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

Suing to Save the Planet, and How Climate Activism Got a Bad Rap

Thousands of protesters descended on New York as the United Nations convened its Climate Summit. On this week’s On the Media, hear how Big Oil is being taken to court for lying to the public about fossil fuels. Plus, a look at a global network of think tanks that’s been vilifying climate activism for decades.  1. Rebecca Leber [@rebleber], senior climate reporter at Vox, on why some climate activists are turning to lawsuits to make change. Listen. 2. Amy Westervelt [@amywestervelt], host and producer of the podcast Drilled, on how a network of think tanks is shaping perceptions of peaceful climate activism as dangerous and extreme. Listen. 3. Leah Sottile [@Leah_Sottile], extremism reporter and the host of the podcast Burn Wild, on how eco-terrorism became security priority for the U.S. government. Listen.   Music: Il Casanova de Federico Fellini - Nino Rota Prelude 8: The Invisibles - John Zorn It’s Raining - Irma Thomas Middlesex Times - Donnie Darko - Michael Andrews Way Down in the Hole - Tom Waits Puck - John Zorn Final Retribution -John Zorn

How the Food Industry is Influencing Your TikTok Feed

In July, the World Health Organization issues a report indicating that aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in many low calorie sodas and snacks, was "possibly carcinogenic to humans." The new statement on a widely utilized artificial sweetener led to controversy in the medical community, with the Federal Drug Administration saying they saw no concern over aspartame consumption. Some dietitians even took to social media to voice their contradicting opinions. Anahad O’Connor, a health columnist at The Washington Post, the response to the announcement on social media smelled a bit fishy. In a report released earlier this month with colleagues Caitlin Gilbert and Sasha Chavkin, O’Connor found that dozens of registered dietitians, some with more than 2 million followers each, were paid to counter the WHO’s announcement. He and his colleagues followed the money back to industry groups like American Beverage, which represents companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. This week, OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger sits down O'Connor to learn more about the growing trend of influencer dietitians and the long history of food and beverage lobbies attempting to influence our eating habits.

The “Too Old” President and Political Doppelgängers

The House has opened a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. On this week’s On the Media, find out exactly what Republicans are looking for–and why they should’ve already found it. Plus, geriatric men are the likely presidential nominees. Is there such a thing as “too old” for the job? 1. Stephen Collinson [@StCollinson], CNN senior political reporter, on the impact of a baseless impeachment inquiry on the institution of Presidential impeachments. Listen. 2. James Fallows [@JamesFallows], writer of the “Breaking the News'' newsletter on Substack, and the former chief speechwriter for the Carter administration, on if the press is tackling the age question correctly. Listen.  3. Dr. Steven N. Austad [@StevenAustad], The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Protective Life Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research, on what the science of aging can tell us about a potential Biden second term. Listen.  4. Naomi Klein [@NaomiAKlein], journalist and author of Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World, on being confused for writer and conspiracist Naomi Wolf for much of her career, and her exploration of doppelgangers and the mirror world the other Naomi inhabits. Listen.  Music: 72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas Newman Eye Surgery - Thomas Newman Lost Night - Bill Frisell Young at Heart - Brad Mehldau Trio Disfarmer Little Girl - Bill Frissell Pavane, Op. 50 - Gabriel Faure - Academy of St. Martin in the Fields The First Time Ever I saw Your Face - Bert Jansch

How 9/11 Broke Our Brains

Twenty-two years ago, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. Another plane hit the Pentagon, and another crashed in Pennsylvania — killing nearly 3,000 people in total. The attacks became the pretense for a sprawling, ongoing war on terror that has directly and indirectly claimed some 4.5 million lives in post-9/11 war zones, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, according to a 2023 estimate from Brown University.  In his 2021 podcast, 9/12, Dan Taberski brought us the story of a documentary filmmaker named Dylan Avery, whose 2005 film Loose Change helped embolden the 9/11 Truther Movement. In this piece, OTM reporter Micah Loewinger speaks with Taberski about Loose Change, and the complicated notoriety it brought to Avery. He also interviews Korey Rowe, a producer on Loose Change, about how Google Video helped it become the internet's first viral film. Then, Micah speaks with Charles B Strozier, author of Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses, about the moment when exactly 9/11 conspiracy theories broke into the mainstream. This segment originally aired in our September 10th, 2021 program, Aftershocks.

Another Proud Boy Goes to Jail and A Media War in 1980's NYC

This week a former Proud Boys leader received the longest prison sentence for the insurrection so far. On this week’s On the Media, why conspiracy theories that the FBI planned January 6 live on. Plus, in the aftermath of a 1984 subway shooting, hear how the New York press crowned the gunman a hero.  1. Tess Owen [@misstessowen], senior reporter at Vice News, on the latest fallout from the January 6th insurrection. Listen. 2. Leon Neyfakh [@leoncrawl], host of the podcast Fiasco: Vigilante, available exclusively on Audible, on how the press covered a notorious and divisive 1984 New York City subway shooting. Listen.

Is "Rich Men North of Richmond" a MAGA Anthem or Nah?

In early August, Christopher Anthony Lunsford, who goes by Oliver Anthony, quietly released a song called "Rich Men North of Richmond." A week later, the folk song had rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts — a historic feat for someone with no chart history to speak of. But the ascent wasn't without controversy. The song, to some, sounded like a right-wing anthem. And it was heralded as such online by right wing pundits, and included as a part of the first question of the opening Republican presidential primary debate. But Oliver Anthony's politics, and the song's appeal, have turned out to be a little more complicated. This week, OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger sits down with Chris Molanphy, Slate’s pop-chart columnist, and author of the forthcoming book "Old Town Road," to talk about how such an unlikely song rose to the top. Micah speaks to Molanphy about how the Billboard charts have gotten weirder, and more anarchic, and what "Rich Men North of Richmond" has in common with "Ballad of the Green Berets," a song released almost 60 years prior.

How Big Tech Went to Sh*t

Why does every social media platform seem to get worse over time? This week’s On the Media explores an expansive theory on how we lost a better version of the internet, and the systems that insulate Big Digital from competition. Plus, some solutions for fixing the world wide web. 1. Cory Doctorow [@doctorow], journalist, activist, and the author of Red Team Blue, on his theory surrounding the slow, steady descent of the internet. Listen. 2. Brooke asks Cory if the troubles that plague some corners of the internet are specific to Big Digital, rather than the economy at large-- and how our legal systems enabled it all. Listen. 3. Cory and Brooke discuss possible solutions to save the world wide web, and how in a sea of the enshittified there's still hope. Listen. Music: I’m Not Following You - Michael Andrews I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles The Desert and Two Grey Hills - Gerry O’Beirne La vie en rose - Toots Thielemans All I Want (Joni Mitchel) - Fred Hersch

Lina Khan Is in the Hot Seat

In March 2021, when President Joe Biden announced the nomination of Lina Khan to be a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, the decision was met with a rare kind of excitement for the otherwise sleepy agency. The excitement seemed bipartisan as 21 Republican senators voted to confirm the commissioner. Not long after, then 32-year-old Khan was promoted to chairperson of the agency, making her the youngest chair in the FTC's history. Since then the tone around Khan has changed dramatically, as Republican commissioners at the agency have pushed back against what they see as a radical agenda. Back in March, OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger spoke to Emily Birnbaum, technology and lobbying reporter for Bloomberg, about a growing anti-antitrust movement emerging in the press and in Washington, and why Khan has become its main target.