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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)

  • October 1, 2006

    State of Denial

    Mark Foley's sexuality was never much of a secret to those who served with him in the House.

    The New York Times and every major newspaper in Florida had been writing articles on the congressman's agonizingly inept attempts to remain closeted for years. Indeed, it was the embarrassing manner in which he had attempted to cloak his sexuality that prevented Foley from securing his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and again this year.

    Tragically, as a Florida Republican, Foley felt that if he wanted to remain a political player he needed to live a lie. He was probably wrong; Republicans who have come out of the closet, such as retiring Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, have often thrived politically. Openly gay men and lesbians have been elected and reelected to the House as Democrats and Republicans, and Foley -- whose relatively moderate voting record could have appealed to both Main Street Republicans and Democrats -- might well have broken the barrier in the Senate.

    John Nichols

  • Media September 28, 2006

    The FCC Scandal

    It's official: Revelations that the FCC suppressed reports on the danger of media consolidation prove the agency is overwhelmingly biased in favor of big media.

    John Nichols

  • September 26, 2006

    ‘You Did Your Nice Little Conservative Hit Job On Me’

    Regular readers of this column will know that it maintains no great affection for former President Bill Clinton. A Democratic Leadership Council stalwart, Clinton got elected president by promising health care and education for all and then proceeded to give the country fiscal conservatism and a corporate-sponsored free trade agenda. His missteps handed control of Congress to Newt Gingrich and the radical right, rendering the Democratic party largely dysfunctional at the legislative level to this day.

    But there has never been any doubt that Clinton was more serious about combating terrorism than his successor, George W. Bush. Clinton actually worried about threats to the United States, while Bush dismissed warnings at precisely the moment when the threats were most serious. And, as the intelligence community now confirms, Bush's failure of focus and practice have made the Americans more vulnerable.

    The fact that Bush's supremely political presidency treats "homeland security" as a slogan rather than a necessity is the fundamental flaw in the current commander-in-chief's deeply flawed tenure. And his handlers are well aware of the problem. That's why they have worked so hard, along with their amen corner in the media, to create the false impression that Clinton and the Democrats were somehow more responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon than Bush and the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

    John Nichols

  • September 20, 2006

    A New Star Shines From Massachusetts

    Barack Obama, whose recent campaign-style swing through Iowa has renewed talk of the freshman senator from Illinois as a presidential prospect, is still the frontrunner in discussions about who might be the first African-American to occupy the Oval Office.

    But the voters of Massachusetts have given Obama some competition.

    The landslide winner of Tuesday's voting in what was supposed to be a close contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Deval Patrick, is certainly not as well known as Obama. But if, as many expect, Patrick prevails in the November election, he will quickly find a place on the national stage. And if he proves to be as successful at governing the Bay State as he was as a law clerk for a law clerk for one of the nation's most progressive jurists, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, as a top lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and as assistant attorney general for civil rights under President Clinton, Patrick will soon enjoy his share of presidential speculation.

    John Nichols

  • September 19, 2006

    Election Dysfunction

    The Sunday Washington Post headline said it all. Echoing a theme that is finally being picked up by print and broadcast media that for too long has neglected the dramatic problems with this country's systems for casting and counting votes, the newspaper's front page announced: "Major Problems At Polls Feared: Some Officials Say Voting Law Changes And New Technology Will Cause Trouble."

    Following a disastrous election day in Maryland that was defined by human blunders, technical glitches, long lines and long delays in vote counting so severe that some contests remain unresolved almost a week after the balloting, the Post declared that, "An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said."

    No fooling!

    John Nichols


  • September 17, 2006

    Let the People Lead

    "... it may, perhaps, on some occasion, be found necessary to impeach the President himself..." -- JAMES MADISON

    On Sunday, September 17, I appeared on the National Mall in Washington as part of Camp Democracy's day-long session on impeachment.

    Camp Democracy organizer David Swanson's timing was, as always, impeccable.

    John Nichols

  • September 15, 2006

    Camp Democracy and the Genius of Impeachment

    No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?

    -- George Mason, 1787

    More than 5,000 people crowded the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wisconsin, for Fighting Bob Fest, one of the largest gatherings of progressives in the nation. The annual event, which is pulled together by volunteers on a minimal budget, now attracts speakers such as U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    John Nichols

  • September 15, 2006

    Refusing to Exploit 9-11

    Two days after President Bush used a nationally-televised address to exploit the memory of September 11 for political purposes – employing language and logic so crude that it would have made Richard Nixon cringe – the Republican Congressional leadership tried to plant a campaign yard sign in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. And the vast majority of House Democrats, lacking both the courage of their convictions and all other forms of that precious commodity, gave their assent to the desecration.

    With the fall election season in full swing, House Republicans tried to take full advantage of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington to suggest that the Congress has been anything more than a useless appendage of the Bush administration for the past five years. U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, sponsored a resolution that, while it was promoted as a commemoration of one of the most solemn dates in American history, was in fact an apologia for Congressional assaults on civil liberties such as the Patriot Act.

    A number of Democrats objected to the clumsy attempt by King and his compatriots to use the memory of 9-11 to justify their wrongheaded theory that the only way to fight terrorism is to shred the Constitution.

    John Nichols

  • Campaigns and Elections September 15, 2006

    What Can Sherrod Brown Do for the Democrats?

    The road to the Democrats' renewal runs through Ohio, and Sherrod Brown is on it, looking for the towns his party forgot and the voters who got away.

    John Nichols

  • Campaigns and Elections September 14, 2006

    No Clear Antiwar Signal

    Anyone looking for a signal from the primaries that Democrats will be a clear antiwar party didn't get it.

    John Nichols