FEMA Time


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On Wednesday, as Florence swirled ominously off the coast of the Carolinas, and states prepared for imminent disaster, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) thought it would be a good time to draw everyone’s attention to the shifting priorities of this administration. Specifically, he released a budget that showed the Department of Homeland Security had transferred nearly 10 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay for detention and removal operations. FEMA officials maintain that the smaller budget won’t hinder their operations, but as wildfires rage and hurricanes make landfall, they have a lot on their plate. We don't think about FEMA much, until that's all we think about. Historian Garrett Graff says the agency’s, quote, “under-the-radar nature” was originally a feature, not a bug. Graff wrote about "The Secret History of FEMA" for Wired last September and he spoke to Bob about Continue reading "FEMA Time"

Summer Series Episode 2: Military Coup Edition


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Back in the summer of 2016, as Turkish putschists shut down highways, attacked government buildings and took broadcasters hostage, world media outlets struggled to provide sober reports of the coup. During the chaos, some listeners told us on Twitter that they’d appreciate an On the Media Breaking News Consumers Handbook coup edition. Coups are especially tricky to report on because they're mainly about perception and narrative. Plotters and the government are both trying to establish dominance, and misreporting can determine whether the attempt succeeds or not.  Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups, says the first step for a successful military coup is to take control of radio and tv broadcasters. From there, they can literally and figuratively control the narrative.  Brooke spoke to Singh about how to understand coups through the media, and how to understand whether an attempt will succeed or fail. 

Trump Inc.


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Back in January last year,  Donald Trump, newly elected, not yet sworn in, tried to quell concerns about his many conflicts of interest by declaring he would turn over the day-to-day running of his company to his sons. Did he follow through on that?  Has he leveraged the presidency to enrich himself? Who are his partners? Who does he take money from? Trump has rejected the advice of ethics experts to divest himself from his enterprises. He’s also refused to release details about his finances (including, of course, his tax records). Our colleagues in the WNYC newsroom.  Ilya Marritz and Andrea Bernstein together with Pro Publica’s Eric Umansky, experienced investigative journalists all, were researching these questions when they slammed into a wall: The documents with the answers were not available. Their solution? A new weekly podcast of course, called: Trump Inc. They’re calling it an “open investigation” because they’ll be Continue reading "Trump Inc."

A Reckoning in Our Own House


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This weekend, New York Magazine published investigative reporter Suki Kim's personal experiences and reporting on sexual harassment by John Hockenberry, former host of the WNYC program, "The Takeaway." The article alleges that over the past decade, Hockenberry sexually harassed interns, producers, and a guest on "The Takeaway." It also details a culture of bullying; in particular Hockenberry's behavior towards three female co-hosts, none of whom remained on the show.  In August 2017, John Hockenberry retired from WNYC as a highly regarded, award-winning broadcast and radio journalist. Most staff members at WNYC were unaware of his alleged behavior until we read Suki Kim's article.  This podcast is a tick-tock of a station reckoning with its own sexual harassment allegations; the on-air conversations between hosts, reporters, listeners and WNYC management.  

Rebecca Traister Says “the Anger Window” is Open


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New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister says that every new revelation about sexual harassment confirms what women have always known. In her most recent article she asks "as stories about abuse, assault, and complicity come flooding out, how do we think about the culprits in our lives? Including, sometimes, ourselves." Brooke spoke with Rebecca on Tuesday; it was a long and impassioned interview, a shorter version of which will be in this week's show (a full hour about the "#metoo" moment), but in the meantime, here is a lightly edited version of their conversation. 

We’ll Always Have Paris


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Donald Trump made many, many pronouncements on the campaign trail, one of them was that he would "cancel the Paris climate agreement".  While he can’t cancel the Paris agreement, he can and has walked away from it with an executive order this week substantially erasing President Obama’s climate legacy and signaling to the world that the US is not going to meet its carbon emission goals set in Paris. So what exactly was agreed upon in Paris?  To find clarity among the conflicting commentary Brooke spoke in 2015 with Andrew Revkin who writes the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times, and Jonathan Katz who covered the talks in Paris for the New Republic.

Out Like Flynn


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In response to scandals large and small, first the Trump campaign and now the Trump White House has relied on the fact that each successive lie or outrage will be washed over by the next and the next. And its worked. Until now. Bob ponders whether this week's resignation of General Flynn from his position as National Security Adviser has thrown the White House media machine (momentarily) off its axis. 

#PresidentBannon


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WH chief strategist Steve Bannon is credited with influencing the president's every move, from speeches to executive orders. This week it was announced that he will take the place of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council principals committee so we thought it was a good time to revisit an interview Brooke did with Joshua Green who profiled Bannon for Bloomberg News.

Week One


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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and his boss have had a rough first few days in their new jobs. Historian Martha Joynt Kumar explains that the relationship between the press secretary and the press has always been a tricky one.

January Surprise


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For weeks now, journalists have been aware of a dossier circulating among top officials and the media; it alleges among other things, that Russia has compromising (Kompromat) information on President Elect Donald Trump. But it wasn't until a chain of events set off by a presidential briefing about the contents of the dossier that the media felt free to talk about what they knew. Brooke speaks with Slate's Will Oremus about Buzzfeed's (and Slate's) decision to publish the anonymous (and unverified) Russia memos in full. 

The Language of Terror


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Amidst the emotion, fear, and confusion following an attack, a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook for the coverage of terrorism. Plus, a look at the semantics surrounding acts of war and terror and a look back at lessons learned, and forgotten, in the years since 9/11.

Podcast Extra: After Oregon


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Searching for answers after a tragedy like the shooting at Umpqua Community College can be difficult. But some laws have made searching for even the most basic answers - such as how many concealed weapons owners live in a state - just as difficult to find. In 2011, Michael Luo of The New York Times was writing a series of articles about gun laws across the country. He requested data from Oregon officials about the state's gun license holders, but when pro-gun rights groups learned he was trying to get the information they lobbied the state legislature to shield the data. Within months a new law had passed: all of the records, formerly in the public domain, were now private. Bob talks with Luo about why the data is important and why shielding it can making searching for answers after a tragedy so difficult.  Bob also revisits his conversation with Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the shooting rampage in
Continue reading "Podcast Extra: After Oregon"

Facts, Schmacts


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This week’s GOP presidential debate was full of barbs, zingers, and over talk but was severely lacking in the fact-checking department. We consider the role of journalists when they play debate moderator. Plus, as the European refugee crisis continues, a debunking of the viral images that are channeling hatred and xenophobia. And, exposing Exxon's flip floppery on climate change. Discuss on Twitter: #OTMdebate #OTMexxon #OTMrefugees

The Bill That Nobody Read


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Congress is locked in a battle over the future of the Patriot Act. This special hour of OTM reveals the origins of the act in a post-9/11 climate of fear... and considers whether it really is at the heart of the nation's struggle between security and privacy.

Podcast Extra: Seymour Hersh


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This week legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an account of the killing of Osama bin Laden that directly contradicts the official narrative. Hersh’s use of anonymous sources have led many to cast doubt on the assertions in the article; CNN’s Peter Bergen called his story a “farrago of nonsense”. Bob talks with Hersh about the swirling controversy in this On the Media special podcast.