On the Media
On the Media
WNYC Studios
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.
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 Roe. Listen. 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. Music: The Water Rises (Laurie Anderson) - The Kronos QuartetJohn’s Book of Alleged Dances - The Kronos QuartetTateh's Picture Book - Randy NewmanAtlantic City - Randy Newman
Jun 24
50 min
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
16 min
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 BrendersFirst Drive - Clive Carroll and John RenbournBoy Moves the Sun - Michael AndrewsExit Music (For A Film) - Brad Mehldau Trio
Jun 17
50 min
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
34 min
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
50 min
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 8
22 min
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 [@ilyamarritz] and 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 [@ilyamarritz] and 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 3
50 min
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 2
41 min
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. Music: Sleep Talking by Ornette ColemanSonata for Violin and Guitar (Mauro Giuliani) by Itzhak Perlman and John WilliamsSuperstition (Stevie Wonder) by Jung SunghaI Got A Right To Sing the Blues by Billy KyleJohn’s Book of Alleged Dances by The Kronos Quartet For transcripts, see individual segment pages.
May 27
50 min
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
20 min
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