Nearly a decade ago, the Washington Monthly published a piece about the predatory tactics employed by the nation’s largest meat and poultry producers against independent farmers and ranchers. Among other strategies, the corporate giants pitted farmers against each other in a “tournament system” that rewarded the “efficient” ones and put others at risk. Other media had largely ignored this monopolistic version of the hunger games.
The article’s author was Lina Khan, now one of the nation’s foremost authorities on antitrust and the youngest-ever chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Her Washington Monthly piece on agricultural consolidation helped launch an ongoing push by the Monthly to spotlight the dangers of monopoly. It revived a larger interest in antitrust that is now bearing results. Antitrust enforcement is among Joe Biden’s top priorities, and Khan is leading the charge against Big Tech, Big Food, and other oligopolies stifling the US economy, harming consumers, and – in the case of tech – undermining our democracy.
Khan’s early work with Washington Monthly (she also wrote about airline consolidation and entrepreneurship, among other topics) is just one example of the magazine’s outsized impact in its half-century of publication. We’re not only ahead of the curve; we set 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 widely-decried GOP takeover of corporate lobby shops now known as the “K Street Project.” More recently, Eric Cortellessa’s lengthy investigation of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s self-enrichment while in office led to new ethics legislation passed by the statehouse.
We take deep dives into big ideas that other outlets don’t have the expertise, capacity, or, frankly, the patience to take on. Consider, for instance, Timothy Noah’s groundbreaking work on the roots of regional inequality or Phil Longman’s analysis of why the VA health system should be the model for US health care.
We champion real, politically sellable answers to the nation’s most challenging problems; we don’t lob rhetorical bombs or promote empty slogans. To tackle America’s crisis in higher education, for example, Monthly Editor-in-Chief Paul Glastris devised an alternative set of college rankings to challenge the prestige-driven beauty contests run by other publications and confront the status quo. In the decade-plus since its launch, the Washington Monthly College Guide has helped reset the national conversation on the purpose of higher education and how colleges can and should be better serving their students (not vice versa).
As a former full-time staffer and now a contributing editor at the Monthly, I’m proud to have added to the magazine’s work and to advocate for a fairer, more equitable America. Over the years, I’ve written about such varied topics as how to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, the crisis in rural higher education, the exploitative practices of the dialysis industry, and why D.C. think tanks seem chronically short of women experts.
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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