Show cover of Reveal


Reveal’s investigations will inspire, infuriate and inform you. Host Al Letson and an award-winning team of reporters deliver gripping stories about caregivers, advocates for the unhoused, immigrant families, warehouse workers and formerly incarcerated people, fighting to hold the powerful accountable. The New Yorker described Reveal as “a knockout … a pleasure to listen to, even as we seethe.” A winner of multiple Peabody, duPont, Emmy and Murrow awards, Reveal is produced by the nation’s first investigative journalism nonprofit, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. From unearthing exploitative working conditions to exposing the nation’s racial disparities, there’s always more to the story. Learn more at


Hidden Confessions of the Mormon Church
Chelsea Goodrich and her mother, Lorraine, were locked in discussions with the director of the Mormon church’s risk management division, Paul Rytting. One of Rytting’s jobs is to protect the church from legal liability, including sexual abuse lawsuits.The women had come to the meeting with one clear request: Would the church allow a local Idaho bishop who heard Chelsea’s father’s confession of abuse to testify against him at trial? In this week’s episode, produced in collaboration with The Associated Press, secret audio recordings expose a legal playbook used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that keeps evidence of sex abuse out of reach of authorities.AP reporters Michael Rezendes and Jason Dearen investigate what happened after a former Mormon bishop, John Goodrich, was accused of sexual abuse—and the family pressed Mormon church officials on whether they were going to make decisions that would help Chelsea or her father. Rezendes and Dearen also sit down with guest host Michael Montgomery to discuss a major development in the Goodrich case since this investigation was released last year—and why states across the country continue to exempt clergy from mandatory reporting laws that are meant to protect children from abuse.This is an update of an episode that originally aired in December 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:15 7/20/24
How Police Guns End Up in the Hands of Criminals
When the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department in California wanted to purchase new firearms, it sold its used ones to help cover the cost. The old guns went to a distributor, which then turned around and sold them to the public. One of those guns—a Glock pistol—found its way to Indianapolis. That Glock was involved in the killing of Maria Leslie’s grandson, and the fact that it once belonged to law enforcement makes her loss sting even more. “My grandson was in his own apartment complex. He lived there,” Leslie said. “He should not have been murdered there, especially with a gun that traces back all the way to the California police department’s coffers.”Across the nation, it’s common practice for police departments to trade in their old weapons rather than destroy them. Tens of thousands of old cop guns are ending up in the hands of criminals. This week, in a collaboration with The Trace and CBS News, reporter Alain Stephens traces the journey of some of those guns from the police departments that sold them to the crime scenes where they ended up.  Then Stephens brings us reporting from The Gun Machine podcast series from WBUR and The Trace. He explores the reasons why police and other law enforcement agencies have greatly expanded their arsenals over recent decades. 
50:49 7/13/24
In Bondage to the Law
On a summer night in 1995, a sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed in a hotel parking lot in Birmingham, Alabama. When investigators arrived at the scene, they found no eyewitnesses and almost no evidence pointing to the shooter. Detectives ultimately zeroed in on a man named Toforest Johnson, who on that same night was with friends at a nightclub miles away. Johnson was tried twice for the murder and eventually convicted on the testimony of an “earwitness” – a woman who claimed to have overheard Johnson confessing to the crime. He has spent more than 25 years on Alabama’s death row.In 2019, investigative journalist Beth Shelburne began covering the case, finding details that cast major doubts about Johnson’s guilt. This week, in partnership with Lava for Good and the Earwitness podcast, Shelburne tells us the story of Johnson’s case. Click here to hear the full Earwitness podcast.This episode originally aired in November 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:51 7/6/24
40 Acres and a Lie Part 3
The loss of land for Black Americans started with the government’s betrayal of its 40 acres and a mule promise – and it has continued for decades. Today, researchers are unearthing the details of Black land loss long after emancipation, and local governments across the country are finally asking: Can we repair a wealth gap for Black Americans that is rooted in slavery? And how? This week on Reveal, we explore the renewed fight for reparations. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:40 6/29/24
40 Acres and a Lie Part 2
Skidaway Island, Georgia, is home today to a luxurious community that the mostly White residents consider paradise: waterfront views, live oaks and marsh grass alongside golf courses, swimming pools and other amenities. In 1865, the island was a thriving Black community, started by freedmen who were given land by the government under the 40 acres program. They farmed, created a system of government and turned former cotton plantations into a Black American success story.But it wouldn’t last. Within two years, the government took that land back from the freedmen and returned it to the former enslavers. Today, 40 acres in The Landings development are worth at least $20 million. The history of that land is largely absent from day-to-day life. But over a two-and-a-half-year investigation, journalists at the Center for Public Integrity have unearthed records that prove that dozens of freed people had, and lost, titles to tracts at what’s now The Landings. “You could feel chills to know that they had it and then they just pulled the rug from under them, so to speak,” said Linda Brown, one of the few Black residents at The Landings.This week on Reveal, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, we also show a descendant her ancestor’s title for a plot of land that is now becoming another exclusive gated community. And we look at how buried documents like these Reconstruction-era land titles are part of the long game toward reparations. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:29 6/22/24
40 Acres and a Lie Part 1
Our historical investigation found 1,250 formerly enslaved Black Americans who were given land – only to see it returned to their enslavers.Patricia Bailey’s four-bedroom home sits high among the trees in lush Edisto Island, South Carolina. It’s a peaceful place where her body healed from multiple sclerosis. It’s also the source of her generational wealth.Bailey built this house on land that was passed down by her great-great-grandfather, Jim Hutchinson, who was enslaved on Edisto before he was freed and became a landowner. “I know this is sacred land here,” Bailey says, “’cause it's my ancestors and I feel it.” Union General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Orders, No. 15 – better known as 40 acres and a mule – implied a better life in the waning days of the Civil War. Hutchinson is among the formerly enslaved people who received land through the field orders, which are often thought of as a promise that was never kept. But 40 acres and a mule was more than that. It was real.Over a more than two-year investigation, our partners at the Center for Public Integrity have unearthed thousands of records once buried in the National Archives. In them, they found more than 1,200 formerly enslaved people who were given land by the federal government through the field orders – and then saw that land taken away. None of the land Bailey lives on today is part of Hutchinson’s 40 acres. Instead, her family’s wealth is built on her ancestor’s determination to get and keep land of his own, after losing what he thought he had gained through the field orders.This week on Reveal, with our partners at the Center for Public Integrity, we bring you the first in a three-part series in which we tell the history of an often-misunderstood government program. We explore a reparation that wasn’t – and the wealth gap that remains. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:19 6/15/24
A Battle Over Preserving the Lakota Language
Many Lakota people agree it's imperative to revitalize their language, which has declined to fewer than 1,500 fluent speakers, according to some estimates. But how to do that is a matter of broader debate and a contentious legal battle. Should Lakota be codified and standardized to make learning it easier? Or should the language stay as it always has been, defined by many different ways of writing and speaking? The NPR podcast Code Switch explores this complex, multigenerational fight that's been unfolding in the Lakota Nation, from Standing Rock to Pine Ridge. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
40:20 6/12/24
The Great Arizona Water Grab
For years, a Saudi-owned hay farm has been using massive amounts of water in the middle of the Arizona desert and exporting the hay back to Saudi Arabia. The farm’s water use has attracted national attention and criticism since Reveal’s Nate Halverson and Ike Sriskandarajah first broke this story more than eight years ago.Since then, the water crisis in the American West has only worsened as megafarms have taken hold there. And it’s not just foreign companies fueling the problem: Halverson uncovers that pension fund managers in Arizona knowingly invested in a local land deal that resulted in draining down the groundwater of nearby communities. So even as local and state politicians have fought to stop these deals, their retirement fund has been fueling them.Since we first aired this story in July, our reporting has spurred Arizona’s governor and attorney general into action. On this week’s Reveal, learn about water use in the West, who’s profiting and who’s getting left behind.For more of Halverson’s reporting into a global scramble for food and water, watch “The Grab.” By Center for Investigative Reporting Studios and director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film will be in theaters and available to stream starting June 14.This is an update of an episode that originally aired in July 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
49:38 6/8/24
40 Acres and a Lie Trailer
Our new three-part series launches June 15th, exploring the legacy of America’s broken promise to formerly enslaved Black people. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
02:29 6/6/24
Sunblocked: Resistance to Solar in Farm Country
Bill and Nancy Rasweiler thought they were making a smart decision when they decided to lease their land to Shepherd’s Run, a large-scale solar project that promised a steady income and offered them a way to contribute to renewable energy efforts. But when they presented their plan to the town of Copake, New York, they were met with widespread backlash. “We never expected this kind of resistance,” Nancy Rasweiler recalled. “We thought it would be a win-win for everyone.” Instead, the Rasweilers found themselves at the center of a heated debate over the area’s future. Residents in Copake are deeply divided: While some see it as a necessary step toward renewable energy, others fear it will harm the environment and disrupt their rural community. It’s been seven years, and the project’s future is still uncertain. This week on Reveal, investigative reporter Jonathan Jones travels to Copake to explore the resistance to Shepherd’s Run, how the divide is affecting the town and what this fight means for renewable energy projects across the country. This is an update of an episode that originally aired in January 2024. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:35 6/1/24
Not All Votes Are Created Equal
As any schoolkid might tell you, U.S. elections are based on a bedrock principle: one person, one vote. Simple as that. Each vote carries the same weight. Yet for much of the country’s history, that hasn't been the case. At various points, whole classes of people were shut out of voting: enslaved Black Americans, Native Americans and poor White people. The first time women had the right to vote was in 1919. This week’s show is about a current version of this very old problem.For this episode, Reveal host Al Letson does a deep dive with Mother Jones correspondent Ari Berman about his new book, “Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People – and the Fight to Resist It.”We go back to America’s early years and examine how the political institutions created by the Founding Fathers were meant to constrain democracy. This system is still alive in the modern era, Berman says, through institutions like the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate, which were designed as checks against the power of the majority. What’s more, Berman argues that the Supreme Court is a product of these two skewed institutions. Then there are newer tactics – like voter suppression and gerrymandering – that are layered on top of this anti-democratic foundation to entrench the power of a conservative White minority.Next, we trace the rise of conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan and how he opened the door for Donald Trump. Buchanan made White Republicans fear becoming a racial minority. And he opposed the Voting Rights Act, which struck down obstacles to voting like poll taxes and literacy tests that had been used to keep people of color from the polls. Buchanan never came close to winning the presidency, but he transformed White anxiety into an organizing principle that has become a centerpiece of much of today’s Republican Party.The final segment follows successful efforts by citizen activists in Michigan to end political gerrymandering and reinforce the democratic principle of one person, one vote. Berman argues that this state-based organizing should be a national model for democratic reform.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
47:30 5/25/24
Lessons From a Mass Shooter’s Mother
In 2014, in the college town of Isla Vista, California, a 22-year-old man murdered six people and injured 14 others before killing himself. The killer didn’t suddenly “snap” one day out of the blue; he planned the attack and spiraled into crisis in the years leading up to it. The horrific incident left violence prevention experts wondering: What were the missed warning signs?One person who held some of the answers was the killer’s mother, Chin Rodger. She has long avoided the media, fearing that speaking publicly would only hurt the victims’ families more. But 10 years later, she’s come to see a greater purpose – that  sharing what she knows about her son’s behavior before the attack could help others identify similar warning signs and prevent further violence.By confronting and sharing the painful memories and evidence her son, Elliot, left behind, Rodger has contributed to the field of threat assessment – teams of people who specialize in collecting information on possible threats, connecting the dots and intervening before tragedy strikes. This week on Reveal, Rodger talks publicly for the first time with Mother Jones reporter Mark Follman. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:35 5/18/24
The Racist Hoax That Changed Boston
Note: This episode contains descriptions of violence and suicide and may not be appropriate for all listeners. In 1989, Chuck Stuart called 911 on his car phone to report a shooting. He said he and his wife were leaving a birthing class at a Boston hospital when a man forced him to drive into the mixed-race Mission Hill neighborhood and shot them both. Stuart’s wife, Carol, was seven months pregnant. She would die that night, hours after her son was delivered by cesarean section, and days later, her son would die, too.Stuart said he saw the man who did it: a Black man in a tracksuit. Within hours, the killing had the city in a panic, and Boston police were tearing through Mission Hill looking for a suspect.  For a whole generation of Black men in Mission Hill who were subjected to frisks and strip searches, this investigation shaped their relationship with police. And it changed the way Boston viewed itself when the story took a dramatic turn and the true killer was revealed.This week on Reveal, in partnership with columnist Adrian Walker of The Boston Globe and the “Murder in Boston” podcast, we bring you the untold story of the Stuart murder: one that exposed truths about race and crime that few White people in power wanted to confront.  To hear more of The Boston Globe’s investigation, listen to the 10-part podcast “Murder in Boston.” The HBO documentary series “Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage, and Reckoning” is available to stream on Max.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:05 5/11/24
We Regret to Inform You
Bruce Praet is a well-known name in law enforcement, especially across California. He co-founded a company called Lexipol that contracts with more than 95% of police departments in the state and offers its clients trainings and ready-made policies.In one of Praet’s training webinars, posted online, he offers a piece of advice that policing experts have called inhumane. It’s aimed at protecting officers and their departments from lawsuits.After police kill someone, they are supposed to notify the family. Praet advises officers to use that interaction as an opportunity. Instead of delivering the news of the death immediately, he suggests first asking about the person who was killed to get as much information as possible. Reporter Brian Howey started looking into this advice when he was with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. He found that officers have been using this tactic across California, and the information families disclosed before they knew their relative was killed affected their lawsuits later. In this hour, Howey interviews families that have been on the receiving end of this controversial policing tactic, explaining their experience and the lasting impact. Howey travels to Santa Ana, where he meets a City Council member leading an effort to end Lexipol’s contract in his city. And in a parking lot near Fresno, Howey tracks down Praet and tries to interview him about the consequences of his advice. This is an update of an episode that originally aired in November 2023.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:16 5/4/24
The Spy Inside Your Smartphone
Around the globe, journalists, human rights activists, scholars and others are facing digital attacks from Pegasus, military-grade spyware originally developed to go after criminals. Some of the people targeted have been killed or are in prison.In this episode, Reveal partners with the Shoot the Messenger podcast to investigate one of the biggest Pegasus hacks ever uncovered: the targeting of El Faro newspaper in El Salvador.In the opening story, hosts Rose Reid and Nando Vila speak with El Faro co-founder Carlos Dada and reporter Julia Gavarrete. El Faro has been lauded for its investigations into government corruption and gang violence. The newspaper is no stranger to threats and intimidation, which have increased under the administration of President Nayib Bukele.Reid and Vila also speak with John Scott-Railton of Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based digital watchdog group. Scott-Railton worked to identify the El Faro breach, and it was one of the most obsessive cases of spying Citizen Lab has ever seen.Over the course of one year, 22 members of the newspaper’s staff had their phones infected with Pegasus and were surveilled by a remote operator. Researchers suspect Bukele’s government was behind the spying, though officials have denied those allegations. The breach forced El Faro’s journalists to change the way they work and live and take extreme measures to protect sources and themselves. Then Reid talks with Reveal’s Al Letson about growing efforts to hold the NSO Group, the company behind Pegasus, accountable for the massive digital attacks. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
49:34 4/27/24
After the Crash
In November 2020, Blossom Old Bull was raising three teenagers on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Her youngest son, Braven Glenn, was 17, a good student, dedicated to his basketball team. But he’d become impatient with pandemic restrictions, and his grandmother had just passed away from COVID-19.   One night, Glenn and his mother got in a fight, and he left the house. The next day, Old Bull got a call saying Glenn was killed in a police car chase, that he died in a head-on collision with a train. Old Bull was desperate for details about the accident, but when she went to the police station, she discovered it had shut down without any notice.  Mother Jones reporter Samantha Michaels follows Old Bull’s search for answers about her son’s death and discovers serious lapses in policing on the Crow and other Indian reservations. Old Bull encounters many roadblocks. She files a Freedom of Information Act request for the police report, but her request is denied. As months pass, she still doesn’t have basic information, like which officer chased her son and how he ended up on the train tracks.Next, Michaels traces the origins of the police force that chased Glenn. It was created by the Crow Nation’s chairman to address a lack of policing on the reservation. Before the new police force was launched, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs was responsible for policing. But its force was underfunded and understaffed, with only four or five officers patrolling an area nearly the size of Connecticut. The new department was supposed to be a solution, but there were problems from the start. Old Bull learns from a former dispatcher that officers were not properly trained and the department was in chaos.Nearly three years after Glenn’s death, Michaels is able to obtain information about the accident and share it with Old Bull. Through a FOIA request, Michaels receives official reports about the accident that explain how Glenn ended up on the train tracks. The reports also show how the investigation into the chase was flawed. Old Bull processes the information and grapples with a disturbing fact: The federal government denied her own FOIA request, even though she’s Glenn’s mother, but handed over documents to Michaels, a White reporter with no connection to Glenn. Days later, Michaels brokers a meeting between Old Bull and the former tribal police chief. Old Bull shares how the department’s sudden closure – and the lack of information about her son’s death – affected her family. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:15 4/20/24
In Gaza, Every Pregnancy is Complicated
After six months of war in Gaza, the Palestinian medical infrastructure has collapsed, leaving tens of thousands of pregnant women without a safe place to deliver. Reporters Gabrielle Berbey and Salman Ahad Khan follow one mother over the final months of her pregnancy after she’s forced to leave behind her home, work and doctor in Gaza City. We begin with the reporters’ first call to Lubna Al Rayyes five weeks into the war, as she is seven months pregnant with her third child. Before the war’s start on Oct. 7, Al Rayyes ran a prestigious school in Gaza City and her husband owned a clothing store. After being forced to evacuate their home, they fled to Khan Younis, but that city soon came under attack by the Israeli military as well. After being in regular contact with Al Rayyes for more than a month, the reporters lost contact with her. Berbey and Khan then track down Al Rayyes’ sister, who was able to leave Gaza and relocate to Canada because of her husband’s Canadian citizenship. Canada’s Palestinian community lobbied the government to create an asylum program for displaced people in Gaza, but the program became mired in delays. Berbey and Khan eventually reconnect with Al Rayyes, who explains what happened with her delivery.Beyond the collapse of the medical system, the health of Palestinians in Gaza is threatened by food shortages. Khan speaks with Tessa Roseboom, a Dutch researcher who’s been looking at how famine affects the development of babies in their mothers’ womb. We then meet Dr. Ghassan Jawad, an OB-GYN from Gaza who was forced to deliver babies in cars, shelters and even on the street as the medical system stopped functioning. Jawad had worked at Al-Shifa hospital, which was heavily damaged in a recent attack by the Israeli military.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:36 4/13/24
Escaping Putin’s War Machine
As the war in Ukraine grinds into a third year, more Russian soldiers are attempting to escape frontline deployment, supported by an underground network of fellow Russians. Associated Press investigative reporter Erika Kinetz follows the dramatic journey of one Russian military officer who deserted the army and fled Russia, guided by an anti-war group that has helped thousands of people evade military service or desert. The name of the group, Idite Lesom, is a play on words in Russian – a reference to the covert nature of its work but also a popular idiom that means "Get lost.” With help from the group, the officer made the perilous journey to Kazakhstan, but only after he had a friend and fellow soldier shoot him in the leg. “You can only leave wounded or dead,” he tells Kinetz. “No one wants to leave dead.” His act of desperation reflects the horrific conditions troops face in Ukraine. But life in exile is not what this officer and other deserters had hoped for. Some have had criminal cases filed against them in Russia, where they face 10 years or more in prison. And many are also waiting for a welcome from European countries or the United States that has never arrived. Instead, they live in hiding, fearing deportation back to Russia and persecution of themselves and their families. For Western nations grappling with Russia’s vast and growing diaspora, Russian military defectors present particular concern: Are they spies? War criminals? Or heroes? Next, Reveal host Al Letson talks with Kinetz and fellow reporter Solomiia Hera about why these military defectors are not finding sanctuary in Western Europe or the U.S. and how demographics and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to accept enormous casualties in Ukraine could give Russia an edge in an emerging war of attrition. In the final segment, we follow a Ukrainian man who knows all too well what a war of attrition really looks like. Oleksii Yukov is a martial arts instructor and leader of a team of volunteers who collect the remains of fallen soldiers, both Ukrainian and Russian. Yukov is on a spiritual quest to give these souls a final resting place. “We are not fighting the dead,” Yukov says. “Our weapon is humanity and a shovel.” Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:23 4/6/24
Cashing in on Troubled Teens
The first time Trina Edwards was locked in a psychiatric hospital for children, she was 12 years old. She was sure a foster parent would pick her up the next day. But instead, Trina would end up spending years cycling in and out of North Star Behavioral Health in Anchorage, Alaska.  At times, she was ready to be discharged, but Alaska’s Office of Children’s Services couldn’t find anywhere else to put her – so Trina would stay locked in at North Star, where she would experience violent restraints and periods of seclusion. Then, shortly before her 15th birthday, Trina was sent to another facility 3,000 miles away: Copper Hills Youth Center in Utah.  Both North Star and Copper Hills are owned by Universal Health Services, a publicly traded Fortune 500 company that is the nation’s largest psychiatric hospital chain. Trina’s experience is emblematic of a larger problem: a symbiotic relationship between failing child welfare agencies, which don’t have enough foster homes for all the kids in custody, and large for-profit companies like Universal Health Services, which have beds to fill.  This hour, Mother Jones reporter Julia Lurie exposes how  Universal Health Services is profiting off foster kids who get admitted to its facilities, despite government and media investigations raising alarming allegations about patient care that the company denies.  This is an update of an episode that originally aired in October 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:37 3/30/24
A Whistleblower in New Folsom Prison
When Valentino Rodriguez started his job at the high-security prison in Sacramento,  California, informally known as New Folsom, he thought he was entering into a brotherhood of correctional officers. What he found was the opposite. Five years later, Rodriguez’s  sudden death would raise questions from the FBI and his family. KQED reporters Sukey Lewis and Julie Small trace his story in their series On Our Watch. This episode opens with Lewis and her reporting team meeting Rodriguez's parents and his widow, Mimy. They talk through the early days of Rodriguez's career and early milestones, like when he got an opportunity to join an elite unit investigating crimes in the prison. But it’s there where his fellow officers in the unit began to undermine and harass him. Eventually, consumed with stress and fed up with how he was being treated, Rodriguez reached a breaking point at work. But even after he left the prison, his experiences there still haunted him. So he went in for a meeting with the warden of New Folsom. He didn’t know it would be his last. After his son’s death, Valentino Rodriguez Sr. began to look for answers and found his son’s story was part of something larger. In the final segment, Reveal host Al Letson sits down with Lewis and Small to discuss what this correctional officer’s story shows about how the second-largest prison system in the country is failing to protect the people who live and work inside of it. Listen to the whole On Our Watch series here: Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:35 3/23/24
America Goes Psychedelic, Again
Psychedelic drugs have been illegal for 50 years, but they’re trickling back into the mainstream because they show promise in helping treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges. We begin the hour with reporter Jonathan A. Davis visiting Psychedelic Science 2023, the largest-ever conference on psychedelic drugs. It’s put on by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization dedicated to legalizing MDMA (also known as ecstasy or molly) and other psychedelic drugs. Research shows that MDMA-assisted therapy can help treat depression and PTSD, and it’s moving toward approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Psychedelics were studied in the 1950s and ’60s as mental health treatments, but the war on drugs put a stop to research. Now, these drugs are gaining bipartisan support from politicians looking for solutions to the mental health crisis among veterans.  Then Reveal’s Michael I Schiller visits a group of veterans who are not waiting for psychedelic-assisted therapy to be approved by the federal government. They’ve joined a church founded by an Iraq War veteran who uses psychedelics as religious sacraments. Schiller accompanies them on a retreat in rural Texas, where they share the depths of their post-traumatic stress and the relief they’ve felt after psychedelic treatments. He also explores the risks involved in taking these drugs.  We close with an intimate audio diary from a woman in Oakland, California, who’s going through therapy with the one psychedelic drug that can be legally prescribed currently in the U.S.: ketamine. Ketamine started out as an anesthetic, but researchers found it can help with treatment-resistant depression when used in tandem with talk therapy. Ketamine can be dangerous if abused, but it also has helped people find relief from mental health issues. This story was produced by Davis.  This is an update of an episode that originally aired in October 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Check out independent producer Jonathan A. Davis’s work here
50:58 3/16/24
Blue State Barriers and the Messy Map of Abortion Access
As blue states try to shore up access to abortion and reproductive care, some are facing a threat they didn’t see coming: Catholic health care mergers. In the first segment, Reveal’s Nina Martin takes us to New Mexico, a blue state that’s been working hard since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade to strengthen its already sweeping protections for many forms of reproductive care. But those guarantees have been threatened by a local merger between Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, the only hospital in rural Otero County, and a Catholic health care system out of Texas, CHRISTUS Health. Like all Catholic hospitals, the newly merged hospital will be subject to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Known as ERDs, they limit or ban a number of reproductive services, including birth control, sterilization, abortion and gender-affirming care. Where will people go if they can’t get the care they need? The next closest hospital is an hour away. In the next segment, Martin travels to Alamogordo, where Gerald Champion is located, to try to find out how things are changing. Then she widens her lens, talking to a leading researcher on Catholic health care to see how ERDs play out in other hospitals around the country. She closes by talking to two Catholic experts about what ERDs require and how to improve transparency for patients. In the final segment, Reveal’s Laura C. Morel follows the story of Kelly Flynn, an abortion provider who has clinics in Florida and North Carolina, two states that had been abortion havens for women around the South before Roe fell. But now, lawmakers in North Carolina have imposed a 12-week ban on abortions, and the Florida Supreme Court is weighing a six-week ban. So Flynn has spent the last few months preparing for access to keep shrinking by quietly opening a new clinic in a state that still has relatively strong abortion protections – Virginia. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:36 3/9/24
The Suspect Detective
In 2010, Milique Wagner was arrested for a murder he says he had nothing to do with. The night of the shooting, Wagner was picked up for questioning and spent three days in the Philadelphia Police Department’s homicide unit, mostly being questioned by a detective named Philip Nordo.  Nordo was a star in the department, known for putting in long hours and closing cases – he had a hand in convicting more than 100 people. But that day in the homicide unit, Wagner says Nordo asked him some unnerving questions: Would he ever consider doing porn? Guy-on-guy porn?  Wagner would go on to be convicted of the murder in a case largely built by Nordo – and Wagner’s experience has led him to believe Nordo fabricated evidence and coerced false statements to frame him. For years, Philadelphia Inquirer reporters Chris Palmer and Samantha Melamed have dug into Nordo’s career, looking into allegations of his misconduct. In this episode, they follow the rumors to defense attorney Andrew Pappas, who subpoenas the prison call log between Nordo and one of his informants. It’s there where Pappas finds evidence that something is not right about the way Nordo is conducting his police work.  Pappas’ findings prompt the Philadelphia district attorney’s office to launch an investigation into Nordo. The patterns that prosecutors found by reviewing Nordo’s calls and emails with incarcerated men, examining his personnel file, and interviewing men who interacted with him showed shocking coercion and abuse. Almost 20 years after the first complaint was filed against Nordo, the disgraced detective’s actions became public. He was charged and his case went to trial. Palmer and Melamed analyze the fallout from the scandal and seek answers from the Police Department on how it addressed Nordo’s misconduct and how he got away with it for so long.   This is an update of an episode that originally aired in December 2022. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:56 3/2/24
Listening in on Russia’s War in Ukraine
In this week’s episode, produced in collaboration with the Associated Press, reporters on the front lines take us inside Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and share never-before-heard recordings of Russian soldiers.  The day President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, Feb. 24, 2022, Russia unleashed a brutal assault on the strategic port city of Mariupol. That same day, a team of AP reporters arrived in the city. Vasilisa Stepanenko, Evgeniy Maloletka and Mstyslav Chernov kept their cameras and tape recorders rolling throughout the onslaught. Together, they captured some of the defining images of the war in Ukraine. Stepanenko and Maloletka talk with guest host Michael Montgomery about risking their lives to document blasted buildings, enormous bomb craters and the daily life of traumatized civilians. As Russian troops advanced on Mariupol, the journalists managed to escape with hours of their own material and recordings from the body camera of a noted Ukrainian medic, Yuliia Paievska. The powerful footage went viral and showed the world the brutalities of the war, as well as remarkable acts of courage by journalists, doctors and ordinary citizens.   Next, we listen to audio that’s never been publicly shared before: phone calls Russian soldiers made during the first weeks of the invasion, secretly recorded by the Ukrainian government. AP reporter Erika Kinetz obtained more than 2,000 of these calls. Using social media and other tools, she explores the lives of two soldiers whose calls home capture intimate moments with friends and family. The intercepted calls reveal the fear-mongering and patriotism that led some of the men to go from living regular lives as husbands, sons and fathers to talking about killing civilians.  In Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, Russian soldiers left streets strewn with the bodies of civilians killed during their brief occupation. Kinetz shares her experiences visiting Bucha and speaking with survivors soon after Russian troops retreated. In the secret intercepts, Russian soldiers speak of “cleansing operations.” One soldier tells his mother: “We don’t imprison them. We kill them all.”  Will Russian soldiers and political leaders be prosecuted for war crimes? Montgomery talks with Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer who received a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. She runs the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, which has been gathering evidence of human rights abuses and war crimes in Ukraine since Russia’s first invasion in 2014. Matviichuk says it’s important for war crimes to be handled by Ukrainian courts, but the country’s legal system is overwhelmed and notoriously corrupt. She says there is an important role for the international community in creating a system that can bring justice for all Ukrainians.   Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:48 2/24/24
The Plague in the Shadows
HIV/AIDS changed the United States and the world. It has killed some 40 million people and continues to kill today. This week, reporters Kai Wright and Lizzy Ratner from the podcast Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows take us back to the early years of the HIV epidemic in New York City and show how the virus tore through some of our most vulnerable communities while the wider world looked away.  Wright begins by looking at the initial media coverage of HIV, as well as the first health bulletins circulated by the medical community. Both focused on the spread of the virus within the gay men’s community, creating a feedback loop that resulted in other vulnerable groups being overlooked – including women, communities of color and children. Then Ratner tells the story of Katrina Haslip, a prisoner at a maximum-security prison in upstate New York in the 1980s. Haslip and other incarcerated women started a support group to educate each other about HIV and AIDS. The group was called ACE – for AIDS Counseling and Education – and it advocated for women, minorities and prisoners who were being overlooked in the nation's response to the epidemic. In the final segment, we learn how Haslip took her activism beyond prison walls after her release in 1990. She joined protests in Washington and met with leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. One of the main goals was to change the definition of AIDS, which at the time excluded many symptoms that appeared in HIV-positive women. This meant that women with AIDS often did not qualify for government benefits such as Medicaid and disability insurance.  The podcast series Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows is a co-production of The History Channel and WNYC Studios. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:47 2/17/24
Alphabet Boys Revealed
The summer of 2020 was a hinge point in American history. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police inspired racial justice demonstrations nationwide. At the time, the FBI was convinced that extreme Black political activists could cross the line into domestic terrorism – a theory federal agents had first termed “Black identity extremism.” That summer, Mickey Windecker approached the FBI. He drove a silver hearse, claimed to have been a volunteer fighter for the French Foreign Legion and the Peshmerga in Iraq, and had arrest records in four states that included convictions for misdemeanor sexual assault and menacing with a weapon, a felony. He claimed to the FBI that he had heard racial justice activists speak vaguely of training and violent revolution in Denver.  The FBI enlisted Windecker as a paid informant, gave him a recording device and instructed him to infiltrate Denver's growing Black Lives Matter movement. For months, Windecker spied on activists and attempted to recruit two Black men into an FBI-engineered plot to assassinate the state's attorney general. Windecker's undercover work is the first documented case of FBI efforts to infiltrate the 2020 racial justice movement. Journalist Trevor Aaronson obtained over a dozen hours of Windecker's secret recordings and more than 300 pages of internal FBI reports for season 1 of the podcast series Alphabet Boys.  This episode of Reveal is a partnership with Alphabet Boys and production company Western Sound.  This is an update of an episode that originally aired in September 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:40 2/10/24
The 13th Step
Lauren Chooljian from New Hampshire Public Radio reports on a widespread culture of sexual misconduct in the addiction treatment industry. Across the country, women seeking treatment are being harassed and assaulted by men in positions of power. The problem is so pervasive that it has a name among those in the industry: the 13th Step. We begin with Chooljian explaining to host Al Letson the case that got her started on this investigation. It involved Eric Spofford, owner of New Hampshire’s largest addiction treatment network. After exposing allegations that Spofford was harassing patients, Chooljian, her sources and staff at New Hampshire Public Radio became the targets of intimidation and, in some cases, vandalism. Chooljian then chronicles another case, this one in California, that illustrates how difficult it is to bring to justice wealthy, powerful people in the industry. Chris Bathum owned a network of treatment centers in California and Colorado and was routinely sexually assaulting clients and offering them drugs. He was also submitting false billing claims to insurance companies. We meet two women, Rose Stahl and Debbie Herzog, who were separately investigating Bathum. Stahl started as a client at one of Bathum’s centers and later worked for him. She pursued evidence that he was assaulting women at the center, while Herzog was looking into insurance fraud.  Stahl blew the whistle about Bathum’s inappropriate behavior to leadership within the company, but the actions they took did not stop him. At the same time, Herzog was facing hurdles in convincing law enforcement to pay attention to the case she was building about insurance fraud. Then serendipitously, Herzog and Stahl learn of each other’s efforts and team up to try to bring Bathum to justice.   
50:38 2/3/24
The Battle for Clean Energy in Coal Country
Montana has a long history of making money by extracting and exporting its natural resources, namely coal. State politicians and Montana’s largest electricity utility company seem set on keeping it that way.  Reveal’s Jonathan Jones travels to the town of Colstrip in the southeastern part of the state. It is home to one of the largest coal seams in the country – and one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West. He learns that Montana’s largest power company, NorthWestern Energy, has expanded its stake in the plant, even though it’s the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gas in the state. Jones speaks with Colstrip’s mayor about the importance of coal mining to the local community. He also speaks to local ranchers and a tribal official who’ve been working for generations to protect the water and land from coal development.   Jones follows the money to the state’s capital, where lawmakers have passed some of the most extreme laws to keep the state from addressing climate change. He dives into lobbying records behind a flurry of bills that are keeping the state reliant on fossil fuels. He meets with one of the plaintiffs involved in a first-of-its-kind youth-led lawsuit. The group successfully sued Montana for violating their constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment.” Jones also finds that NorthWestern is planning to build a new methane gas plant on the banks of the Yellowstone River, and the company is being met with resistance from people who live near the site.  Finally, Jones visits the state’s largest wind farm and speaks with a renewable energy expert, who says Montana can close its coal plants, never build a new gas plant and transition to 100% clean energy while reducing electricity costs for consumers. Jones also speaks with NorthWestern’s CEO and looks at other coal communities in transition.    This is an update of an episode that originally aired in June 2023. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:31 1/27/24
Black in the Sunshine State
Last summer, Reveal host Al Letson returned home to Jacksonville, Florida, to find a changed state. The Republican Legislature had passed a slate of laws targeting minority groups. Educators could now face criminal penalties over the material they teach regarding gender and sexuality, and schools across the state were banning books about queer families, transgender youth and Black history. There were also repeated instances of racist and anti-Semitic speech, including Nazis waving swastikas in front of Disney World. All of this contributed to the NAACP issuing a rare travel advisory stating that “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” Then on Aug. 26, a White supremacist killed three Black people at a Dollar General in Jacksonville.  When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended a vigil for the victims, he was met with boos and mourners shouting, “Your policies caused this.”  In this episode, Letson digs into the policies DeSantis and the Legislature have passed in recent years and their effects on Black Floridians and other people of color. He speaks with a history teacher who says the new laws have made it harder to educate students, as well as a mother who describes books being removed from her daughter’s classroom and rules barring students from sharing books with friends at school. Letson also interviews state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who championed many of the new policies, including the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts how racism and history are taught in schools.  In the final segment, Letson examines redistricting in the state. In 2022, DeSantis vetoed maps drawn by the Republican Legislature, and the governor’s office instead drew new maps that got rid of two Black-dominated districts and increased the number of Republican-leaning districts. Those maps, which were subsequently passed by lawmakers, are now being battled over in both state and federal court. To understand the debate, Letson speaks with reporter Andrew Pantazi of the Jacksonville news organization The Tributary, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Fine defends the new maps, saying they’re designed to challenge Florida’s Constitution, which he argues requires “racial gerrymandering.” Democratic state Rep. Angie Nixon says the new maps violate Florida’s constitutional protections of racial minorities and their ability to “elect representatives of their choice.” Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:02 1/20/24
The Double Life of a Civil Rights Icon
Some of the most enduring photos of the civil rights movement were taken by Ernest Withers. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Withers earned the trust of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. But as it turns out, he was secretly taking photos for the federal government as well. This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Wesley Lowery brings us the story of Withers in an adaptation of the podcast “Unfinished: Ernie’s Secret,” from Scripps News and Stitcher. Lowery starts by explaining how Withers earned his reputation as a chronicler of the civil rights movement. We tour a museum of Withers’ photographs with his daughter Roz, who deconstructs his famous “I Am a Man” photo of striking sanitation workers. Civil rights leader Andrew Young explains that without Withers’ photographs, they wouldn’t have had a movement. We then learn that after Withers’ death, a Memphis reporter named Marc Perrusquia followed up on an old lead about the photographer: that he was secretly working for the FBI. Perrusquia gained access to thousands of reports and photos taken for the FBI by Withers. We hear excerpts from several reports and meet the daughter of the agent who recruited Withers. During the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the bureau recruited thousands of informants as part of a covert program originally created to monitor communists in America but ended up targeting the civil rights movement, as well as other individuals and groups. We close with reflections on Withers by people who knew him. While some believe Withers betrayed the cause of civil rights, others are more forgiving. They say his actions were part of a larger narrative about the U.S. government’s unchecked power to spy on its own citizens and extinguish ideas and movements it felt were a threat. Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:09 1/13/24

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