GroundTruth

The GroundTruth Project

At the height of the Vietnam War, a government insider named Daniel Ellsberg leaked 7,000 pages of classified documents to American newspapers. The Pentagon Papers revealed that Americans had been lied to for decades about the war. Fifty years later, Ellsberg reveals his evolution from Cold Warrior to Whistleblower in the GroundTruth Podcast series The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg.

Based at GBH in Boston, the award-winning GroundTruth Podcast has covered global affairs from the War in Afghanistan to rising populist nationalism through shoe-leather, on-the-ground reporting.

The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg TRAILER
Trailer 4 min 19 sec

All Episodes

After 10 seasons of the award-winning GroundTruth Podcast, we’re excited about what might come next.  But to find the best way forward, we want to hear from listeners like you: What stories do you feel are under-reported and need to be told? What questions do you have about the podcast? Give us your feedback and ask us questions about the GroundTruth podcast, about our mission and our vision and our service programs in the field Report for America and more newly launched Report for the World. Your questions might be featured on a special episode. And as a special thanks to loyal listeners, we'll send some very cool GroundTruth swag to the first three listeners who leave a voice message. Here are the instructions:  Call us at (339) 365-3754 and leave the message. In that voice message, share with us your feedback about the show: What seasons, episodes or topics you liked, and what you’d like to hear more of in the future.  Then, ask me questions about. It can be about the themes of different season , about particular interviews we featured, what we do here at GroundTruth – ask us anything. Finally, be sure to leave a call back number so we can get in touch about sending you some swag.

Nov 21

1 min 23 sec

In war, truth is the first casualty. It's a military maxim attributed to Aeschylus, the father of Greek tragedy. In the lead up to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and ahead of the withdrawal from a war that became the longest in American history, GroundTruth's founder Charlie Sennott returns to Afghanistan and revisits a conflict he has covered on the ground since its first battles and its first casualties. Two decades later, amid an American departure from Afghanistan that many have compared to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, Sennott examines the two conflicts: the government's lies and deceptions about Vietnam revealed by Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, the lessons left unheeded by American leaders during the Afghan war, and why it took us so long to see the mounting lies of that war. This episode concludes The Whistleblower, our 10th season of the GroundTruth Podcast, which began with the award-winning series Foreverstan, on-the-ground reporting from Afghanistan examining the first 14 years of the war. Listen to our first season: http://bit.ly/Foreverstan-Podcast Now we’re going to take a step back and evaluate this podcast and think about our best way forward. How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in under-covered corners of the world? We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at ‪(339) 365-3754. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. The Whistleblower podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/UMass-Ellsberg-Archive

Sep 10

18 min 20 sec

A class of college students at UMass Amherst became the first group of researchers to take on Daniel Ellsberg's vast archive. For two students, it's more than a history project: It's a family story. We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at ‪(339) 365-3754. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to Season 11 of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Aug 31

18 min 27 sec

Before he was helping plan the Vietnam War, Ellsberg was working at Rand Corporation as a nuclear war planner. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, he came across a classified policy document that called for killing a fifth of the human population. “This, to me, was pure evil.” When he was facing trial for releasing the Pentagon Papers, he held another trove of secret documents on the Pentagon’s plans for nuclear war. His plan was to release these, most likely from prison. But in a strange twist, a natural disaster interrupted his plans. In the series finale, the whistleblower leaks documents on U.S. nuclear policy in the Taiwan Straits written by his colleague Morton Halperin at the height of the Cold War. The documents, embedded below, are still considered classified, and could put him at risk of prison time. This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Jun 23

40 min 4 sec

Now facing a possible 115 years in prison, Daniel Ellsberg awaits his federal espionage trial. Meanwhile, Nixon unleashes his Plumbers in an attempt to silence Ellsberg, and Barbra Streisand sings for the defense! In this episode we trace the series of events that tied Daniel Ellsberg’s espionage trial to the fate of Richard Nixon’s presidency. This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Jun 10

34 min 4 sec

On September 30, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg opened his newspaper to a story out of Vietnam that would act as the trigger for copying the Pentagon Papers. We pick up on this wild ride when he offers the papers to members of Congress, who shrugged him off. He then went to the New York Times, the first publication of the papers landed on the front page on June 13th, 1971. Over the next 13 days, an FBI manhunt swept the Boston area for Ellsberg and his wife Patricia. Upon turning himself in, Ellsberg had sent copies of the papers to 17 newspapers around the country. This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

May 18

44 min 28 sec

Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press knowing he could face the rest of his life in prison. But what turned this Cold War hawk into an anti-war dove? What were the motivating events and people who influenced his transformation? At 15, a tragic car accident would shape his sense of responsibility to the wider world. His time in the Marine Corps strengthened his dedication to serving his country. But in 1968 he would begin an unlikely encounter with another faction, the anti-war movement. Their dedication to serving the truth would lead Ellsberg to a massive act of dissent. We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Apr 30

39 min 7 sec

In the series premiere, we pick up on Ellsberg’s first day at the Pentagon, the day he became acquainted with what he came to call the “lying machine.” It was August 4, 1964. Contradicting accounts of an attack in The Gulf of Tonkin would give President Johnson the green light to lead the country into war in Vietnam based on a lie. We follow this thread, and the deception, through his time in the field in Vietnam, where he saw how the lies on the ground made their way back to Washington. Back home, Ellsberg observes the power of leaking government lies: His very first leak to The New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan helped to end a presidency. This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more: https://www.ellsbergpapers.org/conference/ We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Apr 15

53 min 3 sec

Americans across the country opened their newspapers to the first reports based on classified documents leaked by a government insider, Daniel Ellsberg. Consisting of 7,000 pages of top secret documents, the Pentagon Papers revealed in cold, analytical detail how four presidential administrations lied to the American public: the reasons for entering the war, the failures of their policies, the low chances of success, and the reasons for staying the course. But for Ellsberg, the facts were overwhelming, the lies, extraordinary, and the dissonance too deafening for him to simply stay the course, as so many other administration officials had done. This 5-part podcast series sheds light on the pivotal moments and role models that motivated Ellsberg to risk 115 years in jail in service to the truth. The series also explores his role as a nuclear planner, firmly convinced that a nuclear war would vanquish the human race in his lifetime. In exclusive interviews with Ellsberg, he reveals his evolution from Cold Warrior to whistleblower, the legacy of truth and dissent in the U.S., and their implications for our democracy today. This season of the GroundTruth Podcast is part of a year-long public history project in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and GBH, Boston and was made possible through the generous support of the UMass Chancellor’s Office. We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Apr 2

4 min 19 sec

The turmoil of the 2020 presidential election campaigns has raised questions about just what it means to vote. Who gets to pull the lever? How can someone cast their ballot? Will all of the votes be counted in time? GroundTruth’s Voting Rights Fellows share local stories of voters, activists and election officials working to preserve the process this Nov. 3. Explore our Election 2020 reporting: https://thegroundtruthproject.org/election-episode-2020-and-counting/ Keep up with our on-the-ground reporting: https://bit.ly/2Jj1BRL We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast. As we look ahead to the next season of the GroundTruth Podcast, we want to feedback from listeners like you: How do we keep going and finding new ways to be there on the ground, telling audio stories that matter in undercovered corners of the world?

Oct 2020

47 min

When you think about Kentucky's deep red politics today, it's likely the face of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his laconic drawl that comes to mind. But one northern corner of this solidly Republican state is streaked blue by its state house representation. Covering local government in northern Kentucky through our Report for America program, reporter Julia Fair with the Cincinnati Enquirer has been following this trend just across the Ohio River. It’s there, in Kentucky's District 67, that she’s been covering a race for the Kentucky general assembly. And though you may think you know where this story is headed, it’s not politics as usual. As Julia says, in her time reporting on local politics, she’s never seen a race quite like this – one that is starkly framed by a time of deep political divides. We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Oct 2020

12 min 32 sec

The origins of Blues music is a complex weave of traditions, and the genre echoes suffering and endurance through centuries of hardship. Evolving from blended musical forms brought to the United States by enslaved Africans, then taking on the rhythm of work in the fields and heart of spirituals, the oppressive environment of the Jim Crow South ultimately shaped the Blues as we know it today. Today, the Blues are more often romanticized as the ballads of down and out troubadours, rambling and poor, but following their passion for music. Blues legend Robert Johnson’s story epitomizes these hard realities and an enduring mythology that surrounds his memory. Legend has it that Johnson signed a deal with the devil to perfect his guitar playing. And like so many legends, mystery shrouds the actual person and what really happened in his 27 years on earth, how he died and where he is buried. Until 2002, nobody knew for certain where the King of the Delta Blues Singers was laid to rest. Report for America corps member Alexandra Watts takes us on a journey to Robert Johnson’s final resting place in the Mississippi Delta. Listen to our Blues playlist: https://bit.ly/3imgIWn We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Oct 2020

23 min 7 sec

For most of us, it's hard to ignore the rising threat of climate change. But the sheer magnitude of the devastation it could cause is daunting. For those journalists trying to convey the sense of urgency to the public, it can become overwhelming. Living on Cape Cod, where towns and residents are trying to beat back rising tides with seawalls and sand, WCAI climate change reporter Eve Zuckoff is finding it difficult to build barriers of her own – between the existential threat she covers professionally and her life outside of work. Learn more: https://gtruth.co/35kZh5Z We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Sep 2020

13 min 12 sec

For many growing up in Chicago, the barber shop is a refuge. Raised on the Windy City's West Side, Report for America corps member Manny Ramos knows that fact well. "Barbers do more than just cut hair," he says, "they record history." They hear about the aspirations of the people whose hair they trim, and whose major life events they mark together. Ramos' reporting shows us how the barber shop has come to play a key role as a "community center" in Chicago, and how the loss of one barber rippled through the South Side. Learn more: https://gtruth.co/2E8THIN We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Aug 2020

19 min 9 sec

In August 2018, well before any thought of a pandemic sweeping the country, Mississippi’s prison system saw a spike in inmate deaths. Correctional officials attributed many of these to “natural causes.” But these deaths aren't the only concerns for inmates and their families. Conditions in some of these prisons – men sleeping five to a cell or the sparse and unappetizing meals they get on a day to day basis or what the showers look like – have come to light through documentation by the inmates themselves. For this episode, Report for America corps member Michelle Liu takes us inside her investigation into these unexplained deaths, why the victims’ families remain in the dark and what life is like for the inmates within the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Read Liu's in-depth reporting and further reporting on inmate rights, along with some of the sounds behind the story here: https://gtruth.co/3fEo4TY We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Aug 2020

19 min 25 sec

Bird Singing is an oral tradition that has been passed down for centuries among the tribes across the American Southwest. These stories are sung by male members of tribes – from young boys to elders – whose only accompaniment is a gourd fashioned into a shaker. But the threat of COVID-19 has forced these traditions online, in isolation. See video of Bird Singers performing here: https://gtruth.co/2X4lyjh We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Jul 2020

24 min 29 sec

“Deadly Force,” a new podcast series from Report for America host newsroom WPLN in Nashville, focuses on the trial of the first Nashville police officer to be charged with murder for shooting someone in the line of duty. Through newly uncovered documents, original interviews and audio footage, Deadly Force gets a glimpse into the mind of a police officer struggling to make sense of when to use his gun and the culture in Nashville surrounding the use of force. We speak with reporter Samantha Max on how the investigative report unfolded, and the status of the murder trial, which had been delayed due to COVID-19. https://gtruth.co/3jcoyUd We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Jul 2020

22 min 11 sec

July 3, 2018. It was almost Independence Day. Lee Eric Evans straightened a flag pole on his aunt’s front porch. He carefully unfurled an American flag so that it hung properly, making sure it didn’t touch the ground. Lee, who is 26 years old, was fussing over the flag for the 4th of July celebrations in the Farish Street Historic District which would happen the next day. I was working on a story about the importance of the District as a hub of black-owned businesses in the 1920’s and 1930s. I wanted to understand how this once-thriving economy had descended into neglect and how the city had become seized by violence. I told Lee Eric why I thought the story was important, and asked if I could talk with him about the neighborhood. Within days, Lee Eric Evans would be shot dead: https://thegroundtruthproject.org/portrait-struggle-violence-mississippi/ We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Jul 2020

11 min 5 sec

Report for America corps member Chris Ehrmann continues on his road trip across America, picking up in St. Louis, where economic recovery depends on where you live. Chris listens to protesters from Denver to Los Angeles, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, who are wondering, is this a tipping point? https://thegroundtruthproject.org/on-the-ground-with-report-for-america-pandemic-and-protest/ We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Jun 2020

21 min 33 sec

Report for America corps member Chris Ehrmann embarked on a road trip across America, literally, from Times Square to Los Angeles, California. He traced the new landscape of COVID-19 across time zones and state lines. He spoke to those whose loved ones have been directly impacted by the virus, squaring off against those impacted by a devastated economy. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, his journey to witness a nation under lockdown was suddenly layered with thousands of protestors pouring into the streets demanding justice. https://thegroundtruthproject.org/on-the-ground-with-report-for-america-pandemic-and-protest/ We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them on this podcast.

Jun 2020

22 min 9 sec

The 9th season of the GroundTruth Podcast is a playlist of stories from across America. We shadow our Report for America corps members as they bring us into their communities, and share the stories of people who’ve often felt unheard. Amid a pandemic and nationwide demands for justice and reform, the audio road trip begins with an actual road trip from coast to coast. We’d like to hear your thoughts about the podcast. Call us and leave a voice message with your feedback at *‪(339) 365-3754*. We listen to everything you send us and we might even share some of them in future podcast episodes.

Jun 2020

6 min 22 sec

As a thick morning fog was still lifting over the hills here above the San Francisco Bay, Ellsberg sat at his dining room table, sipping a cup of coffee and reading The New York Times. It was Friday, December 13th, the House Judiciary Committee had just sent the articles of impeachment for a full house floor vote.  It feels like deja vu, 50 years on. Dan Ellsberg was reflecting on then and now. To some, the whistleblower is a hero, to others, a traitor. But at their core, at least, whistleblowers are vested with secrets--it’s just part of their job. If the whistleblower protections are functioning, they are anonymous. These individuals have the highest security clearances, they’ve built careers around protecting their country from external threats.  But it is the internal threat that challenges civil servants to defend the fundamental tenets of the constitution, to risk everything they’ve worked for, and to blow the whistle on corruption, abuse of power, and criminal activity, carried out by their fellow citizens, even colleagues. For this epilogue to the Democracy Undone series, we reflect on the role of the whistleblower. Their proximity to the veiled, inner workings of government puts them in the unique position to monitor the integrity of our elected officials.    

Jan 2020

24 min 30 sec

As Donald Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th President of the United States, journalists’ role of covering the White House and the presidency was turned upside down. It started day one with the inauguration and the very first press conference.  Sean Spicer: “This was the largest audience to ever watch an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.” The next day, on Meet the Press Kellyanne Conway stepped forward to defend the president’s exaggerations. She coined a phrase that would define the trump era. Kellyanne Conway: “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving, Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that.” Politicians lie, they always have. But it seems to be a go-to strategy for the trump administration. From dealing with an issue as serious as the president’s justification for firing FBI Chief James Comey, to something as trivial as the crowd size at his inauguration.  But spreading disinformation has consequences...long-term consequences, which will shape how united these United States of America will actually be. How do we, as a nation, decide which truths are self-evident? ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Dec 2019

34 min 54 sec

LGBT communities face challenges in all parts of the world. But in Poland, the right-wing populist Law and Justice party spent the last year insisting that pro-LGBT stances were a western import meant to weaken Poland internally.  They claim that progressive social values have no place in polish identity, and refer to values pertaining to the LGBT community as “LGBT ideology.” Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński describes it as a battle.  “The LGBT ideology is an offensive. Look at the traveling circus going through our cities...First they provoke us, and when we react they cry and claim they are the victims. This must be unmasked and rejected. There must be order in our homeland.” For populist politicians, real or invented enemies are key to creating divisions in society. These divisions help win elections. They mobilize voters to conquer the enemy at the ballot box.  If the ruling Law and Justice party can convince the people that the so-called LGBT ideology is a threat to Polish identity, and by extension, Poland – it makes it easier for them to rule by the playbook tactic of divide and conquer. ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Dec 2019

31 min

In August, 1947, British colonial rule officially ended in India. Within 6 months, Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement, was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist who rejected Gandhi’s openness to India’s Muslims. For more than 70 years, India more or less remained a constitutional democracy granting religious equality to all. In 2014, Narendra Modi was elected prime minister. In May of 2019, Modi and his BJP party swept the elections with an overwhelming majority. This mandate gave Modi the power to reforge India in the mold of a Hindu nationalist ideology. To many observers, Modi literally unleashed the forces of Hindu nationalism that Gandhi feared, and that motivated his assassin. Ever since 2013, candidate Modi has made three campaign promises: He would cancel a provision in the Indian constitution that granted the troubled region of Kashmir its autonomy. He would weed out “illegal immigrants” from the country through a process called the NRC or National Register of Citizens. And third, he would enable construction of a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque used by Muslims for centuries. GroundTruth Global Reporting Fellow Soumya Shankar tracked Modi’s progress on each of these campaign promises. She begins in Kashmir, where she witnesses the upheaval of Modi’s latest policy shift on the only Muslim majority state in the country. It’s early August. Day 5 of the lockdown in Kashmir… ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Dec 2019

35 min 46 sec

It is often said that journalism is the first draft of history. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s dominance of Hungarian media gives him the power to not only write the first draft, but to rewrite history, in step with his own nationalist narrative. Over the past 9 years, media outlets in Hungary have fallen victim to Orban’s campaign to expand government control or to shut down independent media. Critics say Orban’s goal is to create his own media machine to control the political climate, and to deliver his party’s nationalist narrative. So far, he has succeeded. In the last 4 years, the number of pro-government news outlets in Hungary has shot up from 30 to over 500. Giving Viktor Orban control of over half of the news organizations in the country. ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Dec 2019

30 min 5 sec

In September, 2016, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, and Timochenko Jimenez, the rebel leader of the FARC--the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia--signed a historic agreement that formally ended more than 50 years of conflict. It was a remarkable scene. Guests were dressed in white to symbolize peace, and a childrens’ choir sang Beethoven’s* Ode to Joy.* Timochenko spoke first. Near the end of his 30 minute speech, he made a plea to the entire country. “I would like to ask for forgiveness for all the pain that we have caused during this war.” Santos spoke next. With great anticipation, he said that the entire planet celebrates because there is one less war in the world. He also addressed FARC members directly, on their new role in Colombian society: “Today as you rejoin society, as you become a political party, without weapons, following the rules of justice, truth and reparation that are part of the agreement, as head of state of this country that we all love, I would like to welcome you to democracy.”  It seemed this historical event would unite the country. But today, Colombia has yet to enjoy the promises of this peace treaty. Opponents of the accord’s implementation are assassinating social activists across Colombia, and some members of FARC have rearmed. Colombia’s political leaders, whose actions, or non-actions, are hurting the very people this peace deal was supposed to help. ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Nov 2019

31 min 15 sec

Matteo Salvini is one of Italy’s most popular politicians. His harsh rhetoric against migrants, the media, and cultural integration has resonated with Italians, especially the youth. His party is the Lega, or league in English, and in the last 6 years, their support among Italians under 35 has grown from 8% to over 20%. And even more broadly, Lega is now the second most popular party across Italy. In this episode, targeting outsiders in Italy, our global fellows Alessia Cerantola and Lorenzo Bagnoli spoke with young Italians who are joining right-wing movements. They say that Italy’s white, Christian identity is under threat from the influx of arriving migrants. ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Nov 2019

32 min 13 sec

Since taking office in January, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has weaponized the fear of widespread crime, and tapped into the country’s anger with the rampant corruption. The former army captain has given the police carte blanche to fight violence with violence. But his policy of “the only good criminal is a dead criminal” has also taken the lives of innocents in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. GroundTruth Fellow Leticia Duarte walked with the victims of police violence through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the places where their loved ones were gunned down. She also traveled to Virginia, to the home of Olavo de Carvalho, the “Steve Bannon” of Brazil, whose ideas helped Bolsonaro become president. Streaming from his home office, he commands an online army of trolls who intimidate anyone who raises their voice against the government policies. ABOUT THE SERIES In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Oct 2019

36 min 9 sec

The hallmarks of populist nationalism are gaining ground in many of the world’s largest democracies, from Modi’s India to Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Trump’s America. In these, and many other countries, elected leaders are flirting with aspects of authoritarianism in an extreme era of mass migration, digital disruption and the looming threat of climate change. In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order. Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

Oct 2019

3 min 38 sec

Crossing the Divide is a collaboration with WGBH that brought together a team of five reporters from red states and blue states to travel across the country in a van, exploring issues that divide us and stories that unite us. In this episode, Unheard in Appalachia, we take you through beautiful, mountainous Eastern Kentucky, where local economies are struggling, coal jobs continue to disappear, and people are frustrated by decades of failed government programs that have done little to help with problems connected to poverty, hazardous work conditions and poor nutrition. During our reporting road trip across America, we heard from those who feel unheard.

Aug 2019

31 min 21 sec

Somalia is often called a land of poets, a place where everything from teenage romance to legal disputes has been recorded and passed down through poems. As conflict and drought have driven hundreds of thousands of Somalis from that homeland, the poetry has travelled with them. But here in the U.S., Somali-American poets must find new words and metaphors to describe their new environment. Amal Hussein and Hamdi Mohamed have a lot in common. Both were born in Kenya, where their parents had fled as refugees, and both came to Boston when they were just a few years old. They’re both 23 years old, they’re both poets — and equally important for this story — both their grandmothers are poets. This video shows a style of Somali poetry called gabay that both their grandmothers perform. As you can hear, the poem is as musical as it is lyrical. But there’s one crucial difference in the two women’s stories. Hamdi grew up with her ayeeyo (grandmother) in the house, whispering poems in her ears. Amal has only known her ayeeyo on the phone — she stayed behind in Somalia when the rest of the family fled. Nevertheless, it is the distant words and stories of her grandmother that inspire Amal to take on the challenge of writing her own gabay.

Jul 2019

28 min 5 sec

In honor of Memorial Day, we’re looking back at World War 1, the Great War. It’s been a century since the world powers gathered in Paris to hammer out terms for peace. No Germans were present. In fact, they were not invited to participate in the deliberations. But their worst fears were realized in the punishing terms of the treaty: Germany would pay dearly for its role in the war. There was great expectation that this would be the War to End all Wars. But the Treaty of Versailles came to be known as the peace to end all peace. This treaty forged a new global order of alliances that attempted to guard against a repeat of such a catastrophic war. But the treaty failed, and some believe exacerbated the grievances, laying the groundwork for an even deadlier, second world war. This episode, we look at the circumstances that led to the Great War, and how those circumstances are similar to today.

May 2019

39 min 58 sec

The Dead Sea lies at the lowest elevation on earth. And in the arid valley that stretches to the salt lake's western shore sits Ein Gedi, a nature preserve and oasis that ranges from lush, spring fed gardens, to parched craggy rock, dotted with palm trees. Here, among this barren but beautiful landscape, a massive stage is perched amid the dusty rocks, complete with giant video screens and dazzling light displays. It looks more like a docked spaceship than a concert venue. What is normally a peaceful desert scene is now blanketed by the rumbling of a tour bus convoy, and a bank of electricity generators droning in the background. It’s late September, 2018, and the searing heat of day has given way to chilling breezes. As a full moon rises across the blue waters of the Dead Sea that separates Israel from Jordan, a blast from the shofar signals the festival has begun. This is the opening night of Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, when the Bible calls for an "ingathering" of Jews to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. These days, Christian Zionists believe this biblical ingathering also includes them. Christian Zionists from over 100 countries are here as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosts the 6-day celebration. And , as we are learning on this reporting journey, if you really want to follow the global movement of Christian Zionism, follow the money. For this report, we’ve reviewed dozens of US tax returns from Christian Zionist organizations. Over the last 20 years, a handful of nonprofits has raised over 2 billion dollars in support of Israel. In this episode we navigate these financial streams, and the burgeoning political alliance between the far right in Israel and Christian Evangelicals in the United States, and increasingly around the world.

May 2019

24 min 9 sec

In the second chapter of this series, we go inside the Christian Zionist community in Jerusalem and the settlements in the West Bank. Micah Danney, our GroundTruth Fellow and guide for this episode, was a unique choice for this reporting assignment. He grew up steeped in Christianity. His father was a mainline Protestant preacher in Nyack, New York. As a teenager, he had gotten into some trouble. But he also really knew his scripture. Both of these parts of his past, his struggle with the law, and his familiarity with scripture, would prove to be critical in gaining access to this community. Micah’s journey began with a laying of hands upon him, and ends with his being cast from the garden, quite literally. (Listen for a cameo appearance from Pat Boone!)

Apr 2019

24 min 53 sec

Twenty years ago, a movement known as Christian Zionism was on the furthest fringes in the land of Israel. Back then, mainstream theologians — Christian and Jewish alike — dismissed Christian Zionism as a dangerous interpretation of biblical prophecies; the ideology was flawed at best, at its worst, inherently anti-Semitic. Today, Christian Zionism has gone mainstream, with explosive growth in both fundraising and political power. Its journey is evident in today’s headlines in Israel-Palestine. When the United States announced a relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, many observers believed it was the Trump administration’s way of answering directly not only to the Israeli right but also to the American Christian evangelical base that supports Trump. Christian Zionists view the embassy move as a milestone on a prophetic timeline that aligns with an apocalyptic interpretation of scripture. Similarly, Christian Zionists are squarely behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and celebrating his re-election this week. Last month, they applauded the Trump Administration’s backing Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights. They also praised Netanyahu’s promise to annex the West Bank Jewish settlements, a campaign pledge made in the waning days of a tight election. To Christian Zionists, policy shifts are prophetic signs, and they are not content to wait for prophecy to unfold. Calling themselves “believers,” Christian Zionists are ushering apocalyptic scriptural prophecies into the here-and-now through political influence and dollars. Based on in-depth reporting over the last two years, The GroundTruth Project has found that over the past 20 years the top Christian Zionist organizations have raised over $2 billion to support Israel, with a steady stream going directly to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The efforts of the Christian Zionists often work against the Palestinian Christian communities which see themselves as part of a 2,000-year continuum in the land where the Christian faith began.

Apr 2019

29 min 38 sec

After four years of fighting, 20 million soldiers and civilians dead, and three collapsed empires, World War One ended and a new world order emerged. But the armistice held only temporarily and the promise to end all wars was repeatedly broken over the last 100 years. Charlie Sennott has been tracing how this war is the source of so many modern conflicts, many of them he’s covered as a correspondent over the last three decades. We look at the circumstances that led to that war, and how those circumstances are eerily similar to today.

Dec 2018

39 min 53 sec

A year after the city of Mosul was liberated from ISIS rule, kids across Iraq are not alright. The most vulnerable are often overlooked: orphans, the wounded, the kidnapped and returned, and those who fought for ISIS — whether by force or by choice. Boys are most at risk for future violence and recruitment to extremist groups.

Nov 2018

25 min 39 sec

Before Hurricane Maria, the Zika crisis was already pushing Puerto Rico’s health care system to the limit. Then the storm came and crippled it completely — no more testing pregnant mothers for Zika, and no more tracking babies born to Zika-infected mothers. A year later, things are still not back to normal. And it’s becoming clear that many babies that seem fine may not be.

Nov 2018

32 min 26 sec

When Bill and Frank Watson were kids, their grandfather told them a ghost story. Decades later, the brothers discovered the source of that story in their grandfather’s old railroad company documents. It raised questions about what happened to 57 Irish migrant workers in Pennsylvania in 1832, and it sent the Watson brothers on a search for a mass grave.

Oct 2018

26 min 51 sec

On a South Korean island just eight miles from the shores of North Korea, Jung Gwang-il is trying to save lives with rice and USBs. He’s a North Korean defector who survived torture and concentration camps, and is now smuggling food and information, to try to help his starving people and weaken the dictatorship — even if it puts his own life in danger.

Oct 2018

29 min 34 sec

*Refugees Lost in Translation * Three refugees — from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — are working as interpreters for other refugees coming into Europe. With a foot in both worlds, they see things that refugees and Western media don’t: what’s being lost in translation, the profound consequences, and how the biggest barrier for refugees often isn’t a physical border, but language itself.

Sep 2018

33 min 25 sec

In beautiful, mountainous Eastern Kentucky, local economies are struggling, coal jobs continue to disappear, and people are frustrated by decades of failed government programs that have done little to help with problems connected to poverty, hazardous work conditions and poor nutrition. On a reporting road trip across America, we hear from those who feel unheard.

Sep 2018

28 min 31 sec

From Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania, a new generation of journalists is reporting on the ground, documenting the most important stories of their time. Hosted by Charles Sennott, founder of The GroundTruth Project, in partnership with WGBH News.

Sep 2018

3 min 7 sec

For Omar Naré, mariachi is in his blood. His grandfather, a Mexican farm laborer, brought the music with him to California’s Central Valley, where he settled his family. Omar grew up hearing mariachi at family get-togethers and had a childhood career as a mariachi singer. After a hiatus and period of disillusionment with the music of his childhood, Omar returned to mariachi. He realized, to make mariachi that felt honest to his experience, he had to break the rules. But if you break the rules of mariachi, is it still “mariachi”? Explore photos and more

Nov 2017

23 min 14 sec

At age 20, percussionist George Lernis sought to travel halfway around the world from Cyprus, to follow in the footsteps of the American jazz masters. He navigated a series of obstacles, and once his student visa expired, he faced an even more difficult challenge: qualifying for an O-1 visa — a special designation for “extraordinary artists.” It’s no easy feat to prove that you can make an extraordinary contribution to music in America. Explore photos and more

Nov 2017

24 min 9 sec

HMI stands for Haitian Music Industry, but its artists and fans are spread around the globe. Vladimir Mead immigrated to Boston 10 years ago at age 16. Since then, he’s built up a music career under the name Masterbrain — largely through YouTube and Facebook. His Creole freestyles and music videos have accumulated tens of thousands of hits, but he’s never returned to Haiti. We follow him as he prepares for his first trip back to Haiti, where he dreams of being a star. Explore photos and more

Oct 2017

28 min 2 sec

Somalia is the “land of poets,” a place where love, law, war and peace have been carried out in verse for centuries. This is a story of what happens when that tradition is driven far from the dry soil and open skies that inspire the poets’ metaphors. Two young Somali-American women in Boston are drawn together by poetry, and use it to connect with their grandmothers or ‘ayeeyo’ in Somalia. Explore photos and more

Oct 2017

26 min 54 sec

During the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, nearly all of the country’s musicians were killed. But in a strange twist of fate, music saved the life of a Cambodian boy named Sovann. Now a U.S. citizen in Lowell, Mass., he’s trying to make sure Cambodia’s music traditions live on. Across town, a 9-year-old boy seems uniquely gifted to do just that. Explore photos and more

Sep 2017

29 min 29 sec

Ahmad Naffory fell in love with the guitar in a Syrian grocery store, but he didn't know that his music would cause him to flee his home for another continent. Strangers in a strange land, Ahmad and his bandmates — the bandit poets of Assa'aleek — use their music to remember the homes they left behind as they make their lives in a new world. Explore the reporting

Jul 2017

27 min 5 sec