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Named for the socialist labor organizer Mary Harris Jones (1830-1930), Mother Jones is a bimonthly magazine (with a circulation of approximately 200,000) and website (which draws some 11 million visitors each month). Headquartered in San Francisco, the publication also has bureaus in New York City and Washington, DC.
The genesis of Mother Jones was a failed attempt, in the fall of 1973, to save the reigning radical magazine of the day, Ramparts. When labor journalist Paul Jacobs (a Trotskite/Socialist), leftist entrepreneur and economist Richard Parker (who later became president of Americans for Democratic Action), and leftist millionaire Adam Hochschild were preparing at that time to take over as the editors of Ramparts, they had a major falling out with the publication's existing staffers. Thus the trio elected to leave Ramparts and create their own magazine, which was launched as Mother Jones in February 1976.
For the first five years after its inception, Mother Jones was run by an editorial board whose members included not only Jacobs, Parker, and Hochschild, but also authors and journalists like Jeffrey Bruce Klein, Mark Dowie, Amanda Spake, Zina Klapper, and Deirdre English.
In the spring of 1986, Mother Jones hired a young Michigan underground newspaper founder named Michael Moore as its editor. Four months later, in early September, Moore was fired after he rejected an article by socialist Paul Berman, a piece that Moore claimed was “unfairly critical” of the Communist Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua. Moore subsequently sued Mother Jones, claiming wrongful dismissal. He pocketed $58,000 in an out-of-court settlement of his lawsuit, and then used that money to produce his first film documentary, Roger and Me.
A number of well-known leftists have served as editors and writers for Mother Jones over the years, including such notables as David Corn, Todd Gitlin, Molly Ivins, Bill McKibben, and Orville Schell. For an up-to-date list of Mother Jones's current staffers and contributing writers, click here.
Through investigative reporting that mostly targets corporations, capitalism, conservatism, and Republican political officeholders, Mother Jones subdivides its content under the following major headings:
The Mother Jones magazine and website are both owned by the nonprofit, tax-exempt Foundation for National Progress, which has received financial support from a large number of left-wing philanthropies. To view a partial list of these donors, click here.
In April 2013, Mother Jones released a set of secretly taped recordings (along with a transcript) of a February 2 opposition-research meeting that Republican Senator Mitch McConnell had held with his staff, prompting McConnell’s re-election campaign to denounce the magazine's “Nixonian tactics.”
That same month, Mother Jones ran an article claiming that more Americans had been killed by conservative terrorists than by Islamic terrorists since the 9/11 attacks of 2001. “While America has been fixated on the threat of Islamic terrorism for more than a decade,” said the piece, “all but a few domestic terror plots have failed. Between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2012, there were no successful bomb plots by jihadist terrorists in the United States.... [R]ight-wing extremists killed 29 people during those 11 years.”
In its May/June 2017 issue, Mother Jones celebrated the rise of far-left, Marxist, anarchist organizations that were prepared to engage in everything from nonviolent protest to armed revolt against conservatives, frequently caricaturing the latter as “white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen.” Among the groups that Mother Jones praised were: