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

Bob's Docs Episode Four: It's Personal

For the month of August we've been running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as "Bob's Docs." Over the past few weeks, we've gone through some of the themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to manipulation. This week we conclude with the personal journey. 


This episode features two interviews, and the first is actually a guest spot from Brooke Gladstone. Last year, Brooke spoke with James Solomon about his documentary, "The Witness", about the story of Kitty Genovese -- a young woman who was famously murdered on a New York City street in 1964. Her murder came to symbolize urban apathy and the "bystander effect". Solomon documents Kitty's brother Bill Genovese's lengthy pursuit to discover the truth behind her life and murder. 


Then, Bob speaks with filmmaker Ken Dornstein about his three-part series on PBS's Frontline called "My Brother's Bomber" about his investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing. Dornstein's brother died in the attack, and Dornstein spent years trying to locate other figures who were suspects. 


 

Gutted

In the 1960s, pollution was a visible, visceral problem, and public pressure led a Republican president to create the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, the GOP wants to slash the agency's budget and roll back "burdensome" environmental regulations. The story of how the environment went from bipartisan issue to political battleground.


Also, journalists and politicians have long avoided drawing a straight line between natural disasters and climate change. How that's changing, thanks to new "extreme weather attribution" science. And, the myth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a useful — yet misleading — container for our collective anxieties about the planet. 


1. Sinclair Broadcasting is poised to expand to more households. Felix Gillette of Bloomberg discusses the company's frugal — and right-wing — approach to local news.


2. Richard Andrews, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Policy at UNC Chapel Hill, and William Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, help us understand the history of the EPA and how the environment became a political battleground.


3. Heidi Cullen, chief scientist at Climate Central, explains how climate attribution science can help us better describe global warming’s role in extreme weather events.


4. Slate columnist Dan Engber explores how the idea of a great garbage patch in the Pacific has helped us make sense of a changing climate that can be hard to visualize.

Bob's Docs Episode Three: Prurience

For the month of August we’ll be running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as “Bob’s docs.” Over the next few weeks we’ll go through some themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to the personal journey. This week's theme is prurience. 


This episode features Bob's interview about the documentary "Weiner", about the disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner's attempt at redemption with an attempt at running for mayor of New York City. Weiner had agreed to let a pair of documentary filmmakers record his campaign (and his entire life) in the hopes that they would capture his triumph. Instead, the cameras were rolling as he faced yet another slew of sexting allegations. Elyse Steinberg is a writer and documentary film director. Josh Kriegman is a director and former political political consultant. Together, they produced and directed "Weiner". 


Since this interview, Weiner has pled guilty to a felony obscenity charge for sending pictures and messages to a 15-year-old girl. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September. 

You've Been Warned

After a week of fury and fire, On the Media takes a chill pill. We look at chilling warnings and opaque impediments, from reporters working with whistleblowers or trying to cover immigration courts, to media organizations reckoning with their future in the post-Gawker era. 


1. Dana Gold of the Government Accountability Project speaks with us about the incomplete patchwork of legal protections for journalists in light of the government’s newfound zeal for cracking down on “leakers.”


2. Immigration reporter Julia Preston of the Marshall Project discusses the challenges journalists face covering immigration courts. Then, Judge Dana Leigh Marks, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges, describes the unique challenges facing judges in the immigration court system. 


3. InSight Crime’s Steven Dudley debunks some of the myths around the notorious MS-13 and explains why it’s not all that the Trump administration describes.


4. Brian Knappenberger, producer and director of Nobody Speak: The Trials of the Free Press, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his film, and describes the role of big money and morality in commanding the free press.

Bob's Docs Episode Two: Access

For the month of August we’ll be running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as “Bob’s docs.” Over the next few weeks we’ll go through some themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to the personal journey. This episode is about the gift of access. 


This episode features Bob's interview with the filmmaker Dan Reed about his 2003 documentary "Terror in Moscow", about the 2002 attack by Chechen terrorists on a Moscow Theater. Reed had access to remarkable footage filmed by the terrorists themselves and used it to present an extraordinary view of the crisis. 


Then, Bob revisits his interview with Matthew Heineman about his documentary "Cartel Land" in 2015. Heineman's relationship with his subjects allowed him to capture moments of violence, corruption, and even adultery -- all recorded with the subjects' full participation. 

"Shmashmortion"

The surprising political history of abortion in America; how the language of the abortion debate impacts us all; state lawmakers are tightening the rules around how doctors communicate with their patients about abortion; and more.


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