On The Media

On The Media, hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, is America's only national radio program devoted to media criticism and analysis, lifting the veil on how the media works.

Recent Episodes

From Rubella to Roe v. Wade

This week, the Supreme Court upheld constitutional protections for abortion rights. 


To mark the occasion we have a story about the history of abortion in the US that first aired last winter, when the spread of Zika and the resulting deformities in newborns was causing panic across South and Central America. Abortion is illegal in those traditionally Catholic countries, but so many women were giving birth to babies with microcephaly and the brain damage associated with it, that the UN high commissioner for human rights urged a widespread repeal of abortion bans.


You may be surprised to know this wasn’t the first time an epidemic influenced the abortion debate. Leslie Reagan of the University of Illinois says it happened in the US, 50 years ago -- and the epidemic was Rubella, or German measles


 

The Great Divide

Democrats in the House of Representatives staged a dramatic sit-in this week to protest inaction on gun legislation, but are they just preaching to the choir? This week, we look at bridging the gap over guns in America and how the media can better understand both sides. Plus, new algorithms claim to provide more accurate models for policing and sentencing, but they actually might be making things worse. 


 


 

"White Trash" and Class in America

As the media have watched the ascent of Donald Trump with disbelief-going-on-horror, pundits have returned frequently to the question of who exactly his supporters are. Terms like "angry" and "white working class" are mentioned frequently, but the National Review several months ago put it the most pointedly and viciously. In an article lambasting Trump supporters, Kevin Williamson characterized them as lazy drug addicts, compared them to animals, and even suggested that they deserved to die. Though he did not say it directly, the implication was clear: these people were white trash.


We took that opportunity to take a deeper look at the idea of "white trash," with the help of writer and professor Nancy Isenberg, author of the forthcoming book, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Isenberg described to Brooke how the notion of "white trash" has been around for a long time, belying the idea that America is a "classless" society. White Trash comes out this week, and we're re-running our conversation in honor of it.

'White Trash' and Class in America

As the media have watched the ascent of Donald Trump with disbelief-going-on-horror, pundits have returned frequently to the question of who exactly his supporters are. Terms like "angry" and "white working class" are mentioned frequently, but the National Review several months ago put it the most pointedly and viciously. In an article lambasting Trump supporters, Kevin Williamson characterized them as lazy drug addicts, compared them to animals, and even suggested that they deserved to die. Though he did not say it directly, the implication was clear: these people were white trash.


We took that opportunity to take a deeper look at the idea of "white trash," with the help of writer and professor Nancy Isenberg, author of the forthcoming book, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Isenberg described to Brooke how the notion of "white trash" has been around for a long time, belying the idea that America is a "classless" society. White Trash comes out this week, and we're re-running our conversation in honor of it.

Never Again, Again

The aftermath of the Orlando shootings has been marked by grief...and also politics, with LGBT rights, gun control, and terrorism all vying for center stage. We talk with a gay Muslim writer who found himself in "double jeopardy" this week, delve into the semantic tousle over the words "radical Islam," and consider whether forgetting is an appropriate response to violent extremism.


Plus, as the debate over gun control ratchets up again, a look at how the meaning of the Second Amendment has evolved over time. And, what lies at the heart of Britain's "Brexit" campaign (hint: it's not economics).


 

The Challenge of Fighting Terrorism Online

The attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando has renewed calls for anti-terrorist action from politicians across the board. For presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, this has meant a revival of her call for a government/Silicon Valley alliance that would analyze social networks in order to thwart terrorist plots and impede potential radicalization.


It's an attractive solution but one, as we've explored before, that is far more complicated than it might sound. This week we revisit two conversations we had last January, when a US government delegation met with Silicon Valley executives to discuss just such an approach. Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, talks about how a neutral-sounding algorithm for scanning radicalization raises numerous legal red flags. And terrorist behavior expert John Horgan explains how this approach fundamentally misunderstands how radicalization happens and why we must be careful distinguishing between those who consume extremist content and those who intend to act on it.