistakes. Listen.

Jul 22, 2022
Escaping the Kremlin's Propaganda Machine

This weekend marks five brutal months since Russia invaded Ukraine — with no end in sight. And in Russia, support for the war has remained high. 77% approve of Putin’s actions in Ukraine, according to a survey conducted in late May by the Levada Center, Russia’s only remaining independent pollster. The war, at least in its neatly repackaged, Kremlin-approved form, is somewhat popular amongst Russians. On March 4th, Putin signed a "fake news" law, which threatens imprisonment for any journalist who deviates from the Kremlin's depiction of the war in Ukraine, shielding the operation of a durable and effective propaganda machine — which has been turning its gears for decades. 

Independent journalist Anastasiia Carrier was born and raised in Russia. She’s spent the last few years in the US working as a reporter, and actively wrenching herself away from the propaganda she grew up believing about Russia’s unequal prominence. In this episode of On the Media, Carrier talks about breaking away from her past as a Putin supporter.


Jul 21, 2022
How to Report a Cold Case

In 2014, the brutal killing of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three governors, shocked even the most cynical operatives. In February 2015, the Somerset prosecutor announced that John Sheridan had murdered his wife in cold blood and then killed himself. In 2017, the manner of death was updated to “undetermined.” In this episode of On the Media, hear Nancy Solomon's investigation into their brutal deaths, and the damning evidence of corruption she found at the highest levels in the Garden State.

Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery is hosted by Nancy Solomon. You can (and you should!) listen to all 8 episodes here

Jul 15, 2022
Why Reporter Nancy Solomon Chose True Crime

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Attorney General opened up an investigation into the killings of John and Joyce Sheridan, a well known couple with personal ties to three governors. In 2014, they were found stabbed to death, and their home set on fire. Local police thought that John Sheridan murdered his wife and then killed himself. That was eight years ago. So why is the Attorney General revisiting the case now? Well, this year, our WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon released an investigation into their brutal deaths, and found damning evidence of corruption at the highest levels in the Garden State. The series is called Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery. In this midweek podcast, Nancy tells Brooke how she used the true crime format to get listeners to care about corruption in New Jersey.

Jul 13, 2022
The F-Word

Early in the pandemic, weight was named a risk factor for severe covid-19. But what if the greater risk is poor medical treatment for fat people? This week, On the Media dives into the fictions, feelings, and fraught history of fat. Including how sugar and the slave trade laid the groundwork for American beauty standards. 

1. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff [@YoniFreedhoff], Associate Professor of Family Medicine at University of Ottawa, on what we do and don't know about the relation of weight and the severity of a Covid infection. Listen.

2. Katherine Flegal [@CeriseFlegal], epidemiologist and former senior scientist at the Centers For Disease Control, on our flawed understanding of the data around weight and death, and Katie Lebesco [@KatieLeBesco], researcher focusing on food, pop culture, and fat activism, on why the "obesity epidemic" is a moral panic hiding behind a thin veil of scientific language. Listen.

3. Sabrina Strings [@SaStrings], sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, on how European attitudes about fat dramatically changed in the 18th century. and set the standards Americans still see today. Listen.

Music in this Week's Show:
Slim Jenkins Place - Booker T and the MGs
Eye Surgery- Thomas Newman
String Quartet No. 5 (Phillip Glass) - Kronos Quartet
Disfarmer - Bill Frisell
Lost, Night - Bill Frisell
In the Bath - Randy Newman
The De Lessup’s Dance - Gavin Wright
Breakaway - Regina Carter

Jul 08, 2022
Hong Kong's Rewritten Histories

This fall, students in Hong Kong will learn a new version of history — one that erases the fact the region was ever a British colony. According to four history textbooks currently under development in China, Hong Kong has always been a part of China, despite over a century of British dominion. And so continues a pattern of effacing and repainting histories.  

During her years as a reporter in Hong Kong, Louisa Lim, author of the new book Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, stumbled across shards of her city's various, conflicting histories — some imposed by colonial forces, others originating from Hong Kongers themselves. This week, Annalee Newitz talks to Lim about the myths that obscure the region's past, and the impact this myriad of histories has had on Hong Kongers' sense of political and cultural identity.  

Jul 06, 2022
Locked and Loaded

The overturning of Roe v. Wade will remain the most discussed opinion of this Supreme Court term. But just a day earlier, the high court issued another monumental opinion — this one on guns. On this week's On the Media, hear why this latest ruling will send lawyers scrambling into historical archives. Plus, an inside look at Justice Clarence Thomas' unique strain of conservatism. 

1.  Timothy Zick, professor of law at William and Mary Law School, about what's next in the debate over gun control, and why it will be all about history. Listen

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


Dream Machine - John Zorn
Sign and Sigil - John Zorn
Whispers of  A Heavenly Death - John Zorn 


Jul 01, 2022
The End of Roe in the Armed Forces

As the country reels from last Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, people, politicians, and health care providers are scrambling to figure out what’s next. But pregnancy was already an especially complicated process, full of rules and regulations, for one particular sector of the population — the military. According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, women made up just 16.5% of active-duty service members in the Department of Defense; however, military women are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have unintended pregnancies. They’re also more likely to suffer a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, making medical care an essential should the department continue to diversify. This week, Brooke sits down with Kyleanne Hunter, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a Marine Corps combat veteran, to talk about how the department had just begun to make positive changes, and now sits in a complex limbo.


Jun 30, 2022
Struck From the Record

This week, the Supreme Court officially struck down Roe v. Wade, overturning fifty years of legal precedent and abortion rights across the country. On this week’s On the Media, hear about the case that almost defined the abortion debate instead. Plus, the Jan 6 committee’s latest bombshell evidence of Trump’s manipulation of the justice department. 

1. Alana Casanova-Burgess [@Alanallama], former OTM producer, and Jessica Glenza [@JessicaGlenza], health reporter at the Guardian, look at the case that Ruth Bader Ginsburg wished the Court heard instead of Roe v. Wade. Neil Siegel, a professor of law and political science at Duke University School of Law, puts the Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense case in context. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], who writes about the courts at Slate, untangles what the justices actually decided in RoeListen.

2. Michael Waldman [@mawaldman], president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, discusses how the January 6 committee's findings could aid a Justice Department indictment. Listen.


The Water Rises (Laurie Anderson) - The Kronos Quartet
John’s Book of Alleged Dances - The Kronos Quartet
Tateh's Picture Book - Randy Newman
Atlantic City - Randy Newman

Jun 24, 2022
The 'Country Queers' Who Don't Want to Flee Rural America

All across the country this month, people are celebrating queer and trans pride with parades, cookouts, dances, and family gatherings. And yet the future of the community feels darker than it has in a long time. Threats from Proud Boys and elected officials seem to reinforce the idea that LGBT people cannot survive or thrive in places outside a few coastal cities. But a study from the Movement Advancement Project in 2019 revealed that at least 3 million queer people live in rural America. And many have no interest in fleeing to big cities for protection. This week, Annalee Newitz sits in for Brooke, and talks to Rae Garringer about their oral history project, Country Queers. When Garringer was attending college in the early 2000s, the only queer rural representation they saw was in crime stories. Country Queers features LGBT people who are living in rural parts of the United States, in small towns and remote farms, and they’re often taking great joy in it. 

Jun 23, 2022
The Conspiracy Machine

In this week's January 6th committee hearings, a documentary selling election conspiracies was laughed off by the likes of Bill Barr. But myths about a stolen election are no joke. On this week’s On the Media, hear about a pundit's efforts to revitalize and repackage The Big Lie. Plus, one man’s escape from the conspiracy theory machine. 

1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent at The Washington Post, on debunking election myths made for the silver screen. Listen.

2. Nina Jankowicz [@wiczipedia], former head of the Disinformation Governance Board, on the lessons learned from government-led attempts to counter disinformation. Listen.

3. Josh Owens [@JoshuaHOwens], former staff member at InfoWars, on what made him leave, and how he's come to terms with his past role in dangerous movement. Listen.

Music in this Week's Show:
Ava Maria D. 839 - Pascal Jean and Jean Brenders
First Drive - Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Boy Moves the Sun - Michael Andrews
Exit Music (For A Film) - Brad Mehldau Trio

Jun 17, 2022
Alex Jones Doesn't Care About You

Josh Owens was an InfoWars employee from 2013 to 2017. In an essay published on CNN.com this week, Owens described his deep regret over the past 5 years as he grappled with the damage his work caused. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger spoke to Owens this week about Jones' role in the dissemination of disinformation in the light of what we are learning about the January 6th insurrection. 

Jun 16, 2022
Worth a Thousand Words

Gun control legislation appears doomed once again, even as Congress heard heartbreaking testimony from parents of the children killed in Uvalde. On the latest episode of On the Media, why some activists and journalists now advocate for publishing the gruesome photos of victims. Plus, how one family grappled with the brutal video of their loved one's death in prison.

1. Susie Linfield, professor of journalism at New York University, on the push to share photographs of victims, and the limited political power of an image. Listen.

2. Spencer and Gail Booker, family of Marvin Booker, who was killed by police in 2010, share what their family went through, and why Marvin's death being caught on camera remains so difficult. Listen.

3. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter for The Guardian, on why our coverage of gun violence tends to focus on just one kind tragedy, and how we could make it better. Listen.


Jun 10, 2022
The Messy Politics of Oprah and Dr. Oz

Back in the before-times, when we used to go into the radio station every day, our office next-door neighbor was WNYC host Brian Lehrer. He hosts a 2 hour live radio call-in show every day from 10 to noon in New York city.

In this segment from his show he examines the relationship between Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey.

The Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz recently won the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania. One reason the doctor is so popular, despite the many critics who say he promotes unscientific therapies and cures, is his many appearances on Oprah Winfrey's long-running daytime talk show. Kellie Jackson, historian, associate professor of African Studies, Wellesley College and host and executive producer of the Oprahdemics podcast, and Leah Wright Rigueur, associate professor of history, Johns Hopkins University and co-host of the Oprahdemics podcast, talk to Brian about Oprah's role in giving Dr. Oz a platform, what he became and if she has any responsibility to speak out.


Jun 08, 2022
When the Fog Clears

This week, On the Media looks ahead to the January 6th committee hearings that will air live in primetime this month. Find out which questions reporters hope the hearings will answer — like what really happened inside the White House that day. Plus, how a lie about a suitcase full of fake ballots took on a life of its own.

1. Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritzand Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaBNYC], creators of the award-winning series Trump, Inc., break down why the upcoming January 6th committee hearings could be the most consequential yet. Listen.

2. Ilya Marritz [@ilyamarritzand Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaBNYC] return in an excerpt from their new show Will Be Wild, examining the forces behind the January 6th insurrection with stories from those who tried to stop the attack, and those who took part. Plus, some pineapple. Listen.

For transcripts, see individual segment pages.

Jun 03, 2022
How The Media Failed Amber Heard

This Wednesday afternoon, in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia, a jury awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in damages in libel suit against Amber Heard, and gave her $2 million in her countersuit against him. All this, over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse." Depp’s lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name. This case, argued over six weeks before a seven-person jury and judge, and a noisily expanding online audience, drove much of the internet crazy with guilty pleasure. Thus ensued a collective hurling of feces at Amber Heard, despite the evidence gathered meticulously in a 2020 British libel case also focused on Depp’s spousal abuse. The only quarter of the media that seemed reluctant to engage in the facts of the case was the progressive press, or the liberal media. There you could find coverage of the social media chaos, but not the underlying reality. This bothered journalist Michael Hobbes, host of the podcast Maintenance Phase, who observed that usually reliable outlets tended to steer around the facts, and sold an already victimized woman down the river. 

Jun 02, 2022
Imperfect Immunity

As we trudge through our third year of the pandemic, what is the state of our immunity to COVID? On this week’s On the Media, hear how vaccines and reinfections interact with fast-evolving variants. Plus, why we should take the recent monkeypox outbreak seriously, but avoid panicking.

1. Katherine Wu [@KatherineJWu], staff writer for The Atlantic, on building immunity three years into the pandemic. Listen.

2. David Robertson, doctoral candidate at Princeton University, on what the press got wrong when covering herd immunity. Listen.

3. Fiona Lowenstein [@fi_lowenstein], journalist and founder of Body Politic, on how to write about Long Covid. Listen.

4. Jon Cohen [@sciencecohen], writer at Science, on why we shouldn't compare the recent monkeypox outbreak to Covid. Listen.

Sleep Talking by Ornette Coleman
Sonata for Violin and Guitar (Mauro Giuliani) by Itzhak Perlman and John Williams
Superstition (Stevie Wonder) by Jung Sungha
I Got A Right To Sing the Blues by Billy Kyle
John’s Book of Alleged Dances by The Kronos Quartet

For transcripts, see individual segment pages.

May 27, 2022
Again and Again and Again and Again (and Again)

Last week’s show was titled “Again and Again” and it led with an essay about the then latest devastating mass shooting, in Buffalo. We combed our archives for all those people we’d spoken to in the past about the  tropes and mistakes that litter the coverage of these abominations. We didn’t gather new tape because...honestly? We’ve said it all before. And then it happened again. This time in Texas at an elementary school.

August of 2019 saw another moment where 2 shooting rampages occurred within days of each other; one in El Paso, Texas and the next in Dayton, Ohio. 

At the time, Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote, “When a mass shooting happens, even when it happens twice in a 24-hour period — even when the death tolls soars into the dozens — we reflexively spring into action. We describe the horror of what happened, we profile the shooter, we tell about the victims’ lives, we get reaction from public officials. It’s difficult, gut-wrenching work for journalists on the scene.  And then there’s the next one. And the next one. If journalism is supposed to be a positive force in society — and we know it can be — this is doing no good.”

Lois Beckett is a senior reporter for The Guardian. She covered gun violence for many years, now gun policy. She says that mainstream coverage of the issue is flawed because it's focused mainly on one type of tragedy. She explained to me when I spoke to her 3 years ago, how better coverage would mean focusing on the root causes of gun violence.

This is a segment from our September 6th, 2019 program, Pressure Drop.

May 25, 2022
Again and Again

In the wake of yet another racist mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, New York, media outlets are churning out heartbreakingly familiar stories, with the same tropes and the same helplessness. On this week's On the Media, how we've become mired in patterns and lost sight of the potential solutions. Plus, how journalists should cover the ongoing siege on democracy. Then, a deep dive into the forgotten legacy of one of America's most influential writers.  

1. Brooke Gladstone [@OTMBrooke], OTM host, on the tropes that choke coverage of every mass shooting, and why we should focus on consequences and the 'rot at the root.' Listen.

2. 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.

3. Paul Auster, acclaimed novelist and author of Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, on the 19th century writer's forgotten legacy. Listen.


White Man Sleeps by The Kronos Quartet
Fergus River Roundelay by Gerry O’Beirne
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
A Ride with Polly Jean by Jenny Scheinman
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews

May 20, 2022
Where in the World is Brooke?

This week we're airing an interview that Brooke did while on a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She and her husband Fred Kaplan (author of the War Stories column in Slate), sat down with Mark Hannah, host of the podcast "None of the Above," produced by the Eurasia Group Foundation

From the Crimean War of 1853 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, journalists, reporters, and the media have shaped the public’s understanding of war. But do the stories we read and the photos we see provide an impartial picture of the wars they document? As Hannah recently explained in Foreign Policy, certain aspects of American war coverage—reliance on government sources and incentives to simplify geopolitics as battles between good and evil—have long compelled news organizations to tilt toward military action.

May 18, 2022
Seeing Is Believing

With Roe v Wade under threat, some politicians and media outlets are trying to turn the national conversation away from abortion and toward civility. On this week’s On the Media, how the GOP has mastered the art of setting the narrative. Plus, how moral panics surrounding dangerous TikTok trends follow a century-old pattern of blaming new technology for the deviant behavior of teenagers.

1. Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1], opinion writer for the Washington Post, on Republicans decrying the draft opinion leak and protests to motivate their base ahead of the midterms. Listen.

2. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on alarmist news coverage of TikTok challenges and its misleading influence on panicked parents. Listen.

3. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], senior reporter for NBC News, on the story of Tiffany Dover, and how misinformation about her death fueled anti-vax messaging. Listen.


Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
The Camping Store by Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews 
May 13, 2022
How the Depp v. Heard Trial Became a Meme

This week, we take a look at the latest celebrity trial to ensnare the national attention. Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation, and she’s counter suing him for the same. Depp’s suit takes issue with an op-ed Heard wrote back in 2018 for the Washington Post in which she identifies herself as a survivor of domestic violence. She first came forward with allegations against Depp in 2016. In 2018, Depp sued British tabloid, The Sun, for defamation over headlines that accused him of abuse, but he lost that case. Given the history, you might expect to see fewer headlines over this latest trial. But, not so. The ratings for Court TV, which is broadcasting every moment of the trial, have more than doubled. Pair the live visuals with Depp’s rabid online fanbase, and you’ve got a case being watched billions of times over — in fact, the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp hashtag has upwards of 10 billion views on TikTok and it’s spawned several viral sounds and trends and … comedy sketches. Guest host Brandy Zadrozny asks EJ Dickson, senior writer for Rolling Stone, about how pro-Depp coverage of the case took over TikTok, and its consequences.

May 12, 2022
Crime and Punishment

Across news outlets, crime reporting often relies on police sources and incomplete data. On this week’s show, hear how to spot bias in crime stories and what more nuanced coverage looks like. And, the struggle to protect whistleblowers calling out police abuse. Plus, the story of one powerful tabloid that has stymied bail reform for decades.

1. Laura Bennett, the co-author of ​“Freedom, Then the Press: New York Media and Bail Reform,” on how to read a crime story. Listen.

2. Matt Katz [@mattkatz00] WNYC reporter, on what bad coverage of bail reform looks like. Listen.

3. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, on how to protect whistleblowers on police misconduct. Listen.

4. Tauhid Chappell [@TauhidChappell], Philadelphia Project Manager for Free Press, on abolishing the crime beat. Listen.

May 06, 2022
The Abortion Underground

This week, OTM presents a story from our colleagues at The Experiment. There’s a common story about abortion in this country, that people have only two options to intentionally end a pregnancy: the clinic or the coat hanger. They can choose the safe route that’s protected by Roe v. Wade—a doctor in a legal clinic—or, if Roe is overturned, endure a dangerous back-alley abortion, symbolized by the coat hanger. But a close look at the history of abortion in this country shows that there’s much more to this story. As a draft of the majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media this week, activists are once again preparing to take abortion into their own hands.

Reporter Jessica Bruder explores the abortion underground to learn about the movement’s origins, and reveals how activists today are mobilizing around effective and medically safe abortion methods that can be done at home. 

A transcript of this episode is available. 

Further reading: “A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe

May 04, 2022
Ghost in the Machine

After news broke that Elon Musk is likely to purchase Twitter later this year, the billionaire began sharing a controversial vision for the app. On this week’s On the Media, hear why Musk’s plan to turn Twitter into a so-called free speech platform could spiral out of control and how urban planning can make safer digital spaces. Plus, how science fiction inspired some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful men.

1. Anand Giridharadas [@AnandWrites], author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Erika D. Smith [@Erika_D_Smith], LA Times columnist, and Natalie Wynn [@ContraPoints], YouTuber and political commentator, on the implications and possible outcomes of Elon Musk's potential purchase of Twitter. Listen

2. Eli Pariser [@elipariser], co-director of Civic Signals, on how urban planning can manage the problems of social programing to create digital spaces that don't exploit us. Listen

3. Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and staff writer at the New Yorker, Annalee Newitz [@Annaleen], former Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo and science fiction author, and Gene Seymour [@GeneSeymour], longtime cultural critic, on tech moguls' obsession with science fiction. Listen

Apr 29, 2022
Dead End

On this week's podcast extra we present episode 1 of a new series from our colleague, Nancy Solomon. She’s our New Jersey specialist at WNYC and she’s got quite the tale to tell. It’s about a murder on a Jersey cul de sac that was never solved. And it involves some of the most powerful people in the state. It’s even got a waterfront land deal. It’s sort of like Chinatown meets American Hustle. It’s a seven episode podcast, and we think you’ll like it. Listen and subscribe here: https://link.chtbl.com/M_a20dat?sid=otmwebsite

Apr 27, 2022
Work Work Work Work Work

Checking in on the so-called Great Resignation. On this week’s On The Media, hear why the trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing. 

1. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and author of Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, on how love and meaning became intertwined with our jobs. Listen.

2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, and Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on how technology isor, dramatically is not — making life easier at work. Listen.

3. Gavin Mueller [@gavinmuellerphd], assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on what modern lessons can be learned from the Luddite workers of 19th century England. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Sign and Sigil by John Zorn
BROKE by Modest Mouse
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Blues by La Dolce vita Dei Nobili
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Stolen Moments by Ahmed Jamal Trio

Apr 22, 2022
The Holiday You May Have Missed

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 20, 2022
How Cassettes Changed the World

Cassette tapes mostly gather dust these days. But back in their heyday, they fundamentally changed how we communicate, in ways we’re still making sense of today. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the cassette tape fueled the Iranian revolution, helped pierce the Iron Curtain, and put human connection in the palm of our hands.

1. Simon Goodwin on his innovation to broadcast computer software over the radio back in 1983. Listen.

2. Computer programmer Fuxoft explains his role in 'Sneakernet,' which saw pirated material of all types smuggled into 1980s Czechoslovakia via cassette tape. Listen.

3. The role of cassette tapes in the Iranian Revolution. Listen.

This episode was reported, produced, scored and sound designed for Radiolab by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Top tier reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Apr 15, 2022
It's Tax Season!

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.

Apr 13, 2022
Our Unfinished Pandemic

Congress is threatening to cut billions in COVID aid even as a new variant emerges. On this week’s On the Media, how our policy debate reveals an indifference for long COVID disabilities and death on a staggering scale. And, how that apathy tracks with a pattern of past pandemics. Plus, a look at the novelist Kurt Vonnegut’s theory of storytelling, and what it tells us about why so many Americans have stopped paying attention to the virus.

  1. Ed Yong [@edyong209], staff writer at The Atlantic, on why mass deaths from COVID have failed to provoke a strong political and social reckoning. Listen.
  2. Laura Spinney, [@lfspinney], author and science journalist on how pandemics have historically disabled people, and what this teaches us about Covid long-haulers. Listen.
  3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on how to make sense of Covid's ever-changing plot, using Kurt Vonnegut's theory of "the shapes of stories." Listen.

Agnus Dei by Martin Palmeri
Love Theme from Spartacus by Fred Hersch

Passing Time by John Renbourn
Misterioso by Kronos Quartet
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Brad Mehldau Trio



Apr 08, 2022
New Variant on the Block

Hey waddayaknow? There are more variants in the news. Back when Omicron was first making headlines at the end of last year, we made a Breaking News Consumer's Handbooks: Variant Edition. Brooke spoke to Katherine J. Wu, a staff writer at The Atlantic who covers science, to review the steps a news consumer can take to stay informed minus the anxiety. 

For a linkable text equivalent, a pdf version is available here.

This is a segment from our December 3rd, 2021 program, Pigeon With A Mustache.

Apr 06, 2022
Still Armed, Still Dangerous

More than a month into Putin’s invasion, Ukrainian resistance has proved mightier than the Russian leader seems to have anticipated. On this week’s On the Media, hear how Russia is following the well-established American track record of entering wars without plans for ending them. Plus, a sober look at Russia’s nuclear strategy. And, how the threat of nuclear apocalypse has shaped American culture since World War II. Then, a look at the 1983 made-for-TV film that spurred a national conversation about disarmament. 

1. Gideon Rose, author of How Wars End, on what Russia should've learned from America's misadventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Listen.

2. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard[@KBruusgaard], postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, on the actual threat of Russia's nuclear arsenal. Listen.

3. Alex Wellerstein [@wellerstein], historian of science at Stevens Institute of Technology, on why the threat of nuclear apocalypse can be hard to comprehend. Listen

4. Marsha Gordon [@MarshaGGordon], professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, on one of the most important films about nukes. Listen.


Sacred Oracle by John Zorn 
Horizon by Thomas Newman
In The Bath by Randy Newman
La Vie En Rose by Toots Thielemans
Gormenghast by John Zorn
White Lotus Theme by Cristobal Tapia De Veer
99 Luftballoons by Nena

Apr 01, 2022
The Simpsons in a Time of Nuclear War

A new poll this week from AP-NORC found that when asked, close to half of Americans say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned. Given that Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert at the start of his invasion of Ukraine, and with the rhetoric heating up as the war continues, it's hardly surprising that people are worried. 

All the talk of nukes got us thinking about a segment from a few years back in which Brooke spoke to playwright Anne Washburn, about her work Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. In it she imagines a world that has been devastated by a nuclear incident and how the remaining civilization would process the destruction over time...by retelling an episode of The Simpsons and about what the episode's evolution over the decades says about society's need for stories and about the role of comedy in the face of tragedy.

Excerpts taken from the 2013 production at Playwrights Horizons, directed by Steve Cosson, and a 2017 production at Amherst Regional High School, directed by Nathan Baron-Silvern. Music by Michael Friedman.

Mar 30, 2022
All the World's a Stage

This week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson were filled with dog whistles and distractions. On our latest episode, hear how Republicans are using rhetoric about pedophiles to discredit their opponents. Plus, the story of an American author who learned and unlearned Putin’s myth about Ukrainian nazification.

1. Melissa Gira Grant [@melissagira], staff writer at The New Republic, on the cruel new Republican buzzword: "grooming." Listen.

2. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], staff writer at Slate, on the eerie experience of watching Zelesnsky act in the television show, "Servant of the People" and more. Listen.

3. OTM presents a story from The Experiment, featuring Franklin Foer [@franklinfoer], on his family's debt to Ukrainians. Listen.


Sarabande (Barry Lyndon OST) by National Philharmonic Orchestra
German Lullaby by The Kiboomers
Juliet of the Spirits (Main Theme) by Nino Rota
Heroes by David Bowie
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell

Mar 25, 2022
A Handy Guide to How the Supreme Court Works

The Supreme Court is an opaque and difficult to understand institution. Luckily, drawing on the expertise of seasoned SCOTUS reporters, we've put together a handy guide for the discerning news consumer to make sense of the court, its decisions, and its coverage.

Song: "Jeopardy! (Theme and Variations)" by the Resonance Flute Consort

Mar 23, 2022
We Were Warned

As the horrific violence in Ukraine escalates, the global far-right is justifying Russia’s invasion with outlandish conspiracy theories. On this week’s On the Media, guest host Matt Katz digs into one viral lie that went mainstream. Plus, how internet sleuths are collecting digital evidence of alleged Russian war crimes to be used in international courts. And, we hear from the author of a new book about four foreign correspondents who shaped early American coverage of World War II.

1. Ben Collins [@oneunderscore__], senior reporter with NBC News, on the viral Ukrainian "bioweapon labs" conspiracy theory. Listen.

2. Eliot Higgins [@EliotHiggins], founder of Bellingcat, on how his organization uses open source investigations to track alleged Russian war crimes. And Alexa Koenig [@KAlexaKoenig], Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law, on how such digital evidence may be used by future war crime tribunals. Listen.

4. Deborah Cohen [@DeborahACohen], professor of history at Northwestern University, on her new book about four foreign correspondents who sounded the alarm on WWII. Listen.

Mar 18, 2022
The Death of Historical Memory in Russia

Russia's Memorial International maintained an archive whose purpose was to amass and preserve the crimes against humanity committed in the Soviet Union. On March 3rd it was closed down by order of the Kremlin. It was only a month ago that we first aired this piece about the threats to the archive, but already the information and media landscape in Russia is unrecognizable. Unknown numbers of journalists have fled draconian new laws that could land them in prison for 15 years for contradicting the party line on the war in Ukraine and state controlled media has has tightened its stranglehold l of the airwaves. In the chaos of the past few weeks, Memorial’s closing was - tragically, just another data point…another nail in the coffin for truth seekers. 

OTM producer Molly Schwartz - who was in Moscow but has since left, visited Memorial International and spoke with archivist Nikita Lomakin about the importance of preserving Russia’s oldest Human Rights organization. In this piece, Molly also interviews historian Ivan Kurilla, author of The Battle for the Past: How Politics Changes Historyabout how the attacks on the archive resonate with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This is a segment from our February 11, 2022 program I’m No Expert.


Mar 16, 2022
The Escape

The refugee crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be the fastest-growing displacement of people in Europe since World War II. On this week’s On the Media, hear the story of an internet community that guided an influencer and his family through the warzone. Plus, how Russia’s draconian anti-press laws have driven journalists out of the country.

1. Michael Wasiura [@michael_wasiura], writer and former pundit, on how his role giving the American perspective on Russian state TV became obsolete and what he's doing now. Listen.

2. Alexey Kovalev [@Alexey__Kovalev], investigative editor at Meduza, on his experience fleeing Russia after the Kremlin tightened it's grip on information about the war, choking out independent media. Listen

3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on the Ukrainian Twitch streamer who used his virtual military skills and online community to get his family to safety when the invasion began. Listen

Frail as a Breeze by Erik Friedlander
Glass House (End Title) by David Bergeaud
Time is Late  by Marcos Ciscar
Horizon 12.2 by Thomas Newman
Peace Piece (Bill Evans) by Kronos Quartet

Mar 11, 2022
The Kremlin's M.O.

This is a piece we first ran last September. It's reported by OTM producer Molly Schwartz who until the war in Ukraine started was a fellow on a journalism program in Moscow. Molly’s recounted for us the effects of a bizarre and cumbersome law - one of the many tactics used by the Kremlin to silence dissenting voices. 

Following widespread protests across Russia last year in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Putin's government has engaged in a wave of crackdowns on dissent, expelling and imprisoning opposition leaders, and shutting down independent news outlets. They've also, since April 2021, added 30 Russian journalists or news outlets to the government's list of "foreign agents." 

Journalists or news organizations who are labeled as "foreign agents" don't have to to shut down or stop publishing. Instead, they have to jump through various bureaucratic hoops — like reporting all their income and expenses to the Ministry of Justice (to be publicly posted on its website), and, perhaps most Kafkaesque of all, including a 24-word legal disclaimer on top of everything they publish. This includes every article, every advertisement, every tweet, every Instagram story, every response to a friend's comment on social media. 

This is a segment from our September 24th, 2021 program, The Subversion Playbook.

Mar 09, 2022
The Fog of War

Footage captured and shared by Ukrainian civilians is helping the world see through the fog of war. But not every video in your news feed is the real deal. On this week’s On the Media, how to sift fact from fiction with our new Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Ukraine Edition. Plus, how journalists and analysts are using OSINT to track the war. Then, how an international white Christian nationalist movement is fueling Putin’s views and violence. 

1. Jane Lytvynenko [@JaneLytv], senior research fellow at the Technology and Social Change Project at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, on how to sort out the real from the fake while keeping up with the news from Ukraine. Listen.

2. Peter Aldhous [@paldhous], science reporter at Buzzfeed, on how open-source intelligence is changing how we all experience war. Listen.

3. Casey Michel [@cjcmichel], writer and investigative journalist, on white Christian nationalism—here and in Russia. Listen.

4. Jason Stanley [@jasonintrator], professor of philosophy at Yale University, on the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that plague eastern Europe. Listen.


Exit Music For A Film by Brad Mehldau
Motherless Child by LaTonya Peoples
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
The Artifact & Living by Michael Andrews
Trance Dance by John Zorn
Using the Apostate Tyrant as His Tool by Kronos Quartet
Final Retribution by John Zorn
Waltz (From Swan Lake) by Europa Philharmonic Orchestra

Mar 04, 2022
'La Brega' in Puerto Rico

This week, OTM presents stories from Puerto Rico as told in a podcast series called "La Brega," hosted by Alana Casanova-BurgessHear 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 25, 2022
How SPAM built a town—and tore it apart

This week, OTM presents the second installment of a new series by our colleagues at The Experiment. In this episode, we learn that SPAM is at the center of one of the longest and most contentious labor battles in U.S. history. In 1985, workers at the Hormel Foods plant in Austin, Minnesota, went on strike, demanding better working conditions and stable wages. Generations of meatpackers had worked at the plant, some for most of their lives—and that gruesome, difficult work afforded them a sustainable, middle-class life. So when that way of life was threatened, they fought back. SPAM boycotts spread to cities and towns around the world. The strike went on for almost two years, pit neighbor against neighbor, and turned violent; the National Guard was called in to protect those who crossed the picket line. In the end, the strike is a Rorschach test: either a lesson in what is possible when workers unite, or a cautionary tale about biting the SPAM that feeds. 

This episode is the second in a new three-part miniseries from The Experiment—SPAM: How the American Dream Got Canned.”

Feb 23, 2022
Good As Gold

Mainstream journalists keep falling for crypto scams that can end up costing their audiences a fortune. On this week’s On the Media, hear why all of us might want to become at least a bit literate in crypto-technology. Plus, the story of an American pundit living in Moscow, who’s being paid to be Russian TV’s favorite punching bag.

1. Adam Davidson [@adamdavidson], founder of NPR's Planet Money, on the need for market context when reporting on cryptocurrency. Listen.

2. Katie Notopoulos [@katienotopoulos], senior tech reporter at BuzzFeed and Maxwell Strachan [@maxwellstrachan], features writer and editor at Motherboard at VICE, on the backlash from covering crypto investors who'd rather remain anonymous. Listen.

3. OTM producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication], on how Russian TV downplays talk of war using an American as a straw man. Listen.


I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles by Classic Carnival Circus Calliope Music
Newsreel by Randy Newman
Ave Maria - Pascal Jean & Jean Brenders 
Avalon by Randy Newman
Fergus Roundelay by Gerry O'Beirne
Sonata for Violin and Guitar (Mauro Giuliani) by Itzhak Perlman & John Williams
Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) by Mario Rossi & Wiener Opernochester


Feb 18, 2022
All about SPAM (the meaty kind)

On this week's  podcast we’re bringing you a story from our colleagues at The Experiment.

It’s about SPAM: the meaty kind. During World War II, wherever American troops spread democracy, they left the tinned pork-mix in their wake; tossing cans of SPAM out of trucks to the hungry people they sought to liberate. That’s how Experiment producer Gabrielle Berbey’s grandfather first came to know and love SPAM as a kid in the Philippines. Once a classic American product, 80 years later it is now a staple Filipino food: a beloved emblem of Filipino identity. 

In this episode Gabrielle sets out to understand how SPAM made its way into the hearts of generations of Pacific Islanders, and ends up opening a SPAM can of worms. 

This episode is the first in a new three-part miniseries from The Experiment—SPAM: How the American Dream Got Canned.


Feb 16, 2022
I'm No Expert

Joe Rogan’s fans, critics, and everyone in between have spent weeks hearing his name plastered on the news. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the real lessons emerging from the debate about the debate. Plus, what Putin’s attack on Russia’s past might tell us about Ukraine’s future.

1. Greg Bensinger [@GregBensinger], member of New York Times editorial board, Peter Kafka [@pkafka], host of the Vox podcast Recode Media, Andy Campbell [@AndyBCampbell], senior editor at HuffPost, and Tom Webster [@webby2001], senior vice president at Edison Research, on why we're all talking about Joe Rogan. Listen.

2. Jill Filipovic [@JillFilipovic], attorney and writer, on who holds responsibility for misinformation. Listen.

3. Gita Jackson [@xoxogossipgita], on the misguided defenses of Joe Rogan's racist comments. Listen.

4. OTM producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication], on Russia's newest effort to erase the past. Listen.


Blue Monk by Jimmy Giuffre
Ain't Misbehavin’ by Hank Jones
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod
I Am by India Arie
Breathe by India Arie
String Quartet No.5 (Philip Glass) by Kronos Quartet
Peace Piece (Bill Evans) by Kronos Quartet

Feb 11, 2022
Man of the Left

Todd Gitlin - writer, academic, media analyst, sociologist and lifelong activist died on February 5th. In his youth he helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War, held in Washington in  1965.  He organized rallies against South Africa aparthied and for civil rights in America. Later as an educator and author and media critic of the left and right, worked as both an observer and shaper of thoughts  about media narrative until the end of his life.  

Gitlin was also a mentor to many and a huge influence on many who came to the nascent field of media criticism. Among them, New York University journalism professor and Media critic Jay Rosen, writer of the oft-quoted pressthink blog, and a regular here on our show. Brooke spoke with Rosen this week about the influence Gitlin had on his career. 


Feb 09, 2022
Read the Room

An old threat has returned to classrooms across the country — and it’s made of pages and ink. On this week’s On the Media, hear what it means to ban a book, and who has the right to choose what kids learn. Plus, meet the student who took his school board all the way to the Supreme Court in the 80s. 

1. Kelly Jensen, editor for Book Riot who writes a weekly update on “book censorship news,” on what it means to ban a book. Listen.

2. Jennifer Berkshire [@BisforBerkshire] and Jack Schneider [@Edu_Historian], hosts of the education podcast “Have You Heard,” on the rights—both real and fictional—of parents to shape what their kids learn. Listen.

3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] takes a deep dive into our nations history of taking books off shelves, with the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Island Trees School District v Pico. Featuring: Steven Pico, then student and plaintiff in the case and Arthur Eisenberg, New York Civil Liberties lawyer, who represented him. Listen.

Tymperturbably Blue by Duke Ellington
York Fusiliers by Douglas Monroe & Yorktown Fife and Drums
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Viderunt Omnes by The Kronos Quartet

Feb 04, 2022
Barney Rosset Never Backed Down

In 1951, Grove Press was a tiny, almost-defunct independent publisher, with just three titles in its catalog, including Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man. But then Barney Rosset took over and, with a few choice books, helped push America past its Puritanical roots and into the sexual revolution. He died in 2012 and we are re-airing this interview I did with him many years back, to set up this week’s show in which we’ll be trying to unpack the latest round of book banning in America. 


Feb 02, 2022
Humans, Being

When you hear the word “Neanderthal,” you probably picture a mindless, clumsy brute. It’s often used as an insult — even by our president, who last year called anti-maskers “Neanderthals.” But what if we have more in common with our ancestral cousins than we think? On this week’s On the Media, hear how these early humans have been unfairly maligned in science and in popular culture.

1. John Hawks [@johnhawks], professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, on our biological family tree—and the complicated branch that is Neanderthals. Listen.

2. Rebecca Wragg Sykes [@LeMoustier], archeologist and author of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, on and what we know about how they lived. Listen

3. Clive Finlayson [@CliveFinlayson], Director, Chief Scientist, and Curator of the Gibraltar National Museum, on how studying what’s inside Gorham and Vanguard caves can help reconstruct Neanderthal life beyond them. Listen

4. Angela Saini, science journalist, on how Neanderthals have been co-opted to push mythologies about the genetic basis of race. Listen.


Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
Young Heart by Brad Mehldau

Sacred Oracle by John Zorn
Tomorrow Never Knows by Quartetto d’ Archi Di Dell’Orchestra di Milano Guiseppe Verdi
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod

Jan 28, 2022
Debate This!

Earlier this month, Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, wrote a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates—the independent, bipartisan organization that has convened general election debates since the 1980's. In her letter, McDaniel said that the RNC would boycott the presidential debates during the upcoming election cycle. That is – unless the commission was willing to meet its demands. The move is the latest refusal by Republicans to meet political norms. And it also poses the question: What – if anything – would be lost if the presidential debates didn’t happen? Brooke spoke to Alex Shephard, staff writer at The New Republic who's article on the subject was titled: “Let the Presidential Debates Die.”


Jan 26, 2022
Political Fictions

It’s been over a year since Donald Trump was defeated fair and square in the 2020 election, but polling shows that belief in the Big Lie is as strong as ever. On this week’s On the Media, hear journalists debate how to interview Americans convinced by this dangerous myth. Plus, find out why one political linguist isn’t sure the press can pull democracy back from the brink.

1. Matthew Sitman [@MatthewSitman], host of the Know Your Enemy podcast, shares his tips for interviewing right-wing intellectuals. Listen.

2. Bill Kristol [@BillKristol], editor-at-large of The Bulwark, reckons with 'Stop the Steal'-ers in his party. Listen.

3. Astead Herndon [@AsteadWesley], national politics reporter at the The New York Times, on why he'd rather interview a 'Big Lie'-believing voter than a politician. Listen.

4. George Lakoff [@GeorgeLakoff], linguist and cognitive scientist, reflects on the "truth sandwich." Listen.


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Brad Mehldau
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
Cello Song by Nick Drake
Boy Moves the Sun by Michael Andrews
I’m Not Following You by Michael Andrews
White Man Sleeps I by Kronos Quartet
Love Angel by Marcos Ciscar
Traveling Music by Kronos Quartet

Jan 21, 2022
Snow...in the tropics?

This week we are airing another episode from the show "La Brega"a podcast about life in Puerto Rico and hosted by former OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess.

During the early 1950s, the children of Puerto Rico were invited to an icy winter spectacle. Mayor Felisa Rincón de Gautier, the charismatic mayor of San Juan, arranged for Eastern Airlines to bring a plane-load of snow for a snowball fight in the city. It was a feat that has become legend for a whole generation. But while this winter wonderland came to San Juan free of charge, it wasn't without a cost.

In this special episode of La Brega, we learn how the snow was actually transported to San Juan from Hilda Jimenez, Doña Fela’s assistant. And we hear from some of the people who experienced it up-close. Ignacio Rivera (of the radio program Fuego Cruzado) was 8 years old and threw snowballs; the artist Antonio Martorell remembers that too, but also sees the event as part of Puerto Rico’s troubling colonial relationship with the United States. Seventy years later – when ice is at an even greater premium – journalist and author Ana Teresa Toro says Puerto Rico is still grappling with how to understand that special delivery.

To learn more about Doña Fela, we recommend a visit to the Casa Museo Felisa Rincón de Gautier.

You can learn more about Antonio Martorell in a recent documentary called El Accidente Feliz. His portrait of the mayor is here

The snowball fight is also the subject of a piece by the artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente, called Lluvia con nieve, now part of Whitney's collection.

Ana Teresa Toro’s new book of poetry is “Flora animal.”

Jan 19, 2022
A Question of War

Since the insurrection on January 6, warnings of a second American Civil War have been sounded. This week, On the Media explores whether the civil war talk is an alarmist cry, or actually a sober assessment. Plus, hear how the myth of “the Dark Ages” paints an unfair portrait of medieval times. 

1. David Remnickeditor of The New Yorker and host of the New Yorker Radio Hour, on the risk of second civil war. Listen.

2. Barbara Walter [@bfwalter], professor of International Relations at the University of California, San Diego, on the tell-tale signs that a country is headed for insurgence. Listen.

3. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], journalist and contributing writer at The Atlantic, on when journalists should sound the alarm (and how loud we should ring it). Listen.

4. David M. Perry [@Lollardfish] and Matthew Gabriele [@prof_gabriele], authors of The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, on how the Dark Ages might have not been so dark. Listen.


Wade in the Water by Hank Jones and Charlie Haden
The Glass House - Marjane’s Inspiration by David Bergeaud
Seinfeld Theme - Jonathan Wolff
Lowland’s Away by Gregory Blavenz - The Us Army Fife And Drum Corps
Harpsichord - Four Tet
Ad summan missam: Santus II by Ensemble Aeolus

Jan 14, 2022
Is New York Times v Sullivan on the Chopping Block?
Jan 13, 2022
Road To Insurrection

It’s been one year since the armed insurrection at the Capitol, what do we know now about how it happened? On this week’s On the Media, hear about the signs that reveal militia groups were preparing for that day — or something like it — long before January 6th. Plus, how the attack may have transformed the far-right in America. 

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 [@BostonJoan] Research 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, and Jared Holt [@JaredHolt] Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. Listen.


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

Jan 07, 2022
Aaron Swartz: The Wunderkind of the Free Culture Movement

In 2013, 26-year-old software developer and political activist Aaron Swartz died by suicide. He had been indicted on federal charges after illegally downloading 4.8 million articles from JSTOR, a database of academic journals, and potentially faced a million dollar fine and decades in jail. While his death made headline news, Swartz had long been an Internet folk hero and a fierce advocate for the free exchange of information. In his book, The Idealist, writer Justin Peters places Swartz within the fraught, often colorful, history of copyright in America. Brooke talks with Peters about Swartz's legacy and the long line of "data moralists" who came before him.

Music in this podcast extra:

"Moss Garden" by David Bowie
"Heroes" by David Bowie; performed by The Meridian String Quartet
"Life On Mars?" by David Bowie; performed by The Meridian String Quartet.

This segment originally aired in our January 15, 2016 program, "Terms of Engagement."

Jan 05, 2022

Should we cancel the word “cancel”? On this week’s On the Media, find out who benefits from the newest culture scare, and a history of "cancellation." Plus, hear how three women reporters covered the Vietnam War against all odds.

1. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], co-host of Maintenance Phase, on the anecdotes that fuel "political correctness" and "cancel culture" panics. Listen. 

2. 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. 

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

4. Elizabeth Becker [@Elizbeckerwrite], 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.


Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap by Thomas Newman
You Sexy Thing (Remix) by Hot Chocolate
John’s Book Of Alleged Dances  by Kronos Quartet
Carmen Fantasy by Anderson & Row

Dec 31, 2021
An Interview With Basketball Great Walt "Clyde" Frazier

Basketball Hall of Famer Walt "Clyde" Frazier made a successful transition from NBA star to sports broadcaster on the MSG Network. With his cool rhymes and even cooler clothes, Frazier sat down with Brooke for a live event in 2013 to discuss basketball, broadcasting, and the art of being cool.

This segment originally aired in our March 29, 2013 program, "Culture and the Courts, The Legacy of Rand Paul's Filibuster, and More."

Dec 29, 2021
Scene of the Crime

On this week’s On the Media, a look at the journalists and newspapers we lost in 2021, and hopes for the press in the year ahead. Plus, is the ever-popular genre of true crime good for us? And the mob gets a podcast. 

1. Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger], tells Brooke about a year of newspaper closures, murdered journalists, and the end of the Trump Bump. Listen.

2. Emma Berquist [@eeberquist], author of Devils Unto Duston how the true crime genre can rot our brains. Listen.

3. Rachel Corbett [@RachelNCorbett], author of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin, on why the feds love podcasts by mobsters. Listen.


After The Fact by John Scofield
The Hammer of Los by John Zorn
Smooth Criminal by 2Cellos

Dec 24, 2021
Ten Things That Scare Brooke Gladstone

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

Dec 22, 2021
Fame and Misfortune

Text messages obtained by the January 6 commission revealed the panic of Fox News hosts — even as they downplayed the insurrection on camera. On this week’s On the Media, how to hold the news station accountable. Plus, an investigation of the celebrity profile – from the biting to the banal.

  1. Angelo Carusone [@GoAngelo], President and CEO of Media Matters, explains what the new January 6th revelations say about the state of Fox News. Listen.

  2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, on why the profile of Jeremy Strong in The New Yorker struck a chord. Listen.

  3. Bobby Finger [@bobbyfinger] and Lindsey Weber [@lindseyweber], co-hosts of the podcast "Who? Weekly," talk about the scrappy, B-list celebrities do for fame. Listen.


Il Casanova di Federico Fellini by Nina Rota
Paperback Writer by Quartetto dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
The Art Of War by Richard Beddow
Investigations by Kevin MacLeod
Newsreel by Randy Newman
Hard Times by Leftover Salmon

Dec 17, 2021
Everything You Never Knew About Movie Novelizations

Write a great book and you're a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you're a visionary. Turn a great film into a book...that's another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings -- some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them -- but respected they are not. Instead, they're assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren't good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

Back in 2016, former OTM producer Jesse Brenneman went inside the world of novelizations; featuring authors Max Allan Collins, Alan Dean Foster, Elizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.


"The Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss

"The Throne Room and End Title" by John Williams (from the film "Star Wars")


*Correction: In the piece it is stated that the Star Wars novelization begins, "Another time, another galaxy." In fact it begins, "Another galaxy, another time." 

Dec 15, 2021
Take This Job and Shove It

Amid the so-called Great Resignation, nearly 39 million Americans have left their jobs. On this week’s On The Media, hear why this trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing. 

1. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and author of Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, on how love and meaning became intertwined with our jobs. Listen.

2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, and Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on how technology isor, dramatically is not — easing our lives at work. Listen.

3. Gavin Mueller [@gavinmuellerphd], assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on what modern lessons can be learned from the Luddite workers of 19th century England. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Sign and Sigil by John Zorn
BROKE by Modest Mouse
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Blues by La Dolce vita Dei Nobili
Liquid SpearWaltz by Michael Andrews
Stolen Moments by Ahmed Jamal Trio

Dec 10, 2021
Log On For OTM Trivia Tonight!

Tonight at 7pm ET, join Brooke, the OTM staff, and other listeners from around the country for our first ever Zoom trivia night! Flex your knowledge of the show for a chance to win some sweet prizes including hats hand-crocheted by Brooke herself. All you gotta do to participate is become a sustaining member. Click this link. Or, text the letters O T M to 70101. That’s the money that powers our journalism and keeps the show pumping through your speakers each week. 

If you're already a sustaining member, check your email. You've already received a Zoom link for the event. See you tonight!


Dec 07, 2021
Pigeon with A Mustache

By now, the new coronavirus variant has been detected in dozens of countries – including the U.S. On this week’s On the Media, hear what pigeons can tell us about how to react to the omicron variant. Plus, why we should know the names of the scientists in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong who found the new strain. And what rights we do, and don't, have when it comes to when we die. 

1. Katherine J. Wu [@KatherineJWu], staff writer at The Atlantic covering science, on what we do (and mostly don't) know about the new omicron variant. Listen.

2. Jeremy Kamil [@macroliter], associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, on the scientists who found omicron, and why we should know their names. Listen.

3. Katie Engelhart [@katieengelhart], journalist and New America fellow, on the complicated right to die. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Horizon 12.2 - Thomas Newman
Eye Surgery - Thomas Newman
Slow Pulse Conga  - William Pasley
Cello Song - Nick Drake
Berceuse in D Flat Major, Op. 57 (Chopin) - Ivan Moravec
Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper) - Miles Davis

Dec 03, 2021
A Different Hanukkah Story

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

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


(this is a rebroadcast of a story we first ran in 2018)

Dec 01, 2021
How Cassette Tapes Changed the World

Cassette tapes mostly gather dust these days. But back in their heyday, they fundamentally changed how we communicate, in ways we’re still making sense of today. On this week’s On the Media, hear how the cassette tape fueled the Iranian revolution, helped pierce the Iron Curtain, and put human connection in the palm of our hands.

1. Simon Goodwin on his innovation to broadcast computer software over the radio back in 1983. Listen.

2. Computer programmer Fuxoft explains his role in 'Sneakernet,' which saw pirated material of all types smuggled into 1980s Czechoslovakia via cassette tape. Listen.

3. The role of cassette tapes in the Iranian Revolution. Listen.

This episode was reported, produced, scored and sound designed for Radiolab by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Top tier reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Nov 26, 2021
Chasing Dash

Last year at this time, 9 months into the pandemic, so many of us stayed separated from one another, missing out on all the gathering, yam-eating, relative-screaming, football-watching, insert-holiday-themed-cliche-here, of Thanksgiving. Not so this year. This year, vaxxed and tested and maybe even boosted, we gather once more. Like a bunch of gosh-darn superheroes. 

And so, for this very special Thanksgiving-edition podcast extra, we’re re-airing the story of another lovable, dysfunctional family full of superheroes: The Incredibles

Back in 2005, the Academy Award-winning animated Pixar film took the world by storm, with its campy 60s noir aesthetic, its nuanced portrayal of family gender roles, and its memorable cast of superheroes. And one of those superheroes, the gifted son named Dash, was played by a real-life kid, the former child actor Spencer Fox. The film would radically change Fox's life, for better and worse. Some 17 years later, Spencer speaks with OTM reporter Micah Loewinger about his complex relationship to the role and why he spent years refusing to watch its sequel.

This is segment originally aired as part of the April 23, 2021 program, Not Ready For That Conversation.

Nov 23, 2021
Bait the Nation

Politicians and pundits on the right are eager to pin rising rates of inflation on President Biden — but that misses the bigger picture. Plus, how scaremongering over 'critical race theory' is impacting elections, school boards and classrooms. And, how the stories we tell about our present shape what's possible for the future, from paid parental leave to immigration policy and beyond. 

1. John Cassidy [@JohnCassidy], staff writer at The New Yorker, on the real story behind the inflation numbers. Listen.

2. Adam Harris [@AdamHSays], staff writer at The Atlantic, on what the elections can and can't tell us about the impact of  'critical race theory' scaremongering, and why the debate over race has landed in schools. Listen.

3. Alan Jenkins [@Opportunity1], professor at Harvard Law School and co-founder of the Opportunity Agenda, on how powerful stories, effectively communicated, have shaped what's possible for the future. Listen.

Nov 19, 2021
The Climate Summit Blues

The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland concluded last weekend—the 26th “Conference of Parties.” After more than two decades of these promises, it’s worth wondering how much of this is all just hot air. According to the non-profit Climate Action Tracker, not a single country is on target to meet the COP21 pledge, also known as the Paris Climate Accords, and many aren’t even on target for their COP3 pledge, the Kyoto Protocol.


And yet, these summits are often still covered with breathless play-by-play analysis: all the juicy details about diplomatic attaches, late-night negotiation, and backroom deals. Which is not without value, but it’s worth asking: what are the stories being missed when all eyes are on the summit? To answer that, we called Nathaniel Rich, writer-at-large for the New York Times Magazine, who takes a markedly different approach.

Nov 17, 2021

Twenty months since the start of the pandemic, economic recovery has been uneven at best. This week, On the Media takes a look at one sector that’s been booming: cryptocurrency and, in particular, NFTs. Hear how a technology invented to give artists more control over their work has become a tool for speculators hoping to win big.

1. Anil Dash [@anildash], CEO of Glitch, helps explain the origin of NFTs. Listen.

2. OTM Correspondent Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] attends an NFT auction featuring Carlos Matos, one of crypto's most unlikely proponents. Listen.

3. Anil Dash [@anildash] on his ambivalence of what has come from his creation. Listen.


72 Degrees and Sunny by Thomas Newman
Eye Surgery by Thomas Newman
Horizon 12.2 by Thomas Newman
Okami by Nicola Cruz
Bitconnect Carlos Matos (What Is Love) by Psychol
Penguins by Michael Hurley
Solice by Scott Joplin
Carlos Matos (Take On Me) by Memeski
Bubblewrap by Thomas Newman
Vie En Rose by Toots Thielemans

Nov 12, 2021
OTM presents The Experiment: Who Would Jesus Mock?

The satire site The Babylon Bee, a conservative Christian answer to The Onion, stirred controversy when some readers mistook its headlines for misinformation. In this episode of WNYC/The Atlantic's The Experiment, religion reporter Emma Green sits down with the editor-in-chief, Kyle Mann, to talk about where he draws the line between making a joke and doing harm, and to understand what humor can reveal about American politics.

Further reading: Who Would Jesus Mock?


Nov 10, 2021
The History of Tomorrow

For decades, Silicon Valley leaders have been borrowing ideas from science fiction — from the metaverse to the latest tech gadgets. On this week’s show, hear why they might need to start reading their source material more closely. Also, why the midterm election results tell us so little about what’s coming next in American politics. And a forgotten behemoth of American literature gets a closer look. 

1. Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1], opinion columnist at the Washington Post and senior writer for  The American Prospect, on why off-year elections need historical context. Listen.

2. Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer; Gene Seymour [@GeneSeymour], culture critic with work in Newsday, the Nation, the Baffler, and more; and Annalee Newitz [@Annaleen], science fiction author and science journalist, on the makings (and potential mishaps) of the metaverse. Listen.

3. Paul Auster, acclaimed novelist and author of Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, on the 19th century writer's forgotten legacyListen.

Music in this week's show:

Whistle While You Work - Artie Shaw and his New Music
You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me - Guy Lombardo
Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me - Ben Webster
Boy Moves the Sun - Michael Andrews
A Ride with Polly Jean - Jenny Scheinman
Gerry O'Beirne’s album “The Bog Bodies and other Stories: Music for Guitar"

Nov 05, 2021
The Only Inevitability

700,000. That’s the latest COVID death count to dominate a headline in the United States. Over the last 19 months, we’ve seen a steady trickle of these morbid milestones in the news. They are one way to measure, and try to understand, the COVID-19 pandemic. In the world of journalism, death is a metric that’s important. It indicates significance, newsworthiness, and tragedy. But death is also an inevitable part of the human experience. This is a fact that journalist Katie Engelhart highlights in the title of her new book The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die. Brooke Gladstone spoke to Engelhart about the complicated ethics of physician-assisted deaths and the surprising parameters within which people can end their lives.

Nov 03, 2021
A Rift In the Gun World

This week, On the Media takes a deep dive into the "No Compromise" gun rights movement. Its members see the NRA as too amenable to gun control measures. Follow reporters Lisa Hagen and Chris Haxel on their journey to understand how 3 brothers used a network of Facebook pages to grow their following with some startling results. 

Part 1: A World Where The NRA Is Soft On Guns. Listen.

Part 2: The Facebook Flock. Listen.

Part 3: A One-Man Propaganda Band. Listen.

No Compromise is hosted by Chris Haxel and Lisa Hagen, produced by Graham Smith and edited by Robert Little and is a production of NPR, KCUR, WABE, and WAMU. To listen to all 6 episodes (and you should!) go to NPR.org or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Music from this week's show:

Stormy Weather - Franck Pourcel

Washington’s March - Liberty Tree Wind Players

Country outro 

All other music written and performed by Humpmuscle



Oct 29, 2021
When The Mob Gets a Podcast

True crime is incredibly popular. Whether it's books, movies, television shows, or podcasts, stories that play to our deepest fears and most sensational imaginations command large audiences. The genre, when done poorly, can also aggravate our misconceptions and biases about crime. But true crime, at its best, offers something most of us can’t turn down, despite our better instinctsthe chance to understand a master criminal mind. 

That’s what writer Rachel Corbett stumbled upon while working on an upcoming book about criminal profiling. The former FBI agents she called up kept talking about a new kind of podcast that they were listening towhere the mobsters of a bygone era were speaking for themselves. This week Corbett, author of a recent article in The New Yorker called “Why the FBI Loves Mob Podcasts,” sits down with Brooke to talk about these new shows and who's listening.


Oct 28, 2021
Plot Twist

From boosters to breakthrough infections, pandemic vocabulary is still all over the news. On this week’s On the Media, why the terms we use to talk about the virus obscure as much as they reveal. And, why the history of medical progress is filled with so many twists and turns. Plus, why a preference for simple stories has made it so hard to keep track of the pandemic. 

1. Katherine J. Wu [@KatherineJWu], staff writer at The Atlantic, on the slippery definitions of our pandemic vocabulary. Listen.

2. Dr. Paul Offit [@DrPaulOffit], professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, on why medical progress always carries risk. Listen.

3. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] speaks with Soren Wheeler [@SorenWheeler] and Rachael Piltch-Loeb [@Rpiltchloeb] about why the narrative arc of the COVID-19 pandemic has been deeply unsatisfying. With some help from Kurt Vonnegut. Listen.


In the Bath - Randy Newman

Milestones - Bill Evans Trio

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

Quizas Quizas Quizas - Ramon Sole 

Misterioso - Kronos Quartet

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered - Brad Mehldau Trio


Oct 22, 2021
Colin Powell's Pivotal Moment That Wasn't

Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, Joint Chiefs chairman, and omnipresence in American foreign policy for the past 20 years, died on Monday from complications from COVID-19. He was 84-years-old and been sick for years with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. 

Colin Powell was many things to many people. A symbol of the American dream. The public voice — for a time — of the Iraq War. A so-called “RINO,” or Republican-in-name-only. A good soldier. Though widely remembered as a barrier-breaking hero by folks across the aisle, in his death, as in life, there are those who are using Colin Powell as an opportunity for scoring political points. 

Looking back at the life of Colin Powell, it is worth recalling that he was once one of America's most popular public officials, polling favorably among 85 percent of Americans in a 2002 Gallup poll. But what Colin Powell is perhaps most remembered for is his 2003 presentation to the UN Security Council explaining the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A little over a year later, Powell went on NBC's Meet the Press and essentially retracted his assertion, saying it "turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases deliberately misleading." Brooke speaks with Fred Kaplan, a veteran reporter on foreign policy and national security, long-time writer of Slate’s "War Stories" column, and even longer-time husband of Brooke, about the life and legacy of Colin Powell.

Oct 20, 2021
Against the Machine

Have you been wondering exactly what it means to Build Back Better? On this week’s On the Media, hear why political coverage seems to address everything about Joe Biden’s bill--except what’s in it. Plus, find out if social media really does turn nice people into trolls.

1. Andrew Prokop [@awprokop], Senior Politics Correspondent at Vox, on the gap between political coverage of the Build Back Better Act, and what the bill actually says. Listen.

2. Michael Bang Petersen [@M_B_Petersen], political science professor at Aarhus University, on the difference (or lack thereof) between on and offline behaviors, and how Facebook might not be affecting us in the ways we think. Listen.

3. Meghan O’Gieblyn, writer and author of God, Human, Animal, Machine, on the ever-deeper entwining of humanity and technology, and what it might mean for our future. Listen.  

Music from this week's show:

Passing Time - John Renbourn
Clap Hands - Tom Waits
Okami - Nicola Cruz
Carmen Fantasy - Anderson and Roe
Young at Heart - Brad Mehldau
For the Creator - Richard Souther

Oct 15, 2021
Who Is The Bad Art Friend? Why Not Both?

To watch the rise of viral content is always an interesting exercise. From "Charlie bit my finger" to the "Lulz That Broke Wall Street," the internet is capable of elevating any story, meme, joke, or idea through the ranks of digital fame. This week, we unpack one story, and one question, that took twitter by storm: "Who is the Bad Art Friend?". 

The Robert Kolker piece from The New York Times Magazine proved digital catnip, but why? Brooke sits down with Michael Hobbes, journalist and host of the podcast Maintenance Phase, to discuss his review of the story, the Twitter storm, and why we're even talking about all this in the first place. 

Oct 13, 2021
The Big Reveal

From a six hour service outage to a senate whistleblower hearing, the PR disasters keep mounting for Facebook. On this week’s show, hear how the tech giant might be following a well-worn pattern of decline. And, the so-called "Pandora Papers" reveal dirty financial secrets, dwarfing the Panama Papers in the size, scope, and reach. Plus, how a new data leak shows links between law enforcement and far-right militia groups.

1. Makena Kelly [@kellymakena], policy reporter for The Verge, on the perils of focusing on politicians' flubs during tech regulation hearings. Listen.

2. Kevin Roose [@kevinroose], tech columnist for The New York Times, on the harbingers of Facebook's demise. Listen.

3. Gerard Ryle [@RyleGerard], director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, on how the Pandora Papers unmask hidden owners of offshore companies. Plus, what the papers might mean for the future of cooperative journalism. Listen.

4. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], on how he and Gothamist's George Joseph uncovered evidence that active police officers are connected to the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Chicago Sunset  - Musselwhite
Tilliboyo - Kronos Quartet
Gormenghast  - John Zorn
String Quartet No. 5 II Movement 2 -Phillip Glass - Kronos Quartet

Oct 08, 2021
It's Debt Ceiling Time Again!

While Democrats fight amongst themselves over getting their legislative agenda passed, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is locked in his own battle with minority leader Mitch McConnell over raising the country’s debt ceiling.

Democrats need ten Senate Republicans to join them in voting to raise the debt limit to avoid, as the Washington Post put it, “catapulting the country into an economic recession.” The Post also cited the potential for quote, “widespread financial havoc," while the New York Times noted widespread warnings of “global economic calamity” 

If all of this sounds familiar, that's because... it is. For years, the media have treated the perennial debt ceiling debate like hurricane season. Is disaster heading to our shores? When will calamity strike? What's the projected damage? Often lost in the coverage is why we have to keep reliving this crisis in the first place.

Zachary Karabell is host of the podcast “What Could Go Right” and president of River Twice Capital. He’s also the author of The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. Brooke spoke to him in 2017 about this very subject. 

Oct 06, 2021
Out of Sight

Facebook and Instagram are harming young users, according to leaked research discussed in a Senate hearing this week. On this week’s On the Media, hear why lawmakers are chasing the white whale that is tech accountability. Also, how do we cover the tightly guarded, and complicated, news that comes from Guantanamo Bay? And, as the documentary industry booms, its ethics standards lag far behind. 

1. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], NBC senior reporter, unpacks the evolving responsibilities of social media companies for our health. Listen.

2. Jess Bravin [@JessBravin], Supreme Court reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and Michel Paradis [@MDParadis], senior attorney for the Department of Defense, on the lasting difficulties of covering one of America's most notorious military prisons, Guantanamo Bay. Listen.

3. Muira McCammon [@muira_mccammon], doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, on what the library at Guantamo Bay can tell us about the place and the media's coverage. Listen.

4. Patricia Aufderheide [@paufder], University Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at American University, on the tension between production and ethics in the world of documentaries. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Nino Rota - Juliet of Spirits
Nicola Cruz - Colibria
Kronos - Flugufrelsarinn
Vijay Iyer - Human Nature
Merkabah - John Zorn
Booker T and The MG's - Slim Jenkins Place

Alex Wurman - Going Home for the First Time

Oct 01, 2021
The Big Screen version of Boom and Bust

It was 13 years ago this month when news broke that the Wall Street investment firm Lehman Brothers collapsed, setting in motion the financial crisis that devastated the world’s economy.

For all the misery the financial meltdown caused, Americans have never balked at opportunities to relive the crisis through hundreds of films, books and even plays. But while greedy investment bankers have become a staple archetype of recent movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, and Margin Call, Hollywood hasn't always portrayed Wall Street with such cynicism. In 2018 Brooke spoke to Per Hansen, professor of business history at the Copenhagen Business School, about his study examining cinematic depictions of big business and financial institutions. Hansen sifted through 81 films to understand how America's volatile attitudes on capitalism have evolved through other periods of boom and bust. He and Brooke discussed how classics like Wall StreetIt's a Wonderful Life, and The Apartment have reflected and actively shaped the way we feel about money.

This segment is from our September 14th, 2018 episode, Doomed to Repeat.

Sep 29, 2021
The Subversion Playbook

By now, we’re familiar with voter suppression tactics, from long voting lines to voter ID laws. On this week’s On the Media, hear how election subversion takes the anti-democratic playbook to the next level. Plus, how the Russian government is using bureaucracy to stifle elections — and the press. 

1. Dan Hirschhorn [@Inky_Dan], assistant managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, on why his paper won't use the word "audit" to describe the wave of partisan "election reviews." Listen.

2. Rick Hasen, [@rickhasen], professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine, on why election subversion is such a dangerous threat to our democracy. Listen.

3. Tanya Lokot [@tanyalokot]media scholar and associate professor at the Dublin City University School of Communications, on why Google and Apple caved to the Kremlin on fair election technology. Listen.

4. OTM producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication] on the lives and trials of Russian journalists under siege, featuring: Sonya Groysman [@sonyagro], Russian journalist and podcaster; Joshua Yaffa [@yaffaesqueMoscow correspondent for The New Yorker; Tikhon Dzyadko [@tikhondzyadko], editor-in-chief of TV Rain; and Alexey Kovalyov [@Alexey__Kovalev], investigations editor at the news outlet Meduza. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

Chicago Sunset - Charlie Musselwhite

Time is Late ft. Joakim Johans

Unnamed Track - Mark Henry Philips

Unnamed Track - Mark Henry Philips

Baba O'Rilеy - The Who

From Russia With Love - Huma-Huma

Дальше действовать будем мы (“We will continue to act”) - Kino 


Sep 24, 2021
From Birtherism to Election Theft

In their new book "Peril," Bob Woodward and Robert Costa released a previously unpublished memo by a man named John Eastman, who served as an attorney advising President Trump during the 2020 election. That memo outlined an anti-democratic six-step plan for Vice President Pence to overturn the election results — stealing the election in favor of Trump — by refusing to tally votes from states with "multiple slates of electors," throwing the final decision to the House of Representatives. It was presented to Pence by Trump and Eastman in the Oval Office during the days leading up to January 6th, and offers a chilling look at the lengths to which Trump was prepared to go in order to maintain power. 

It also offers a new opportunity to examine the activities of John Eastman, who entered the spotlight in 2020 when he published an op-ed in Newsweek making the false claim that Kamala Harris was ineligible for the Vice Presidency. Back then, Brooke spoke with Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who described the origins of this birtherism falsehood and how Eastman and his organization, the Claremont Institute, used the media to spread it.

Sep 22, 2021
Fire and Brimstone

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

1. Winnifred Sullivan [@WinniSullivan], Indiana University Bloomington professor of law and religious studies, explains why the constitution doesn't define "religion." Listen.

2. Linda Greenhouse, writer and clinical lecturer at Yale Law School, on the Supreme Court's recent rulings on religious liberties. Listen.

3. Mark Hertsgaard [@markhertsgaard], executive director of Covering Climate Now, on why the press should remind us of climate change's impact on so-called "natural disasters." Listen.

4. Amy Westervelt [@amywestervelt], climate writer and host of the podcast Drilled, on how fossil fuels companies advertised their way out of a public backlash. Listen.

Music from this week's show:

In the Hall of the Mountain King - Kevin MacLeod 

Smells like Teen Spirit - The Bad Plus 

Equinox - John Coltrane

Sacred Oracle - Bill Frisell

Roary’s Waltz - John Zorn

Cops or Criminals - The Departed Soundtrack

Sep 17, 2021
The Trial of Elizabeth Holmes

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

But it turns out that all those lofty promises were empty. There was no revolutionary new way to test blood. And now, years later, Holmes is being charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Two weeks into the trial, we're re-airing a conversation from 2018 between Brooke and John Carreyrou, host of the narrative podcast Bad Blood: The Final Chapter and the investigative journalist who exposed Holmes's alleged fraud.

Sep 15, 2021

Twenty years after the Twin Towers came down, we’re still wrestling over how to make sense of what happened. On this week’s On the Media, how the conspiracies birthed in the aftermath of 9/11 set the stage for the paranoia to come. Plus, how Afghanistan’s thriving new media scene hopes to survive Taliban rule. And, how Ivermectin became politicized.

1. Tolo founder Saad Mohseni [@saadmohsenion the mounting threat to journalism in Afghanistan. Listen.

2. NYTimes television critic James Poniewozik [@poniewozikon the documentary styles used to remember 9/11. Listen.

3. OTM's Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] reports on the legacy of Loose Change. Listen.

4. Mother Jones senior editor Kiera Butler [@kieraevebutler] on how Ivermectin became so politicized. Listen.


Sep 10, 2021
Hey Everyone, Meet Sacha Pfeiffer!

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

Sep 08, 2021
Organizing Chaos

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

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

2. On the Media producer Molly Scwartz [@mollyfication] takes a deep dive into one imposition of human order so commonplace most of us never notice: the library. But the famed Dewey Decimal System is not an unbiased ordering machine. Featuring: Jess deCourcy Hinds [@HindsJess] librarian at the Bard High School, Early College library in Queens, New York, Wayne A. Wiegand a library historian and author of Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey, Caroline Saccucci, the former Dewey Program Manager at the Library of Congress, Emily Drabinski [@edrabinskiinterim chief librarian of the Mina Rees Library at CUNY, and Dartmouth librarian Jill Baron [@jillebaron] from the documentary Change the SubjectListen.

Music from this week's show:

Nocturne For Piano in B flat minor- Frédéric Chopin 

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini

Tomorrow Never Knows - Quartetto D’archi dell Orchestra Sinfonica

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

 The Dewey Decimal System - Jason Munday

Sep 03, 2021
Biased Algorithms, Biased World

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

This segment originally aired on our November 22, 2019 program, The Disagreement is the Point.

Sep 01, 2021
Constitutionally Speaking

“The right to throw a punch ends at the tip of someone’s nose.” It’s the idea that underlies American liberties — but does it still fit in 2021? We look back at our country’s radical — and radically inconsistent — tradition of free speech. Plus, a prophetic philosopher predicts America 75 years after Trump.

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

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

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

Music from this week's show:
Jeopardy: Think Music - Malcolm Hamilton
Fallen Leaves - Marcos Ciscar
Time is Late - Marcos Ciscar


Aug 27, 2021
A New First Amendment

Nearly six decades ago, the Supreme Court made a decision in the case New York Times v. Sullivan that would forever alter the way journalists practiced journalism. Brooke spoke with Andrew Cohen, senior editor at The Marshall Project and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, about the decision's impact on the First Amendment.

Supreme Court audio courtesy of Oyez®, a multimedia judicial archive at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Aug 25, 2021
Maligned Women

Cries to free Britney Spears from her conservatorship this summer have prompted a reevaluation of how the pop star was covered by the press decades ago. This week, On the Media looks at how the maligned women of the 90s and 2000s help us understand our media — and ourselves. 

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

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


Okami — Nicola Cruz
River Man — Brad Mehldaw Trio
Fellini’s Waltz — Nino Rota
La Vie En Rose — Toots Thielemans


Aug 20, 2021
How Radio Makes Female Voices Sound Shrill

"Shrill" popped back up in the national lexicon in the coverage of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, and again, in a 2020 race filled with female candidates. "This spike in usage is hardly a revelation," writes University of Florida professor Tina Tallon, in a piece for The New Yorker. "Women who speak publicly and challenge authority have long been dismissed as 'shrill' or 'grating.'" But these slurs are not just the product of age-old misogynistic stereotypes. Biases against female voices were perniciously exacerbated by the broadcast technology that powers radio and audio recording technology. They're designed to thin higher frequency voices and enrich lower ones. In this interview from 2019, she and Brooke revisit the proliferation of radio in the 1920's and 1930's, when our ears were trained to prefer listening to men talk, and reflect on how societal gender standards have been shaped since.

Aug 18, 2021
A 40 Acre Promise

Last week, the federal government, in a limited way, extended the eviction moratorium in place since the start of the pandemic. It's a temporary solution to a long-looming crisis — a crisis we explored in our series "The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis" back in 2019. In this excerpt from that series, we catalog the long line of thefts and schemes — most of which were perfectly legal at the time — that led to where we are today: a system, purpose-built, that extracts what it can, turning black and brown renters into debtors and evictees. 

Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], 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 [@natalieymoore], whose grandparents moved to Chicago during the Great Migration, shows us around a high-eviction area on Chicago’s South Side.


Aug 13, 2021
I'm Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker

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

Aug 11, 2021
Bad Idea Machine

With Delta Variant cases surging, public health officials are pleading with Americans to get vaccinated ASAP. This week, we examine at how some journalists are turning anti-vaxxer deaths into COVID-19 fables. Plus, we hear from the reporter who tracked down Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.

1. Rebecca Onion [@rebeccaonion], historian and staff writer at Slate, on her latest article "The Fable of the Sick Anti-Vaxxer," and how stories of remorse may only appeal to the vaccinated. Plus, NBC senior reporter and OTM guest host Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny] traces the roots of anti-vaxx propaganda, from the 1980s to today. Listen.

2. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter at the Guardian, on how a viral anti-trans Instagram video led to a street brawl, and Julia Serano [@JuliaSerano], author of "Whipping Girl, A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity," on where the anti-trans movement gets its playbook. Listen.

3. Julie K. Brown [@jkbjournalist], investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, on her new book, "Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story," detailing what she saw missing in the decade of Epstein coverage before her own investigative series at the Herald which brought his victims' voices on the record for the first time. Listen.

Aug 06, 2021