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Flash yourself back to the Fall of 2014. Try to remember the visceral reaction you had to the first time you heard Serial, the podcast from journalist Sarah Koenig, Ira Glass, and the rest of the team behind NPR's This American Life. A week-by-week mystery, the podcast gained steam each week; by the time it ended, it was a sensation, being spoofed by the likes of SNL, and becoming the most successful and popular podcast of all time. Serial, in a way, was the start of...
Guess what? Episode 11, “Present for Duty,” is the last one of season two of Serial. Of course, in true Serial fashion we don’t find that out until a dramatic reveal about eight minutes into the episode. Sarah Koenig had been discussing some people’s perception of this whole affair, that Bergdahl might have done something wrong, but that he’s already paid his debt for that by spending five years locked in a cage by the...
You can’t tell a political story without politics. Or, at least you can’t the way Sarah Koenig finds herself trying to do it this week, telling the story of the political uproar that grew around Bowe Bergdahl after he was released by the Taliban in exchange for five Taliban fighters held by the US. I had a professor in grad school, a journalist who reported closely on groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, including a lot...
This week, we finally get to the real, actual story of his Bowe Bergdahl was released from his captors. It wasn't someone in an obscure office bribing a general with scotch, or a family friend contacting Interpol, Marines kicking in doors, or Bergdahl escaping. What was it? Five years of protracted, painfully uneventful diplomatic negotiations conducted by our nation's civil servants, doing their regular jobs. The system works! Albeit very, very slowly. On this episode,...

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