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

Insult to Injury

As Puerto Rico rations resources and seeks help from the US government, the mainland media has mostly been preoccupied with Donald Trump's provocations towards the NFL. This week, what's actually happening on the island (and with the NFL). Also, a look at the radical history of the Star-Spangled Banner; how the Catalan independence referendum is being suppressed by the Spanish government; decoding the FBI's new crime statistics; and a look back at Hugh Hefner's impact on American culture.

1. Puerto Rican columnist Sandra Rodriguez Cotto [@SRCSandra] talks about how the local press are handling the wreckage following Hurricane Maria.

2. Brooke examines this week's NFL news frenzy.

3. University of Maryland assistant professor of musicology Will Robin [@seatedovation] reveals the national anthem's long history of musical defiance and radicalism. 

4. Thomas Abt [@Abt_Thomas], a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School and a former deputy secretary for public safety for New York State, talks about the politicization of violent crime data. 

5. Vicent Partal [@vpartal], founder and editor of VilaWeb, a Catalan news outlet based in Barcelona, explains the modern Catalan separatist movement and the Spanish government's efforts to suppress this weekend's referendum.  

6. A look back on Hugh Hefner's legacy through two interviews with and about him.




Among Many Victims in Mexico, There Was One Who Never Existed

In Central Mexico, rescuers continue to sift through piles of rubble left by last week's 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Hundreds of volunteers have joined the rescue effort. One of the most widely reported stories from the earthquake reveals how the people in Mexico are coping with the earthquake. In the first couple days after it struck, media in Mexico and around the world focused on the story of a 12-year-old girl. She was trapped in the rubble of school building, communicating with rescuers, wiggling her fingers, and asking rescuers for water. She said her name was Frida Sofia, and she didn't exist at all. 

Brooke talks with Rodrigo Cervantes, the Mexico City bureau chief for KJZZ, about his reporting from rescue sites in the city, the mystery of Frida Sofia, and what the confusion reveals about distrust in media and the government.


OTM live at the Texas Tribune Festival: The Politicians

When Brooke was at the Texas Tribune festival in Austin last week, she moderated two sessions, one with reporters and one with couple of US Representatives from Texas. Democrat Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, and Republican Will Hurd of Helotes. The two - who didn’t much know each other a year ago -  made headlines in their state when, stranded by a snowstorm, they found themselves sharing a rented Chevy Impala for the sixteen-hundred mile drive from San Antonio to Washington. Brooke asked them roughly the same question she asked the reporters; how do the constant attacks by the President on journalism, on facts, influence how you do your job and how you deal with the press? Does it affect your point of view? 


OTM live at the Texas Tribune Festival: The Journalists

Last week Brooke was at the Texas Tribune Festival, an annual event that gathers hundred of speakers and thousands of citizens to discuss big issues of the day, ranging from education to climate change to politics. She moderated a couple of sessions: One with two great journalists from two very different places with two very different briefs. One of those journalists was Amy Chozick, a national political reporter for the New York Times, the other was Evan Smith, the  co-founder and CEO of the Texas Tribune.

The question at issue turned on President Trumps continuous attacks on the press, and on truth, basic facts.

Does it affect the way they practice journalism? And if so, how? 


Trust Issues

Facebook is under fire for allowing Russian propagandists to buy ads during the 2016 election. This week, how we do and don't hold tech giants accountable.

1. Max Seddon [@maxseddon], Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times, on the push by the US government to register RT and Sputnik under the Foreign Agents Relations Act and why the effort to "do something" about Russian propaganda is misguided.

2. Julia Angwin [@juliaangwin], investigative journalist for ProPublica, on their new crowdsourcing project that aims to monitor otherwise inscrutable Facebook political advertisements.

3. Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller], Fellow at the Open Markets Institute, on understanding Silicon Valley's behavior through the lens of monopoly and why he believes Americans can, and must, demand more.

4. Utsav Sanduja [@u], Chief Operating Officer of the alt-right-favored social media network Gab, on their antitrust lawsuit against Google and why they see a need for a pro-free speech social media platform.

5. Paul Ford [@ftrain], tech author and commentator, on the difficult ethical questions that surround massive tech platforms.

What Lies Ahead For Puerto Rico

Following Hurricane Maria’s landfall on Wednesday morning, we have only scarce images and reports from which to comprehend the scale of devastation in Puerto Rico right now. Perhaps due to disaster fatigue, perhaps due to the territory’s second-class status, the media coverage has been perfunctory.

While the coverage to date has focused on the flooding and widespread power outages on the ravaged island, Rutgers professor Yarimar Bonilla says there's an important context to the problems with the electric grid. She and Bob discuss how the damage from Maria is related to the debt crisis, and how it may provide an excuse to justify another wave of privatization on the island.