Browse our archive by

Act Two: Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Bill Strassberger explains why INS opposes parts of the 1996 immigration law, even while it enforces it. Congressman Barney Frank—whose district includes Bristol County—argues that most of his colleagues in Congress had no idea what they were voting for when they voted for key portions of the law.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass speaks with two people who believe they've uncovered behind-the-scenes conspiracies but can't be sure. Attorney Andy Hail has sued the two biggest supermarkets in Chicago (Dominick's and Jewel) because they charge a dollar more for milk than stores around the country, and because their prices seem to change simultaneously, as if orchestrated.

Act One

We hear the first part of our story about Archer Daniels Midland and FBI informant Mark Whitacre. In this half, Whitacre inadvertently ends up a cooperating witness—and turns himself into one of the best cooperating witnesses in the history of U.S. law enforcement, gathering evidence with an adeptness few have matched.

Act Three: When Slime Is Good

Former political consultant Ron Susskind says that when he began in politics, he thought there was nothing lower than negative campaigning. But then in 1980 he learned that sometimes when your opponent attacks you, it can actually help you.

Act Four: Who You Gonna Call?

There is an entire class of consultant who does nothing but help people and companies that are under public attack. Eric Dezenhall is one of them.

Prologue

Three days into the beginning of the new millenium, Kahari Mosley and Garcia Suzinko left home to do something they'd never done before: They took a twelve-hour bus ride to New Hampshire to volunteer for a Presidential campaign. What they saw...and what moved them to volunteer in the first place.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass with former Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski. When Rostenkowski began a term in federal prison, he met for the first time people who'd been locked up under harsh drug laws that he'd voted for himself. "The whole thing's a sham," he declares.

Act Two: How We Got Here

We hear the history of why these drug laws were enacted from a firsthand witness. Eric Sterling was the lawyer in charge of drug laws for the House Judiciary Committee during the 1980s, when mandatory minimums were put in place.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes the moment when black single mothers became a national political issue—and a national symbol. It was 1965, when a young Assistant Secretary of Labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued a report calling for action on the issue of African-American single mothers, and black leaders, including the Rev.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass with an idealistic would-be politician in California. The puzzle of American politics is that our political system is filled with idealistic people, but few of our candidates for top office seem either idealistic or capable of inspiring passion.

Prologue

On the tenth anniversary of the crackdown at Tiananmen Square, we hear from Wen Huang, who was part of the student movement. He says that the students weren't fighting for democracy, at least not as it's been widely understood in the West.

Act Two: Humanitarians

Modern-day fables of two different kinds of do-gooders during and after the 1994 genocide in the African country of Rwanda. Philip Gourevich, author of the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, tells first about international relief workers who served as "caterers" to some of the Hutu powers as they continued their policy of ethnic cleansing after fleeing to refugee camps.

Prologue

Ira reads from an editorial from a 1957 newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. It tries to scare white southerners about the NAACP by describing a Chicago human rights campaign called "Take a Negro Boy Home Tonight." The idea behind the campaign? "Racism can be combated by intimate relationships between Negro boys and white girls." No such campaigns really existed in Chicago.

Act Four: Noble Calling

Now in exile, Jose Ramos Horta spent two decades as the leading international spokesman against the invasion of his country by Indonesia. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Prologue

In the early stages of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, there was a period when one of the questions raised by the whole affair had to do with monogamy. Around that time, Roy Romer, the Governor of Colorado and Chair of the Democratic Party, admitted that for 16 years he'd had a relationship with an aide that his wife and family knew about.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass explains why some old answering machine messages from a decade ago have such power for him: there's a special power to recordings of phone conversations. The phone is intimate — more intimate than a photograph.