Benjamin McDonald Wikler
|Born||February 3, 1981|
|Education||Harvard, cum laude, 2003|
|Occupation||Host of The Good Fight, with Ben Wikler and Washington Director for MoveOn.org|
|Home town||Madison, Wisconsin|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth McCarthy Wikler, m. November 24, 2007|
Early life and education
Wikler grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where he cofounded The Yellow Press, a student-run newspaper. While a student, he won election to the student senate and launched Students United in Defense of Schools with Peter Koechley to demand increased school funding and succeeded in allowing students to elect a representative to the Madison School Board. He also organized protests against granting Coca-Cola exclusive access to Madison schools. During high school he also worked for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey and on the first congressional campaign of now-Senator Tammy Baldwin.
In 1999, he began attending Harvard University, where he studied economics. While a student, he cofounded the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) and the Harvard AIDS Coalition. He represented the SGAC at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS in New York, the UN World Youth Forum in Senegal, and the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona. He also worked for economist Jeffrey Sachs and interned for Sen. Russ Feingold. He also served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Review of Philosophy and contributed to The Onion.
While at Harvard, he joined TeamFranken, a group of students who assisted Al Franken in writing his #1 bestseller, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Wikler took a term off to help Franken "through every step of the process" of writing the book. "When I was staying with the Frankens [to finish the book], we'd get up around 10 or 11 and then work for fourteen or fifteen hours," he told an interviewer. "We'd stop only for meals and a little break before dinner. It was exhausting, but it was also exhilarating, because he's so funny. We were constantly cracking up."
After college, he became a founding producer for Al Franken's radio show, The Al Franken Show where he assisted with Franken's sequel, The Truth (With Jokes). "It would not have been possible without Ben Wikler," Franken writes. "Ben reminds me of myself when I was his age, except smarter, wiser, more worldly, better read, more passionate, much much taller, and just as funny. Ben was with me every step of the way on this book. I cannot thank him enough."
In 2006, Wikler served as press secretary for Sherrod Brown's U.S. Senate campaign and was the first editor-in-chief of 23/6, a comedy news website created as a coproduction of the Huffington Post and Barry Diller's IAC.
In March 2007, he became Campaign Director for Avaaz, where he helped grow the organization to over ten million members. As Campaign Director, he ran campaigns on climate change, poverty, human rights, and other issues, as well as managed the technology and communication teams. He also hosted the Fossil of the Day Awards at UN climate negotiations from 2007-2009 for the Climate Action Network. In late 2011, Wikler became the Executive Vice President of Change.org.
In January 2012, Wikler and Aaron Swartz launched a radio show and podcast, The Flaming Sword of Justice, on We Act Radio WPWC 1480 AM in Washington DC, in which he interviews other campaigners from the U.S. and around the world. Guests have included Ricken Patel, Zack Exley, and Eli Pariser.
The Good Fight
In November 2013, Wikler relaunched his show as The Good Fight, a podcast and radio program sponsored by MoveOn.org. The show's first episode featured Senator Al Franken and reached the #1 spot on the U.S. iTunes podcast charts. The Good Fight is an hour-long weekly podcast and radio show that, according to its website, "brings you a mix of comedy, activism, and David versus Goliath battles told from the behind-the-slingshot point of view.
The Guardian referred to The Good Fight as "road signs through political issues that seemed permanently blocked" and Wikler referred to it as a "behind-the-slingshot view of David v Goliath battles."
Guests ranged from unknown grassroots activists to U.S. Senators. New episodes were posted every Thursday, and aired on 1480 AM in DC every Tuesday and Friday at 3pm.".
Prominent scholar, activist and Presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig is an outspoken supporter of Wikler and The Good Fight. He made a personal appeal on his blog for his readers to support a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Good Fight.
The podcast is currently on hiatus. In a letter to his supporters dated 21 February 2016, Wikler cites family needs as the reason for ceasing production of the podcast, and offers to return Kickstarter funds to any supporter who requests it.
Wikler became MoveOn.org's Washington director in early 2015.
He led the organization's efforts to encourage Elizabeth Warren to run for President, putting him at odds with friend and prominent progressive Howard Dean who endorsed Hillary Clinton. Dean declined to criticize the effort and Wikler, saying, "I appreciate you trying to pick a fight between Ben and I [sic]. I happen to know Ben, and he’s one of the smartest people under 35 in the entire country."
In late 2015 Wikler led MoveOn's advocacy on behalf of Syrian immigrants, helping to organize and coordinate efforts by a number of nonprofit groups.
- "Elizabeth McCarthy, Benjamin Wikler". The New York Times. November 25, 2007. wedding announcement
- Wikler, Benjamin M. (March 15, 2001). "Fighting AIDS in Africa". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- "Ben Wikler | Washington Director, MoveOn.org". MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action. Archived from the original on 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- Erickson, Doug (August 28, 2003). "West Grad Works with Comic Franken. Ben Wikler, a Senior at Harvard, is a Research Assistant for Al Franken's Latest Book, a No. 1 Bestseller on Amazon". The Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, WI. Retrieved 2013-11-25. (subscription required)
- "Delay Seen in Electing Student to School Board". The Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, WI. June 1, 1998. Retrieved November 25, 2013. (subscription required)
- "Schools Falling Apart and Need Money, Students Tell Legislators". The Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, WI. April 16, 1999. Retrieved November 25, 2013. (subscription required)
- "Students Attack Budget Caps". The Capital Times. Madison, WI. April 8, 1999. Retrieved 2013-11-25. (subscription required)
- "Students Make Anti-Cap Case". The Capital Times. April 20, 1999. Retrieved 2013-11-25. (subscription required)
- Burch, Chris (May 26, 1998). "High School Student Representative to be Elected to Madison School Board". Madison, WI: Madison Metropolitan School District. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Burch, Chris (October 22, 1998). "Ploeser Wins Student Seat on Board of Education". Madison, WI: Madison Metropolitan School District. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- Wikler, Benjamin; Rebecca Dilley (August 1997). "A Sweet Deal?Coca-Cola And The Madison School District". The Yellow Press. 2 (1). Archived from the original on 2014-11-25. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "AlFrankenWeb.com Interview: Ben Wikler". November 13, 2003. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008.
- Ben Wikler LinkedIn page
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-wikler-and-phil-de-vellis[dead link]
- "Ben Wikler". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2013. biography
- Lies, p. 370
- The Truth, p. 335f
- Siklos, Richard (October 31, 2006). "Diller's Web: Think Cable Of the Past". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "Shock Fossil to Austria, Nordic countries on first day of Copenhagen!". December 7, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "The Flaming Sword of Justice with Ben Wikler". Retrieved 2013-11-25.
- "The Flaming Sword of Justice". We Act Radio. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- "Ben Wikler is no longer 33 (and The Good Fight still hasn't met its Kickstarter goal)". LESSIG Blog, v2. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
- "Madison native at the helm of mega-successful podcast". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved December 28, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "MoveOn Takes the Lead in Nonprofits Advocacy for Refugee Crisis Funding". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved December 28, 2015.