On the Media

Mondays at 10 am

WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom. Produced by WNYC Studios.

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Podcasts

  • Tuesday, September 18, 2018 8:00am

    This past week’s coverage of Hurricane Florence has had all the trappings of a terrible storm: the satellite images, the sandbags and empty grocery stores, the newscasters dressed in flood gear.  One recurring side character we seem to have avoided this time around, though, is the doctored image of a shark swimming on a flooded highway.

    It’s a preposterous hoax that succeeds, occasionally, on the merits of some kernel of truth; for instance, whole swathes of interstate highway in North Carolina are, as of this moment, covered with water. That kernel of truth is what hoaxers and jokers build their handiwork upon — as did the veteran hoaxer Alan Abel, who passed away late last week at the age of 94.

    Abel made a name for himself inventing characters and causes and turning the joke on the media; in 1980 he staged his own death and got himself an obituary in the New York Times.

    Brooke spoke to Abel — and his daughter, Jenny Abel, the director of the documentary, "Abel Raises Cain" — in 2008.

  • Friday, September 14, 2018 8:00am

    The anniversary of a disaster gives us a moment to reflect on whether we have learned the right lessons — or any at all. This week, we examine the narratives that have solidified ten years after the financial crisis, and one year after Hurricane Maria. 

    1. Political anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla] on how we can focus our attention on Puerto Rico's structural challenges even as the president spouts falsities about the "unsung success" of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. Listen.

    2. Dean Starkman [@deanstarkman], author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism, on how the signs of the financial crisis had been visible leading up to it but many journalists were looking elsewhere. Listen.

    3. Brown University professor Mark Blyth [@MkBlyth] takes on the most popular narratives of the financial crash. Listen.

    4. Copenhagen Business School business historian Per Hansen on Hollywood's depiction of the board room and Wall Street from 1928 to 2015. Listen.

    Songs:

    Marjane's Inspiration by David Bergeaud
    Glass House by Bonobo
    Dinner Music For A Pack of Hungry Cannibals by Raymond Scott
    With Plenty Of Money And You by Hal Kemp
    Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
    Modern Times OST by Charlie Chaplin

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2018 8:00am

    On Wednesday, as Florence swirled ominously off the coast of the Carolinas, and states prepared for imminent disaster, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) thought it would be a good time to draw everyone’s attention to the shifting priorities of this administration. Specifically, he released a budget that showed the Department of Homeland Security had transferred nearly 10 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for detention and removal operations.

    FEMA officials maintain that the smaller budget won’t hinder their operations, but as wildfires rage and hurricanes make landfall, they have a lot on their plate. We don't think about FEMA much, until that's all we think about. Historian Garrett Graff says the agency’s, quote, “under-the-radar nature” was originally a feature, not a bug. Graff wrote about "The Secret History of FEMA" for Wired last September and he spoke to Bob about the agency's Cold War origins as civil defense in the event of a nuclear attack and how it transitioned to "natural" disaster response. Plus, they discuss the limitations to FEMA's capabilities and why it has such a spotty record. Graff is also author of Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While The Rest of Us Die.

  • Friday, September 7, 2018 8:00am

    Between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill and an anonymous op-ed from within the Trump White House, a wave of rule-bending and -breaking has crashed on Washington. This week, we explore how political decorum and popular dissent have evolved since the early days of our republic — and how the legal protections for those core freedoms could transform our future.

    1. Brooke and Bob on how best to cover the anonymous op/ed written by a "senior official in the Trump administration." Listen.

    2. Geoffrey Stone, professor of law at University of Chicago, on our evolving — and occasionally faulty — interpretations of the first amendment. And, Laura Weinrib, professor of law at University of Chicago, on how early-20th century labor struggles gave birth to our modern ideas about freedom of speech. Listen.

    3. Tim Wu [@superwuster], professor of law at Columbia University, on how the first amendment could inform new regulations for Silicon Valley. Listen.

    Music:

    John Renbourn - Passing Time
    Puck - John Zorn
    Joeira - Kurup
    Mulatu Astatke - Tezeta

     

  • Wednesday, September 5, 2018 8:00am

    Six weeks ago, CNN broke a blockbuster story: According to several anonymous sources, President Trump had advance knowledge of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. It was a potential smoking gun, until one of those sources — Lanny Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen — recanted.

    Beyond that headache for CNN, there was another. The original article had claimed, "Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen's attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment." Depending on how you understand the word "comment," and depending your general disposition, that claim could be technically true or woefully, mendaciously disingenuous. Bob spoke with Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi about the implications — and dangers — of this latest media mishap.