Episodes

  • Under the Influence

    · 00:50:23 · On the Media

    As the opioid crisis in America rages, the government struggles to react. A look at how a 2016 bill weakened the Drug Enforcement Agency and why nobody noticed. Also, how painkillers took off in America, thanks to industry-sponsored junk science; the power of addict death notices to spread understanding about the depths of the crisis; and inside a new report exposing the exploitation faced by many senior citizens. 1. Lenny Bernstein [@LennyMBernstein], health and medicine reporter for The Washington Post, on a new report exposing how the drug industry helped push through a 2016 bill that undercut the DEA's ability to fight against opioid abuse. 2. Barry Meier [@BarryMeier], New York Times reporter and author of "Pain Killer: A 'Wonder' Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death," on how pharmaceutical companies like Purdue pushed painkillers as "wonder" drugs, based on junk science. 3. Anna Clark [@annaleighclark], Detroit-based journalist, on how obituaries and death notices for addicts are providing some of the most valuable insight into the epidemic and helping to reduce stigma. 4. Rachel Aviv [@rachelaviv], staff writer for The New Yorker, on how she reported her recent story on the way a system of guardianship is leaving many elderly people exploited. 

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  • Raqqa Liberated

    · 00:22:29 · On the Media

    News came this week that the US backed Syrian Democratic Forces had finally liberated the city of Raqqa from the grip of ISIS. For the past three years the people trapped inside the oppressive ISIS regime suffered daily. Yet, reports of torture and assassination in the terrorized city did not come from traditional outlets. Rather, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a band of citizen journalists led by Abdel Aziz al-Hamza, risked their lives to report the egregious conditions in a place that was notoriously difficult to enter or escape. Matthew Heineman followed this group in his new documentary, City of Ghosts. Bob speaks with Heineman and al-Hamza about their experiences in Raqqa and how these journalists found inspiration to continue their work. Also, Iraq’s nine-month operation to push ISIS out of Mosul yielded bittersweet news this summer: the liberation of a starved and terrorized city. Over the previous three years, ISIS sought to completely isolate the people of Mosul by shutting off access to the internet and outside media. Radio Al-Ghad, a community radio station, defied the media blackout and risked death to give a voice to the civilian population. Brooke speaks to Al-Ghad’s founder Mohammed Al-Musali about how his heroic team managed to shine a light into Mosul, win over ISIS supporters, and save countless lives.

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  • Losing Power

    · 00:50:23 · On the Media

    The President is once again threatening the press, but it's unclear whether he will be able to follow through. A look at which threats to the First Amendment we should be taking seriously. Also, looking beyond the "adults in the room" trope; reporting on the worsening situation in Puerto Rico; the role of gossip and whisper networks in protecting women; and the story of one of the original godfathers of gossip. 1. David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, on threats to the First Amendment under the Trump Administration. 2. James Mann, author of "Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet," on why we should be wary of the military personnel who are increasingly in charge of our government. 3. David Begnaud, CBS news correspondent, on the work of covering Puerto Rico and the deteriorating situation on the ground. 4. Anne Helen Petersen, Buzzfeed senior culture writer, on the history of gossip and its essential role in the saga of Harvey Weinstein. 5. Neal Gabler, author of "Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity" on the story of Walter Winchell, one of the godfathers of gossip journalism.

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  • Puerto Rico's Never-ending Emergency

    · 00:13:00 · On the Media

    David Begnaud of CBS was in Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria hit on September 20. Then, he and his team reported for two weeks straight, posting videos on Twitter and sending dispatches to the network. He tracked the logjam of aid stuck in ports, the snaking lines for water, the utter chaos at the San Juan airport. In response, Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have begun nominating him for honorary status as one of their own. After a short break, he's back on the island and still reporting. Begnaud speaks to Bob about how a recent rainstorm has made conditions even worse than they were before he left, and how he is serving as a conduit between Puerto Rican officials and FEMA.  

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  • More Human Than Human

    · 00:50:05 · On the Media

    The news has been awash in reports of the rising death tolls for the Las Vegas shooting and the ongoing devastation in Puerto Rico. This week, why the media's emphasis on the numbers distorts our understanding of tragedies. Also, a case for using the word "terrorism" more cautiously; what we get wrong when we make assumptions about country music; and a look what it means to be human in the context of Blade Runner. 1. Bob ruminates on the media's knee-jerk attempts to quantify a crisis. And Omaya Sosa Pascual, a journalist with the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico, discusses the scale of devastation on the island. 2. New Yorker columnist Masha Gessen explains why the media should apply the term "terrorism" with care. 3. Buzzfeed News's world correspondent J. Lester Feder on how country music went conservative.  4. Historian Nadine Hubbs examines generic assumptions about country music, and how they betray an underlying discomfort with the working class in America. 5. Historian Alison Landsberg speaks with Brooke about Blade Runner and human memory.

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  • After Vegas

    · 00:08:16 · On the Media

    On Sunday night, a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, NV. Since then, reports of deaths and injuries have been mounting, making for what's being called "the deadliest mass shooting" in modern American history. Amid the tragedy, we're seeing a spate of familiar media tropes: from offers of "thoughts and prayers" and tussles over the appropriate time to talk about gun control to mis-identification of perpetrators and publication of unconfirmed reports. Brooke recalls some points from On the Media's Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Active Shooter Edition to remind us that, while this latest tragedy might feel unique, the media is recycling a playbook that we've seen all-too-many times before.

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  • Insult to Injury

    · 00:49:58 · On the Media

    As Puerto Rico rations resources and seeks help from the US government, the mainland media has mostly been preoccupied with Donald Trump's provocations towards the NFL. This week, what's actually happening on the island (and with the NFL). Also, a look at the radical history of the Star-Spangled Banner; how the Catalan independence referendum is being suppressed by the Spanish government; decoding the FBI's new crime statistics; and a look back at Hugh Hefner's impact on American culture. 1. Puerto Rican columnist Sandra Rodriguez Cotto [@SRCSandra] talks about how the local press are handling the wreckage following Hurricane Maria. 2. Brooke examines this week's NFL news frenzy. 3. University of Maryland assistant professor of musicology Will Robin [@seatedovation] reveals the national anthem's long history of musical defiance and radicalism.  4. Thomas Abt [@Abt_Thomas], a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School and a former deputy secretary for public safety for New York State, talks about the politicization of violent crime data.  5. Vicent Partal [@vpartal], founder and editor of VilaWeb, a Catalan news outlet based in Barcelona, explains the modern Catalan separatist movement and the Spanish government's efforts to suppress this weekend's referendum.   6. A look back on Hugh Hefner's legacy through two interviews with and about him.      

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  • Among Many Victims in Mexico, There Was One Who Never Existed

    · 00:10:20 · On the Media

    In Central Mexico, rescuers continue to sift through piles of rubble left by last week's 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Hundreds of volunteers have joined the rescue effort. One of the most widely reported stories from the earthquake reveals how the people in Mexico are coping with the earthquake. In the first couple days after it struck, media in Mexico and around the world focused on the story of a 12-year-old girl. She was trapped in the rubble of school building, communicating with rescuers, wiggling her fingers, and asking rescuers for water. She said her name was Frida Sofia, and she didn't exist at all.  Brooke talks with Rodrigo Cervantes, the Mexico City bureau chief for KJZZ, about his reporting from rescue sites in the city, the mystery of Frida Sofia, and what the confusion reveals about distrust in media and the government.  

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  • OTM live at the Texas Tribune Festival: The Politicians

    · 00:26:47 · On the Media

    When Brooke was at the Texas Tribune festival in Austin last week, she moderated two sessions, one with reporters and one with couple of US Representatives from Texas. Democrat Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, and Republican Will Hurd of Helotes. The two - who didn’t much know each other a year ago -  made headlines in their state when, stranded by a snowstorm, they found themselves sharing a rented Chevy Impala for the sixteen-hundred mile drive from San Antonio to Washington. Brooke asked them roughly the same question she asked the reporters; how do the constant attacks by the President on journalism, on facts, influence how you do your job and how you deal with the press? Does it affect your point of view?  **Correction: At one point, Representative Will Hurd refers to a recent missile launch by Iran as an example real news that is worth reporting. In fact, it was the opposite.**  

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  • OTM live at the Texas Tribune Festival: The Journalists

    · 00:25:30 · On the Media

    Last week Brooke was at the Texas Tribune Festival, an annual event that gathers hundred of speakers and thousands of citizens to discuss big issues of the day, ranging from education to climate change to politics. She moderated a couple of sessions: One with two great journalists from two very different places with two very different briefs. One of those journalists was Amy Chozick, a national political reporter for the New York Times, the other was Evan Smith, the  co-founder and CEO of the Texas Tribune. The question at issue turned on President Trumps continuous attacks on the press, and on truth, basic facts. Does it affect the way they practice journalism? And if so, how?   

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  • Trust Issues

    · 00:52:47 · On the Media

    Facebook is under fire for allowing Russian propagandists to buy ads during the 2016 election. This week, how we do and don't hold tech giants accountable. 1. Max Seddon [@maxseddon], Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times, on the push by the US government to register RT and Sputnik under the Foreign Agents Relations Act and why the effort to "do something" about Russian propaganda is misguided. 2. Julia Angwin [@juliaangwin], investigative journalist for ProPublica, on their new crowdsourcing project that aims to monitor otherwise inscrutable Facebook political advertisements. 3. Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller], Fellow at the Open Markets Institute, on understanding Silicon Valley's behavior through the lens of monopoly and why he believes Americans can, and must, demand more. 4. Utsav Sanduja [@u], Chief Operating Officer of the alt-right-favored social media network Gab, on their antitrust lawsuit against Google and why they see a need for a pro-free speech social media platform. 5. Paul Ford [@ftrain], tech author and commentator, on the difficult ethical questions that surround massive tech platforms.

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  • What Lies Ahead For Puerto Rico

    · 00:15:18 · On the Media

    Following Hurricane Maria’s landfall on Wednesday morning, we have only scarce images and reports from which to comprehend the scale of devastation in Puerto Rico right now. Perhaps due to disaster fatigue, perhaps due to the territory’s second-class status, the media coverage has been perfunctory. While the coverage to date has focused on the flooding and widespread power outages on the ravaged island, Rutgers professor Yarimar Bonilla says there's an important context to the problems with the electric grid. She and Bob discuss how the damage from Maria is related to the debt crisis, and how it may provide an excuse to justify another wave of privatization on the island.

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  • "Free Speech Week" Puts Berkeley Back in the Crosshairs

    · 00:25:12 · On the Media

    Alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos recently released a list of speakers for his upcoming "Free Speech Week" at University of California Berkeley, a four-day event featuring Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter, and a host of other conservative voices. Yet, according to Berkeley officials, the Berkeley Patriot, the on-campus student publication that invited Yiannopoulos in the first place, has flubbed basic logistical planning and put "Free Speech Week" in jeopardy. And if it falls apart, says historian Angus Johnston, then it will look like Berkeley had planned to censor the event all along. He and Brooke speak about why news consumers should focus less on the issue of campus free speech and more on Yiannopoulos’s PR strategy.

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  • Look What You Made Me Do

    · 00:49:34 · On the Media

    A week after President Trump cut a surprise deal with Democrats, and 100 years after it was created, is the debt ceiling still serving its intended purpose? Plus, inside the alt-right idolization of Taylor Swift and medieval history and how some are trying to fight back. Finally, a new book argues that we may need less technology, even--or especially--if it means we become more bored. 1. Zachary Karabell, author of "The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers that Rule Our World," discusses the debt ceiling's history and frequent use as political football. 2. Mitchell Sunderland, Senior Staff Writer at Vice, on Taylor Swift's fascist following.  2. Historian David M. Perry on how medieval historians should respond to white supremacist affection for their field. 4. Manoush Zomorodi, host of the WNYC's Note to Self, on her new book, "Bored and Brilliant," and the dire need to disengage from technology.

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  • The Counter-Jihad Movement & the Making of a President

    · 00:32:41 · On the Media

    President George W. Bush, speaking at a mosque on Sept. 17, 2001: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace." Donald Trump, campaigning for president on March 9, 2016: "I think Islam hates us." David Yerushalmi was living in an Israeli settlement near Jerusalem speaking on the phone with his father when the planes hit the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. "We got it wrong," Yerushalmi remembers telling his father. Before Sept. 11th, Yerushalmi thought terrorism was about nationalism, a fight over land. Afterward, he decided terrorism committed by Muslim extremists was driven by Islam itself -- and underpinned by Islamic Shariah law.   Pamela Geller and David Yerulshami (Pamela Geller) So he packed up his family and moved to New York to become part of a fledgling community of conservatives who would come to be known as counter-jihadists. They had an uphill battle to fight: In the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush and most Americans, according to polls, did not equate Islam with terrorism.  But 16 years later, even though there hasn't been another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil committed by a Muslim, America's perspective on Islam has changed -- evidenced most notably by the election of a president who believes the religion itself hates the country. Yerushalmi is a big reason for this change of heart. He's a behind-the-scenes leader of the counter-jihad movement, filing lawsuits pushing back against the encroachment of Islam in the public sphere and crafting a series of anti-Sharia laws that Muslims and civil rights groups decry as Islamophobic. "Do I think that the United States is weak enough to collapse either from a kinetic Jihad, meaning war, or even a civilizational Jihad that the Muslim Brotherhood talks about? No. At least not in my lifetime. But do I think it's an existential threat that allows for sleeper cells and the Internet-grown Jihadist that we see day in and day out wreaking so much havoc here and in Europe? Yes. Do I see it as a threat to our freedoms and liberties incrementally through their so-called civilizational Jihad where they use our laws and our freedoms to undermine our laws and our freedoms? Absolutely." WNYC reporter Matt Katz speaks to Yerulshami about what he thinks is the creeping threat of Sharia law for the podcast "The United States of Anxiety" produced by New York Public Radio.   

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  • Duck and Cover

    · 00:50:13 · On the Media

    The Trump administration has announced the end of the DACA program. We examine the rhetoric used to justify the decision. Plus: the Southern Poverty Law Center faces questions from across the political spectrum about its messaging and fundraising; and the surprising history of FEMA's Cold War origins and what it means for emergency response today.  1. Mark Joseph Stern [@mjs_DC] of Slate dissects the rhetoric used by the Trump administration to justify ending the DACA program.  2. Peter Beinart [@PeterBeinart] of The Atlantic on how Democrats frame immigration and what gets ignored in the discussion.  3. The Southern Poverty Law Center has faced criticism from the left and the right. Ben Schreckinger [@SchreckReports] of Politico breaks down concerns surrounding the group's messaging and fundraising. Then, SPLC President Richard Cohen [@splcenter] responds to the criticism and rebuts recent, dubious accusations from right-leaning media outlets.  4. Garrett Graff [@vermontgmg] wrote about "The Secret History of FEMA" for Wired this week. He explains FEMA's origins as a Cold War civil defense agency and how its mission has evolved.

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  • Unnatural Disaster

    · 00:50:15 · On the Media

    Hurricane Harvey makes landfall, bringing with it a familiar set of reporting tropes. We unpack the language of storm reporting and why it falls short, and why these disasters expose a society's priorities. Plus: why there's no such thing as a "natural" disaster; and a conservative commentator on what would really bring a "breaking point" to Trump's relationship with Republicans.  1. Neena Satija of The Texas Tribune and Reveal discusses last year's investigative report, "Boomtown, Flood Town," about Houston's risk for flooding.  2. The American Storm Edition of the Breaking News Consumer's Handbook, with: Robert Holmes, national flood hazard specialist and coordinator for the U.S.G.S.; risk communication consultant Gina Eosco; and disaster historian Scott Knowles.  3. One of the most widely misreported stories of Hurricane Katrina involved deaths at St. Rita's nursing home in a New Orleans suburb. James Cobb, their lawyer, talked to Brooke about media scapegoating in disasters.  4. Noah Rothman of Commentary Magazine on why the Republican party isn't distancing itself more from President Trump.   

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  • Bob's Docs Finale: Conflicting Narratives

    · 00:11:18 · On the Media

    For the month of August, we’ve been running a series of interviews Bob has done with documentary filmmakers. We’ve been calling it “Bob’s Docs," and each we’ve week we’ve gone through some of the themes of documentary filmmaking — from the personal journey to the gift of extraordinary access. We have one more bonus episode of “Bob’s Docs," and this one is about what happens when documentaries dig into conflicting narratives. In 1977, a former beauty queen with a 168 IQ named Joyce McKinney became British tabloid fodder when she supposedly kidnapped her Mormon boyfriend at gunpoint and, for four days, kept him as her sex slave. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' 2011 documentary Tabloid looked into the claims and the tabloid coverage. Brooke spoke with Morris six years ago about what he learned about sensational reporting and the trouble of getting to the bottom of a he-said, she-said.

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  • This American War on Drugs

    · 00:50:23 · On the Media

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled that he'd like to revamp the war on drugs. We take a look at the history of the battle, and how sensational media depictions of crack, heroin, and meth have helped fuel it. Plus: our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Drugs Edition. Then, a look at how America’s first drug czar used racist propaganda to outlaw marijuana. And why the debate between treatment and law enforcement is blurrier than you might think. 1. Our Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Drugs Edition: a critical look at what the press gets wrong about drugs and drug addiction, featuring Dr. Debbie Dowell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Carl Hart of Columbia University, and author Maia Szalavitz. 2. Historian Alexandra Chasin and author Johann Hari tell the story of Harry Anslinger, the man who set our seeming eternal drug war in motion, and his ruthless pursuit of jazz singer Billie Holiday. 3. University of California Santa Cruz's Dr. Craig Reinarman examines how American presidents encouraged and harnessed hysteria around drugs for political gain. 4. Journalist Sam Quinones argues for the importance of aggressive policing in the effort to end America's opioid crisis.

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  • Bob's Docs Episode Four: It's Personal

    · 00:29:39 · On the Media

    For the month of August we've been running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as "Bob's Docs." Over the past few weeks, we've gone through some of the themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to manipulation. This week we conclude with the personal journey.  This episode features two interviews, and the first is actually a guest spot from Brooke Gladstone. Last year, Brooke spoke with James Solomon about his documentary, "The Witness", about the story of Kitty Genovese -- a young woman who was famously murdered on a New York City street in 1964. Her murder came to symbolize urban apathy and the "bystander effect". Solomon documents Kitty's brother Bill Genovese's lengthy pursuit to discover the truth behind her life and murder.  Then, Bob speaks with filmmaker Ken Dornstein about his three-part series on PBS's Frontline called "My Brother's Bomber" about his investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing. Dornstein's brother died in the attack, and Dornstein spent years trying to locate other figures who were suspects.   

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