|Born||November 2, 1975|
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Northwestern University (BA)|
David J. Sirota (born November 2, 1975) is an American journalist, columnist at The Guardian, editor for Jacobin, author, television writer, and screenwriter. He is also a political commentator and radio host based in Denver. He is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, political spokesperson, and blogger. In March 2019, he began working as the senior advisor and speechwriter on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. In 2022, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for conceiving the story for Netflix's Don't Look Up alongside co-writer and director Adam McKay. He is founder of The Lever news outlet.
Early life and education
Sirota was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but grew up in the Montgomery County suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After being educated at the William Penn Charter School, he went to Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor's degree with honors in journalism and political science. He has lived in various cities around the country including Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Helena, and Denver.
Sirota's career in political campaigns began when he was a research director for Illinois State Senator Howard W. Carroll's unsuccessful run for U.S. Representative in Illinois's 9th congressional district in the 1998 election; Carroll lost in the Democratic primary to Illinois State Representative Jan Schakowsky. In 1999, Sirota served as Dwight Evans's deputy mayoral campaign manager in Philadelphia, but was let go for "overzealous behavior" related to the creation of a fake website with damaging racial comments attributed to their opponent John White, Jr. Evans said he believed that Sirota had not created the bogus page, but had discussed it with the person who created it who was his friend and former college roommate. Sirota then became a fundraiser for Joe Hoeffel in his first successful campaign for the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district. Later he moved to Washington, D.C. and worked in the political department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). His next job was as press aide and spokesperson for Bernie Sanders while he was serving as the at-large U.S. Representative from Vermont.
Sirota worked as spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. While a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy group, he created its Progress Report.
In 2003 Newsweek profiled Sirota as a "political operative" skilled at "hacking out a daily barrage of anti-Bush media clips, commentary, and snappy quotes" who made "guerrilla attacks on the Bush administration", and who was "well schooled in the art of Washington warfare." According to the article, Sirota's main weapons were computer emails. Sirota was described as the "Internet child of the Clinton War Room generation." Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta said of Sirota: "I just saw he had an eye for critique and the instinct for the jugular." For example, Sirota unearthed a two-year-old comment that Colin Powell had made to the effect that "Iraq posed no threat to its neighbors, and possessed no 'significant capability' in weapons of mass destruction." Sirota made Powell's statements more widely known. Reporters pounced, and it became a public relations blow to the Bush administration. Sirota was credited with having revealed that $87 billion for Iraq could have been used to erase huge state deficits at home, a fact that was repeated by Democrats nationwide.
He served as a senior strategist for Brian Schweitzer's unsuccessful 2000 Senate campaign and successful 2004 gubernatorial campaign. In September 2006, Sirota worked as a political consultant for Ned Lamont's U.S. Senate campaign. Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the primary, but Lieberman ran as an independent and defeated Lamont in the November election. In 2008, Sirota was co-chair of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (now renamed the Progressive States Network). He was a senior fellow at the Campaign for America's Future.
On March 19, 2019, the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign announced it had hired Sirota to work as a senior advisor and speechwriter. Sirota was accused of launching attacks against Sanders's Democratic opponents on Twitter and through articles for The Guardian on behalf of the campaign as early as December. However, according to Sirota and The Guardian, the Sanders campaign did not engage in conversations related to his hiring until January. The Guardian spokeswoman Deepal Patadia said after they were informed about the conversations Sirota quit filing columns for The Guardian.
Sirota continued to contribute to Capital & Main and interviewed Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat who launched a 2020 presidential campaign. They talked about how Inslee planned to address the issue of climate change through his campaign.
On Twitter, Capital & Main stated on March 20, 2019,
Capital & Main @capitalandmain
The Atlantic wrote that David Sirota advised Bernie Sanders before leaving Capital & Main. Without commenting on the report's accuracy, Capital & Main didn't know Sirota was advising Sanders. When we were told of his interest in working for Sanders, he stopped writing for us.
March 20, 2019
In May 2005, Sirota became a contributor to The Huffington Post while writing his own blog. He was a regular guest on The Al Franken Show and makes guest appearances on The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NOW, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNBC, and NPR. He is a senior editor at In These Times, a regular columnist for The Nation and the Intermountain Jewish News, and a past contributor to The American Prospect. He has been published in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sirota was a contributor to OpenLeft, a now-defunct progressive political blog. In June 2007, he replaced the late progressive columnist Molly Ivins with a column to be syndicated nationally by Creators Syndicate. Sirota became a contributing writer for Salon in May 2011.
From 2009 to 2012, Sirota was the morning host at the Denver progressive talk station KKZN. Sirota was initially filling in for Jay Marvin on his eponymous program; but Marvin was ultimately unable to return, and Sirota became the permanent host in 2010. Sirota also guest hosted for Thom Hartmann and Norman Goldman. On July 16, 2012, Sirota moved to sister station KHOW to co-host an afternoon drive program with former George W. Bush administration FEMA director Michael D. Brown, The Rundown with Sirota and Brown. In January 2013, after nearly four years in radio, Sirota parted ways with KHOW/Clear Channel. Insiders speculate the reason for the abrupt departure was friction between the two co-hosts; it left Brown with his own show.
In March 2017, Sirota joined The Young Turks online broadcast network as a contributor, providing periodic investigative reports. In early 2018, after four years of reporting for the International Business Times as senior editor of investigations, Sirota left that publication.
In May 2006, Random House's Crown Publishers released Sirota's book Hostile Takeover. The first chapter of the book was published in The New York Times in July 2006. Sirota read sections of his book in public. In the book, Sirota argued that corporate interests are driving U.S. economic policy. The book became a The New York Times bestseller on July 9, 2006, entering at #23 on the nonfiction list. The paperback edition came out a year later.
Sirota's Hostile Takeover (2006) was reviewed by The New York Times critic Tobin Harshaw who described Sirota as a "Montana-based blogger with a take-no-prisoners mind-set" with "an admirably organized mind". Harshaw applauded some Sirota suggestions as "admirably specific, occasionally realistic and arguably on the side of the angels" and capable of bipartisan support, such as his recommendations for "regulating malpractice insurance for doctors... restoring state control over class-action laws... (and) forcing chief executives to certify corporate tax returns so they face liability for fraud." He felt Sirota was critical of "mainstream Democratic centrists". Harshaw criticized the writing style as "cliched" and "oppressive" and too lengthy and needing an editor, but admitted Sirota presented a "creditable analysis."
Sirota responded to Harshaw's review in a letter to the editor. Sirota denied his book was critical of mainstream Democrats, but aimed squarely at "exposing Republican hypocrisy." He described his position as a "centrist exploration of the corruption of the entire system" that "isn't the fault of just one party or another."
There was controversy in Washington, D.C., in 2007 about whether Sirota was a "journalist" or an "activist". While the Washington press corps tends to see him as an "activist", at one point he was criticized for skirting the rules about access to Congress, which would on some occasions deny activists access, by getting a "temporary intern's ID"; this gave him access to the Senate chamber, but he was criticized in The Washington Post afterward. He was described as having "pulled an end-run around the press galleries." Sirota denied he got "special access" and that such a claim was "just bizarre". He added: "I think a lot of reporters on the Hill want to monopolize access to our government as a way to preserve their monopoly on news I guess." Some analysts observed that conservative journalists were activists as well; one noted "(Weekly Standard columnist) Fred Barnes has credentials, he espouses political views."
Sirota's book The Uprising was released in June 2008. It was ranked 20th on The New York Times bestseller list on June 15, 2008. The book was also listed on The New York Times Political Bestseller list for the month of July 2008. Sirota made speeches about his book at venues such as Hofstra University.
A mostly positive review of The Uprising from Publishers Weekly described the book as chronicling "how ordinary citizens on the right and the left are marshaling their frustrations with the government into uprisings across the country." The reviewer cited "entertaining case studies" with a "conversational" tone and a fast-paced narrative with "numerous high notes." Sirota gave a "fine elucidation of continuing Democratic support for the Iraq War" and examined the "echo chamber qualities of beltway television shows like Hardball." The book presents "a rousing account of the local uprisings already in effect."
A Newark Star-Ledger political critic reviewing the book described Sirota as an "enterprising" reporter who used "resourceful" tactics to get entry into such venues as Capitol Hill, the Microsoft campus, an ExxonMobil stockholders meeting, and the Mexican border. In the book, Sirota attacks CNN star Lou Dobbs less for his "endless broadcasts on illegal immigration" but more for the way he "browbeats his staff and runs roughshod over the CNN management." The critic felt the book's "search for a national uprising is somewhat out of focus" but was a "lively read."
Sirota is a critic of neoliberal economic policies, and has leveled criticism at the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations. Sirota supported John Edwards in the 2008 Democratic party primaries. He has criticized the Democratic Leadership Council and other Democrats, who he claims have "sold out" to corporate interests, and has argued that the term "centrist" is a misnomer in that these politicians are out of touch with public opinion. Sirota's article "The Democrats' Da Vinci Code" argues that leftist politicians are more successful in so-called "red states" than the mainstream media have previously reported. He is an opponent of free trade policies, a supporter of fair trade, and an advocate of workers' rights and organized labor. His May 2007 speech at the Montana AFL–CIO Convention in Butte articulated many of his views. Sirota supported Sherrod Brown over Paul Hackett for the 2006 Senate election in Ohio and criticized Hackett's claims that he was "forced out" of the race by party elders as disingenuous. In 2008, Sirota stated on radio program Democracy Now! that he had cast an early vote for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Sirota has been a strong supporter of the economic stimulus efforts of the Obama administration. However, he has criticized such efforts as insufficient and has strongly supported further stimulus efforts.
Sirota was criticized by Fox News hosts and commentators Mark Steyn, Bill O'Reilly, Greg Gutfeld, and Robert Spencer in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing for an article he wrote for Salon entitled "Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American."
Some other journalists and political analysts have criticized Sirota. In his article comparing two approaches to progressive politics, statistician Nate Silver disparaged Sirota's approach as "playing fast and loose with the truth and using some of the same demagogic precepts that the right wing does." Regarding Sirota's political analysis and projections, including his predictions during the 2008 presidential election, Al Giordano derided him as "an inverted compass: when Sirota says 'heads,' you can make a lot of money betting on 'tails.'"
In 2016, right-wing commentators at the conservative National Review and libertarian Reason upbraided Sirota for his 2013 Salon article entitled "Hugo Chavez's economic miracle". Sirota wrote in 2013 that Chavez was "no saint", but also that his socialist and redistributionist policies had led to Venezuela's GDP more than doubling and reduced poverty to the third-lowest level in South America. His detractors[who?] charge that Sirota overlooked that Venezuela's economic gains were based almost entirely on petroleum exports, and with the worldwide drop in oil prices Venezuela's economy has been in shambles, with shortages and rationing of food, electricity, and toilet paper.
In 2018, Sirota argued immediate action must be taken against the influence and power of oil and gas corporations to fight climate change, and Democrats must choose a side. "Will our political class behold the fossil fuel industry's sociopathy and realize that we face an existential choice between profits and ecological survival?" asked Sirota.
In January 2018, Sirota's wife, Emily, announced candidacy for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives, promising a "bold, progressive agenda." In June, she won the Democratic primary in District 9, based in southeastern Denver. In November, she won the general election, with 72 percent of the vote to Republican Bob Lane's 28.
Depiction in fiction
Sirota was a schoolmate of television producer and writer Adam F. Goldberg. Sirota is a recurring minor character in the ABC television comedy The Goldbergs, which is based on Goldberg's childhood, portrayed by Sam Kindseth. The episode "Van People" was dedicated to Sirota and uses archive footage of Sirota during his time at William Penn Charter School. The episode also briefly featured his appearance on The Colbert Report.
- Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government and How We Take It Back, 2006
- The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, 2008
- Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now—Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything, 2011
|2013||The '80s: The Decade That Made Us||Yes||Yes||Miniseries|
|2018||The '90s Greatest||Yes||Yes|
|2021||Don't Look Up||Story||No||Film writing debut |
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
- Dovere, Edward-Isaac (2019-03-19). "Bernie Sanders Just Hired His Twitter Attack Dog". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
- McLean, Caitlin (2022-05-14). "Sirota: Biden administration's reported $10B deal with Amazon 'shrouded in secrecy'". The Hill. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
- Richard Wolffe (October 27, 2003). "A Man With A Mission – He's Young, Fierce And Determined To Stop George W. Bush In 2004. Meet David Sirota, The Democrats' E-Mail Commando". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- David Sirota (February 2, 2009). "Denver Is Officially Awesome". Open Left. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- Roll Call, 2/12/98
- "The Pennsylvania Gazette: Making Their Voices Heard". www.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
- National Journal's "The Hotline," 11/23/99
- "Rep. Evans shakes up staff over Web-site 'dirty trick'". Retrieved February 25, 2020.
- Mary Ann Akers (February 12, 2007). "Sirota: Journalist or Activist?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Philip Shenon (April 28, 2002). "White House Seeks Savings By Changing Student Loans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Matthew L. Wald (April 23, 2002). "A Nation Challenged: Nuclear Security; White House Cut 93% of Funds Sought to Guard Atomic Arms". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- David Sirota (June 4, 2008). "Book World: 'The Uprising'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Richard W. Stevenson (September 21, 2003). "A Change of Tone: Pitfalls Emerge in Iraq". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Rachel L. Swarns (March 26, 2004). "Ex-Aide's Book Corners Market in Capital Buzz". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Boston Globe, 12/12/03
- David Sirota (May 21, 2007). "Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying – Editor's Note: Author and political organizer David Sirota spoke on May 18th, 2007 at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte, Montana. Here's the transcript, reprinted in full on The Nation's website". The Nation. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Kirk Johnson (November 5, 2008). "Fertile Ground With New Voters in Growing West". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Mark Sundeen (October 8, 2006). "The Big-Sky Dem". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Kate Zernike (February 8, 2007). "Allied With Democrats, Lieberman Easily Aligns With Republicans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Fang, Marina (March 19, 2019). "Bernie Sanders Hires 2 Journalists For Presidential Campaign". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- Dovere, Edward-Isaac (March 19, 2019). "Bernie Sanders Just Hired His Twitter Attack Dog". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
- Greenwald, Glenn (March 23, 2019). "The Crux of the Accusations Against David Sirota From the Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere is False". The Intercept. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- Sirota, David (February 6, 2019). "Can Jay Inslee Make Climate Change a Top Issue in the Presidential Race?". Capital & Main. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- Capital & Main [@capitalandmain] (March 20, 2019). "The Atlantic wrote that David Sirota advised Bernie Sanders before leaving Capital & Main. Without commenting on the report's accuracy, Capital & Main didn't know Sirota was advising Sanders. When we were told of his interest in working for Sanders, he stopped writing for us" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Howard Kurtz (December 5, 2008). "Trading The Talk for The Walk? – Host's Political Hopes Put MSNBC on the Spot". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Literary Calendar: May 8–14, 2006". The Washington Post. May 7, 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- David Sirota (2006-06-11). "Find Your True Center (Don't Compromise)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Podesta, John; Sirota, David (September 6, 2004). "Late, Great Middle Class". Los Angeles Times.
- Baltimore Sun, 3/30/07
- Sirota, David (2009-02-08). "PUBLIC FINANCING / Energy taxes' Faustian bargain". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- David Sirota, Creators Syndicate (February 6, 2009). "Despite Obama's promises, rival views are scrubbed from White House". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Lauerman, Kelly (2011-05-12). "Even more David Sirota – in Salon". Salon.com. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
- Roberts, Michael (8 January 2013). "Michael Brown, Clear Channel respond to David Sirota's KHOW ouster". Westword. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- Grinapol, Corinne. "The Young Turks Adds Jonathan Larsen, Dylan Ratigan and David Sirota". Adweek. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- The Young Turks (23 March 2017). "TYT Hires Third Investigative Journalism Team" – via YouTube.
- "Articles by David Sirota". International Business Times. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- Roush, Chris (6 February 2018). "Sirota resigns from International Biz Times - Talking Biz News". talkingbiznews.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- "David Sirota Joins the Jacobin Team". jacobinmag.com. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
- David Sirota: Here's why I'm so hard on establishment Democrats, retrieved 2020-05-15
- Sirota, David (May 22, 2007). Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—And How We Take It Back. Three Rivers Press. pp. 384 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-23735-4. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
- David Sirota (July 23, 2006). "First Chapter – 'Hostile Takeover'". The New York Times – First Chapters. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Tobin Harshaw (July 23, 2006). "Books by David Sirota and George Lakoff – Manic Progressives". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- David Sirota (September 23, 2009). "Letters to the Editor: Fighting Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Mary Ann Akers (February 13, 2007). "Sirota: Journalist or Activist, Part II". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Tom Mackin (2009-09-13). "Seeking the malcontents". Newark Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Will Work For Food...Or At Least Beer". Sirotablog. November 21, 2006. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010.
- Sirota, David (2008-04-28). The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. United States: Crown. pp. 400 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39563-4.
- "Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
- "Hardcover Nonfiction – list of bestsellers". The New York Times. June 22, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Buddo, Orville (2008-07-04). "July's Poli-Book Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
- "Upcoming Events – Past Events – November 12, 2008". Hofstra University. October 15, 2008. Archived from the original on September 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Staff writer (2008-04-28). "Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 4/28/2008". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Anne E. Kornblut (April 30, 2006). "From Senator Clinton, a Lesson in Tactical Bipartisanship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- David Sirota (November 8, 2007). "Clinton Announces Support for NAFTA Expansion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- David J. Sirota (December 8, 2004). "The Democrats' Da Vinci Code". The American Prospect. Archived from the original on April 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- David Sirota (February 14, 2006). "My Take on Ohio". Sirotablog. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- David Sirota and Glen Ford (October 21, 2008). "Barack Obama Accepts Endorsement of Colin Powell Despite the Ex-General's Role in Making the Case for Iraq War". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- David Sirota: What a Second Stimulus Should – and Shouldn't – Look Like. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2011-06-25.
- Steyn, Mark. "The 'Co-exist' Bombers". National Review Online. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- Spencer, Robert (2014-06-15). "The "Terrorist" Double Standard". Aleteia. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
- "Gutfeld Rips Media Reaction To Boston Bombings". Fox News.
- Nate Silver (2009-02-15). "The Two Progressivisms". FiveThirtyEight -- Politics Done Right. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- Al Giordano (January 27, 2009). "The Partisanship Trap". The Field. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- David Sirota (March 6, 2013). "Hugo Chavez's economic miracle". Salon. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- Kevin D Williamson (May 17, 2016). "Bill Clinton and 'revitalizing' the U.S. economy". National Review. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- Anthony L Fisher (May 16, 2016). "Venezuela Spends Millions on Incredibly Dumb Things While Its Economy Collapses". Reason. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
- David Sirota (November 15, 2018). "Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- Kenney, Andrew (25 January 2018). "Emily Sirota to run against state Rep. Paul Rosenthal in southeast Denver - Denverite". Denverite. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- Brasch, Sam (June 28, 2018). "Progressive Candidates Emerge Victorious In Denver's State Legislative Primaries". Colorado Public Radio. Denver, CO.
- "General Election, City and County of Denver". Denver Election Results. Denver, CO: City and County of Denver. November 6, 2018.
- "David Sirota Is a Character on a Sitcom!". 17 February 2015.
- "Don't Look Up". Writers Guild of America West. May 5, 2021. Archived from the original on August 2, 2021. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
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