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

OTM Podcast Extra: War, Peace... and Clowns

In this bite-sized OTM, Bob looks at two important news stories that we won't be able to fit into the full-sized OTM this weekend. 


First: this weekend, voters in Colombia rejected a peace agreement with the rebel group FARC. It would have brought to end over 50 years of fighting, and polling suggested that Colombians would have approved the deal. The vote has been explained as the triumph of bitterness over common sense, but it could also be seen as a failure of media messaging. Bob talks to Alex Fattal, Assistant Professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies at Penn State University, about the role that media has played in Colombia's armed conflict. Fattal is also author of the forthcoming book Guerilla Marketing: Capitalism and Counterinsurgency in Colombia, from University of Chicago Press.


Then: a rash of clown sightings has spread since the first report of creepy clowns in Greenville, South Carolina in late August. They've been seen from Oregon to New York, from Florida to Missouri. Or have they? Turns out these "phantom clown" sightings have been happening in waves for decades, and they tell us a lot about our own fears. Bob speaks with Benjamin Radford, author of Bad Clowns and a research fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, about our historic and cultural relationship with phantom clown sightings. 

Do Better

Five years into the war in Syria, we examine whether calling the latest horrors "war crimes" will have any effect. Also, why the biggest story following the first presidential debate is about Miss Universe; the un-examined candidacy of Libertarian Gary Johnson; and curbing inmates' rights online. Finally, our series on myths about poverty in America begins in Athens, Ohio, a timeworn stop on the "poverty tour" for politicians and reporters alike.

The Poverty Tour


Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So we present "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but by private presumptions, media narratives, and the tales of the American Dream. 


Brooke traveled to Ohio, a state that reflects the varied nature of poverty, to talk directly with people who are poor and understand how they got that way, and why, under current policies, they are likely to stay that way. You'll hear from them over the next several weeks. But first, we examine how the story of poverty gets told -- and whether media attention makes any difference -- with the help of Jack Frech, a longtime Athens County welfare director who has been leading reporters on "poverty tours" of Appalachia for decades. 


“Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.  


 

Freedom of Information

Three weeks into what’s being called the US’s biggest prison strike ever, very little information has trickled through the razor wire. We examine the challenges of reporting on prisons. Plus, a look at the coverage of protests in Charlotte after a police shooting; the cell phone alerts that drew New Yorkers into a manhunt for a terror suspect; the digital afterlife of an Al Qaeda propagandist; and a quest to examine the life of Peter Thiel.


 

The Short-Fingered Vulgarian!

Spy magazine coined the term "short-fingered vulgarian" in the 80's to describe Donald Trump and it still really, really annoys him. On this podcast extra, we share a segment from an upcoming show produced by our friends at Studio 360 in which current 360 host, and former Spy founder Kurt Anderson reminisces with former Spy editor Susan Morrison about their enduring habit of name-calling.