Vol. 1, No. 1

America Dissected

America Dissected is a podcast from Crooked Media, a podcast network with a progressive, liberal orientation. The show is hosted by Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a physician who taught epidemiology at Columbia University, served as executive director of the Detroit Health Department and Health Officer for the City of Detroit, and in 2018 was a candidate in the democratic primary for governor of Michigan. 

The podcast was started in 2019 to address the intersection of health, science, and government. The second season, launched in March 2020, is entirely focused on the Coronavirus pandemic—its epidemiology, what scientists know about it, and how public policy can address it. It includes interviews with scientists, elected officials, public servants, and first responders. 

The podcast promises to deliver “what you need to know about Coronavirus,” including what led to the crisis and what public policy responses might work. It combines basic science and health information in an accessible form with analysis and commentary on how the government is responding, without mincing words about political perspectives the host finds wrong-headed. The production quality is high, with an animated host who combines his experience in health care policy and knowledge of the science of viruses in a compelling series that is not only informative but invites citizen engagement in tackling the crisis.

Fact-based: 4 of 5. The host is knowledgeable and shares scientific and epidemiological information, but in the political analysis tends to become more analytical and critical than strictly factual. (Not a bad thing, and the host has plenty of experience working in the public arena….) He brings in impressive guests to comment on the issues, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal to discuss the stimulus bill and Naomi Klein to discuss disaster capitalism. 

Host: 5 of 5. It’s easy to get caught up in this podcast because the host projects engagement and does a good job of bringing in guests. 

Production: 5 of 5.

Storytelling: 5 of 5.

Perspective 4 of 5.

Action-Oriented: 4 of 5. Some of the episodes are informative and thought-provoking, without necessarily suggesting action (though certainly inviting civic engagement); however, show notes indicate that Crooked Media has established a Coronavirus Relief Fund, which gives listeners an opportunity to act.

Overall Rating: 4.5 of 5.