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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 23, 2006

    “Freedom, Brotherhood, and Justice…”

    Sixty-five years ago, in that tense passage after the worst of the Great Depression began to ease but before the bombings at Pearl Harbor drew this country into the wars of Europe and Asia, Franklin Roosevelt penned the most remarkable of Thanksgiving Proclamations.

    Unlike most of his predecessors and successors, including the current occupant of the Oval Office, Roosevelt saw the writing of the annual statement as something more than a perfunctory task. Each of the 32nd president's dozen Thanksgiving Proclamations was unique, and as his tenure progressed, Roosevelt used them to express the values of the New Deal and the internationalist struggle against fascism.

    Though Roosevelt's proclamations retained a spiritual character, he deemphasized explicitly Christian references in favor of a more universalist approach, which recognized the contributions of different religious groupings within the United States and abroad. He also added inclusive language, which he and his aides hoped would be read as an encouragement to overcome racial and ethnic divisions.

    John Nichols

  • November 22, 2006

    A New Congressman Says ‘No’ to the President

    Most freshman Democratic members of the House of Representatives attended last week's reception at the White House with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, White House political czar Karl Rove and others who had just finished plotting and executing unrelenting attacks campaigns on the newcomers. But the target of some of the campaign season's crudest attacks, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, had better things to do.

    Ellison, the first Muslim to ever be elected to Congress, skipped the private reception at the White House in order to attend a reception organized by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.

    "I went to the AFL-CIO reception, because I wanted to meet and greet leaders of labor, and get to know them," explained Ellison, who won an intense Democratic primary and then the general election with strong union backing. "Those are the people who I came here to support."Was it hard to give up a chance to rub elbows with the president and vice president?

    John Nichols

  • Elections November 21, 2006

    Power Shifts in the States

    Democratic gains in Statehouses around the country validated Howard Dean's "50-state strategy" and set the stage for a long process of party renewal.

    John Nichols


  • November 17, 2006

    The Senate’s “Horrible Mistake”

    For decades, the official policy of the United States has been to discourage nuclear proliferation, particularly in southern Asia.

    But the U.S. Senate now says: No more.

    At the prodding of the Bush administration, the Senate voted 85-12 to allow the U.S. to ship nuclear fuel and technology to India as part of an initiative to encourage the expansion of nuclear programs in that country. At a time when the Bush administration is suggesting the U.S. might need to go to war to block nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, the Senate has given its stamp of approval to proliferation in one of the most volatile regions of the world.Describing the vote as "a horrible mistake," Senator Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, said the vote repudiated decades of U.S. policy of "telling the world it's our responsibility and our major goal to stop the spread of nuclear weapons."

    John Nichols

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  • November 15, 2006

    Back to the Future With Trent Lott

    After losing the House and the Senate in the November 7 election, Republicans have been talking about how to create a new and more appealing public image for the Congressional party that has suffered from its association with corruption scandals, crude policies and divisive statements.

    Well, the search for the fresh face of the Grand Old Party is done.

    Senate Republicans have elected as their "new" whip Mississippi Senator Trent Lott.

    John Nichols

  • November 14, 2006

    What Russell Feingold Wants to Do Now

    When a prominent political figure decides not to make an anticipated bid for the presidency, it is usually said that the exiting contender gave something up -- a chance to define the national debate, to lead the party and, perhaps, to occupy the White House.

    But U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold did not appear to be giving anything up when he sat down the other day for the first extended discussion about his decision -- announced only hours earlier in an e-mail message to supporters -- that he would not be a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. After almost two years of speculation, which heightened as the three-term senator campaigned nationwide this year on behalf of like-minded Democrats, Feingold is suddenly out of the running. Even the prospect of a vice presidential nomination, which he does not rule out, seems remote for a Democrat who has often jousted with his party's centrist leadership.

    Still, Feingold sounded, if anything, more engaged, more enthusiastic and more prepared to advance the progressive agenda that would have been the centerpiece of a presidential bid.

    John Nichols

  • November 12, 2006

    Feingold Won’t Seek Democratic Nod

    U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who many progressive activists had encouraged to seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008, has decided against making the race.

    In a letter to be sent to supporters on Sunday, Feingold writes, "I want you to know that I've decided to continue my role as Wisconsin's Junior Senator in the U.S. Senate and not to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2008."

    Feingold, the sole senator to oppose the Patriot Act in 2001 and the first senator to advocate a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, stoked speculation about a possible presidential run during the 2006 congressional campaign season. His call for the censure of President Bush for authorizing warrantless wiretapping was wildly popular with party activists -- even if most of his fellow Democratic senators shunned the move. Feingold's addresses to state party conventions and campaign events across the country were well received. And he began to develop the infrastructure for a candidacy by setting up a new campaign group, the Progressive Patriots Fund, which aided candidates around the country who shared his anti-war and pro-civil liberties positions.

    John Nichols

  • November 11, 2006

    Listening to a Veteran

    Next week, one of the greatest war heroes to ever serve in Congress will return to Washington to discuss how the U.S. should extract itself from the quagmire in Iraq.

    Former Sen. George McGovern will address members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Already, conservatives are accusing the Democrats in the House and Senate of being "McGovernite" liberals because some members of the House caucus will meet with the South Dakotan.

    Let's hope the conservatives are right - because if this Congress wants to know about issues of war and peace, they should start listening to veterans. And McGovern is one of America's wisest old soldiers. Like a lot of the veterans of World War II, he understands that there are times when it makes sense to fight, just as there are times when it makes sense to bring the troops home.

    John Nichols

  • November 10, 2006

    The Crowded Progressive Caucus

    What will be the largest of the ideological caucuses in the new House Democratic majority?

    Why, of course, it must be the "centrists" affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council's "New Democrat Coalition." Yes, that's got to be the case because all the commentators at the Wall Street Journal keep saying that centrists were the big winners on Tuesday.

    Er, no.

    John Nichols