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

Normalize This!  

We devote this hour to a question put to us pretty much daily since election day: How to cover President Trump? 

First, we ask the AP, Univision, NPR, USA Today, and other news outlets about how they are defining a relationship with a president-elect who flaunts traditional rules, spreads misinformation, and criticizes the press.

Then we turn to language. Listeners help us highlight moments in media coverage that obscure the truth, and journalist Masha Gessen warns of the "impulse to normalize."

Plus, linguist John McWhorter describes the phenomenon of partisan words, and cognitive scientist George Lakoff argues that the principles of journalism need to be redefined... because of how our brains work.

 

 

 

How (NOT) to Cover Cuba!  

In 1957, Fidel Castro was believed to be dead -- until New York Times writer Herbert L. Matthews conducted an interview with Castro in the Cuban jungle. Matthews' portrayal of a romantic figure and a promising leader was trusted, until Castro revealed himself and his planned revolution as communist. Brooke speaks with Anthony DePalma, author of The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times, about the infamous coverage of Cuba's infamous leader. Also, the OTM guide on how (not) to cover Cuba.

Ghosts  

This election season, the media frequently looked to history in an attempt to explain the rise of Donald Trump. We consider how historical parallels don't always serve us well. Plus, revisiting a notorious murder that the press got wrong; the long reach of a WWII slogan; and attempts in Ukraine to whitewash the nation's history. A special hour on memory, both historical and personal, and how what we remember shapes our world.

Thanks for Everything, Bing  

A few years ago, Brooke spoke with the writer Paul Ford about the remarkable connection between Bing Crosby, magnetic tape, Nazi technology, and the computer hard drive. We're putting it down the podcast feed again this week, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, to get you in the mood. You can read Ford's post about Crosby on the New Yorker Elements blog

Unreal  

In the months leading up to the election, some fake news stories generated more engagement on Facebook than real news stories. We consider the landscape of misinformation and how to separate truth from fiction.

Plus: Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, hasn't just influenced political discourse through the incendiary Breitbart News -- he's also sabotaged his chosen politicians through investigative journalism.

And we interview a man who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the “cultivated, cosmopolitan face of white supremacy” to find out what he wants wants from the Trump administration.

 

 

 

When Real Police Shootings Look Nothing Like The Movies  

According to The Washington Post, more than 800 people have been shot and killed by police officers in the United States this year. As videos of many of these shootings-- especially ones depicting confrontations between police officers and black men-- go viral, Alyssa Rosenberg, opinion writer at The Washington Post, examines how different they look from the portrayals of police shootings that we're used to seeing in films and on TV. Her series, Dragnets, Dirty Harrys and Dying Hard examines the ways in which police officers are portrayed in pop culture. She talks to Bob about her third installment of the series: "In Pop Culture, There Are No Bad Police Shootings."

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Wrong Number  

The press didn’t see it coming. Or did they? This week, we examine the role of data – and delusion – in this election. Nate Silver reflects on the promise and pitfalls of polling, and Zachary Karabell discusses how financial indicators gloss over the gritty realities of American life. Plus: how a plan to dismantle the electoral college could make elections more democratic, and election coverage more interesting.

 

 

Now What?  

It's the morning after in the offices of On the Media. Usually editorial meetings take place in Brooke's office with Bob dialed in on the conference phone. This week we did it in the studio so you can hear the hosts talk about how they are feeling and how they envision the direction of the show in the Trump presidency. 

On Shaky Ground  

The months-long protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline finally received mainstream attention this week after a misdirection campaign on Facebook, but to what end? Plus, making sense of what you've been told about Russia's role in the election; Bob talks to Glenn Beck about his recent transformation; and the all-too-predictable fallout from hiring partisans as cable news pundits.

Debunking the AIDS "Patient Zero" Myth  

One of the most enduring myths of HIV/AIDS history has finally been laid to rest. The so-called "patient zero," a Canadian flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas, was once blamed for igniting the entire AIDS epidemic in America. Media outlets fixated on his sexual promiscuity; the New York Post called him "The Man Who Gave Us Aids."

But new research published in the journal Nature reexamined the original blood samples taken from Dugas in 1983 and found that the strain of the virus he was infected with was already present in the country years before Dugas frequented the gay scene in New York and San Francisco. Bob talks with Michael Worobey, evolutionary biologist and lead author of the Nature paper, about how the patient zero story is an ongoing black comedy of mischaracterization.

Poor Judgment  

The Trump camp is pointing to "oversampling" in the polls as the latest sign that the election is rigged against him. But the pollsters say that's not how polling works. FiveThirtyEight helps separate the conspiratorial from the commonplace in election polls. Plus, a look at what the media get wrong about Trump supporters, a controversial capital punishment rule gets taken up by the Supreme Court, and a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook for poverty.  

FiveThirtyEight presents: The Perot Condundrum  

Ever since his 1992 dark horse candidacy captured nearly 19% of the popular vote, there have been arguments over the real role of Ross Perot. Was he a spoiler candidate, stealing the election from Bush? Did he de-legitimize Clinton's victory by keeping him from winning a majority of the popular vote? Was there anything to learn from Perot's popularity, or was the unpredictable, charismatic, idiosyncratic billionaire just a fluke?

These are the questions our friends at FiveThirtyEight ponder in this week's excellent documentary podcast, "Long Before Trump, There Was Ross Perot." We like it and we think you will too.

We encourage you to check out all of FiveThirtyEight's other podcasts--including their daily election series that will be putting out an episode--that's right--every day until election day.

The System Is Rigged  

By now you know that Donald Trump likes to claim that the media, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and dead voters are among those rigging the election against him. But he's not the only politician during this campaign to claim the system is manipulated to favor some over others. This week, we explore how elections are and are not rigged. Also, the fourth installment of our poverty series focuses on the strengths and shortcomings of our nation's safety net. 

Mike Pesca Goes Back to the Spin Room  

Mike Pesca is the host of Slate's "The Gist." He braved the post-debate spin room again to bring us this report.

Race, Class, and the United States of Anxiety  

In the midst of an election that has exposed deep and sometimes ugly rifts in American society, WNYC and The Nation have partnered for a new podcast series called "The United States of Anxiety." Each week they look to understand how we arrived at this point by diving deep into the polarized economic, social and political landscape as it exists in communities on Long Island, New York. 

This week, we're sharing their latest episode which is all about the politics of being white, male, and working class in 2016. WNYC reporter, Jim O'Grady, takes a road trip through Long Island with writer and former bond trader Chris Arnade about how male Trump supporters are feeling emasculated by the current economic and political climate. Then, The Nation's Kai Wright talks to Italian-American Long Islanders about their families' journeys to whiteness. 

You can (and should) find more episodes of The United States of Anxiety on iTunes or by going to their website. 

Race to the Bottom  

Donald Trump deflected questions about sexual assault allegations at the second presidential debate by bringing up the ever-looming threat of ISIS. Yet, a new report on the group's dwindling propaganda output suggests ISIS may be losing its grip in the region. Also, how American media and the Kennedy administration became entangled in a network of tunnels beneath the Berlin Wall. And the third installment of our poverty series focuses on the age-old myth of upward mobility in America.

The United States of Anxiety  

In the midst of an election that has exposed deep and sometimes ugly rifts in American society, WNYC and The Nation have partnered for a new podcast series called "The United States of Anxiety." Each week they look to understand how we arrived at this point by diving deep into the polarized economic, social and political landscape as it exists in communities on Long Island, New York. 

This week, we're sharing their latest episode,which looks at the role of the media in creating a narrative of anxiety in the U.S -- particularly conservative talk radio. First, WNYC's Arun Venugopal visits Patty, a Donald Trump supporter who lives in Long Island, to find out about her media diet and how Trump's messaging speaks to her. Then, WNYC's Matt Katz talks to The Nation's Kai Wright about how conservative media reflects the changes taking place in our country and why its followers are distrustful of mainstream news. 

You can (and should) find more episodes of The United States of Anxiety on iTunes or by going to their website. 

Personal Responsibility  

Donald Trump and his surrogates say he's a genius for using the tax code to avoid paying taxes. Does the public agree? We examine the complicated history around fairness and taxes in America. Plus, our series on poverty continues with a look at the notion of the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, and how our welfare policies have been shaped by faulty presumptions. 

 

 

OTM Podcast Extra: War, Peace... and Clowns  

In this bite-sized OTM, Bob looks at two important news stories that we won't be able to fit into the full-sized OTM this weekend. 

First: this weekend, voters in Colombia rejected a peace agreement with the rebel group FARC. It would have brought to end over 50 years of fighting, and polling suggested that Colombians would have approved the deal. The vote has been explained as the triumph of bitterness over common sense, but it could also be seen as a failure of media messaging. Bob talks to Alex Fattal, Assistant Professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies at Penn State University, about the role that media has played in Colombia's armed conflict. Fattal is also author of the forthcoming book Guerilla Marketing: Capitalism and Counterinsurgency in Colombia, from University of Chicago Press.

Then: a rash of clown sightings has spread since the first report of creepy clowns in Greenville, South Carolina in late August. They've been seen from Oregon to New York, from Florida to Missouri. Or have they? Turns out these "phantom clown" sightings have been happening in waves for decades, and they tell us a lot about our own fears. Bob speaks with Benjamin Radford, author of Bad Clowns and a research fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, about our historic and cultural relationship with phantom clown sightings. 

Do Better  

Five years into the war in Syria, we examine whether calling the latest horrors "war crimes" will have any effect. Also, why the biggest story following the first presidential debate is about Miss Universe; the un-examined candidacy of Libertarian Gary Johnson; and curbing inmates' rights online. Finally, our series on myths about poverty in America begins in Athens, Ohio, a timeworn stop on the "poverty tour" for politicians and reporters alike.

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