Matthew Spolar is a Producer at Retro Report. He has covered a range of issues, from sports to genetics to politics, including web series looking back at the historic import of past political conventions and campaign ads. He previously covered state politics in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
From Napster to Netflix: The History and Impact of Streaming Services
After Napster, many consumers got used to entertainment on demand. There was no turning back.
Lessons from the 1976 Republican Convention: Why Ronald Reagan Lost the Nomination|
In 1976, Ronald Reagan found owning the soul of a party isn’t the same as taking home its nomination.
Impeached: How Presidents Handled it -- Trump vs. Clinton.
How can a president continue to govern with an impeachment trial looming? President Clinton and President Trump adopted very different strategies.
Lessons from the 2004 Democratic Convention: Obama's Speech
Sometimes the most important speech at the convention isn’t delivered by the nominee.
The Cold War on TV: Joseph McCarthy vs. Edward R. Murrow
In the heat of the Cold War, Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade became a media sensation.
DNA Clues Solve Crimes . . . With a Privacy Cost
DNA information that is available on genealogy websites is doing more than satisfying curiosity – it’s solving crimes.
Louis Armstrong And The Black Celebrity's Dilemma
As America’s jazz icon, Louis Armstrong was seen as a smiling, easygoing entertainer. But in 1957, he invited controversy by speaking forcefully on behalf of his fellow African Americans, putting him in a position familiar to many Black athletes today.
Daisy: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
Perhaps the most famous political ad of all time, this early television spot ran on air just once, but generated enough media coverage to become a real factor in the 1964 presidential election.
Boxers Confront Brain Injuries, Their Most Challenging Foe
For many boxers, once the punches stop, the real fight starts.
Lessons from the 1968 Democratic Convention: Under the Shadow of Protests
There are important lessons to be learned from the Democrats’ 1968 Chicago convention.
The Birth of the U.S. Political Convention in 1831
In 1831, a radical third party had a new idea for selecting a presidential candidate, and it’s still in use today: the national nominating convention.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Media Mistakes Excerpt)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, top national political reporters admit mistakes in their reporting on the 2016 election campaign.
Putin’s Nuclear Threats Evoke Cold War Tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Russia’s recent nuclear threats have revived Cold War animosity with roots in the Cuban missile crisis. During a standoff in 1962, a tense confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union nearly resulted in a nuclear war.
Leaving NFL Over CTE Concerns Made Chris Borland Football's Most Dangerous Man
He’s been called the most dangerous man in football. Not for what he’s doing on the field – but what he’s saying off of it. A new series of original Retro Report short docs produced for Facebook.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Historical Excerpt)
This Emmy Award-nominated film explores tensions between the press and presidents, charges of liberal media bias and the decline in public trust in journalism. Watch the documentary.
Upheaval at the 1860 Democratic Convention: What Happened When a Party Split
Some issues are too fundamental for a party to withstand, and the consequences can last for a generation.
Lessons From the 1964 Republican Convention: Declaring War on the Establishment
Donald Trump’s candidacy wasn’t the first time the Republican Party was split by an outsider declaring war on the establishment elite.
Willie Horton: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
The infamous Willie Horton ad placed a nail in the coffin of Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential run.
Midterm Elections: 1966 Midterms Signal a Realignment, Shaping Today’s Parties
Southern voters, once loyal to the Democratic Party, elected Republican candidates in 1966 as the two parties began to sort themselves into distinctly partisan camps.
Athletes vs. Injustice: Protests in Sports
When N.F.L. players, starting with Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the National Anthem to protest they ignited an uproar over injecting politics onto the playing field.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Trailer)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, journalists who covered the 2016 presidential campaign now offer a candid analysis of their role in President Trump’s rise to power.
Blackout: Understanding the US Power Grid's Vulnerability from the 2003 Failure
In 2003, a blackout crippled areas of the U.S. and Canada, leaving some 50 million people in the dark. Years later, we are still grappling with concerns over the vulnerability of our power grid.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (False Equivalency Excerpt)
This Emmy Award-nominated film looks at how the journalistic instinct for “balanced” reporting on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 played out.
Lessons from the 1912 Republican Convention: Birth of the Modern Primary
The animosity between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt changed the primary process forever.
American Samoa Dodged a Pandemic in 1918. Here’s What We Learned.
Two territories, two wildly different outcomes as a pandemic terrorized the world.
Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath and Lessons in Dealing with Disaster
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, and Louisiana’s troubled housing recovery has shaped the response to every major disaster since, including Hurricane Sandy.
Midterm Elections: How 1994 Midterms Set Off an Era of Divisive Politics
Midterm elections, often a referendum on the sitting president’s agenda, can set the stage for future policy debates. Economic and social issues with roots in the 1994 midterms are still being debated today.
The NFL Draft 20 Years After Manning-Leaf: How Teams Try to Pick a Winner
After the 1998 NFL draft produced one of the greatest busts in history, what have we learned about the science of evaluating human talent – on and off the field?
What Jesse Owens's Story Tells Us About Sports and Politics
NFL players have been derided for injecting politics into the country’s favorite sport. But, when convenient, America has also celebrated black athletes for acting as political emissaries.
Lessons from the 1924 Democratic Convention: An Immigration Debate's Impact
Immigration has been a defining issue in a campaign before, and the consequences transformed the Democratic Party.
How Biden vs. Sanders Echoes a 1964 Republican Party Split
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are the icons of an ideological split among today’s Democrats, echoing a similar split in the Republican party of 1964.
How Cloning a Sheep Set Off a Sci Fi Panic
In 1997, Scottish scientists announced they had cloned a sheep and named her Dolly, and sent waves of future shock around the world that continue to shape frontiers of science today.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (CNN's Missteps Excerpt)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, CEO Jeff Zucker acknowledges missteps in CNN’s 2016 campaign coverage, when many media outlets covered Donald Trump’s campaign as a spectacle.
Hard Risks: Concussions in Sports, From the Boxing Ring to the Gridiron
As concussions plague football, are there lessons from earlier concerns about boxing?
The Rock: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
In 2007, long-shot Democratic candidate Mike Gravel released one of the strangest ads in political history.
GMO Food Fears and the First Test Tube Tomato
In the 1990s, a bunch of gene jockeys brought the first genetically engineered food to market. The business crashed but biotech science has flourished far beyond the produce aisle.
It's 3:00 a.m.: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
After a string of critical losses in the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton’s campaign put out a hard-hitting ad that questioned Barack Obama’s readiness for the White House.
The Birth of Free Agency
The drama of modern free agency has become as much a part of professional sports as the games themselves. But it wasn’t always that way. Today’s free agents owe a big debt of gratitude to Curt Flood.
Smoking Man: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
In the 2012 Republican primary, Herman Cain’s campaign produced an unusual video featuring Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, giving a pep talk while smoking a cigarette.
Political Memes: The Rise of the Political Meme in Politics Today
Political memes are being deployed to share opinions, similar to how editorial cartoons were used in the past – but with one important difference.
Morning in America: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
Future “warm and fuzzy” ads can trace their lineage to this one. For his reelection campaign, Ronald Reagan employed a team of advertising all-stars, resulting in one of the most famous catchphrases in American politics.