The Recording of America

Studs Terkel, born 106 years ago on this date, May 16, spent the majority of his life documenting the lives of others – very often everyday, working-class people he believed were “uncelebrated and unsung.” From coal miners and sharecroppers to gangsters and prostitutes, every American had a story to tell and Terkel wanted to hear it. After Terkel died in 2008, publisher Andre Schiffrin, who edited Terkel's writing for more than four decades, spoke with Bob about Terkel's singular gift for oral history.

This Is America

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So in 2016 we presented "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but by private presumptions, media narratives, and the tales of the American Dream. This week we're revisiting part of that series. 
  1. Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American Cityon the myriad factors that perpetuate wealth inequality and Jack Frech [@FrechJack], former Athens County Ohio Welfare Director, on how the media's short attention span for inequality Continue reading "This Is America"

An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country

Back in the early 1980s, thousands of followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh descended upon a 64,000 acre piece of land in central Oregon to found their utopia. The Rajneeshees had millions of dollars at their disposal and an ideology based on meditation, raising consciousness and free love — one that Bhagwan’s young American and European followers found seemingly irresistible. And one that the local people in the adjacent town of Antelope, Oregon, population 40, saw as an evil threat. Cult or utopian project? Menace or marvel? Brothers MacLain and Chapman Way, directors of the new Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, leave it to their viewers to decide, presenting the story in a way that illuminates how the conventions of documentary shape our perceptions. In this extended version of the interview, Bob speaks with the Way brothers about the challenges they faced and choices they made in presenting wildly conflicting Continue reading "An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country"

Dark Twisted Fantasy

After last month’s terrorist attack in Toronto, the media attempted to make sense of the term “incel,” or involuntary celibate. We situate the subculture within the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Plus, a conversation with the directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," about their experience revisiting a forgotten utopian project. And, a look at how the press has responded to repeated attacks from President Trump. 
  1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism at New York University, on the media losing the battle for the freedom of the press

  2. Will Sommer [@willsommer], editor at The Hill and author of Right Richter, on the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. 

  3. Michael Kimmel [@MichaelS_Kimmel], professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University, on the roots of masculine frustration

  4. MacLain Way and Chapman Way, directors of the Continue reading "Dark Twisted Fantasy"

Moving Beyond the Norm

Alex Jones built his Infowars brand on conspiratorial thinking and table-pounding rage. This week, we look at the three lawsuits testing whether Jones can sustain his business on lies alone. After the LGBT-rights advocate David Buckel committed suicide in Brooklyn's Prospect Park this past weekend, we review the difficult history of self-immolation and we zoom in on one such incident, in Texas in 2014. Plus, an LSD retrospective, featuring never-before-heard audio from author Ken Kesey's acid-fueled hijinks.  1. Lyrissa Lidsky [@LidskyLidsky], professor at University of Missouri's School of Law, on the legal threats to Alex Jones' conspiratorial media business. Listen
  1. Andrew Poe, professor of political science at Amherst College, on the history of self-immolation. Listen
  2. Michael Hall [@mikehalltexas], executive editor at Texas Monthly, on the life and death of pastor Charles Moore. Listen

4. River Donaghey and Tom Wolfe, Continue reading "Moving Beyond the Norm"

Who’s In Charge Here?

After Mark Zuckerberg's two-day testimony before Congress, we consider whether a reckoning for the social media giant might finally be on the horizon. A new documentary looks at how the state of Montana has been fighting back against dark money ever since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and a legal scholar explains the unlikely history of corporations' rights. Plus, a second look at two infamous, misunderstood crimes: the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Steubenville rape case. 
  1. Bob on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony this week, with anti-trust expert Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller]. 

  2. Kimberly Reed [@dotkim], filmmaker, on her new documentary, Dark Money.

  3. Adam Winkler [@adamwinkler], professor of law at UCLA, on the history of corporations' legal rights

  4. Melissa Jeltsen [@quasimado], senior reporter at the Huffington Post, on the mistaken narratives that followed the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

  5. Derek L. John [@DerekLJohn Continue reading "Who’s In Charge Here?"

Paved With Good Intentions

With a caravan of activists making its way through Mexico, President Trump signed a proclamation to send troops to defend the border. This week we examine that caravan’s unintended consequences, as well as the unintended consequences of a bill, recently passed by Congress, to combat online sex trafficking. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Maybe. Plus, we take a judicious look back at Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. 
  1. Carrie Kahn [@ckahn], international correspondent for NPR, Alberto Xicotencatl [@BETTOXICO], director of Saltillo Migrant House, and Alex Mensing [@alex_mensing], organizer for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, on the stories and faulty narratives coming out of Mexico over the past week. Listen.

  2. Carolyn Maloney [@RepMaloney], congresswoman from New York's 12th district, Elliot Harmon [@elliotharmon], from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Kate D'Adamo [@KateDAdamo], sex worker rights advocate, on the  Continue reading "Paved With Good Intentions"