On The Media
On The Media

Our weekly podcast explores how the media 'sausage' is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of "making media," especially news media, because it's through that lens that we see the world and the world sees us

Airs on:
SUN 2pm-3pm, MON 12am-1am
32 min

Making Sense of 'Cancel Culture'

There’s a standard way the conversation on "cancel culture" goes: on the one side, male comedians and right-wingers saying cancel culture is out of control, you can't say anything anymore without getting dragged. On the other, progressive think piece writers saying cancel culture is blown way out of proportion, and is really just powerful people finally being held accountable for their actions. But according to YouTuber Natalie Wynn, creator of the channel ContraPoints, neither of these argument is quite correct. Wynn herself has been canceled. Many times over. For a host of offenses. And it’s given her plenty of time to reflect on all the ways the dominant conversations around cancel culture miss the particular pernicious effects of the phenomenon. In her video, "Canceling," she takes an honest look at her own cancellations and its effects, and outlines a set of principles around cancel culture to help clarify what, exactly, it is — and what it can lead to. In this conversation, Wynn breaks those principles down for Brooke. This is a longer version of an interview that originally in our January 31st, 2020 program, “Cancel This!”
50 min

Break Your Silence

Despite defiance from police departments and police unions, efforts to limit police secrecy have notched at least one recent victory. On this week’s On The Media, hear how the public can now view misconduct records that had long been closely guarded by the nation’s largest police force. Plus, how America's most famous cop-whistleblower views the present moment. And, the Black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking. 1. Eric Umansky [@ericuman], deputy managing editor at ProPublica, on never-before-seen New York Police Department misconduct records. Listen.   2. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project [@GovAcctProj], and Frank Serpico [@SerpicoDet], former New York Police Department detective, on the whistleblower protections necessary in any police reform. Listen. 3. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen.
29 min

Why is Trump’s Campaign Suing a Small TV Station in Wisconsin?

In this week's pod extra, we bring you an episode from Trump, Inc., a podcast from our friends at WNYC Studios, about a new threat to press freedom. This year, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed defamation lawsuits against three of the country’s most prominent news organizations: the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. Then it filed another suit against a somewhat lower-profile news organization: northern Wisconsin’s WJFW-TV, which serves the 134th-largest market in the country. In this piece, Trump, Inc. reporters Meg Cramer and Katherine Sullivan tell the story of the Trump campaign's aggressive and exceedingly expensive legal operation.
50 min

If You Build It...

The White House is sending troops into cities with the stated goal of protecting monuments. On this week's On The Media, a look at the clash over memorials going back to the American revolution. Plus, lessons for redesigning our post-pandemic built environment — from the disability rights movement. And, a conversation about the new documentary "Crip Camp" and the history of the disability rights movement. 1. Kirk Savage, professor of history of art and architecture at University of Pittsburgh, on the early origins of American anti-monument sentiment. Listen. 2. Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet]; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], on issues of accessibility and health in design — past, present, and future. Listen. 3. Judy Heumann [@judithheumann], disability rights activist, on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the documentary "Crip Camp." Listen.
12 min

The Lincoln Project Is Sorry About All That

It’s yet another day in Trump-era America. You know what that means: Another Lincoln Project ad going viral on Twitter, bound for the evening news. The anti-Trump political action committee's ads have been subject of much praise in the areas of the media that are generally skeptical of the president. Those mainstream media milieus have showed precious little skepticism, though, of the project itself. The president’s defenders on Fox have provided some critical coverage, but one of the few examples of such coverage from elsewhere in the televised political media came from a cartoon news show, Tooning Out The News, executive produced by Stephen Colbert. The Lincoln Project also received a sideways glance earlier this month from Jeet Heer, national affairs correspondent for The Nation. In this podcast extra, Jeet and Brooke discuss the Lincoln Project's funding, spending, style, politics, and its co-founders origins in Republican politics.
50 min

"This is Fine"

As climate catastrophe marches apace and the nation's public health infrastructure continues to unravel, we take stock of how we got here and what it might be like to look back on this year in the future. Plus, the frightening encroachment of QAnon conspiracy theorists into mainstream politics. 1. David Roberts [@drvox], staff writer at Vox.com, on how "shifting baselines syndrome" clouds our perspective on climate chaos. Listen. 2. Sarah Kliff [@sarahkliff], investigative reporter at the New York Times, on the obstacles to effective sharing of health data, from politics to fax machines. Listen. 3. Anthea M. Hartig [@amhistdirector], director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, on archivists' efforts to document 2020 in real time. Listen. 4. Alex Kaplan [@AlKapDC], senior researcher at Media Matters, on how fringe conspiracy theory QAnon rose to prominence and has consumed segments of the political right. Listen.
27 min

Sorry Not Sorry

Fox Primetime host Tucker Carlson has already had quite the July. On the plus side, the latest ratings for his show have made him officially the most watched cable news host. On the other side of the ledger, advertisers are fleeing his show on the grounds of not wishing to be associated with lies and hate speech. Oh, also, his head writer Blake Neff, was forced out after his explicitly racist and misogynist social media posts were unmasked online. And now Tucker is off the show for two weeks, as he put it “on a long-planned vacation.”  The last time Carlson was in the headlines — with the March 2019 resurrection of his very own hate speech — we spoke to writer Lyz Lenz, who wrote a profile of Carlson for CJR.
49 min

40 Acres

Home is in your heart and in your head, but mostly home is on land — acreage parceled out, clawed at, stolen, denied for decades and decades. First, there was Field Order No. 15, the Union Army’s plan to distribute 40-acre plots to the newly emancipated. That was a promise broken almost immediately. Later, there was the Great Migration, in which millions of African Americans fled north, where governments, lenders, and white neighbors would never let them own their land and build their own wealth. And now a system, purpose-built, extracts what it can, turning black and brown renters into debtors and evictees.  In this excerpt from our series, The Scarlet E: Unmasking America’s Eviction Crisis, we catalog the thefts and the schemes — most of which were perfectly legal — and we ask how long this debt will fester. Matthew Desmond, founder of The Eviction Lab and our partner in this series, and Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, point us toward the legal and historical developments that evolved into the present crisis. And WBEZ’s Natalie Moore, whose grandparents moved to Chicago during the Great Migration, shows us around a high-eviction area on Chicago’s South Side.