Jonathan Alter

Jonathan Alter is a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly. He is the author of His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life.

The Fireside Chat that Roosevelt Threw Away

On Sunday, March 5, 1933, his first full day in the presidency, Franklin Delano Roosevelt awoke in a creaky narrow bed in the small bedroom of the White House family quarters he had chosen for himself. After his valet, Irvin McDuffie, helped him with the laborious task of putting on his iron leg braces and… Read more »

Beam Me Up, Scotty

This, I knew even then, was deeply unfair to Reston and his career. Over 40 years, he published an astonishing number of major scoops, and his analytical batting average was high. Through most of Scotty: James B. Reston and the Rise and Fall of American Journalism, John F. Stacks judiciously explains Reston’s contributions and shortcomings… Read more »


One of the most enduring visual images of the news business is the “zipper” – the electronic display belt (most famously in Times Square) that relays breaking news to passersby. “Pearl Harbor attacked,” “FDR dead” “Space shuttle launched” – the zipper has always been concise, clear, and as “objective” as it is possible to be…. Read more »