Margaret Sullivan
Margaret Sullivan
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Perspective | Defector.com’s journalistic experiment began with a staff walkout. It might actually be working.

Perspective | Defector.com’s journalistic experiment began with a staff walkout. It might actually be working.

ADMahatma Gandhi didn’t actually say “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but if he had, he probably wouldn’t have been thinking of a sports website that would publish an interview with a or reveal a bizarre Still, the odd — and oddly inspiring — journalistic experiment going on at Defector Media reflects the idea : If you’re disgusted with how things are, and if you want something different, go do it yourself.The experiment is going surprisingly well. At less than six months old, Defector.com is financially self-sustaining and entirely owned by its staff. It just expanded with a...

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Margaret Sullivan
6d ago
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Perspective | ‘A moment of truth’? After years of Trump’s lies, amplified by MAGA media, that proved impossible for most Republicans

Perspective | ‘A moment of truth’? After years of Trump’s lies, amplified by MAGA media, that proved impossible for most Republicans

ADThe words spoken on the Senate floor over the past few days were almost innumerable. But the ones that stayed with me through the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump were among the very first ones uttered.“Democracy needs a ground to stand upon — and that ground is the truth,” House impeachment lead manager Jamie Raskin said in his , quoting his father, the political activist.This Senate trial would not be a contest among lawyers, or between political parties, said the Maryland Democrat, who led the prosecuting team trying to make the case that the 45th president had incited the Jan....

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Margaret Sullivan
Feb 14
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Perspective | The Jan. 6 images were already disturbing. The impeachment-trial video makes them terrifying.

Perspective | The Jan. 6 images were already disturbing. The impeachment-trial video makes them terrifying.

ADThe pounding on the Capitol doors, the shouts of the mob, police officers screaming in pain, barricades toppled, windows shattered, the deadly gunshot.Captured in fragments on cellphone videos and security cameras during the failed insurrection on Jan. 6, these sounds and images are more than a month old now. Many of them had been uploaded and broadcast and retweeted millions of times before House impeachment managers presented them in aTuesday at the beginning of former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.By modern standards, the footage is ancient.So you would think that...

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Margaret Sullivan
Feb 10
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Perspective | Trump is leaving press freedom in tatters. Biden can take these bold steps to repair the damage.

Perspective | Trump is leaving press freedom in tatters. Biden can take these bold steps to repair the damage.

ADWhen Donald Trump first started accusing the mainstream media of dealing in “fake news,” it was impossible to know the long-term effects of this rhetoric. It seemed like just another of his trademark insults.But the term — and the bad will behind it — quickly morphed into a political weapon, with ruinous effects both here and overseas.Officials with an autocratic bent around the globe snatched up the idea to mock the press or to deny ugly truths. By late 2017, for instance, a was using the term to deny not only the shameful persecution of a Muslim minority group, but that population’s...

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Margaret Sullivan
Dec 6
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Perspective | The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it.

Perspective | The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it.

ADPresident Trump didn’t create the media cesspool that he’ll bequeath to a troubled nation. He just made it exponentially worse — not only with his own constant lies but with his ability to spread the ugliness.Just days ago, he tweeted out a that a company that makes voting machines had deleted millions of Trump votes. And though he — barring true disaster — will leave office in January, the widespread disinformation system that he fostered will live on.Social media platforms, streaming “news” channels and innumerable websites will spew lies and conspiracy theories, and will keep weakening...

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Margaret Sullivan
Nov 20
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Perspective | The media never fully learned how to cover Trump. But they still might have saved democracy.

Perspective | The media never fully learned how to cover Trump. But they still might have saved democracy.

As the cowbells clanged, car horns blasted and anti-Trumpers partied Saturday on my New York City street corner not long after TV networks called the presidential race for Joe Biden, I did what comes most naturally.I checked my email.Because I write about the press, people tend to share their thoughts with me about how national politics is being covered, not just in The Washington Post but throughout the mediasphere. Their views, as my father with Irish understatement might phrase it, are various.“Put this on your refrigerator,” demanded the subject line of one. It seemed unfriendly:...

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Margaret Sullivan
Nov 8
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Perspective | Here’s a list of the 10 greatest works of journalism of the past 10 years. Care to argue about it?

Perspective | Here’s a list of the 10 greatest works of journalism of the past 10 years. Care to argue about it?

With so much news slamming us at every moment, it’s hard to see any of it as having enduring value. Who can even remember what happened last week?But not everything is ephemeral. Some journalism really does last.Years ago, when New York University faculty ranked the best journalism of the 20th century, they came up with some selections whose classic nature is unarguable. The list was led by a feat of reportage that used novelistic techniques to tell the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb; it took up an entire issue of the New Yorker magazine in 1946. Second place went to the...

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Margaret Sullivan
Oct 14
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Perspective | Trump doesn’t need Russian trolls to spread disinformation. The mainstream media does it for him.

Perspective | Trump doesn’t need Russian trolls to spread disinformation. The mainstream media does it for him.

Voting fraud, according to after study, is rare. Mail-in ballots are, with a few exceptions, a safe way to vote.But millions of Americans have come to radically different: They think the Nov. 3 election could very well end up being stolen. That the outcome — especially if it relies on counting the votes that come in later than in a normal election year — might well be illegitimate.Where would they get such an idea?Conventional wisdom might say it comes from false stories and memes spread on social media, originating from foreign troublemakers trying to influence the election results — most...

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Margaret Sullivan
Oct 7
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Perspective | Four years ago, Trump survived ‘Access Hollywood’ — and a media myth of indestructibility was born

Perspective | Four years ago, Trump survived ‘Access Hollywood’ — and a media myth of indestructibility was born

In the warped sense of time born of the Trump presidency and the pandemic pause, it seems both eons ago and only yesterday that the rocked the mediasphere.In fact, it was just about four years ago, , that the Washington Post first published the 2005 recording of Donald Trump casually bragging about how easy it was for him to sexually assault women.“I don’t even wait,” the , suggesting he might start kissing the actress he was about to meet for the first time. It would be no big deal, since “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . . Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do...

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Margaret Sullivan
Sep 26
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Perspective | Should Bob Woodward have reported Trump’s virus revelations sooner? Here’s how he defends his decision.

Perspective | Should Bob Woodward have reported Trump’s virus revelations sooner? Here’s how he defends his decision.

Two waves of outrage greeted the news on Wednesday of , a book titled “Rage.”The first was Trump’s disclosure to Woodward that he knew as early as February — even as he was dismissing the novel publicly — that the looming pandemic was far deadlier than the flu.The second was that Woodward, long associated with The Washington Post, didn’t reveal this to the public sooner.The fact that this second outrage mostly circulated among journalists talking to one another made it no less furious: If the famous Watergate reporter knew that Trump was lying to the public about a matter of life and death,...

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Margaret Sullivan
Sep 9
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Trump won’t stop coining nasty nicknames for his foes — but the media must stop amplifying them.

Trump won’t stop coining nasty nicknames for his foes — but the media must stop amplifying them.

I was talking to an acquaintance recently about Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. He liked the Massachusetts Democrat’s detailed policies and was impressed with her recent CNN town hall presentation. But he couldn’t back the senator because she doesn’t really stand a chance in the 2020 contest. Why not, I asked. He answered me with a rueful shrug, accompanied by one word: “Pocahontas.” That, of course, is the nickname President Trump has tagged Warren with — a reference to her having claimed Native American ancestry, including on law school faculty forms in the 1980s. (She does have...

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Margaret Sullivan
May 16
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