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 47 seconds
    What Bush v. Gore Revealed About Contested Elections

    On this week’s On the Media we revisit another fraught moment in American democracy: the contested  election between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000. Hear about the extraordinary legal battle that ensued, and what it can teach us about partisan politics today. 

    Leon Neyfakh, host of the podcast Fiasco, takes us back in time to witness how the Gore and Bush campaigns fought for recounts; how “chads” and “military ballots” became central to the contest; and the role of the so-called Brooks Brothers riot.

    Further 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].

    17 May 2024, 6:27 pm
  • 31 minutes 22 seconds
    The Story Behind Biden’s New Tariffs

    This week, President Biden announced major new tariffs on $18 billion worth of imports from China. The goods that will be affected include batteries, steel, aluminum, and semiconductors. Tariffs on electric vehicles will go up from 

    25 percent to 100 percent. These new tariffs signal a reversal from Biden’s messaging on tariffs during the 2020 campaign, and also a reversal of a decades-long consensus in Washington that lower tariffs are better for the American economy. To understand how we got here, Micah spoke with Gordon Hanson, an economist and a co-director of the Reimagining the Economy Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

    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].

    15 May 2024, 3:25 pm
  • 50 minutes 47 seconds
    What the Media Get Wrong About Campus Protests

    In reports about pro-Palestinian college encampments, comparisons to the anti-war demonstrations of 1968 abound. On this week’s On the Media, hear how historical analogies distract us from what makes today’s protests unique. Plus, a reporter debunks a theory that Bill Gates is somehow funding campus activism.

    [01:09] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Danielle K. Brown, a journalism professor at Michigan State university, about how coverage has detracted focus from students’ demands for universities to cut ties with Israel. Plus, Rick Perlstein, a columnist at The American Prospect, says reporters’ fondness for drawing parallels with 1968 has obscured the singularity of today’s encampments.

    [16:54] Micah continues the conversation about pro-Palestinian protest coverage with Andrew Perez, senior politics editor at Rolling Stone. They explore the inaccurate reporting on “outside agitators” and funding sources of campus demonstrations.

    [31:38] Micah speaks with Oren Persico, a staff writer at The Seventh Eye, about how current events like a potential Israeli invasion of Rafah and the ongoing Israel-Hamas ceasefire negotiations are being covered by Israeli media.

    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].

    10 May 2024, 11:51 pm
  • 24 minutes 49 seconds
    Revisiting a Conversation with Paul Auster

    Last week, news broke that writer Paul Auster died from complications related to lung cancer. The New York Times called him “the patron saint of literary Brooklyn;” elsewhere he was dubbed "the dean of American postmodernists." He was the author of many novels such as The New York Trilogy, and he wrote screenplays, memoirs, and nonfiction, including Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane.

    He was also a long-time friend of Brooke and her husband Fred Kaplan — they lived a few blocks away from each other in their Brooklyn neighborhood. In November of 2021, Paul Auster walked over to Brooke’s home studio to talk about Stephen Crane.  

    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].

    8 May 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 53 seconds
    How to Read a President, with Carlos Lozada, Vinson Cunningham, and Curtis Sittenfeld

    When politicians publish their autobiographies, often they reveal more than intended. On this week’s On the Media, find out how one reporter sifts through political memoirs for truths about politicians and the people they lead. Plus, in vivid detail, a novelist imagines the private lives of former presidents.

    [01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Carlos Lozada, New York Times Opinion columnist and a co-host of the weekly “Matter of Opinion” podcast. Lozada explains how he mines political memoirs for deeper understanding of our political figures by examining what they include and what they omit.

    [16:59] Brooke speaks with Vinson Cunningham, author of the new novel Great Expectations. Cunningham, who is now a theater critic at The New Yorker, worked on the 2008 Obama campaign and later in the White House. Great Expectations is inspired by that time in his life, and the difficult-to-read candidate for the presidency.

    [35:19] Brooke interviews novelist Curtis Sittenfeld about her exploration of the minds of political figures through fiction, first in American Wife (inspired by Laura Bush) and next in Rodham, which considers what Hilary Clinton’s life would have looked like if she had never married Bill. They discuss the questions that led Sittenfeld to write those novels and why fiction based on real people makes readers so uncomfortable — especially the sex scenes.

    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].

    3 May 2024, 5:45 pm
  • 19 minutes
    'The Three Body Problem' And the Rise of Chinese Science Fiction

    Chinese science fiction has gone from a niche, underground genre to the country's hottest new export. On Saturday, at the 8th China Science Fiction Conference hosted in Beijing, an animated presenter unveiled graphs detailing the meteoric rise of the genre, claiming that China had raked in nearly $16 billion in revenue from its sci-fi industry in 2023. And in late March, an adaptation of one of China's  biggest cultural exports, 'The Three Body Problem,' premiered on Netflix. The show, based on a book by Liu Cixin, follows a group of modern-day scientists battling an alien invasion, triggered by one cataclysmic decision made by an aggrieved physicist during the Cultural Revolution in China. The show garnered roughly 15.6 million views in its first week. 

    But the seed of this science fiction craze was first planted in 2008, with the publication of the book, which quickly became an unexpected global phenomenon. The book and its two sequels have exceeded the total sales of all literary works exported by China so far — thus piquing the interest of the Chinese government. For the midweek podcast, host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Jing Tsu, professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures & Comparative Literature at Yale, about the rise of science fiction in China as a soft power tool, the genre's complicated relationship with the Chinese government, and its evolution through the twentieth century.

    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].

    1 May 2024, 6:58 pm
  • 50 minutes 41 seconds
    How Not to Cover the Trump Trials. Plus, the Latest Push To Defund NPR

    Trump is back in court for his hush money trial hearing, and his immunity case was argued at the Supreme Court. On this week’s On the Media, hear what gets lost in the blow-by-blow coverage of Trump’s legal woes. Plus, an essay from a former NPR editor has lawmakers calling to cut funding to the public radio network.

    [01:10] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Dahlia Lithwick, who covers the courts for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus, about her frustration with pundits' obsession with solving political problems involving Trump with the law. 

    [15:14] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Kelly McBride, NPR’s public editor, about the push to ‘defund NPR’ sparked by a former NPR editor’s essay and whether his points have any salience. 

    [32:59] Brooke continues the conversation about NPR with Alicia Montgomery, vice president of audio at Slate and former editor at NPR. They explore the real problems brewing at the public radio network.

    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].

    26 April 2024, 10:04 pm
  • 23 minutes 7 seconds
    A War Photographer Watches Alex Garland's 'Civil War'

    Alex Garland's new film, 'Civil War,' debuted at no. 1 at the box office earlier this month, and  follows four journalists on a road trip from New York City to D.C. in the midst of societal collapse. The beating heart of the film is Lee, a veteran photojournalist played by Kirsten Dunst, who's determined to interview the president as his administration is on the verge of collapse to rebel forces. 

    Lynsey Addario is an award-winning photojournalist who has covered humanitarian crises abroad for over two decades, including the ongoing war in Ukraine, and  conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. For the midweek pod, Brooke Gladstone speaks with Addario about her real-life experience covering wars abroad, and how accurately the film depicts what it's like to report amidst a dangerous war. 

    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].

    24 April 2024, 7:00 am
  • 50 minutes 44 seconds
    Meet the Media Prophets Who Preach Christian Supremacy. Plus, Journalism in ‘Civil War’

    Former president Trump says he wants to make America pray again. On this week’s On the Media, hear how Christian nationalism is shaping American politics. Plus, what the new film Civil War has to say about the role of journalism when civilizing norms have broken down. 

    [01:08] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Matthew D. Taylor, scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, & Jewish Studies in Baltimore and author of the forthcoming book, The Violent Take It by Force: The Christian Movement That Is Threatening Our Democracy. They discuss different strains of Christian nationalism — from the sentimental view of America as a Christian nation, to the desire to uphold Christian supremacy. Plus, how the phenomenon has shaped American politics for centuries.

    [17:42] Brooke continues her conversation with Matthew D. Taylor. Taylor introduces Brooke to the world of independent charismatic Christianity and its media, where an extreme form of Christian nationalism has taken root. Plus, the Christian leaders who stoked violence on January 6th.

    [35:27] Brooke speaks with Zack Beauchamp, senior correspondent at Vox, about Alex Garland’s new film Civil War, the power it derives from avoiding ideological warfare, and what it reveals about the role of journalism during complete civil collapse.

    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 April 2024, 9:40 pm
  • 21 minutes 42 seconds
    Happy Bicycle Day!

    April 19th, which is this Friday, marks an odd holiday known as Bicycle Day — the day, now 81 years ago, when Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann rode his bike home from work after dosing himself with his lab concoction, lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. The first acid trip.

    Hofmann’s wobbly ride is what launches us into an exploration of a moment, when Ken Kesey, an evangelist of acid would emerge from a Menlo Park hospital lab, and plow through the nation’s gray flannel culture in a candy colored bus. Some know Kesey as the enigmatic author behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — others, as the driving force in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s seminal work in New Journalism. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Acid Test, Brooke speaks with Wolfe and writer River Donaghey about how acid shaped Kesey, spawned the book and de-normalized American conformity.

    Songs:

    Holidays B by Ib Glindemann
    Im Glück by Neu!
    Apache '65 by Davie Allan and the Arrows
    Selections from "The Acid Tests Reels" by The Merry Pranksters & The Grateful Dead
    Alicia by Los Monstruos
    The Days Between by The Grateful Dead (Live 6/24/95)
     

    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 April 2024, 12:44 pm
  • 51 minutes 47 seconds
    The Rise and Fall of Alt-Weeklies, and Backpage.com vs The Feds

    New York City’s alternative weekly newspaper, The Village Voice, birthed a generation of legendary writers. On this week’s On the Media, how the Voice transformed journalism and what’s being lost as alt-weeklies across the country die off. Plus, why the feds brought America’s most controversial alt-weekly mogul to court.

    [02:17] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Tricia Romano, author of The Freaks Came Out to Write, about the early days of The Village Voice, including one reporter’s mission to stop Robert Moses and its revolutionary music section. 

    [15:09] Micah continues his conversation with Tricia Romano, getting into the Voice’s sale to Rupert Murdoch, the tensions within the paper, and how Craigslist led to its ultimate demise.

    [29:11] An alt-weekly mogul, Mike Lacey, became the Larry Flynt of the internet age. The hosts of the new Audible show Hold Fast conducted a series of interviews with Lacey to tell the story of the alt-weekly chain’s rise and fall. 

    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 April 2024, 9:35 pm
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