There are three types of people in this world, narrator Dan Taberski tells us in the opening episode of Apple’s original podcast The Line, a gripping six-part audio series that follows the story of the US Navy SEAL. Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with war. crimes in 2018. It’s a podcast series that I initially resisted, or rather overlooked, thinking it was one thing, until I realized it was something else entirely. And that would keep me racing madly through each episode straight to the end, which comes Tuesday, and promises some major twists, according to Taberski.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are supposedly three types of people in the world, he tells The Line listeners: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. That, they tell us, is a basic philosophy of SEALs, those rugged, tough, intense super soldiers we know mostly from movies and news linked to some daring feat, like the raid in 2011 during which a group of SEALs finally located and they killed Osama bin Laden. Or when they are accused of doing something horrible, as in the case of Gallagher. “The sheep are me, and probably you,” Taberski explains. “Ordinary people, just living our lives. The wolves are the bad guys. Those who want nothing more than to kill us sheep «. And then there are the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs also like to kill. But they like to kill wolves to protect sheep. “Sheepdogs are a little scary, a little aggressive,” Taberski continues. But they are honorable. And necessary “. And so begins our fascinating journey through the den of warrior culture, in podcast form that attempts to understand and grapple with the implications of what it means to turn men into something even scarier than murderers. That is to say, the type of warriors who never give up in the service of the mission and who never stop. Even if that means going up and down, well, “The Line.”
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This is what I mean when I say that I initially resisted the podcast. I, like probably many of you, was aware of the Gallagher story on the periphery, through news reports from a few years ago that made it all seem straightforward. Navy SEAL is charged with a litany of crimes. Does anyone say there is a video showing him stabbing a prisoner? Yes, it sounds like a war crime to me. Similarly, pop culture narratives in this regard in movies and the like have tended to feel quite predictable. Fortunately, however, there was no cheesy “You can’t bear the truth!” pablum on this original Apple podcast. In fact, it’s much more of a narrative storytelling tour de force, the kind that might even leave you completely stunned and not knowing what to think in the end. In fact, that’s what Taberski told me in a phone conversation this week, it’s what he loves to see in people’s reactions to the podcast on social media.
Because it means that people are thinking and that people are dealing with the complexity of the fog of war. And get rid of the bullshit about good and bad, right and wrong, and a clear, easily definable line that demarcates it all.
I can’t stress this enough – the podcast was strong enough to hook me, and it held my attention to the same degree as any of the strongest TV series you can point to right now, which surprised me. I was also surprised to learn that there are only about 2,500 SEALs. There are high schools with larger student bodies than that, and with less drama to begin with.
“Fuck it, I’m a fucking lion,” one of the SEALs tells Taberski at one point during the podcast, in relation to that maxim about the three types of people in the world. “I am hunting wolves. I’m not waiting for the wolves to hunt me down. And once in a while, I’ll eat a sheepdog and a lamb, if he gets in my way… «
And then it stops, it stops.
“… That has been my mindset, and I’m trying to tone it down.”
Taberski also spends time, long before focusing on Gallagher and his action, analyzing how soldiers become SEALs in the first place. He details the intense and grueling “week of hell” program they are put through, which is actually designed to do one thing: get as many of them as possible to say, “To hell with this,” and then play the bell in the camping center and go out. Because contrary to what you might think, people in charge of looking for men to become SEALs are not necessarily looking for the fastest, strongest, toughest, baddest, smartest … or any other adjective you want to choose. When it comes down to the bottom line, The Line explains to listeners, SEALs are looking for guys who just won’t give up or stop.
Then the podcast does a fascinating kind of thought experiment below, where it combines the previous intro with a question about, again, “The Line.” Where is the line, in war? Where should it be? Gallagher is alleged to have murdered an ISIS prisoner. People finally started asking, okay, wait. Isn’t that what you were sent there for in the first place? One of the main purposes of a SEAL is to literally kill other people; So are we really saying that killing a person this way is cool, but this other way is a war crime? What difference does it make if the carnage happened on or off the battlefield (I’m asking rhetorical questions, of course, to point out the conversation this podcast is trying to have you have with yourself)? This also goes into an area that a SEAL described like this on the podcast: Taberski pushed him, while acknowledging all the above points, on whether there should be a line, and that SEALs shouldn’t be able to do whatever they do. you want to do because it’s a war, right? The SEAL concedes this point, but only narrowly. Okay, there should be a line, but it should be a “curved line.”
It really is something that is thought provoking. And if this is the kind of thing Apple has in mind for its original podcast efforts, something the iPhone maker wants to do to increasingly compete against tough podcast rivals like Spotify, then I’m signing up. The Line, by the way, is meant to be a semi-companion to an upcoming four-part Apple TV + documentary series of the same name, which will tell the same story about Gallagher but from different perspectives. Taberski told me that both projects share reports, but they are meant to be two separate things. If you saw and liked the podcast, the idea is that you will want to see the documentary series this fall on Apple TV +, because it will add more to the story.
From Apple’s official description of the podcast version of The Line, which comes from Jigsaw Productions: “The original immersive podcast for Apple TV + employs exclusive investigative reporting, personal interviews with Gallagher and his wife, and extraordinary access to more than 50 special operators, giving listeners an insider understanding of the psychological toll of service members embroiled in relentless warfare, the secretive culture of the army’s most elite special operations units, and the fight for justice in the fog of war «.
Image source: Apple
We should add that this also comes as Apple is gearing up to release its general podcast game at 11 starting this month. Apple is rolling out a subscription tier to its free Podcasts app so far, which the company’s official announcement explains will allow listeners to “sign up for premium subscriptions that include a variety of benefits selected by creators, such as ad-free listening, access to more content and early or exclusive access to new series. Listeners will be able to enjoy premium subscriptions from top-tier studios and independent voices, including Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, PRX’s Radiotopia, and QCODE, to major media and entertainment brands, including NPR, The Los Angeles Times, Sony Music. Entertainment. , and many more.”
Also related to this endeavor is the beginning of Apple’s creation of its own podcasts, such as The Line, and also an upcoming podcast that will tell the story of Siegfried & Roy, the quirky German-American artists whose Las Vegas shows feature magic and magic. tigers. At this point, though, I’ll confess: The Line hasn’t stopped resonating with me yet. Taberski is a fantastic interviewer and possesses the rare kind of journalistic magic that makes SEAL warriors comfortable enough around him to open up. And even to cry.
“I miss you so much,” one of the SEALs says to Taberski at one point, through tears. “Yes. I just miss them. They were my brothers. And fuck it, man. We did fucking amazing things together. That’s why I don’t want to go to funerals. I choose to think of them as (if) they are still here.
The final episode of The Line will be available on the Apple Podcasts app on Tuesday, May 4.
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Andy is a reporter from Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about tech, he can be found hunched over protectively over his burgeoning vinyl collection, as well as minding his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows he probably doesn’t like.