Podcast Recommendation: You’re Wrong About

The logo for the You're Wrong About podcast

My favorite podcast right now is You’re Wrong About, hosted by journalists Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes. So I was pleased to see Rachel Syme’s profile of the show in the New Yorker this morning.

Marshall and Hobbes are endlessly curious about their own blind spots, which they hunt down like truffle pigs set loose in a damp forest. Each brings a unique view and tone to the show; Marshall is more world-weary and sardonic, with a gravelly voice that sounds not unlike the caustic cartoon character Daria Morgendorffer. Hobbes is excitable and buzzing, often so eager to rattle off information that he speaks in full paragraphs. Together, they make up a kind of millennial Statler and Waldorf, heckling the shoddy journalism of the past. But even their response to the media is one of amusement, or droll resignation-they stay far away from the outrage that has become the pattern of public life. (Indignation would imply certainty, and certainty would cut against the core of their project.) In one episode, the hosts discuss the Y2K-bug scare, in which people feared that the year 2000 would cause computer systems — and society at large — to crash. Hobbes tells Marshall that people often use the subject as a bludgeon. “When we’re talking about climate change, people will bring up, like, Oh, we were worried about Y2K, too, and that turned out to be a hoax,” he says. “And somebody else will respond to that by saying, No, Y2K is an example of us coming together and fixing a problem.” After he’s done, Marshall playfully clears her throat. Then she says, “And, since we have now had two years of doing this show, I am able to extrapolate that perhaps the answer is no one is right.”

If you haven’t listened to the show before and your interest is piqued after reading that, I’ll give you some of my favorite episodes:

  • Their still-ongoing series about The OJ Simpson Trial is simply fantastic. My only criticism of the excellent OJ: Made in America documentary was that they didn’t spend enough time on violence against women and You’re Wrong About is very persuasive in arguing that it was a central issue in this case.
  • The four-part DC Snipers series is just as good as the OJ series. At the time, this was painted as radical Islamic terrorism but the actual motivations of the killers had much more to do with toxic masculinity than religion.
  • Why Didn’t Anyone Go to Prison for the Financial Crisis? This episode is noteworthy in that they don’t actually talk that much about the circumstances of the 2008 financial crisis, but after listening you totally know the answer to the title’s question. I could have listened to an expanded 2-3 part series of this one.
  • More recently, the two-part Tuskegee Syphilis Study is worth a listen.

But I’ve only been listening to the show for a little over a year and haven’t gone back into the archive that much. Other episodes that have gotten a lot of love from fans include Tonya Harding, Kitty Genovese, and Terri Schiavo. So much more to explore!

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