Josh Marshall at a New America event in 2010
February 15, 1969|
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Joshua Micah Jesajan-Dorja Marshall (born February 15, 1969) is an American journalist and blogger who founded Talking Points Memo, which in 2004 The New York Times Magazine called "one of the most popular and most respected sites" in the blogosphere. A liberal, he currently presides over a network of progressive-oriented sites that operate under the TPM Media banner and average 400,000-page views every weekday and 750,000 unique visitors every month.
Marshall and his work have been profiled by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, National Public Radio, The New York Times Magazine, the Columbia Journalism Review, Bill Moyers Journal, and GQ. Hendrik Hertzberg, a senior editor at The New Yorker, compares Marshall to the influential founders of Time magazine. "Marshall is in the line of the great light-bulb-over-the-head editors. He’s like Briton Hadden or Henry Luce. He’s created something new."
Marshall was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a graduate of the Webb Schools of California and Princeton University and earned a Ph.D. in American history from Brown University. In the mid-1990s, Marshall designed websites for law firms and published an online news site about Internet law, which included interviews with prominent scholars such as Lawrence Lessig.
He began writing freelance articles about Internet free speech for The American Prospect in 1997 and was soon hired as an associate editor. He worked for the Prospect for three years and in 1999 moved to D.C. to become their Washington editor. He often clashed with the top editors at the Prospect, over both ideology and the direction of the website.
Talking Points Memo
Reaching a critical mass
Inspired by political bloggers such as Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan, Marshall started Talking Points Memo during the 2000 Florida election recount. "I really liked what seemed to me to be the freedom of expression of this genre of writing," Marshall told the Columbia Journalism Review. "And, obviously, given the issues that I had with the Prospect, that appealed to me a lot."
He left his job at the Prospect early in 2001 and continued to blog while writing for The Washington Monthly, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Salon.com, and the New York Post. In 2002, Marshall used Talking Points Memo to report on Trent Lott's controversial comments praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential run as a segregationist. According to the Kennedy School of Government, Marshall was instrumental in fueling the ensuing scandal that eventually led to Trent Lott's resignation as Senate Minority Leader.
As a result of the Lott story, traffic to Talking Points Memo spiked from 8,000 to 20,000 page views a day. In the fall of 2003, as people focused on the failure to find WMD's in Iraq, there was a new surge of traffic to the site; "I remember there being peak days of 60,000-page views, which was really incredible." Marshall started selling ads on his site and by the end of 2004 was earning $10,000 a month, making him one of a handful of what The New York Times Magazine dubbed "elite bloggers" who earned enough money to make blogging a full-time occupation.
During the 2008 US election campaign, many independent news sites and political blogs saw a wave of "explosive growth". Talking Points Memo experienced the largest surge in traffic, growing from 32,000 unique visitors in September 2007 to 458,000 unique visitors in September 2008, a 1,321% year-to-year increase in the size of its audience.
Launching TPM Media
In 2005, Marshall launched TPMCafe. This site features a collection of blogs about a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues written by academics, journalists and former public officials among others.
Marshall expanded his operation again in 2006, launching TPMmuckraker. The site focuses on political corruption, and was originally staffed by Paul Kiel and Justin Rood. Rood has since moved on to ABC and its blog The Blotter. Kiel has recently been joined by two new staff reporter-bloggers, Laura McGann and Spencer Ackerman. TPMmuckraker has attempted to organize its readers to plow through and read document dumps by governmental entities engaging in cover-ups.
U.S. Attorney Scandal
|Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy|
In 2007, Marshall was instrumental in exposing another national scandal, the politically motivated dismissal of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration. Marshall won The Polk Award for Legal Reporting for his coverage of the story, which "led the news media" and "connected the dots and found a pattern of federal prosecutors being forced from office for failing to do the Bush Administration's bidding." Columbia Journalism Review also credited Marshall's news organization for being "almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the story of the fired U.S. Attorneys to a boil." The ensuing scandal resulted in the resignations of several high-level government officials; the Polk award in particular honored Marshall for his "tenacious investigative reporting" which "sparked interest by the traditional news media and led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales."
After a weekend writer noticed that the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas was being replaced with a former adviser to Karl Rove, Marshall discovered that U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was also being asked to resign. Carol Lam successfully prosecuted Republican California Representative Duke Cunningham on bribery charges and was in the middle of an ongoing criminal investigation into a congressional scandal of historic proportions. "I was stunned by it," Marshall told the Financial Times. "Normally, in a case like that, the prosecutor would be untouchable."
National newspapers were slow to pick up the story. Time magazine's Washington bureau chief Jay Carney went so far as to accuse Marshall of "seeing broad partisan conspiracies where none likely exist." By the time The New York Times first reported on Lam's firing (on page 17), Marshall and his news sites had already posted 15 articles on the story.
Two months after posting his accusatory article, Carney apologized to Marshall. "Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo and everyone else out there whose instincts told them there was something deeply wrong and even sinister about the firings... deserve tremendous credit." Carney went on to write, "I was wrong. Very nice work, and thanks for holding my feet to the fire."
Marshall's father was a professor of marine biology. His mother died when he was young.
Prizes and Honors
- George Polk Award for Legal Reporting, 2007
- The Week Opinion Awards, Blogger of the Year, 2003 & 2007
- GQ Men of the Year, Muckraker, 2007
- "'N.Y. Times' columnist used blogger's words". USA Today. 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
- Strupp, Joe (February 19, 2008). "Slain Editor Bailey Among George Polk Award Winners". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved February 19, 2008.[permanent dead link]
- Klam, Matthew (September 26, 2004). "Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Glenn, David (September–October 2007). "The (Josh) Marshall Plan". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Cohen, Noam (February 25, 2008). "Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2008.
- Bunch, William (May–June 2007). "Is This Thing On?". Brown Alumni Magazine. Archived from the original on February 27, 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
- McDermott, Terry (March 17, 2007). "Blogs can top the presses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Apple, Sam (July 28, 2007). "Quick off the blog". Financial Times. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Smith, Robert (March 22, 2007). "Talking Points Site Kept Attorneys Story Alive". National Public Radio. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Starr, Alexandra (December 11, 2005). "Open-Source Reporting". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Moyers, Bill (April 27, 2007). "Blogging for Truth". PBS. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Flynn, Sean (December 2007). "Men of the Year 2007". GQ. Archived from the original on February 5, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
- Flynn, Sean (December 2007). "MOTY:Give This Man a Pulitzer". GQ. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
- "Huffington Post and Politico Lead Wave of Explosive Growth at Independent Political Blogs and News Sites this Election Season". comScore. October 22, 2008. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- LaVallee, Andrew (October 23, 2008). "HuffPo Beats Drudge". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Walsh, Mark (October 23, 2008). "Huffington Post, Politico Top Political Sites". MediaPost. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- Bercovici, Jeff (October 22, 2008). "ComScore: Lefty Sites Making Huge Traffic Gains". Condé Nast Portfolio. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- Tatton, Abbi (May 10, 2005). "Political Fundraising Trial Gets Underway; Senate Problems with Judicial Nominees Continue". CNN: Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Gerstein, Josh (March 21, 2007). "New Technique Lets Bloggers Tackle Late-Night News Dumps". The New York Sun. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
- McLeary, Paul (March 15, 2007). "How TalkingPointsMemo Beat the Big Boys on the U.S. Attorney Story". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
- Carney, Jay (January 17, 2007). "Running Massacre?". Time magazine. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
- Carney, Jay (March 13, 2007). "Where Credit Is Due". Time magazine. Retrieved September 9, 2007.
- Arianna Huffington (April 26, 2007). "The TIME 100". Time magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
- Clemons, Steve (March 19, 2005). "Saturday Morning Stuff and a Wedding Afternoon: Josh & Millet Get Married". The Washington Note. Archived from the original on July 6, 2006.
- "Talking Points Memo by Joshua Micah Marshall". Talking Points Memo. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
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