Why Press Run Matters

A proudly progressive dissection of the political press

We can't mend America if we don't fix the press. So I'm launching a newsletter called Press Run. A proudly progressive dissection of the political press in the age of Trump, Press Run promises fearless media commentary —because now more than ever. It will be a community where we'll find fault, sing some praise, and search for solutions.

At a time when such a radical White House player is eagerly chipping away at our freedoms and the Constitution, it's imperative the news media stand up to the unprecedented challenge at hand — a press corps that doesn't turn away from truth telling, or holding the powerful accountable.

For years, the press has been bringing a knife to Trump's gunfights—over and over, to the point where there's obviously been a calculation made by the access-hunger Beltway press to not push too hard. To not accurately call the president a "liar" or a "racist," or to question his mental stability. Trump's on pace to tell 16,000 lies in four years, but newsrooms aren't allowed to use the L-word. In terms of race coverage, news consumers have been served a feast of euphemisms — "racially tinged," "racially charged," racially incendiary, disparaging," "racially infused," "crass epithet," "crass denigrations," bluntly vulgar language" — as journalist frantically try to avoid being truthful about Trump. This, while journalists strain mightily to suggest Republicans and Democrats today are equally honorable the fact-driven.

"So many ‘Savvy Washington Insiders’ and ‘fair journalists’ are actually in on the con," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) lamented on Twitter. "They know one side is absolutely bonkers but they are deeply, personally attached to the fake objectivity that allows them to be blind to cruelty and racism manifested as public policy."

He's right. And the press should say so. The grim reality is that access journalism, or the dream of it under Trump, is eroding American democracy.

White House press briefings have now disappeared, as have public briefings at the Pentagon. What was once unthinkable inside the Beltway has quickly become the norm as the President of the United States paints reporters as "enemies of the people," and news outlets refuse to take a collective stand.

"This is a massive ongoing catastrophe in journalism, a slow-motion car crash of failed ethics and corrupt news judgment," former Wall Street Journal reporter Heidi Moore lamented this summer, after watching journalists obsess over the "optics" — not the substance — of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Congressional testimony this summer.  "It's been going on for four years, getting progressively worse, and it's hurting both media and the country. Political coverage in the U.S. in a crisis. It is failing."

We're also living in an extreme age of conservative misinformation, where Fox News conspiracies, instead of taking months or years to migrate their way into offices of power, now land there in days or even hours, as Trump feasts off the network's toxic programming. I've been leading the fight against Fox News for more than a decade, and it's a battle that's only swelled in importance recently, as the network emerges as Trump's dangerous fifth column in the U.S.

With Press Run, you’ll get unflinching analysis and commentary that you won’t find anywhere else. It's where we'll build this community together.

If you've followed my media writing and commentary over the years at Salon, Media Matters, Daily Kos, or the hundreds of television and radio appearances I've made, know that Press Run is where my work will now appear. It's my new home and I'm excited about growing a community there.

Today, independent journalism and independent voices often requires reader support, especially with Facebook and Google vacuuming up the vast majority of online advertising dollars. The kicker is that independent journalism and independent voices have never been more important than they are right now.

I've always been committed to holding the news outlets accountable via original, incisive analysis, while also raising up voices of sanity. After its initial launch, which will be free, Press Run subscribers will receive three editions in their mailbox each week for the cost of just $6 per-month.

Substack, if you didn't know, is home to an array of amazing writers whose distinct voices are making important and engaging contributions to all kinds of cultural and political conversations. I'm excited to join that burgeoning community with Press Run.