I'm one person who is impressed with what Biden has accomplished. The Washington Post folks didn't ask me, but I just keep wondering how anyone can avoid being impressed that Biden was able to accomplish anything at all, given all the irrational opposition to anything he does. His opponents seem to be grasping at anything they think they can use to take over power. Except for thinking straight, prioritizing a strong democracy, and having any sort of respect for what Biden has been able to accomplish. It's astonishing, really.

Expand full comment
Feb 7·edited Feb 7

The balloon story also pushed another story of much greater importance out of the news: the story of the FBI agent arrested for working for the Russians. That is a story the GOP is happy to flush down the collective memory hole.

Expand full comment

Because I’m tired but want to show my appreciation for President Biden and his administration I am copying and pasting what I wrote on Robert Hubbell’s substack the other night:

I am so proud of President Biden and his administration. They have accomplished more to raise our economy and standard of living than has been done in 40 years. Reaganomics has fueled our economic, healthcare and basic inequalities, and the demise of a prosperous economy for all. President Biden’s agenda has been to build our economy by creating and promoting jobs for everyone that help everyone in our country to prosper. I am extremely disgusted by the Repugnant house with their AR 15 lapel pins, and most of all voting Congresswoman Omar off the Foreign Relations Committee. What a bunch of weasels (although I don’t want to insult weasels), I believe they are intimidated by her grace and power.

Expand full comment

You seem well connected. Why is the press so dysfunctional? Why are they letting the MAGA GOP fringe own their coverage? Why aren’t they putting Biden’s accomplishments into perspective repeatedly?

Expand full comment

Thank you for another excellent newsletter tying together important events, while exposing the brain-numbing Republican shenanigans. Jennifer Rubin’s comment embedded in this newsletter explains perfectly why I admire her so much as a journalist. Steve Schmidt also published an essay today on the idiocy of the Republican balloon-mongering. It’s too bad that the people who vote these representatives into office aren’t reading this stuff themselves.

Expand full comment

One other story that will have important, historic impact, is Heather Cox Richardson’s coverage of these times in America. From Alexander Vindman’s whistleblowing of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky in July of 2019, through the world-up-ending pandemic and it’s profound, percussive effects on humanity, ecology and the global economy; through the corrupt, power-abusing final months of Trump’s Presidency and the ugly, terrifying insurrection on January 6, 2021; and now through what has become the triumph of the Biden Administration. Reading your Letters from An American has been fortifying for so many of us. And you were part of a shift in journalism, away from mainstream media to Substack, to podcasts, and to Twitter and YouTube. Your Letters are a Primary Source. They will be studied by generations to come. My gratitude for you matches my gratitude for Biden and his team. Ken Burns or his students should start working on the documentary now. Thank you for helping us through this time.

Expand full comment

Why does an outsider historian have to do the American news media's job for them?

Because their business model has made them incompetent, unable to provide reliable information even to themselves. Couldn't tell a hawk from a handsaw...

Pathetic victims of virtual reality, like former guy Goldilocks and his well-fleeced flock.

Expand full comment

Like the balloon, REPUBLICAN'TS are full of hot air. How many of the balloons during the tRUMP debacle did we block and recover?

BTW, the vast majority of that 28 billion that tRUMP gave to "farmers" actually went to agribusiness like Monsanto et al. The average grant to mid-size farmers with say, only 6 or 7000 acres was $10000 and small farmers got nothing. The usual dole to the rich.

Expand full comment

Thank you Heather.

I had a conversation with a MAGA on the internet yesterday regarding the " calamity Biden caused by withholding info about the Chinese balloon". I told him the balloon followed the path of the jetstream and it was wayward. I told him you have more Chinese spyware in your cellphone, computer, and Smart TV than what was in the disabled balloon. Also, what do you think the Chinese are doing with the intel everytime you make or watch a TicToc video?

Response: "oh shut up".

They need a new shiny object to direct their craziness to.

Biden did the right thing. We all know that even if we don't want to admit it.

Be safe. Be well.

Expand full comment

'Devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria:'

'Send help now »'

Subscriber friends, please consider these people who are going through hell.

'We wrote to you when we first learned about the news of the back–to–back 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude earthquakes on the Turkish–Syrian border. Tragically the death toll from the earthquake that hit southern Turkey and neighboring Syria has exceeded 6,200 people, as rescuers continue to dig through the rubble of collapsed buildings in search of survivors. The massive quake, one of the largest to strike the quake-prone area in the past century, is raising fears of a new humanitarian crisis in a region strained by years of war, displacement and economic hardship. I have 3 important updates about the current situation I need to share with you:'

1. More than 5,000 people have been killed. And initial reports from IRC staff on the ground in Syria indicate that the impact has been devastating in areas that already host a high number of displaced and vulnerable families.'

2. A blizzard struck northern Syria over the weekend, leaving thousands now affected by the earthquake without shelter in freezing conditions. With shelters severely damaged and destroyed, many people don't know where they will sleep tonight as temperatures plummet below freezing. It's a race against the clock to provide lifesaving emergency support.

3. We have more than 1,000 staff inside Syria who work tirelessly to provide life–saving health care, protection and recovery support. We're urgently ramping up our emergency response — and funding is needed now to save lives and support essential services.

You can use this link to make a donation » https:///help.rescue.org/donate/syria-earthquake

'My colleagues in Syria and the surrounding region affected by the earthquake are working to respond to this crisis and provide assistance to those injured and in need.'

'You will be hearing from me and my colleagues in the coming weeks to inform you what we're seeing on the ground, and what assistance is needed.'

'In moments of crisis like these, I'm constantly inspired by supporters like you,, who never fail to step up in an emergency. I am so grateful that you are on our team.'

— Hank, IRC Emergency Fundraising

You can use this link to make a donation » https:///help.rescue.org/donate/syria-earthquake


Expand full comment
Feb 7·edited Feb 7

Why the hyperventilating news coverage of the balloon? Easy + mysterious + irrational, incendiary GOP comments.

Imagine how different the coverage would have been without the third element.

Expand full comment


one of my favorite cartoons; pretty much reflects how I feel about Congress and the mainstream media the last month or so...

Expand full comment

"A poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, written up today in the Washington Post, shows that 62% of Americans think Biden has not accomplished much in his two years in office. In fact, his administration ranks as one of the most consequential since the New Deal in the 1930s. Whether you love what he’s done or hate it, to think nothing has happened suggests a terrible disconnect between image and reality. "

The responsibility of news media is to connect citizens' awareness with reality. To have the awareness to think and understand what is happening requires the information to think with. Thinking does not occur in the absence of content.

Today while exercising, I watched a thirty minute video <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nbTlZRin78> of an interview with a very articulate Italian investigative reporter, Stefania Maurizi, who has years of experience in a variety of media, including Wikileaks. Watching her explain the difference between doing investigative reporting and the infotainment that passes today as "journalism" explains much of the disconnect and the absence of awareness of actions that are consequential.

Ask, "Do I see mainstream media educating me about why these actions are so consequential?"

Answering just for me, I do not. I see and hear frequent, consistently pumped affirmations about Biden's lack of popularity, but not these achievements. It's reminiscent of media's recent construction of the narratives that Republicans were going to vanquish Democrats in a red wave in 2022, or the 2016 mainstream narrative that Hillary Clinton had the presidency in the bag. That wasn't substance or news. It was simply created narrative. Leaving out the impact of what has been accomplished under adverse conditions in the recent couple of years is part of the present constructed narrative.

Mainstream media has decayed substantially. Who now believes they can rely on it or trust it? Who knows our government punishes whistleblowers, imprisons those who report war crimes and malfeasance, or allows corporations to do same to those who expose them for what they do? What percentage of citizens really KNOW?

To be even somewhat informed, I have to go to primary research sources and independent journalist sources and a few resources like this site written by scholars who check their sources and their facts. So few of us can do that that I am surprised that a poll showing participants' awareness of these achievements by Joe Biden is as high as 38%.

Expand full comment

Yes, the repubs are flooding the lane with you know what ! And I do think its because of their disarray and malfunction leading up to the debt ceiling showdown. That being said, two things concern me. We've had a history of balloons coming over us from the west. I think in WW2, Japan actually sent explosive balloons over here that killed and injured people on the U.S. mainland. So the second thing is why don't we have the ability stop these things from coming over? But it was an excellent idea to shoot it down over the ocean.

Biden is doing an excellent job and I hope he stays on track with his message and efforts in order to keeping moving us Democracy minded folks forward. Lots of good stuff in your analysis Dr. Richards !

Expand full comment

Placed side by side, the lists of significant accomplishments of Joe versus tRUMP would be astonishing. That list should be on media of all kinds every day.

Expand full comment

The WaPo/ABC/Monmouth poll is, to use a term of art, “garbage”. It is a vaguely worded poll that asks people to describe their feelings about “elected officials” and “the federal government” and “the direction of the country.” Are the “elected officials” referred to in the poll Democrats? Republicans? Both? Neither? City council members? County sheriffs? School board members? That ambiguity is glossed over by asking respondents about their feelings regarding the “state of the union,” which, by inference, is the speech that Joe Biden will deliver tomorrow.

Like most of the rest of the garbage the over-educated, under-intelligent, otherwise-unemployable Ivy League trust fund babies of the Press Corpse produces, it's just "’m not happy, my kids aren’t happy, and it just doesn’t seem like things are better. Also, I put on a lot of weight during lockdown, and it isn’t going away. No wonder I’m unhappy. So, I’ll blame the government, which I mostly want to do anyway. "

Expand full comment