Tom Johnson covers mostly websites (e.g., Salon, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos) for NewsBusters. He blogged frequently for the site from 2005 until 2007 and has been a regular contributor since 2011. From 1989 until 2002, he was an entertainment analyst for the Media Research Center and its spinoff, the Parents Television Council. From July 2004 until June 2005, he monitored National Public Radio for the MRC. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Latest from Tom Johnson
December 1, 2016, 8:46 PM EST

After more than three weeks, Markos Moulitsas’s fury over the election result remains piping hot, so the Daily Kos founder and publisher served it up on Wednesday. “If I was a Jedi Knight, I’d be a Sith Lord today, because I feel the hatred flowing through me,” acknowledged Kos. “But contrary to Star Wars lore, I’ve decided it’s not a bad thing…One only has to look at the GOP to see how unbridled hatred served them well over the last eight years. The American electorate doesn’t reward temperance, prudence, and ‘going high.’ Quite the opposite, in fact…But, I [don't] feel that I can’t move forward without laying out all the things I’m angry at.” Kos’s targets included Hillary Clinton and her campaign bigwigs (whose “rank incompetence” cost them what should have been an “easy” win) and “the dumbfucks who voted for Trump.”

November 30, 2016, 9:23 PM EST

When Donald Trump is POTUS, he’s likely to get deferential, even helpful, media coverage, predicted Atrios on Monday. After all, he explained, that’s been the pattern for Republican presidents since the 1980s. When Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Atrios alleged, “members of the press knew that [he] had some form of dementia, that he was not actually fit to run the country, and they covered it up because the feefees of America would be hurt because Reagan was the most popular president in the history of the universe. Of course he wasn't the most popular president by any reasonable measure, but the press loved him so America loved him and they added 10 extra points to his popularity rating in their minds. They did that for [George W. Bush], also, too.”

November 29, 2016, 8:29 PM EST

Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote margin continues to be a compelling news story for some, including Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who believes that the Electoral College should vote next month for Clinton because she was “the people’s choice.” Even though The Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman thinks Lessig’s view is “nonsense” and that Donald Trump’s loss of the PV is trivial under our current rules, he also wants the Electoral College to choose Clinton. “What Lessig should have argued,” wrote Longman in a Friday post, “is that the Electors should plainly judge Trump a menacing incompetent and reject him with extreme prejudice...Trump is already demonstrating his unfitness for office in many ways.”

November 29, 2016, 9:48 AM EST

There’s cross-ideological agreement that Tom Morello (currently of Prophets of Rage, formerly of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) is a superb guitarist. It’s a different story when it comes to his political acumen, which some would say is about as impressive as the singing talent of Florence Foster Jenkins. Morello, a staunch leftist who’s given to comments such as “words like ‘socialism’ and ‘Marxism’ have been so demonized that it's difficult to have intelligent discussion about what they mean,” was at it again in a Saturday Instagram post concerning the death of Fidel Castro, writing that “by defying Yankee imperialism for 50 years, instituting the best healthcare, child immunization and literacy systems in the Western Hemisphere (surpassing the US and Canada), exporting doctors to countries in need all over the globe…and being an unrepentant advocate of the poor and exploited it is no surprise that millions will mourn [Castro's] passing.”

November 27, 2016, 6:06 PM EST

In covering the recent presidential campaign, the mainstream media far too often made the perfect the enemy of the good, believes Leigh Gilmore -- “the good” in this case being synonymous with “Hillary Clinton.” Gilmore, a professor in the women's and gender studies department at Hillary’s undergraduate alma mater, Wellesley, claims that “the bias against Hillary Clinton was not simply a story the media reported -- it was the unexamined narrative the press repeated over and over...Why was the lie more persistent than the truth? Why was ‘Crooked Hillary’ a more compelling figure than ‘Fundamentally Honest Hillary’?”

November 27, 2016, 8:33 AM EST

According to TNR’s Lovia Gyarkye, one of the less tangible things President Obama has tried to forge is “a liberalism that fuses identity politics with the idea of American greatness.” As for Obama’s successor, “the answer to the Trump presidency is not to abandon the progress we have made. It is not to yearn for the past glories of a nation that has wronged so many people. It is to do the hard work of abandoning this country’s self-serving myths, and realizing that America’s greatness is yet to come.”

November 25, 2016, 9:36 PM EST

It’s fair to say that from 2007 through 2010, the mere words “Speaker Pelosi” gave many NewsBusters readers the willies. If some lefty activists and enough voters get their way, you’ll have the chance to hear a lot of “Speaker Obama.” On Wednesday, Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate discussed and endorsed a Change.org petition calling on Barack Obama to run for the House of Representatives in 2018 from Illinois’s 1st congressional district, the idea being that if Obama won the seat and Democrats took control of the lower chamber of Congress, Obama would become Speaker of the House.

November 25, 2016, 3:38 PM EST

Did liberals’ reliance on so-called identity politics cost them the presidential election? It doesn’t matter, suggested Slate’s Michelle Goldberg in a Tuesday piece. Goldberg has no use for “the more illiberal aspects of social justice politics,” but thinks that in general Democrats stand for exactly what, and who, they should stand for. “There can be no going back on defending the tenuous gains of women and people of color, or foregrounding their demands for full equality. They are the base of the party,” wrote Goldberg, adding that “the focus of left-of-center politics in the dark years to come must be on protecting the groups of people who are targets precisely because of their identities…If Democrats standing up for diversity makes Trump voters feel disrespected, the best response is a slogan popular among enemies of political correctness at Trump rallies: Fuck your feelings.”

November 20, 2016, 4:53 PM EST

If you asked a hundred conservatives to name the de facto flagship publication of American liberalism, The New York Times probably would get more mentions than any other. Still, it hasn’t been hard to find lefties upset with the paper about matters such as its supposed longstanding hostility toward Bill and Hillary Clinton. How the Times, especially its coverage of the e-mail story, may have made Hillary’s defeat more likely has been a post-election buzz topic on the left. Liberal strategist Jamison Foser, whose affiliations have included the Democratic National Committee and, currently, the Tom Steyer-led NextGen Climate, crystallized the lefty disgruntlement with the Times in a tweetstorm in response to a fellow liberal who argued that “we have to support the NYTimes right now more than ever.”

November 19, 2016, 1:55 PM EST

Major similarities between the 2016 presidential election and that of 2000 don’t end with the Democrat winning the popular vote but losing the electoral vote, claims Marcotte, who contended that the media had it in for Hillary Clinton the same way they did for Al Gore, and that in each case biased campaign coverage was a factor in driving down Democratic voter turnout. Regarding this year’s race, Marcotte remarked, “Replace ‘I invented the internet’ with ‘emails,’ ‘Naomi Wolf’ with ‘pneumonia’ and ‘Ralph Nader’ with ‘Jill Stein,’ and you’re looking at a rerun.”

November 18, 2016, 5:52 PM EST

Rolling Stone’s Taibbi has started what amounts to a premature “Miss Me Yet?” meme for President Obama, and he recommends that question be answered “yes.” In a Friday piece, Taibbi opined, “Donald Trump may have won the White House, but he will never be a man like his predecessor, whose personal example will now only shine more brightly with the passage of time. At a time when a lot of Americans feel like they have little to be proud of, we should think about our outgoing president, whose humanity and greatness are probably only just now coming into true focus.” Taibbi doesn’t think an administration headed by the “race-baiting” Trump “will end up staining or outright repudiating [Obama’s] legacy…I think it will be the other way around. Trump's presidency is almost sure to throw the best qualities of this unique and powerful historical figure into relief. [Obama] has been the great model for young men of his generation. And ten years from now, when the millions of young people who grew up during his presidency start to enter the workforce and become leaders and parents, we'll see more clearly what he meant to this country.”

November 16, 2016, 5:54 PM EST

In a Tuesday post, Esquire blogger Pierce complained that Ronald Reagan’s anti-government rhetoric discouraged many from voting, thereby benefiting Republicans, but Donald Trump’s anti-government rhetoric encouraged many to vote, thereby benefiting Republicans. Pierce noted that Reagan, in his first inaugural address, declared “that government was not a solution to the problem, that government was the problem.” The government-bashing, Pierce charged, was meant “not just to convert voters to conservative policies that were otherwise unpopular, it also was [meant] to frustrate people into apathy and non-participation.”

November 15, 2016, 5:45 PM EST

Dahlia Lithwick knows her highly focused resistance movement will fail, but she proposed it anyway. In a Monday piece, the Slate legal analyst exhorted Democrats to “obstruct the nomination and seating” of anyone Donald Trump chooses to succeed Antonin Scalia, because “the current Supreme Court vacancy is not Trump’s to fill. This was President Obama’s vacancy and President Obama’s nomination. Please don’t tacitly give up on [the seat] because it was stolen by unprecedented obstruction and contempt. Instead, do to them what they have done to us. Sometimes, when they go low, we need to go lower, to protect a thing of great value.”

November 14, 2016, 7:41 PM EST

Is the Social Network also the Electoral Network? Yes, says Max Read, who suggested in a piece for New York magazine that Mark Zuckerberg had more to do with Donald Trump’s win than did James Comey, Julian Assange, or Bernie Sanders. “It can be clarifying,” Read wrote, “to identify the conditions that allowed access to the highest levels” of politics to Trump, “a dangerous and unpredictable bigot…In this case, the condition was: Facebook.” To Read, “the most obvious way in which Facebook enabled a Trump victory has been its inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news.”

November 12, 2016, 1:30 PM EST

For the but-tell-us-how-you-really-feel file, this headline on a Friday post by Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum: “Fuck You, James Comey.” The post, of course, centered on the presumed effect on presidential voting of Comey’s October 28 letter which jump-started the Hillary Clinton e-mail story. “When an election is close…there are dozens of people, events, and movements that can make a difference of 1 percent or so,” wrote Drum. “But if we're going to choose one particular person who managed to hand the White House to a buffoonish game show host, it's FBI director James Comey, the guy who…provided the match that Trump used to light the country on fire.”

November 11, 2016, 5:27 PM EST

In their respective articles alleging that the mainstream media facilitated the election of Donald Trump, Brian Beutler of The New Republic and Eric Alterman of The Nation overlapped somewhat. For example, each claimed that the Hillary e-mail story was wildly overcovered, with Beutler citing it as the shining example of how the media “failed abysmally” regarding the “framing and contextualizing of events.” Elsewhere, the two pundits diverged. Beutler singled out the media’s fascination, in the last ten days of the campaign, with Trump’s staying on message when they should have been pointing out that “on every single one of those days, he was saying outrageous and false things at a dizzying clip.” What Liberal Media? author Alterman took a long-term view, contending that relentless lobbying from the right has paid off in the form of lax treatment from the media: “There’s no truth to [the] contention that network coverage has been unfair to Trump; quite obviously, the reverse is true. But conservatives learned long ago that there’s no limit to the effectiveness of their “work the refs” strategy, with the networks bending over further and further to placate their demands.”

November 7, 2016, 5:58 PM EST

Conservatives are unwilling to let Hillary be Hillary where transparency is concerned, and “it drives them crazy,” believes Kevin Drum. In a post last Wednesday, Drum argued that whenever the right has “forced…openness on Clinton in an effort to destroy her,” it’s “done nothing except paint a portrait of a pretty normal politician,” a failure that’s left those conservatives with “bizarre levels” of “Clinton Derangement Syndrome.”

November 6, 2016, 8:36 PM EST

Liberal bias in news coverage has bothered conservatives ever since there were only three TV networks. But in Nancy LeTourneau’s odd telling, conservative media bias came first, about twenty years ago, and liberals then had to catch up. “In order for Fox News to be successful, they had to convince potential viewers that the mainstream press was liberal,” wrote LeTourneau in a Friday post. “That led to a whole cottage industry of right wing media that thrives today because conservatives bought the premise. Eventually liberals needed to create their own counterweight to combat the lies and spin emanating from these sources.”

November 5, 2016, 9:50 PM EDT

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who’s also Donald Trump’s transition director, was not a defendant in the Bridgegate trial, in which two of Christie’s allies were just convicted on all counts. Still, argues New York’s Chait, the verdicts “would shake up an ordinary presidential election,” since Trump himself has said that Christie “totally knew about” Bridgegate, and since the Donald has made “ethical and legal propriety…the most prominent theme of [his] campaign.” But Chait acknowledges that in the “surreal” electoral atmosphere of 2016, there’ll be no such shakeup of the race. Chait explains that the Bridgegate verdicts won’t hurt Trump because “the news media has figured out that Trump’s supporters’ beliefs about his ethics, and the criminality of his opponent, are not subject to amendment on the basis of evidence.”

November 5, 2016, 10:50 AM EDT

The Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal involves no wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, contends Matthew Yglesias. So whose behavior has been scandalous? The media’s. “Emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit,” wrote Yglesias in a Michael Kinsley-esque Friday piece. “The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election -- overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.”