Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.
News Brief: The Casual Soft Eugenics of Self-Help "Friendscaping" Content
In this public News Brief, we discuss a recent advice column in the New York Times advocating upwardly mobile professionals dump their fat and depressed friends and how it's part of a much broader trend of pop sociology repackaging cruelty and soft eugenics as "science-driven" self improvement.
Episode 138: Thought-Terminating Enemy Epithets (Part II)
"Oligarch". "Hardliner". "Regime". All common terms seen in Anglo-American media when describing politicians and power structures in official villain states; yet - mysteriously absent when talking about ourselves or our allies.
This Part II of our Citations Needed countdown of the Top 10 "Enemy Epithets," derisive descriptors that are deployed to smear enemies without any symmetrical usage for U.S. officials, policy or imperial partners. Designed to conjure up nasty images of despotism and oppression, often pandering to Orientalized prejudice, these epithets demand people shut off their brains and have the label do the thinking for them.
We are joined again by FAIR's Janine Jackson and Jim Naureckas.
Episode 137: Thought-Terminating Enemy Epithets (Part I)
"Hand-picked successor", "firebrand", "proxy" — In Anglo-American media, there are certain Enemy Epithets that are reserved only for Official Enemy States of United States and their leaders, which are rarely, if ever, used to refer to the United States itself or its allies, despite these countries featuring many of the same qualities being described.
Over two years ago, in a two-part episode entitled "Laundering Imperial Violence Through Anodyne Foreign Policy-Speak" (Episodes 70 and 71), we explored the euphemistic way American media discusses manifestly violent or coercive US policy and military action. Words like “engagement”, “surgical strikes”, “muscular foreign policy”, “crippling sanctions” obscure the damage being unleashed by our military and economic extortion regime.
Just as pleasant sounding, sanitized foreign policy speak masks the violence of US empire, highly loaded pejorative labels are used to describe otherwise banal doings of government or are employed selectively to make enemies seem uniquely sinister, while American allies who exhibit similar features are given a far more pleasant descriptor.
This and next week, we're going to lay out the Top 10 Enemies Epithets — derisive descriptors that are inconsistently applied to smear enemies without any symmetrical usage stateside, designed to conjure up nasty images of despotism and oppression, often pandering to racialized and Oriental prejudice and, above all, asking people to shut off our brains and have the label do the thinking for them.
News Brief: "Organized Crime" "Shoplifting Epidemic" Panic Hits San Francisco Media
In this public News Brief, we take a critical look at a recent wave of sensationalist "organized crime" "shoplifting epidemic" stories in national and Bay Area media and how they fit into a resurgent "Tough on Crime" narrative.
We are joined by Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, Director of Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.
Episode 136: The 'Ungrateful Athlete': Anti-Black, Anti-Labor Currents in Sports Media
"A good, hard working kid." "A 4.0 student." "He's asking for too much money." "They get paid to play a child’s game." "He shows up and does his work and never complains."
Despite the fact that the concept of paying college athletes has gained some mainstream support in recent years, much of the ideological scaffolding that exists to justify their lack of fair compensation is still very popular and widespread in sports punditry and writing, AM radio and play-by-play broadcasts.
Scrutinizing GPAs and work ethic, talking about how "kids" are "becoming men," racialized claims of lazy or ungrateful players, and wildly different double standards for players and owners for when they attempt to maximize their economic interests all prop up a system that, despite liberal hand-wringing and box checking concern for not paying players at the highest levels, still relies on withholding compensation from college athletes for their labor.
The stakes go beyond just sports. This conservative cultural contempt for athletes as a whole mirrors and informs that of other workers as well. Whenever, say, nurses organize for better pay and safer working conditions or, in the era of COVID, teachers unions seek to continue virtual rather than in-person classes for the sake of public health, they’re dismissed as self-interested and domineering.
On this episode, we parse the racist, anti-labor characterization of athletes in media, how they are both scary threatening men and tiny children whose should be paid and breakdown how this topic has cultural implications to other labor struggles, by informing and reinforcing anti-union tropes across the board Our guest is Penn State professor Amira Rose Davis, co-host of Burn It All Down.
News Brief: Debunking the 5 Most Common Anti-Palestinian Talking Points
In this public News Brief, we breakdown the most common anti-Palestinian tropes and why they're based on sophistry, ignorance, racism, or some combination of all three.
Absolutely essential. I can’t recommend highly enough
This podcast is one of the few sources of news I can trust. Despite the fact that I consider myself a very political person, I always felt that the news was either a dispassionate rattling off of “facts” or triggered despair and unresolved trauma. Having taken courses on political theory and history of social movements, I didn’t feel the news reflected my understanding of the world and politics at all. Citations Needed showed me how much more critical I needed to be of my news sources and showed me why I couldn’t connect to news stories that were so sanitized and filtered or that were invalidating. It’s hard to read a story from the NYT about police brutality when the solutions offered are breadcrumbs. After listening to Citations Needed, Democracy Now, and reading the Intercept it’s really hard to look at NYT, NPR, CNN, and other liberal corporate media the same way. Having the ability to opt out and have a source that shows me information I would not otherwise easily have access to, and that questions media narratives has been absolutely essential for me.
Invaluable resource for supporting critical thinking and understanding the world we live in.
One of the most important podcasts out there, period.
The work you all do here is so important and so needed. I recommend this podcast constantly. Thank you.