Articles/Essays/Talking as a Head

“Public Editors: The Ukraine Scandal on MSNBC, CNN, and in the Washington Post,” Columbia Journalism Review, 9/26/2019


“The paper famous for bringing Nixon down seems to be seeking a major role in taking down another sitting president. The Post has been in the lead for breaking stories related to the president’s Ukrainian favor-trading, and I think they’ve been admirably restrained in doing embedded, passive-voice analysis of their own reporting. What’s more, they have been consistent in never—by my count—calling what the White House released an actual transcript. In most references, it’s a “rough transcript”; on the page where they embedded the document, it’s an “official readout” and a “summary.”

The careful reticence on the news side is especially notable given that the Post appears to have actually broken this story in its editorial pages. On September 5, the Post published an unsigned editorial (revealed to have been written by former national-security reporter Jackson Diehl) that criticized Trump for refusing to lend Ukraine symbolic support (in the form of a meeting) and suspending actual material support.”

“Term Limits for Pundits,” Politico Magazine, 9/20/2019

“Critics of the mainstream media sometimes attribute the blob-like quality of Washington consensus to chumminess—the idea that these people all go to the same parties and send their kids to the same schools, and so social pressures grind their opinions into inoffensive mush. There may be something to that, but I think there’s an even more inexorable force at work: inertia. When there is no friction—no cost to having made a mistake—there is no stopping. After skidding along in the take-mines for many years myself, I was lucky enough to have drugs and alcohol speed me along to an absolute bottom, but my crash and somewhat unlikely recovery forced me to reconsider opinion-writing. Now, I cannot recommend this particular path. But what I truly wish for my former colleagues is a chance to stop and think about where they are, and if they want to continue.

So, I propose term limits for pundits. They would have to be voluntary, of course, and so I might have trouble getting takers. But maybe we can create a cultural shift in which professional opinion-having becomes as about as acceptable as, oh, let’s say smoking. Everyone knows it’s bad for you, it hurts the people around as well, but there’s something superficially glamorous about it that attracts the young and the desperate. And, sure, it’s addicting. Maybe you indulge for a while!

But smart people quit.”

“The Absurd Futility of Fact-Checking Trump,” Columbia Journalism Review, 8/8/2019


“Kessler says that the Post team analyzes any public statement they can find. Thus Trump’s “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment” (falsely asserted at a business roundtable in January 2017) gets the same amount of attention as Trump’s baseless assurances that he’s not worried about Russian interference in the 2020 election because “we… have strong backup systems…and we’ve been working very hard…on the ‘20 election coming up” (from a press conference in March 2018). The former is an easily checked fib about his resume; the latter is a dangerously empty promise that misrepresents the administration’s almost complete abdication of election security measures. One of those things is about Trump’s ego, the other is about a threat to democracy. (The degree to which Trump’s ego is also a threat to democracy is a discussion for another time.) The trouble here is that the Post’s Fact Checker gives little context for the maliciousness of Trump’s intent, how his distortions exacerbate existing fault lines in our society. And the dubious quantitative measure the Post uses—one-to-four Pinocchios—isn’t applied to every claim. Trump’s empty boast about the environment received the dreaded four Pinocchios; the second merely appeared in the Post’s database of Trump mistruths.”

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” MSNBC, 6/25/2019

Ana appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss E. Jean Carroll’s allegation of rape against President Donald Trump.

“Straight Pride and the Hyde Divide,” Lovett or Leave It, 6/8/2019


Trump insults veterans on D-Day, Tucker Carlson thinks YouTube is the government, and Amy Klobuchar joins Jon on stage at the University of Minnesota to face the Queen for a Day gauntlet. Plus Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Guy Branum, and Ana Marie Cox help break down the week’s news, the magic of the state fair, and why parades are inherently gay in all the best ways. What a week. Thank you, Minneapolis!

“The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” MSNBC, 5/25/2019


Ana was interviewed by Ali Velshi on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell about the restrictive abortion laws sweeping the country. You can view the full clip at the link above.

“Faith and Mental Health: Can Neuroscience Free the Soul,” The Faith Angle Forum, April 2019

“Today in America, over 43.8 million adults experience mental illness. Yet cutting-edge research about mental health is typically disconnected from American religious life—despite over 80 percent of U.S. adults claiming to believe in God. How might we better integrate “interpersonal neurobiology” in ways that enhance human relationships? What connection, if any, exists between vulnerability and discovery? And how can new discoveries about how the brain works impact the ways we handle shame—and carry out daily vocations? Dr. Curt Thompson and Ana Marie Cox will discuss these themes in the context of their own stories and work.”

“A Conversation with Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” SXSW, 3/9/2019


Ana sat down with South Bend Mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in a Texas Tribune conversation at SXSW. You can find their full conversation here.

“CPAC to Reality,” Lovett or Leave It, 3/9/2019


“Trump literally hugs a flag, figuratively hugs Kim Jong Un, and speaks for two hours at a conservative conference for people who think Fox News isn’t mean enough. Live from Madison, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Ana Marie Cox, and Akilah Hughes join Jon to talk about Scott Walker’s legacy, the NFL’s fantastic team owners, Trump’s love letters to dictators, and the problems with punctuation marks in text messages. Anyway, too many cheese curds. Or maybe not enough.”

“Pod Lang Syne,” Pod Save America, 12/27/2018


In a special New Year’s episode, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, Dan Pfeiffer, Ana Marie Cox, Erin Ryan, DeRay Mckesson, Ira Madison, and Louis Virtel discuss their resolutions for 2019.

“After falling short in 2018, is there anywhere else for Beto O’Rourke to go?” ThinkProgress, 11/13/2018


Ana was interviewed by ThinkProgress’ Jason Linkins about the next step(s) for former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) after losing his Senate bid. Despite the loss, she maintains he is “the real deal.”

“Left, Right & Center: Sessions is Adjourned,” KCRW, 11/9/2018

“President Trump fired Jeff Sessions this week and named an acting replacement: Matt Whitaker. Whitaker was serving as Sessions’ chief of staff, but he was widely seen as a Trump loyalist — eyes and ears for the White House inside a Justice Department that wasn’t always doing what the president wanted. Now he’s running the place, but is it constitutional? Ken White joins the Left, Right & Center panel of Ana Marie Cox, Rich Lowry, and Josh Barro to discuss.”

“What’s the one big lesson from the midterms? That there is no one big lesson,” Washington Post, 11/9/2018


“Humans, and even political pundits, have a natural inclination to create patterns and narratives out of chaos, and never is that more obvious than during midterm elections, when they are called upon to make sense of thousands of different outcomes that hinge on hundreds of different idiosyncratic local issues. Sometimes those pronouncements are anodyne, obvious and mostly harmless: “Americans are still waiting for a national leader ,” perhaps. Or the equally timeless and meaningless nostrum, “Candidates matter.” But amid the hyperbole of the Trump era, analysts’ attempts to paper over the country’s restlessness with bland truisms are both a failure of imagination and a disservice to those Americans who have poured their labor, their money and their lives into their communities.”

“[Letter from Texas] The Tragedy of Ted Cruz,” Harpers, 11/8/2018


“When I saw Ted Cruz speak, in early August, it was at Underwood’s Cafeteria in Brownwood. He was on a weeklong swing through rural central Texas, hitting small towns and military bases that ensured him friendly, if not always entirely enthusiastic, crowds. In Brownwood, some in the audience of two hundred were still nibbling on peach cobbler as Cruz began with an anecdote about his win in a charity basketball game against ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. They rewarded him with smug chuckles when he pointed out that “Hollywood celebrities” would be hurting over the defeat “for the next fifty years.” His pitch for votes was still an off-the-rack Tea Party platform, complete with warnings about the menace of creeping progressivism, delivered at a slightly mechanical pace but with lots of punch. The woman next to me remarked, “This is the fire in the gut! Like he had the first time!” referring to Cruz’s successful long-shot run in the 2011 Texas Republican Senate primary. And it’s true—the speech was exactly like one Cruz would have delivered in 2011, right down to one specific detail: he never mentioned Donald Trump by name.”

“Left, Right & Center Midterms Special,” KCRW, 11/7/2018

“The results are in from the 2018 midterm elections. The Democrats will take back the House and the Republicans maintain control of the Senate. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped down. What were the less-reported results of this election? What do these changes mean for the Mueller investigation and future action in the House? Ana guest hosted this episode alongside Rich Lowry and Josh Barro.”

“A Night Among the Trump Believers way up North,” Rolling Stone, 6/21/2018


"By the time Trump reached the end of his speech, it felt familiar even if you hadn’t heard it before. The phrases had the too-neat, predictable parallelism of a jingle: 'We will never give in, we will never give up ... we will never stop fighting for our flag, or our freedom. We are one people, and one family, and one nation under God.' The last lines were chanted out in half-unison, half-hum, the way you might mumble-vamp through the verse of 'Sweet Caroline' only to land with ecstasy at the chorus: 'We will make America safe AGAIN! We will make America strong AGAIN! We will make America GREAT AGAIN!'

That’s the way the end of democracy sounds, I think: People so eager to join a chant they do it before they know all the words."

"Celebrities aren't the only ones who struggle to appear perfect -- or who need help," Washington Post, 6/9/2018


"As someone with bipolar disorder, I have been through times when my depression was too intense not to break through to the surface, even if it was inconvenient or embarrassing. On Friday morning, after reading about Bourdain’s suicide, I posted on Twitter about a specific incident when I lived in New York, trying to keep a crying jag to myself while commuting on the F train. My head was hung down and it was crowded; I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping it to myself. Then, at one stop, a hand appeared under my nose, holding a packet of tissues. I instinctively grabbed them, but the person who held them for me moved on before I even saw who it was. That stranger kept me going for another day, which led to other days, which eventually led to long-term help. I asked at the end of my post Friday for people to share examples of other times someone had just gotten them through the day."

"More obscenity happening in the Oval Office than on late-night tv," MSNBC, 6/1/2018

Ana Marie Cox, host of 'With Friends Like These' podcast, reacts to President Trump's apparent frustration with comedian Samantha Bee who came under fire for calling his daughter, Ivanka, the 'c-word' during her show: "I think there is a lot more obscenity and vulgarity happening in the Oval Office than there is on late night television, that said, Samantha Bee did herself no favors by using that word."

"Confessions of a serial networker," Columbia Journalism Review, 5/31/2018


"Toward the end, I had a new ritual: Instead of putting away a few or five glasses of wine at the open bar, I’d sip gingerly at my club soda, feeling as distant and fragile as if I were the one encased in glass. I’d gracelessly mingle until I couldn’t stand it anymore and then make for the restroom, where I’d sob as silently as possible, chest tight not with grief but a burning mix of self-pity and anger. In the hot resentments of my addiction, I extrapolated beyond the adolescent conviction that “everyone was having fun without me”; I mourned that everyone else was absentmindedly partaking in something that was only a recreational drug for them, whereas for me it was a cure. 

So, of course, I’d eventually drink, a failure of willpower I could tally as evidence of my inherent worthlessness. It would take months of grinding through the motions of sobriety—all the meetings and sayings and steps and prayers—before I finally came to realize that succumbing to my addiction was never a sign that I was weak. I was just looking to the wrong things for strength."

"Geek's Guide to the Galaxy," Wired, 5/19/2018


Ana joined Wired's "Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" podcast. She talked about why Ted Cruz likes Star Trek, her own love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, and much more. 

"Retweet to Impeach," Lovett or Leave It, 5/11/2018

Ana joined Crooked Media's Jon Lovett for a live episode of Lovett or Leave It in Columbus, OH. She helped Lovett dissect the problems posed to our society by social media.

"When men act like Eric Schneiderman in private, who cares how they act in public?" Washington Post, 5/10/2018


"There is no ideological monopoly on misogyny or patriarchy or sexual harm, a fact that most women have learned from bitter experience. I’m not so naive as to believe that a man’s voting record is going to be predictive of his potential for violence. That he seems to go to the same political rallies as I doesn’t mean he won’t draw me into an inappropriate conversation. The cool bumper stickers on his car won’t guarantee my safety if he drives slowly by while I’m on my evening run. And whenever I hear about the latest political comrade or well-respected colleague to be the subject of other women’s stories, I am never surprised when his actions do not match up with his attested ideals. When the difference is great, I am only disappointed. Surprise is the privilege of someone who has never been assaulted by someone they know."

"Here's The Truth About Robot Sex Culture," Rolling Stone, 5/4/2018


"See, if you read him in the good faith he may not deserve, his discussion of sex robots is a cautionary tale about the probable outcome of a culture in which "the sexual revolution" has "privileg(ed) the beautiful and rich" while "the sexes seem to be struggling generally to relate to each other" – even as the "essentially Hefnerian" (!) message about sex is that "the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated." In that self-indulgent but soulless environment, people will "place their hope for escape" in some form of revolution – "political, social or technological." In other words, step three: SEX ROBOTS, obviously. And if you find them creepy? Good. Blame the liberals."

"Evangelicals, Facebook, Cultural Suicide," Real Time with Bill Maher, 4/27/2018

Ana sat down with Ronan Farrow, John Podhoretz, Ian Bremner, and Ross Douthat on Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the latest developments in the Trump Administration, Bill Cosby's guilty verdict, and much more.


"Dislike her. Disavow Her. But don't count Nancy Pelosi out," LA Times, 3/25/2018


"I'm not a fan of the maxim that if one is angering "both sides," you must be doing something right. I think it's more likely that if you're angering both sides, you might be doing something right … or you might just be a woman. Pelosi is a woman who is also doing something right."


"The Axe Files with David Axelrod," Ep. 225, 3/15/2018


Ana joined David Axelrod at SXSW to discuss her journalism career from Wonkette to Crooked Media, and how an attempted suicide seven years ago changed her life and led her to turn to faith.

"The Gifts of Faith: Cultivating Resilience" Panel at SXSW with Bree Newsome, Noor Tagouri, and Ben Howe, 3/13/2018


Ana joined Bree Newsome, Noor Tagouri, and Ben Howe for a thought-provoking conversation at SXSW. You can hear the whole thing here.




"Monday Morning Politics with Ana Marie Cox," The Brian Lehrer Show 3/4/2018


Ana joined The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to talk about the latest developments in the Trump Administration.





"Trump actually thinks executing drug dealers would help. That's the problem." Washington Post 2/28/18


"There’s no real need to explain that the summary execution of drug dealers is a bad idea, though it is a very, very bad idea. It’s enough to note that the country already tried an aggressive enforcement approach to drug crimes — the four-decade-long war on drugs — and among experts and law enforcement officers themselves, it is almost universally acknowledged as a massive failure in economic and practical terms. (Trump’s Justice Department is a notable outlier in that assessment.)"

The Last Word, 02/09/18

"The unifying theme for all the things we're talking about really is abuse of power, and the personalization of power."

"Overdue Diligence," The New Republic, 02/08/2018 


"I’m not the first and won’t be the last to note that the hyperbole of #MeToo skeptics who equate one’s career and one’s life never seems to apply to those who suffer harassment."




WNYC SOTU Reaction 1/31/2018

Ana joined the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC in the wake of a State of the Union like no other. Check out her thoughts here.

"Embracing the Frog: My Winding Journey to Becoming a TCU Diehard," Sports Illustrated 12/21/2017


"By now, you may have put together that I became a TCU fan not long after I got sober. I can’t pin down the exact moment that Frogs football moved from something to chat about on Saturday to something to fight about with strangers online, but I do remember being smitten in the 2012 season."

"Al Franken isn't being denied due process. None of these famous men are." Washington Post 12/7/2017

"Most Democrats who spoke up for him initially were reluctant to reach for the weapons that less woke partisans might use: It is unseemly for a good liberal to slut-shame an accuser, and outright denial of the women’s stories run up against the progressive value of believing the powerless when they speak against the powerful."

"Some Thoughts On My Senator, Al Franken," Esquire 11/21/17 


"I am a constituent of Senator Al Franken. I voted for him. I gave a copy of his latest book to my dad. I've met him a handful of times. I think he's done good, if not great, work in office representing my interests.

In light of the allegations against him, I think he can do even more good by stepping down."

"President Trump thinks he understands addiction. He's wrong." Washington Post 10/27/2017

"One has to wonder sometimes if Trump is truly ignorant of history — in this case, the country’s costly and monumentally ineffective war on drugs — or simply so besotted with his own inner monologue that he rambles from one pat psuedo-revelation to another without bothering to check it against his still-probably-scanty knowledge of what’s come before."

"Goodbyes Can Be Awkward," New York Times 10/19/2017


"I suspect that feigning interest in anecdotes that must test even the teller’s own patience also let them know that I was in this for the long haul; even better, the questions I asked after some interminable yarn showed them I wouldn’t be satisfied by the narrative trinkets they’d bought others off with. I was genuinely curious; I wanted more."


"This Week in Garbageville: Tapes or No Tapes? That is the Question," MTV News 6/23/2017


"The Senate’s health care bill finally emerged from its secret drafting process and was made public on Thursday. The so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 reads like a political suicide note, promising to do things that are sure to make an already unpopular Obamacare repeal process absolutely toxic, such as make increasingly severe cuts to Medicaid that would disproportionately affect the poor and elderly. In other words, while this act would continue the health care system’s disproportionate cruelty toward women and communities of color if enacted, it would also hit the so-called white working class."

You can find the rest of Ana's MTV columns here.

"President Trump is Now a Possibility. And That's Terrifying." Daily Beast, 1/31/16


"Like many members of the media, I have spent much of the past six months pretending I have some idea of what will happen in the presidential election. Specifically, I have maintained a sanguine and somewhat bemused certainty that, whatever else happens, there will be no President Trump.

Today, with every meaning of this phrase, I fear I have been mistaken."

You can find the rest of Ana's Daily Beast columns here

"These Are the Reasons Why Cats Still Rule the Internet," Mother Jones 5/13/15


"I was at a small conference on religion and public policy recently—the Faith Angle Forum, it’s called. It’s a pretty heady affair with Serious Journalists talking Serious Subjects: the theological-versus-cultural origins of ISIS’s brutality, whether you can use “principled pluralism” to bring together the left and right regarding gay marriage, and—headiest of all—a presentation from the former chief rabbi of England on “religious solutions to religious environments.”

So, obviously, I was sneaking in some cat-picture viewing between sessions. (This is a proven productivity practice and a much needed source of solace in discussing these troubled times.) I was also particularly tickled to inform the other attendees, during the Islamic State panel, that one of my favorite cat photo platforms, BuzzFeed, also has been doing some pretty stellar reporting on ISIS’s use of social media. There were surprised but polite murmurs!"

You can find the rest of Ana's Mother Jones columns here.

"Politicians: They're Not Like Us. But Some Folks Sure Love to Eat Photo-Op Corndogs," Guardian 8/15/14


"Adopting a summer-y populist pose reached an absurd level of vulgarity here in Minnesota, where independently wealthy US Senate candidate Mike McFadden released an ad that shows him getting hit in the nuts while coaching little league football. Nothing says “man of the people” like a groin injury." 

You can find the rest of Ana's Guardian columns here.

"Breaking! Day One for Obama's New Press Secretary!" GQ 2/15/11


"The standing-room-only crowd in the White House briefing room might lead one to believe something important was going to happen there today, but you could ask any one of them there: Former Time magazine White House correspondent Jay Carney's debut on the other side of the podium was less a news event than a ritual."

You can find the rest of Ana's GQ columns here.