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
September 16, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

Daily Kos boss Markos Moulitsas says Republicans understand that they’re “a minority, and a shrinking one,” and that therefore reducing Democratic turnout is crucial to future GOP electoral success.

September 15, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT

U. of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne thinks that whether you’re talking about ISIS or the Vatican, “there is no ‘true’ religion in the factual sense, for there is no good evidence supporting their claims to truth.” He also says that you can cherry-pick the Qur’an as easily as you can the Bible, for both are filled with calls for violence and genocide.”

September 13, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

Charles Pierce thinks the campaign against ISIS may cause a spike in the national “derangement” that started on 9/11, and Jonathan Chait sees neoconservatives making the same mistakes now as they did more than a decade ago: “The hysterical threat assessment, the simplistic conflation of mutually antagonistic strains of Islam, and the complete lack of concern for the possibility of overreach.”

September 11, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

Mark Sumner argues that ISIS “represents no threat to the United States," and that America has long suffered from “shaking-in-our-boots cowardice” over terrorism which has caused us to give terrorists “exactly what they want”: a massive military response.

September 10, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

For now, President Obama’s “no-drama” handling of the ISIS situation counters both Americans’ fondness for “the same kind of bloody-shirt waving that got us into” Iraq and “the usual gang of conservative jingoists” now pushing for war.

September 9, 2014, 9:35 PM EDT

The Obama administration is essentially over, because of both GOP obstructionism and Obama’s "painful delay in realizing the true nature" of Republicans, insists Esquire's Charles Pierce.

September 8, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT

The Missouri legislature may override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a 72-hour abortion waiting period. If that happens, it's another victory for social conservatives' quest to impose religious law in America.

September 7, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

Jeb Bush still may run for president, but he shouldn't bother -- he wouldn't even get nominated. He'd "probably have to campaign in a tricorner hat and get a picture of Sarah Palin tattooed on his neck to convince Tea Partiers they can trust him."

September 6, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

A study finds that if you're not thinking too hard, you're probably a right-winger.

Slate's Katy Waldman reported turning off "deliberative mental circuits" made one more likely to be conservative.
 

September 5, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT

Had you noticed that media outlets just can’t stop adding conservative talking heads to spout conservative viewpoints that will appeal to conservative viewers for whom liberalism “upsets their tum tums”? Well, Daily Kos writer Hunter did, and he blogged about it on Thursday.

Hunter quoted from and then reacted to a New York Post report on the latest manifestation of this recurring problem: NBC’s announcement that Joe Scarborough will become a regular contributor to Meet the Press in order to “bring a right-leaning voice to the program to appeal to viewers turned off by the show’s famously left-leaning former hosts including the ousted David Gregory.”

September 4, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

On Wednesday, American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman noted the rhetorical contrast between President Obama and Vice President Biden regarding ISIS. Essentially, Obama has sounded cool and detached, a la Miles Davis, whereas a revved-up Biden, in a Portsmouth, N.H. speech, worked up a sweat and fed off the energy of the audience in the manner of Bruce Springsteen.

“You get a sense now,” wrote Waldman, “that not only is [Obama] being cautious about what actions the United States should take with regard to ISIS, he's also being cautious in how he talks about it. He doesn't want to raise expectations of a quick and glorious victory.”

September 3, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

Plenty of commentators have predicted that Republicans will pick up seats in this fall’s midterm elections, but haven’t opined whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Then there’s Esquire’s political blogger Charles Pierce, whose gloomy forecast for the midterms is that “the power of the insane party will likely be enhanced.”

In a Tuesday post, Pierce lamented the impact of Republican madness on American foreign policy, stating that in a time of serious problems that include jihadism and Vladimir Putin’s designs on former Soviet republics, “the United States [is] scrambled and paralyzed by the kind of petty vandalism” that the congressional GOP has specialized in since President Obama took office.

September 2, 2014, 11:13 AM EDT

If reform-conservative pundit Reihan Salam gets his way, Mitt Romney will join Ronald Reagan on the list of Republican governors of coastal states who were elected president of the United States on their third try. In a Friday column for Slate, Salam wrote that he’s “delighted” about “speculation” that Romney “is at least considering another presidential run.”

Salam argued that if Romney does mount another campaign, he should present himself as a “populist” wonk opposed to “the outsize power of the megabanks and in favor of a more competitive and inclusive capitalism.” Such a persona, Salam surmised, would be closer to the real Mitt than the self-described “severely conservative” version of two years ago: “I tend to think that Romney’s struggles in 2012 flowed from his defensiveness and his fear of alienating Tea Party conservatives he didn’t truly understand.”

August 30, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT

Some politicians have the same public image throughout their careers. Others at least try to give themselves a makeover (e.g., the “new Nixon” of 1968). In a Wednesday post, Esquire’s Charles Pierce claimed that for the past decade, we’ve had what amounts to a new Al Sharpton, and that “the transformation began when Sharpton ran for president in 2004.”

Pierce noted Sharpton’s Tawana Brawley/Crown Heights “not-entirely-concerned-with-the-truth-of-things period,” but argued that in ’04, Sharpton the candidate “reintroduced himself to the country as a serious man with serious concerns,” and that “more or less, that's been the path on which [he] has remained ever since.” These days, Pierce remarked, “bringing up the sins of [Sharpton’s] past now seems as strange an avocation as summoning up Malcolm X's early career as a burglar.

August 28, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

The Trotskyist-turned-conservative writer James Burnham said that where there’s no solution, there’s no problem. In a Thursday post, American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman analyzed what he considers one such situation: the Republican party’s ongoing shortfall with female voters.

Waldman doesn’t see how the GOP can overcome both its ideas and its tone on women’s issues. He asserted that when Republicans discuss their opposition to abortion and the contraceptive mandate, many of them “can't keep themselves from doing so in the most hostile, contemptuous ways imaginable.”

August 27, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

Lumping one’s political adversaries with the vicious jihadists of ISIS seems to be the new new thing. Last Thursday, Dinesh D’Souza alleged that “the common thread between ISIS and [the looters] in Ferguson is you have these people who basically believe that to correct a perceived injustice, it's perfectly OK to inflict all kinds of new injustices...And all of this is then licensed by the left and licensed to some degree by the media.”

On Saturday, Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins responded to D’Souza, asserting that ISIS is not at all left-wing; rather, the terrorist group stands for “bedrock principles of political conservatism wherever it appears in the world,” such as “eschew[ing] ‘foreign’ western impulses, roll[ing] back the clock on progressive social reforms, and aggressively institut[ing] a more traditional religious approach to society.”

August 26, 2014, 6:56 PM EDT

Don’t look now, but there may be a Paul Ryan scandal, or at least a scandalette, and in this context New York magazine blogger Jonathan Chait is both Woodward and Bernstein. In a Monday post, Chait related that Ryan, in the newsmagazine The Week, had named his “six favorite books about economics and democracy,” and that the “huge omission” from the list was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, which Ryan has so often praised to the skies.

Chait remarked that Ryan appears to be backing away from his politically problematic Randian makers/takers rhetoric and readopting a previous persona: “The new Ryan looks like the Bush-era version, with lots of giving to the rich without all the taking from the poor.”

August 24, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

In a Sunday-morning post, Daily Kos blogger Mark Sumner argued that the “threat ISIS represents to the United States” is “[e]xactly none” and urged us not to overreact now the way we supposedly did after 9/11 and consequently “hand over freedoms for an illusion of safety. The NSA reading your email and listening in on your phone, idiots mistaking a dropped t-shirt at the Mexican border for the prayer rug of invading Muslims, TSA workers who know you more intimately than your spouse. Those are bin Laden's victories.”

Besides, Sumner remarked, everyday food additives may be more lethal than jihadists: “You could probably make a compelling case that corn syrup is more deadly to Americans than all the terrorists who ever lived.”

August 23, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

Last Saturday, we noted that three well-known liberal bloggers had written that criticism about presidential vacations is silly and dopey. Vox’s Ezra Klein not only agrees with his brethren, but further contended in a Friday post that when a POTUS goes on vacation, he should get some real R&R, to the point that the vice president would “take over for a week or two,” with the president “get[ting] a call if something really goes wrong.”

Klein mused that “it's probably good for vice presidents to get a few weeks in the Oval Office now and again — that way, if they do have to step up to the presidency, they have a bit of experience. If Acting President Joe Biden had delivered the US's response to ISIS while Obama vacationed with his family, that would have been better for everyone involved.”

August 23, 2014, 7:10 AM EDT

The ESPN-affiliated, Bill Simmons-run website Grantland, which specializes in sports and popular culture, claimed on Friday that Fox News Channel is a major source of what Simmons calls “unintentional comedy” (or maybe "subconscious comedy" would be more accurate).

In a feature about the history and influence of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment, Grantland staff writer Brian Phillips opined that “the structure of Fox News is so deeply and basically comic that it’s impossible not to read it into the tradition of news satire” and that “like ‘Weekend Update,’ Fox succeeded by taking the elements of a normal news broadcast and exaggerating them to ludicrous proportions.”