On The Media

On The Media, hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, is America's only national radio program devoted to media criticism and analysis, lifting the veil on how the media works.

Recent Episodes

Stand And Be Counted

Following the Republican victory in Georgia this week, a look at how gerrymandering makes some political outcomes inevitable—and why the media aren't talking about it. Also, the US Census is on the rocks, and the repercussions could be severe. Plus, how Mexico's most prominent journalists and activists have been targeted by sophisticated government spyware.


1. FairVote's David Daley (@davedaley3) on the vast influence of gerrymandering on American politics. 


2. Former Census director Kenneth Prewitt on recent shakeups at the Bureau and the implications of a crippled Census.


3. Sociologist Cristina Mora (@GCristinaMora) on how Univision helped create a new Census category for the 1980 survey: "Hispanic."


4. Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) on the use of spyware against Mexican activists and reporters, and Mexican journalist Salvador Camarena (@SalCamarena) on being targeted firsthand.


Become a member of the On the Media community today. Sign up to donate just $7 a month and we'll send you a copy of Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality." OntheMedia.org/donate 

The Slants Win the Day!

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a law denying federal trademark protection to names deemed disparaging is unconstitutional. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the unanimous decision, quote “It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”


The suit was brought by Portland dance-rock band The Slants. Asian-American musicians who have taken their name from an ethnic slur and worn it with pride.  They sued because when they tried to register the trademark, the US Patent and Trademark Office said, “The Slants?” No no no no no no.


Bob spoke to the founder of the Slants, Simon Tam exactly 2 years ago when they had just lost their appeal at the Federal Circuit Court.

Sterner Stuff

Become a member of the On the Media community today. Sign up to donate just $7 a month and we'll send you a copy of Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality". Donate now


After the politically charged shooting at a Virginia baseball field this week, a look at how politicians and the press blamed everyone from Democrats to William Shakespeare. Plus, trying to get behind the secret deliberation over the Republican healthcare bill with Senator Ron Wyden, and Puerto Rico's search for new words and symbols to define itself.


1. Following the shooting in Virginia, Bob offers a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Political Violence Edition.


2. The Guardian's Lois Beckett on what critics of The Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" get wrong and why theater is so essential in our current political moment.


3. Senator Ron Wyden on attempts by Republicans to form healthcare policy in secret.


4. Bob on the Trump administration's adherence to talking points regarding ongoing investigations.


5. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on how the courts are contending with Trump's tweets.


6. On the Media producer Alana Casanova-Burgess on Puerto Rico's attempt to clarify its identity through new words and symbols.

No One is Above the Law

This week Attorneys General from DC and Maryland alleged in a lawsuit that payments by foreign governments to President Trump's businesses violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. With a president who is also a real estate tycoon, reality TV star, and personal brand -- and who actively receives revenue via each of these personae -- the possibilities seem endless for political corruption, particularly in light of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the receiving of gifts, titles, and emoluments from foreign countries without Congress's consent.


The problem, according to law professor Jed Shugerman, is that without access to Donald Trump's tax documents, it's impossible to know the full extent of his financial dealings -- and thus difficult to move forward on any potential corruption charges. Bob talks with Shugerman about a legal strategy that could bring Trump's entanglements into the light.


But Trump's taxes are only necessary if we define "corruption" as the explicit exchange of payments for favor, or "quid pro quo." This definition, which the Supreme Court used in the controversial Citizens United ruling and which countless politicians have leaned on ever since, argues that unless you can demonstrate explicit exchange, you can't prove, or prosecute, corruption.


But according to Zephyr Teachout, author of Corruption in America, this was never what America's founders envisioned when they set out to fight corruption. Brooke talks with Teachout about the overwhelming passion for anti-corruption present at the founding of the nation, the "bright line" rules it inspired, and how we have drifted so far from our original understanding of the concept.


Support On the Media as a Sustaining Member today! Sign up to give just $7 send you Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality". Donate now

Enough With Reality

The Trump administration has been threatening to crack down on leakers for months, and this week, it did. We examine how a news outlet inadvertently helped the government arrest a 25-year-old NSA contractor. Also, the story of how the AP made deals with Nazi Germany for journalistic access. And, a deep look at the dystopian potential of augmented reality. 


1. Security expert Barton Gellman on how The Intercept may have led the NSA to its source and what leakers need to do to be as safe as possible.


2. Journalist Matti Friedman on what a recent report detailing the Associated Press's compromises with Nazi Germany can teach us about reporting today; and the Associated Press's John Daniszewski on whether the AP's Nazi cooperation wasn't justified.


3. Janet Murray, Ken Perlin, Ryan Pamplin, Robin Alter, John Werner, Keith Boesky and Bob on the future of augmented reality, for better or worse.

Doug Stamper Is A Very Bad Man

A couple of years back Brooke did a recap show of season 3 of House of Cards. We invited political scientists, journalists, old white house hands and actors from the show to join her to talk about each episode. If you haven’t listened, it definitely holds up (if we say so ourselves).


On the occasion of the release last week of season five of House of Cards, we thought we’d throwback to the episode where Brooke sat down with Michael Kelly who plays Frank Underwood’s lethally dedicated chief of staff, Doug Stamper.