On the Media

Most Recent Episodes

Highly Irregular

An expensive TV ad campaign has been selling Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to the American people. We speak with the group behind the effort. Plus, Trump's accusations of wiretapping may be false, but they remind us that someone is always listening. And, decoding North Korea panic; and why the diplomatic press corps helps actual diplomacy.

Better Know a Justice

At his confirmation hearing this week, supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch - according to the New York Times, cast himself as quote "a humble Westerner, reared on fly-fishing." And yet, for all the care put into his biography, Judge Gorsuch also seemed to say... nevermind. He rules on the law, not on people. It's a needle that's been tricky for judicial nominees to thread: they want to seem human, but not too human. In a show we aired last year, Brooke and Thane Rosenbaum, director of the Forum on law, culture and society at NYU, examine some art and culture about the Supreme Court, and consider just how human we want our justices to be.

Doesn't Add Up

The President's proposed budget seems to prioritize national security over pretty much everything else. We examine how the lowest-income Americans could be affected, and what's missing from the media debate. Also, how the White House might be manipulating data to forecast unrealistic economic growth, and why the Congressional Budget Office is so central to the American legislative process. Plus, how Wikileaks played the media with the recent CIA data dump.

This is Not a Safe Space

Earlier this month libertarian political scientist Charles Murray and author of the book "the Bell Curve," derided by many as a racist take on the relationship between genetics and intelligence, was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Murray only made it a couple of words into his talk when more than half of those crowding the hall stood up, turned their backs on him and proceeded to read a long prepared remark, en masse. When Murray and the liberal professor who was to interview him after his talk were walking to the car, the crowds jostled him, and injured her. Thus, with violence, liberal students curtailed the free speech rights of a visitor. We dove into the issue of political correctness on campus last September after noticing a letter sent to incoming freshmen at the University of Chicago that said, quote, "We do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' The university's position, the letter insisted, was based on the administration's "commitment to academic freedom" and their dedication to "fostering the free exchange of ideas" and "diversity of opinion and background." we spoke to former Uchicago student, Cameron Okeke, professor of philosophy at Cornell University Kate Manne, and Geoffrey Stone, professor of Law at the University of Chicago,

Seeing Is Believing

In the 1960s, pollution was a visible, visceral problem, and public pressure led a Republican president to create the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, the GOP wants to slash the agency's budget and roll back "burdensome" environmental regulations. The story of how the environment went from bipartisan issue to political battleground. Also, journalists and politicians have long avoided drawing a straight line between natural disasters and climate change. How that's changing, thanks to new "extreme weather attribution" science. And, the myth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a useful—yet misleading—container for our collective anxieties about the planet. Plus, President Trump's new ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries was released with little fanfare—intentionally. What the optics tell us, and what the law tells us.

When the Press Sues Over "Fake News"

"Fake news." What began as a description of utterly false articles, fabricated for political advantage or profit, was immediately co-opted by Donald Trump to attack any story or opinion piece in the mainstream media that has the temerity to correct him. Back in November, famed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams said that in the age of Trump the press should consider a form of defense it has long avoided: suing its opponents for libel. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, a small paper in Colorado, may act on that advice. Accused by a Colorado state senator of publishing fake news, Jay Seaton, the paper's publisher, has threatened to retaliate with a libel suit, the very legal weapon that news organizations have historically fended off. Bob speaks with Seaton about this new strategy and how it could backfire on the rest of the media.

Follow the Money

As the Trump-Russia saga continues to unfold, how the Obama administration spent its final days scrambling to preserve evidence of Russian interference in the election. Also, the old Soviet-era art of "kremlinology" is back — but does it really help us understand what Putin is thinking? Plus, a potential key to unveiling Trump's tax returns, how our understanding of corruption has strayed from the vision of the founders, and more.

This Gene Was Edited By Brooke

CRISPR is a new technology that enables scientists to quickly alter the genetic makeup of the entire population of a species. It's so powerful that just one genetically-modified mosquito could eradicate malaria. It's so easy to do that a grad student could (accidentally) enact these global ecological changes from their kitchen. It's also under-regulated. Under science's current culture of secrecy, ensuring that scientists are taking necessary precautions with gene-drive research is next to impossible, says CRISPR innovator Kevin Esvelt. Writing in Nature last summer, Esvelt urged the scientific community to open all experiments to public scrutiny, beginning with the revolutionary and potentially world-changing gene-editing research he helped advance. Also in the podcast, the idea of human cloning captivates and terrifies. Depictions of human clones in science fiction reflect some of our deepest fears about what it means to be human. But not everyone shares those anxieties. For example, the creators of the hit BBC series Orphan Black have developed a show which decidedly diverges from the canon of popular culture clone portrayals. Brooke talks with bioethicist Gregory Pence, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club, about how Orphan Black reflects and challenges dominant ideas in the debate on human cloning.

Smoke & Handcuffs

With a president who would rather watch TV than receive intelligence briefings, CNN's Brian Stelter helps unpack the symbiotic relationship between Fox News and the White House. Plus, whether Trump's new guidelines for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants are more PR than sound policy, how the term "sanctuary cities" may oversell how much safety is actually provided, and the Supreme Court sheds light on violence at the US border. Also, a former FEC Commissioner explains why the Commission has ceased to function as intended.

Leak State

Republicans decry the leakers; Democrats applaud them...oh, how the tables have turned. How to make sense of the Flynn affair and revelations about the Trump team's communications with Russia. Plus, the steady stream of information from within the government has the media debating the power of the so-called "Deep State" — invisible officials pulling the strings. Also, deploying the word "treason" with care, what Slobodan Milošević teaches us about Donald Trump, and what Hugo Chávez does not.

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