This podcast was recommended to me by multiple people but I hesitated to listen initially. A cursory scroll through episode titles might lead a listener to assume that this podcast is one of a myriad of others revelling in the gorier and more gruesome American crimes. I mention regularly in this column that I am allergic to crime podcasts in almost all formats – but You're Wrong About isn't, thankfully, a crime podcast. Certainly, it does look at huge American violent crimes: the Columbine shooting, the murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer, The Jonestown Massacre, for example. Further, there are episodes that focus on great tragedies like the Challenger disaster and episodes that focus on political scandal. However, what makes this podcast different is that instead of two hosts revelling in the shock and horror factor, they unpack the details as disseminated by the media at the time and deconstruct how the stories of these incidents were told to the public and how their legends were born.
Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall make for really compelling hosts: they have organic, good chemistry, without ever segueing into prolonged personal anecdotes. Their conversational pace is really enjoyable and their tone is balanced: they handle incredibly dark subjects with a levity that never feels disrespectful. The show is incredibly well researched – Hobbes and Marshall very seldom leave their subject matter, delving deeper rather than orbiting around it. They are analytical and curious and have done their homework – they bring facts and discoveries to the listener in a way that feels exciting. I know that “liking” hosts is such a subjective experience for any listener, but I really like these two. They’re journalists and this is a journalistic podcast, but in chat form. This hybrid makes for a really compelling listen – what feels like two interesting, educated people talking is really well composed journalism in disguise. The production is that lovely punk-rock two-people-talking-into-a-microphone format that so rarely delivers, but here feels intimate and scrappy. To my ears there are barely any edits, just one long, streamlined conversation.
There is room for conspiracy theories here and there, but they’re always grounded in interrogation and a genuine impression that Hobbes and Marshall are really trying to figure out what happened during these incidents. They prove time and time again that the past is a different country and that the news media of the time, before the internet, left out many of the details of these tragedies and allowed urban and political myths to bloom. I’m absolutely addicted to this podcast and can’t wait for what they unpack next.