By Ruth Conniff
Get ready, friends, I have some really big news: I am thrilled to announce that The Progressive is joining forces with the Center for Media and Democracy.
We are merging our two national, progressive nonprofits, and I could not be more excited about what this means, both for the magazine and for the broader progressive movement. The Progressive was founded by Fighting Bob La Follette early in the last century to take on the original robber barons—Big Oil, the railroad trusts, and all the forces of greed working to undermine the public interest. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), through its research into the Koch Brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), dirty industry, and dark-money groups, is leading the fight against the robber barons of today.
CMD made ALEC a household word—and set off a rush to the exits by the group’s corporate membership—when it broke the biggest leak in that nefarious organization’s history. Now we know that corporations actually vote with friendly state legislators on model legislation behind closed doors before it is foisted on unsuspecting citizens.
By tearing the mask off ALEC on its ALECexposed website, CMD performed a great public service.
And that’s not all.
The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and many other news outlets regularly cite CMD’s investigative research on issues like the Koch Brothers and mapping the rightwing infrastructure. With its original research and websites, CMD has a powerful and respected voice that will strength The Progressive’s impact.
Over the last year, The Progressive has been working closely with CMD. We relied on its investigation into local homeland security targeting of Occupy activists for a cover story last year. CMD’s work led to our cover story on the Keystone XL Pipeline last month. And, on the cover of this issue, we feature CMD’s exposé of Rex Sinquefield, a plutocrat in Missouri who is strangling the Show-Me state’s public schools.
In March, The Progressive and CMD moved in together at our offices at 409 East Main Street in Madison. We cleaned up and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. We moved around our cubicles, so the two staffs are entirely integrated. We are blending our families into one better, stronger operation.
The new Progressive, Inc., will be a cutting-edge research, educational, and journalistic powerhouse. We will have a greater reach, a bigger impact, and a sturdier financial base. Lisa Graves is our new publisher, and the new president of The Progressive, Inc. Lisa is taking on the details of managing the whole operation, and Matthew Rothschild could not be happier about it. Relieved of responsibility for running the business side, he can concentrate on editing and writing and will remain an anchoring presence here. (Check out his piece on Obama’s disturbing rewrite of World War I.)
Lisa, as Matt says, is the most qualified person in America to take over leadership of The Progressive, Inc. She is brilliant, relentless, passionate, and deeply connected to the progressive movement nationwide. She started her career the U.S. Department of Justice, then helped lead the administration of the federal court system, then was chosen as the chief counsel for nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where she vetted—and helped block—some of the Bush Administration’s worst judicial nominees. She led the ACLU’s national security lobbying against the Patriot Act’s reauthorization and the NSA’s spying on Americans before she moved to Madison to transform CMD into the turbo-charged investigative team it is today.
Lisa’s passion is exposing and “fighting the bad guys,” as she likes to say.
CMD’s deputy director, Mary Bottari, will become the projects and investigations editor of The Progressive, Inc. Mary is a longtime friend of mine from both Madison and Washington, D.C. I knew Mary when she worked as a staffer in the Wisconsin legislature. When I became The Progressive’s Washington editor, Mary was Senator Russ Feingold’s press secretary. She and I moved back to Madison and started our families around the same time. Mary was a powerful force in Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and then, after the financial meltdown hit, she joined CMD to launch its hard-hitting research and reporting on the Wall Street “banksters,” a term she helped popularize.
I will remain editor-in-chief of The Progressive. Our monthly magazine will maintain its beloved traditions and add some new features. On the web, we will continue to publish stories on progressive.org, along with ALECexposed.org, PRWatch.org, SourceWatch.org, and PublicSchoolShakedown.org.
Please join me in welcoming Lisa, Mary, and their impressive team, whom you will get to know in our pages and online in the coming months.
Time to open the champagne!
--Editor's Note from The Progressive Magazine (May 2014)
This editorial note originally appeared inThe Progressive's May 2014 edition. Subscribe today!