In Contrast Special: What's Wrong With American Media?

On October 15, 1958, Edward R. Murrow, the distinguished CBS newsman, delivered his famous “wires and lights” speech in Chicago at the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention. In it, he criticized American media for abandoning its responsibility to enlighten the audience on the crucial issues of the day and instead falling prey to facile entertainment that was shamelessly driven by profit.

Listen to Ed Murrow’s Speech

American Media
Ilan Stavans and Ray Suarez


In a seven-episode In Contrast podcast special “What’s Wrong with American Media?,” public intellectual and host of In Contrast Ilan Stavans and veteran journalist Ray Suarez look at Murrow’s message in the age of “fake news.”

In a conversational style, Stavans and Suarez explore the history of American media, looking at issues of race, gender, and class. They compare public and private outlets, reflect on the role of sports, analyze the pros and cons of commercialization, and debate the possibility of a future where Americans no longer have a chance “to have an honest and broad conversation with themselves.”

Episode 1: Is Truth Dead?

Everything is relative.

Episode 2: The Center Cannot Hold

Diversity equals fragmentation.

Episode 3: The Tyranny of Emotion

Passion instead of accuracy.

Episode 4: Who is an American

Those unlike me are my enemies.

Episode 5: Whose Language?

English as a censoring tool.

Episode 6: What are we missing?

What we don’t know makes us happier.

Episode 7: What can we do?

Nations get the media they deserve.