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.
July 3, 2020
After World War II, Germany and the Allied powers took pains to make sure that its citizens would never forget the country’s dark history. But in America, much of our past remains hidden or rewritten. This week, Brooke visits Montgomery, Alabama, home to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum and memorial created by the Equal Justice Initiative that aim to bring America’s history of segregation and racial terror to the forefront.
1. Brooke talks to the Equal Justice Initiative's [@eji_org] Bryan Stevenson about what inspired him to create The Legacy Museum and memorial and to historian Sir Richard Evans [@RichardEvans36] about the denazification process in Germany after World War II. Listen.
2. Brooke visits The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Listen.
3. Brooke speaks again with Bryan Stevenson about his own history and America's ongoing struggle to confront our racist past and present. Listen.
This episode originally aired on June 1st, 2018. It was re-broadcast on July 3rd, 2020.
July 1, 2020
For much of the past month, a new addition has joined the audioscape of cities across the country: fireworks. Loud ones. Keep-you-up-all-night-ones. And during those sleepless hours in the dark of night, the brain can do some remarkable dot-connecting. One Twitter thread went mega-viral, conjecturing: “My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces. [...] It’s meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it’s about to become.” That the fireworks were being supplied by the NYPD to cause chaos and provide pretext for a violent police crackdown sounds unlikely. And people reporting out the story have found little evidence to back it up, finding instead that vendors in neighboring states were selling the fireworks in bulk, at a discount, to young people looking to blow off steam.
But those drawing connections between fireworks and law enforcement should perhaps be given a pass. After all, some of the most outlandish-sounding conspiracy theories in American history have, after a time, proven to be true. For this week's podcast extra, we're revisiting a conversation from last year between Bob and journalist Anna Merlan, author of Republic of Lies, who explained that conjuring up conspiracies is a pastime as old as history.
June 26, 2020
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has removed multiple people from key watchdog roles. On the week’s On the Media: how the president keeps weakening the tools meant to hold him accountable. Plus, looking for truth when police keep lying.
June 25, 2020
When the US entered the early stages of the pandemic, federal and municipal leaders maintained that the best way to prevent the spread of the pandemic was for as many people as possible to "Stay Home." Technically, that advice was sound: the only surefire way to prevent illness is to eliminate contact with all possible vectors. Still, that advice was impossible to heed perfectly and indefinitely, and people almost immediately began taking risks to fulfill their basic wants and needs. Unfortunately, as a public health strategy, "Stay Home" offered no guidance for how to most safely take particular risks — as a consequence making already high-risk behaviors even less safe.
For public health professionals whose work involves sex safety, drug and alcohol use, and HIV/AIDS prevention, the discourse surrounding coronavirus — the absolutism, the moralism, the shaming and the open hostility towards public health recommendations — is familiar. As epidemiologist Julia Marcus wrote in a recent piece for The Atlantic, the "Stay Home" edict bears striking resemblance to that famous mantra preached by abstinence advocates: "Just Say No." In this podcast extra, Marcus and Brooke consider the shortcomings of an abstinence-only response to the pandemic, and how harm-reduction approaches could better serve the public.
June 19, 2020
We visualize the coronavirus pandemic as coming in waves, but the national picture of new cases shows no sign of abating. This week, On the Media examines the lack of urgency around upwards of 20,000 confirmed daily cases. And, making sense of how the current social uprisings fit into a cycle of social movements. Then, how the messiness of protests can be easily forgotten. Plus, efforts to remember one of the single worst incidents of racist violence in American history.
Music from this week's show:
Let Yourself Go- Fred Hersch
Auf Einer Burg - Don Byron
Transparence - Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Love Theme from Spartacus - Fred Hersch
Middlesex Times - Michael Andrews...
Young at Heart - Brad Mehldau
June 18, 2020
It began with the President’s notorious bible photo-op, preceded by a military crackdown north of the White House clearing protesters from Lafayette Square. Several days later, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly renounced his role in enabling the June 1st incident. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also spoke out, undercutting the president's apparent desire to use the Insurrection Act to quell protests across the country.
And just days before Trump’s commencement speech at West Point, several hundred alumni of the military academy signed an open letter urging new West Point graduates to approach future orders from the president, especially those concerning military force against civilians, with caution. According to Slate writer Fred Kaplan (full disclosure: he's married to Brooke), author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, such public insubordination from the general class down to the rank and file, is highly unusual. He and Bob discuss what these unprecedented events might tell us about Trump's standing.
June 17, 2020
There’s this old internet fable about a duck who liked milkshakes. Everyone loved the Milkshake Duck, until it turned out to be racist. The moral of the story is that everything online either turns to caca, or we learn it always was. The latest example, we submit, is the so-called Food Media — or at least its most prominent avatar, Bon Appetit.
Adam Rapoport resigned last Monday after weeks of furious attention to systemic racial inequality nation-wide, and after a month of similar scrutiny within food media, beginning last month with the tumble of viral-recipe-author Alison Roman. It was around then that technology and culture writer Navneet Alang wrote an essay for Eater titled “Stewed Awakening: Alison Roman, Bon Appetit, and the Global Pantry Problem.” In this podcast extra, Brooke and Navneet discuss the faulty editorial decisions and disastrous, un-inspected assumptions that led to food media's recent failings.
June 12, 2020
As public opinion catches up to the Black Lives Matter movement, some activists are calling to “defund the police.” On this week’s On the Media, the debate over whether to take that slogan literally. Plus, what investigative reporting tells us about how police departments protect abusive cops. And, the case for canceling movies and TV shows with police protagonists. Then, the story of a small town that prepared to go to war with imaginary Antifa hordes.
June 10, 2020
Two years ago, Vox's David Roberts wrote a piece arguing that The New York Times opinion section is not honest about the state of American conservatism. The animating force behind conservative politics in this country, he wrote, is Trumpism. Therefore, to invite conservative writers who truly articulated Trump's views to readers would mean inviting a strain of authoritarianism and illiberalism that would never actually be welcome in its opinion pages. Instead, they invite relatively palatable conservatives who make irrelevant arguments about politics. It's a losing game.
Last week, however, the paper invited Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to write an opinion piece arguing for the military to be sent to American streets to "restore order." Former Times opinion editor James Bennet (who has since resigned) also admitted that he had not read it before it was published. So, what does this latest episode tell us about the media's role in upholding America's values? This week, David Roberts once again wrote about the Times opinion section for Vox, in a post arguing that the Cotton op-ed "revealed a pathology on the editorial side... an insistence on extending the presumption of good faith to the GOP, even in the face of its rising authoritarianism."
June 5, 2020
In the midst of a historic week of protests, the national conversation about police is quickly transforming. This week, On the Media looks at the language used here and abroad to describe the "civil unrest" in America. Then, we explore how decades of criminal justice policy decisions brought us to this boiling point. Plus, are human beings, against all odds, actually pretty decent?