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

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.

In The Shadows

The alliance between Ted Cruz and John Kasich to stop Trump was over before it began, but it's just the latest in a long history of political plots. We examine the shadowy history of election scheming, and trace the origins of the notion that the people, not politicians, should get to pick the president. Plus, how the haunting disappearance of 43 students in Mexico may finally prompt a reckoning with institutionalized violence and corruption. Also, disturbing collusion between super PACs and presidential campaigns, and drawing meaning from the deep, dark world of the comments section. 

Revisiting the Belfast Project

The Belfast Project is an archive of interviews with militia members from both sides of Ireland's "Troubles," the war that raged in Northern Ireland from the 1970s to the 1990s. The archives, which are housed at Boston College Library, are off-limits to the public and law enforcement, due to the fact that those interviewed agreed to speak on the condition that their testimonies not be published until their deaths. But since 2011, British authorities have launched a series of attempts to get their hands on the records, most recently this week when they subpoenaed Boston College for the files pertaining to lead researcher and former militant Anthony McIntyre.

Brooke spoke to McIntyre in 2014, during the last subpoena, about the Belfast Project and his frustration with what he saw as the College's capitulation to authorities. She also spoke with Boston College's Jack Dunn, who defended the College's commitment to oral history and its attempts to protect the records of the Belfast Project.

On Shakespeare

It's been four hundred years since the death of William Shakespeare, and the Bard is as popular as ever... and just as mysterious. For centuries, a war has raged over the question: who is Shakespeare? We explore how the answer has evolved through the ages, and what that tells us about our changing perceptions of class, art, genius, and religion. Plus, a look at Shakespeare's enduring global relevance, with an inspiring and perilous performance of Love's Labor's Lost in Afghanistan.