On Point

Mondays through Thursdays at 11 am

hybrid of a talk program and a news-magazine, "On Point" puts each day's news into context and provides a lively forum for discussion and debate. Topics chosen for the program are often taken from the biggest news stories of the day while others have a direct connection to issues that are at the core of what is urgent and important in the world at the moment. Interwoven are programs containing interviews with personalities, politicians, musicians, writers, and journalists.

Ways to Connect

Over the course of today’s hour “Anatomy Of An Election Disinformation Campaign,” we spoke with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nina Jankowicz, our guest on today’s show, interviewed him for her book, “How to Lose an Information War,” about a 2016 referendum in the Netherlands over a trade agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

This diary originally aired on July 1, 2020.

We want to end the week by stepping away from the din and rancor. And to a place of remembrance and peace.

David Pettee used to take regular morning walks around Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David had cancer. The walks brought him hope and peace.

The ‘shecession.’ More women are losing their jobs than men. What’s the long-term impact on families?


C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit. Author of “Born Bright.” (@cnicolemason)

On this week’s voter roundtable, we hear from people affected by COVID-19. How do they feel about President Trump’s response to the pandemic?  


David Dahlstrom, retired Air Force veteran from Goodyear, Arizona. He lost his wife, Cindy, to COVID-19. He voted Trump in 2016, and is voting for Biden in 2020.

Denise Carr, art teacher and yoga instructor in Buffalo, New York. She lost her father to COVID-19. She is voting for Biden.

Election 2020's Voter Suppression Reality 

Oct 19, 2020

Voting is one of the most essential rights of any democratic citizen. We take a look at the various forms of voter suppression we see across the country, and discuss how it’s affecting American democracy ahead of the November presidential election.

This week, a split screen on the future of American democracy. From early voting to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, we make sense of the week’s news.


Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

What The President Knew

Oct 13, 2020

Listen to the the First Person diary with the CIA’s former counterterrorism chief on the lead up to 9/11. We connected with Cofer Black with the help of Chris Whipple. Black is featured prominently in Whipple’s new book “The Spymasters.”

Why is it that sometimes Presidents know there is a danger to the wellbeing of Americans, and still do nothing? We talk with people who were in the room in 2001 and 2020.

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing starts Monday, and the question of what her appointment could mean for women’s rights in the U.S. will hang over it. But feminism and gender equality have wide-ranging definitions, depending on who you ask. We’ll talk about the conversation surrounding Judge Barrett’s nomination.

President Trump started the week dismissing the virus that put him in the hospital and upended the White House. We’ll look at how the administration’s credibility and the President’s response have tinged almost everything that happened this week.


Paula ReidWhite House correspondent for CBS News. (@PaulaReidCBS)

Cozy Etta Bryant built a life and a nest egg for herself and her family, all while navigating the racism of 20th century America.

Bryant was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the daughter of a sharecropper. She moved north in the 1940s to escape the economic and social oppression of the Jim Crow south, bundling three children and an infant into a box train headed for Chicago.

Steven Gupton teaches health science at the James E. Shepard IB Magnet Middle school in Durham, North Carolina. Students still aren’t back in the classroom, and some of his students weren’t showing up for their remote classes. So, last week, Steven decided to visit his students at their homes to make sure they’re doing OK.

In this diary … we hear from:

Steven Gupton, health science teacher in Durham, North Carolina.

“What you’re seeing is a continuing undermining of career dedicated professionals and the data and facts.” – Olivia Troye

Mixed signals and information from the White House. Uncertainty around the truth of the president’s health. A former adviser to the White House COVID-19 taskforce discusses her own time in the Trump White House, and what President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis means for the United States.

This broadcast originally aired on August 13, 2020.

The pandemic has taken a toll on all aspects of life, including romantic relationships. We dig into what’s keeping couples together or breaking them apart.


Ashley Fetters, reporter who has been writing about relationships during the pandemic. (@AshleyFetters)

A Look At The Global Impact Of Coronavirus

Oct 1, 2020

More than 1 million dead around the world due to the coronavirus. We look at where the pandemic is headed in major nations such as India and Brazil.  

President Trump and Joe Biden faced off in the first general election debate Tuesday. The candidates fielded questions on the pandemic, race and violence in the U.S., and more. We tally up the night’s wins and losses.  

This broadcast originally aired on July 14, 2020.

We talk to the best friends behind the podcast “Call Your Girlfriend.” Their new book details what it takes to maintain long distance friendships.

Listen to our hour on how elections work in a pandemic here.

Election Day is fewer than six weeks away. But concerns around the election persist: Will it be safe to vote in person? How will states execute a variety of voting methods? Can we have faith in the legitimacy of the election results? We tackle those issues and more.  

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional.” Norm Ornstein wrote that back in 2012. Eight years later, does Ornstein think there’s any way for the U.S. to regain institutional and political stability? We ask him.

We talk about where we are in the development of a coronavirus vaccine and what we know about the criteria for making a vaccine public.  


Andrew Joseph, reporter for STAT News. (@DrewQJoseph)

Power is up for grabs in the Senate this November and a Supreme Court vacancy is only escalating the stakes of key races. We talk about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death could have an impact on races in Maine, North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona.


Anthony Brooks, On Point 2020 correspondent. Senior political reporter for WBUR. (@anthonygbrooks)

We discuss the political response to Ginsburg’s death, and what it reveals about the fragility of U.S. institutions. How is American democracy being tested now?

What we can learn from Dwight Eisenhower’s life and leadership.


Susan Eisenhower, policy strategist and lecturer. Author of “How Ike Led.” (@eisenhowergroup)

Millions of Americans still haven’t yet received their benefits after being laid off during the pandemic. Denise Mines is one of them. She’s a university librarian who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida. Denise was furloughed on April 17. First thing she did: followed all of the steps to get her unemployment benefits. Should have been pretty easy, right?

In this diary … we hear from:

Denise Mines, a university librarian who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

A mathematician turns gender into a math problem. We hear how math can help us rethink ingrained conceptions of gender.  

Next in our voter roundtable series: U.S. military veterans. What qualities are most essential in a commander in chief? What role does — and what role should — the U.S. military play in protecting American democracy?


Bob Killebrew, retired colonel who served in Vietnam. Longtime independent, now a Democrat.

Michael Logue, corporal who served in Iraq. Trustee for Union Township in Ohio. Volunteer advisory board member for Veterans For Trump.

The Trap Of Meritocracy

Sep 15, 2020

What has become of the common good? Political theorist Michael Sandel traces how meritocracy went from a satiric idea in the 1950s to a bedrock of American culture – and what we might have lost in its ascendance.


Michael Sandel, professor of government at Harvard University. Author of “The Tyranny of Merit.” (@JusticeHarvard)

Lessons Of The Pacific Northwest Wildfires

Sep 15, 2020

The West Coast is facing some of the worst wildfires in its history. We take a look at the role of forest management in helping control these fires.


Monica Samayoa, environment reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting. (@m0nica10)

The Media's Role In Calling An Election

Sep 14, 2020

As we look forward to potentially unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots in November, should we be preparing for an election night that may not produce a winner? We talk about the history of election results, and the media’s role in reporting them during an unusual election.


Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post. (@sulliview)

Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News.

The 2020 campaign heats up. The Senate takes up a pared down COVID-19 relief bill. And evidence that the president knew the threat of the coronavirus in February. All that and more in our week in review.


Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

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