Category Archives: Podcast

Kitty Genovese and “Bystander Apathy”

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“Once you tell a story incorrectly once, you can’t control where it goes.” Sarah tells Mike how The New York Times turned a suburban murder into an urban legend. Digressions include Billy Joel, the World’s Fair and “Ferngully.” This episode marks a triumphant return to Long Island and an unexpected celebration of Pride Month.

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Sexting

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“We’re uncomfortable with the evidence that teen girls have sexual agency.” Special guest Amy Hasinoff tells Mike and Sarah how a moral panic became a legal nightmare. Digressions include Cosmo advice columns, Grindr etiquette and the revolutionary hugging of the “Avengers” movies. Due to the ongoing hex placed on this podcast, the sound quality is worse than usual.

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The American Taliban

John Walker Lindh

“He’s been punished even more than the American prison system can aspire to punish anyone”: Mike tells Sarah how John Walker Lindh became a terrorist in the media, a freedom fighter in his own mind and something between the two in reality. Digressions include “Newsies,” Bruce Willis and “Candide.” Sarah sneakily reveals her lifelong affection for Howard Stern.

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Exorcism

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“It just seems like capitalism masquerading as religion”: Sarah tells Mike how a horror movie resurrected a ritual and established an industry. Digressions include “Avatar,” the NFL and the ethics of book publishing. The final five minutes are an unintentionally concise description of the core moral principle of this show.

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Homelessness

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“We want stories that don’t exist in systems”: Mike tells Sarah what happened when Utah set out to solve one of America’s most intractable problems. Digressions include the Paleo diet, the planet Mars and the inadequacy of the term “up the river.” Jimmy Carter makes an extended cameo appearance.

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Dan Quayle v. Murphy Brown

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“Why did we make fun of Dan Quayle for misspelling the word ‘potato’ when we should have made fun of him for arguments like this?” Mike tells Sarah how a real vice president blamed a fictional single mom for causing one of the most divisive events of the 1990s. Digressions include “Designing Women,” “Alien” and “The Brady Bunch.” Listeners finally learn that Sarah has a lovely singing voice.

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Elián González

Elian raid

Mike tells Sarah how a 5-year-old kid transformed a city, divided a political party and (maybe) determined a presidential election. Digressions include World War II, Clarence Darrow and something called “Like, News with Skeeter.” Both co-hosts conclude that this episode is somehow an equal-parts mixture of Satanic Panic and Terri Schiavo.

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The Preppy Murder

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Sarah tells Mike how an aspiring rich kid became an emblem of a world he didn’t belong to. Digressions include drill teams, prep schools and eating disorders. The p-pops are worse than usual.

Plus, an announcement! You can now support us on Patreon!

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The “Ebonics” Controversy

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Mike tells Sarah how a simple idea in a single school district became a nationwide racial panic. Digressions include slasher movies, Space Invaders and homeschooling. The taglines are becoming more esoteric.

Thanks to our special guests Dionna Latimer-Hearn and Daniel Russell!

 

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Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo

Mike tells Sarah how the media, the president and the Pope turned a simple medical story into a complicated legal one. Digressions include canine loyalty, unionized space-workers and polyamory logistics. Both co-hosts recorded in tiny rooms, but with very different acoustics.

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Anna Nicole Smith

Anna-Nicole

Sarah tells Mike how a poor Texas girl made herself into an icon and America made her into a punchline. Digressions include massage technique, “Death Becomes Her” and (obviously) “The Godfather.” Mike sounds even sicker than he did last week.

Plus, special thanks to Ian at Marfa Public Radio, who helped Sarah record this episode!

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Acid Rain

George HW Bush

Mike tells Sarah how an environmental problem became a national rallying cry, a sticky diplomatic issue and, eventually, a conspiracy theory. Digressions include “Alien,” Field & Stream and NRA public service announcements. Both hosts are recovering from colds and at least one spends the episode under a blanket. 

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Gary Hart

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Sarah tells Mike how a dubious affair distracted from the real scandal of the 1988 election. Digressions include “Good Will Hunting,” People Magazine and Linda Ronstadt. Michael Dukakis is described, for the first time ever, as “the soulmate who was there all along.”

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Corrections!

  • Lynn Armandt sold the pictures to the National Enquirer, not People. Sorry!

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Tammy Faye Bakker and Jessica Hahn

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“She only said one thing her whole life”: Sarah tells Mike how two decent women became scapegoats for the actions of one terrible man. Digressions include Larry Flynt, NPR tote bags and Playboy back issues. The co-hosts discover they have wildly different relationships with “Saturday Night Live.”

 

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Enron

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Mike tells Sarah how a “bad apples” explanation kept us from seeing the real scandal at the heart of America’s largest corporate bankruptcy. Digressions include “Casino,” Thanksgiving economics and corruption catchphrases. Neither co-host truly understands how the stock market works.  

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The Challenger Disaster

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It wasn’t an accident. Mike tells Sarah how the infamous space shuttle disaster came to be seen as a white-collar crime. Digressions include the Donner Party, George Lucas and “Jurassic Park.” Both co-hosts are audibly recovering from colds. 

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“A Dingo’s Got My Baby”

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Sarah tells Mike how a tragic story became a hacky catchphrase. Digressions include raccoon anarchists, flu remedies and late-night Arby’s. Sarah’s Google alerts will surprise none of our listeners.

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The 2000 Election

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Mike tells Sarah how a close election and an even closer Supreme Court decision established the political template we’re still living with today. Digressions include quarks, Ouija Boards and (sorry) moral philosophy. The “lemonade theory” turns out to be less fun than it sounds.

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Amy Fisher

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Sarah tells Mike about the sad reality — and the terrible man — behind the infamous Long Island Lolita. Digressions include software terms of service, the rise of beepers and Monica Lewinsky’s LinkedIn profile. Mike, a 36-year-old man, appears not to understand what pimps do. 

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Roe v. Wade

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Special guest Megan Burbank tells us about the history, limitations and loopholes of a landmark court ruling. Digressions include Betty Ford, “Maude” and naming conventions for anonymous defendants. The glories of Washington State politics are examined in depth.

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