How did you first get into journalism and writing?
Soon after the 2016 election, I became concerned about Russia’s attack on our election infrastructure and began researching the issue. I had time because, although I had practiced law for more than 20 years, I was no longer working outside of being a mom.
I used Twitter as a platform to advocate for improved election security because, at the time, pretty much every politician and major news outlet was a frequent user of the site. A few media outlets asked me to write for them, and I spent the next three or four years researching and writing about election security pretty much all day every day.
My work received national attention, with Senator Ron Wyden’s office requesting my input on an election-security bill called the SAFE Act. It was a good bill, and I spent many hours promoting it. But Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who had served on Trump’s 2016 transition team, blocked it in February 2020.
Trump had also thwarted efforts to improve election security. In 2018, he blocked a bipartisan election security bill called the Secure Elections Act.
Imagine my dismay when Trump then hijacked and weaponized the election-security narrative in an effort to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020. Honestly, I was devastated. The “Big Lie” capitalized on vulnerabilities that Trump and the GOP had deliberately left in place, while aiming a firehose of falsehoods and unsubstantiated claims at the 2020 election. It was remarkable that they were able to gain so much traction, given the prior obstruction of election security bills by Trump and the GOP.
The Big Lie deceived large swaths of Republicans and led to an assault on our U.S. Capitol, but the toxic fallout also impacted Democrats. Because MAGA Republicans had falsely conflated voting system vulnerabilities with “proof” that Trump was cheated (and then used this “proof” to inflame and mobilize known violent extremists), Democrats have been skittish about acknowledging that our voting system remains vulnerable. This, in turn, has made it impossible to gain renewed traction for the SAFE Act or anything similar, although I tried for a while.
When that didn’t work, I began investigating the who and the how of the Big Lie, which led me straight to Roger Stone and his network of thugs and propagandists. My research into the Big Lie also led me straight to Christian Nationalists. So I’ve spent much of the past few years writing about Stone, Stone’s network, and Christian Nationalism.
What is your approach to journalism? Why do you write and what do you hope to accomplish with your articles?
My approach to journalism is to assemble as many undisputed and indisputable facts as possible (often using open source intelligence) and to use that as a building block for my articles. I try to write on subjects that the corporate media and/or elected officials have ignored or, in my opinion, misconstrued or given short shrift.
I write because I’m concerned about the ongoing attack on American democracy and the relative ineffectiveness of our government and corporate media in counteracting it. As others have observed, the far right has launched an information war, which means that we need effective messaging and journalism to help the American public cut through the propaganda and understand what is really happening to our country, and who is behind it. This is what I hope to accomplish with my articles.
What do you think are the most important issues that we face today, and why?
An important issue that we face today is the rise of Christian extremism. Even as the general public has become less religious, Christian extremist control over our judiciary system has expanded, thanks primarily to Republican presidents who have installed religious zealots as judges. Trump was especially dangerous in this regard – he gave the zealots what they wanted in exchange for their unwavering support. Both abortion rights and LGBTQ+ rights have been diminished as a direct result of judges chosen by Trump.
I’m beyond concerned about what Trump would do to our courts if he were to return to the White House. We cannot afford more Trump judges because this could easily lead to the criminalization of homosexuality and to murder charges against women who get abortions.
Unbeknownst to much of the public, Christian extremists are also behind the attacks on our public school system. These extremists know that young people disagree with them on most issues, so they hope to brainwash the next generation into supporting their intolerant, bigoted ideology.
We also cannot ignore the impact of propaganda and information warfare and how effectively the GOP and, in particular MAGA Republicans, have wielded it to make the country more divided, hateful, fearful, extreme, and confused about reality.
Corruption is another important factor in the attack on our democracy. If public officials can be bought, then there are no guardrails to protect us.
Which publications and journalists do you follow?
I follow many publications and journalists, but my favorite follows on Twitter (now “X”) are open source intelligence researchers, including @gal_suburban (who was doxxed and harassed off of Twitter by supporters of Matt Gaetz), @visionsurreal, @clearing_fog, and @trcfwtt. Some of my other OSINT favorites left Twitter after Elon Musk took over.
I’m also a big fan of @MichaelEHayden (who writes about right wing extremism for the Southern Poverty Law Center), @Will_Bunch (who has a column at the Philadelphia Inquirer), and authors @JaneMayerNYer (who focuses on right-wing extremism), and @Anelsona (who focuses on Christian extremism).
Why is it important for people to support independent media outlets like the Bucks County Beacon?
It’s important for people to support independent media outlets like the Bucks County Beacon because the attack on our democracy is from the local level up. Media outlets like the Beacon are laser focused on local politics and the bad actors who are corrupting state governments and public school boards.
We also need local and independent media because the corporate media has been reluctant to report on certain critically important issues, such as the alliance between MAGA Republicans and dominionists, people who believe that Christians have a mandate from God to control all aspects of our government and culture. The public deserves to know what is happening to our country and why. If the corporate media won’t cover it, then we will do it for them.