By Jessie Seigel / Washington, D.C.
This is the last issue of The Insider—a time to celebrate what the publication has accomplished, even as we close up shop. And for me, it is a good moment to review my years writing for this online pub, as well as to consider how my work can best be carried forward.
My journey into journalism began by chance in the early fall of 2020. At that time, I wrote a Facebook post highly critical of Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward because he had—as early as the spring of 2020—amassed evidence that then President Donald Trump knew about the dangers of Covid-19, but had lied about it and chosen to withhold that critical evidence from the public for months. Woodward waited to reveal that critical fact until he was promoting his book Rage, not published until September of that year.
The next week, Andi asked if I would write something on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had just died. Again, I obliged. Then I was off and running—coaxed into writing a political opinion column for The Insider on a regular basis.
Over the last three years, my column, Washington Whispers, has given me the opportunity to address some of the most important public crises of our times.
There were the politics of the Covid pandemic: the Trump-promoted disinformation concerning the virus and the Covid vaccine; the initial difficulty of getting vaccinated; the anti-vaccine propaganda; the virulence of anti-maskers; and the vilification of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
These were very important matters during the pandemic. But the issues closest to my heart were and remain the rising dangers to our nation’s democracy and the need to defend against them.
As far back as that article on Justice Ginsburg, I expressed concern that we were living at the center of a maelstrom that could portend the end of democracy. The chaos and the peril have only become more intense since then.
Thus, I’ve had the sad privilege of addressing the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Donald Trump’s nearly week-long second impeachment trial, the anti-democratic schemes of Republican politicians, and the corruption of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. Along the way, I have also addressed the reactionary efforts to re-legalize discrimination, silence speech and erase history by banning books, as well as the ongoing machinations to deprive citizens of the right to vote, to privacy, and to make one’s own health-care decisions.
What a full three years!
It has been wonderful to have this forum—my “soapbox,” as I call it. And I couldn’t have asked for a better editor than Andi. The collaboration—our give-and-take in the editing process—has been one of my greatest pleasures. Among other things, Andi is brilliant when it comes to headlines and the occasional bon mot! From her, I’ve also learned a bit about beginning with hooks and ending with kickers.
Although The Insider is coming to an end, the nation’s ceaseless political mayhem is not. The various Trump investigations and indictments appear to be moving--but very slowly, like tortoises crawling along in a race against the fast-coming 2024 election.
Candidate Trump is using every political maneuver he can muster to delay a legal reckoning. If he manages to again seize power, he will surely use the presidency to kill all investigation of his actions. More than that, just this last week, Trump threatened that, if he becomes president in 2024, he will purge the federal government of anyone who opposes him. And he will most assuredly use the Department of Justice to persecute those who are attempting to hold him to account.
I hope my Washington Whispers columns have, at a minimum, given readers information and analysis that they may be too busy to research for themselves—and so armed them with facts and arguments with which to persuade others. And given the nation’s continuing political upheaval, I think it would be useful to continue this work.
I am currently in the process of determining the best way forward. One strong possibility is to continue Washington Whispers as an independent blog of my own, perhaps following in the grand tradition of the old I. F. Stone political weekly.
If you are interested in receiving information about my future writing, please send your email address to me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, political junkies, this is not goodbye, but au revoir.
Political columnist Jessie Seigel had a long career as a government attorney in which she honed her analytic skills. She has also twice received an Artist’s Fellowship from the Washington, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for her fiction, and has been a finalist for a number of literary awards. In addition, Seigel is an associate editor at the Potomac Review, a reviewer for The Washington Independent Review of Books, and a dabbler in political cartoons at Daily Kos. Of this balance in her work between the analytic and the imaginative, Seigel jokes, “I guess my right and left brains are well-balanced.” More on and from Seigel can be found at The Adventurous Writer, https://www.jessieseigel.com.