Yesterday, Popular Information was featured in the Washington Post as one of a handful of "news outlets reimagining political journalism in smart ways." Popular Information, columnist Perry Bacon Jr. writes, is "addressing some of political journalism’s long-standing shortcomings," including "insufficient coverage of state and local government and of people who aren’t White and upper-income" and "an over-prioritization of elections over policy."
Here's an excerpt:
Neither the grocer Kroger nor the restaurant chain Olive Garden was offering all of its employees paid sick leave during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic. Many companies have broken their promises not to donate to Republican members of Congress who refused to certify the 2020 election results. Cameron Sexton, the GOP speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, purchased a house in Nashville through a trust, perhaps trying to obscure that he and his family may functionally live in Music City, not Sexton’s home district about two hours away.Those are all stories that were extensively covered by other media outlets but were first broken by Popular Information… Legum’s background has helped him carve out a unique role. He focuses on finding scandals, unlike most political writers. But he publishes regularly, unlike the investigative reporters at most large news organizations, who might only write a few times a year.
Neither the grocer Kroger nor the restaurant chain Olive Garden was offering all of its employees paid sick leave during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic. Many companies have broken their promises not to donate to Republican members of Congress who refused to certify the 2020 election results. Cameron Sexton, the GOP speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, purchased a house in Nashville through a trust, perhaps trying to obscure that he and his family may functionally live in Music City, not Sexton’s home district about two hours away.
Those are all stories that were extensively covered by other media outlets but were first broken by Popular Information… Legum’s background has helped him carve out a unique role. He focuses on finding scandals, unlike most political writers. But he publishes regularly, unlike the investigative reporters at most large news organizations, who might only write a few times a year.
Your regularly scheduled newsletter will return tomorrow.
Today, however, I want to hear from you. What's on your mind? What topics should be on Popular Information's radar? You can leave your thoughts in the discussion thread linked below, starting now. I’ll be dropping by later today to respond to as many people as I can.
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Heather Cox Richardson today suggested that the "Debt Ceiling" stand off was really about the Republicans wanting to keep the Trump era tax-light for the very rich. I have to agree. This country is presently not living up to its potential. With more equal taxation present issues could be easily financed from child care, to health care, to better education, to infrastructure, to ...........
Well-earned recognition, Judd. Bravo! Thank you for all the digging you do.
I would love it if you would focus some attention on Ohio's Republican super majority and their agenda. Like trying to overturn a 111 year old right for citizens to approve constitutional amendments with a 51% majority, mainly to head off an expected citizen initiative to keep abortion legal in November. They're forcing a special election in August to vote on this referendum just months after passing more restrictive voting regulations, including eliminating August elections for only a handful of issues (this not being one of them without their voting to override that). And it comes on top of their ignoring several rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court, ruling that their redistricting did not meet the constitutional anti-gerrymandering requirements Ohio voters passed in 2015 and 2018.
The DNC seems to have all but written Ohio off, so we can use all the sunlight the news media can shed on us to help us overcome the increasingly arrogant Republican supermajority now ruling our state.
I love and support your work. I’m stunned after the performative arrests of POC for voting while felons in FL while these self confessed Villages voters bought their way out https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2023/01/30/4th-resident-of-the-villages-admits-to-voting-twice-in-the-2020-election/
Also the decades long littoral ships fiasco whose ships came in way over budget, never worked and are now being retired at huge costs to taxpayers. No one seems to think this is a scandal.
Congratulations on the superb work. I would be interested in a deeper story on the state of Iowa defanging its auditor so there is no oversight for its massive privatization of the school system. It's set up to be a complete grift ripping off the taxpayers and serves as a model for the rest of the country as the way to do things the republican way.
I was just reminded of the North Carolina State Rep Tricia Cotham, who ran on a long-held pro-abortion rights stance, then changed party affiliation from Democrat to anti-abortion Republican, giving the Republicans a supermajority in the state, override the governor's veto of a 12-week abortion ban. Somebody needs to follow the money - or whatever influence drove that switch. It's not a coincidence.
Fantastic, in-depth work. I would be intrigued to know why there is no legislation in the U.S. against corporations buying single family homes in the U.S., where is legislation to stop foreigners from buying real estate, and more information on those lobbying against Medicare for All when statistically it would actually save the government money and bring relief to citizens. I am a firm believer that another upside to Medicare for All would be the unlocking of the growth of entrepreneurs because corporations are definitely holding back the creativity and innovate minds of their employees.
Keep taking that muck and exposing these policy makers and corporations! Please continue to circle back to provide follow up on critical stories. I think this is the major contribution your reporting makes, and is sorely missing from the contemporaneous scribing of most new organizations. Thank you for what you do
Yes ! Saw the article. Bravo ! This is a lesson for the future of journalism. Smart , crisp , and well researched and documented reporting needs to be paid for. For free you get crap. For handing over your personal information, you get crap and you pay for it another way. In a larger way that fact applies to our comfortable modern lives-----$5 tee shirts and lots of low paid “essential” (a label of convenience) workers to provide services. Basically we need less stuff and we need quality stuff and we need to be willing to pay a fair price.
Congratulations, Judd....you and your team deserve the accolades. Thank you for your hard work and for keeping your readers informed.
Please turn your laser focus to exposing the creeping takeover of the federal Medicare system by private insurance/Medicare "Advantage" imposters. Many seniors don't truly understand the difference and what they're giving up by signing on to an Advantage program; these scams are not given adequate oversight by CMS and are getting away with reaping unbelievable profits through denial of claims, requiring prior authorizations, and limiting in-network options for care. Please expose this racket for what it is....just another cash cow for insurance companies. Thank you again!
Congratulations! You are remaking the investigative journalism model. I'm happy to be a subscriber.
Thank you, Judd and team, for your great reporting. I would like you to shine more light on the NRA. Who are they paying? Is this public information? Also, gun manufacturers. Smith & Wesson left Mass for east TN because the people of Mass protested their making of semi automatic rifles and my state saw it as jobs. Personally, as a Tennessean, I appreciate what you dug up on Cameron Sexton and how you didn’t stop until you got the whole story.
Congratulations on well deserved recognition! I’ve paid for as long as I can remember. I encourage others to do the same. The article on underreported deaths of indigenous women was especially welcome.
I'd like more information on what I believe is the illegal election that is going to take place in Ohio in August to raise the election requirement from a simple majority to 60% to pass a bill. I'm worried that the election will be successful and that the recourse to correct it will both take a long time and may not be successful.
YOU are GREAT!
I’m troubled by having politicians practicing medicine without a license. It behooves legislators to consult with experts before enacting laws re: medical treatment that they actually know nothing about, or restricting treatment for political purposes. Office holders are sworn to protect and serve--to carry out DUE DILIGENCE ensuring their capacity as legislators. Yet-- In Nebraska, Gov. Jim Pillen recently said, as he signed a bill restricting treatments for LGBT children, “Don’t listen to the other side . . . We are protecting boys and girls.”
He is, by training, a veterinarian; however, his business was about raising pigs for the slaughter house.
Specifically, Gov. Pillens attacks on LGBT medical treatment by the Republicans fail to recognize that gender is NOT a binary, “black and white” characteristic in the human species--there is, and always has been, a spectrum based upon genetics, hormone receptors, brain development in utero, etc. I think failure to research causes and outcomes on legislation amounts to: 1. Negligence, even malpractice. 2. Abuse of power of an office. I refer you to this excellent article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sex-redefined-the-idea-of-2-sexes-is-overly-simplistic1/
Another topic used by Repugs to target medical accessibility is, of course, abortion. One of the unintended consequences of these bans results in physicians not learning how to perform certain procedures, thereby laying additional, severe risks upon pregnant women who will be forced to have c-sections. For example, if you have an anacephalic fetus (there are all kinds of nonviable abnormalities), the procedure to extract that fetus past 12 weeks is entirely different than a dilation and curettage. Banning “all abortions” will : 1. Result in physicians without the training and knowledge to deal with such nonviable cases (In my husband’s office, he and one other physician are THE ONLY ones who know how to do this in their hospital system; my husband is retiring at the end of the year. ) 2. Add risk endangering the lives of women with complicated pregnancies.
I once asked a so-called “pro-lifer” about this, and she promptly replied, “Let ‘em die.”
This is not acceptable. Politicians/ legislators who fail to do their duty to PROTECT AND SERVE, should face legal, even criminal, consequences.
Repug pandering to extremist voters needs to end. . .
And with that, what is it going to take to repeal “Citizens United”?
Congrats on the feature in WaPo. The FEC complaint against Kyrsten Sinema might be a worthy topic as information develops on that front. Also, I read something about No Labels floating the idea of an independent/third-party run with the likes of Joe Manchin(!) as a candidate, so I'd want to know if that were a complete joke or what.
Great on you, Judd. I count on PI as a great news source that publishes important news stories. I would love to see continued coverage of the movement to destroy public education (and how 'they're' doing it), and I'd love to see coverage of the place workers' unions have in our societal and economic landscapes.
I'm really grateful for all of your work.
Here is the charter of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice: "The Civil Rights Division works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all persons in the United States, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The Division enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), disability, religion, familial status, national origin, and citizenship status." However, the Civil Rights Division actually seems incapable of protecting our civil rights! Freedom of speech, freedom of press and voting rights are under attack in many states. Minorities and the most vulnerable of our citizens are threatened daily and in certain instances, violently. I know the previous administration gutted the DOJ. I realize there are still ultra conservative, if not outright Christian Nationalists in the DOJ. However, it has been 845 days since Biden was inaugurated on January 20, 2021. At his home in Delaware he had four years to witness all the damage the previous administration did in every section of our federal government. Biden did not have an action plan for diving right in and rectifying the damage of the previous administration. Now here we are with deep concerns about the future of our Democracy. That is my biggest concern.
Thank you for all you do. I’d love to find out who funds this organization No Labels.
You're doing very important work!
First, many thanks and congratulations to Popular Information for the recognition you so richly deserve.
A topic that sets my scalp on fire is the world of Christian Nationalism and evangelism. While there may be some separation between the two, they both benefit greatly from the messages that are spewed forth by their leaders, often to the huge monetary enrichment of its leaders. Quite some time ago I was on a flight. When we reached our destination and people were deplaning, I saw a lot of people handing money to someone sitting in first class. As I passed by the individual, I recognized him as Jimmy Swaggart. His hand was filled with $50 and $100 bills. We certainly know what happened to him.
So why are people like him and many others so able to openly run con games on millions of people to their personal benefit and nothing happens? Why has there not been more challenges to the separation of church and state?
I read an article yesterday about one of the Texas State Republican sponsors of a bill to mandate the 10 Commandants be displayed in all public schools (bill failed last night). The cosponsor of the bill was quoted as saying that when religion was removed from schools everything went downhill. She sited one example as being mental health (I'm guessing she is a frequent blamer of mental health for the huge uptick in mass shootings). I'm sorry, but religion and mental health and nothing to do with each other, especially in schools. I digress though.
Bottom line, how and why are Christian Nationalists and evangelicals able to openly run the con they do? Not only are they giving religion a bad name, but it has lead to many leaving their churches that have and are doing really good work.
My former Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the late great Tip O' Neill said "All politics is local." He was right. While the federal government is powerful, your city, town, county, state or commonwealth has more immediate influence on your life.
Since local newspapers have died there is a lack of coverage of your city council, state house, or county. In Boston our state house has an independent coverage from the State House news service.
Since smaller towns can't afford a state house reporter, they supply news on what House or Senate bill # would do in their community.
There is an organization of grass root reporters called Investigative Reporters and Editors at the University of Missouri.the first journalism school in the world. They do workshop, on in depth reporting. They publish a book The Investigative Reporters Handbook that is a guide to documents. Check it out.
Please keep a focus on lobbying and the vast amounts of money involved. Individuals have a difficult time figuring out how much their personal representatives are taking (earning?) from lobbyists and I think that knowledge could made a difference at ground level. I have to believe that enough attention to this could break through to people.
Glad to see you and your team getting some well-deserved recognition. I continue to be concerned about the chipping away of rights here in Ohio by the gerrymandered legislature, the executive branch and even the courts (Gov Dewine’s son sits on the Supreme Court and refuses to recuse himself in cases having to do with his dad?). Next up an August election with a single ballot question proposing a new supermajority requirement to change the state constitution. Dive in anywhere, pick any topic related to the folks “in charge” here and follow the money. I am confident you’ll find plenty to report on.
Good for you. I saw the article. I’ve been a subscriber- home delivery even! - since 1982! Im old!! I’d like to know what’s driving the push to hire children. I suspect it’s lack of availability of legal labor willing to work for low pay. They’ve driven out the illegal immigrants. Made it impossible to emigrate legally, so now they’re corporate donors have pressured them to find them workers. So they are going after the legal poor. Next will be a push to allow children to leave school early to work (at dead end jobs for low pay).
Congratulations! Reading the comments, I see so many good tips for future stories - all worth a look. Thank you for shining a light into the areas the schemers and scammers and anti-democratic forces want to keep hidden. It's all good work!
I cheer every time I see your work taken up by the Washington Post and the New York Times and brought to everyone's attention, not just us subscribers.
Thank you for the critically important work you do and keep exposing the bad elements in our society!
Today I am furious about Roberts’ seeming impunity in defending the Supremes.As if we did not have a cause to be concerned about their impartiality. (He seems to be dieting)
Congrats Judd! Detailed journalism matters, including local, but not enough ppl fund local...only concentrate on national/large news networks. Santos is the perfect example why local journalism matters. When his scandal was revealed, my husband and I wondered why all that information wasn't dug up BEFORE he was elected into office. Much of the dark money and coordinated effort to chip away our rights, are happening locally, which brings me to see if you are willing to do a story on the school board member Darbi Boddy...about her background and who her supporters are. She's already pushed out our superintendent and now there's a curriculum panel, AND Ohio is trying to strip local government power away to concentrate to state government. I'm just sick of the chaos...
Dear Popular Information,
I hope you will report about the misleading journalism around nuclear energy. It is being named a "green, carbon-free energy". This expensive energy, which is now set to get a lot more funding, is neither. Around here, DTE counts their carbon footprint only by counting what actually goes on inside the reactor. Completely ignored is the uranium mining mess left culturally and environmentally, the amount of fossil fuel it takes to transport and build reactors. The SMR smaller ones now being planned are no different in the threats to all of us. There is NOWHERE to safely put the waste. If you want more information, the group I work with, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT) and our wide network has lots more information. shutdownfermi.org
Thank you for your work.
big fan down under here.
Judd, I hope you can turn up the investigative heat on the "Freedom Caucus" to highlight just how much power these clowns have accrued over the past 12 years. They operate in the shadows as 'Speaker' w impunity.
Well earned recognition. Re local news in North Carolina.... the party switch by NC house member Cotham. It just seems to me there is more to that story than a sudden dissatisfaction with her party. Did she plan that all along? Was she paid by the state GOP? What's going on?
Thanks for your work.
You’re doing a phenomenal job Judd! Exposing more corrupt Florida politicians is always my favorite as I’m thinking of jumping into a city council race. Hopefully it stays non-partisan and the big D won’t matter in my red county that’s been ignoring its residents requests.
Congratulations! I enjoy this newsletter! Great stuff.
Time to tie together the libertarian take over of the conservative party.
Libertarians must use stealth (lies) to get their policies in place. Everything the GOP "freedom" caucus puts out is libertarian. No government agency power, all must be done by elected officials. The "locks and bolts" if James Buchanan. It is all what gerrymandering is about.
David Pepper has it right in his Laboratories of Auotcracy book.
Keep up the great work Judd!
Thank you for your tremendous reporting on so many stories. My question: what have you found to be the best activist/advocacy tools that consumers can do to keep these corporations accountable? It seems once the media attention drops off - they go back to their old ways. Thank you again.
Congratulations Judd & team! Your coverage about what’s going on in Florida (DeSantis etc) is encouraging. It makes those of us fighting for democracy feel validated and brings attention to what’s at stake. And that’s just Florida -- thanks for all your hard work and commitment to truth in journalism.
Good work! A topic: Exploring/sharing concentration-data on wealth/income transfers since 1980 to “top 1-10%” of families or individuals
Excellent work deserves recognition, well done! I was very happy to see your coverage on the Mika Westwolf story... Sadly, the Native American plight receives little to no coverage... My only suggestion, if possible, is shedding light on the numbers od Native American women who go missing... The FBI claims to have had renewed dedication to investigating these possible crimes, and Deb Haaland has put some pressure of the Federal authorities to do more... Your story shed some much needed light on the shamefully low local coverage on crimes committed against Native Americans, and particularly Native American women... Thank you!!
In my view the structural problem with America is the sorry state of public education. Thanks to the permanent underfunding of the entire education ecosystem, the average American is below average. (pun intended) There are just too many uninformed citizens nourishing all-American fascism.
"The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing." —James Madison (1826)
DOJ and Jan 6 Committee report- where is that?
Classified docs at Mar a Lago - will Trump be held accountable ?
I’d like to see something on ICWA, which is under threat thanks to a deeply compromised SCOTUS. Specifically, I am interested in the implications for Tribal Sovereignty.
Likewise, there is a disturbing trend with indigenous people, African Americans, and LBGTQ people: The antidemocratic powers seem to be using tactics associated with genocide, like book bans and law suits to erase heritage and progress.
Climate Change. Climate Change. Climate Change.
And bravo on the nod from WaPo!
Congratulations. I would love to see you dig into the continuing BS lawsuits from people like Kari Lake still claiming election fraud. I don't think most people know these are still going on. And the politically motivated lawsuits from states suing regarding administration policies, like the one filed yesterday by the state of Texas, claiming the barely working app at the border for appointments encourages illegal immigration, when in fact the even the current administration has decimated legitimate asylum entry. Or more about the recent FL law to confront immigration in a completely biased and likely unconstitutional way, that provides a slush fund to DeSantis for his political acts of moving immigrants from other states, and tries to invalidate drivers licenses from other states, that is now being copied by other states, like Kansas.
What's happening with Toyota? Are they still supporting the destruction of our democracy?
If you want a scoop: look to AZ school voucher program put in place last year under Gov Ducey benefiting the home schoolers, chapter schools & richest people. $7500/child! Goal: Gut public education...
Congrats! Your journalistic efforts are amazing and very much appreciated. Keep up the hard work. And thanks so much!
Good on you Judd and crew. Your work is being not only recognized but utilized by the "MSM." Hopefully that will bring about a re-reckoning of sorts on the news dynamic. We the public don't need to be excited, titilated, cozened or anything other than well informed.
I'd like to know more about property taxe increases around the nation or at least in specific areas. Here in Cook County Illinois, we lost many many residences to the housing collapse due to the door-to-door selling of bad loans in the neighborhoods by big players like Chase.
Now those properties are either vacant, sold to Chinese consortiums or sold to Middle Eastern consortiums for rental only. Meanwhile the new Assessor seems to be cutting off ways to appeal, especially for commercial properties!
I wonder if a big land grab of commercial properties similar to that of residential properties is in the offing and if this type of stealthy appropriation is happening elsewhere.
Do more reporting politics and the environment
Congrats, well deserved.