Media

Little Magazine, Big Ideas: The American Prospect at 25

Reflecting on a quarter century of politics and change.

T he American Prospect began 25 years ago with a small circulation, a limited budget, and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a moment when Democrats had lost three successive presidential elections, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but also of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image of an old world cracking open to...

Drafting the Script of Campaigns: Reporters Define Candidates' Flaws, Real or Imagined

(Rex Features via AP Images)
W hich of Hillary Clinton's character flaws do you find most troubling? If you're a Republican, you may not have quite decided yet, since there are any number of things about her you can't stand. But if you're hoping to defeat her, you'd do well to home in on whatever journalists think might be her primary character flaw, because that's what will shape of much of their coverage between now and next November. The determination of that central flaw for each of the presidential candidate will soon become one of reporters' key tasks as they construct the frames that are going to guide their coverage of the race. And the idea that Clinton can't be trusted is an early contender for her central defect, the one journalists will contemplate, discuss, explore, and most importantly, use to decide what is important and irrelevant when reporting on her. Take a look at the lead of this article by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post , titled " For Hillary Clinton, a trust deficit to dismount ":

Why Media Coverage of Campaign 2016 Will Be as Bad as Ever

The return of horse-race coverage. 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News
View image | gettyimages.com L et's spare a bit of sympathy for the reporters who found themselves running after Hillary Clinton's van last week in the hopes that they might get a few seconds of video of her stepping out of it and into whatever momentous event she was arriving at. I'm sure that as they took off in hot pursuit, more than a few thought to themselves, "This is pretty ridiculous." But they kept running anyway, and when they finally caught their breath, perhaps they had a chance to sit down and pen that blog post on Clinton's order at Chipotle that their editors were demanding. Reporting from the presidential campaign trail is of a rite of passage in political journalism (even if some poor souls find themselves doing it again and again), and though it can have its moments of excitement, it's also a trial. Subsisting on unhealthy food and too little sleep, away from their families, the journalistic legion trudge from one event to another, hearing the same talking points...

Anxiety Itself

As a party identified with women, Democrats face a distinctive challenge in 2016. 

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . T he success of the Democrats in 2016 will depend on women as candidates and as voters, up and down the ballot, as never before. That identification with women creates distinct political challenges at a time when public worries are high. Unless Democrats confront those anxieties effectively, Republicans may be able to win over voters, including women, by presenting themselves as the more reassuring “daddy” party. The identification of the Democrats with women starts at the top with presumptive presidential favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton and the leader of the party’s progressive faction, Senator Elizabeth Warren. The number of visible women in the...

The 'Rapacious' Business Model That Rules the Church of Scientology

When L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetcs enterprise collapsed, he told his wife that the only way to make money was to found a religion, according to the HBO documentary, Going Clear.

(Photo: PictorialEvidence via Wikimedia Commons)
This article was originally published by AlterNet . In America, salvation is big business, and he who dies with the most souls wins. Plenty of lives are wrecked along the way, but no matter. When consumer capitalism meets religious yearning, the sky’s the limit of what can you can get away with. That’s the subtext of Alex Gibney’s latest film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief , which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and screened on HBO on March 29. L. Ron Hubbard, or LRH, as he liked to style himself, was an American of unprepossessing origins in search of meaning and money. Possibly he found the first, and is just now cavorting with intergalactic spirits in the sky. Most definitely he found the second, riding a rocket ship of wacked-out ambition to create what is now essentially a tax-free shell company with $3 billion in assets and real estate holdings on six continents. Gibney doesn’t give us LRH as a madman, or even a simple huckster. The penny-a...

Netanyahu's Campaign Road Show Comes to Washington

The Israeli prime minister didn't offer an Iran policy to Congress. He offered dread and overconfidence to Israel voters.

 

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves as he step to the podium prior to speaking before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. I n the end, Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress was precisely what was expected from the beginning, from the day that House Speaker John Boehner publicly invited the Israeli prime minister: an Israeli campaign event before a more impressive and much more sycophantic audience than the Israeli prime minister could have found at home; a Republican show designed to use Israel against President Barack Obama; and a blow to the connection between Israel and the United States that Netanyahu and Boehner supposedly hold so dear. The campaign theatrics were there in Netanyahu's opening lines, when he addressed the leaders of the House and Senate and called special attention to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid—a move meant to distract the Israeli audience from the absence of Vice...

Beyoncé Misses the Point of What Gospel Music Means to Black Americans

The selection of Queen Bey to deliver a song identified with Mahalia Jackson ignored the importance of spiritual conveyance in the music that moved a people to action. 

(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP) Beyoncé performs "Take My Hand Precious Lord" at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony. This essay is published by The American Prospect in partnership with The OpEd Project's University of Texas at Austin Public Voices Fellowship. A ny recognition of black history and culture in this month or the next must acknowledge the central role spirituality and religiosity have played in the lives of African Americans. In the face of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other black men and women who have needlessly lost their lives, if we ever needed faith before, we sure do need it now. So it was with great interest I watched the Grammys and reveled in the power and resonance of John Legend and Common performing “Glory” the song they wrote for the movie Selma . Then my heart sank instantly when a rendition of the gospel song “Take My Hand Precious Lord” was performed by Beyoncé. Historically, spirituals and gospel music played...

The Crash of The New Republic

The mass exodus from the storied magazine was not the result of disagreements about the value of new technology.

(Sipa via AP Images)
(Sipa via AP Images) Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, bought The New Republic in 2012. This article appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . T he tension between money and left-of-center politics has its correlate in the world of the media. Like liberal political candidates, liberal political magazines depend on wealthy donors in what is often an uneasy relationship. That tension was evident in the implosion of The New Republic in early December, when nearly all the magazine’s well-known editors and writers quit after its owner, Facebook millionaire Chris Hughes, replaced the top leadership and announced he was turning the magazine into a “digital media company.” Ever since its founding 100 years ago, The New Republic has occupied a singular place in liberal politics and intellectual life. A complete history of American liberalism would need an entire chapter on The New Republic —and a second chapter on unhappiness about The New...

How Bernie Sanders, In New Role, Could Make Wall Streeters Very, Very Unhappy

The iconoclast from Vermont plans to use his place as opposition leader on the Senate Budget Committee in a whole new way.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Senate Budget Committee ranking member Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, holds a news conference on the budget on Friday, January 16, 2015. B ig banks now have to contend with an old enemy in a new position of power. Bernie Sanders, the United States senator from Vermont, plans on using his new position as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee to take on too-big-to-fail financial institutions by advocating for their dissolution. Though a registered independent, Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, allowing him to assume the ranking member role representing the minority party. While normally the domain of the Senate Banking Committee, the oversight of Wall Street, Sanders and his staff believe, is a critical budgetary issue. Democrats need to directly challenge Wall Street’s power, they assert, by boldly reframing the argument against the consolidation of financial institutions in terms of its cost to...

Terrorists Will Never Limit Our Free Speech, But Government Can

“Lone wolf” nutjobs and small bands of extremists can't threaten our values, but our own institutions can.

(Photo by Boris Roessler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
Photo by: Boris Roessler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images The front pages of international newspapers show the January 11, 2015, memorial march for the victims of the Paris terror attacks. Millions of people demonstrated on January 11 in a march through the French capital for the preservation of democratic values. T errorists can't limit our speech. They can murder and maim, and cause widespread panic, but they don't have the capacity to threaten to our democratic values. They never have, and they never will. The real threat is that we might voluntarily surrender some of our rights in order to defend ourselves against terrorism. In that sense, suggesting that a handful of bloodthirsty wackos have the capacity to prevent us from drawing offensive cartoons or mocking a religion gives them far more power than they actually posses. It's true that armed extremists can shape the way society operates in fragile or failed states, where they can sometimes wield something approaching real...

How to Be a Walking 'Confirmation Bias' (Role Model: Mia Love)

It's easy to write off Mia Love and Allen West but these very visible blacks hurt the quest for equality.

ABC News/This Week With George Stephanopoulos
ABC News/This Week With George Stephanpoulos Representative Mia Love, Republican of Utah, appeared on the January 4 edition of the ABC News program This Week With George Stephanpoulos to defend House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the wake of revelations that he once addressed a white supremacist group. H ave you ever been in a debate with your right-wing uncle and when you ask him for proof of his wild claims, he pulls up a Fox News article? Instinctively, you roll your eyes. Of course he sought out Fox News as a source—it’s a haven for people like him. Everything he already thinks about minorities, LGBTQ people, Muslims and single moms is there. Automatically turning to Fox News to search for information that he knows will affirm what he already believes is called a confirmation bias. On December 29, news broke that Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the new House majority whip, had addressed a white supremacist group in 2002. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David...

The Uniquely Awful Role of Sheldon Adelson in the Israeli Election

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
A s the contest for who will lead the nation takes shape, the classic right-wing charge of pervasive, hostile media bias was splashed in giant tabloid type across the front page of the daily Israel Hayom last Friday. The headline read: "Netanyahu: The Media is Campaigning to Bring the Left to Power." The Friday edition of an Israeli paper is the equivalent of a thick Sunday edition in America; print newspapers are still very popular in Israel, and Israel Hayom is one of the two most popular papers. You might just sense a contradiction here: The most-read headline of the week in one of the country's most influential news sources carried Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's accusation that the media is deliberately trying to take power from him and give it to the left. The irony certainly wasn't intentional. The undeclared purpose of Israel Hayom is to promote Bibi Netanyahu . "Newspaper" in Hebrew is iton; Israel Hayom has gained the nickname Bibiton. A vast army of people wearing red...

Carnage at The New Republic and Prospects for the Liberal Press

The New Republic
A .J. Liebling, the early New Yorker ’s celebrated press critic (he invented the genre) once wrote : The pattern of a newspaperman's life is like the plot of 'Black Beauty.' Sometimes he finds a kind master who gives him a dry stall and an occasional bran mash in the form of a Christmas bonus, sometimes he falls into the hands of a mean owner who drives him in spite of spavins and expects him to live on potato peelings. You might say the same thing of magazine publishers. Political magazines are something close to public trusts—key elements of a robust democracy--but most are privately owned. Like newspapers, they are at the mercy of the whims of owners who are sometimes astute at the publishing business, and sometimes inept; sometimes kind masters, and sometimes capriciously cruel. The New Republic , where I worked for a decade, was once America’s leading liberal magazine of essay, reporting, and criticism. In the past half-century, TNR went through a convoluted odyssey. A chain of...

Cosby and Ferguson: Why Addressing Gender Violence and Racial Violence Is Not Either/Or Option

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Young women attend a candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence Friday, October 10, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. I 've never understood the "one or the other" mentality. Being a mother, I am in an ever present state of multi-tasking. So when a male acquaintance said that the Cosby scandal was a a distraction from the grand jury decision regarding Ferguson, I inquired, "How?" He asserted that if the lead news story becomes Cosby, then Ferguson and the protests in response to the police violence there become a footnote to the issue of racial violence in the town. He took the view that I've seen from a lot of men lately, which is that it is horrible "if" these alleged sexual assaults occurred, but we need to "wait until all of the evidence comes out" for us to fully understand what happened with these women and Bill Cosby. This is my issue: If you find it necessary to take a "wait and see" approach to the outcome of the allegations mounting against Bill...

The Next Cool Thing: Great Writing From the Middle of America

Marking its first year in publication, Belt Magazine, with its focus on the industrial Midwest, is the nation's new literary darling.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File) This Tuesday, September 11, 2012, file photo shows the Cleveland skyline taken from the city's Edgewater Park. W hen news outlets and websites write about the industrial Midwest, the coverage can vacillate between boosterism and “ ruin porn ,” often at the expense of telling compelling stories about the people and complexities of cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Belt Magazine , an online publication based in Cleveland, just celebrated its first anniversary with the release of Dispatches from the Rust Belt , a collection of the magazine’s best content. The American Prospect spoke with Belt ’s editor-in-chief Anne Trubek about the magazine’s first year and its mission to elevate longform writing and first-person essays alongside original reporting and stories from—and for—the Rust Belt. TAP: Where did you grow up and what brought you to Cleveland? And what made you stay for nearly two decades? Anne Trubek: I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin—so not...

Pages