Marcy Wheeler

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Marcy Wheeler at a fundraising event for the YearlyKos convention

Marcy Wheeler (a.k.a. "emptywheel") is an American independent journalist specializing in national security and civil liberties. Wheeler publishes on her own site, Emptywheel,[1] established in July 2011, and was a senior policy analyst at First Look Media's The Intercept[2] until her amicable resignation 16 May 2014. She makes occasional contributions to the commentary and analysis section of The Guardian,[3] progressive news site Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Michigan Liberal. Between early December 2007 and July 2011 Wheeler published primarily on Jane Hamsher's FireDogLake (FDL) and prior to that on The Next Hurrah.[4]

During United States v. Libby, the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, along with other regular press-accredited contributors to FireDogLake, Wheeler reported on the testimony live from the courtroom.[5] In her accounts of the Libby trial, she describes her entries as "not a transcript". Nevertheless, such bloggers' eye-witness accounts served as sources of reliable information about the trial for their readers. During the trial, she appeared on camera in video reports posted online on, along with other accredited Libby trial blogger-correspondents such as TalkLeft creator Jeralyn Merritt and FDL creator Jane Hamsher and FDL principal blogger Christy Hardin Smith.[5][6]

In October 2013, Newsweek published an article about Wheeler titled "The Woman Who Knows The NSA's Secrets."[7]

Personal background[edit]

Marcy Wheeler lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is married to an engineer.[8] She campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2004, and is a former vice chairwoman of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.[9]


Wheeler graduated with a BA from Amherst College in 1990. She moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan from her native New York for graduate school in 1995.[9] In 2000, she earned a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, writing her dissertation on the feuilleton, a literary-journalistic essay form that is often self-published.[10][11] In her online "Prologue" to Anatomy of Deceit, she observes that the feuilleton essay is an important medium for expressing opinions which might ordinarily be censored due to government displeasure, citing recent examples such as former Czechoslovakian dissident and former Czech President Václav Havel:

. . . a literary-journalistic form called the feuilleton [is] a kind of conversational essay that appears in a newspaper in its own section. Feuilletons first appeared in response to Napoleonic censorship, and in the two hundred years since, they have often become important at moments when political polarization or government censorship has degraded traditional news reporting into nothing more than the parroting of ideological talking points. At such times, the feuilleton has served as a place where writers, using ordinary language, could tell of important events in a more meaningful way.

In Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1970s, a group of citizens started writing feuilletons [samizdat], telling an unofficial version of events. They shared them among friends, copying them over and passing them on in a form of self-publishing. These citizens would go on to lead a revolution, the peaceful Velvet Revolution. One of these citizens Václav Havel would even become president.[11]

Anatomy of Deceit[edit]

Wheeler's reputation as a blogger stems from her analysis of the alleged outing of the covert CIA identity of Valerie E. Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, and the Bush administration's justification for 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Iraq War. Several of her posts led to follow-up stories in the mainstream media. As their first book publication by FDL Books (Vaster Books), "in order to have Marcy [Wheeler]’s work seen by a larger audience," FireDogLake and Daily Kos jointly published her book on the CIA leak scandal, entitled Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy, on January 28, 2007. The book is cited in articles about the scandal and has been praised by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, the husband of Valerie E. Wilson (Valerie Plame).[12] The book has a website devoted to it, with an associated blog, in which Wheeler has posted her "Prologue".[11]

The firing of the U.S. attorneys[edit]

Many of Wheeler's 2007 blog entries at The Next Hurrah focused on the Congressional hearings into the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys subsequent to the November 2006 U.S. midterm election.[13]

Related media articles and interviews[edit]


  • Wheeler, Marcy. Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy. Berkeley: Vaster Books [Dist. by Publishers Group West], 2007. ISBN 0-9791761-0-7 (10). ISBN 978-0-9791761-0-4 (13).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ TheIntercept/Staff
  3. ^ "Comment Is Free". The Guardian. Accessed October 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Marcy Wheeler ("emptywheel"), The Next Hurrah Contributor Index: Marcy Wheeler,The Next Hurrah, December 3, 2007, accessed November 18, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Archive for the 'Blogs - Blogger Profiles' Category", (video clips of Marcy Wheeler, et al.), accessed April 30, 2007. is affiliated with PoliticsTV's Consulting Division; for further information, see "About", accessed April 28, 2007.
  6. ^ Biography of Christy Hardin Smith (FDL), accessed April 29, 2007.
  7. ^ LEvy, Pema. "The Woman Who Knows the NSA’s Secrets". The Nation. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  8. ^ The woman who knows the NSA's secrets (Newsweek)
  9. ^ a b "Blogger to Provide Libby Trial Play-by-play: Local Consultant Expert on the Scandal", Ann Arbor News, January 22, 2007 (Archived; fee or subscription required), qtd. by "skippy", "free wheelin'", Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (blog), January 22, 2007, accessed May 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Margaret Wheeler, Street Level: Intersections of Modernity in the Czech, Argentine, and French Feuilleton, Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2000.
  11. ^ a b c Marcy Wheeler, "Anatomy of Deceit: The Prologue", accessed April 28, 2007.
  12. ^ Qtd. in "CIA Leak Investigation Book by Marcy Wheeler", announcement about this first book being published by FDL Books (Vaster Books), online posting, FireDogLake, accessed April 29, 2007.
  13. ^ For example, Marcy Wheeler, "The Documents Not Turned Over", The Next Hurrah, April 27, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  14. ^ Dan Froomkin, "A Lurid Look Behind the Curtain", White House Watch (column and blog), The Washington Post, online posting,, January 24, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  15. ^ Scott Shane, "For Bloggers, Libby Trial Is Fun and Fodder", The New York Times, February 15, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  16. ^ Politics: Libby Trial Reveals Workings of White House, Media, Talk of the Nation, February 5, 2007, accessed December 8, 2008.
  17. ^ Brian Beutler, "Chief Libby Trial Blogger Says She Believes Prosecutor 'wants Cheney,' 'won't rest on laurels'", The Raw Story (blog), February 20, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  18. ^ Sean Paul Kelley, "Radio Agonist: Episode Three", interview with Marcy Wheeler, online posting, The Agonist (blog), February 27, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  19. ^ Amy Goodman, "Ex-Cheney Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby Convicted of Perjury, Obstruction in CIA Leak Trial", interview of Marcy Wheeler and Murray Waas, Democracy Now!, March 7, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  20. ^ Raven, "YearlyKos Convention Fundraiser: New York" (event announcement), Daily Kos, February 20, 2007, accessed April 28, 2007.
  21. ^ Sidney Hillman Foundation, [2] 2009 Journalism Award

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]