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A Great Podcast That Reconsiders the Past

I have been listening to the You’re Wrong About… podcast incessantly for weeks. I gave it a chance after learning about it from Leslie Stephens (a writer for the Cupcakes & Cashmere blog) earlier this summer, and have since downloaded almost every episode.

Co-hosts Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall dropped their first episodes in May 2018. They are incredibly smart and engaging hosts who guide listeners through a reinvestigation of people or social events from the past with a current perspective. Ultimately, they aim to uncover what media got “wrong.” Topics have included the obesity epidemic, Roe v. Wade, shaken baby syndrome, Anna Nicole Smith, and sexting.

As for the format, this is a conversational podcast and not overly edited or presentational like some others. Either Mike or Sarah has researched the topic and presents their findings to the other co-host, and you’re listening to that recorded dialogue. I used to stay away from podcasts like this, instead opting for the ones that are standardly reported with curated content. But, instead of a fault, their unscripted dialogue absolutely adds to the appeal because Mike and Sarah ask further prodding questions and present the material in understandable language.

My favorite part of each episode is always the insights of Mike and Sarah. They are journalists in their day job, and often hypothesize how the media may have exacerbated the misinformation surrounding each person or event they reinvestigate. In one of their earliest episodes reflecting on the death of Matthew Shepard (a gay man killed in Wyoming in what was largely considered a hate crime), Sarah acknowledges how the media investigation botched some details: reporters pounced on the revelation that one man from the pair of Matthew’s killers was bisexual. In hindsight, the source for this information was not reputable, and it’s not clear to this day whether claims of the killer’s sexual orientation are accurate. Additionally, the two hosts admit that the motivation of journalists — to report a story, but also to make sure the report is captivating enough to be read — can complicate the factualness of their investigations.

I keep devouring episodes for two reasons: the likable hosts and the incredibly fascinating topics. Since the podcast primarily features phenomena and famous people from the 1980s and 1990s, I am often learning about them for the first time. For example, You’re Wrong About… introduced me to and laid bare the story of Elian Gonzalez in one powerful episode. Another favorite episode of mine is The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, because Mike and Sarah lend clarity to a deeply complex and emotional trial.

My takeaway from the the podcast is that viewing people or phenomena with the clarity of hindsight is absolutely worthwhile.

[I am not benefitting from this honest review. I am just a fan.]

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