“Hidden stories, uncovered--that’s what this show is about. It takes you deep inside stories that impact your world, revealing injustice and holding the powerful accountable. The first-of-its-kind investigative program on public radio, “Reveal” is hosted by Al Letson and updated regularly.”
If you’re looking for hard-hitting, longform investigative journalism with a decidedly liberal bent, look no further. Al Letson and team have a bone to pick with the existing, generally conservative, power structures of American society, and under their watch nobody's gettin' away with nothin’. At least, that’s the idea. And generally, they do a pretty good job.
Reveal most often takes on issues of social justice and the accountability of power. For them, these are not two separate issues. The power structures Reveal reports on are, at their best, simply forgetting about or dismissing the disadvantages they’re creating for the little guys of the world because it’s convenient, and at their worst they’re outright explicitly exploiting them for profit. Either way, it’s not a pretty picture, though it’s one the team paints faithfully in each and every episode.
What Reveal does is important. Reveal gives a voice to the voiceless, to the disenfranchised, to the dismissed, and to the ignored. They take on every sort of issue imaginable so long as it relates to the goal of justice, from war to drugs to sex crimes to water rights, and everything in between. If there’s a voice being silenced by power, Reveal strives to give that voice a platform.
Another important aspect of Reveal is that, while some of the show’s episodes are topical, they’re not necessarily beholden to the latest fad in the 24-hour news cycle. This is definitively to their credit, and I think it stems largely from two facts. The first is that it takes a long time to do really good journalism. It’s a process that involves hours upon hours of fact checking and interviewing and rinse-and-repeat. The second is that sometimes the most important stories aren’t the sexiest. Reveal is not CNN, or Fox News for that matter. They’re not obligated to hop around the world in an effort to stay abreast of the latest THIS JUST IN, he-said-she-said story. Rather, they take their time and methodically seek out just those stories you probably haven’t heard about on cable news, and then they dive deep. Unfortunately for you and me, water shortages, the pollution caused by the unregulated recycling of our electronic equipment, and systematic bureaucratic bunglings just aren’t sexy enough to hold the attention of a mainstream go-go-go, now-now-now audience for an hour. And unfortunately again, those are the stories that are often actually the most important to tell.
My only criticism of the show comes from the fact that it’s just not going to appeal to everyone due to its unabashed liberal politics. Personally, I think it’s clear that it appeals to me, and I’ve tried to explain why I think it should appeal to you, too, but regardless it will undoubtedly be dismissed by a large percentage of listeners as liberal garbage just from a scroll through episode titles of the archive. That, too, is unfortunate. But it’s an issue the show’s team could work on, if they’d a mind to. There are injustices taking place on all sides of the political spectrum, and the voiceless oppressed aren’t just Democrats. Whether the show takes on other issues or not (and let’s face it, it’s probably going to be the ‘or not’), though, this podcast is a must-subscribe.
Note: since writing this review, Reveal has strayed more and more into partisan politics, to its decided detriment. Seek out early seasons of the show for the best content.
America’s Digital Dumping Ground
Secrets of the Watchtower
A Frank Conversation with a White Nationalist
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