- Internet website that publishes articles about domestic and foreign political affairs
- Reflects the views of the extreme anti-American, anti-capitalist Left
- Consistently critical of Israel
Founded in December 1993 by former Associated Press correspondent Ken Silverstein, CounterPunch is a California-based Internet website that publishes articles about domestic and foreign political affairs each weekday.
CounterPunch also produces an 8-page newsletter available only to paid subscribers. Published 22 times per year—twice monthly except for single issues during July and August—it is available both in print form and as an email edition. For a number of years, this newsletter described itself as a “project” of “the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity,” a now-defunct nonprofit corporation.
Soon after establishing CounterPunch, Silverstein was joined in his new enterprise by journalists Jeffrey St. Clair (an environmental activist and former writer for Friends of the Earth) and Alexander Cockburn (an avid supporter of Communism). Cockburn and St. Clair served as co-editors of CounterPunch from the time of Silverstein’s departure in 1996 until Cockburn’s death in 2012.
In 2007 Cockburn and St. Clair wrote that when they initially came to work for CounterPunch, their aim was to create “the best muckraking newsletter in the country.” “Ours is muckraking with a radical attitude,” said Cockburn and St. Clair, “and nothing makes us happier than when CounterPunch readers write in to say how useful they’ve found our newsletter in their battles against the war machine, big business and the rapers of nature.”
Reflecting the views of the extreme anti-American, anti-capitalist left, CounterPunch attacks Democrats as well as Republicans. Among its contributing writers over the years have been such notables as M. Shahid Alam, Tariq Ali, Gilad Atzmon, William Blum, Lenni Brenner, Fidel Castro, Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Lawrence Davidson, Norman Finkelstein, Robert Fisk, Robert Jensen, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Tanya Reinhart, the late Edward Said, Israel Shamir, Alison Weir, Tim Wise, and Alexander Cockburn’s two brothers, Andrew and Patrick.
In one representative CounterPunch piece from 2005, author Robert Jensen praised Professor Ward Churchill for his “accurate account of the depravity of U.S. foreign policy and its relationship to terrorism”; for his condemnation of what Jensen described as America’s “crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes around the world,” beginning with “the genocidal campaigns against indigenous people on which this country was founded”; and for his assertion that, as Jensen paraphrased it, “we citizens of the U.S. empire bear some collective responsibility for those crimes, depending on our level of power and privilege, and our capacity for resistance.”
Anti-Americanism was likewise the overriding theme of a 2012 CounterPunch article titled “The Day JFK Made Me a Socialist.” This retrospective on the Cuban Missile Crisis asserts that in light of America’s Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba was entirely justified in seeking “to defend itself by accepting Soviet missiles”; that Fidel Castro was a good man who “just wanted to make things better for poor people”; and that Catholic Americans in positions of religious and political authority (most notably President Kennedy) had hypocritically “sided with rich people against poor people and rich countries against poor ones, even though [Christianity taught] that Jesus Christ loved poor people and that it was harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” “Looking back,” wrote author Gary Engler, that time period “was a critical moment in [his] becoming an anti-capitalist activist, an atheist, a believer in non-violence and an internationalist.”
Another 2012 CounterPunch piece praised the Occupy Wall Street movement for “giving vent to the pent up anger of the 99%,” which “has inspired the people in the United States and other parts of the world to expose capitalism for what it is: a profit-driven system that tends to enrich and empower a tiny minority at the expense of everyone else.” Lauding the movement’s “truly historical” and “glorious” achievements, the article celebrated “an auspicious awakening of the people and a new spirit to fight the injustice.”
Over the years, CounterPunch has been consistently critical of Israel. One 2012 article, for example, denounced the Jewish state for: failing to “conform to international law”; conducting savage and unjustified “military assaults on Gaza”; “repeatedly end[ing] effective ceasefire agreements with aerial extrajudicial executions of Palestinians in Gaza”; and “intentionally attacking civilians and civilian property.” Further, the piece drew a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas—noting, for instance, that Gaza has been the site of “unlawful attacks on civilians by both sides.”
In addition to its daily online stories and bi-monthly newsletter, CounterPunch also publishes books written predominantly by individual contributors to the website. An imprint of AK Press, CounterPunch Books has produced a number of titles. Among them:
- Jason Hribal’s Fear of the Animal Planet argues that when animals attack their trainers or caretakers at zoos and circuses, they “are acting with intent,” “asserting their own desires for freedom,” and engaging in “resistance against the captivity and torture of animals.”
- Andrea Peacock’s Wasting Libby is a literary broadside against corporate greed that places profits ahead of the well-being of workers.
- Michael Neumann’s The Case Against Israel “systematically dismantles the rationales for [the existence of] Israel put forward by … defenders of the Zionist state.”
- The Politics of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, explains “how the slur of ‘anti-Semite’ has been used to intimidate critics of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.”
- Kevin Alexander Gray’s Waiting for Lightning to Strike contends that even though Barack Obama was elected U.S. president in 2008, “the larger itinerary of African Americans” has been “mostly ignored.”
- Jeffrey St. Clair’s Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me is “a merciless account of how politicians of both parties have waged war upon the environment.”
- Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Imperial Crusades is a “scorching” chronicle of a decade of war, “from [Bill] Clinton‘s assault on Yugoslavia to [George W. Bush’s] wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.”
- Dave Lindorff‘s This Can’t Be Happening “suggests some of the uncomfortable parallels” between George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler.
 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Five Days that Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond (London and New York: Verso, 2000), p. 151; Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein, Washington Babylon (London and New York: Verso, 1996), p. 302.
 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate (Petrolia, California and Oakland, California: CounterPunch and AK Press, 2007), pp. 2, 44.
 Cockburn and St. Clair cited as their inspiration such pamphleteers as Edward Abbey, Peter Maurin, and Ammon Hennacy, as well as the socialist/populist newspaper Appeal to Reason. (End Times, p. 383).