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

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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Hello TPM Members,

This week was all about Bill Barr, who became the lead character in the escalating fight between the executive and legislative branches over the extent of each one’s power.

Looking ahead to next week, the Department of Treasury has said that by Monday it will release its decision on whether to comply with Congress’ request for President Trump’s tax returns, along with its justification of that decision.

Here’s what happened in Prime this week.

  • A reader wonders whether synagogue shootings of the sort we saw last week in California are becoming normalized.
  • Goodbye, Stephen Moore.
  • Among the things New York state Attorney General Letitia James is reportedly examining the NRA for are self dealing, “unauthorized political activity” and “potentially false or misleading disclosures in regulatory filings.”
  • Kate Riga tells the story of the scandal that ultimately brought down Baltimore’s mayor this week.
  • It looks like Barr was upset that Mueller’s team wrote a report for Congress that Barr didn’t want written, Josh Marshall writes.
  • Republican Senators are ready to investigate the investigators, Tierney Sneed writes. “There’s no crime shown as a result of the Mueller report, so what led up to the Mueller report?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to know.
  • “Barr fundamentally overruled Mueller on the essential question of whether a prosecutorial decision should be made at all,” David Kurtz writes.
  • Some notes on Barr’s opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • Four themes that emerged during Wednesday’s Barr hearing.
  • Barr’s swagger didn’t help him this time, Tierney Sneed writes.
  • Will Bill Barr investigate Joe Biden’s family?
  • When Republican Senators talk about “spying” on Trump’s campaign, here’s what they’re actually talking about.
  • Sorry House Democrats, there’s no Capitol jail in which you can detain defiant witnesses.

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Throughout Bill Barr’s testimony to the Senate this morning, the attorney general escalated his vigorous defense of the President while lobbing new criticism at his Justice Department colleagues, including special counsel Robert Mueller. The hearing ran for about 90 minutes before the committee recessed; here’s what’s happened so far.

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