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

Bob's Docs Episode Three: Prurience

For the month of August we’ll be running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as “Bob’s docs.” Over the next few weeks we’ll go through some themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to the personal journey. This week's theme is prurience. 


This episode features Bob's interview about the documentary "Weiner", about the disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner's attempt at redemption with an attempt at running for mayor of New York City. Weiner had agreed to let a pair of documentary filmmakers record his campaign (and his entire life) in the hopes that they would capture his triumph. Instead, the cameras were rolling as he faced yet another slew of sexting allegations. Elyse Steinberg is a writer and documentary film director. Josh Kriegman is a director and former political political consultant. Together, they produced and directed "Weiner". 


Since this interview, Weiner has pled guilty to a felony obscenity charge for sending pictures and messages to a 15-year-old girl. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September. 

You've Been Warned

After a week of fury and fire, On the Media takes a chill pill. We look at chilling warnings and opaque impediments, from reporters working with whistleblowers or trying to cover immigration courts, to media organizations reckoning with their future in the post-Gawker era. 


1. Dana Gold of the Government Accountability Project speaks with us about the incomplete patchwork of legal protections for journalists in light of the government’s newfound zeal for cracking down on “leakers.”


2. Immigration reporter Julia Preston of the Marshall Project discusses the challenges journalists face covering immigration courts. Then, Judge Dana Leigh Marks, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges, describes the unique challenges facing judges in the immigration court system. 


3. InSight Crime’s Steven Dudley debunks some of the myths around the notorious MS-13 and explains why it’s not all that the Trump administration describes.


4. Brian Knappenberger, producer and director of Nobody Speak: The Trials of the Free Press, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his film, and describes the role of big money and morality in commanding the free press.

Bob's Docs Episode Two: Access

For the month of August we’ll be running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as “Bob’s docs.” Over the next few weeks we’ll go through some themes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to the personal journey. This episode is about the gift of access. 


This episode features Bob's interview with the filmmaker Dan Reed about his 2003 documentary "Terror in Moscow", about the 2002 attack by Chechen terrorists on a Moscow Theater. Reed had access to remarkable footage filmed by the terrorists themselves and used it to present an extraordinary view of the crisis. 


Then, Bob revisits his interview with Matthew Heineman about his documentary "Cartel Land" in 2015. Heineman's relationship with his subjects allowed him to capture moments of violence, corruption, and even adultery -- all recorded with the subjects' full participation. 

"Shmashmortion"

The surprising political history of abortion in America; how the language of the abortion debate impacts us all; state lawmakers are tightening the rules around how doctors communicate with their patients about abortion; and more.


Support On the Media by becoming a member today at OntheMedia.org/donate.    

Bob's Docs Episode One: Manipulation

For the month of August we’ll be running a series of interviews Bob has done over the years with documentary filmmakers. In the OTM office, the producers have been referring to the collection as “Bob’s Docs.” Over the next few weeks we’ll go through some tropes of documentary film-making, from prurience to access to the personal journey. Episode one is about the deadly sin of manipulation.


Documentaries are supposed to represent the truth. But who decides what the truth is exactly? Patricia Aufderheide, professor and documentarian, who looked into some suspicious instances of manipulation in wildlife docs, explained her effort to interview documentary film-makers anonymously about their ethical lapses.


This episode also features an interview about the timeline manipulating HBO series, "The Jinx," directed by Andrew Jarecki. Bob spoke with documentary film-maker Joe Berlinger, co-creator of the "Paradise Lost" trilogy, about modern film-making, the responsibility of the artist, and different interpretations of "truth."

Essential Coverage

The battle over Republican Senators' most recent attempt at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act dominated the media this week, and seemingly at all hours of the day. We take a look at a few players in the saga, from the putative maverick who brought the process to a halt with a quick thumbs-down, to a reporter trying to follow a process somewhat devoid of transparency, to the war of words that could determine the future of the American health care system. Plus, a retrospective view on the media's role in Charlie Gard's life. 


1. The Atlantic's James Fallows explores Senator John McCain's long history in the media spotlight — a story of dualities, cozy jokes, and the occasional, genuine maverick choice. 


2. Kaiser Health News's Julie Rovner describes the opaque and convoluted experience of covering the GOP process to repeal and replace Obamacare. 


3. The Daily Beast's Sam Stein examines the new anti-Obamacare propaganda coming from within the Trump Administration. 


4. Florida State University's Jill Quadagno leads us through the hundred-year messaging war over universal healthcare in the U.S., including a recent rise in public support for a single-payer system. 


5. The Times of London's Melanie Phillips discusses the role the American right-wing media played in the media storm surrounding Charlie Gard's tragic, short life.