From reviving the antitrust movement to revealing the personal enrichment of a Republican governor, this little magazine does it all.
President Joe Biden signs an executive order to promote competition in the economy, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, July 9, 2021, in Washington. Standing from left to right, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Lina Khan, President of the Federal Trade Commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Merrick Garland. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)
Almost a decade ago, the Washington Monthly published an article on predatory tactics employed by the country’s largest meat and poultry producers against independent farmers and ranchers. Among other strategies, the corporate giants have pitted farmers against each other in a “tournament system” that rewards the “successful” and puts others at risk. Other media had largely ignored this monopoly version of the hunger games.
The author of the article was Lina Khan, now a leading national antitrust authority and the youngest chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Her Washington Monthly article on agricultural consolidation helped launch a continued push by the Monthly to highlight the dangers of monopoly. It rekindled a greater interest in antitrust which is now bearing fruit. Enforcement of antitrust laws is one of Joe Biden’s top priorities, and Khan is leading the charge against Big Tech, Big Food and other oligopolies that are choking the US economy, harming consumers and – in the case of the technology – undermine our democracy.
Khan’s early work with Washington Monthly (she has also written on airline consolidation and entrepreneurship, among other topics) is just one example of the magazine’s outsized impact over its half-century of publication. We’re not just ahead of the curve; we put it.
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Our work has consistently called the powerful to account. In 2003, then Monthly editor Nick Confessore (now with The New York Times) was the first to chronicle the GOP’s widely maligned takeover of corporate lobbying stores now known as the “K Street Project.” Most recently, Eric Cortellessa’s lengthy investigation into the personal enrichment of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan during his tenure led to the passage of new ethics legislation by the state house.
We dive deep into big ideas that other outlets don’t have the expertise, ability, or, frankly, the patience to support. Consider, for example, Timothy Noah’s groundbreaking work on the roots of regional inequalities or Phil Longman’s analysis of why the VA health system should be the model for health care in the United States.
We stand for real and politically salable responses to the nation’s toughest problems; we don’t throw rhetorical bombs or promote empty slogans. To deal with the American higher education crisis, for example, Monthly Editor-in-chief Paul Glastris has devised yet another set of college rankings to challenge prestige-driven beauty pageants run by other publications and confront the status quo. In the decade and more since its launch, the Washington Monthly College Guide has helped reignite the national conversation about the purpose of higher education and how colleges can and should better serve their students (not the other way around).
As a former full-time staff member and now associate editor at the Monthly, I am proud to have contributed to the work of the magazine and to advocate for a fairer and more equitable America. Over the years, I have written on topics as diverse as how to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, the rural higher education crisis, the operating practices of the dialysis industry, and why groups DC’s think tank seem chronically short of expert women.
Our work is insightful, impactful and important. But we also need the support of our readers to ensure that the monthly continues to shape the national conversation in ways big and small.
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