Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, reporter, columnist, radio host and television producer and analyst. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers: “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies”(2013), “The Promise: President Obama, Year One” (2010) and “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006), also one of the Times’ “Notable Books” of the year. Since 1996, Alter has been an analyst and contributing correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, appearing on-air two or three times a week.
After 28 years as a columnist and senior editor at Newsweek, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories, Alter is now a twice-monthly columnist for the Daily Beast and the co-host, with his wife, Emily Lazar, and two of his children, Charlotte Alter and Tommy Alter, of “Alter Family Politics,” which airs Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. on RadioAndy on SiriusXM, 102. He has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Esquire, Bloomberg View and other publications.
He is an executive producer of “Alpha House,” a 21-episode half-hour political comedy created by Garry Trudeau and starring John Goodman that is available for viewing on Amazon.com. He is at work on a full-length biography of former President Jimmy Carter and is co-directing a HBO documentary about the lives of legendary journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill.
After Tuesday, Democrats Still Need a Winning Message. How About ‘Respect’?
JONATHAN ALTER – 11.09.17 5:00 AM ET
For all the euphoria over Tuesday’s result, the Democratic Party is still in trouble. But the victories could point the way to the message it desperately needs.
Amid the Democrats’ stunning coast-to-coast victory Tuesday night, a song kept running through my head: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin.
Yes, the election was a repudiation of Donald Trump and a testament to the importance of candidate recruitment and organization, but something larger was at work. The voters showed respect for… well, respect.
In New Jersey, they replaced Gov. Chris Christie, a pioneer in insult politics, with Phil Murphy, whose slogans were “We are better than this” and “I’ve got your back.” In Virginia, Dr. Ralph Northam’s low-key campaign stressing inclusion and health care bested Ed Gillespie, a lobbyist turned mini-Trump. It showed that vicious, lying attack ads that stoke fear of African Americans and immigrants don’t work in the suburbs, where most elections are decided.
Down ballot, Danica Roem, a trans woman, trounced a self-described “chief homophobe” incumbent, while Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend was killed by gunfire at their television station, beat the candidate of the NRA, an organization that respects guns more than people’s lives. In Philadelphia, Larry Krasner was elected district attorney after a career spent defending suspects who weren’t only disrespected by police, they were often beaten or killed by them.
This feels like the beginning of something that Democrats don’t have—a message. It better be. For all the euphoria over Tuesday’s result, the Democratic Party is still in trouble, especially in red states and swing states that didn’t have many elections Tuesday. The only way to assure that the experts are right about their good chances in 2018 is to develop a meaningful frame around the usual laundry list of policy proposals.
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Jonathan Alter, an author and MSNBC analyst, is at work on a biography of Jimmy Carter.
Even if Congress takes action on the bump stocks or other modifications used by the mass murderer in Las Vegas, Washington will not be the center of change on gun violence. The president and Congress are owned by the NRA, and public attention will soon shift away from the latest massacre, as it always does.
But there’s reason for hope in states that are hungry to keep and attract business, which means every state in the union. Gun safety advocates should take heart from the backlash against bathroom bills and other anti-gay laws in red states. The institutions that stood up in those fights — from Apple to the NCAA — offer a path forward.
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If the Democrats are smart (a big ‘if’), they will seize this opportunity to partner with America’s sports stars and tip the 2018 elections.
President Trump might be more properly called President Troll. He’s the kind of smirking adolescent whose inane but nasty comments persuade sites to close their comments sections. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for those of us who believe the safety of the world depends on his removal from office.
The challenge is that Trump’s instinctive demagoguery—the product of his reptilian brain and many years of experience manipulating the media—is an effective base strategy. The louder the mainstream media roars in indignation, the more old, white reactionaries love it. And when base voters respond, Trump throws them another heaping portion of rancid red meat. Then the process begins all over again.
The opportunity is that now Trump isn’t just going after elitists, immigrants, judges, and other politicians but trashing the most revered individuals in our popular culture—professional athletes. It’s reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s move in 1954 from attacking wimpy-looking college professors to calling the Army a bunch of communists.
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How CPR saved a young woman’s life (it could save yours, too) – TODAY.com
Only 10 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive. Molly Alter became one of them on her last day of high school, thanks to a classmate, and now she’s sharing her story…
Alter Books For Sale
The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
“Jonathan Alter’s “The Center Holds” offers an elegant, intelligent, crisply constructed account of President Obama’s second two years in the White House and his quiet march to a second term. It will be required reading for any serious student of the Obama presidency, present or future.”The Washington Post
The Promise: President Obama, Year One
“Gives us a new perspective on the 44th president by providing a detailed look at his decision-making. . .and a keen sense of what it’s like to work in his White House. Alter uses his considerable access to the president and his aides to give us an informed look at No. 44’s management style.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
“Alter’s account has a refreshing buoyancy, not unlike its protagonist…describing Roosevelt’s missteps as honestly as his triumphs, it succeeds in bringing a remarkable man back to life.” Ted Widmer, The New York Times Book Review
Between the Lines: A View Inside American Politics, People, and Culture
“A journalist, rather than a pundit, Alter made sure he had the best seat in the house for the transformation of the political and media worlds over the past three decades, and he has recorded those changes with his trademark wisdom and humanity.” Jeffrey Toobin