Mother Jones March/April 2020

Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization with a bi-monthly magazine that delivers bold and original reporting on the urgent issues of our day, from politics and climate change to education and the food we eat. We investigate stories that are in the public’s interest. From revelatory scoops to deep-dive investigations, Mother Jones journalism is award-winning storytelling that informs and inspires 10 million monthly readers.

United States
Foundation For National Progress
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6 Issues

in this issue

1 min

While reporting on a proposed uranium mine in South Dakota (“‘The Black Hills Are Not for Sale’”), DELILAH FRIEDLER, a Mother Jones editorial fellow, went to a rodeo in Edgemont, where someone said that Native Americans “need to let the past go.” To cope with the dumb comment, she chatted with local boys on Grindr (“Ghost Stories”), one of whom offered to drive 50 miles to come and see her. Despite watching streamers play for dozens of hours while researching for his story on Twitch star Destiny (“Call of Duty”), ALI BRELAND has not played video games in over a decade. Breland reports on the internet, disinformation, and technology for Mother Jones. His investigations, profiles, and essays have also been published in the Guardian, Vice, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Logic Magazine. When she…

4 min
the ivory tower of news

THE TWO OF US CAME of age in newsrooms at the cusp of the digital age—late enough that you could tell everything was about to change, but early enough that old habits still held unquestioned sway. Some of these (like smoking at your desk) were soon to vanish, but others have been stubbornly hanging around. One impulse that has become particularly dangerous in this age of attacks on journalism (and facts themselves) is the reflex against asking what readers (or viewers, or listeners) want. Like many dated ideas, this one started as a perfectly reasonable impulse: During the media corporatization wave of the ’80s and ’90s, profit-obsessed owners pushed for sensationalism in the name of “what readers want.” Audiences, the message went, demand fluff and flimflam; journalists concluded, understandably so, that…

9 min
the man who would beat king

ON A SUNDAY evening in mid-November, J.D. Scholten stood in the Swaledale, Iowa, City Hall and spoke, as he often does, about sandwiches. Scholten, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the state’s once reliably red 4th Congressional District, was in the midst of a series of town halls he called the “Don’t Forget About Us” tour, often making several stops a day in communities with fewer than 1,000 residents. About three dozen people were packed into the building’s only room, a wood-paneled space with paintings along the wall and a sagging ceiling that the 6-foot-6 Scholten could almost scrape with his perfectly bald head. Swaledale (population 158) was the smallest town he went through that day, and like most places he’d visited, it no longer had a grocery store. “If you…

3 min
upwardly global

WHEN GORDON SONDLAND took his turn in the impeachment spotlight, the hotelier turned US ambassador to the European Union became the poster boy for President Donald Trump’s corps of deep-pocketed, politically connected diplomats. But he’s hardly the only envoy with a fat wallet and a skimpy resume. Jeffrey Ross Gunter (Iceland): This California dermatologist and longtime GOP donor gave $100,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. At his confirmation hearing, he reassured senators, “While I have never been to Iceland, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Western Europe, as my late wife was from the Netherlands.” Callista Gingrich (Holy See): “As a lifelong Catholic,” Gingrich (who had an affair with future husband Newt Gingrich before he divorced his second wife) told senators she would be “profoundly humbled” to represent her country…

7 min
the muckrakers

ON A CHILLY morning in February 2014, a group of journalists stood on a dock inside the abandoned estate of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and saw an astonishing sight. Loose papers and colored file folders were bobbing in the Dnieper River, tossed there by the fleeing president’s minions. Yanukovych had just decamped for Russia after months of demonstrations in which more than 100 protesters had been killed by government security forces and snipers. Yanukovych left behind a 350-acre, $1 billion compound, which included a zoo, a golf course, a dog breeding center, and a lavishly furnished mansion. But not before attempting to drown the evidence against him. Anna Babinets, one of the first journalists on the scene, recalls how she and her colleagues found divers who could get there, fast, to fish…

24 min
call of duty

STEVEN BONNELL SIGHED deeply. “You a bitch-made motherfucker,” says a woman’s voice coming from his computer. “You are retarded,” it continued. Bonnell, who livestreams his life under the pseudonym Destiny, was in the middle of a debate that had gone way off the rails. The woman, a lower-profile conservative internet figure, had been slated to talk with him about police brutality, but the plan was thrown after she got mad that he called her an “anti-vaxxer.” As she lobbed insults, Bonnell hardly raised his voice. “I don’t know if I’ve ever debated a smart conservative,” he says to me, turning away from his computer in frustration as she kept up a monologue. Bonnell is a professional video game streamer who makes his living broadcasting nearly constant footage of himself, usually talking politics, playing…