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


The threat of kidnapping in Syria has made it one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. A special hour on how we get our news from a country that's nearly impossible to visit, and why the world's tangled policy on hostages means that some live to tell the tale, and others don't. 

Covering the First Atomic Bombs

This week, President Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting two segments we produced in 2005 relating to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. First, author and journalist Greg Mitchell discusses the case of George Weller, the first reporter on the scene after the bombings, whose first-hand accounts of the aftermath, and the mysterious illness that followed, were never published, only to be discovered in 2005. Then, David Goodman, co-author of "Exception to the Rulers," tells the story of New York Times reporter William L. Laurence, who witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and won a Pulitzer for his heavily pro-bombing reporting -- only for it to be revealed that he was working for the US War Department all along. 


Seventy-one years after the bombing, President Obama is set to be first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, raising questions that many are keen to avoid. Plus, revisiting a notorious murder that the press got wrong; the long reach of a WWII slogan; and attempts in Ukraine to whitewash the nation's history. A special hour on memory, both historical and personal, and how what we remember shapes our world.

How The "Fake News" Gets Made

There’s comedy, and there’s news, and then there’s that amalgamation of the two -- call it satire or lampoonery or, in the parlance of Jon Stewart, “Fake news.” But how does it get made? And does it help or hurt if your background is in real news?

Last month Brooke moderated a discussion of writers and producers from The Daily Show with Trevor NoahThe Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and Full Frontal with Samantha Beeconvened by The New School in New York City. Representing The Daily Show are journalists and bloggers Daniel Radosh and Dan Amira; for The Nightly Show, writer Cord Jefferson (who actually just left the show to be a writer on Aziz Ansari’s Master of None); and for Full Frontal, producers Sanya Dosani and Naureen Khan, both of whom came directly from Al Jazeera America. 

Trending Topics

What's worse: potentially biased humans controlling the news you see or a "neutral" algorithm? Accusations that Facebook's Trending Topics feature isn't purely data-driven have highlighted the platform's power. 

Plus: Margaret Sullivan, the former public editor of The New York Times, is on her way to the Washington Post. How much did she change at the paper of the record? 

Also: Bob's take on how the political press is normalizing the presumptive GOP nominee; and a new documentary looks at Anthony Weiner's failed run for mayor.

FiveThirtyEight vs. the Data Detractors

Last Tuesday Donald Trump won the Indiana primary and became the presumptive nominee of the Republican party. In the days that followed, hands were wrung over the question “how did we get this so wrong?” New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg was particularly critical of data journalism, which one election cycle ago seemed so heroic but in Trumpworld turned out to have feet of clay. Singling out Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight (our partner this election cycle), Rutenberg wrote that in relying on polling data that gave Trump a 2% chance of winning the nomination 6 months ago, FiveThirtyEight “sapped the journalistic will to scour his record as aggressively as those of his supposedly more serious rivals. In other words, predictions can have consequences.”

Nate Silver on his podcast this week had a response to Rutenberg (and all the other data detractors). Here is an excerpt from that episode in which you’ll also hear Silver’s FiveThirtyEight colleagues Harry Enten, Clare Malone, and Jody Avirgan.