|Residence||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Alma mater||Sarah Lawrence College, Washington University in St. Louis|
Sarah Kendzior is a journalist and author. She has written for Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Marie Claire, and other outlets, is the author of The View From Flyover Country – a collection of essays first published in Al Jazeera – and a co-host of the Gaslit Nation podcast.
The Columbia Journalism Review reported that because of her writings and expertise on authoritarian states, "as the new president came into power and the specter of Russian interference in his victory triggered Mueller's investigation, the limos started lining up" to drive Kendzior to interviews at television studios.
Education and career
Kendzior described her education and career trajectory in a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, and she was profiled in 2019 in St. Louis' Riverfront Times. She was raised in Meriden, Connecticut and went to Sarah Lawrence College in the late 1990s.
After graduating from college, beginning in 2000, Kendzior worked for three years for the New York Daily News. Kendzior later obtained a master's degree in Eurasian Studies from Indiana University and a PhD in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. Kendzior began her masters program in 2004, began her dissertation in 2006, and completed it in 2012. She speaks Russian, and her focus of study was former Soviet Union totalitarian states. Kendzior's dissertation was on how the Uzbekistan dictatorship employed the Internet to undermine public trust in and manipulate the media.
Some of Kendzior's journalistic publications have focused locally on St. Louis.
Kendzior and Bill Kristol were the main speakers for the 7th annual Public Values Symposium held on March 29, 2019 at the University of Missouri–Saint Louis. The two speakers saw "eye-to-eye... on the importance of people speaking up for what they believe in the face of eroding societal norms."
Regarding her coverage of Trump, Kendzior has stated that she has had "three advantages":
I transitioned into covering the presidential election in March 2016. I had three advantages in covering Donald Trump specifically as a candidate. First, I worked in New York tabloid media, so I knew exactly how he marketed himself. Then, I studied dictatorships and authoritarian regimes the entire time I was doing my PhD.... A lot of things that Trump was doing in his campaign reminded me of things I saw in Uzbekistan, Russia, and other authoritarian states around the world. Alarm bells started going off in my head.... Third, I live in the center of the country, not in D.C. or New York. When they talk about how hard things are out here, that's accurate.
The View from Flyover Country
In June 2017, speaking to an American Library Association conference, Hillary Clinton described herself as "riveted by... The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate."
The New York Post described Kendzior's The View as a "collection of essays from the talented Kendzior, who writes intelligently and with great empathy about problems faced by the Midwest." The Buffalo News described Kendzior's The View as "an astonishment and a challenge to convention for all sorts of reasons," noting that Kendzior had "roared to the fore" because of her prediction of the 2016 election results, a result of having studied foreign demagogues and understanding deteriorating conditions in the U.S. The Green Bay Press-Gazette described The View as a collection of "honest essays [in which Kendzior has] addressed themes of poverty, the American Dream, gentrification, race, school costs, unpaid internships and the decline of malls. Some articles have an opinion feel to them, but most are packed with statistics related to the topic at hand."
Kealey Boyd, reviewing in 2018 for Hyperallergic, stated that the essays in The View
were originally published by Al Jazeera between 2012 and 2014, which is concerning, since every essay could be released now and be just as relevant – proving the stagnation of what Kendzior calls our "post-employment economy." Kendzior points to a surging underemployment rate as professionals and laborers work multiple part-time or contractual jobs at poverty wages in place of full-time careers.....
"Mistaking wealth for virtue is the cruelty of our time," states Kendzior. When social stigma drapes over professional immobility and lost opportunities, bad luck is perceived as bad character.... Kendzior observes that Americans born approximately between the late 1970s and the late 1990s are often declared lazy and narcissistic despite enduring the worst economy since the Great Depression. Kendzior's sober observations of the formation of character labels and their impact echo work by Martha Gellhorn, a writer employed by the Roosevelt administration to record the human stories behind the government statistics during the Depression.... Kendzior's prose is sharp and consistent whether the essay is data dense or an opinion piece. She maneuvers through big issues with a pace and clarity that makes unpalatable topics fascinating, and unfortunately, relatable.
I have rarely come across writing that is as urgent and as beautifully expressed.... Kendzior's work has two distinctive qualities that make it stand out. The first is that she is writing from, and about, St Louis, Missouri – a city that was once a cultural hub, but has seen part of the slow decline witnessed in other manufacturing cities of the US. The second is that she is a scholar of the Central Asian republics.... To say that this is an unusual combination would be a radical understatement. Too often scholars of undemocratic regimes leave their horror for the way that humans are treated at their borders, unable or unwilling to see the conditions that the less privileged among their fellow citizens face. Because both journalism and academia are elite professions in themselves – a point that Kendzior makes repeatedly, and with particular force – this distance from local reality is exaggerated even further. The ability to see both allows Kendzior to make some very interesting comparisons...
On Milwaukee Public Radio WUWM, Bonnie North and Lauren Sigfusson stated that Kendzior's The View "takes no prisoners" and is "now a bestseller, but it was originally self-published because no traditional publisher wanted it. The book critiques labor exploitation, race relations, media bias and other aspects of America's post-employment economy that gave rise to President Trump. She believes the United States’ refusal to deal with the repercussions of the 2008 recession 'has come back to haunt us big time.'"
Views on current events
In 2016, Kendzior wrote about similarities between Donald Trump and the authoritarian leaders she had studied, noting Trump's affection and admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin before there was widespread public awareness of Russia's interference in the US election. Ten days after Trump was elected president, she wrote an article warning that "we're heading into dark times," and urging her fellow Americans to "write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others... your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children... the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.... Because if you do not do it now, you may forget," and also to "write a list of things you would never do." She urged her readers to
most of all, never lose sight of who you are and what you value. If you find yourself doing something that feels questionable or wrong a few months or years from now, find that essay you wrote on who you are and read it. Ask if that version of yourself would have done the same thing. And if the answer is no? Don't do it.
Kendzior has stated that "America has been in decline since before I was born," and that "widespread corruption in individual crises like Watergate, like Iran Contra, like the 9/11 aftermath, the war in Iraq, the 2008 financial crisis... were not countered at the time. We did not see repercussions and consequences for brazen criminality at the time. If we had, we would be in a different place.... Belief in American exceptionalism is what got us here. Belief in institutionalism, in checks and balances as a fail-proof mode of democracy got us here. Because checks and balances are only as good as those who uphold them."
On May 4, 2019, Kendzior stated on MSNBC that the Republican Party is engaging in "total obstructionism that is aimed at making American citizens weaker, making them less likely to fight back... They want a one-party state, that is what the GOP seeks, and Trump wants to be an autocrat with that state behind him."
[Former Special Counsel Robert] Mueller acted as if outside forces constrained his ability to answer questions. But he is no longer an employee of the Department of Justice, and they can no longer tell him what to say.... key topics – such as Mr. Trump's possible involvement with organized crime or the influence of other foreign countries in the 2016 election – went unmentioned. Other issues, such as Mr. Trump's shady finances or the prospect of impeachment, were largely avoided.... He acted like a man terrified to speak the obvious. The question remains: why?.... The public has the right to know whether its own government constitutes a threat to national security and if the president is complicit in a crime. Testifying to Congress was Mr. Mueller's patriotic obligation, and he should not have required a subpoena to show up. His question-dodging mirrored the reticence of his probe: he did not want to indict anyone even when their offences were blatant, and he did not want to explain why. It is disconcerting that one of the few things Mr. Mueller would confirm is that Americans are not safe. Mr. Mueller decided not to decide, but... His bad choice could mean that Americans lose their own free will in the years to come.
In another opinion piece in the 17 November 2019 Globe and Mail, Kendzior stated that former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had recently testified to the United States House impeachment committee,
lives in a simulacrum of democracy dependent on the refusal of elites to admit the severity of the crisis. Ms. Yovanovitch swore to tell the whole truth, but to tell the whole truth is to terrify everyone. To tell the whole truth is to say what officials gloss over but what citizens can see: This is apparently a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government....
Had Mr. Trump’s lifelong connections to transnational organized crime been highlighted during the 2016 election, had his suspected ties to Vladimir Putin not been laughed off by clueless pundits as "gaffes" and had criminals such as Mr. Manafort been held accountable in real time... perhaps Ms. Yovanovitch would be safer now. Perhaps all Americans would.
If reporters feel the impeachment hearings aren't ‘exciting’ enough, they can go report on Trump's decades of mafia ties, sexual assaults, financial crimes, and all the other horrifying activity they failed to cover.
In a 17 November 2019 special to the Globe and Mail, Kendzior stated that "by the time impeachment hearings rolled around, Republicans and Kremlin operatives had spent two years building an alternative narrative of 2016 while simultaneously engaging in the same illicit activity that this narrative was supposed to cover. The result is that last week, Americans watched both impeachment hearings and an aspiring show trial. The latter was exhibited in the opening statements of Devin Nunes, who recited a repetitive series of Kremlin talking points like the dummy of a bored ventriloquist."
In an interview in given to business magazine Fast Company, Kendzior addressed the challenge of dealing with misinformation disseminated through social media. She stated that "other countries like Estonia... have been dealing with this for a long time, and they’re much better on cybersecurity, better at educating the public about propaganda.... [in] Germany... college students... have a very good understanding of this propaganda because they know their own country’s history, and they know how you can get lured down this slope. And I’m not saying either of these countries is perfect and that everybody had amazing grasp of it. But at least it’s emphasized that this is a civic problem."
- The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America. New York. Flatiron Books. 2018. ISBN 9781250189998
- Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. New York. Flatiron Books. 2020. ISBN 9781250245397
In addition to her journalistic publications, Kendzior has published research in the Journal of Communication and other scholarly journals:
- Pearce, Katy E.; Kendzior, Sarah (April 2012). "Networked Authoritarianism and Social Media in Azerbaijan". Journal of Communication. 62 (2): 283–298. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01633.x.
- Kendzior, Sarah (August 2011). "Digital distrust: Uzbek cynicism and solidarity in the Internet Age". American Ethnologist. 38 (3): 559–575. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1425.2011.01323.x.
- Kendzior, Sarah (November 20, 2018). "Redefining Religion: Uzbek Atheist Propaganda in Gorbachev-Era Uzbekistan". Nationalities Papers. 34 (5): 533–548. doi:10.1080/00905990600952954.
- Rehagen, Tony (April 9, 2018). "From Russia to flyover country, Sarah Kendzior might be the voice we need". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Heuer, Alex (April 2018). "St. Louis journalist Sarah Kendzior in conversation with Don Marsh". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- "Sarah Kendzior". Al Jazeera. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- "Sarah Kendzior". The Guardian. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- "Sarah Kendzior". Foreign Policy. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Kendzior, Sarah (May 31, 2017). "What the Trump Campaign's Potential Collusion with Russia Really *Means*—and Why It's So Scary". Marie Claire. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- "'Ukraine' or 'The Ukraine'? 'Gaslit Nation' Co-Host Andrea Chalupa Tells Us". TheWrap. July 24, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
- "Gaslit Nation". Dame Magazine. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
- "Gaslit Nation with Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior". Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- Jung, Helin (January 30, 2017). "How I Became a Political Journalist Working in the Middle of the Country". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
- Wicentowski, Danny (June 5, 2019). "How Sarah Kendzior Became the Prophet of Flyover Country". Riverfront Times. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
- Corwin, Sylvie (April 30, 2019). "New York Times Bestseller Sarah Kendzior Speaks at Annual Hosokawa Lecture". Whitman Wire. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Kendzior, Sarah (October 1, 2016). "Meet Darren Seals. Then tell me black death is not a business". The Correspondent. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Meyer, Ken (May 7, 2019). "MSNBC Guest: Republicans Want 'One-Party State' that Trump Will Rule as an 'Autocrat'". Mediaite. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Mullally, Una (May 11, 2017). "Una Mullally: Left-leaning media also prospering under Trump". The Irish Times. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Walentik, Steve (April 1, 2019). "William Kristol, Sarah Kendzior headline 7th annual Public Values Symposium". UMSL Daily. University of Missouri–Saint Louis Daily. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- Lewis, Jon (March 28, 2019). "Diversity in Approach Is Our Strength: Bill Kristol And Sarah Kendzior On Political Divisiveness". news.stlpublicradio.org. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- Paez, Beatrice (April 10, 2019). "Don't overlook the 'exhausted majority' in political coverage, journalist says". The Hill Times. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Levitt, Arthur (host); Parwana, Madena (producer) (May 10, 2019). "Survival Became the Aspiration of My Generation (Podcast)". Bloomberg News. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Anonymous (May 13, 2018). "Paperback Nonfiction Books – Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2019. On May 13, 2018, The View from Flyover Country was listed as No. 8, "new this week", and summarized as "Essays detailing the 'post-employment' economy.".
- Landsbaum, Claire (June 27, 2017). "Here Are All the Books Hillary Clinton Has Time to Read Now". The Cut. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Ascarelli, Silvia (July 4, 2017). "Hillary Clinton signs off on a summer reading list". MarketWatch. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Dawson, Mackenzie (April 21, 2018). "This week's must-read books". New York Post. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Simon, Jeff (April 21, 2018). "New books put the Rust Belt, Buffalo in the national spotlight". The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Anonymous (April 5, 2019). "At the Brown County Library: Cultural views". Green Bay Press-Gazette. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Boyd, Kealey (June 27, 2018). "The America that Wealth Forgot". Hyperallergic. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- Ahmad, Omair (December 9, 2016). "A Cassandra in Trumpland: Sarah Kendzior's Pithy Commentary on Privilege". The Wire. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- North, Bonnie; Sigfusson, Lauren (December 27, 2018). "Authoritarianism And Truth in Trump's America: A Talk With Sarah Kendzior". WUWM. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
- "From Russia to flyover country, Sarah Kendzior might be the voice we need". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Kendzior, Sarah (November 18, 2016). "We're heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump". The Correspondent. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
- Brigham, Bob (January 15, 2019). "Here's why Trump's government shutdown is actually about 'power and money': Authoritarianism experts". Raw Story. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
- Kendzior, Sarah (July 24, 2019). "Opinion: Mueller acted like a man terrified to state the obvious. The question remains: Why?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- Kendzior, Sarah (November 17, 2019). "Opinion: Why the Trump impeachment hearings need to go beyond Ukraine". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- Froomkin, Dan (November 14, 2019). "Press Watch: Was impeachment hearing "dull"? Cynical media takes get vigorous pushback". Salon. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- Kendzior, Sarah (November 24, 2019). "Opinion: Trump's strategy: Investigate the investigators. Will it work?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- Sullivan, Mark (November 28, 2019). "The expert who predicted Trump's 2016 win says we're living in a 'manufactured reality'". Fast Company.
- "Hiding in Plain Sight | Sarah Kendzior | Macmillan". US Macmillan. Retrieved November 26, 2019.