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


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.

The Center Cannot Hold

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, the nay-saying pundits have one last-ditch idea: a centrist third party candidate to save the day! Just like they said in the last election, and the one before that... This week On the Media explores the media's recurring fixation on a technocratic third party candidate and why exactly it's bogus. Plus, how the US helped create Puerto Rico's crushing debt crisis and revisiting the Iranian Revolution via video game.

A Face in the Crowd

The story of a man's rise from local media firebrand to out-sized TV personality superstar to political demagogue. Sound familiar?

It's actually the plot of Elia Kazan's 1957 film "A Face in the Crowd", which charts the dramatic ascent of Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith. WNYC's Sara Fishko, host of the Fishko Files, explores what the film's story about a rise and fall can tell us about our current political moment.

You can find more Fishko Files at wnyc.org/shows/fishko.