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The Last Archive

The Last Archive

The Last Archive? is a show about the history of truth, and the historical context for our current fake news, post-truth moment. It?s a show about how we know what we know, and why it seems, these days, as if we don?t know anything at all anymore. The show is driven by host Jill Lepore?s work as a historian, uncovering the secrets of the past the way a detective might. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries. 


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Revisionist History Takes Down The Little Mermaid

This week, we're presenting something fun from Malcolm Gladwell, co-founder of Pushkin. In a special series from his podcast, Revisionist History, Malcolm is launching a massive frontal assault on The Little Mermaid. You might wonder, "what's Malcolm doing? It's a children's classic!" But according to Malcolm, it's not a classic... It's a cinematic dumpster fire. And Revisionist History is devoting no fewer than three episodes to explain why. In the finale, Malcolm enlists an all-star cast to make his own version of The Little Mermaid, featuring Dax Shepard, Brit Marling, Jodie Foster and Glenn Close. You can hear the entire three-part series, right now, at Learn more about your ad-choices at
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HISTORY This Week: The Fairness Doctrine

Presenting an episode from another podcast we think you?ll like, called HISTORY This Week. Each Monday, it brings you a story about the people, places, and moments that shaped history that week. In this episode, they delve into the history of the Fairness Doctrine, the rule that told broadcasters they had to present more than one side of an issue. In that same spirit, you'll hear from people who fought for and against the doctrine. You might remember from 'The Last Archive' Season 2 Episode 8, the doctrine became a source of much debate, even reaching the Supreme Court.  You can listen to more episodes of HISTORY This Week at Learn more about your ad-choices at
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This season has chronicled a long, dark century of lies, fakes, frauds, and hoaxes. In the season 2 finale, Jill Lepore draws that history all the way down to the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. This week: the winding path from the little-known Iron Mountain hoax of the late-1960s to the Capitol insurrection on January 6th, 2021. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Hush Rush

In the 1980s, Rush Limbaugh transformed talk radio. In the process, he radicalized his listeners and the conservative movement. Limbaugh?s talk radio style became a staple of the modern right. Then, the left joined the fray. This week: partisan loudmouth versus partisan loudmouth, and the shifting media landscape that helped create modern political warfare. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Children of Zorin

In the 1970s, a Soviet journalist named Valentin Zorin made a series of documentary films about the United States. At a time when few Russian journalists came to the U.S., Zorin traveled all across the country, and gained access few American journalists had. The Cold War was a battle of ideas, and Zorin saw himself on the frontlines. He was on a quest to unmask the United States by spreading doubt, conspiracy theories, and a strange cocktail of truth and misinformation. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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It Came From Outer Space

A fake moon landing. Astronauts carrying space pathogens back to earth. Michael Crichton?s Andromeda Strain. HIV manufactured in a government laboratory. COVID-19 vaccines killing millions. In this episode, Jill Lepore follows a trail of disease stories and conspiracies from Apollo 11 to COVID-19. In part two of our series about the moon landing: Apollo?s splashdown, and the tidal wave of doubt it set off. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Remote Control

In 1961, President Kennedy announced that the United States would go to the moon. Eight years later, the Apollo 11 astronauts set foot upon its surface. Millions of Americans watched live on their televisions as it happened, but somehow the pinnacle of man?s achievement became a wellspring of conspiracy theories. In this first episode of a two-part series on the moon landing, Jill Lepore traces the explosion of conspiratorial thinking that began with Apollo 11?s lift off ? a path winding from awe of science, to the unshakeable faith that everything is a conspiracy. The more extraordinary scientific research and technology got, the more difficult it became to keep sight of the line between fact and fiction, and between the believable and the unbelievable.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Repeat After Me

One night in 1952, a Coloradan businessman hypnotized a local housewife. Under his spell, she began to recount her past life as a 19th-century Irish woman. He caught it on tape. The story of her reincarnation tore out of their Colorado town and across the world. It spawned major motion pictures, an international bestselling book, and a national hypnosis craze. But beneath all the uproar lay a set of questions that revealed a deep worry about the nature of self in the 1950s, the decade?s strange mishmash of psychology and spiritualism, and an anxiety about gender. This week on The Last Archive: Who are you, really? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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The Inner Front

During World War II, Nazi radio broadcast the voice of an American woman who came to be known as Axis Sally. She spoke, via shortwave radio, to American women, attempting to turn them against their country and the American war effort. She was waging a battle on what came to be called the Inner Front, the war of public opinion. Propaganda-by-radio was new then; so was psychological warfare. Writers, poets, psychologists, propagandists, and broadcasters all took to the airwaves in the 1930s and 1940s in a pitched battle of words and sound. After the war, two American women who had broadcast for Axis powers, Germany and Japan, were prosecuted for treason. How did the courts measure the power of words, over radio, to change minds? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Believe It

Ripley?s Believe It Or Not! was one of the most popular radio shows of the 1930s, and for good reason: Early radio, not unlike the Internet of nearly a century later, was obsessed with doubt about belief. On this episode of The Last Archive, Jill Lepore spins the dial and takes a tour of 1930s radio ? from Robert Ripley to Charlie Chan, from Mexican broadcaster Pedro González to the shows of Orson Welles: the full spectrum of true and false on the air. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Monkey Business

In 1925, John Scopes, a high school teacher from Dayton, Tennessee, was put on trial for teaching evolution. It came to be called the "monkey trial," a landmark in the history of doubt. All over the country, Americans tuned in on their radios as science and faith battled in the courtroom. But the nation also witnessed something else: the beginnings of a culture war that?s been waged ever since. This episode on The Last Archive, a skeptical chronicle of an early battle in that war. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Coming Soon: Season Two

Coming Soon: the second season of The Last Archive, a podcast about the history of truth and the shadow of doubt written and hosted by New Yorker writer and celebrated historian Jill Lepore. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Election Special

We're back with a special, election-themed episode of The Last Archive! While reporting Episode 5: Project X, Jill spoke to Bob Schieffer, famed TV newsman of CBS, about how computers and the Internet changed the way we report on elections, and even the way they turn out. It's been sitting on the shelf here in the last archive for a little while now, but it feels eerily prescient. So, take a listen, take a deep breath, and good luck come November. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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For ten episodes, we?ve been asking a big question: Who killed truth? The answer has to do with a change in the elemental unit of knowledge: the fall of the fact, and the rise of data. So, for the last chapter in our investigation, we rented a cherry red convertible, and went to the place all the data goes: Silicon Valley. In our season finale, we reckon with a weird foreshortening of history, the fussiness of old punch cards, the unreality of simulation, and the difficulty of recording audio with the top down on the 101. Hop in. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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For the Birds

In the spring of 1958, when the winter snow melted and the warm sun returned, the birds did not. Birdwatchers, ordinary people, everyone wondered where the birds had gone. Rachel Carson, a journalist and early environmentalist, figured it out ? they?d been poisoned by DDT, a pesticide that towns all over the country had been spraying. Carson wrote a book about it, Silent Spring. It succeeded in stopping DDT, and it launched the modern environmental movement. But now, more than 60 years later, birds are dying off en masse again. Our question is simple: What are the birds trying to tell us this time, and why can?t we hear their message any more? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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She Said, She Said

In 1969, radical feminists known as the Redstockings gathered in a church in Greenwich Village, and spoke about their experiences with abortion. They called this ?consciousness-raising? or ?speaking bitterness,? and it changed the history of women?s rights, all the way down to the 1977 National Women?s Convention and, really, down to the present day. The idea of ?speaking bitterness? came from a Maoist practice, and is a foundation to both the #MeToo movement and the conservative Victim?s Rights movement. But at what cost? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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The Computermen

In 1966, just as the foundations of the Internet were being imagined, the federal government considered building a National Data Center. It would be a centralized federal facility to hold computer records from each federal agency, in the same way that the Library of Congress holds books and the National Archives holds manuscripts. Proponents argued that it would help regulate and compile the vast quantities of data the government was collecting. Quickly, though, fears about privacy, government conspiracies, and government ineptitude buried the idea. But now, that National Data Center looks like a missed opportunity to create rules about data and privacy before the Internet took off. And in the absence of government action, corporations have made those rules themselves. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Cell Strain

In the 1950s, polio spread throughout the United States. Heartbreakingly, it affected mainly children. Thousands died. Thousands more were paralyzed. Many ended up surviving only in iron lungs, a machine that breathed for polio victims, sometimes for years. Scientists raced to find a vaccine. After a few hard years of widespread quarantine and isolation, the scientists succeeded. The discovery of the polio vaccine was one of the brightest moments in public health history. But a vaccine required Americans to believe in a truth they couldn?t see with their own eyes. It also raised questions of access, of racial equity, and of the federal government?s role in healthcare, questions whose legacy we?re living with today. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Project X

The election of 1952 brought all kinds of new technology into the political sphere. The Eisenhower campaign experimented with the first television ads to feature an American presidential candidate. And on election night, CBS News premiered the first computer to predict an American election ? the UNIVAC. Safe to say, that part didn?t go according to plan. But election night 1952 is ground zero for our current, political post-truth moment. If a computer and a targeted advertisement can both use heaps data to predict every citizen?s every decision, can voters really know things for themselves after all? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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In 1945, Ralph Ellison went to a barn in Vermont and began to write Invisible Man. He wrote it in the voice of a black man from the south, a voice that changed American literature. Invisible Man is a novel made up of black voices that had been excluded from the historical record until, decades earlier, he?d helped record them with the WPA?s Federal Writers Project. What is the evidence of a voice? How can we truly know history without everyone?s voices? This episode traces those questions ? from the quest to record oral histories of formerly enslaved people, to Black Lives Matter and the effort to record the evidence of police brutality. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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The Invisible Lady

In 1804, an Invisible Lady arrived in New York City. She went on to become the most popular attraction in the country. But why? And who was she? In this episode, we chase her through time, finding invisible women everywhere, wondering: What is the relationship between keeping women invisible and the histories of privacy, and of knowledge? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Detection of Deception

When James Frye, a young black man, is charged with murder under unusual circumstances in 1922, he trusts his fate to a strange new machine: the lie detector. Why did the lie detector?s inventor, William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor and lawyer, think a machine could tell if a human being is lying better than a jury? And what does it all have to do with Wonder Woman? Learn more about your ad-choices at
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The Clue of the Blue Bottle

On a spring day in 1919, a woman?s body was found bound, gagged, and strangled in a garden in Barre, Vermont. Who was she? Who killed her? In this episode, we try to solve a cold case - reopening a century-old murder investigation - as a way to uncover the history of evidence itself. What is a clue? What is a fact? What is a mystery? We put the pieces of the puzzle together: photographs, newspaper articles, a private eye?s notebook, the trial record and, last but not least, a trip to the scene of the crime. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Introducing The Last Archive

The Last Archive?:? a new podcast about the history of evidence written and hosted by New Yorker writer, author, and celebrated historian Jill Lepore. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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