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.
March 3, 2021
During the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo transformed into a fully fledged TV star — propelled by his daily coronavirus briefings, which reassured an anxious, leaderless public. Comedians fawned over him. New fans declared their adoration in TikTok videos, memes, and... song. And the chummy treatment of the governor of course extended to news networks like CNN, where his brother asked him the tough questions.
But in the past few weeks, Cuomo’s television persona as the deeply principled, self-aware fatherly truth-talker has faltered. A report from the state attorney general and a court order found the official count of deaths of nursing home residents was nearly double the figure first reported by Cuomo’s administration. Plus, so far three women have accused the governor of sexual harassment, including two former aides. But for close readers of reporting on the governor in print media, this fall from grace is less surprising.
This week, Alex Pareene, staff writer at The New Republic, talks to Brooke about the collision of Cuomo’s “newspaper” and “television” personas in this moment.
February 26, 2021
This week, OTM presents stories from a new series hosted by our own Alana Casanova-Burgess, called "La Brega." Hear what that term means, how it's used, and what it represents. Also, how one of the most famous homebuilding teams in American history tried to export American suburbanism to Puerto Rico... as a bulwark against Cuban communism.
1. Alana [@AlanaLlama] explores the full meaning(s) of la brega, which has different translations depending on who you ask. According to scholar and professor emeritus at Princeton, Arcadio Diaz Quiñonez, the closest English word is " to grapple." Alana also speaks to Cheo Santiago [@adoptaunhoyo], creator of "Adopta Un Hoyo" (Adopt a Pothole), which encourages people to paint around and photograph potholes to alert other drivers. Because the roads are rarely fixed properly, the challenges of potholes and what people do to get around them is a metaphorical and literal brega in Puerto Rico. Listen.
2. Next, Alana turns to the boom and bust of Levittown, a suburb that was founded on the idea of bringing the American middle-class lifestyle to Puerto Rico during a time of great change on the island. Alana (herself the granddaughter of an early Levittown resident) explores what the presence of a Levittown in Puerto Rico tells us about the promises of the American Dream in Puerto Rico. Listen.
Created by a team of Puerto Rican journalists, producers, musicians, and artists from the island and diaspora, "La Brega" uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico. All episodes are out now, and available in English and Spanish.
February 24, 2021
With the news this week that the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to obtain key financial documents relating to Donald Trump, some news consumers may find themselves wrapped up in the delectable prospect of seeing a rule-breaking, tax-dodging, Constitution-shedding president on trial. They have been encouraged by commentators who claim that every little investigatory development is "very, very bad for Trump"; that the prosecution of Donald Trump "could go to trial sooner than you think"; and that Trump's post-election behavior "basically guarantees" criminal charges.
Writer, lawyer, and former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori has his critiques of this genre of punditry — in August he described some of it as "insane" in the Wall Street Journal — but he has also published his own theory for prosecuting the president. In this interview, originally recorded in December, he and Brooke discuss what he sees as the "structural flaws" in most discussions of post-presidential prosecution.
This interview originally aired as part of our December 11th, 2020 program, Last Wish.
February 19, 2021
In a reversal of the past four years, President Biden has vowed to take on the violent threat posed by the far-right. But how? On this week’s On the Media, a look at the techniques and tactics used to undermine extremism, here and abroad.
1. Brad Galloway [@bjgalloway1717], a former neo-Nazi and now case manager with Life After Hate and ExitUSA and coordinator at the Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, on how he and his colleagues work to get far-right extremists to accept responsibility for their choices and move beyond hate. Listen.
2. Kurt Braddock [@KurtBraddock], professor of communications at American University, and the author of Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization, on messaging campaigns designed to neutralize rightwing propaganda, conspiracy theories, and calls to action. Listen.
4. Stig Jarle Hansen [@stigjarlehansen], co-editor of the Routledge Handbook for Deradicalisation and Disengagement on the long, checkered history of global de-radicalization efforts, and Michael German [@rethinkintel], fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, and author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy, on how the term "radical" has always swayed in the wind of power and the perils of the "de-radicalization" framing. Listen.
February 17, 2021
What more can we say: El Rushbo is dead.
He died Wednesday after a months-long bout of lung cancer, and following decades of racist invective, misogynistic bombast, and other assorted controversy. He had become the most listened-to voice on talk radio, wielding a towering, destructive influence on the American body politic. He was 70.
Early last year, President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, inducting him into a gilded class of American history alongside Norman Rockwell, Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We spoke then with Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, who explained how the award could be seen as the culmination of the GOP's transformation, precipitated by Limbaugh and solidified by Trump.
February 12, 2021
It’s been a week of legal battles, from Donald Trump’s second impeachment to Britney Spears’s fight for control over her finances and her career. On this week's On the Media, a look at the new documentary that’s put the pop star back in the spotlight. Plus, how revisiting stories of maligned women from the 90s can help us understand our media — and ourselves.
1. Brooke considers the developments this week in the impeachment trial, and also its wild distortion in some corners of the media. Listen.
3. Sarah Marshall [@Remember_Sarah] and Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], hosts of the You're Wrong About podcast, on how coverage of maligned women in the 1990s fueled lasting and harmful myths. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Equinox — John Coltrane
Invitation to a Suicide — John Zorn
Baby One More Time — Britney Spears
Cello Song — Nick Drake
Fellini’s Waltz — Nino Rota
La Vie En Rose — Toots Thielemans
February 10, 2021
Few clichés are as well-worn, and grounded in reality, as the dread many Americans feel towards doing their taxes and the loathing they have for the IRS. But as much as the process is despised, relatively little is known about how it could be improved. Pro Publica's Jessica Huseman said that's largely because tax prep companies keep it that way. Brooke spoke to Huseman in 2017 about what an improved system might look like and how tax prep companies work to thwart any such changes.
One of the primary roadblocks to change, said Huseman, is an organization called the Free File Alliance, a public-private partnership whereby private tax companies agree to provide a free service for most Americans in exchange for the IRS not offering any such service itself. Brooke spoke with Tim Hugo, Executive Director of the Free File Alliance, about whether it is really the best way to help American taxpayers.
February 5, 2021
Fox News has been stoking rage on the right for decades. As the former president faces an impeachment trial for his role in the invasion of the Capitol, some are asking whether Fox News also bears responsibility for the violence. On this week’s On the Media, a look at the arguments for and against the de-platforming of Fox News.
1. Bob [@bobosphere] talks to Angelo Carusone [@GoAngelo], Nandini Jammi [@nandoodles], Jason Hirschhorn [@JasonHirschhorn] and Steven Barnett [@stevenjbarnett] about the ethics and efficacy of the "deplatform Fox" movement. Listen.
Mysterioso - Kronos Quartet
Oboe Mambo - Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra
Stormy Weather - Franck Pourcel
Night Thoughts - John Zorn
February 4, 2021
This week, OTM presents the first episode of a new weekly show hosted by our WNYC colleague Julia Longoria: The Experiment.
When Mike Belderrain hunted down the biggest elk of his life, he didn’t know he’d stumbled into a “zone of death,” the remote home of a legal glitch that could short-circuit the Constitution—a place where, technically, you could get away with murder.
At a time when we’re surrounded by preventable deaths, The Experiment documents one journey to avert disaster.
• Mike Belderrain is a hunter and former outfitter in Montana.
• C. J. Box is the author of more than 20 novels, including Free Fire, a thriller set in Yellowstone National Park.
• Brian Kalt teaches law at Michigan State University. He wrote a 2005 research paper titled “The Perfect Crime.
• Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic.
Here's the link to the episode at The Atlantic
This episode was produced by Julia Longoria and Alvin Melathe, with editing by Katherine Wells and sound design by David Herman.
January 29, 2021
On this week’s show, we look at what happens when scientists try to save the public...from itself. Plus, why vaccine distribution might be slowed down by intellectual property rights. And how, memers and righteous redditors used GameStop to upend Wall Street.
1. Zeynep Tufecki [@zeynep], associate professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, explains why public health officials send mixed messages on everything from masks to variants. Listen.
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Life on Mars (David Bowie) by Meridian String Quartet
The Artifact and Living by Michael Andrews
Shoot the Piano Player by Georges Delerue
Uluwati by John Zorn