This American Life

Built around the innovative vision of Ira Glass, this program documents and describes contemporary America. Using radio monologues, mini-documentaries, “found tape,” and unusual music, it is radio storytelling at its best.


Thursday, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturday, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
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Saturday, April 12, 2014 Permalink

This American Life: Tarred and Feathered

Prologue: When we started putting together this week's show, we assumed we'd be using the phrase "tarred and feathered" as a metaphor for when someone is publicly shamed. We didn't think we'd find a story about someone being literally tarred and feathered, especially not recently. But then we heard about the story of Jock Nelson. Ira talks to Jon Ronson about what happened to Jock in 2007.
Act 1 The Hounds of Blairsville: Gene Cooley had just suffered a huge tragedy, and he was trying to move on. But suddenly anonymous posters started saying horrible things about him on a website called Topix. The horrible things weren't true. But that didn't stop the people in Gene's small town — a town of just 600 people — from believing them.
Act 2 Help WantedThere's one group of people that is universally tarred and feathered in the United States and most of the world. We never hear from them, because they can't identify themselves without putting their livelihoods and reputations at risk. That group is pedophiles. It turns out lots of them desperately want help, but because it's so hard to talk about their situation it's almost impossible for them to find it. Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half talking to people in this situation, and he has this story about one of them. More of Luke Malone's reporting on this topic will appear next month on