Podcast of the Week: CITATIONS NEEDED
Did you know that most of the people who have been arrested in connection with “ISIS related plots” since 2014 have mostly been manufactured by the FBI? How often do you take a step back when watching local news to consider why the same stories seem to be told over and over again? Does Bill Maher just make you irrationally angry for reasons you can’t explain to your friends? What do you understand about the United States’ role in the Saudi bombing of Yemen?
For anyone who feels like the news is lacking an extra dimension of analysis, CITATIONS NEEDED is an essential deep-dive into the current events that generally whiz by you at break-neck speed. Hosts Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson are some of the finest critics of media I’ve ever encountered; they have a deft ability to crack open a news story and demonstrate how seemingly objective stories actually have a very clear perspective they are trying to push about racial minorities, real estate, poverty, or capitalism. What they’re particularly great at is highlighting the things news stories typically leave out, such as in the most recent episode, “Fake ISIS Plots and the Selling of Forever War.” In this episode, the pair highlight how news coverage tends to announce that the FBI has intercepted individuals as they were about to execute a terrorist plot, but that the coverage fails to follow up to reveal that more often than not the people caught in these terrorist plots were never talking to ISIS at all, but rather to FBI informants posing as ISIS. It completely changes the way you think about terrorism and how we as a society should be responding to it when you realize that most of the terrorism threats you hear about in the news were probably never really threats to begin with.
The show can feel like you’re sitting in on a Master’s class in journalism at times, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible, Nima and Adam are highly nuanced, but they also speak plainly. This isn’t a show that tries to simplify topics into easily digestible segments; the hosts ask their listeners to come along and try to piece together what a complex, messy world we truly live in. If you’re a person who tries to stay informed and up to date, but also feel that there’s often a gap in your knowledge on any given subject, this show will be a revelation. What’s more, if you listen to enough episodes, the show will transform the way you interpret the news you read, essentially helping you develop a bullshit filter when it comes to detecting spin and bias.
The topics discussed on CITATIONS NEEDED are usually troubling: war, poverty, and racism make up the bulk of the episodes, but I find the show comforting. In our era where it’s increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, we need people to plant our feet on solid ground and try to give us the whole truth, no matter how complicated.