3 Things Before the Debate

There are 48 days until the Iowa caucus. Donald Trump recently proposed blocking all Muslims—including American citizens traveling abroad—from entering our country. And many of the candidates you’ll see in the debate tonight are being propped up by billionaire-backed super-PACs that are trying to rig the system in their favor.

Believe me, I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the presidential election. This campaign has been a wild ride that defies predictions and expectations. But I do know this: The stakes are damn high, and there’s a pressing need for kick-ass journalism that holds the candidates to account on serious issues, even as the circus spins on.

And as the Washington bureau chief at Mother Jones, I also know that for us to do our job of investigating these guys and gals, we need support from readers like you. If you don’t need any more convincing, I’ll cut to the chase and say, please make your tax-deductible, year-end donation to Mother Jones right now. You can use PayPal if you like.


Okay, if you need more convincing, here it is. Instead of sending dire emails—HELP! We’ll go dark if our readers don’t donate—that don’t appeal to your intelligence, we’re trying something different this December. We hope to earn your support by explaining, in some detail, how reader contributions make the independent, no-holds-barred journalism we do possible. Just like our reporting, we want to lay out the facts and let you take it from there.

If you’ve gotten this far, I know you understand that our democracy needs unrelenting, enterprising, reporting. The problem is that so much of the news today is superficial, trivial, or fleeting. And there’s a reason for that: A large chunk of the media is financed by advertising or well-heeled funders and investors. And these business models do not ensure the type of watchdog journalism you expect from Mother Jones.

The demand for ever-increasing advertising revenue opens up newsrooms to pressure from corporations and leads to journalism dominated by quick hits that echo the conventional narrative of the day and overly sensationalized stories—eh, wardrobe malfunctions. They can generate millions of clicks but explain little. And when a wealthy investor or parent company buys or creates a media company, they can use their clout to influence the journalism that’s produced. Can you say Fox News?


When Mother Jones was founded almost 40 years ago, we took a different path. We made a bet that our readers would pitch in to support smart reporting they couldn’t find anywhere else. And they did. Today, two-thirds of our annual budget comes from readers like you who choose to donate or subscribe to our magazine. Let me be clear about one thing here: No special interest owns Mother Jones—we only answer to our readers.

And it’s because of support from readers that we have the freedom to pursue and write in-depth, investigative stories on the important subjects ignored by others. Sure, this is not always a strategy for attracting every eyeball imaginable and squeezing out every single advertising penny possible—though, don’t get me wrong, we do like it when our stories go viral and we increase our traffic while reaching millions of new readers. But what’s most important for us is providing you with news and information you can’t get elsewhere.

And that type of journalism is especially critical as we head into the 2016 election season. In just the last couple of weeks, reader support has allowed us to do some great reporting on the candidates. This includes stories on:

  • Marco Rubio’s neoconservative national security advisers who are hawkish when it comes to war in the Middle East
  • Ben Carson’s love affair with a “nutjob” conspiracy theorist and his real estate deal with a convicted felon
  • Jeb Bush’s involvement with a company that swindled Nigerians
  • Ted Cruz’s flip-flops on tort reform and the death penalty
  • Donald Trump’s partnership with a controversial oligarch in Azerbaijan and his false claim that he predicted the threat posed by Osama bin Laden

I doubt you’ll hear about any of that during tonight’s debate—and that makes your donation to Mother Jones even more important. I’m not fond of shaking the can for money. But the bottom line is that if readers don’t support us, our team of reporters and editors can’t do our job.

So here’s the deal: If you believe our democracy needs the unrelenting, investigative journalism we produce every day for our website and our magazine, please have our back and make your tax-deductible, year-end gift to Mother Jones right now, and we’ll keep on pursuing the stories no one else pursues.

Thanks for reading,

David Corn HeadshotDavid Corn
David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief
Mother Jones