On Monday, Popular Information reported that Scholastic is facilitating the exclusion of books that feature people of color or LGBTQ characters from its book fairs. The company, under pressure from right-wing ideologues, has created a collection of these titles and is offering school officials the ability to remove all of them. Our report broke the news on what books are being targeted, a list that includes biographies of civil rights icon John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Here's an update on what's happened since:
1. The story was picked up by numerous major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, NPR, CBS, Insider, The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail, and The Intercept. 2. Librarians across the country are protesting Scholastic's policy, with some deciding to cancel their Scholastic book fairs. Several of Scholastic's authors are also publicly criticizing the company.3. PEN America, one of the nation's leading non-profits dedicated to free expression, has written an open letter to Scholastic calling on the company to end the policy.
1. The story was picked up by numerous major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, NPR, CBS, Insider, The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail, and The Intercept.
2. Librarians across the country are protesting Scholastic's policy, with some deciding to cancel their Scholastic book fairs. Several of Scholastic's authors are also publicly criticizing the company.
3. PEN America, one of the nation's leading non-profits dedicated to free expression, has written an open letter to Scholastic calling on the company to end the policy.
We'll keep you updated as this story develops.
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 answer any questions.
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One request for the team: I'd like to see you all eliminate the word "conservative" from your coverage. The extreme right-wing ideologies and chicanery you cover so well have nothing to do with "conservatism," and using the term provides an imprimatur of sanity to their dealings.
I'd prefer to see the villains you cover each week either branded as "Republicans," a party which has no competent ideas and stands for nothing, or "right-wing," "hard right," "extremist," "idealogues," etc., etc.
This might sound trivial or semantic, but I think it's really important. Taking away people's rights isn't "conservative." Running a kleptocracy isn't "conservative."
Otherwise, keep up the amazing work!
Thank you for your reporting Judd, especially the broad-ranging stories with local impact like Scholastic. Further to that, would love to see continued follow up on turf groups with national reach and local impact (i.e. moms for liberty, Koch Foundation, etc).
One subject that seems to be conveniently shelved continuously when brought up on the sidelines is that of political oath taking. In regards to support of our country's constitution it would seem quite factual that those congressional members who decided to commit to Trump, MAGA, and other right wing agenda supporters have ignored or snarked at their lawful duty to their office, country, rule of law and oaths of office. They have intentionally violated this sworn commitment, without penalty. It would seem this is obvious to even children who question their elders in regards to why does this happen. If a child can figure this stuff out...enough said?
It would seem enforcement of these obligations could clean house and restore truthfulness and integrity within our political system...so why is it not so? Should we just accept that corruption and skull dugery (sp) is the accepted norm, where quite literally we have to accept that there is no purpose to planning around anything because there are no more rules to the game of life in this country. We no longer accept the responsibility to set the baseline/example for the rest of the world?
So...what's wrong with enforcing the rules, oaths, and lessons that took centuries of human experience to develop anyway?
Maybe someone has done this, but a comprehensive review of stock holdings by members of Congress, leading executive branch members, and Supreme Court "justices" might be revealing. Here is one example that has been unearthed by David Sirota.
"Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito together own shares in 19 companies that could see combined tax relief of more than $30 billion if the court issues a broad ruling in the Moore v. United States tax case and strikes down a one-time corporate tax imposed in 2017." (https://www.levernews.com/justices-have-financial-interest-in-major-tax-case/)
I saw an interesting article in stat this morning that noted in 1970 the food and drug administration restricted the use of brominated vegetable oil as a food additive. It is still used to this day in things like diet soda to keep the foam from rising to the top too quickly. On the CDC website it is mentioned that they are considering a rule to ban the stuff. So that's a concern raised in 1970, the UK turned around and banned the stuff at that time but we somehow can't seem to manage to get off the dime. It makes me wonder about the larger picture of our ability as a country to regulate our food supply and safety when we have such a cozy relationship between entities like the US department of agriculture and the food suppliers. Taking a step back one has to wonder why the USDA is even involved with the business of recommending what foods school children and adults put in their mouth when we have a perfectly good FDA and CDC that has actual expertise in this kind of stuff
Aside from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and a few other local news sources in Florida, the infiltration of Christian Nationalists within our public school system appears to be under-reported. From a school board member with her “good book “ in front of her on a School Board dais (which appears to be her Bible), to a Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Christian Nationalist contractor who seems to be connecting school board members in Florida to a far-right school board training/recruitment organization in TN. Christian Nationalist extremists are dangerous, ref: 01-06-2021. They should not be operating within our publicly funded school system.
Why is Popular Information, a three person team, in the forefront of exposing the hypocrisy and corruption of so many organizations when the mainstream media seems to be left to pick up upon what Popular Information has already reported. Popular Information is doing an excellent job. Why is there not more of this kind of reporting and follow-up?
Someone needs to investigate the genesis and promotion of Medicare Advantage, being touted as the new face of Medicare. Even AARP is heralding it as the next great thing; however, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing I fear. My parents and others complain that savings are obtained by services denied, physicians readily leave the networks they choose, and the yearly guessing game of which plan to enroll in is terribly stressful. Medicare Advantage appears to be a hybrid between Medicare and corporate insurance carriers (read: profit-based health care), the latter being something Republicans dream about. The Physicians for a National Health Plan notes many reasons as to why Medicare Advantage spells disadvantage if not danger for older Americans.
I am concerned that many midsized cities newspapers are now owned by the same company. I think it
is the same company that owns USA Today. In our city, Eugene, OR.,
the Letters to the Editor and editorials have been deleted.
I fear that is the case with the many other papers these folks own. I miss reading different points of view.
I am concerned about "No Labels," the faux third party that claims to represent the center. The party, if it receives enough votes, will make sure neither candidate gets 270 Electoral College votes.
Here is what will happen, according to "270 to Win": “If neither candidate gets a majority of the 538 electoral votes, the election for President is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. A majority of states (26) is needed to win. Senators would elect the Vice-President, with each Senator having a vote. A majority of Senators (51) is needed to win,” the website states.
What can the three of you write that will focus on this and help avert this tragedy?
The members of our local political group (tiny but mighty)--Citizens for Democracy--which works with larger organizations such as The League of Women Voters, Moms Demand Action, Gays Against Guns, and Food and Water Watch on a range of issues to strengthen our democracy and improve our country--will do all we can to prevent this.
Thank you all for your stellar work on book banning.
I am interested in workers rights and unions, which seem to be increasing again after years of being out of favor.
Consider that the House of Representatives is not in disarray. The Republican Party is doing exactly what they were sent to do.
Since Grover Norquest and Steve Bannon the ultimate goal is to destroy government from the inside.
January 6 was a distraction . This is the real insurrection.
I'm scratching my head about some of these polls released the last couple of weeks. Last week CNN showed a poll that said 54% of Americans thought the GOP was more capable of "governing" than Democrats!!! Then today another pole released by Bloomberg showed Trump ahead of Biden in almost all of the "swing" states and more negative than positive views on Biden and his legislation. Although most poll responders were in favor of all the positive changes that this legislation and policy decisions had caused. Maybe it's just bad messaging from the Dems but I can't help worrying if it's not something more sinister. Love your tram to look into the whole idea of these polls. Keep up the good work!
As almost every American and as a Jew, I was horrified at the October 7th massacre in Israel. That said, the coverage has for the most part ignored the plight of the Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. There has been little talk of the apartheid-like behavior of the Israeli governments for the last 20 years and the increasingly radical rightwing settlement-driven politics there. While there should be no doubt about Israel's right to survive, there should also be no doubt about the tragic abuse they have wrought upon a largely innocent civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank. Since 1967 no progress has been made to the logical endpoint, a two-state managed solution and the American leadership in that time and in this regard has been wanting.
Thank you, Judd et al, for the important work you are doing. The hard right has been working for years and through intimidation to change America into their comfort zone of gun-loving, ultra-religious, anti-gay, oppression of women, non-white demonization and they have done a super job because they don't play by the rules, the laws or even the commandments. Too often, the mainstream media, which does play by the rules, cannot chase these foxes into their holes and lets them get away.
So, today I dub Public Information a fox chaser - an intrepid news gathering organization that plays by the rules, especially the strictures of journalism, and still gets to the bottom of the story even if it means wrestling in the mud and getting stuck in some nasty places.
Thank you thank you thank you.
(With apologies to the real foxes of the world, especially the urban foxes of London.)
Who placed the pipe bombs on Jan. 6. The other anomalies: key card not working, etc. Why do we hear nothing more about this?
This might be an odd topic, but no one seems to know the answer. When I checkout from the grocery store, Target etc a lot of times they have questions like if I’ll round-up my purchase or make a donation to charities like No Kid Hungry or Heart disease research. Does 100% of that money go to charity? Also, is that retail store able to write off my donation on their taxes? Inquiring minds want to know.
What's on my mind? Tommy Tuberville and all the motivations behind his blocking of military placements. I'm from Alabama and he is a major embarrassment to the state....can't wait to be able to vote him out of office....if we can.
THANKS PLEASE KEEP KEEPING ON TO EXPOSE ALL THIS
“Moms for liberty” and their continued tyranny that’s framed as normal in the media. They are the reason that Scholastic even entertained this, and these bans and other limits to access all need to be connected back to them for everyone to easily see and take action. Also Richard Corcoran’s new proposed compensation at new college…
I would very much like to see an investigation into the links between Russian disinformation and the Republican Party. It is hard to track memes, but I have a feeling that many of the incendiary memes that circulate on social media are created and boosted by Russian and Russian-supported trolls and bot networks. I also think that the meme factories are also producing some of the more divisive and incendiary memes that appear on left-leaning social media pages and accounts. The Russian and the oligarchic goal is to divide and inflame--I think they work both sides.
The other thing I'd like to see is a Putin's Pals in Congress and the Media index, that tracks and foregrounds politicians, pundits and media figures in terms of how closely they support Putin's policies and goals. It is an open secret, but I don't think many U.S. citizens are really aware of how closely fascist minority politicians and media are aligned with Putin.
Recently discussed (w/my 501c4 co-founder) these links. Found they are coordinated by the Heritage Foundation. Apparently the plan is to implement it immediately if a Republican is elected president. Very concerning.
No doubt if we've found this, so have you. But how to make more people aware of it, and at the appropriate time when it matters. Sharing it too soon before the election, when folks are likely to forget it (so much going on in the world). But the fact that there's an actual Playbook is scary beyond words.
Why isn’t Gaetz in jail yet? Didn’t his partner in sex crimes cooperate?
Thanks for all you do. I foresee Repubs eventually nominating Gov Youngkin (VA) for Prez, vs the other guy who by summer ‘24 will be a many times convicted felon, (a bit hard to imagine their being so astute, but I will go with it).
A deep dive into all things Youngkin would be instructive, and timely.
I would like to hear more about the despicable things Robin Vos is doing in the Wisconsin legislature, both around Janet Protasiewicz (who you covered in September) and about blocking raises for University of Wisconsin employees (but not other state employees) because of DEI funding.
The Ezra Klein podcast featured an episode with David French discussing radical social media influencers that are dabble in hate speech and then respond like it was just a joke. Unfortunately a methodology which appears to be gaining traction. Nick Fuentes was the prime example. Not sure what can be done but have serious concerns.
I wish more media could adopt the "truth sandwich" approach - say the thing that's true, then the falsehood or story that isn't true (for reporting its sake), then repeat the truth. Laffer? Can't recall whose method it is.
Celebrating Judd, Tesnim, and Rebecca, and whatever makes Popular Information work! I've been enjoying following the links to all of the sources mentioned in #1. In the follow up NY Times article about correcting the original attempt to appease Ron DeSantisAdvanced Black Studies curriculum, I began reading the readers' shares (this was back in April 26th). Here's one that everyone here would appreciate:
A few commentators here have read the course in question but most, myself included, have not. Thus, I cannot comment on the course content.
However, my doctoral dissertation included critical theory as a part of the analytical framework. Very briefly, this theory was developed by early 20th century scholars as a tool for critiquing fascism. The theory held that political and economic powers immersed themselves in the social sphere in a way that kept people from participation in democracy. Critical feminist and critical race theories emerged from that perspective to describe how race and gender are implicated in this kind of unethical use of power.
One could look at the deSantis versus College Board dilemma as an instance of critical (race) theory writ large: a state entity uses its power to shape educational content. Its goal is to limit knowledge about race studies that that the state actors perceive as a threat to their political interests.
A corporate producer of curricula negotiates course content to appease powerful institutions and then charges schools to replicate the limited vision. The resulting product, however it is watered down, becomes a means of oppression by limiting how the students (and the rest of us) understand our world. Thus education is used as a means of replicating state-directed oppression. And the state actor frames that oppressive act as an election benefit when he energizes his constituency with a strong man story.
79 Recommended Share"
[I'd have added my two cents but it's too late--that was 6 months ago]
You and your merry band keep the fire turned up on those who would restrict our freedom for their insane ideology. Thank you.
Can Popular Information attempt to draw a line from Big Pharma's explosion of television advertising to the explosion of the prices it charges for the medications it offers?
I shared this story with a group of retired public elementary school teachers on Tuesday. Even the most politically apathetic and conservative teachers were appalled. Scholastic Book Fairs used to be a win/win. Parents built their children's libraries inexpensively and it was a fundraising event for the school. In the Dixon, Illinois area, the most vocal advocates for public library book restrictions are the members of the Young America's Foundation, owners of the Reagan Boyhood Home. The actions of the Young America's Foundation need to be outed. They are actively training young people to hate the LGBTQIA+ community, favor book banning, and favor public money for private schools. Someone needs to go to one of their weekend workshops for middle school or high school students and find out what they are really saying behind closed doors.
Would love to read your investigation of the continued use of laboratory animals vis-a-vis new methods of testing drugs (such as organoids, organ-on-a-chip, phase 0 clinical trials and others) post passage of the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 (co-sponsored by Cory Booker and Rand Paul). I've read that 90% of drugs that are "effective" on test animals are ineffective on humans yet animal testing persists. Any light you can shed on the drivers of this outmoded practice would be appreciated. We need a modern-day Sinclair Lewis.
The “Farm Bill” made an appearance this week relating to Jim Jordan’s pitch to become Speaker. It is an incredibly impactful piece of legislation that gets little coverage outside of agriculture circles. It seems a frequent target for politicians who are chasing down so-called entitlement programs; sometimes the bill is championed by legislators who go after other entitlements and government spending.
It might be useful to put some light on this topic, what it does and for whom, as well as who supports and opposes it and follow the money involved.
Thanks for what you do.
The comments veer off into what name to use: conservatives or Republicans etc. The issue here is that a national company that brings books to schools and is meant to enhance their appreciation of written thoughts, stir creativity, educate about culture and the wider world, is being shut down by small-minded people. When I was in school and then when my daughter was young, we spent a lot of money at Scholastic Book Fairs. I am furious that children are being deprived of buying a wide range of stories. Don't like the books for your children? Don't buy them. Leave other parents to decide what is best.
Judd, Thank you for this update. It’s what needs to happen. Cancel the book fairs! They need pressure from the public too!
For additional discussion, why are hard criminal & seditionist supporters, election deniers getting their names placed on political candidacies? We have a constitutional law that blocks seditionist supporters from being on the ballot. Why don’t we apply our laws to the R cult?
Let’s discuss the fact that being a Sanctuary state does NOT mean that other states ship busloads of people to the state. We need federal action against Texas. They should lose federal dollars and those funds should go to states where TX sent migrants to CA & Chicago & other blue states with promises of jobs. I just heard this morning there is an investigation started but money is needed in these states immediately. The migrants were initially sent unannounced to the receiving state. They were therefore very unprepared with sufficient housing.
How about child labor laws...kids working overnight in unsafe conditions? Did you write about this before? Love all your hard work, keep it up!
The Scholastic story is some of the most important reporting you have done. It shows how insidious the bullying of political extremists can be.
Much coverage about Republican political actors (more accurate than politicians) , but much of their performances are driven by fear of MAGA voters. They also control far right disinformation outlets (Hannity's "don't disrespect the audience" plea). I would like to see more encouragements to out-vote them, dispite all the obstacles they throw up.
Thanks so much for all that you do. It is so informative and thorough. I lost the thread of someone asking about stocks, owned by Supreme Court justices. Either you or the New York Times or someone in the last year I believe listed senators and their stockholdings, I don’t remember where I saw it. But a reference to that would be great.
how about exposing shaun king's bullshit and grifting?
Along with your wonderful work on exposing book bans, how about a more in-depth piece on the alt right infiltration of local school boards across the country, in general? So much dark money is being funneled into local races. We are even seeing it in blue states where some candidates mysteriously have more campaign resources than others. They started with mask mandate opposition and now they are working to eliminate policies that support trans and LGTBTQ kids. In NJ, we had a newly elected school board member come out and say that the rainbow as a flag represents a “nefarious group” as if the Pride flag is symbolic of criminality. The member was slapped for the comment, but not removed from the board. The only reason she was elected to the board is because she pulled the first position on the ballot in a race where most of the public didn’t realize was being funded by groups that are harmful to communities. Where are these candidates getting their support to push a radical far right agenda onto local schools? Follow the money.
Question for anyone: (Please don't assume you know my views and no death threats): How is Biden accepting whatever Netanyahu says - especially about the bombed hospital - any different from Trump taking Putin's words during that famous visit?
My data is only based on my own Medicare Supplement plan documents for 2024 and comparing plan costs on Medicare.gov for 2024. There appears to be a huge cost increase for folks using Tier 3 drugs. The pricing plan is changing to charging the patient (for my plan, anyway) 25% of the retail drug price--after the deductible is met. In my case, that happens in January. In previous years, the drug price would go down to about $42/ month until you got into the infamous “donut hole” in July or so when the price would go up to about $170/mo. until January. In 2024, the donut hole price starts in February; there’s no reprieve. Among seniors, this could have a huge effect on Biden’s reelection, because the much-touted Inflation Reduction Act will appear to have drastically increased prices except for those on insulin. I would LOVE an in-depth story on this.
I would love to hear more about poverty. Just read "Poverty, by America" by Matt Desmond and want to know more about how to work for equity in housing, banking, algorithms, hiring, taxation, medical care education and work conditions.
Thank you Judd for your hard work in researching these critical issues that mainstream media won't touch with a 10 foot pole - until you do it first and then they pile on. And, for your courage in taking on the "powers that be" which I suspect is the reason major media prefers to ignore these things. Or else you are just a much better journalist! Or, all of the above!
Very sad development for Book Publishing.
This just popped into my inbox; PA Senate passed a "Parental Rights" bill out of committee. It's likely DOA in the Dem controlled House, but the majority is just 1 seat. https://www.mychesco.com/a/news/government/controversial-bill-sparks-concern-pennsylvania-senate-votes-on-parental-control-of-school-materials/
We need some helpful stories on climate change. It’s overwhelming, with good reason, we’re messing up. Is there anything we’re we are turning the boat
Judd, has there been any research or even reporting about the people who are threatening members of congress to support Rep. Jordan? I would be most interested to know if any of them actually know what a speaker of the house actually does. My thinking is that all they know is that the speaker is important and that's why they all hated Pelosi (along with the fact that she was the leader of the democrats, which of course made her evil). But does anyone actually understand the speaker's job in setting the house's agenda? And yes, I understand these are people who are watching and listening to right-wing media but I can't imagine they know the why, beyond that the voices they are hearing and reading are calling on them to take these steps (which in itself is so very scary).
Someone quoted Hubble, using the phrase, “undermine and exhaust us.” That says a lot--THAT is the agenda of KKKoch’s Fascist Gang of Billionaires. Why hasn’t anyone questioned the BILLIONS of dollars these fascists apply to undermining the political process when there’s dire need of dollars that could go toward environmental solutions, climate-change refugee situations, and any number of constructive solutions. It’s a rhetorical question, but it highlights the core evil of the fascists behind “Citizens United” . . . AND their Puppets of the Organized Crime Syndicate aka the RNC.
The RNC should be investigated for organized crime--and the NRA needs to be investigated for its money-laundering activities for political donations from foreign countries (esp. Russian and Saudi Arabia). It would be a start toward revoking “Citizens United.”