Created by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, Reveal is public radios first one-hour weekly radio show and podcast dedicated to investigative reporting. Credible, fact based and without a partisan agenda, Reveal combines the power and artistry of driveway moment storytelling with data-rich reporting on critically important issues. The result is stories that inform and inspire, arming our listeners with information to right injustices, hold the powerful accountable and improve lives.Reveal is hosted by Al Letson and showcases the award-winning work of CIR and newsrooms large and small across the nation. In a radio and podcast market crowded with choices, Reveal focuses on important and often surprising stories that illuminate the world for our listeners.

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Weapons With Minds of Their Own

The future of warfare is being shaped by computer algorithms that are assuming ever-greater control over battlefield technology. The war in Ukraine has become a testing ground for some of these weapons, and experts warn that we are on the brink of fully autonomous drones that decide for themselves whom to kill.      This week, we revisit a story from reporter Zachary Fryer-Biggs about U.S. efforts to harness gargantuan leaps in artificial intelligence to develop weapons systems for a new kind of warfare. The push to integrate AI into battlefield technology raises a big question: How far should we go in handing control of lethal weapons to machines?  In our first story, Fryer-Biggs and Reveal’s Michael Montgomery head to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sophomore cadets are exploring the ethics of autonomous weapons through a lab simulation that uses miniature tanks programmed to destroy their targets. Next, Fryer-Biggs and Montgomery talk to a top general leading the Pentagon’s AI initiative. They also explore the legendary hackers conference known as DEF CON and hear from technologists campaigning for a global ban on autonomous weapons. We close with a conversation between host Al Letson and Fryer-Biggs about the implications of algorithmic warfare and how the U.S. and other leaders in machine learning are resistant to signing treaties that would put limits on machines capable of making battlefield decisions.  This episode originally aired in June 2021. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The Long Campaign to Turn Birth Control Into the New Abortion

When the Supreme Court’s decision undoing Roe v. Wade came down in June, anti-abortion groups were jubilant – but far from satisfied. Many in the movement have a new target: hormonal birth control. It seems contradictory; doesn’t preventing unwanted pregnancies also prevent abortions? But anti-abortion groups don’t see it that way. They claim that hormonal contraceptives like IUDs and the pill can actually cause abortions. One prominent group making this claim is Students for Life of America, whose president has said she wants contraceptives like IUDs and birth control pills to be illegal. The fast-growing group has built a social media campaign spreading the false idea that hormonal birth control is an abortifacient. Reveal’s Amy Mostafa teams up with UC Berkeley journalism and law students to dig into the world of young anti-abortion influencers and how medical misinformation gains traction on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, with far-reaching consequences. Tens of millions of Americans use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and regulate their health. And many have well-founded complaints about side effects, from nausea to depression – not to mention well-justified anger about how the medical establishment often pooh-poohs those concerns. Anti-abortion and religious activists have jumped into the fray, urging people to reject hormonal birth control as “toxic” and promoting non-hormonal “fertility awareness” methods – a movement they’re trying to rebrand as “green sex.” Mother Jones Senior Editor Kiera Butler explains how secular wellness influencers such as Jolene Brighten, who sells a $300 birth control “hormone reset,” are having their messages adopted by anti-abortion influencers, many of them with deep ties to Catholic institutions. The end of Roe triggered a Missouri law that immediately banned almost all abortions. Many were shocked when a major health care provider in the state announced it would also no longer offer emergency contraception pills – Plan B – because of a false belief that it could cause an abortion. While the health system soon reversed its policy, it wasn’t the first time Missouri policymakers have been roiled by the myth that emergency contraception can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and cause an abortion. Reveal senior reporter and producer Katharine Mieszkowski tracks how lawmakers in the state have been confronting this misinformation campaign and looks to the future of how conservatives are aiming to use birth control as their new wedge issue. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The Border Patrol’s Fearless 5%

The Border Patrol is one of the largest federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., with roughly 19,000 officers. It also has one of the largest gender disparities – for decades, the number of women on the force has held steady around 5%. Despite years of demands for reform, the Border Patrol hasn’t managed to substantially increase the number of women in the agency. Reporter Erin Siegal McIntyre set out to examine why this number has remained so low. She spoke with more than two dozen current and former Border Patrol agents and reviewed hundreds of pages of complaints and lawsuits in which agents allege sexual harassment or assault. Those interviews and documents reveal a workplace where a wide range of sexual misconduct is pervasive: from stale sex jokes to retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct and assault and rape. Siegal McIntyre starts with the first class of women who were allowed to become Border Patrol agents in 1975. We hear from Ernestine Lopez, a member of that class. Days before graduation, she is raped by a classmate and reports it. She’s abruptly fired, leading her on a 12-year legal battle against the government. This is the first time Lopez, now 85, has told her story publicly. Next, we hear from a young woman who loved working as an agent but left the Border Patrol at the peak of her career. Her supervisor had targeted her and other women on her team by hiding a camera in the floor drain in the women’s restroom. This is the first time she has spoken to a news outlet about her experience of reporting her supervisor and pursuing a case in court against him and the Border Patrol. Then we follow the story of Kevin Warner, a Border Patrol probationary agent who was abruptly fired months after participating in a sex game along with a dozen other agents, including his superiors. Warner alleges that he was wrongfully discharged. Then Siegal McIntyre takes her reporting to a former chief of the Border Patrol, Mark Morgan. She asks about workplace culture, the low number of women in the agency and the lack of transparency around investigations of sexual misconduct in the patrol. Support for Erin Siegal McIntyre’s work was provided by the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and The Harnisch Foundation. Special thanks to Ruth Ann Harnisch, Deborah Golden and the Gumshoe Group for their legal support and to John Turner and Gary Kirk from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

No Retreat: The Dangers of Stand Your Ground

The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter of the struggle for civil rights in America. A mostly White jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the teen’s murder, in part because Florida’s stand your ground law permits a person to use deadly force in self-defense – even if that person could have safely retreated. Nationwide protests after the trial called for stand your ground laws to be repealed and reformed. But instead, stand your ground laws have expanded to 38 states.  Reveal reporter Jonathan Jones talks with Byron Castillo, a maintenance worker in North Carolina who was shot in the chest after mistakenly trying to get into the wrong apartment for a repair. While Castillo wound up out of work and deep in debt, police and prosecutors declined to pursue charges against the shooter, who said he was afraid someone was trying to break into his apartment. Researchers have found that states that enacted stand your ground laws have seen an increase in homicides – one study estimated that roughly 700 more people die in the U.S. every year because of stand your ground laws.  Opponents of stand your ground laws call them by a different name: “kill at will” laws. Jones speaks to lawmakers like Stephanie Howse, who fought against stand your ground legislation as an Ohio state representative, saying such laws put Black people's lives at risk. Howse and other Democratic lawmakers faced off against Republican politicians, backed by pro-gun lobbyists, intent on passing a stand your ground bill despite widespread opposition from civil rights groups and law enforcement. Modern-day stand your ground laws started in Florida. Reveal reporter Nadia Hamdan explores a 2011 road rage incident that wound up leading to an expansion of the law. She looks at how one case led Florida lawmakers, backed by the National Rifle Association, to enact a law that spells out that prosecutors, not defendants, have the burden of proof when claiming someone was not acting in self-defense when committing an act of violence against another individual.  This episode originally aired in July 2022. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The COVID Tracking Project Part 3

This is the third episode in our three-part series taking listeners inside the failed federal response to COVID-19. Series host Jessica Malaty Rivera and reporters Artis Curiskis and Kara Oehler bring us the conclusion of The COVID Tracking Project story and an interview with the current CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.  We look at the myth that COVID-19 was “the great equalizer,” an idea touted by celebrities and politicians from Madonna to then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Ibram X. Kendi and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research worked with The COVID Tracking Project to compile national numbers on how COVID-19 affected people of color in the U.S. Their effort, The COVID Racial Data Tracker, showed that people of color died from the disease at around twice the rate of White people. The COVID Tracking Project’s volunteer data collection team waited months for the CDC to release COVID-19 testing data. But when the CDC finally started publishing the data, it was different from what states were publishing – in some instances, it was off by hundreds of thousands of tests. With no clear answers about why, The COVID Tracking Project’s quest to keep national data flowing every day continued until March 2021.  Lastly, Rivera talks with the director of the CDC, Walensky, to try to understand what went wrong in the agency’s response to the pandemic and ask whether it’s prepared for the next one. Check out our whole COVID Tracking Project series here.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The COVID Tracking Project Part 2

This is the second episode in our three-part series taking listeners inside the failed federal response to COVID-19. In episode two, series host Jessica Malaty Rivera, along with reporters Artis Curiskis and Kara Oehler, asks a profound question: Why was there no good U.S. data about COVID-19?  In March 2020, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx had a daunting task for healthcare technologist Amy Gleason, a new member of her data team. Her job was to figure out where people were testing positive for COVID-19 across the country, how many were in hospitals and how many had died from the disease. Accounting for national numbers about the disease was extremely difficult, because when COVID-19 hit, the federal government had no system set up to get data from each state.  Gleason was shocked to find that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t reflecting the immediate impact of the coronavirus. At the same time, the country was suffering from another huge shortfall: a lack of COVID-19 tests. As a congressional hearing in March 2020 clearly exposed, the CDC had created only 75,000 tests and had no plans to create the millions needed to make testing available nationwide. Dr. Birx and the Task Force also faced national shortages of medical supplies like masks and ventilators and lacked basic information about COVID-19 hospitalizations that would help them know where to send supplies.  Realizing that the federal government was failing to collect national data, reporters at The Atlantic formed The COVID Tracking Project. Across all 50 states, hundreds of volunteers began gathering crucial information on the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Each day, they compiled the state COVID-19 data in a massive spreadsheet, creating the nation’s most reliable picture of the spread of the deadly disease. Check out our whole COVID Tracking Project series here.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The COVID Tracking Project Part 1

The United States has 4% of the world’s population but 16% of COVID-19 deaths. This series investigates the failures by federal agencies that led to over 1 million Americans dying from COVID-19 and what that tells us about the nation’s ability to fight the next pandemic. Epidemiologist Jessica Malaty Rivera is the host for this three-part series.   The first episode takes us back to February 2020, when reporters Rob Meyer and Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic were trying to find solid data about the rising pandemic. They published a story that revealed a scary truth: The U.S. didn’t know where COVID-19 was spreading because few tests were available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also didn’t have public data to tell citizens or federal agencies how many people were infected or where the outbreaks were happening.   Their reporting led to a massive volunteer effort by hundreds of people across the country who gathered the data themselves. The COVID Tracking Project became a de facto source of data amid the chaos of COVID-19. With case counts rising quickly, volunteers scrambled to document tests, hospitalizations and deaths in an effort to show where the virus was and who was dying. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Havana Syndrome

A sharp sound. Followed by body numbness. Difficulty speaking. Extreme head pain. Since 2016, U.S. officials across the world – in Cuba, China and Russia – have reported experiencing the sudden onset of an array of eerie symptoms. Reporters Adam Entous and Jon Lee Anderson try to make sense of this confusing illness that has come to be called Havana syndrome. This episode is built from reporting for an eight-part VICE World News podcast series by the same name.   The reporters begin by tracking down one of the first people to report Havana syndrome symptoms, a CIA officer working in Cuba. This “patient zero” explains the ways Cuban intelligence surveil and harass American spies working on the island and his own experience of suddenly being struck with a mysterious, painful condition. When he reports the illness to his bosses at the CIA, he learns that other U.S. officials on the island are experiencing the same thing.   A CIA doctor sees reports from the field about this strange condition happening in Cuba. He’s sent to Havana to investigate the cause of the symptoms and whether they may be caused by a mysterious sound recorded by patient zero. But during his first night on the island, the CIA doctor falls ill with the same syndrome he is there to investigate.  In the third segment, reporters Entous and Anderson head to Havana to visit the sites where people reported the onset of their symptoms, looking for answers. The team shares reporting-informed theories about who and what could be causing Havana syndrome.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram