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

On Shaky Ground

The months-long protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline finally received mainstream attention this week after a misdirection campaign on Facebook, but to what end? Plus, making sense of what you've been told about Russia's role in the election; Bob talks to Glenn Beck about his recent transformation; and the all-too-predictable fallout from hiring partisans as cable news pundits.

Debunking the AIDS "Patient Zero" Myth

One of the most enduring myths of HIV/AIDS history has finally been laid to rest. The so-called "patient zero," a Canadian flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas, was once blamed for igniting the entire AIDS epidemic in America. Media outlets fixated on his sexual promiscuity; the New York Post called him "The Man Who Gave Us Aids."


But new research published in the journal Nature reexamined the original blood samples taken from Dugas in 1983 and found that the strain of the virus he was infected with was already present in the country years before Dugas frequented the gay scene in New York and San Francisco. Bob talks with Michael Worobey, evolutionary biologist and lead author of the Nature paper, about how the patient zero story is an ongoing black comedy of mischaracterization.

Poor Judgment

The Trump camp is pointing to "oversampling" in the polls as the latest sign that the election is rigged against him. But the pollsters say that's not how polling works. FiveThirtyEight helps separate the conspiratorial from the commonplace in election polls. Plus, a look at what the media get wrong about Trump supporters, a controversial capital punishment rule gets taken up by the Supreme Court, and a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook for poverty.  

FiveThirtyEight presents: The Perot Condundrum

Ever since his 1992 dark horse candidacy captured nearly 19% of the popular vote, there have been arguments over the real role of Ross Perot. Was he a spoiler candidate, stealing the election from Bush? Did he de-legitimize Clinton's victory by keeping him from winning a majority of the popular vote? Was there anything to learn from Perot's popularity, or was the unpredictable, charismatic, idiosyncratic billionaire just a fluke?


These are the questions our friends at FiveThirtyEight ponder in this week's excellent documentary podcast, "Long Before Trump, There Was Ross Perot." We like it and we think you will too.


We encourage you to check out all of FiveThirtyEight's other podcasts--including their daily election series that will be putting out an episode--that's right--every day until election day.

The System Is Rigged

By now you know that Donald Trump likes to claim that the media, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and dead voters are among those rigging the election against him. But he's not the only politician during this campaign to claim the system is manipulated to favor some over others. This week, we explore how elections are and are not rigged. Also, the fourth installment of our poverty series focuses on the strengths and shortcomings of our nation's safety net.