While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.
Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR's fastest growing programs, heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.
December 13, 2019
A majority of Americans polled by CSPAN last year couldn't name a Supreme Court case. Of those who could, Roe v. Wade was by far the most familiar, with 40 percent able to name it. (Only five percent could name Brown v. Board of Education.) And since it was decided in 1973, a majority — roughly 70 percent — have consistently said they want Roe upheld, albeit with some restrictions on legal abortion.
But what do we really know about Roe? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said she wishes it had been another case that the Supreme Court heard as the first reproductive freedom case instead. It was Susan Struck v. Secretary of Defense, and it came to the high court during the same term as Roe.
The year was 1970, and the Air Force (like the other branches of the military) had a regulation banning female service members from having a family. If a servicewoman got pregnant, she would get discharged. Captain Susan Struck was a nurse serving in Vietnam, and she challenged the decision in court with Ginsburg as her lawyer. However, the court never heard the case because the Air Force changed their policy first. For this week's show, we partnered with The Guardian (read their story here) to learn more about Susan Struck’s fight and its bigger lessons for reproductive freedom and for women in the workplace.
Our producer Alana Casanova-Burgess and The Guardian's health reporter Jessica Glenza spoke to Struck about the difficult decision she made to give her baby up for adoption in order to fight the regulation. Plus, we hear why legal scholars think this case "deserves to be honored by collective memory," and how Ginsburg's arguments to the Supreme Court differed from what the justices decided in Roe.
- Slate's Dahlia Lithwick explains the threats to reproductive rights in the court right now;
- Neil Siegel of Duke Law School puts the Struck case in context and discusses what better questions we could be asking about women's equality;
- activist and scholar Loretta Ross explains the tenets of reproductive justice and how they expand the frame beyond Roe and abortion;
- and Reva Siegel of Yale Law School tells the story of how abortion was discussed before 1973, including during the Women's Strike of 1970. And she describes the framework of ProChoiceLife, which expands the idea of what pro-life policy is. She is also the co-editor of Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories.
December 11, 2019
On Monday, the Washington Post released the fruits of a three-year investigative effort: the "Afghanistan Papers," a once-secret internal government history of a deadly, costly, and ultimately futile entanglement. The hundreds of frank, explosive interviews — along with a new tranche of memos written by the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — revealed the extent to which American leaders misled the public on their efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, rout the Taliban, expel Al Qaeda, install democracy, and undo corruption. In this podcast extra, investigative reporter Craig Whitlock tells Bob about the monumental story that the Post uncovered — and the extraordinary effort it took to report it out.
December 6, 2019
As House leaders begin drafting articles of impeachment, examples from the Nixon and Clinton eras abound. This week, On the Media rewinds to the 19th century — and the turbulent impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Plus, what a debate between two right-wing intellectuals means for the future of conservatism.
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Black Dyke Band
Gormenghast by John Zorn
Passing Time by John Renbourn
Prelude of Light by John Zorn
Psalom by Kronos Quartet
Purple Haze by Kronos Quartet
December 4, 2019
If solidarity and the recognition of mutual self-interest are the keys to moving past our fractious moment, it can be hard to see how we'll get there. Anger and tribalism appear to be at an all-time high, creating political and societal rifts that seem unbridgeable. Indeed, it is hard to believe that only 70 years ago, the country was deemed by political scientists to be not polarized enough. In 1950, the American Political Science Association put out a report that suggested that the parties were not distinct enough and that it was making people's political decision making too difficult.
Over the next few decades, they became distinct alright. Lilliana Mason is a political psychologist at the University of Maryland. When we spoke to her last fall, she told us that most people think they know exactly what each party stands for — leaving us with two camps that both seek to destroy the other.
November 29, 2019
With the US deep in questions of impeachment, what lessons can we learn from divided societies abroad? This week, On the Media travels to Poland, where conspiracy, xenophobia and the rise of illiberalism have the country in an existential fight for its future. On the Media producer Leah Feder reports.
OldNova - Taniec Kikimory
Chopin - Nocturne en mi Bémol Majeur op 9 no° 2
Wojciech Kilar, Tadeusz Strugala, The Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland - Moving to the Ghetto Oct 31, 1940
Chopin - Nocturne no° 1 in B Flat Major
Chopin, Ivan Moravec - Berceuse in D Flat Minor, Op. 57
Przepis Po Polsku (Polish Recipe)
BOKKA - Town of Strangers
November 26, 2019
As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy — and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers. In episode four, Bob examines the media’s responsibility for instilling devotion, or at least perspective, for our democracy.
A 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, showed only 23 percent of eighth graders in the United States attained “proficient” status in civics. A 2011 Newsweek survey found that 70 percent of Americans didn’t even know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And only 26% of those surveyed in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania could name all three branches of government. And no wonder: with STEM curriculum and standardized testing squeezing the school day, civics has become the snow leopard of the social studies curriculum.
So if the knowledge vacuum is otherwise filled by misinformation and disinformation, and the result is a loss of faith and trust in democracy itself, who is left to intervene? Jan Schaffer — ombudsman for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, Pulitzer Prize–winning former journalist and founder of The Institute for Interactive Journalism — talks to Bob about what responsibility the media have to become educators, and maybe even re-assurers, of last resort.
Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar
November 25, 2019
As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, OTM is using its podcast feed for a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy — and what to do about it. Bob himself is one of the Purple Project organizers. We recommend that you listen to this four-part mini-series in order. In this third episode he explores some of the causes for disaffection.
One of the reasons so many Americans have lost trust and faith is democratic institutions is simple misunderstanding about how the system is designed to work. Another, however, is familiarity with how the system does work— which isn’t exactly of, by and for the People. Anand Giridharadas is author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. He says the founders also didn’t plan on politicians constantly trash-talking government itself and that a decline in trust in government is the result of a concerted, private sector propaganda war waged over the last four decades.
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
November 24, 2019
As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy –– and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers.
The Pizzagate pedophile conspiracy, crisis actors at Sandy Hook, the flat Earthers...and on and on. Absolute nonsense peddled by the cynical and the naive, and eagerly lapped up by the gullible. Misinformation is a problem that Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, has studied for years. In this interview, Brendan and Bob discuss new research on how Americans form their political beliefs and how civic institutions may begin to win back their trust.
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini by Nino Rota
November 23, 2019
As part of a month-long campaign called the Purple Project for Democracy, (a strictly non-partisan, apolitical effort that a number of other large news organizations have also contributed to) we are featuring a series of conversations about an alarming loss of trust, faith and devotion by Americans for American democracy -- and what to do about it. Bob is one of the Purple Project organizers.
Democracy is in trouble. Not necessarily because of our current political mayhem, or even because of the accumulated sins and failures of American society, but because vast swaths of the public are giving up on the system that has governed us for 243 years.
Here are some alarming data points: One, in 2018 only 33% of the general population expressed trust for government. Two, among 1400 adults asked about the importance of democracy, only 39% of younger participants said “absolutely important.” Three, in a 2018 Democracy Fund survey of 5000 Americans, 24% of respondents expressed support for “a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections,” and either a “strong leader” and 18% for “army rule.
The more complicated question is what as a society we are to do about it? In this mini-series we’ll be talking that over, but we’ll begin with the actual state of public sentiment and public participation. Eric Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University and Co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. He and Bob discuss potential solutions for taking on widespread disaffection.
We Insist by Zoë Keating
November 22, 2019
In hearings this week, House Democrats sought to highlight an emerging set of facts concerning the President’s conduct. On this week’s On the Media, a look at why muddying the waters remains a viable strategy for Trump’s defenders. Plus, even the technology we trust for its clarity isn’t entirely objective, especially the algorithms that drive decisions in public and private institutions. And, how early radio engineers designed broadcast equipment to favor male voices and make women sound "shrill."
Misterioso by Kronos Quartet
Human Nature by Vijay Iyer Trio
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini by Nino Rota
Whispers of Heavenly Death by John Zorn
These Boots Are Made For Walkin' by Nancy Sinatra