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John Nichols

Washington Correspondent

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He 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) and, most recently, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books). 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)


  • January 13, 2003

    George W. Lieberman

    If there was one thing that rational political observers agreed upon after last November's Democratic debacle, it was that Democrats need to do a much better job of distinguishing themselves from the Republicans.

    That recognition should dim the prospects of Joe Lieberman as a serious presidential prospect in 2004. After all, as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has noted, Lieberman is famous for taking conservative stands that "rankle (the) liberal Democrats who comprise the core of the party."

    Yet, with his Monday declaration, Lieberman is officially in the running. And by many estimations -- especially those of conservative commentators for whom Lieberman has long been the Democrat of choice -- he is a leading contender for his party's nomination.

    John Nichols

  • Political Figures January 9, 2003

    Memo to the Democrats

    If Congressional Democrats want to be more than George W.

    John Nichols

  • January 6, 2003

    The Fight for the Future of Music

    America stands on the cusp of a sweeping set of shifts in federal media ownership rules that could dramatically alter the nature of what we see, hear and read, warns Federal Commications Commission member Jonathan S. Adelstein. Dialogue and debate about these proposed changes must be ramped up quickly if the public interest is to be protected.

    But first, how about a harmonica solo?

    Before delivering his first major policy address at the annual conference of the Future of Music Coalition, Adelstein wowed a crowd of several hundred there by playing a mean harmonica during a performance by Lester Chambers of the groundbreaking 1960s group The Chambers Brothers.

    John Nichols

  • December 23, 2002

    ‘The Politics Were on the Street’

    The punk rock explosion of the mid-1970s seized the power of rock-and-roll back from the corporate conglomerates that had warped the music into a flabby, over-produced, stadium-rocking mess.

    But it was Joe Strummer who made punk rock more than just an anarchic flail against the dying of the light. With The Clash, Strummer gave punk a militant, internationalist, pro-Black edge that made it matter not just as a musical statement but as a political one.

    "It was The Clash that struck the strong political stance that really inspired a lot of people, and within The Clash he was the political engine of the band," explained British singer Billy Bragg.

    John Nichols

  • December 21, 2002

    Check and Balance Cheney’s Choice

    George W. Bush has chosen a nominee to replace ousted Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. More precisely, the president has rubber-stamped a selection made by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    As with the outgoing Cabinet member, the man designated to take O'Neill's place, CSX Chairman John Snow, is a longtime crony of Cheney.

    In Snow's case, the tie goes back at least to the mid-1970s, when Snow served as deputy undersecretary of the Transportation Department and administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration under President Gerald Ford, whom Cheney served as chief of staff.

    John Nichols

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  • December 19, 2002

    Between a Rock and a Hardass

    Trent Lott is at the bottom of a deep hole, and he is digging like crazy. Every time the Dixiecrat cheerleader denies his Confederate tendencies, he comes out looking a little more like his hero - Jefferson Davis - in his "oops" days following the Civil War.

    Lott's appearance on Black Entertainment Television the other day was so painfully inept that the BET commentators who reviewed the Mississippi senator's pathetic "some of my best friends are ..." performance tried to cut him some slack. He was at least trying to say the right thing, they suggested, even if Lott's attempts to paint himself as a champion of affirmative action were so tortured that none could actually make a case for allowing him to remain as Senate majority leader in the new Congress.

    If the commentators were gentle, Lott's fellow Republicans were not.

    John Nichols

  • December 16, 2002

    Gore’s Gone, But Will Dems Freshen Up?

    Poor Al Gore, he never could get presidential politics right. Just as the former vice president and 2000 Democratic nominee for the top job was starting to take some of the bold stands that might have inspired grassroots Democrats to consider him anew – criticizing the rush to war with Iraq, pointing an appropriate finger of blame for economic instability at Bush tax policies, and acknowledging that a single-payer national health care plan is needed – he decides NOT to run in 2004.

    With his announcement Sunday that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination, Gore essentially admitted that he could not get away with remaking himself again. The son of a senator who entertained presidential ambitions, Gore has spent a lifetime preparing for the job he has now decided not to seek. It was that process of preparation that finally caught up with him: As Gore prepared for a new run, he found that too few Democrats were all that enthusiastic about the prospect of deciding which Al Gore they would have to try and elect in 2004.

    Gore's announcement gives Democrats a chance to move beyond the reinvention of a man to the more significant task of reinventing their party. Despite his many weaknesses, Gore remained a frontrunner for the 2004 nomination in most polls, largely because of his popularity among the most loyal Democratic constituencies, especially African-Americans. Now, Democrats have an opportunity to offer voters not just a fresh face but a fresh approach.

    John Nichols

  • Science and Health December 12, 2002

    The Three Mile Island of Biotech?

    When plants in Nebraska carrying swine diarrhea drugs mingled with food for humans, all hell broke loose.

    John Nichols

  • December 12, 2002

    Trent Lott’s “Uptown Klan”

    The incredible thing about the controversy surrounding soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's kissing up to the racist legacy of Strom Thurmond is that anyone thinks it is incredible.

    Lott is on the hot seat for telling a 100th birthday party for Thurmond, the South Carolina senator who in 1948 ran an overtly racist campaign for president on the State's Rights Party ticket: "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either."

    Those remarks have caused a major stir, which is appropriate. But this is hardly the first time that Lott, who began his political career in the 1960s as an aide to segregationist Democratic Congressman William Colmer, has hailed the legacy of those who fought to defend the practices of slavery and segregation. Nor is the tortured "apology" Lott has issued the first to come from the senator.

    John Nichols

  • December 9, 2002

    A Democrat Wins by Running Against Bush

    "The light has shown that the Democratic Party is alive and well and united,"Louisiana U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu shouted over the weekend, as she celebratedher victory in the last Senate contest of 2002.

    Alive? Yes.

    Well? No, but perhaps better diagnosed.

    John Nichols