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Sunday, January 12, 2014

On the Media: The Myth of 'Blue Monday,' G-Men, The Campaign for Creationism, and a Lying Cyborg Telemarketer

Journalists converge on two of their favorite wintertime topics, extreme weather and 'Blue Monday.' The FBI re-brands itself and much more.

Sucked Into the Polar Vortex

Last week brought subzero temperatures to much of the United States. There was no escaping the cold, or the media’s hysterical weather reporting. Bob speaks with Andrew Revkin, writer of the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times, about the media’s dramatics when reporting on weather events.

Bogus "Blue Monday"

Every year at this time, the media report on the phenomenon of "Blue Monday," the day researchers have determined is purportedly the most depressing of the year. This year, the sad day fell on January 6th. Bob speaks with Dr. Ben Goldacre, who writes the Bad Science blog, about how "Blue Monday" is just a pseudoscientific media myth started by a public relations company.

The Obamacare Horror Story

During the tumultuous roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, the media struggled to find stories of people who had successfully bought insurance through, and many landed on sources that turned out to be unreliable. But now, another dubious narrative is all the rage: the Obamacare horror story. Bob talks to health policy writer Maggie Mahar, who is very suspicious of the nightmarish tales reported in the media. 

Creationism’s Public Relations Campaign

A recent Pew Research Center analysis finds that one-third of Americans reject the theory of evolution, believing that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” Brooke speaks to Edward Caudill, author of Intelligently Designed: How Creationists Built the Campaign Against Evolution, who says that modern media has been a godsend for Creationists.

I Am A Real Person

When Time Washington bureau chief Michael Scherer got a call from a telemarketer named Samantha West, he knew the voice on the other end of the line wasn't quite right somehow. Yet Samantha West kept insisting she was, in fact, human. OTM producer Chris Neary finds out who, or what, Samantha West really is.

FBI Rebranding?

In an article for Foreign Policy’s ‘The Cable”, reporter John Hudson noted a substitution in the FBI’s fact sheet: its primary function had been changed from ‘law enforcement’ to ‘national security.’ Brooke talks to Tim Weiner, author of Enemies: A History of the FBI, about this not so new mission statement.


In recent years the FBI has faced increasing criticism over a series of high profile blunders, and this week's discovery of the identities of the 1971 Media burglars reminded us of some of the agency's more sinister activities. But despite all the negative coverage, the media has always had a soft spot for the G-Men. Brooke looks back on a piece from 2001 in light of these recent revelations.


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