Profile of Jim Dougherty (photo below), the largely unknown first husband of Marilyn Monroe

(2004, Boston Globe Magazine)


My piece in Medium.

Watergate: Guess who Came to Dinner in 1974?

 

Courtesy of the late great David Halberstam came this remarkable historical nugget: in late February 1974, Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski sat down for a “quiet dinner” in Washington with top editors and writers of Time magazine.

Safe to say, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will take part in no such supper.

When I saw this otherwise minor vignette a few days ago, it was, given our current predicament, a scene stealer...I was focused on learning more about media coverage of Watergate. Halberstam, a wonderful gossip and superb historian, expertly captured the wild and challenging ebb and flow of Watergate as a public phenomenon. Even when matters seemed crystal clear, they weren’t, and when big breakthroughs in public knowledge occurred, serious lulls followed.

In particular, by the beginning of 1974 — after more than 18 months of stories, compelling Senate hearings, the October 1973 Saturday Night Massacre (which led to Jaworski’s appointment), some indictments, and calls for Nixon’s resignation — it was, according to Halberstam, a time of “some uncertainty.” This was due to the velocity of headlines, hearings and confirmed public knowledge creating a race of public expectation that left political and legal processes far behind. Not unlike today with a president so clearly in need of removal, there was a fear that Nixon might be able to hold on, keep his base together and avoid Impeachment conviction in the Senate (when Nixon resigned after his criminality was laid bare, his public support was around 25 percent. Expect the same if not more from the Trump cult).

 


My piece in Medium.

 

Nixonland: A Second Look

 

“How did Nixonland end? It has not ended yet.” — Rick Perlstein, 2008

 

I first read Nixonland by Rick Perlstein shortly after the first election of Barack Obama. I had covered Obama in New Hampshire and Iowa during the presidential primary circus of 2007–08 and the general election. He was a compelling candidate who had barely bested a formidable and equally compelling primary foe in Hillary Clinton. I even wrote a hyperbolic editorial for my local paper that the election of 2008 would be the most consequential since Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1932 during the pits of the Great Depression.

Though it seems like a century and not a decade ago, there was a whiff of hope in the air, that something amazing had happened — the election of the country’s first African-American president — 143 years after the end of the Civil War. That was true. What was equally true but unknown at the time: the election of Obama would set off an eight-year-long nuclear-level political reaction that led us to the country’s first racist dunce president.


My March 2018 interview with Russia state TV expert Julia Davis on Medium.

 

Excerpt: 

How is Trump portrayed on Russian TV?

On Russian TV, Trump is being portrayed as a weak, inexperienced, clownish individual, under siege by the U.S. Congress and “the deep state.” The Russians ridicule Trump, but nonetheless continue to support him. They aren’t giving up hope that someday, Trump will deliver whatever they desire. The fact that meaningful sanctions have yet to be imposed by this administration isn’t lost on them either. Many Russians continue to believe that Trump is on their side…(he) is not seen as one of Russia’s opponents, while the U.S. is openly considered a foe. He is perceived as an ally in the enemy’s camp and is portrayed accordingly.

Unparalleled poltical analysis in Medium: Mama said there'd be days like this...but Mama never met Mad King Donald. 

 

Excerpt: 

 

After all, most sane Americans have become accustomed to frequent daily bouts of Trump-induced Cognitive Dissonance (TCD). Studies show that TCD recovery for many happens by the time the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC finishes around 11 p.m. EST. The TCD cycle begins anew the next morning when folks check their Twitter feeds to find out if WW III has begun — or if Mad King Donald has privatized the Defense Department and turned it over to Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos. 


March 2018 satirical reportage in Daily Kos

 

Help Wanted: Trump Grand Inquisition Bureau

Excerpt:

Goals: Your office must reach a weekly purge quota of 200 #MAGA traitors from the satanic, snake-infested swamp of the federal government & Congress. If they don’t have a #MAGA hat at the office and home, a portrait-sized picture of our magnificent leader in their office and home, and if they don’t swear absolute loyalty to the greatest leader in #MAGA history, these Deep State spies are to be immediately demoted to the custodial staff no matter their position. You are then to refer their cases to the Grand Inquisition Action Bureau for further interrogation and subsequent public humiliation by our pundit enforcer allies at Fox News. They have promised to start a regular feature titled “America’s Most Wanted #MAGA Traitors.”


Read my November 2016 Daily Kos essay: Satire, Trumpism & Real America.