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.

  • 50 minutes 39 seconds
    How the Media Created J.D. Vance. Plus, the Anointing of Donald Trump

    At the Republican National Convention, Donald J. Trump named J.D. Vance as his pick for Vice President. On this week’s On the Media, hear how Vance went from liberal darling to MAGA leader, with a little help from a billionaire. Plus, meet the right-wing Christians who see the failed attempt on Trump’s life as evidence of his divine anointing by God.

    [01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone charts the media’s role in shaping J.D. Vance's rise. Vance rose to fame as a liberal media darling who frequently lambasted Donald Trump after the publication of his blockbuster memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” to Trump’s VP pick and a new leader of the MAGA movement. Ian Ward, a reporter at Politico, and Simon van Zuylen-Wood, a staff writer at New York Magazine, speak to how Vance’s vision of America extends far beyond Trumpism. 

    [15:03] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Andrew Prokop, senior politics correspondent at Vox, about Vance’s roots in the so-called New Right, a scrappy but growing offshoot of conservatism that aims to seize and destroy societal institutions they believe are controlled by the left. Plus, John Herrman, tech columnist at New York Magazine, explains what Big Tech sees in MAGA.

    [36:35] Brooke speaks with Matthew D. Taylor, author of the forthcoming book The Violent Take it by Force, about how the attempted assassination of Trump has amplified a subset of evangelicals who believe that prophecy foresaw the event. These right-wing Christians see Trump as an anointed candidate, saved by God. 

    Further reading / listening:


     

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    19 July 2024, 11:53 pm
  • 13 minutes 32 seconds
    It's Getting Hot in Here

    Across the globe, summers are getting unseasonably, and scarily hot, and last year the United Nations announcing that we've entered the era of "global boiling."  And yet it's hard to grapple with the damage caused by extreme heat. It's the deadliest kind of climate disaster, but victims of heat often die out of sight of the public eye. FEMA doesn't even respond to extreme heat waves in the way it does to other "major disasters." Jake Bittle is a staff writer at Grist covering climate impact.  Brooke spoke to Bittle last year about the invisibility of extreme heat, the challenge it presents to news outlets, and the potential value of naming heat waves. 

    This is a segment from our August 18, 2023 show, Read All About It.

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    17 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 35 seconds
    What the Media Get Wrong About Immigration

    Immigration is one of the most important issues in this year’s presidential election. This week, On the Media traces how root causes of mass migration from Central America to the United States over the past decade stem back to the Cold War. Plus, a deep dive on terms like “colonialism” and “decolonization,” and what they mean in the context of Israel-Palestine.

    [01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Jonathan Blitzer, who covers immigration for The New Yorker and is author of the book, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here, about how the root causes of mass migration from Central America to the United States over the past decade stem back to the Cold War. This interview originally aired on our February 2, 2024 show.

    [15:30] Brooke continues her conversation with Jonathan Blitzer about how the past and future of Central America and the United States are inextricable, and the far-reaching consequences of Congress’ refusal to reform the immigration system since 1990. This interview originally aired on our February 2, 2024 show.

    [30:58] Brooke Gladstone speaks with Iyad el-Baghdadi, a Palestinian human rights activist, writer, and co-author of The Middle East Crisis Factory, about the value of historical parallels to describe the conflict in Palestine, and why the precise meanings behind words like “decolonization” and “colonialism” are crucial. This interview originally aired on our March 8, 2024 show.

    Further reading / listening:

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    12 July 2024, 10:01 pm
  • 20 minutes 22 seconds
    Making Fun of Public Radio

    In January 2023, a TV show called In the Know debuted on Peacock. The comedy is a parody of a daily NPR show produced in New York City, with rather cringey characters portrayed by stop-motion puppets. Each episode also features an interview with a real person who appears on Zoom. The show is written by Zach Woods, Brandon Gardner, and Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead (who also voices the character of Sandy the movie critic). Woods, known for playing Gabe on The Office and Jared from Silicon Valley, plays the central role of Lauren Caspian, billed as the third most famous NPR host. Brooke speaks with Zach Woods and Brandon Gardner about why public radio provides such rich ground for satire, and how comedy can restore complexity to the world. 

    This interview originally aired on our January 26, 2024 show.

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    10 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 38 seconds
    The Sound of Patriotism

    Every year on the Fourth of July, households across America embrace the aesthetics of patriotism. On this week’s On the Media, find out how the early country music industry got a major boost from the US military and became associated with the “sound of patriotism.” Plus, how a song written by a Canadian became an anthem for the Confederate “lost cause.”

    [01:00] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Joseph Thompson, a professor of history and author of the new book Cold War Country, about how hillbilly music transformed into the powerful country music industry, starting with a little assistance from the US military in the 1940s and 50s.

    [18:40] Micah continues his conversation with Joseph Thompson about how country music came to be linked to a certain type of American patriotism, and why some of country music’s most famous jingoistic songs are more complex than many listeners think. 

    [32:15] Brooke Gladstone speaks with Jack Hamilton, pop critic for Slate and author of the book Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, about how “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” became an anthem for the Confederate ‘Lost Cause.’ This interview originally aired on our January 8th, 2021 show.

    Further reading / listening:

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    5 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 22 minutes 4 seconds
    Clarence Thomas' Unshaken Belief in Big Money

    Last month, Clarence Thomas acknowledged several luxury trips that were gifted to him by billionaire Harlan Crow. But the pair’s financial ties had long been public knowledge, thanks to a bombshell report by ProPublica in 2023.  The gifts included lavish vacations, trips on private yachts and jets — and even a trip to Indonesia valued at as much as half a million dollars. Most of these gifts went undisclosed, despite that being required by law. But this isn’t Thomas’ first rodeo. He has reportedly accepted a slew of gifts in the past, including $1200 worth of tires from an Omaha businessman, and a bust of President Lincoln valued at $15,000.

    Brooke speaks to Corey Robin, a journalist and political science professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, about Clarence Thomas relationship with money and power, and Robin’s article in Politico, "The Clarence Thomas Scandal Is About More Than Corruption. It’s about his jurisprudence." 

    This interview originally aired on April 21, 2023.

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    3 July 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 39 seconds
    No, Joe Biden Didn’t Poop His Pants. Plus, the Supreme Court’s Fact-Checking Problem

    Some of the most outrageous stories about President Biden are originating from a single, unverified source. On this week’s On the Media, hear about the shadowy organization that’s influencing election narratives. Plus, factual errors are at the heart of a recent Supreme Court decision. Learn how we can reform the system.

    [01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone interviews Judd Legum, author of Popular Information, about how a rightwing outlet is presenting itself as a neutral news source, all the while pushing coordinated messaging about President Biden.

    [18:04] Host Micah Loewinger speaks to Mark Joseph Stern, senior writer at Slate, about the factual errors in a recent Supreme Court ruling concerning guns.

    [35:48] Micah interviews Allison Orr Larsen, professor of law at William and Mary, about how so many contested facts reach the highest court via amicus briefs. Plus, how to reform the so-called “amicus machine.”

    Further reading:

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    28 June 2024, 11:19 pm
  • 27 minutes 59 seconds
    Do Sperm Whales Talk to Each Other?

    This week, we turn away from the media for a moment, to a realm thousands of feet beneath the ocean’s surface – where sperm whales swim. These behemoths spend most of their lives in complete darkness, surfacing only for a few minutes at a time. They have the largest brains of virtually any other creature on earth, and they grow to be the size of one school bus, even two – and weigh as much as ten of them. But despite leading wildly different lives, scientists say they may communicate with each other – much like we do. 

    In May, scientists at CETI, or Cetacean Translation Initiative, published a study claiming that they use a complex phonetic alphabet that echoes the structures of human languages. This week, host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Shane Gero, a biologist focusing on the acoustic complexity and social behavior of whales and Biology Lead at CETI, about this phonetic alphabet, and how it might be the first of many steps that could lead to translating what these sea giants are saying – and saving their lives. 

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    26 June 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 38 seconds
    The Ensh*ttification of Everything

    Why does every social media platform seem to get worse over time? This week’s On the Media explores an expansive theory on how we lost a better version of the internet, and the systems that insulate Big Digital from competition. Plus, some solutions for fixing the world wide web.

    [01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone interviews Cory Doctorow, journalist, activist, and the author of Red Team Blues, on his theory surrounding the slow, steady descent of the internet. 

    [15:59] Brooke asks Cory if the troubles that plague some corners of the internet are specific to Big Digital, rather than the economy at large—and how our legal systems enabled it all. Doctorow explains how the antitrust practices of the early 1900s went awry, and what exactly he means by “twiddling.” 

    [31:29] Cory and Brooke discuss possible solutions to save the world wide web.  Among them: better enforcement of privacy laws, interoperability, and the ever elusive "right-to-exit." Plus, hear about the one industry that so far has been mostly immune to the forces of "enshittification." 

    This episode originally aired on our September 1, 2023 program, How Big Tech Went to Sh*t.

    Further reading:

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    21 June 2024, 7:12 pm
  • 30 minutes 45 seconds
    The Drip, Drip, Drip of Bad News at The Washington Post

    Over the past few months, The Washington Post has weathered a slate of unfavorable news. In May, publisher and CEO Will Lewis revealed the Post lost 77 million dollars last year. Lewis also announced a big restructuring and, as reported by Semafor’s Max Tani, the paper’s chief technology officer should have "AI everywhere in our newsroom." 

    But then things started changing at the top of the news organization. Sally Buzbee, who had served as the executive editor for the Post over the last three years, resigned. And in the wake of her departure CEO Will Lewis, and his chosen replacement for Buzbee, Robert Winnett, became the center of multiple investigations. Allegations of paying sources, using informants who secured scoops via deception, and even approving destruction of evidence have now made headlines. This week, Micah sits down with NPR media correspondent,  David Folkenflik to make sense of the news, and what it all might mean for one of America’s most storied papers. 

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    21 June 2024, 4:28 am
  • 50 minutes 51 seconds
    UK Elections: They’re Not Like Ours! Plus, the Messy Family Behind Paramount

    Over the past two decades, 900 British postal workers were wrongfully prosecuted for fraud. On this week’s On the Media, hear how a TV show about the Post Office Scandal sparked a political reckoning in the U.K. Plus, meet the Redstones – the complicated family behind Paramount Global.

    [00:00] Host Brooke Gladstone interviews Jonathan Freedland, columnist at the Guardian and host of the Politics Weekly America podcast, about how coinciding election campaigns in the US and the UK this year are influencing each other from across the pond.

    [00:00] Brooke explores how a recent British TV drama about the "Post Office Scandal" sparked a long overdue political reckoning in the U.K., and shone a light on the stories of British postal workers wrongfully prosecuted for fraud. Brooke interviews reporter Rebecca Thomson, who first broke the story in 2009; reporter Nick Wallis, author of The Great Post Office Scandal and consultant for the television drama; and Lee Castleton, a former subpostmaster in East Yorkshire.

    [00:00] Lastly, Brooke interviews Rachel Abrams, senior producer and reporter for The New York Times Presents and co-author of Unscripted:​​ The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy. They discuss the Redstones, the family behind the media empire Paramount Global.

    Further reading:

    On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

    14 June 2024, 11:50 pm
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