In the last month, Popular Information exposed Ron DeSantis' lies about elementary school math textbooks (prompting the Florida Department of Education to publicly attack this newsletter), revealed that a PR firm representing Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Netflix was advising its clients to stay silent on abortion rights (prompting nationwide coverage in Business Insider, Newsweek, CNN, Ad Age, Fortune, Fox Business, and elsewhere), and documented how Toyota, for the second time, quietly broke its pledge to stop donating to members of Congress that voted to overturn the election (a story that, within hours, was trending worldwide on Twitter).
Today, however, I want to hear from you. What's on your mind? What topics would you like to see Popular Information take on in the weeks ahead?
You can leave your thoughts in the discussion thread linked below, starting now. I’ll be dropping later today to answer as many of your questions as I can.
Support Accountability Journalism
There was an attempted coup in the United States, led by Donald Trump, and yet no leaders have been held accountable through prosecution by the DOJ. This will only spur them to do it again and bring the end to US democracy as we know it. WHY? What is Garland waiting for?
Considering how important Pennsylvania is going to be in the upcoming elections, I'd like to see which corporations are funding the Republican candidates in this state. Our state legislature is filled with those supporting the Big Lie. Which corporations will decide to ignore exactly who Mastriano is and pump money into his campaign. I want a big spotlight on the money.
Fifth Circuit SEC decision. The end of the New Deal
I’m concerned about the mainstream news outlets. Why are they sensationalizing what’s happening instead of calmly and step-by-step explaining WHY we are where we are re: gas prices, baby formula, inflation and all the other issues confronting our nation now? ANYONE can say they can solve the problems but I expect the news to lay it all out on the line and educate the people on WHY things are happening instead of riling up the masses. Frustrated, unhappy and unknowledgeable people do NOT make voters who make good decisions.
Price gouging by the gas industry and others.
The hypocracisy of pro life politicians doing nothing to save lives outside of the womb by not banning assault weapons and being anti vax.
More about the the funding that fuels Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, and their attacks on school districts.
Government currently is by corporations, for corporations. You correctly target corporate duplicity. Please continue as you do.
The wider (and higher) the 1/6 conspiracy seems to have spread, the more crucial is the question of how it was financed: which cutouts and pass-throughs, and behind them which American oligarchs, which foreign countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia?—what if the Saudis bankrolled parts of 1/6 through the worthless whelp Jared?). Who paid for all those bus trips and hotel bills incurred by the 1/6 rabble (not to mention the suites occupied by the War Room at the Willard Hotel)? What shadowy, unknown entities pumped money into Ginni Thomas's "foundation" and all the other 1/6 bankrollers? Popular Information has a demonstrated knack for uncovering financial double-dealing of supposedly public-spirited corporations and foundations, and while I expect some names will come up during the 1/6 hearings, I have concerns the 'usual suspects' will escape any consequences AT ALL for attempting to bring down the republic (looking at YOU, Rebekah Mercer). It would be wonderful if PI could ratchet up your levels of investigation to probe these entities. Thanks for all you do!!
I hope you will track the political contributions of the weapons-makers like Northrup-Grumman, Raytheon, and Lockheed-Martin. They are making many billions as the "defense" budget increases with no apparent limit.
I’m not saying you should do more “positive” stories, but every once in a great while you could cover corporations who are setting a good example (assuming they exist) - not price gouging, behaving in a way that supports societal improvement. Would be good for others to see it is possible.
Put some pressure on AARP to drop United Healthcare at the insurance they support/offer based on the things you have reported previously
The board to investigate on-line infiltration, and improve safety has itself been attacked by the bot-army and its activity suspended. This would appear to be counter-product time. A) What did they expect, did they think that hostile soc-med didn't really exist? B) Why not appoint a young, soc-med-tech savvy and software-able person to run investigation? C) What happens now, when dis-info pre-elections is again unsupervised, uncollated and disruption runs riot thanks to the digital soldiers of Flynn etc and the anarchy-capitalism of Theil, Bannon and Musk? See Jim Stewartson for expertise and historic, in-depth fact-finding despite disinformation campaigns by liars and bots. Thnxxx
Inflation seems to be exaggerated by high fossil fuel prices. Are there any government efforts to crack down on price gouging in the fossil fuel industry? How much of the price increases are really inflationary and how much is just taking advantage of consumers. Since the fossil fuel industry supports the GOP (climate deniers), raising gas prices is a win win for them. They hurt the Biden administration and they increase their profits at the same time.
Inasmuch as Federal legislation is not a realistic option, please explore the methods (if any) by which Presidential Executive Orders can help insure an accurate vote count (and voting availability) on the State and Local levels, (from the neighborhood to the Sec’y of States’ offices).
Why there isn’t more of a fight by prolife people for funding for long term contraception. It would greatly reduce need for abortions
I am still hoping for a Spotify piece. The company still has not been held accountable for funding misinformation and racist rhetoric. On the contrary, it has been rewarded for it with Joe Rogan being more popular than ever.
Why are those opposed to abortion rights virtually NEVER asked to explain how they can also be rationally opposed to expanding easy access to contraception? Fewer unwanted pregnancies means fewer abortions. Planned Parenthood does more to reduce the need for abortion than any anti-choice organization. Can anyone name a single prominent forced-birther who's also -- publicly -- strongly pro-contraception-access? I've very rarely seen any reporting that confronts this hypocrisy directly and exposes the reality that ending abortion is clearly not the real goal. Alito's Dobbs draft is just a sign of what could follow.
I live in MD in the DC metro area and I see a bunch of ads/PSAs on network cable promoting the oil and natural gas industry as renewable sources of energy we need to reinvest in, and also telling congress not to defund medical research so migraine sufferers, for example, can keep finding better treatments. I can’t recall the orgs promoting these campaigns, but they sound misleading to me. Do you know who these orgs are and who backs them politically? Can you shine some light on this?
I very much appreciate your reporting on and dedication to legislative issues, and would like to see more coverage regarding climate legislation (or the lack thereof), and what organizations are setting new and positive precedents on that front.
We’ve heard about abuse of PPP loans. What about another angle? Unemployment insurance was denied to me for over a year because of a vindictive former employer filing an appeal with the state. We had a hearing and I won. The state still took over 8 months to distribute the money. They waited until threatened with lawsuit to do it. After talking with countless “agents” of the unemployment office it became clear they were purposely not paying out money. I’ve heard of this happening to others I know. Curious if there is anything there other than basic fraud protection. Also, fraud protection firmly in place against unemployed vulnerable people, but not rich businesses?
(1) Gerrymandering especially in swing states. (2) The Federalist Society’s role in establishing the current majority on the Supreme Court. Who belongs to this organization? What are its aims? Why has this group had a major role in determining the composition of SCOTUS? Is there a comparable liberal organization(s)? (3) What exactly is Opus Dei? What is its mission? What is its role in the Catholic Church? Are members of SCOTUS are involved in it?
As someone from that world, what is your view on the state of the big, traditional news media? Eg, NYT, WaPo, big 3 networks.
They continue to downplay the GOP assault on democracy and still give Trump tons of uncritical, earned media. Dems barely get a mention, but bad faith influencers get profile pieces. I try to provide funding and constructive feedback, but it seems to be as bad as 2015-16. I support local/investigative journalism (like you), but their voice is too big to abandon to the crazies.
A suggestion for an article is to look at the role cable companies play in supporting Fox News and how every subscriber actually supports it’s racist programming.
Judd, how about talking about the Republicans blaming the Democrats, for the infant formula shortage, then voting against the millions in relief for that very same problem.
The way that you follow the money is invaluable. You are wonderful, and you should keep doing what you are doing.
An issue that is really worrying me is the concerted effort taking place to turn parents against public schools. It is working. Whether the issue is race and CRT, masks, books, sexual education, gender issues, social emotional learning, etc...It all focuses on making parents on both sides feel angry and powerless about what is happening in public schools. This is being done purposefully as a step toward moving public education money to private schools. There is too much reporting that presumes politicians are caving to parents' concerns, rather than purposefully causing them. It is happening here in TN, making national news with school board meetings and Moms for Liberty. But Governor Lee has said from the beginning that this is his priority issue, before any of that happened. The funding formula has just changed here to be per child. And the power over textbooks may be shifting from local control to a state-appointed commission.
I wonder about whether the primary motivation is money or the control over what is being taught and who is getting well-educated, or other things. I guess it will be a win-win for them if they succeed because they will get it all.
I'd like to see more stories on the people behind large media organizations. I've seen lots on companies and advertisers. But, what about the chief executives and board members? We can try to hold corporations accountable. But what about the people behind those corporations? They seem to escape any scrutiny/accountability.
Here’s something that’s causing me a lot of stress currently (in addition to a lot of other people I’d guess), election ads. There’s one currently running on our local stations in Minnesota claiming if the Republican wins, he’ll “fire Nancy Pelosi”. Considering that she’s elected and not “hired” that’s a patently false promise. Do local TV stations have to allow these lies to be broadcast? Can they refuse to run these ads? Can they add a disclaimer that tells the viewing public these are lies? They are maddening!
I still can't understand what Merrick Garland's job is. How is it possible to get away with an insurrection? In a "law and order" country like the US? What the fuck?
Why is CNN accepting advertising and money from Saudi Arabia? (visitsaudi.com)
You're doing a great job, Judd. I am becoming so saddened and discouraged by what's going on in our country. the rise of racial and extreme right violence, the power of money in politics that seems to be expanding...we never should have allowed money to control the directions of our legislators and that's what has happened. ON a literal, and a psycological level, the wish to remain in office exceeds the wish to address the concerns of our country and our people. And the news that CPAC (and our American citizens within that organization) is holding their national conference in Hungary and celebrating Orban. How much weirder can things get, hnow much more extreme can the "right" get? I also wish the news would stop presenting Biden as teetering on the ede of failure... is that drawing listeners for them? WTF is going on. Thanks for listening.
I thank my lucky stars for you and Popular Information. I've learned a lot and I share as much as I can with my measly number of followers. May it be UNPOPULAR with the likes of Ron DeSantis, in that it brings corruption to light. Democracy survives only if we the people are educated and aware.
This is just an aside topic, but if you have a slow news day, may i suggest an article on how important independent newspapers are/were to historical research? As a person who studies the past and does documentary research, I rely heavily on archived newspaper articles to find the information on any given topic. However with the monopolistic takeover's of newspapers by private equity companies it it going to have a very detrimental effect to preserving news of the past. Most of these newspapers have been plundered and gutted. Their news quality and articles are no longer covering as much local news as they previously did. Worse most of these papers are going behind pay walls and their past content isn't being made available to public libraries or historical societies, unless thru a paid third party. In essence, this corporate greed by private equity and corporations is creating very real Orwellian "Memory Holes" in history.
Which is highly ironic to say the least, when you consider that the promise of the internet should have actually created greater access to public information and news.
I’d like a deep dive into when is the best time, strategically, to give small donations to political campaigns and/or which umbrella organizations for the R’s and D’s are the most effective one’s to support.
This is interesting : https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/sports/columnist/mike-freeman/2021/03/18/naacp-nfl-dont-fund-fox-news-hatred-bigotry-lies-and-racism/4743485001/
Judd, Thank you for all of your hard work,firstly. I’m sorry that due to your clear and accurate reporting you’re receiving threats! I’m wishing you safe reporting!! I would love to see a report about some empowering act/s from groups who are working in positive ways against the “machine” (that which is likely fostering the threat toward it)alongside you! (Be they environmentalists, social justice activists or bakers!)
Again, thank you Judd and team of 2 for your brave and integrous reporting!
Judd - keep up the great work.
What do you know about the effects of the 5th Circuit Courts ruling on the 'nondelegation clause"?
State politics. They're NOT just small potatoes, especially now with Roe about to be overturned and the ongoing assault on voting rights. Local investigative journalism has been systematically decimated, so we're left mostly in the dark about the machinations of state and local governments to undermine our democracy.
The credit card industry is running what amounts to modern indentured servanthood, and I can never find anything about it... who the players are and how they get away with it.
Louisiana has an abortion bill that stipulates any judge finding the bill to be unconstitutional be removed from office for handing down such an opinion. Thus the third branch of government is destroyed. And yet no outlet has addressed this concept.
Why aren't dems actively pushing for gun legislation? How many receive money from pro gun groups?
The difference (race, income, education, etc) between rural and urban America. This is the dividing line. I work in an urban setting and live in a rural community, their views of America are vastly different on many fronts. Btw, if the authoritarians win, we will be at the top of the list of people to put in re-education camps.
Why is there still no COVID vaccine for 0-5 year olds?
The gun crisis - how will laws like NYC’s Red Flag stem gun violence in the age of 3d printing.
Capitalism is toxic.
Dems messaging is scattered and doesn't reflect average people. GOP messaging is trash. But is consistent, vocal, and constant. Dems are not.
I'd love to see something detailed (if possible) on how the federal courts (especially the current Supreme Court) seem set to support the resurrection of the insidious "non-delegation doctrine". It's not an exciting subject, to be sure, but it has the potential of effectively ending the regulatory ability of all federal departments. If anyone wants to see what unfettered corporate power would look like, well, we might soon find out.
Judd, I love your exposes of corruption and bigotry by the GOP. They keep me so well informed about what is going on around the country. I live in a very blue state and blue city—NYC. The democratic party here is very corrupt, hands out no-bid contracts to political donors, changes party rules to lock out reformers from leadership posts, etc. Would you consider doing some investigations and reporting on big city machine politics corruption? Some topics in NYC where I think your skills would really be useful are the Empire Station/Penn 15 development project, which is a state-run project in Midtown Manhattan, and the attempt by the Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Party leadership to fraudulently hold on to their positions and lock out newcomers.
Thanks, and keep up the work.
I would like to see you explore the causes
and expose the sources of disinformation, along with any ideas you may have for combatting this bullshit.