Why Backbencher?

Reading Backbencher will make you smarter, wealthier, and better-looking.

OK, that’s not true.

But reading Backbencher will give you a front seat to an experiment in journalism. It doesn’t cost you anything, and if you’re still working at home your boss won’t see that you’re burning up company time reading political stuff on the Internet. Here at Backbencher, malingering brainworkers are our Alpha and Omega, our bread and butter. Or rather, they will be our bread and butter if we ever get around to asking you to buy a subscription. Which at the moment seems pretty unlikely. I started Backbencher when I was unemployed—ahem, I mean freelancing—but now I have a fairly demanding day job as a staff writer for The New Republic, so these days I’m using Backbencher mainly to flog pieces I write there and elsewhere.

You don’t have to lift a finger

We send each new entry to your email inbox. I’m not saying we’re the Parnassus of the American republic of letters, but we’re probably more interesting than most of the crap you have waiting in your inbox.

Become the envy of your friends!

Backbencher is drenched in snob appeal. It will never be particularly successful, and therefore it will never cease to be gratifyingly obscure. If you say, “Here’s something I read in Backbencher,” your friends will have no idea what you’re talking about, and that will make you feel very smug and superior. Should we fail in our efforts and become hugely famous and popular, you can feel superior by saying you were a regular reader before we tarted the damned thing up.

For more about Backbencher’s proprietor in a slightly more serious vein, click here.

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Politics, economics, domestic policy, and a smattering of culture.


Timothy Noah

Backbencher jefe; New Republic staff writer; author, "The Great Divergence." Former Politico, Slate, Wall Street Journal, US News, Washington Monthly, etc.

Thomas E. Ricks

Thomas E. Ricks is a former military correspondent for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. His most recent book is "Waging a Good War: A military history of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968."

David Wood

Journalist and author covering war for 35 years, Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for a series on the Americans grievously wounded in war. Website: davidwood-journalist.com

Alec MacGillis

Reporter for ProPublica, author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America

Rosa Brooks

Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown and the author of Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City (Penguin, 2021).

Benjamin Lorr

Author, The Secret Life of Groceries and Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Bikram Yoga

Michael Mechanic

Michael Mechanic is a Mother Jones senior editor and author of "Jackpot," a book about the American wealth fantasy run amok. (April 2021, Simon & Schuster) ReadJackpot.com.

Holly Brewer

Holly Brewer is Burke Chair of American History at the University of Maryland, College Park. @earlymodjustice

Roland Stephen

Executive Director, Center for Innovation Strategy and Policy, SRI International

Jonathan Cohn

Senior national reporter, HuffPost ... Author, SICK (2007) and THE TEN YEAR WAR (2021) ... Lecturer, University of Michigan ... Fan of Red Sox, Dolphins, Wolverines ... Proud husband & dad


Margaret Carlson, a veteran of CNN and Time magazine, is a weekly columnist at The Daily Beast.

Louis Menand

Louis Menand is Professor of English at Harvard. He is the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the Pulitzer Prize in History and, most recently, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War.

Tom Geoghegan

Thomas Geoghegan is a Chicago lawyer and author of the forthcoming The History of Democracy Has Yet to Be Written: How We Have to Learn All Over How to Govern Ourselves Again (Pub Date October 5 2021)