Today is the 10th Anniversary of Josh Marshall’s first post at Talking Points Memo. They started celebrating yesterday. I’ve been a reader of TPM for years and did not want the day to pass without singing their praises.
Back when the Abramoff Scandal broke I was looking for outlets to report on untold stories that I discovered as I went though my collection of Abramoff related documents. By 2005 these documents included billing records from Team Abramoff for work done to protect sweatshops on the Marianas Islands, a US Territory 4o miles North of Guam.
I had been talking with lots of reporters, but most of them were only interested in isolated aspects of the scandal. Josh was different. In September of 2005 he had broken the Abramoff Scandal code:
On paper, Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist. And he made a great deal of money for himself. But if you think of Jack Abramoff as just a crooked lobbyist most of the facts coming out about what he did don’t make a great deal of sense. He was a key player in a very big political machine and he was managing a slush fund.
Look at the pattern.
Notice how all Abramoff’s clients seemed to get ‘bilked’ out of large sums of money that ended up going to other conservative foundations, consulting firms, Ralph Reed, lobby shops, Grover Norquist, astroturf organizers, politicians, etc.? All of them part of Washington’s Republican infrastructure?
Jack was just a 25-year bag man for the GOP and that is what the scandal was all about.
I got in touch with Josh and met him on a trip to New York along with one of the first reporters he hired, Paul Kiel. I gave Josh hard copies of lots of documents and more as PDF technology and online document sharing sites made the transfer and searching of documents easier. Josh launched TPM Muckraker and gave the endless stream of corruption stories a home. In the coming years, Josh and TPM broke many scandal stories about Abramoff and other dealings of the shady side of politics. I helped with a few of the Abramoff related stories, but Josh, Paul and the rest of the team always found more details than I had in any lead I gave them. The reporting and follow through has been invaluable. To this day they are one of the very few news outlets that continues to follow scandals (and what the scandal figures are doing now) long after the initial excitement has worn off.
TPM is an important resource and excellent journalism. That entire Bush scandal concerning firing and hiring DOJ AGs and staff for partisan purposes and vendettas would never have come to light without the relentless reporting of TPM. Josh also took a lead in the effort to fight Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. There has been many, many other stories and there will be more.
So tonight I raise a glass to Josh and his Team, past and present. Congratulations and a big Thank You for all you’ve done.