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2.2. The "Mother Jones" Fiasco (Michael Moore)


This article is from the Michael Moore FAQ, by Edward Champion edchamp@slip.net with numerous contributions by others.

2.2. The "Mother Jones" Fiasco (Michael Moore)

Moore was offered the editorship of "Mother Jones" magazine,
an opportunity to bring his voice to a national level.
Immediately, he took the bait. He sold "The Michigan Voice" and
moved to San Francisco. His girlfriend, Kathleen Glynn, gave up
her graphic design business to join him.

When Moore took over the editorial rein of "Mother Jones_
magazine, he felt that the publication had taken "a slide into safe
mediocrity." He wanted to evolve "Mother Jones" from what was
essentially a harmless yuppie publication into something
revitalizing the magazine's old working class ties and exposing the
social ills of the nation.

He met with the editorial staff the first day he was hired and
Moore took the liberty to bash the magazine, telling everybody that
he wouldn't print anything in the last three issues and asking if
anybody in the room could defend themselves against this claim. He
brought in several new writers, including Ben Hamper, Hugh Drummond
and Alexander Cockburn. The September 1986 issue of "Mother Jones_
featured Ben Hamper on the cover and an excerpt from his book,

But, he found conflict. Richard Schaufler, an ad rep, was
fired for being associated with a Marxist group, the Democratic
Workers Party, and the "Mother Jones" managers had fired him after
two days, much to Moore's chagrin.

The tension culminated when Moore refused to print an article
written by Paul Berman against the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. It
claimed that the Sandanistas were Leninist souvenirs of the New
Left and that they had betrayed the promise of the revolution.
Moore claimed, "Reagan could easily hold it up, saying, 'See, even
_Mother Jones" agrees with me.' The article was flatly wrong and
the worst kind of patronizing bullshit. You would scarcely know
from it that the United States had been at war with Nicaragua for
the last five years." Needless to say, Adam Hochschild, the owner
and publisher of "Mother Jones" didn't like Moore's style and
promptly fired him.

Polemicist Alexander Cockburn put his reputation on the line
by writing a scathing article on the affair, getting his column
pulled from several major liberal weeklies.

Moore filed a $2 million lawsuit against Hochschild, suing for
unlawful dismissal and, after a well-publicized blowup, Hochschild
agreed to settle out of court.


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