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On the Media
Saturday, 4-5pm

On the Media - Decoding what we hear, read, and see in the media every day.

  • Micah breaks down media hype about AI. According to Sam Harnett, a former tech reporter, journalists are repeating lazy tropes about the future of work that once boosted companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr. Plus, Julia Angwin, founder of Proof News, debunks fantastical claims by AI companies about their software. And Paris Marx, host of Tech Won’t Save Us, explains how AI leaders like Sam Altman use the press to lobby regulators and investors. On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • A majority of Americans believe that the economy is in a recession even though it’s not. On this week’s On the Media, hear why there’s a mismatch between facts and feelings about the economy. Plus, how the outlandish claims of AI companies often go unchecked by the press.[01:09] Host Micah Loewinger interviews Jeanna Smialek of The New York Times about whether the ‘vibecession’ is back and the factors that are shaping negative perceptions of the economy.[14:41] Micah speaks with Gordon Hanson, economist at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, about how President Biden has adopted, and even escalated, former President Trump’s tariffs on China, and why the political narratives around tariffs don’t always match up with the economic realities.[29:29] Lastly, Micah breaks down media hype about AI. According to Sam Harnett, a former tech reporter, journalists are repeating lazy tropes about the future of work that once boosted companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr. Plus, Julia Angwin, founder of Proof News, debunks fantastical claims by AI companies about their software. And Paris Marx, host of Tech Won’t Save Us, explains how AI leaders like Sam Altman use the press to lobby regulators and investors.Further reading:“High Interest Rates Are Hitting Poorer Americans the Hardest,” by Ben Casselman and Jeanna Smialek“Washington’s New Trade Consensus,” by Gordon Hanson“How Tech Media Helped Write Gig Companies into Existence,” by Sam Harnett“Press Pause on the Silicon Valley Hype Machine,” by Julia Angwin“AI is Fueling a Data Center Boom. It Must Be Stopped," by Paris Marx On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • Immigration consistently polls as one of the most important topics for voters. According to a recent Gallup poll immigration is the most polarizing issue of the last 25 years, with 48 percent of Republicans saying it’s the most important issue compared to just 8 percent of Democrats. This probably has something to do with the coverage of immigration in conservative media. And recently, right pundits have begun to focus on one of the most dangerous parts of a migrants’ journey north from South America. In March, New York Times reporter Ken Bensinger reported a story from the Darien Gap in Panama, which was once thought to be too perilous to cross but which now sees thousands of migrants make their way through every month. For this week's podcast extra, we bring you a recent episode of the podcast What Next, hosted by our former WNYC colleague Mary Harris. Mary spoke to Ken Bensinger about the right wing media obsession with the Darien Gap. Further reading / listening:Right-Wing Influencers Descend on the Darien Gap On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • On this week’s On the Media we revisit another fraught moment in American democracy: the contested election between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000. Hear about the extraordinary legal battle that ensued, and what it can teach us about partisan politics today. Leon Neyfakh, host of the podcast Fiasco, takes us back in time to witness how the Gore and Bush campaigns fought for recounts; how “chads” and “military ballots” became central to the contest; and the role of the so-called Brooks Brothers riot.Further listening:Fiasco: Bush v Gore On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • This week, President Biden announced major new tariffs on $18 billion worth of imports from China. The goods that will be affected include batteries, steel, aluminum, and semiconductors. Tariffs on electric vehicles will go up from 25 percent to 100 percent. These new tariffs signal a reversal from Biden’s messaging on tariffs during the 2020 campaign, and also a reversal of a decades-long consensus in Washington that lower tariffs are better for the American economy. To understand how we got here, Micah spoke with Gordon Hanson, an economist and a co-director of the Reimagining the Economy Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.Further reading:Help for the Heartland? The Employment and Electoral Effects of the Trump Tariffs in the United StatesWashington’s New Trade Consensus On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • In reports about pro-Palestinian college encampments, comparisons to the anti-war demonstrations of 1968 abound. On this week’s On the Media, hear how historical analogies distract us from what makes today’s protests unique. Plus, a reporter debunks a theory that Bill Gates is somehow funding campus activism.[01:09] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Danielle K. Brown, a journalism professor at Michigan State university, about how coverage has detracted focus from students’ demands for universities to cut ties with Israel. Plus, Rick Perlstein, a columnist at The American Prospect, says reporters’ fondness for drawing parallels with 1968 has obscured the singularity of today’s encampments.[16:54] Micah continues the conversation about pro-Palestinian protest coverage with Andrew Perez, senior politics editor at Rolling Stone. They explore the inaccurate reporting on “outside agitators” and funding sources of campus demonstrations.[31:38] Micah speaks with Oren Persico, a staff writer at The Seventh Eye, about how current events like a potential Israeli invasion of Rafah and the ongoing Israel-Hamas ceasefire negotiations are being covered by Israeli media.Further reading / listening:Media coverage of campus protests tends to focus on the spectacle, rather than the substance by Danielle K. BrownThe New Anti-Antisemitism by Rick Perlstein‘Politico’ Misses Mark in Story on Who’s Funding Pro-Palestine Protests Against Biden by Andrew PerezWill Israel shut down Al Jazeera by Oren Persico On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • Last week, news broke that writer Paul Auster died from complications related to lung cancer. The New York Times called him “the patron saint of literary Brooklyn;” elsewhere he was dubbed "the dean of American postmodernists." He was the author of many novels such as The New York Trilogy, and he wrote screenplays, memoirs, and nonfiction, including Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane.He was also a long-time friend of Brooke and her husband Fred Kaplan — they lived a few blocks away from each other in their Brooklyn neighborhood. In November of 2021, Paul Auster walked over to Brooke’s home studio to talk about Stephen Crane. On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • When politicians publish their autobiographies, often they reveal more than intended. On this week’s On the Media, find out how one reporter sifts through political memoirs for truths about politicians and the people they lead. Plus, in vivid detail, a novelist imagines the private lives of former presidents.[01:00] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Carlos Lozada, New York Times Opinion columnist and a co-host of the weekly “Matter of Opinion” podcast. Lozada explains how he mines political memoirs for deeper understanding of our political figures by examining what they include and what they omit.[16:59] Brooke speaks with Vinson Cunningham, author of the new novel Great Expectations. Cunningham, who is now a theater critic at The New Yorker, worked on the 2008 Obama campaign and later in the White House. Great Expectations is inspired by that time in his life, and the difficult-to-read candidate for the presidency.[35:19] Brooke interviews novelist Curtis Sittenfeld about her exploration of the minds of political figures through fiction, first in American Wife (inspired by Laura Bush) and next in Rodham, which considers what Hilary Clinton’s life would have looked like if she had never married Bill. They discuss the questions that led Sittenfeld to write those novels and why fiction based on real people makes readers so uncomfortable — especially the sex scenes.Further reading:The Washington Book by Carlos LozadaGreat Expectations by Vinson CunninghamAmerican Wife and Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • Chinese science fiction has gone from a niche, underground genre to the country's hottest new export. On Saturday, at the 8th China Science Fiction Conference hosted in Beijing, an animated presenter unveiled graphs detailing the meteoric rise of the genre, claiming that China had raked in nearly $16 billion in revenue from its sci-fi industry in 2023. And in late March, an adaptation of one of China's biggest cultural exports, 'The Three Body Problem,' premiered on Netflix. The show, based on a book by Liu Cixin, follows a group of modern-day scientists battling an alien invasion, triggered by one cataclysmic decision made by an aggrieved physicist during the Cultural Revolution in China. The show garnered roughly 15.6 million views in its first week. But the seed of this science fiction craze was first planted in 2008, with the publication of the book, which quickly became an unexpected global phenomenon. The book and its two sequels have exceeded the total sales of all literary works exported by China so far — thus piquing the interest of the Chinese government. For the midweek podcast, host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Jing Tsu, professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures & Comparative Literature at Yale, about the rise of science fiction in China as a soft power tool, the genre's complicated relationship with the Chinese government, and its evolution through the twentieth century. On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.
  • Trump is back in court for his hush money trial hearing, and his immunity case was argued at the Supreme Court. On this week’s On the Media, hear what gets lost in the blow-by-blow coverage of Trump’s legal woes. Plus, an essay from a former NPR editor has lawmakers calling to cut funding to the public radio network.[01:10] Host Brooke Gladstone speaks with Dahlia Lithwick, who covers the courts for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus, about her frustration with pundits' obsession with solving political problems involving Trump with the law. [15:14] Host Micah Loewinger speaks with Kelly McBride, NPR’s public editor, about the push to ‘defund NPR’ sparked by a former NPR editor’s essay and whether his points have any salience. [32:59] Brooke continues the conversation about NPR with Alicia Montgomery, vice president of audio at Slate and former editor at NPR. They explore the real problems brewing at the public radio network.Further reading / listening:The Law Alone Cannot Curb Donald Trump’s LawlessnessThe relentless focus on GazaThe Real Story Behind NPR’s Current Problems On the Media is supported by listeners like you. Support OTM by donating today (https://pledge.wnyc.org/support/otm). Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @onthemedia, and share your thoughts with us by emailing onthemedia@wnyc.org.