September 26, 2022

Hosted and produced by Sarah Koenig; produced by Julie Snyder and Dana Chivvis; editorial advisory by Ira Glass.
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The original plan for declaring Bowe Bergdahl’s successful rescue was simple: release written statements from the president and the Pentagon.
Instead, it turned into a Rose Garden announcement, with Bergdahl’s parents speaking — and then the national security adviser added hasty words of praise on a Sunday morning news show the following day.
But within days — within hours of his rescue, in fact — the public reaction to his return flipped.
In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for it were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl.
Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.
Then-President Barack Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown, Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him. But then, within days — within hours of his rescue, in fact — the public’s reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked away from their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.
Hailey canceled its celebration. The Army opened an investigation. Finally, in March 2015, the military charged Bergdahl with two crimes, one of which carried the possibility of a life sentence. Through all of this, Bergdahl had been quiet. He hadn’t spoken to the press or done any interviews on TV. He’d been like a ghost at the center of a raucous scandal.
Until, in season two of “Serial,” we got to hear what he has to say.
For this season, Sarah Koenig teamed up with filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 to find out why one soldier decided to walk away and cross enemy lines, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still being written.
When it debuted in 2014, “Serial” became a global sensation that has been credited with introducing the modern era of audio journalism. The New York Times Company acquired Serial Productions in 2020.
“Serial” is produced by Julie Snyder, Dana Chivvis, and Sarah Koenig in partnership with Mark Boal, Megan Ellison, Hugo Lindgren, Jessica Weisberg, Page 1, and Annapurna Pictures. Ira Glass is editorial adviser. Whitney Dangerfield is digital editor. Research by Kevin Garnett, and additional research this week by Benjamin Falin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Copy editing by Anaheed Alani.


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