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Marc Cooper is an American journalist, author, journalism professor and blogger. He is a contributing editor to The Nation. He wrote the popular "Dissonance" column for LA Weekly from 2001 until November 2008. His writing has also appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, the Christian Science Monitor, Playboy and Rolling Stone. His translated work has been published in various European and Latin American publications including the French daily Liberation and the Mexico City-based dailies La Jornada and Uno Mas Uno. He has also been a television producer for PBS, CBS News, and the Christian Science Monitor. His radio reports have aired on NBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC. During the 2008 presidential campaign he worked as editorial coordinator of the Huffington Post's citizen-journalism project OffTheBus as well as a Senior Editor of the overall site.
Cooper was born in and grew up in Los Angeles. His career in journalism began in 1966 when he founded and edited an underground newspaper at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, California. In 1971, he was expelled from the California State University system for his antiwar activism by order of Governor Ronald Reagan.
From 1971 to 1973, Cooper served as the Spanish-English translator for Chilean Socialist president Salvador Allende. Following the military coup of 1973, he fled the country, fearing execution as a participant in the Allende government; some of his American friends were executed by the military, including journalist Charles Horman. In 2002 he testified before a Chilean magistrate in the investigation of Horman's death.
From 1980 to 1983, Cooper was the news and public affairs director of Pacifica station KPFK-FM, Los Angeles. He later served as the principal host of the one-hour weekly program, "Radio Nation", a production of The Nation Institute which featured the writers and editors of The Nation magazine. Cooper anchored the program from its inception in 1995 until he relinquished the post in 2006. He also hosted a daily talk show on KPFK between 1998 and 2001, which he quit amid disagreements with the dissident group which gained control of the station's parent Pacifica Foundation. Between 1995 and 2005 he served as host and executive producer of Radio Nation, the weekly syndicated radio show affiliated with The Nation magazine. At its peak, Radio Nation was heard on more than 100 public and community radio stations.
In the spring 2006, Cooper was appointed a full-time member of the journalism faculty at the USC Annenberg School for Communication for the academic year 2006–2007. He had taught the previous five years as an adjunct. He was also promoted to the post of Associate Director at Annenberg's Institute for Justice and Journalism. In late 2008, Cooper was also named Director of Annenberg Digital News and its online publication Neon Tommy.
In 2010 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Professional Practice.
He also coordinates the USC Annenberg News21 fellowship which is part of a national Carnegie-Knight initiative for developing innovative journalism. His journalism prizes include awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Armstrong Memorial Foundation, the Sidney Hillman Foundation, the California Associated Press TV and Radio Association, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Best in the West, Project Censored, PEN American Center, and the Greater Los Angeles Press Club.
He began his own daily blog in 2004. Since May 2005 he's also been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. During the 2008 campaign he served as a Senior Editor of the site and also worked as editorial director of its OffTheBus citizen journalism reporting project. The same year he joined the advisory board of Pajamas Media, a weblog-related company. As of July 2007, Cooper is no longer affilitated with Pajamas Media. He left The Huffington Post in December 2008.
He is married to Chilean writer and teacher Patricia Vargas-Cooper and has one adult daughter, Natasha Vargas-Cooper who studied at UCLA. She graduated in May 2007 and is now a writer and journalist. Her book, Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through America of the 60's was published by Harper Collins in 2010.
Although Cooper espouses many traditional leftist positions, he also criticizes some of his fellow leftists for what he says is a kneejerk and irrational tendency to support "unworthy" and marginal causes. He ruffled many ideological allies by his criticism of Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom he famously dismissed as "a bad choice for poster-boy of the anti-death penalty movement." Cooper also disparaged Ward Churchill, calling him a "guaranteed loser" who was "an irrelevant and clearly deranged loner on the edge of the looniest left." Cooper was vocal in his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation, but he has been scathingly critical of other leftist opponents to the war, such as Canadian journalist Naomi Klein, who he lambasted as a "friend" and "apologist" for prominent Iraqi Shiite Islamist Muqtada al-Sadr in response to a piece she wrote for the September 13, 2004 edition of The Nation.
Over the past few years Cooper has sharply criticized the Cuban government for its crackdown on internal dissidents—some of whom have been handed stiff sentences for receiving funds and instructions from the United States. Cooper has helped write and circulate international letters of protest defending the locked-up dissidents.
He has described his current political position as "contrarian" and declares himself "agnostic" on grand ideological schemes.
Cooper has published three books: Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter (1994), an anthology of his journalistic pieces,Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti Memoir (2001) which was an L.A. Times best-seller, and The Last Honest Place in America: Paradise and Perdition in the New Las Vegas (2004).
- Cooper, Marc. Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti-Memoir. Verso, 2001, p. 39.
- What's Mumia Got to Do With It?
- Marc Cooper's Web site and blog
- Biography at The Nation
- Cooper on U.S. Border hypocrisy
- Cooper on Cuban Dissidents
- "Marc Cooper's Hit List: First Mumia; Now Churchill – More Liberal Trashing of Ward Churchill", by Joshua Frank, Counterpunch, February 7, 2005
- "Marc Cooper's McCarthy-Era Attack on Naomi Klein", by Al Giordano, Big Left Outside, August 29, 2004
- "Marc Cooper's 'Progressive' Rhetoric", by Gilles d'Aymery, Swans Commentary, February 13, 2006
- Appearances on C-SPAN