95 Comments
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Thanks everyone! I'm going to wrap this up for now. Let me know what you thought about this Q&A. If people like it, I'll schedule another one soon.

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Thanks, great format!

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I just wanted to say how terrific your work is.

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Thanks Kathy. That's very kind of you to say.

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Me, too-this is important work you’re doing-thank you so much!

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Other than subscribing and sharing your reporting, is there anyway we can help with such things like Facebook advertising or corporate financing for/against LGBTQ? I think you're doing an amazing job and wish I could do more to help out

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The best thing you can do is send me tips about stories. A lot of my best stuff is the product of tips I get from readers.

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Why doesn’t your *excellent* reporting on, for example, Trump ads on Facebook get more traction and faster so they have to ACT and be accountable in the most minimal of ways (sorry to insert my emotions about one of the many villains, but serious question).

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I'm not sure but I'll keep plugging away. My reporting on the use of stock photo models did get wide attention by the AP and others. Facebook has taken down a few of the ads that I've flagged. Mostly it's business as usual though. In my experience, however, nothing changes until everything does. So I'll keep working on it.

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Your persistence & sticking with these stories and being a fly in the ointment instead of moving on is very much appreciated. Thanks

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What are your thoughts about Trumps repeated 'joking' about being in power past 2024?

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I don't think it's funny. In my view he's testing the waters. I'm worried about Trump voluntarily leaving office, particularly if he loses in 2020. Even if he eventually goes, he can do a lot of damage on the way out. (I wrote about it here, BTW: https://popular.info/p/president-for-life)

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He is always testing the waters as a good demagogue would :(

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What are the legal implications for refusing to participate in the 2020 census if the citizenship question is included?

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You should participate regardless because it's used to aportion political power. So if you don't participate you are hurting your community and not really helping anyone.

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Yes, good point. Can I refuse to answer that question specifically?

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Theoretically you could be prosecuted for failing to fill out part of the Census but there has been no enforcement since 1970

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Good question

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As many have said already. Great work Judd - thanks for this newsletter!

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Thanks Joy!

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Happy subscriber to your daily Popular Information here--what's your take on the back and forth between Pelosi and the 4 freshmen/women congresspeople? is it a media-created thing, or is it real, and to what extent could it fracture the Democratic Party?

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I think there is a reality to it. I'm not sure why Pelosi has been so publicly critical of AOC, Pressley and the others. They may have only 4 votes but they also have a lot of the energy and enthusiams of the Democratic Party behind them. Pelosi and all other Democrats are going to need that in 2020.

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Your work is inspiring and makes me want to leave film for news. It's such a privilege to see research and wisdom come together.

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Have you written about the Queens DA race and the recount? Thoughts on this?

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I haven't written about it. I need to investigate further.

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I’m grateful for your journalist efforts!

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I'm grateful to everyone who says something nice. I get a lot of vitriol online also but I try to focus on the nice people.

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Jul 11, 2019Liked by Judd Legum

Your work is awesome, love when some of the best findings make their way to mass media, I think that's a great strategy.

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You get vitriol? I’m sorry you have to deal with that. From who? Bots?

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i know you prefer to cover stories where you have something to add to the topic. i saw this one today, and it addresses a huge crisis with a treatment, if not a solution. I am bumping it on all my social media. 100,000+ deaths per year means we are truly losing the war on drugs. When law enforcement confiscates enough fentanyl to kill the whole country in a single shipment, it is everyone's problem. This is chemical warfare. This article offers a treatment in the trenches. It deserves a whole lot of distribution. Now the families and partners and friends of addicts have something they can do. It buys time. https://www.npr.org/2023/03/29/1166750095/narcan-fda-approval-naloxone-over-the-counter-otc?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20230329&utm_term=8181843&utm_campaign=breaking-news&utm_id=30191832&orgid=148&utm_att1=

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thanks, Judd, this has been terrific! Look forward to the next one!

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Thanks a million Judd!

I look forward to reading your work all the time!

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You talked about election security a bit, below, but I'm wondering if you have a take on the controversy over hackable bar-code voting machines versus un-hackable paper ballots? (to me there's a fairly unseemly rush on the part of local officials to purchase voting equipment that can be hacked with ease. I'm not worried about the Russians here, rather about local county and state-level Republicans!)

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Have you seen any of the posts about epstein & trump on the @iansmadrig twitter account? It’s very substantial, disturbing & credible, including heartbreaking video of Katie Johnson, the woman who said trump raped her at 13, and who reminded him of his daughter.

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I've been following it but I'm not sure what to make of it. The lawsuit was withdrawn, which doesn't mean the underlying allegations are false, but makes it difficult to evaluate.

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More outside the box stuff. Favorite books? Thanks for all that you do. I look forward to reading every morning

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As far as all-time favorites: Unbearable LIghtness of Being and Moby Dick. More recently I read Educated, which I thought was awesome. I'm currently reading a biography of IF Stone, who started a muckraking one-person newsletter in 1953!

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Years ago I saw a documentary, "I.F. Stone's Journal" I think it was called. Worth looking it up.

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Who are other journalists/writers that you read often? Or are you typically following coverage by topic

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Typically I dive into a topic and read everything. But I like Charlie Warzel in the NYT and Christopher Mims in the WSJ.

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Do you ever find yourself getting burned out with all that's going on? If so, how do you work through it?

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author

These last two years have been remarkable in that we have people who were previously on the fringes in control of the government. It can be disspiriting. But part of the point of this kind of politics is to tire out everyone else. So I try to use that to motivate myself. There is a lot of important work to do and politics can change quickly. Also, sometime you just need to watch a mindless TV show. I like American Ninja Warrior.

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Awesome way to look at it. Thanks!

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Do you know how many counts for abuse are against Epstein?

I’m confused how Fogle got 15 years & Epstein only got 18 months-

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There were two charges filed in New York but there are reportedly hundreds of victims.

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It’s possible Acosta May be the only variable

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It seems so patently obvious that he is benefiting directly from his mollycoddling of Epstein. Why can’t everyone see this? Am I really that deep in the bubble? Do we think people don’t believe the evidence, or that they truly don’t care?

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What advice would you give progressive/traditional political parties to be as effective as populists on social media? Is it even possible knowing that divisive and simplistic (or even fake) content performs better?

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Will you please consider setting up a Mastodon account and building an IFTTT bridge to just auto-post your tweets to there to help build it as an alternative to Twitter?

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I looked into this once but I saw there was a lot of different Mastadon installs and I wasn't sure which one to use. Do you have any suggestions?

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Mastodon.social is the biggest instance, and is where other news-bots (Al Jazeera, Vox, etc.) live

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Mastodon is federated, so (in theory) it shouldn't matter which instance you set up as your home base. Readers there can still see your content.

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Is there anything actually being done to prevent foreign interference in the 2020 election?

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I'm sure there are folks in the government working on it but our election infrastructure is vulnerable and Congress isn't doing anything to fix it. The Secure Elections Act was introduced on a bipartisan basis in the Senate but killed by the Republicans/the White House. I also think social media companies need to do a lot more.

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Yes, of course. Is there a venal reason they’re not, do you think? Or are they just trying to mollify everyone? Towards what end?

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sex with minors & age of consent varies by state, what are the boundaries in the US territories of Virgin Islands?

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I'm not sure but it doesn't really matter since Epstein's crimes are alleged to have occured in Florida and New York.

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thank you

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Do you think it would help if the Dems called out Trump on his repeated lies - specifically and strongly?

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It can't hurt but it's clearly not enough. I'd like to see Democrats be more willing to use the power they have to hold Trump accountable. Democrats could get his state tax returns now, for example.

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I agree - I don't know what they are waiting for - I think Nancy Pelosi is holding things up

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Can we figure out why? Do we think she’s deliberately not doing anything?

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That's a good question. She seems to think that fighting Trump in certain ways is not productive - but I think she's over cautious.

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Me, too-but I’m also so ready to believe that everyone, without exception, is now corrupt. It’s so hard to keep any sort of faith.

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Yes it is difficult to have faith now.

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What is your morning routine?

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I get up around 6:30 or 7 and make sure my son has something to eat and drop him off at school/camp at 8. The I usually go somewhere to get coffee and food and see what's happening in the news. Then I try to get some exercise.

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Which candidate from outside the current big 4 (Biden, Harris, Sanders, Warren) do you think is most likely to break through and challenge?

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Cory Booker has been flying under the radar and is a very skilled politician. His politics are more in line with Biden than Sanders but if Biden fades there could be an opening for him.

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I am surprised you think Cory Booker has more of an opening than Pete Buttigieg. Is that because you think most Americans are dismissing Pete because age/experience, or more of the his lane is already filled kind of problem?

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Pete Buttigieg has done pretty well so far and raised a bunch of money but I think he might have problems appealing to a big enough coalition. We'll see.

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He certainly has an uphill climb to convince people of color that he hears them.

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Don't you think things HAD to happen this way? I mean, if Hillary or Bernie had won, we would have had impeachment hearings and gridlock, 2018 would NOT have been a big blue wave, 4 years of Trump building his support for being robbed and 2020 would have been a huge red wave in a redistricting year that would have cemented blue doom forever. Change HAD to come but there had to be a reckoning/bottoming out and this has been it.

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I think you are onto something here in that there are cycles to politics. But I don't think what's happened over the last two years was inevitable or better than the alternative. It is possible to gain power and then do a good job and stay in power. It just hasn't happened in awhile.

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What else could Facebook/Google/Twitter do with their ads libraries? Should more targeting information be disclosed?

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I think a lot more information should be disclosed about targeting. These libraries are also are very difficult to use and that should be improved. Facebook has no ability to search by date so the only way to figure out what is going on is to scroll through ad after ad. Trump posts hundreds a day so it's difficult for me to keep up, even though I've made it a priority.

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Yeah it's not great.. I've spent hours in spreadsheets cleaning up data from their bulk download tools. And Facebook doesn't have a lot of incentives to make it better. I hope they make more data available through API access and let people build apps on top of it.

For targeting data, I wonder where the line is between enough transparency and having to fully reveal your campaign's strategy. But first, there should be more restrictions at the advertiser level - if your ad is political, you should not get access to all the interests and behavioural targeting options.

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Do you have concerns about the affordable care act litigation. As a senior who purchases an advantage plan, I am terrified that I could be dropped due to preexisting conditions or the price sky rocket.

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The litigation is pretty ridiculous but so far it's succeded in the trial court and got a sympathetic hearing by the appeals court. So now people are expecting the Supreme Court to step in and save the ACA which I think could happen. But when you are relying on this Supreme Court you can never feel certain.

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Acosta is bad but could his replacement be worse for unions and other labor protections?

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This is true but I think some things transcend political strategy. We shouldn't ingore the sweetheart deal he gave to Epstein out of fear that his replacement could be worse, in my opinion.

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Will the dam break for impeachment if trump defies the supreme court on the census?

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I think by historical standards the dam has already broken. If you look at levels of support for impeachment, it's similar to what it was for Nixon before he resigned. The think the dam will really break if Democratic leadership in Congress starts advocating for it. Pelosi says there isn't public support but it's a chicken and egg situation. Public support will have a ceiling when party leaders keep saying its a bad idea.

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Where do you see media companies in the next couple of years (i.e. following 2020)? Do you think there will be more "pivots," more consolidations, etc? Companies like BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed, NowThis, HuffPost.

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Perhaps there is a financial future for ad-driven media but I think it ulimately leads to a search for scale and to content that isn't really worthwhile. That's why I'm committed to build a subscriber-based model for Popular Information. If you look at people doing really good work, like BuzzFeed's news team, they are also turning toward a membership model. The finances just don't work for substantive work supported mostly by ads.

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What's 2 or 3 things that governments could do to regulate political advertising on social media? Fixed CPMs for all?

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Here is one thing: I think there should be standardized disclaimers like there are on TV so people know who is behind the ads. Right now each company just comes up with their own rules. Facebook technically requires disclosure on who is paying but that can be an entity that give you no real information on who is paying.

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Thanks, I agree. It's a free for all right now... You should have to register and answer a standardized form with info on exactly what candidate/party/elections the ad is supporting and who exactly is paying for it.

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Do you think the early intense coverage of the 2020 presidential race hurts or helps Trump? Thanks!

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I think Democrats need to the coverage. One of Trump's biggest political skills is dominating the political discussion. He shifts it onto ground where he is comfortable. Democrats need to be willing to seize the initiative and drive coverage. That's why I think it was a big mistake for the DNC to limit the number of primary debates.

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How big should a bank be so that it is not too big to fail? Meaning if we were to break up the $40B Chase, how many banks would result?

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Everyone is calling Biden a closet republican, thoughts on the 2020 democratic candidate & who is most likely to beat out Trump in the next Presidential election?

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If I knew the answer to this I would tell you. I think avoiding certain topics or policies because they will motivate Trump's base is a mistake. Trump's base will be motivated. The key to victory, in my view, is motivating new and infrequent Democratic voters. The candidate who can accomplish that is the one who has the best chance of beating Trump. I don't think it'll be easy.

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Do you have an opinion on Tom Steyer's entry into the Democratic presidential race?

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I don't have a strong opinion. I watched his intro video and he has a strong anti-corporate message but it will be difficult for him to break through with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders occupying the same space with better name recognition. He'll have the ability to get his message on TV and build a staff with his personal wealthy but that only goes so far. Huge field makes it tough for any individual candidate to break out.

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