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John Nichols

National Affairs Correspondent

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its national affairs correspondent. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books, and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald’s documentary, “Outfoxed,” and in the documentaries Joan Sekler’s “Unprecedented,” Matt Kohn’s “Call It Democracy” and Robert Pappas’s “Orwell Rolls in his Grave.” The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press); a critically acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press); and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: “At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift–a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history–that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country.”

With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books It’s the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories), Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press), The Death and Life of American Journalism (Nation Books), Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books), and their latest, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (Nation Books, March 2016). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation’s media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.

Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: “Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols’s sword is the sharpest.” (Photo by Robin Holland / Bill Moyers Journal)

  • November 7, 2006

    Voting Reform Begins with Secretaries of State

    Worried about the integrity of today's election? You should be. The United States has a dysfunctional election system that produces unequal results depending on the state in which one lives, that is vulnerable to intimidation and manipulation, and that does not consistently guarantee that all eligible Americans can vote and have those votes counted.

    The Florida debacle of 2000, the Ohio crisis of 2004 and the dozens of disasters in the primary voting this year have confirmed that the basis processes of our democracy are in need of radical repair.

    But where does the process begin?

    John Nichols

  • November 7, 2006

    Refusing to Swallow the Spin

    No one is going to suggest that the mainstream media that spent much of the last week of a critical national election campaign focusing on a non-candidate's failed attempt to tell a joke distinguished itself by offering citizens the information they need to cast informed votes. The absurd amount of attention that was devoted to a flap surrounding U.S. Senator John Kerry's attempt to poke fun at George Bush's ignorance of international affairs served as a reminder of how easily most broadcast journalists and talk-show hosts can be spun. It is much easier to note the exceptions to the rule -- such as CNN's "Broken Government" series and Jack Cafferty's commendable "throw-them-all-out" commentaries, and syndicated radio host Stephanie Miller's daily dissection of Republican talking points and the right-wing media's repetition of them -- than it is to count all the examples of tangled truths and mangled realities.

    But the campaign season did close with one remarkable example of a prominent television personality using his program to challenge a particular politician's penchant for peddling sleaze. The politician in question is U.S. Senator Mike DeWine, the Ohio Republican who, like several other members of the GOP caucus, has fallen behind in his bid for a new term.

    Ohio political observers know that DeWine has a long history of engaging in dirty and deceptive tactics in the final stages of his campaigns -- especially when the Republican is trailing. DeWine once accused former Senator John Glenn of being soft on communism, as part of a campaign that led the Dayton Daily News newspaper to accuse "mud-loving Mike DeWine" of running "a thoroughly negative campaign." That was a rare example of the media calling the Republican to account.

    John Nichols

  • Elections November 6, 2006

    The ‘Off-Year Primary’

    As presidential hopefuls from both parties press their advantage on the platform of the 2006 midterm election, the winners are...

    John Nichols

  • November 5, 2006

    The Pombo Ugly Last Campaign of Laura Bush

    PLEASANTON, CA. -- Pity Laura Lane Welch Bush. A solid Democrat who placed her ideological values in a blind trust when she married into the Republican royal family, she now has been forced by the collapse of her husband's political fortunes into the most sordid of circumstances. The bookish Bush, who has devoted her tenure as First Lady to the gentle pursuits of promoting literacy and trying to smooth the jagged edges of her beau's administration, has now been put to the task of retaining Republican control of the House of Representatives. As the sole person closely associated with the Bush presidency who is still approved by a majority of Americans, she alone can be dispatched to states like California by the most political White House in American history. She alone can try to execute the most serious electoral repair job a presidential administration has had to engage in since newly-minted President Gerald Ford ventured onto the campaign trail in the Watergate year of 1974.

    These cannot be happy days for the First Lady, who spent the day before her 60th birthday on Saturday in the political purgatory that had to make her wonder about the compromises she has made in her life.

    If the First Lady's campaigning merely required her to attend literary lunches with the more genteel members of the Grand Old Party's congressional caucus -- Iowa's Jim Leach, Wisconsin's Tom Petri and the like -- the First Lady could swallow hard and comfort herself with the thought that after Tuesday she will never again have to pretend to like Republicans.

    John Nichols

  • November 5, 2006

    A Referendum on Rumsfeld

    George Bush brought it upon himself.

    He could have seen out the 2006 campaign season without discussing the fact that no one – with the exception of some joker who road out the Vietnam conflict defending Texas – thinks Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing a good job. Or, better yet, he could have acknowledged that there may be some, er, problems with Rumsfeld's approach to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and just about every other responsibility with which he has been entrusted.

    But, no, the president chose the final week of the most critical mid-term election campaign of any president in recent history to declare that he would stand by his Rummy.

    John Nichols


  • November 4, 2006

    Bad News for Bush: He’s Headed for Nebraska

    Two years ago, George Bush beat John Kerry in Nebraska by a 66-33 margin. The Republican president carried all but one of the state's counties, as Republican candidates swept to easy victories in the state's three congressional districts.

    So why has George Bush rushed to Nebraska to campaign on the eve of this year's mid-term congressional elections? Because, amazingly, in one of the reddest of the red states, a Democrat could pick up a GOP House seat. If Nebraska falls it will almost certainly be in the face of a Democratic wave that will sweep in a Congress capable of holding to account a president who has not previously experienced the joys of being checked and balanced.

    That Democrats are likely to take control of the House Tuesday is no longer news. That they might take it with a substantial enough majority to get serious about presidential accountability is what the Bush White House now fears.

    John Nichols

  • November 2, 2006

    Rove Rides the Swift Boat Once More

    John Kerry's not even on the ballot. So how come everyone is talking about the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee's failed attempt to make a joke at the expense of George W. Bush's education -- or lack thereof?

    Because media coverage of this campaign, at least in its final days, is going according to Karl Rove's script -- thanks in no small measure to the inability of most political reporters to chart their own course on the eve of an election.

    Rove needs the focus to be on Kerry.

    John Nichols

  • October 30, 2006

    Ned Lamont Refocuses on the War

    Ned Lamont has had a rough fall.

    After beating incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman in the August 8 Connecticut Democratic primary, Lamont's campaign lost both its focus and its momentum.

    With the tacit support of the Bush White House and the Republican National Committee, as well as a "who's who" of special-interest groups and their Washington lobbyists, Lieberman pieced together a sophisticated reelection campaign on his own "Connecticut for Lieberman" independent line. With relative ease, the senior senator and consummate Washington insider successfully repositioned himself as a reformer who wanted to put an end to partisanship.

    John Nichols

  • October 28, 2006

    Limbaugh’s Savage Crusade

    Rush Limbaugh is not just making an issue of Michael J. Fox's campaign ads for Democratic candidates who support stem-cell research. The conservative talk-radio personality is making it the issue of a fall campaign that gets stranger by the day.

    While it may be hard to figure out why anyone with Limbaugh's political pull and national prominence would declare war on the guy who played Alex P. Keaton -- one of television's most outspoken, if eccentric, conservatives -- in the series "Family Ties," there is no denying the intensity of the assault.

    For the better part of three hours each day this week, the radio ranter has been "Swift Boating the television and film star for daring to do what Limbaugh -- who freely admits that he is an entertainer -- does every day.

    John Nichols

  • Science and Health October 25, 2006

    Stem Cell Politics

    The last day that I spent with Paul Wellstone began on a sunny morning in the living room of his St. Paul home. I'd arrived to join him as he campaigned for reelection in what was widely seen as the most hotly contested Senate race in the nation. But when I walked in, Wellstone was not making calls for campaign contributions or rehearsing soundbites. He was reading.

    John Nichols