On the Media

On the Media

United States

The smartest, wittiest, most incisive media analysis show in the universe. The weekly one-hour podcast of NPR’s On the Media is your guide to how the media sausage is made. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine threats to free speech and government transparency, criticize media coverage of the week’s big stories, examine new technology, and unravel hidden political narratives in the media. In an age of information overload, OTM helps you dig your way out. The Peabody Award winning show is produced by WNYC Radio.

Episodes

Leak State  

Republicans decry the leakers; Democrats applaud them...oh, how the tables have turned. How to make sense of the Flynn affair and revelations about the Trump team's communications with Russia. Plus, the steady stream of information from within the government has the media debating the power of the so-called “Deep State” -- invisible officials pulling the strings. Also, deploying the word "treason" with care, what Slobodan Milošević teaches us about Donald Trump, and what Hugo Chávez does not. 

Out Like Flynn  

In response to scandals large and small, first the Trump campaign and now the Trump White House has relied on the fact that each successive lie or outrage will be washed over by the next and the next. And its worked. Until now. Bob ponders whether this week's resignation of General Flynn from his position as National Security Adviser has thrown the White House media machine (momentarily) off its axis. 

See You In Court  

With the president and the judiciary at odds over the travel ban, the term "constitutional crisis" is ubiquitous. Why it should be deployed carefully. Plus, protests are sweeping the nation – but so are efforts to crack down on free speech. How lawmakers are trying to curtail the rights of demonstrators, and how cities can push back. Also, the surprising history of the “anti-fascist” movement, a guide for making sense of protest coverage, and more. 

 

What We Know About the Border  

The Trump administration's so-called "Muslim ban" has created chaos and confusion at airports around the country, but horror stories at the border go back much further than this year. In 2014, we devoted an hour to trying to shred the veil of secrecy obscuring Customs and Border Protection, the huge police force tasked with guarding our borders. We discovered a lack of basic rights and accountability, along with countless stories of dehumanizing detentions and intrusions that thrive within a massive legal grey area.

 

The Ties That Bind  

From incendiary phone calls with world leaders to a sloppy military operation in Yemen, a look at what we've learned so far from "the leakiest White House in a very long time." Also, in a week when one journalist was fired for declaring that "objectivity is dead," we examine whether traditional standards of journalistic neutrality need to be re-imagined for a new era. And how the utopian promise of the Internet was overtaken by algorithms and monopolies that threaten to erode our democracy.

#PresidentBannon  

WH chief strategist Steve Bannon is credited with influencing the president's every move, from speeches to executive orders. This week it was announced that he will take the place of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council principals committee so we thought it was a good time to revisit an interview Brooke did with Joshua Green who profiled Bannon for Bloomberg News.

New Reality  

The first week of the Trump administration was a frenzy of executive actions, falsehoods, and attacks on the media. Bob goes to the White House to talk with the press corps about how they're handling a moving target. Plus, how Trump's first executive action on abortion is a symbolic continuation of the decades-long war over reproductive rights. And, the swift rise and fall of the term "fake news." 

Week One  

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and his boss have had a rough first few days in their new jobs. Historian Martha Joynt Kumar explains that the relationship between the press secretary and the press has always been a tricky one.

Future Tense  

President Trump may be the most vocal with his disdain, but he's hardly the first president to have a rocky relationship with the press. Plus, why the White House press corps is so frustrating for everyone involved, and whether Trump's open animosity could actually be a blessing in disguise for the media. And, how the Obama administration’s last-minute expansion of surveillance powers might function in new hands.

"Busted" #3: Rags to Riches  

In the third installment of our series, "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," we take on one of our country's most fundamental notions: that America is a land of equal opportunity and upward mobility for all. And we ask why, in spite of a wealth of evidence to the contrary, does this idea persist?

With the help of historian Jill Lepore, Brooke traces the history of the "rags to riches" narrative, beginning with Benjamin Franklin, whose 18th century paper manufacturing business literally turned rags into riches. We hear from Natasha Boyer, a young Ohio woman who was saved from eviction by a generous surprise from strangers... only for the miracle to prove fleeting. And we consider the efficacy of "random acts of kindness" and the fateful role of luck -- where you're born, and to whom -- in determining success.

Songs:
"Rags To Riches" by Tony Bennett
"Adagio K. 617a For Glass Armonica" by Christa and Gerald Schönfeldinger
"Shine (Reprise)" by Roger Anderson & Lee Goldsmith
"Rondoletto" by Margaret Lion
"Avocet" by Bert Jansch
"This Old House" by Marcos Ciscar
"Melancolia" by Marcos Ciscar

"Busted" #1: The Poverty Tour  

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

Brooke traveled to Ohio, a state that reflects the varied nature of poverty, to talk directly with people who are poor and understand how they got that way, and why, under current policies, they are likely to stay that way. You'll hear from them over the next several weeks. But first, we examine how the story of poverty gets told -- and whether media attention makes any difference -- with the help of Jack Frech, a longtime Athens County welfare director who has been leading reporters on "poverty tours" of Appalachia for decades. 

“Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.

Songs:

 "Ec-Stacy" by Jess Stacy

"Gavotte in A Minor" by Matthew Camidge, arr. by Andy Boden

"Youkali Tango-Habanera" by Kurt Weill; performed by the Armadillo String Quartet

 

 

 

"Busted" #5: Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Poverty in America Edition  

When reporting on poverty, the media fall into familiar traps and pundits make prescriptions that disregard the facts. So, in the fifth and final installment of our series, "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," we present a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Poverty in America Edition. It'll equip you with the tools to spot shoddy reporting and the knowledge to identify coverage with insight.

With help from Jack Frech, former Athens County welfare director; Kathryn Edin, co-author of $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in AmericaGreg Kaufmann, editor of TalkPoverty.orgMatthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; and Linda Tirado, author of Hand To Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America

"Busted" #4: When the Safety Net Doesn't Catch You  

UPDATE: OTM has received numerous inquiries from listeners who want to help Margaret Smith. If you’d like to donate, she has set up a PayPal account here. Please note that neither OTM nor WNYC is affiliated with this account. We do not control the money nor do we monitor how it is spent. Donations are considered a gift to Smith, and are not tax-deductible.

***

In the fourth installment of our series "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," we examine the strengths and shortcomings of our nation's safety net. Government assistance does help lift millions out of poverty each year -- indeed, without it, poverty would be twice as high -- but those in the most dire circumstances often slip through the cracks.

With the help of Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we consider how anti-poverty programs can actually keep people poor and offer little hope for a way out.

Also, Brooke meets Margaret Smith, a Columbus woman made homeless after a violent crime derailed the life she'd carefully built with her six children. And we visit an Athens County food pantry that provides not just meals to the community, but also school supplies, clothing, furniture, job training, home repairs, disaster relief...even burial plots. 

Songs:

Invitation to a Suicide by John Zorn
Equinox by John Coltrane
Passing Time by John Renbourn
Peace Piece by Kronos Quartet

"Busted" #2: Who Deserves To Be Poor?  

UPDATE: Since this series began, OTM has received numerous inquiries from listeners who want to help Carla Scott. If you’d like to donate, she has set up a PayPal account here. Please note that neither OTM nor WNYC is affiliated with this account. We do not control the money nor do we monitor how it is spent. Donations are considered a gift to Scott, and are not tax-deductible.

***

In the second installment of our series on poverty myths, we trace the history of welfare in America, from aid to widows after the Civil War to Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty to Bill Clinton's pledge to "end welfare as we know it." With the help of Kathy Edin, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, we consider how the notion of government assistance sapping people of initiative has long shaped policy...and permitted many in poverty to fall through the cracks.

And Brooke meets Carla Scott, a young woman in Cleveland forced to sell her plasma for bus fare after a series of events derailed her life, as well as Carla's nonagenarian grandmother, Grace, a hard-line believer in "personal responsibility." 

Carla and her grandmother Grace on Grace's porch in Cleveland. (Brooke Gladstone/WNYC) Grandmother Grace with a photo of herself from earlier days. (Brooke Gladstone/WNYC)

 Songs:

Marjane's Inspiration by David Bergeaud
Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley
Chicago Sunset by Charlie Musselwhite
Carmen Fantasy by Anderson & Roe
Fondu 5 by Ballet Dance Jazz J. Company
John's Book of Alleged Dances by Kronos Quartet
The Thompson Fields by Maria Schneider Orchestra
Stolen Moments by Ahmad Jamal

“Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.  

The Game Has Changed  

As tensions between the press and the president-elect continue to mount, a look at why some news outlets chose to publish a salacious but unverified set of allegations about Donald Trump. Plus, how the rules of journalism may change in the Era of Trump and what journalists need to do to adjust; and writer Rebecca Solnit on finding hope in dark and uncertain places.

January Surprise  

For weeks now, journalists have been aware of a dossier circulating among top officials and the media; it alleges among other things, that Russia has compromising (Kompromat) information on President Elect Donald Trump. But it wasn't until a chain of events set off by a presidential briefing about the contents of the dossier that the media felt free to talk about what they knew. Brooke speaks with Slate's Will Oremus about Buzzfeed's (and Slate's) decision to publish the anonymous (and unverified) Russia memos in full. 

No End In Sight  

British journalist John Cantlie has been a prisoner of ISIS for more than four years. Throughout his captivity, he's been forced to act as a sort of warped foreign correspondent, extolling the virtues of the group in propaganda videos. With every appearance, he looks weaker and gaunter. In this special hour, we consider how Cantlie's plight is a window into the challenges of reporting on Syria, and why the world's tangled policy on hostages means that some live to tell the tale, and others don't. 

To Thine Own Self Be True  

It's been four hundred years since the death of William Shakespeare, and the Bard is as popular as ever... and just as mysterious. For centuries, a war has raged over the question: who is Shakespeare? We explore how the answer has evolved through the ages, and what that tells us about our changing perceptions of class, art, genius, and religion. Plus, a look at Shakespeare's enduring global relevance, with an inspiring and perilous performance of Love's Labor's Lost in Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump is not Hitler  

The Man in the High Castle, the Emmy Award winning TV series, imagines a world in which the Nazi’s won WWII. Set in the 1960s, the show blends actual pop cultural imagery and artifacts with fictional interpretations of an alternative ending to the war.

When its first season debuted, the show’s ad campaign in New York City subways hit a little too close to home. And the show’s second season, which dropped last week, is resonating in a similar way, although this time not so intentionally, just as white nationalists gain exposure in the lead-up to the Trump presidency. “But if it would be hyperbole to treat the series like a documentary, it would be denial to say it plays no differently now than it did before,” says James Poniewozik the chief television critic for The New York Times. He joined Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen in the studio to talk about his most recent article on the series which points to the parallels between fiction and reality.

Hurry Up!  

None of us know what Donald Trump will do once he becomes President Trump. What we do know is what he has said he wants to do and what powers he will have, should he choose to act. That's why activists are urging President Obama to do all that he can in the weeks he has left to leave the presidency nicer than he found it and to place some limits on the abilities of a potentially reckless new ruler.

Brooke and Bob talk to advocates and experts who have compiled a "must-do" list for Obama's final month in office, ranging from surveillance oversight to digital preservation to clemency to climate action. Then, we hear from the White House itself about what the administration actually plans to do with the limited time.

Finally, a discussion with writer James Gleick about the nature of time and how our understanding of it has evolved over time.

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