John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

Hello members,

Next week, we’re looking ahead to the Democratic debates — the first time in which many of the candidates will formally engage with one another. Here’s who made the cut, and here’s what we know about format.

And here is what happened in Prime this week:

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Hello TPM members,

Another week passed with Democrats inching bit by bit closer to impeachment. At TPM, we aired the debate around whether or not the party should take that leap. Here’s a few links to that, and all else that happened in Prime.

Looking ahead to next week, the blizzard continues. Democrats have invited John Dean to testify on the Hill, and we could see two contempt votes: One in the House Oversight Committee to recommend holding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt, and another on the House floor to hold Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt.

  • Readers wrote in with their thoughts on the impeachment debate. ML says the spectacle and process of impeachment is the point. CG says action is the ideology. JB says the whole discussion is pointless given that the Senate will not convict. BT says Josh is “crazy over this impeachment thing.” Another reader is “flabbergasted” by BTRS is pro-impeachment, but without a timeline.
  • In defending a top official accused of lying in the census case, did the DOJ give away the game?
  • Did a former Raytheon lobbyist working at the State Department have a hand in convincing the administration to use emergency powers to circumvent Congress and cut an arms deal with Saudi Arabia?
  • A new lawsuit challenges Mississippi’s segregation-era system of elected statewide officials.
  • In figuring out whether or not to charge Trump, the special counsel was in uncharted legal waters, Josh Kovensky writes.
  • A Wednesday hearing on the Census citizenship question was a mixed bag.
  • Mueller witness George Nader was arrested this week. Cristina Cabrera recounts how he worked his way into Trump’s orbit.
  • On impeachment, Josh Marshall writes: “Actual wrongdoing and crimes are important to uncover and are actually politically damaging. Impeachment moves the focus to the mechanics of impeachment and the question of whether or not a President should be removed from office — a question on which the public is much more divided.”
  • We’ve seen a few instances recently of lawmakers making violent comments about LGBT people.
  • SEC head Jay Clayton laments the challenges facing stock brokers today.

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Hello Prime members and welcome to the weekend.

This week we finally heard from Mueller. The importance of what he chose to say is open to interpretation — and differs depending on who you ask. One thing is clear, however: Democrats want to hear more.

Here’s what happened in Prime this week.

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The Pew Research Center released an analysis of newly available Census data Wednesday, showing that in the 2018 midterms, Generation X, the Millennial generation, and Generation Z cast more votes than the baby boomer generation and those that came before it. The big question now is, of course, what this means for 2020.

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Hello TPM members and welcome to the weekend.

Trump has empowered Bill Barr with unprecedented authority so he can investigate the origins of the Russia probe. “The Kraken has been unleashed,” says cartoon supervillain Seb Gorka.

Here’s what happened in Prime this week.

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“What’s going on with Fox, by the way? What’s going on there?” Trump asked at his rally Monday in central Pennsylvania. The old mill town of Montoursville is on a branch of the Susquehanna River, about halfway between New York City and Cleveland — the heart of Trump country. It’s also the site of a special election to replace former Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who overwhelmingly won his election in November only to resign in January. The President was speaking to the Fox News-viewing faithful.

“They’re putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans,” he griped to the crowd about his favorite channel. “Something strange is going on at Fox, folks. Something very strange.”

The line was not exactly a crowd-pleaser. Mostly, the audience seemed confused. A few people took the cue and booed the cable news channel.

Crowd-pleaser or not, Trump has been airing his concerns about Fox News increasingly often in recent weeks. Democratic 2020 candidates holding town halls on the channel seem to especially irk him.

After Bernie Sanders held a town hall on the channel in April, the President observed, “so weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @FoxNews.” The “audience” — he put it in quotes, suggesting something was amiss with the crowd — and the moderator, Bret Baier, were “so smiley and nice,” he griped. “Very strange, and now we have @donnabrazile?” The former DNC chair joined the network as a contributor in March.

The complaints continued the next day, with claims that his supporters were shut out of the studio audience in favor of Sanders supporters.

After Buttigieg’s town hall this week it was a repeat, with Trump complaining that the network was “wasting airtime” and “moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side.”

His concerns are not unfounded. The Democrats seem to be breaking through during their Fox appearances. At Sanders’ town hall, Bret Baier’s mention of “a government-run system” for health care was met with raised hands and cheers. When Buttigieg called Trump’s tweets “grotesque,” the audience laughed and applauded.

“I did want to watch,” Trump told his rally night’s audience. “You always want to watch the competition.” It was a telling quote in itself. Trump — and, probably, most Americans — take for granted that Fox sees Democrats as the opposition. His enemies were meant to be theirs. So what business does Fox have amplifying their message? the President wanted to know.

Trump has bullied Fox into submission before. Former host Megyn Kelly earned his ire (“blood coming out of her wherever”) after asking him about his treatment of women at the first Republican debate in 2015. In that feud, Trump won out. The channel got behind Trump as other GOP candidates withered in the face of his nicknames; Kelly left her job, she would later say, because of Trump. Despite the spinning it has required from Fox’s PR team, Sean Hannity has continued to appear with the President before and even onstage during his rallies.

Whether Trump will win this battle remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Democrats don’t seem to have much to lose by going on Fox. It gives them a chance to reframe moderators’ questions, which are often asked with a clear, conservative wind-up. It pisses off the President. And it shows that, for many Trump voters, Democrats’ policies are appealing. Whether policies informed Trump voters’ vote last time, or will next time, is a separate question.

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Hello TPM members,

This week, the Treasury Department did what it long suggested it may do and formally refused to comply with Democrats’ subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns.

Looking ahead to next week, this fight could be headed to court: House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal said he plans to challenge the move.

For other investigations into Trump, check out Nicole Lafond’s weekly primer. Here’s what else happened in prime this week.

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