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 Challenge of Fighting Terrorism Online

The attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando has renewed calls for anti-terrorist action from politicians across the board. For presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, this has meant a revival of her call for a government/Silicon Valley alliance that would analyze social networks in order to thwart terrorist plots and impede potential radicalization.

It's an attractive solution but one, as we've explored before, that is far more complicated than it might sound. This week we revisit two conversations we had last January, when a US government delegation met with Silicon Valley executives to discuss just such an approach. Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, talks about how a neutral-sounding algorithm for scanning radicalization raises numerous legal red flags. And terrorist behavior expert John Horgan explains how this approach fundamentally misunderstands how radicalization happens and why we must be careful distinguishing between those who consume extremist content and those who intend to act on it.


The Associated Press declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee the night before voters went to polls. We hear from the AP and consider the ethics behind their decision.

Plus: How should journalists be treating Donald Trump? The presumptive GOP nominee has had a year-long codependent relationship with the media, but we may be at a turning point. Paul Waldman of The American Prospect argues that old-school investigative reporting is the best way to engage with Trump's sketchy claims and inflammatory rhetoric. Then, CNN's Jake Tapper reflects on how to press the candidate effectively in interviews and whether the conventional tools of broadcast journalism are enough.

Political theorist Michael Signer defined "demagogue" for us six months ago. We check back in on how the term applies to Trump now. And: fiction writer and essayist Aleksandar Hemon argues that novelists should be further probing contemporary politics in their work.

Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl

This week we want to share with you a piece that we really liked from our friends at Radio Diaries. It’s a personal, revealing, surprising story told by a teen from a region that usually gets discussed only in terms of oil and conflict.

For two years, Majd Abdulghani recorded an audio diary of her life in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -- where women cannot drive, and where they only make up 16 percent of the workforce. But the society is changing, and Majd's story of studying to be a scientist, learning karate, and ultimately navigating the world of arranged marriages is a glimpse into a world rarely seen by outsiders. 

Radio Diaries' Joe Richman and Sarah Kramer introduce this audio diary, and conduct an additional interview at the end. You can learn more about Saudi women and see photos of Majd on radiodiaries.org, where you'll also find other great stories. 

When To Believe

This week, a baby girl was born in New Jersey with microcephaly, a reminder that the Zika virus is not a distant threat. What is known and still unknown about Zika has fueled pseudoscience and paranoia. We look at a study about Zika-related conspiracy theories online, and how to debunk them. 

Plus: The Obama administration may soon release 28 remaining pages of the Congressional 9/11 report -- and they're likely about Saudi Arabia's role in the attacks. We dig into what's in there and why it matters. 

And, the story of New York Times reporter Jeffrey Schmalz, who transformed public perception of AIDS and the gay men and women dying from the disease. 

The #FreeAustinTice Campaign

Last week’s show, “Kidnapped,” featured an interview with Debra and Marc Tice, parents of Austin Tice, the freelance American journalist who disappeared in Syria nearly four years ago. We received many comments from people who were deeply moved by that conversation, so we thought we’d offer you a longer version.  

At age thirty, Austin Tice went to Syria with the purest of intentions: to report, firsthand, what befell the people there. He had little experience but a lot of verve, and nerve, venturing deeper into the country than nearly any other western journalist. Soon he was filing stories for McClatchy and the Washington Post, appearing on CBS, and giving interviews to public radio. Then, in August 2012, he vanished. Six weeks later, his family saw evidence of life: a video showing him being led blindfolded up a hillside by armed, masked men. Since that video, the Tices have had no communication with Austin or his captors. But they have what they call credible, recent reports that Austin is still alive. Bob talks with Debra and Marc Tice about their tireless efforts to draw attention to Austin's plight.


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.