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On the Media

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The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine threats to free speech and government transparency, cast a skeptical eye on media coverage of the week’s big stories and unravel hidden political narratives in everything we read, watch and hear.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.
© WNYC Studios
496 Episodes
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The Wrong Fires

The Wrong Fires

2020-09-1851:262

As wildfires blaze across the United States, some right-wing politicians and pundits are blaming racial justice protesters. On this week’s On the Media, how to stay focused on the realities of climate change when everything is politicized. Also: Does journalistic convention give more airtime to less important stories? Plus, how an independent French film criticizing the hyper-sexualization of children stoked controversy on the right. And, the assumptions we make when we talk about human trafficking. 1. David Karpf [@davekarpf], George Washington University media and public affairs professor, on how journalistic convention can bury urgent truths. Listen. 2. Kate Knibbs [@Knibbs], Senior Writer at Wired explains how "Cuties" on Netflix became mired in controversy peddled by the right. Listen. 3. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], co-host of the podcast "You're Wrong About" and Senior Enterprise Reporter at The Huffington Post, debunks embellished stories of child sex trafficking busts. Listen. 4. Amy Westervelt [@amywestervelt], climate journalist and host of the podcast "Drilled" on how to sort through competing narratives in coverage of the wildfires. Listen.
Earlier this year we aired a profile of Joe Rogan. The unbelievably popular podcast host was in the headlines because then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had gone on his show — resulting in a kerfuffle in the progressive camp, because of Rogans misogyny and racism. He's back in the headlines again this week after Trump tweeted that he would gladly participate in a debate hosted by Rogan. The fact that Joe Rogan wields so much influence is itself a kind of a head-scratcher for many coastal media observers. “Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular?” is the title of a profile in The Atlantic by Devin Gordon, a writer who immersed himself in Joe Rogan's podcast and lifestyle to understand his enormous popularity. In this segment, first aired in January, he and Brooke discuss Rogan's complicated appeal. 
Voters looking for a quick resolution this November might have to wait longer than usual to learn who won the presidency. On this week’s On the Media, a look at what we might expect as election night approaches. Plus, lessons on electoral chaos from presidential contests past. And, how QAnon is moving from the web to the streets. 1. Walter Shapiro [@MrWalterShapiro], fellow at the Brennan Center, on why TV news outlets need to be more comfortable with uncertainty on election night. Listen. 2. Renee DiResta [@noUpside], Stanford Internet Observatory research manager, on how social media chaos sown by domestic actors could have disastrous consequences on election night. Listen. 3. Ed Kilgore [@Ed_Kilgore], political columnist at New York Magazine, on the what we can learn from the contentious election of 1876. Listen. 4. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], NBC News investigative reporter, on how QAnon falsehoods are motivating seemingly innocuous protests to "save our children" nationwide. Listen.   Music from this week's show: Sneaky Snitch — Kevin MacLeodThe Builder — Kevin MacLeodIn the Hall of the Mountain King — Kevin MacLeodHidden Agenda — Kevin MacLeodDance of the Sugar Plum Fairies — Kevin MacLeod
Every now and then we like to feature the work of our colleagues here at our producing station, WNYC. This week we want to introduce you to a new podcast a co-production of HISTORY and WNYC hosted by reporter, Jim O'Grady. Blindspot: Road to 9/11 is an eight part series that uses the voices of U.S. government and intelligence officials, national security experts, reporters, informants, and associates of the terrorists to tell the little-known story of the lead up to the events of September 11th 2001. This is episode one: The Bullet. The 9/11 attacks were so much more than a bolt from the blue on a crisp September morning. They were more than a decade in the making. The story starts in a Midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom in 1990. Shots ring out and the extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, lies mortally wounded. His assassin, El-Sayyid Nosair, is connected to members of a Brooklyn mosque who are training to fight with Islamic freedom fighters in Afghanistan. NYPD Detective Louis Napoli and FBI Special Agent John Anticev catch the case, and start unraveling a conspiracy that is taking place in plain sight by blending into the tumult of the city. It is animated by an emerging ideology: violent jihad. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.   
Armed and Dangerous

Armed and Dangerous

2020-09-0451:196

Armed right-wingers are stoking violence in cities across the country. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the origins of the American militia movement. Plus, as things heat up, Facebook is fanning the flames. And, in the face of an incendiary headline from the Kenosha News, a digital editor resigns. 1. John Temple [@johntemplebooks], author of Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America’s Patriot Movement, on the evolution of right-wing militias in the United States. Listen. 2. Julia Carrie Wong [@juliacarriew], senior technology reporter for The Guardian, on how Facebook is creating the conditions for violence on the streets. Listen. 3. Daniel Thompson [@olfashionednews], former digital editor for the Kenosha News, on his decision to resign over an editorial stand-off. Listen.
As the president continues his verbal assault on America's urban centers, presenting nightmare scenarios of what will happen to the suburbs absent his protection, the story of a pandemic-induced mass migration from cities has proliferated in the media: families fleeing increasingly hellish virus-infested urban wastelands, making their way into the safe, idyllic suburbs where bluebirds sing, kids roam free and there’s a Mattress Firm in every strip mall.  It all makes so much sense. But it's not true. Jeff Andrews wrote about this media myth in a recent Curbed article called No, the Pandemic Is Not Emptying Out America’s Cities. In this podcast extra, Andrews joined Bob to dissect the tale of the urban flight that wasn't.  
Bizarro World

Bizarro World

2020-08-2850:367

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed. 1. James Fallows [@JamesFallows] on the contrasting spectacles of this year's virtual Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Listen. 2. Scott Galloway [@profgalloway], professor of marketing at NYU and host of Pivot Podcast, on why so many colleges and universities decided to reopen despite the pandemic, and what it tells us about the future of higher education. Listen. 3. OTM producer/reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] tells the story of how remote learning saved his friend’s life. Listen.
On Saturday, more than 200 cities from Spokane to Scranton saw modest rallies for a cause so pure, so unifying, that who in their right mind wouldn’t want to join in? "Save the children" was the chant and child trafficking the scourge. But lately it is a movement being hijacked from within, which is just the latest instance of the QAnon conspiracy theory spilling out of its online domain. This we know from reporting by NBC News investigative reporter Brandy Zadrozny, along with reporter Ben Collins. In this podcast extra, Zadrozny explains how these rallies function as "information laundering," and how local journalists have inadvertantly taken part in QAnon's recruitment strategy. 
Don't Fall For It

Don't Fall For It

2020-08-2150:333

Recently, the president threatened the post office — and with it, the November elections. On this week's On The Media, a look at how decades of cuts to the mail system led to this emergency. Plus, the “birther” lie reared its ugly head once more — but this time, journalists were ready for it. And, the so-called "rising stars" of the Republican Party. 1. Alex Shephard [@alex_shephard], staff writer at the New Republic, on the conservative tropes often employed by journalists covering the public sector — including the USPS. Listen. 2. Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], opinion writer-at-large at the New York Times, on the deluge of information and misinformation unleashed by the post office scandal. Listen.   3. Mark Joseph Stern [@mjs_DC], staff writer at Slate, on the “think tank” behind the Kamala Harris "birther" lie. Listen. 4. Eugene Scott [@Eugene_Scott], political reporter at the Washington Post, on how journalists have covered the latest unfounded “birther” conspiracy, compared with the original one nearly a decade ago. Listen. 5. Alex Pareene [@pareene], staff writer at the New Republic, on far-right fringe candidates finding a serious foothold in the Republican Party. Listen.     Music from this week's show: Passing Time - John Renbourn Cellar Door - Michael Andrews Turnaround - Ornette Colema Shoot the Piano Player Player - Georges Delarue Sleep Talking - Ornette Coleman Mysterioso - Thelonius Monk/Kronos Quartet Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has taken a public stance against bogus health claims that discourage people from taking proper precautions against the virus. The company even gave the World Health Organization free advertising to help fight misinformation. But research from Avaaz, a global non-profit that works to protect democracies from disinformation on social media, shows that global health misinformation accumulated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the past year. The conspiracies circulating on Facebook can be fatal — some of them suggest ingesting poisonous substances, while others tell people not to wear masks or to shun vaccines. In this podcast extra, Bob talks to Fadi Quran, campaign director at Avaaz, about the "superspreader" pages that are amassing these page views, the most popular health conspiracies on Facebook, and whether there's any hope that Facebook will address the proliferation of disinformation on its site.
Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now

2020-08-1450:466

Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable. 1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature. 2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest.  3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope. 4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world. **The recording of huia imitation heard in this segment was performed in 1949 by Henare Hāmana and narrated by Robert A. L. Batley at Radio Station 2YA in Aotearoa New Zealand. Julianne Lutz Warren, a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature, has written about it in "Hopes Echo" available here. Her work was also described by Macfarlane in his piece "Generation Anthropocene.”  Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos! Support On the Media by becoming a member today at OntheMedia.org/donate.
How Close is the End?

How Close is the End?

2020-08-1215:222

In this episode (which first aired in January), Brooke talks to journalist and devoted amateur historian Dan Carlin, the creator of the podcast, Hardcore History, and the author of a new book The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses about how history treats apocalypse. Carlin explores what can seem impossible to us: that we might suffer the same fate that all previous eras did.
As we approach November’s contentious presidential election, what lessons can we learn from divided societies abroad? This week, On the Media travels to Poland, where conspiracy, xenophobia and the rise of illiberalism have the country in an existential fight for its future. On the Media producer Leah Feder reports. 1. Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum] on the conspiracy theories around a 2010 plane crash that redrew lines in Polish politics. Listen. 2. Pawel Machcewicz on the Law & Justice party's takeover of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk. Also featuring Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum], Janine Holc and Angieszka Syroka. Listen. 3. An exploration of left and right strategies in contemporary Poland, with Igor Stokfiszewski of [@krytyka], Anne Applebaum [@anneapplebaum] and Jaroslaw Kuisz of [@kultliberalna]. Listen. This episode originally aired on November 29th, 2019. Music: Krzysztof Penderecki - 3 miniature: per clarinetto e pianoforteChopin - Nocturne en mi Bémol Majeur op 9 no° 2Wojciech Kilar, Tadeusz Strugala, The Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland - Moving to the Ghetto Oct 31, 1940Chopin - Nocturne no° 1 in B Flat MajorChopin, Ivan Moravec - Berceuse in D Flat Minor, Op. 57 Przepis Po Polsku (Polish Recipe)BOKKA - Town of Strangers
There’s a standard way the conversation on "cancel culture" goes: on the one side, male comedians and right-wingers saying cancel culture is out of control, you can't say anything anymore without getting dragged. On the other, progressive think piece writers saying cancel culture is blown way out of proportion, and is really just powerful people finally being held accountable for their actions. But according to YouTuber Natalie Wynn, creator of the channel ContraPoints, neither of these argument is quite correct. Wynn herself has been canceled. Many times over. For a host of offenses. And it’s given her plenty of time to reflect on all the ways the dominant conversations around cancel culture miss the particular pernicious effects of the phenomenon. In her video, "Canceling," she takes an honest look at her own cancellations and its effects, and outlines a set of principles around cancel culture to help clarify what, exactly, it is — and what it can lead to. In this conversation, Wynn breaks those principles down for Brooke. This is a longer version of an interview that originally in our January 31st, 2020 program, “Cancel This!”
Break Your Silence

Break Your Silence

2020-07-3150:354

Despite defiance from police departments and police unions, efforts to limit police secrecy have notched at least one recent victory. On this week’s On The Media, hear how the public can now view misconduct records that had long been closely guarded by the nation’s largest police force. Plus, how America's most famous cop-whistleblower views the present moment. And, the Black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking. 1. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], deputy managing editor at ProPublica, on never-before-seen New York Police Department misconduct records. Listen.   2. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project [@GovAcctProj], and Frank Serpico [@SerpicoDet], former New York Police Department detective, on the whistleblower protections necessary in any police reform. Listen. 3. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen.  
In this week's pod extra, we bring you an episode from Trump, Inc., a podcast from our friends at WNYC Studios, about a new threat to press freedom. This year, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed defamation lawsuits against three of the country’s most prominent news organizations: the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. Then it filed another suit against a somewhat lower-profile news organization: northern Wisconsin’s WJFW-TV, which serves the 134th-largest market in the country. In this piece, Trump, Inc. reporters Meg Cramer and Katherine Sullivan tell the story of the Trump campaign's aggressive and exceedingly expensive legal operation. 
If You Build It...

If You Build It...

2020-07-2451:434

The White House is sending troops into cities with the stated goal of protecting monuments. On this week's On The Media, a look at the clash over memorials going back to the American revolution. Plus, lessons for redesigning our post-pandemic built environment — from the disability rights movement. And, a conversation about the new documentary "Crip Camp" and the history of the disability rights movement. 1. Kirk Savage, professor of history of art and architecture at University of Pittsburgh, on the early origins of American anti-monument sentiment. Listen. 2. Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet]; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], on issues of accessibility and health in design — past, present, and future. Listen. 3. Judy Heumann [@judithheumann], disability rights activist, on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the documentary "Crip Camp." Listen.
It’s yet another day in Trump-era America. You know what that means: Another Lincoln Project ad going viral on Twitter, bound for the evening news. The anti-Trump political action committee's ads have been subject of much praise in the areas of the media that are generally skeptical of the president. Those mainstream media milieus have showed precious little skepticism, though, of the project itself. The president’s defenders on Fox have provided some critical coverage, but one of the few examples of such coverage from elsewhere in the televised political media came from a cartoon news show, Tooning Out The News, executive produced by Stephen Colbert. The Lincoln Project also received a sideways glance earlier this month from Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation. In this podcast extra, Jeet and Brooke discuss the Lincoln Project's funding, spending, style, politics, and its co-founders origins in Republican politics. 
"This is Fine"

"This is Fine"

2020-07-1751:042

As climate catastrophe marches apace and the nation's public health infrastructure continues to unravel, we take stock of how we got here and what it might be like to look back on this year in the future. Plus, the frightening encroachment of QAnon conspiracy theorists into mainstream politics. 1. David Roberts [@drvox], staff writer at Vox.com, on how "shifting baselines syndrome" clouds our perspective on climate chaos. Listen. 2. Sarah Kliff [@sarahkliff], investigative reporter at the New York Times, on the obstacles to effective sharing of health data, from politics to fax machines. Listen. 3. Anthea M. Hartig [@amhistdirector], director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, on archivists' efforts to document 2020 in real time. Listen. 4. Alex Kaplan [@AlKapDC], senior researcher at Media Matters, on how fringe conspiracy theory QAnon rose to prominence and has consumed segments of the political right. Listen.
Sorry Not Sorry

Sorry Not Sorry

2020-07-1528:154

Fox Primetime host Tucker Carlson has already had quite the July. On the plus side, the latest ratings for his show have made him officially the most watched cable news host. On the other side of the ledger, advertisers are fleeing his show on the grounds of not wishing to be associated with lies and hate speech. Oh, also, his head writer Blake Neff, was forced out after his explicitly racist and misogynist social media posts were unmasked online. And now Tucker is off the show for two weeks, as he put it “on a long-planned vacation.”  The last time Carlson was in the headlines — with the March 2019 resurrection of his very own hate speech — we spoke to writer Lyz Lenz, who wrote a profile of Carlson for CJR. 
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Comments (56)

Otto Bruun IV

This is the so difficult to listen to. Not even close to a fair observation of the JRE. Joe's ONLY 'issue' with Trans people is WITHIN SPORTS. He's a comedian and pokes fun a a bazillion things. I wish I could have a conversation with both Brooke and this Atlantic writer. This is a very unfair description of Joe Rogan.

Sep 17th
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Submarine Jack

This guy is a huge pussy. And so is this lady. There's a reason Rogan's following is so massive. He's the only one out there having honest conversations. Get fucking real.

Sep 17th
Reply

Top Clean

Thanks for the very very good episode. (^^,) Truly a 5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and million. (^^,) https://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/thankyou

Aug 31st
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Yon

Absolutely enraging. I come from multiple generations of teachers and professors and I can't help but look upon universities in their current state as a joke. They have no clue what they're losing which reveals unmitigated stupidity.

Aug 30th
Reply (1)

Western intellect

Nice episode

Aug 29th
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Nellie Fly

I love how creative these episodes are!

Aug 15th
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Joe Weyek

The Nation reporter has a speech impediment?

Jul 23rd
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Joe Weyek

330 million people in the USA. 3 million of them watch Tucker Carlson on a given night. That's all.

Jul 15th
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Shari Lynn

Slavery will forever be a stain on the US. I just hope that we honestly deal with this horrible legacy by not forgetting about the wrongs committed. Bryan Stevenson is a courageous voice and advocate in our fight for racial justice.

Jul 3rd
Reply

sirenasd

OTM does it again, the best guests! The very best analysis. So many shows have had lazy commentators (what's new?) on this call to defund the police, but this is the best I have heard anywhere. They get people who are notable not for their opinion or bc they are one of the few well known black academics, they give you experts who have researched or investigated the issue at hand. It's called journalism. =)

Jun 15th
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Frank Butler

Actually christianity is under physical attack in Africa where they are being killed every day. The media refuse to report it except in 10 second blurbs.

Jun 6th
Reply (1)

Tom Strouse

I think Dr. Joshi would have been a great guest. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48815962-white-christian-privilege

Jun 3rd
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Sarah

This podcast is essential. I always look forward to the next episode!

Apr 18th
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Joe Diaz-Romero

holy crap, as an avid Joe Rogan listener, the guy that Brooke interviewed for the Joe Rogan bit is complete crap. he completely missed the point of his podcast

Feb 3rd
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Bill Petkanas

oh, that song! Thank you.

Dec 28th
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Anthony

160K US lives lost since 2001?!? No words.

Dec 16th
Reply (1)

sirenasd

It's like OTM reads my mind!! I'm so over feeling like I am trying to unplug my mother from the matrix. But she does not want to be unplugged. She refuses to acknowledge she is living in an alternate reality because her trusted media sources validate it. Pizza gate, hoax, fake news, etc etc. But I am reassured, she is in the minority. Even though they have a megaphone in the president, we must work to wake up the 50% who are persuadable. The *reality* is the majority are sleeping, let us not waste time on the fanatical zombie minority.

Nov 30th
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sirenasd

The best discussion on free speech I have ever heard. I ❤️ Brooke and OTM is my favorite!!

Nov 7th
Reply (1)

Ted Zuschlag

In 1970 I wrote a computer program. When it finally compiled 'correctly ' I felt the pleasure of job well done. With hindsight, I was feeling a dopamine hit. This simple pleasure preceded analysis by behavioral experts. I'm saying, the beginning of my dopamine hits began innocently enough.

Sep 6th
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sirenasd

As a gen-xer I am rarely on YouTube, but very concerned about the spread of fascism racism and misogyny online, so this story was fascinating. Thank you for educating me again OTM! And thank goodness for the gen-zers who are leading this country to solutions to the toxic alt-right surge in this country and the world.

Jul 27th
Reply
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