The Progressive Press Is Facing Mass Extinction

Deadspin, Splinter, and ThinkProgress are gone. The mainstream media is hopelessly neutral. Who’s left to check capitalism?

Jack Crosbie
GEN
Published in
6 min readNov 12, 2019

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Credit: sutthinon sanyakup/Getty

AAbout a month before Deadspin was throttled by its new private equity owners, those same owners shut down Splinter, the progressive politics website I contributed to for a little over a year. Last week, at an emergency all-hands meeting, G/O Media’s editorial director, Paul Maidment, elaborated on the decision to kill Splinter. Progressive politics “is a very, very difficult sector to operate in,” he said, according to audio of the meeting provided to me. “And it’s a sector that’s essentially operating at a bigger and bigger deficit.”

Maidment said, in my opinion, a lot of dumb shit during his seven-month tenure as editorial director. (He resigned last week following the Deadspin implosion he set off.) But he’s not entirely wrong about progressive media, thanks in large part to pushing a largely anti-capitalist agenda in a ruthlessly capitalist industry.

This trend has been devastating across the journalism industry. Some 7,200 jobs have disappeared this year alone. I have been laid off. Almost all of my friends have been laid off, at least once. This has happened across mainstream networks, local newspapers, alt-weeklies, and online web empires, but its effects have been felt acutely in recent months by outlets writing from a defiantly leftist point of view.

When the mainstream press does cover contentious issues, it often paves over clear moral distinctions in favor of “impartiality.”

Salon, struggling for years, was forced in May to sell its assets to undisclosed owners for just $5 million. In September, ThinkProgress, one of the longest-running sources for progressive news online, was abruptly shut down by the liberal think tank behind it, Center for American Progress, as the Democratic machinery circled its wagons for the 2020 election. That was that: no more lefty blogging. Splinter followed the next month, ceasing publication in the middle of a Democratic presidential primary pitting two of the most progressive presidential candidates ever…

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Jack Crosbie
GEN
Writer for

Writer-photographer, mostly in New York, preferably elsewhere.