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.
The End of Roe in the Armed Forces
As the country reels from last Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, people, politicians, and health care providers are scrambling to figure out what’s next. But pregnancy was already an especially complicated process, full of rules and regulations, for one particular sector of the population — the military. According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, women made up just 16.5% of active-duty service members in the Department of Defense; however, military women are more likely than their civilian counterparts to have unintended pregnancies. They’re also more likely to suffer a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, making medical care an essential should the department continue to diversify. This week, Brooke sits down with Kyleanne Hunter, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a Marine Corps combat veteran, to talk about how the department had just begun to make positive changes, and now sits in a complex limbo.
Struck From the Record
This week, the Supreme Court officially struck down Roe v. Wade, overturning fifty years of legal precedent and abortion rights across the country. On this week’s On the Media, hear about the case that almost defined the abortion debate instead. Plus, the Jan 6 committee’s latest bombshell evidence of Trump’s manipulation of the justice department.
1. Alana Casanova-Burgess [@Alanallama], former OTM producer, and Jessica Glenza [@JessicaGlenza], health reporter at the Guardian, look at the case that Ruth Bader Ginsburg wished the Court heard instead of Roe v. Wade. Neil Siegel, a professor of law and political science at Duke University School of Law, puts the Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense case in context. Dahlia Lithwick [@Dahlialithwick], who writes about the courts at Slate, untangles what the justices actually decided in Roe. Listen.
2. Michael Waldman [@mawaldman], president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, discusses how the January 6 committee's findings could aid a Justice Department indictment. Listen.
The Water Rises (Laurie Anderson) - The Kronos QuartetJohn’s Book of Alleged Dances - The Kronos QuartetTateh's Picture Book - Randy NewmanAtlantic City - Randy Newman
The 'Country Queers' Who Don't Want to Flee Rural America
All across the country this month, people are celebrating queer and trans pride with parades, cookouts, dances, and family gatherings. And yet the future of the community feels darker than it has in a long time. Threats from Proud Boys and elected officials seem to reinforce the idea that LGBT people cannot survive or thrive in places outside a few coastal cities. But a study from the Movement Advancement Project in 2019 revealed that at least 3 million queer people live in rural America. And many have no interest in fleeing to big cities for protection. This week, Annalee Newitz sits in for Brooke, and talks to Rae Garringer about their oral history project, Country Queers. When Garringer was attending college in the early 2000s, the only queer rural representation they saw was in crime stories. Country Queers features LGBT people who are living in rural parts of the United States, in small towns and remote farms, and they’re often taking great joy in it.
The Conspiracy Machine
In this week's January 6th committee hearings, a documentary selling election conspiracies was laughed off by the likes of Bill Barr. But myths about a stolen election are no joke. On this week’s On the Media, hear about a pundit's efforts to revitalize and repackage The Big Lie. Plus, one man’s escape from the conspiracy theory machine.
1. Philip Bump [@pbump], national correspondent at The Washington Post, on debunking election myths made for the silver screen. Listen.
2. Nina Jankowicz [@wiczipedia], former head of the Disinformation Governance Board, on the lessons learned from government-led attempts to counter disinformation. Listen.
3. Josh Owens [@JoshuaHOwens], former staff member at InfoWars, on what made him leave, and how he's come to terms with his past role in dangerous movement. Listen.
Music in this Week's Show:Ava Maria D. 839 - Pascal Jean and Jean BrendersFirst Drive - Clive Carroll and John RenbournBoy Moves the Sun - Michael AndrewsExit Music (For A Film) - Brad Mehldau Trio
Alex Jones Doesn't Care About You
Josh Owens was an InfoWars employee from 2013 to 2017. In an essay published on CNN.com this week, Owens described his deep regret over the past 5 years as he grappled with the damage his work caused. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger spoke to Owens this week about Jones' role in the dissemination of disinformation in the light of what we are learning about the January 6th insurrection.
Worth a Thousand Words
Gun control legislation appears doomed once again, even as Congress heard heartbreaking testimony from parents of the children killed in Uvalde. On the latest episode of On the Media, why some activists and journalists now advocate for publishing the gruesome photos of victims. Plus, how one family grappled with the brutal video of their loved one's death in prison.
1. Susie Linfield, professor of journalism at New York University, on the push to share photographs of victims, and the limited political power of an image. Listen.
2. Spencer and Gail Booker, family of Marvin Booker, who was killed by police in 2010, share what their family went through, and why Marvin's death being caught on camera remains so difficult. Listen.
3. Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter for The Guardian, on why our coverage of gun violence tends to focus on just one kind tragedy, and how we could make it better. Listen.
The best produced show
The writing and the editing are top notch.
Music? What’s the deal with the overbearing music?
Well-crafted, thoughtful text often suffers under the onslaught of music. Music? What’s it supposed add? It’s distracting.
Once essential listening
For years, I looked forward to listening to On the Media every weekend. The takes and topics were unexpected—not what I heard on every other podcast or saw on my Twitter feed. Brooke Gladstone’s wonkiness and Bob Garfield’s edgier humor bounced off one another to make the show essential, genuinely informative listening. It was the unusual WNYC production that spoke to (and cared about) listeners outside of Brooklyn. But since Garfield’s departure the show has become one-note and predictable, with its best recent segments being the ones on January 6 and the fate of electoral democracy that it reran from other podcasts. There is still some good original content—Micah Lowinger has done some excellent shoeleather reporting. But more often the show now comes across as belatedly chasing trends and trying way too hard to be hip, with stale segments on TikTok celebrities and on the Depp/Heard trial coming way too late in the day to be relevant and delivered with a deadly “Hello fellow kids” vibe. OTM used to reassure me that there was something bigger and more clearsighted, a perspective above the polarized and partisan fray everyone else was participating in. Lately instead of doing they’ve been dutifully and piously checking boxes in a misguided attempt to fit neatly in with the rest of the pack.