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.
David Remnick Speaks to Salman Rushdie About Surviving the Fatwa
Thirty-four years ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa calling for the assassination of the novelist Salman Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” Khomeini declared blasphemous. It caused a worldwide uproar. Rushdie lived in hiding in London for a decade before moving to New York, where he began to let his guard down. “I had come to feel that it was a very long time ago and, and that the world moves on,” he tells David Remnick. “That’s what I had agreed with myself was the case. And then it wasn’t.” In August of last year, a man named Hadi Matar attacked Rushdie onstage before a public event, stabbing him about a dozen times. Rushdie barely survived. Now, in his first interview since the assassination attempt, Rushdie discusses the long shadow of the fatwa; his recovery from extensive injuries; and his writing. It was “just a piece of fortune, given what happened,” that Rushdie had finished work on a new novel, “Victory City,” weeks before the attack. The book is being published this week. “I’ve always thought that my books are more interesting than my life,” he remarks. “Unfortunately, the world appears to disagree.”
David Remnick’s Profile of Rushdie appears in the February 13th & 20th issue of The New Yorker.
Too Big to Fail?
On this week’s On the Media, what the data says about how boys and men are struggling today. Plus, the history behind Ticketmaster’s dominance in the live music industry, and how Hollywood trust-busting in the 1930s and 1940s unleashed an era of indie films.
1. Richard Reeves [@RichardvReeves], a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and author of the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It, on the research that shows gender disparities growing in a surprising direction. Listen.
2. Moe Tkacik and Krista Brown [@moetkacik and @KristaKBrown], researchers at the American Economic Liberties Project, on how the grunge band Pearl Jam tried to take on Ticketmaster in the 1990s. Listen.
3. Peter Labuza [@labuzamovies], a film historian and researcher with the International Cinematographers Guild, on how a Supreme Court case broke up Hollywood's studio system and what this history can teach us about the present moment. Listen.
Puerto Rico in 8 Songs
Former OTM producer Alana Casanova-Burgess is back with season 2 of her critically acclaimed podcast series, La Brega. This one is all about the music!
For over a century, Puerto Rican musicians have been influential across the hemisphere. From the Harlem Hellfighters of WWI who helped develop jazz to the reggaetoneros who dominate today’s charts, Puerto Rican music is everywhere. We start the season with the island’s most celebrated composer Rafael Hernandez, who wrote beloved songs like “Lamento Borincano,” “Ahora Seremos Felices,” and “Perfume de Gardenias” – and one of the island’s unofficial anthems, “Preciosa.” It’s a love song written for Puerto Rico that praises the island’s beauty and, remarkably, also calls out the forces that oppress it.
When Bad Bunny exploded onto the scene and became the most-streamed artist in the history of the world, it became undeniable that Puerto Rican lyrics – the poetry of what people sing about, the bregas in every chorus – resonate all over the hemisphere. In September, he put out a music video for his hit “El Apagón,” (“The Blackout,”) which then turned into a mini-documentary about gentrification – the way people from the states are taking advantage of tax benefits and displacing Boricuas. It’s called “Aqui Vive Gente" ("People Live Here").
“El Apagón,” has become somewhat of an anthem – an installment in the long tradition of Puerto Ricans singing about home, longing and belonging, popularized by Rafael Hernandez. But Bad Bunny isn’t singing about yearning for Puerto Rico – his music is often about never even leaving in the first place. It’s about staying, and creating a future for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. If the video’s Youtube comments – declarations of solidarity – are any indication, his music has touched on something deeply relatable across Latin America.
Learn more about the voices in this episode:• Myzo, the singer from the plane• Bobby Sanabria, Grammy-nominated bandleader and educator• Elena Martínez, folklorist at City Lore and the Bronx Music Heritage Center• Watch Marc Anthony’s performance of “Preciosa”• Watch Bianca Graulau’s documentary “Aquí Vive Gente” (“People Live Here”)
Our cover of “Preciosa” is by the artist Xenia Rubinos (out in March).
You can listen to first season of La Brega and hear new episodes from this season here. Listen to the La Brega Spotify playlist, featuring music from this episode – and this season. It will be added to each week as new episodes come out.
Sorry, That's Classified
If millions of Americans have access to classified documents, can we really call them secrets? On this week's On the Media, a former Pentagon official explains how America’s bloated classification system came to be. Plus, a look at the stories we tell about Baby Boomers, and how our country might change after they’re gone.
1. Oona Hathaway [@oonahathaway], professor at Yale Law School and former special counsel at the Pentagon, on the complicated nature of classified documents. Listen.
2. Noah Smith [@VildeHaya], contributing reporter for The Washington Post, on how a video game led to leaks of military documents. Listen.
3. Philip Bump [@pbump], national columnist at The Washington Post, on his latest book 'The Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America.' Listen.
4. Brian Lehrer [@BrianLehrer], host of WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, on the news events that defined generations. Listen.
Passing Time by John RenbournAtlantic City by Randy NewmanEye Surgery by Thomas NewmanYoung at Heart by Brad MehldauYour Mother Should Know by Brad MehldauWhen I'm 64 by Fred Hersch
Operation Podcast: What the CIA's Latest Media Venture Can Teach Us About the Agency
For decades, the Central Intelligence Agency has cultivated its appeal as an organization shrouded in secrecy, engaged in cutting edge tech and no-holds-barred espionage in defense of the US. It’s an image that sells in Hollywood. The CIA also assisted in the making of some movies about some real life operations. But as the agency ages, it continues to strive to stay up to date. In 2022, when the CIA turned 75, the agency launched operation:podcast. Brooke speaks with David Shamus McCarthy, author of Selling the CIA: Public Relations and the Culture of Secrecy, about the latest venture for the agency and the CIA's long history of public relations initiatives.
Many of us are still cookin’ with gas, but should we? On this week’s On the Media, a look at why gas stoves, and the political flame-war over appliances, are back in the news. Plus, why new research says we’ve left the golden age of science and technology.
1. Paris Marx [@parismarx], the host of the podcast ‘Tech Won’t Save Us,’ and the author of ‘Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation,' on the longstanding debate on electric cars in the US, and whether they really do enough to lower carbon emissions. Listen.
2. Rebecca Leber [@rebleber], a senior reporter covering climate at Vox, on how the controversy surrounding gas stoves is nothing new, and the gas industry's long PR campaign to convince the public that "cooking was gas" is just better. Listen.
3. William Broad [@WilliamJBroad], a science journalist and senior writer at The New York Times, on new research published in Nature that suggests that our mad sprint for scientific breakthroughs has slowed significantly, and what this might mean for science. Listen.
It just doesn’t get better than OTM!
Brooke and the team deserve medals and laurel crowns for the work they do, week in, week out, year in, year out. Story after story, one of the most keenly intelligent, insightful, nuanced, witty, funny, deeply researched and thoughtfully produced and crafted shows in existence. Always with a skeptical eye backed up with experience and deep knowledge, yet without falling into cynicism or jadedness. Still curious and sometimes fulll of awe and amusement. It’s not small thing that I profoundly trust this show, and everyone who makes it happen. Keep the fire burning. You are a public service!
Background music ruins it.
I can’t hear a conversation when you play background music. I give up listening. Why put all the effort into thoughtful conversations and then drown them with music? Such a waste and so preventable!
On the Media
Reporting with heart and brains… self conscious, aware and alive