July 7, 1951 |
Point Reyes Station, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Reed College (Oregon)|
|Occupation||Activist, writer, political candidate|
|Known for||Founder and President, Institute for Public Accuracy|
Norman Solomon (born July 7, 1951) is an American journalist, media critic, antiwar activist, and was a candidate in 2012 for the United States House of Representatives. Solomon is a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and served as its executive director until 2010. Solomon's weekly column, "Media Beat", was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009. More recently Solomon focused on his 2012 congressional campaign in California's 2nd congressional district.
Early life and activism
Solomon came under FBI scrutiny after he picketed for the desegregation of a Maryland apartment complex at age 14. He drew further FBI surveillance for his efforts on behalf of the Montgomery County Student Alliance activist group both while a student and after dropping out of high school. He became aware of their surveillance later, through a Freedom of Information request. According to Solomon's autobiography, a book he titled Made Love, Got War, he chose to drop out of high school during the summer after he completed his Junior year of high school.
After high school, Solomon briefly attended Reed College in Oregon taking some writing courses but left before graduating. In college, he began a lifelong commitment to peaceful protests against nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Solomon engaged in civil disobedience as part of the anti-nuclear movement, and eventually spent 40 days in jail as a result. He made eight trips to Moscow during the 1980s, including one during which he and a leader of a veterans' group organized a sit-in at the U.S. Embassy, demanding that the U.S. join the Soviet Union in a halt to tests of nuclear bombs.
Writer and media critic
As a freelance reporter, Solomon worked for a number of years for Pacific News Service. In 1988, Solomon worked briefly as a spokesperson for the Alliance of Atomic Veterans in Washington, D.C.. He was hired in August 1988 to run the new Washington, D.C., office of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
In 1997, Solomon published The Trouble With Dilbert, in which he said that the popular comic strip Dilbert is a capitalist tool that promotes the evils of corporate America. Dilbert author Scott Adams responded in his 1999 book The Joy of Work, which included an imaginary interview between Norman and Adams' canine character Dogbert.
A book of Solomon's collected columns, The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media, won the 1999 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. Jonathan Kozol's introduction to the book noted "the tradition of Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and I. F. Stone does not get much attention these days in the mainstream press ... but that tradition is alive and well in this collection of courageously irreverent columns on the media by Norman Solomon...."
In 2000, Solomon teamed up with fellow investigative reporter Robert Parry to write a series of investigative reports on George W. Bush's Secretary of State Colin Powell, published on consortiumnews.com.
His book Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You (co-authored with Reese Erlich) was published in 2003 and translated into German, Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Korean. War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death appeared in 2005. The Los Angeles Times called the book "a must-read for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come." A documentary based on the book was released in 2007.
Solomon is the founder and former executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, an organization founded in 1997 "as a national consortium of independent public-policy researchers, analysts and activists." According to its web site, the mission of IPA is to increase "the reach and capacity of progressive and grassroots organizations (at no cost to them) to address public policy by getting them and their ideas into the mainstream media".
2012 congressional campaign
On April 13, 2011, Solomon officially announced his candidacy for what the open House seat in the newly created 2nd congressional district of California. Representative Lynn Woolsey—the incumbent from the former 6th congressional district, which was geographically expanded into the new 2nd district via redistricting—announced her retirement later in June, setting up a competitive Democratic primary in one of the more liberal districts in the country.
Observers expected Solomon to position himself to the left of his competitors and as the "philosophical heir" to Rep. Woolsey, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In announcing his campaign Solomon himself argued, "After so many years of progressive leadership from Lynn Woolsey, her successor in the House should have a proven commitment to a wide range of progressive values." Solomon emphasized his strong environmentalist background and particularly his opposition to nuclear power, which he used to differentiate himself from his primary opponent Assemblyman Jared Huffman.
As of late June 2011, Solomon had raised over $100,000 for his campaign. His overall fundraising strategy was patterned after those of Howard Dean and Barack Obama, as he sought to finance his campaign via small but continuous contributions from a large donor pool.
Solomon failed to reach the general election, running third, with 14.9% of ballots cast, in the California state elections, June 2012 behind Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman (37.5%) and Republican Daniel Roberts (15.0%). In California's newly implemented nonpartisan blanket primary, the top two vote recipients, regardless of party, proceed to compete in the general election.
- Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State (October 2007)
- War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (July 2005)
- Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You (co-authored with Reese Erlich) (2003) Download at Coldtype as a free PDF download (691kb)
- The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media (1999)
- Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News (co-authored with Jeff Cohen) (1997)
- The Trouble With Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh (1997) This Book is Online at the Wayback Machine (archived February 18, 2004)
- Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News (with Jeff Cohen) (1995)
- False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era (1994)
- Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits (with Jeff Cohen) (1993)
- The Power of Babble: The Politician's Dictionary of Buzzwords and Doubletalk for Every Occasion (1992)
- Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media (co-authored with Martin A. Lee) (1990)
- Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America's Experience With Atomic Radiation (co-authored with Harvey Wasserman (1982) This Book is Online
- War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2007). Based on book by same title; from the Media Education Foundation.
- Past Media Beat columns on Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) site.
- Archive of Norman Solomon's columns at AlterNet
- Coldtype has Solomon's Media Beat columns from 2003-today online as PDFs, plus columns from August to December 2002 collected in PDF form as The Media Marches to War.
- Norman Solomon's Facebook page
- UPI: FBI informants patrolled high school halls in the late 1960s
- Wood, Jim (June 2011). "Norman Solomon". Marin Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "Norman Solomon biography". Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- "Behind Colin Powell's Legend". Consortium News. December 2000. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- Baker, Russ (2005-06-29). "Harsh insight into how we make war". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- "Institute for Public Accuracy--About Us". Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- Catanese, David (2011-04-13). "Another Dem files, and waits for Woolsey". Politico. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- "Norman Solomon Launches Run for Congress in the North Bay". Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- Hay, Jeremy (2011-08-15). "New political maps force North Coast politicians to adjust plans". The Press Democrat. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Ioffee, Karina (2011-06-28). "Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey Announces Retirement". Petaluma Patch. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- Kovner, Guy (2011-06-21). "Solomon surpasses $100,000 in donations". watchsonomacounty.com. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- Spotswood, Dick (2011-05-01). "Do progressives have enough voters to send Solomon to Congress?". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- Sullivan, Colin (2011-07-14). "Race for open Calif. seat heats up early over nuclear power". Environment & Energy Daily. Retrieved 2011-07-24.