For Immediate Release: Sept. 12, 2023

Contact: Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, [email protected]

New Podcast “Actually…Hold Up” Revisits Pop Culture Headlines to Dissect Strategic Media Manipulation Patterns and Discuss Community Pushback

MediaJustice delves into how the Media Manipulation Cycle influences how we process news coverage and the harm the Cycle’s calculated pattern causes to marginalized communities

*First two episodes available HERE; Third episode available upon request*

OAKLAND, CA – Today, MediaJustice, a national grassroots leader advancing communication rights, access, and power for diverse communities, launched “Actually…Hold Up,” a new five-episode podcast series hosted by Eteng Ettah, to revisit recent pop culture media frenzies and analyze how they were fed to consumers in a calculated and patterned way to manipulate how audiences processed the headline-grabbing coverage and caused harm to Black and other marginalized communities. Episodes address coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, the writer’s strike, and Nicki Minaj’s Covid vaccine tweet, among other topics. 

Listen to the first two episodes here 

“Actually…Hold Up”–using the framework of the Media Manipulation Cycle, coined by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School–conjures familiar headline stories with a critical lens toward surfacing how media coverage of each represents a stage in the damaging and cyclical process. Each “Actually…Hold Up” episode integrates historical context, personal experience, and how people in communities are fighting back to address the situation. 

“‘Actually…Hold Up’ is a podcast for listeners who were among the millions who tuned into headline-grabbing stories and want to pause to think about how they were packaged and delivered in a specific way to elicit extreme reactions from us and why,” said Eteng Ettah, host of “Actually…Hold Up” at MediaJustice. “Black people and other affected communities are looking critically at how audiences are being fed stories in a calculated way and how to disrupt the distortion and disinformation that have an outsized impact on our lives.”

“Actually…Hold Up” breaks down individual stages of the Media Manipulation Cycle. In each episode, listeners will be transported back to a headline story that captured their attention as the podcast conversation highlights how a particular community was harmed in the process. Through the course of the episode, the host and special contributors will reveal tell-tale signs that the media is repeating a strategic pattern of sharing stories in ways that are designed to manipulate how we view, internalize, and re-share a particular telling of a story to influence how we understand people and institutions in ways that may cause and perpetuate further harm. Each episode closes on the way that communities refuse to be passive consumers of media manipulation and are fighting back, inviting others to join.

Episode 1 

“Hold Up: Here Come the Stans”

Media Manipulation Stage: Seeding the campaign across social platforms and web

30s preview here

The trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard took social media by storm in Spring 2022, in the wake of the #MeToo and Believe Women movements. This case is situated at the center of discussions about domestic abuse and this episode will unpack how survivors of domestic abuse, and abuse in general, is viewed in society through the prism of media coverage and the resulting social media conversation that it ignited. In this episode, we’ll be looking at the intentional crafting of hashtags and memes by influencers, fans, celebrities and opportunists to see how they were able to sway public opinion online. Our guest Bridget Todd, host of the podcast There Are No Girls on the Internet, joins us to discuss how misinformation disseminates on social media in ways that influence our opinions and perpetuates harmful narratives that put BIPOC and marginalized communities, particularly those who’ve experienced violence, in danger.  

Episode 2

“Hold Up: AI Can’t Write TV”

Media Manipulation Stage: Mitigation

30s preview here

Writers in Hollywood have long been fighting for better working conditions and pay in the industry and the Writer’s Guild of America began their 2023 strike on May 2 to pressure the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (the entertainment industry’s representative) for better compensation and equity structures in their contracts. Studios and streaming services have a vested interest in controlling the narrative with AMPTP using the media to portray the writers’ demands as unreasonable though many of them live paycheck to paycheck while corporations rake in billions from their work. Angela L. Harvey, a writer/producer who’s most recently worked on American Horror Story and serves as co-chair of Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity, joins this episode to discuss this misinformation campaign and the work that writers are undertaking to mitigate the spread of inaccurate information about their situation. 

Listen to Episodes 1 and 2 above, now available here

Episode 3

“Hold Up: Nicki Minaj Giving Medical Advice?”

Media Manipulation Stage: Responses by industry, activists, politicians, and journalists

Nicki Minaj famously tweeted that her cousin who took the vaccine became “impotent,” following her decision to reject an invitation to the Met Gala, requiring all guests to have proof of vaccination. The assertion that the vaccine was dangerous caught wind of many including activists, politicians, and journalists, with the Trinidadian government responding to these allegations, and even the Biden White House inviting Minaj to a call for a discussion about the vaccine. The Minaj tweets reflect a moment in time that government leaders and public health officials stepped in to address misinformation, and will be a point of focus for our conversation in this episode.  

Episode 3 available by request 

Episodes 4 will address media coverage of DJ Akademiks’ deal with Rumble and the 5th and final episode of “Actually… Hold Up” will reflect on the analysis of all of these stories and how the stages of the Media Manipulation Cycle operate all together with a conversation on the harm to BIPOC communities and amplifying our collective response. 

For interviews, short audiograms from the episodes, or to preview future content, please contact Christina DiPasquale at [email protected] or 202.716.1953. Follow MediaJustice for alerts on new episodes and clips @mediajustice on Instagram.


MediaJustice is dedicated to building a grassroots movement for a more just and participatory media—fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice in a digital age. MediaJustice boldly advances communication rights, access, and power for communities harmed by persistent dehumanization, discrimination and disadvantage. Home of the #MediaJusticeNetwork, comprised of more than 100 grassroots partners, we envision a future where everyone is connected, represented, and free.


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