Abby Martin, an anchor for the Kremlin-funded news channel Russia Today, launched herself into the headlines this week by sternly denouncing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. On her show Breaking The Set, she said: “Just because I work here, for RT, doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in sovereign nations' affairs. What Russia did is wrong.” Given that RT is widely regarded as a 24-hour propaganda machine engineered to polish Russia’s image abroad, Martin shocked many with her outburst. Bob talks with Martin about why she wasn't afraid to speak out.
Bob goes to Hollywood to track down the future of television and locates it....in his laptop. A special report on streaming video.
Despite the seizure of their office and most of their files and equipment by masked gunmen, the journalists at the Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism were prepared: over the weekend they had backed up their entire web history through the Archive-It service from the Internet Archive. David E. Kaplan, executive director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network and one of the coordinators of the effort, tells Bob just how they managed to pull it off. You can check out what they've saved here and here.
The Serbian government has established a commission to investigate unsolved murders of journalists. Remarkably, the commission includes both police and journalists. Bob talks with Politika editor Ljiljana Smajlović about what the commission has already accomplished and her hopes for what it might achieve in the future.
Back in September, OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman, her family, and her friends were detained for hours by US Customs and Border Protection on their way home from Canada. Everyone being held was a US citizen, and no one received an explanation. Sarah tells the story of their detainment, and her difficulty getting any answers from one of the least transparent agencies in the country.
"Jane Doe" is a 54-year old US citizen who was crossing into the US at the Juarez/El Paso border when agents took her aside for secondary screening. The screening ended up being 6 hours of invasive cavity searches—which yielded nothing and left her traumatized. Bob speaks with Laura Schauer Ives, an ACLU attorney for Jane Doe about what happened at the border that day.
A recent investigation from The Arizona Republic found that since 2005, at least 42 people have been killed by US Customs and Border Protection agents. But getting information about those incidents is no easy task. Bob speaks with Bob Ortega, one of the reporters behind the investigation, about the difficulty in getting answers on use of force at the border.
Before an agreement was brokered Friday, the standoff in Kiev between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the loose coalition of anti-government forces was bloody and telegenic. Bob examines what those gripping images tell us, and what they don't.
All across the country, communities are fighting to build their own broadband internet networks as an alternative to the services offered by big cable companies. However, these efforts have often been thwarted by legislation lobbied for by, you guessed it, the cable companies. Bob talks with James Baller, president of the Baller Herbst Law group, who has long been leading the legal charge on behalf of municipalities.
Cake - Fashion Nugget
Historical understanding doesn’t always move ahead. Sometimes it slips backwards. Case in point: In 2012, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of official US involvement in Vietnam, the Pentagon quietly launched VietnamWar50th.com. Bob talks to historian Nick Turse, the author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, who noticed that the website’s version of the war seems stuck in the past, reasserting misinformation long since debunked by journalists, historians, and the government’s own Pentagon papers.
A rash of state laws considered or passed in 2013 seek to rein in drone surveillance. They offer a patchwork of restrictions that seem to reflect the particular culture, or business interests, of individual states. Bob talks with Margot Kaminski, executive director of the Information Society Project and a lecturer at Yale Law School, who has surveyed the legal landscape and noticed a trend.
Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine was recently working a crowd of seniors in his Oklahoma district and complaining about President Obama, when a constituent raised her hand and called the president an "enemy combatant" who should be "executed." Congressman Bridenstine responded not by objecting to her statement, but rather by stoking the flames with his own angry anti-Obama rant. A video of the event was posted online, but triggered little attention. Bob ponders the ubiquity of vile, ignorant, and just plain crackpot speech among elected officials, and the extent to which the public, and the media, fail to care.
This week, the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index, ranking the media environment of nearly every nation on earth from most free to least. The United States landed, embarrassingly, in 46th place, a 13-place drop from last year. The rank -- below Lithuania, El Salvador and Botswana -- has set off a panic-stricken (and in some instances, gleeful) barrage of media coverage declaring that press freedom in the US is “plunging,” “plummeting,” and “profoundly eroding.” Bob talks with Washington Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher about why he's suspicious of these headlines.
Last week the Washington Post reported that the NSA collects less than 30% of phone metadata, contrary to the popular perception that all call activity is being gathered en masse. As it turns out, the agency is unable to keep up with the explosion in cell phone use, which raises significant questions about the efficacy and potency of the program. Bob talks with Ellen Nakashima who wrote the story for the Washington Post.
When a benign traffic jam due to lane closings on the George Washington Bridge was revealed to be politically motivated revenge exacted by NJ Gov. Chris Christie's top aides, all hell broke loose. After tales of the Christie administration's dirty tricks became national news, here's a look at the shift in media coverage, and how Christie could emerge stronger than before the scandal.
Jason Harrington worked as a Transportation Security Administration officer at O’Hare airport in Chicago for seven years. Harrington quickly became disgruntled. Not just with the day-to-day absurdity of carrying out what he saw as ineffective security tactics, but by how much the TSA kept away from the public. So, he started writing a blog, anonymously, called Taking Sense Away. Bob speaks to Harrington about his time in the TSA and his Politico article “Dear America. I Saw You Naked. And, Yes, We Were Laughing" which unmasked his anonymity.
In the past OTM has covered sock-puppetry -- the act of assuming another persona online to praise or defend the work of your real self. We’ve seen it done by art critics, comic book artists, and politicians. Well, now it's an orthodox rabbi. Bob speaks with Steven I. Weiss, an anchor and managing editor at The Jewish Channel, about the rabbi and his online persona.
This week Japanese Olympic figure skater, Daisuke Takahashi, found himself in the midst of national scandal, through no fault of his own. Takahashi skated his short program to a piece of music that had been initially attributed to Mamoru Samuragochi, known as "Japan's Beethoven," who was recently revealed to be neither a composer, nor possibly even deaf. Bob talks with Roland Kelts, author of JapanAmerica, about the revelations and the Japanese media's reaction to them.
On Sunday before the Super Bowl kickoff, President Obama sat down with Bill O'Reilly for a rare one-on-one interview. O'Reilly asked the President about the rocky roll out of Obamacare, the attack in Benghazi, and the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. What did we learn? Conor Friedersdorf, staff writer for the Atlantic, says... nothing much at all. Bob talks with Friedersdorf about the performance and spectacle in this presidential sit down.
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