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.
Christian Nationalism is Reshaping Fertility Rights, and Books Dominate at the Oscars
An Alabama Supreme Court ruling on frozen embryos threatens fertility treatments across the state. On this week’s On the Media, hear how a particular branch of Christian nationalism influenced one justice’s decision. Plus, how film adaptations of books have come to dominate our screens.
1. Matthew D. Taylor [@TaylorMatthewD], senior scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, & Jewish Studies, on how a particular strain of Christian Nationalism, once on the fringe of America’s religious landscape, is slowly emerging as a political force. Listen.
2. Alexander Manshel [@XanderManshel], assistant professor of English at McGill University and author of Writing Backwards: Historical Fiction and the Reshaping of the American Canon, on how literary prizes have changed over the last few decades, and how much they actually matter. Listen.
3. Cord Jefferson [@cordjefferson], writer and director of the new film American Fiction, on his movie's critique of Hollywood and the process of adapting a novel for the screen. Listen.
Revisiting the Documentary, "Navalny"
Russia's jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has died in prison. Navalny had been living behind bars since shortly after landing in Moscow in January of 2021. He had been returning home following months of recovery in Europe, after he fell violently sick on a flight between Siberia and Moscow.
In the months following Navalny’s poisoning, Christo Grozev, former lead Russia investigator at Bellingcat, was stuck in Vienna with filmmaker Daniel Roher. The two had just been booted from Ukraine, where they had been trying to film an investigation. Grozev suddenly had a lot of time on his hands, a laptop, and a fresh stack of data from the Russian black market so naturally he began to investigate who was behind the poisoning.
Daniel Roher directed the documentary “Navalny,” which portrays the story of the close collaboration between Navalny, his team, and Grozev, in the hunt for the dissident’s would-be killers. Last year, Brooke spoke to Roher and Grozev about the making of the documentary, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
This is a segment from our February 10, 2023 show, Hide and Seek.
Breaking News: Biden is Old. Plus, Bobi Wine’s Fight For Democracy
Coverage of President Joe Biden’s age has reached a fever pitch. On this week’s On the Media, hear whether the quality of the reports has matched their volume. Plus, meet Bobi Wine, a pop star and opposition politician who is fighting for democracy in Uganda.
1. Judd Legum [@JuddLegum], founder of the newsletter Popular Information, Charan Ranganath [@CharanRanganath], a neuroscientist at UC Davis and author of the forthcoming book, Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters, and Jack Shafer [@jackshafer], senior media critic at Politico, on the flood of coverage around Biden's age following the release of the Hur report last week and the consequences of the media's minute focus on it. Listen.
2. Lili Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], television critic at the Washington Post, on Jon Stewart's return to The Daily Show after nine years, and whether the unique form of political comedy he pioneered still holds up in today's drastically different political landscape. Listen.
3. Bobi Wine [@HEBobiwine] and Moses Bwayo [@bwayomoses], co-director of the new Oscar-nominated documentary Bobi Wine: The People's President, on the journey of Wine, a popstar-turned-politician, who has used his music as a platform to fight for democracy in Uganda. Listen.
Tucker Went to Russia and Got a History Lesson
Last week we learned that ousted Fox blowhard Tucker Carlson had gone to Russia. He was spotted eating fake McDonalds and watching a ballet at the Bolshoi theater. But Tucker was there for more important things than fast food and culture; he was there for a sit down with President Putin. Carlson was mainly silent as Putin delivered an almost 40 minute long speech on the history of how Ukraine belongs to Russia.
But the myths in Putin's and Russia's state-sponsored version of history are not new. Last summer Brooke spoke to Mikhail Zygar who had traced it back at least as far as the middle ages.
This is a segment from our August 4, 2023 show, Making History.
If You Can’t Beat ’Em… Join ’Em? Journalism in an AI World
In December, the New York Times sued OpenAI for allegedly using the paper’s articles to train chatbots. On this week’s On the Media, a look at how media outlets are trying to survive in this era of generative AI. Plus, why New York’s oldest Black newspaper is joining forces with an AI startup to address biases in the technology.
1. Kate Knibbs [@Knibbs], senior writer at Wired, on AI clickbait flooding the internet. Listen.
2. John Herrman [@jwherrman], tech columnist for New York Magazine, on the love-hate relationship between AI companies and journalism. Listen.
3. Elinor Tatum [@elinortatum], editor in chief of The New York Amsterdam News, on a push to make AI technology and data diverse. Listen.
4. Abbie Richards [@abbieasr], misinformation researcher and a senior video producer at Media Matters, on the AI-generated conspiracy theories multiplying TikTok. Listen.
Naomi Klein's Trip to the Mirror World
Naomi Klein has been confused for writer Naomi Wolf for much of her career. Wolf rose to prominence with the book The Beauty Myth in the 90s, establishing herself as a bestselling feminist, liberal writer. Klein, on the other hand, wrote acclaimed critiques of capitalism such as No Logo and The Shock Doctrine. To say Klein is often mistaken for Wolf is an understatement. In the interview she did just before ours, a TV host mistakenly called her by Wolf's name. The confusion is incessant on social media, and escalated when Wolf became notorious as a peddler of covid-19 conspiracies. A few weeks ago, Wolf discovered that a fellow anti-vaxxer was spreading a conspiracy theory, this time about her.
Ultimately, Klein decided to plunge down the rabbit hole to follow Wolf, and emerged with a new book Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World, a wide-ranging exploration of doubling in our lives, culture, and politics. Brooke speaks to Klein about how social media has given all of us doppelgangers; why she's proud of her "bad" personal brand; and the value of "unselfing."
This segment first aired in our September 15, 2023 show, The “Too Old” President and Political Doppelgängers.
Cowardly Coverage on Palestine
I've followed the show for years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I considered giving for 2024 but wanted to see how OTM would cover Palestine. Unfortunately, we've found your weakness. OTM typically applies pressure unilaterally when others won't, but the continued focus on and framing of the Palestinian genocide through the lens of their oppressor? Despicable. There has been no attempt to bring in any Palestinian journalists in an active genocide. A fumbled opportunity to make a clear stance against genocide and for humanity, alas, historically, you'll be grouped in with the other spineless Western publications.
An actual fall from grace, and you'll never see my financial support until you find some courage.
OTM is in its flop era.
On the Media Heal Thyself
Is this supposed to be irony? Meta? A show that’s supposed to examine bias in the media is the most biased show on NPR. I never hear any kind of meaningful analysis to find the truth behind the sometimes conflicting reports in the news, or why each side chose to report the way they did. I only hear a show that has definite ideas out they want to say and picks stories and guests to help them support their foregone conclusions. Any undergrad journalism class would be able to do a better job. Should just be called the Brooke Gladstone opinion hour.
Please cover with better framing - how about interviewing Anthony Lowenstein???? The Palestine Laboratory - come on, that’s real, brutal, and true.