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
October 3, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

In recent years, some advocates of increased gun control have called for repeal or revision of the Second Amendment, but Adam Gopnik believes that either would be superfluous.

In a Friday article, Gopnik asserted that “the only amendment necessary for gun legislation…is the Second Amendment itself, properly understood, as it was for two hundred years in its plain original sense. This sense can be summed up in a sentence: if the Founders hadn’t wanted guns to be regulated, and thoroughly, they would not have put the phrase ‘well regulated’ in the amendment.”

October 1, 2015, 10:36 PM EDT

Asked to name something that stands alone, a lot of people would say, “The cheese.” To New York magazine's Jonathan Chait, another reasonable answer is “the Republican party,” at least in regard to global warming specifically and hatred of government in general.

Chait’s main point is that the GOP is extremist not only in an American context but also by international standards: “Of all the major conservative parties in the democratic world, the Republican Party stands alone in its denial of the legitimacy of climate science…The fervent commitment to supply-side economics is also an almost uniquely American idea. The GOP is the only major democratic party in the world that opposes the principle of universal health insurance. The virulence of anti-government ideology in the United States has no parallel anywhere in the world.”

September 30, 2015, 9:09 PM EDT

Esquire’s Charles Pierce is a graduate of a Jesuit university (Marquette). It’s among the many reasons he’s been a big fan of Pope Francis, the first-ever Jesuit pontiff, and it’s probably one factor in his vehement disappointment that Francis met with, and apparently encouraged, gay-marriage objector Kim Davis last week in Washington.

Pierce referred to the pope’s behavior regarding the “nutball” Davis as “a fcking [sic] blunder,” “a sin against charity,” and “the dumbest thing [he] ever has done.” He concluded, as if addressing Francis, “I will pray for you, because, damn, son, you need it.”

September 29, 2015, 9:28 PM EDT

CJ Pearson, the 13-year-old conservative social-media star, could use a few good role models, suggested TNR’s Brian Beutler in a Monday article. After noting that Pearson has been “revealed as the perpetrator of a number of hoaxes,” Beutler mused that such behavior isn’t surprising given the ideological company the youngster keeps.

“He's coming of age in a movement that often treats reality as subordinate to perception; that will embrace obvious distortions of facts if doing so might move the needle of public opinion,” alleged Beutler, who claimed that some of those factual distortions were found in Carly Fiorina’s statements about the Planned Parenthood videos during the recent Republican presidential debate.

September 28, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT

In mid-July, The Huffington Post announced it would cover Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as entertainment news. Waldman might like that policy extended to GOPers in general, since he thinks they’re more about sound-and-fury theatrics than ideas or legislative accomplishments.

“Today's Republicans,” wrote Waldman in a Sunday American Prospect column, “truly have created not just a politics of anger, but a politics utterly removed from any substance at all. Policy goals may be the nominal justification for all the anger, but in truth nobody bothers figuring out how they might be achieved. The performance is its own end.”

September 25, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT

Variations on the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome” are common on both the right and the left (a Google search for “Clinton Derangement Syndrome” yielded roughly 180,000 results). Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see Indiana University law prof Steve Sanders modify Charles Krauthammer’s famous coinage in order to trash religious conservatives.

“The Christian right is deep in the grip of gay marriage derangement syndrome,” wrote Sanders in a Thursday article for The Washington Monthly. “Conservative Christians grew accustomed to hegemony in a world where judges and lawmakers frequently deferred to their preferences…But as Americans become markedly less religious, things are changing, and the law’s treatment of homosexuality is a cutting edge of that change. So far the Christian right is reacting exactly like an indulged child throwing a particularly stormy tantrum.”

September 23, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT

A few months ago, many liberals, including much of the bloggerati, were afraid that Walker had a good chance to win not only the Republican presidential nomination but also the presidency. Now that Walker’s out of the GOP race, several lefty pundits have weighed in on why.

September 21, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT

Hannibal’s gone, but there’s still plenty of horrifying content on television. Cox hinted in a Monday column that some of it’s on C-SPAN, courtesy of congressional Republicans.

Regarding a possible government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood, Cox asserted, “Forget shrinking government to the size it can be drowned in a bathtub, the politicians clamoring for another shutdown want government done away with in the most gruesome manner possible—perhaps those Planned Parenthood videos are the inspiration for their actions in more ways than one.”

September 20, 2015, 4:18 PM EDT

A common allegation against Ronald Reagan during his White House years was that he confused movies with the real world. According to Chauncey DeVega, the current Republican presidential candidates do somewhat the same thing, and have added video games and a bit of Comic-Con to the mix.

“Wednesday night’s CNN debate showed the American people an alternate reality where Chuck Norris movies are the Bible for statecraft,” sniped DeVega in a Friday article. “Adult children who dress up and give speeches as they role-play being President of the United States are competing in a real life Republican cosplay competition to be one of the most powerful people on Earth.” DeVega also declared that the debate was so hysterical that it amounted to a “master class in lies. Joseph Goebbels would be proud.”

September 19, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT

Applying bogus definitions of “fascist” and “fascism” to conservatives and conservatism has long been almost a cottage industry on the left. In a Friday post that mostly riffed on Rep. Paul Gosar’s intention to skip Pope Francis’s speech to a joint session of Congress, Daily Kos writer Hunter argued that the modern conservative movement may not be fascist right now, but easily could become so.

“All the elements for the ascension of true fascism are now in place among the top ranks of the American right,” wrote Hunter. “The adaptation of pseudo-‘Christian’ rhetoric to promote movement goals (expansionist interventionism, hyper-nationalism, xenophobia, a focus on ‘true’ members of the nation versus the undesirable intellectual, political, religious and ethnic ‘others’) while actual Christian thought is marginalized as ‘leftist’ and even dangerous ought to be good for a sub-essay of its own.”

September 17, 2015, 10:21 PM EDT

Among the insights: Fiorina "has a notable facility for delivering answers that thrill conservatives but fall apart under close examination"; a discussion of childhood vaccines showed that the party is "fervid, claustrophobic, recklessly insinuating, and, at the same time, utterly timid when it comes to extremism in its own ranks”; and the GOP as a whole is "wedded to the tenets of [George W.] Bushism — rabid, debt-financed, regressive tax-cutting, reflexive hostility to regulation, and a pervasive anti-intellectualism."

September 17, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT

Apropos of Wednesday night’s Republican debates, Esquire’s Charles Pierce worried that political reporters may be treating the race for the party’s presidential nomination as if it were a Brad Thor novel rather than a highly consequential real-world event.

“How do you cover a campaign in which 15 candidates are running on the basis of things that simply are not true…that simply do not exist?” wondered Pierce. “If the elite political press is going to treat fiction as fact as long as the fiction is delivered in a compelling, dramatic manner, then the country truly is lost.” He added, "The final fealty of the Republican Party to total and complete bullshit has been sworn.”

September 16, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT

The stage for tonight’s prime-time Republican presidential debate will be occupied by businesspersons, U.S. senators, current and former governors, and, in Jeet Heer’s words, a “genial fanatic,” whom you probably know better as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Heer opined in a Wednesday article that Carson “combines extreme ideas with a comforting, trust-inducing persona” and explained that those ideas are tailor-made for the GOP base: “For those who aren’t on the far right, the dog-whistle references Carson made in the [Cleveland] debate to Hillary Clinton following the ‘Alinksy [sic] model’ and ‘taking advantage of the useful idiots’ might seem like gibberish, for instance, but they are part of a familiar litany on the hard right, where Obama and the Clintons are seen as thinly disguised socialist revolutionaries.”

September 14, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

Lefty pundit Amanda Marcotte grants that so-called political theater usually dovetails with the beliefs of the politicians and activists who perform it. Among the exceptions: some Republicans’ insincere, “comically overwrought meltdowns” over the Iran nuclear deal.

Those histrionics, Marcotte declared in a Wednesday Talking Points Memo column, are meant “to stir up irrational fears to be harped on for the rest of the election season…Pointless obstructionism for the sole purpose of sticking it to the Democrats and mindless demagoguery about the nefarious Middle Eastern threat to convince voters of your manhood…are joining together to create a massive, misshapen beast that represents everything that’s gone wrong with politics in the 21st century.”

September 13, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

Regarding the mainstream media’s superficial coverage of religion, is the sticking point excessive evenhandedness or simple ignorance? Two lefty bloggers differed Friday on that issue.

First, Paul Waldman wrote on The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog that reporters don’t like asking the presidential candidates “about the specifics of their faith and how it might influence their day-to-day decision making…because they’re worried that it will come off sounding like criticism of the candidates’ beliefs.” Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, however, countered that journalists worry not about appearing biased but rather about getting overmatched by politicians who are well-versed in Scripture, exegesis, and so on.

September 12, 2015, 12:41 PM EDT

To Steve Benen, Obamacare is a high-quality dress shirt that Republicans treat like a greasy rag. Benen, a producer for MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, wrote in a Friday post on the TRMS blog that even though “every GOP prediction about the Affordable Care Act has been discredited,” conservatives keep trying to use it to tarnish other measures they oppose, including the Iran nuclear deal.

“If there is a compelling parallel between ‘Obamacare’ and the international nuclear agreement,” contended Benen, “it’s this: Republicans abandoned rational thought in their contempt for the idea, and despite pleas for an alternative solution to an important pressing problem, they offered nothing but slogans and cheap talking points.”

September 9, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT

Donald Trump has been likened to (among others) Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Morton Downey Jr., and Nickelback, the band. “Nickelback” is also a football term, which brings us to yet another Trump comparison: Dave Zirin believes that the Washington Redskins franchise “is becoming the sports equivalent of the Donald Trump presidential run, a dead-ender operation with nothing to offer but a howl of anger at a slowly evolving world.”

As you probably surmised, Zirin thinks Redskins owner Dan Snyder should dump the team’s “Jim Crow era moniker,” but acknowledged in a Wednesday post that “Snyder clings even more tightly to the name, molding a new constituency of newfound ‘fans’ who want the team to be a symbol of the fight against ‘political correctness’…Now this billion-dollar brand stands disgracefully alongside Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and everyone attempting to turn a carnival barker’s buck on white anxiety.

September 7, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT

The debate rages on as to whether Donald Trump represents the essence of the Republican party. Very broadly speaking, conservatives say he doesn’t and liberals say he does. One liberal, Michael Tomasky, claims that Trump, despite his left-of-center positions on several fiscal and economic issues, nonetheless embodies the “two qualities more than any others [that] have driven conservatism in our time.”

The first quality, wrote Tomasky in the September 24 issue of The New York Review of Books, “is cultural and racial resentment…The second is what we might call spectacle—the unrelenting push toward a rhetorical style ever more gladiatorial and ever more outraged…Trump is conservative resentment and spectacle made flesh.”

September 6, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

Does Donald Trump’s popularity among Republicans indicate that a big part of the GOP base is more authoritarian than it is conservative? Yes, suggested Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas in a Friday post.

“The crazies don't really care about any conservative platform, they just want someone to reflect their own bigotries and xenophobia, all the while telling the weenies to fuck off,” wrote Kos. “They'd be just as excited if it was Hulk Hogan playing the role.” He remarked that Trump has a flair for “the kind of braggadocio that appeals to the conservative lizard brain” and concluded, “Remember how hot Vladmir Putin made conservatives? Donald Trump is the GOP's homegrown Vladimir Putin.”

September 5, 2015, 1:26 PM EDT

Gordon Gekko of Wall Street would be a popular choice of liberals for the 1980s movie character who best illuminated the supposedly ugly truth about the Reagan era, but he’s not Andrew O’Hehir’s choice. In a Monday analysis of the films of the late Wes Craven, O'Hehir stated that Freddy Krueger, from Craven’s 1984 movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, was “the most potent pop-culture signifier of the Reagan years.”