All Governments Lie!: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone

By Myra MacPherson. Scribner. $35.

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There’s never been another journalist quite like I.F. Stone. He got his start as a newspaper reporter and editorialist in Philadelphia and New York City in the 1920s but received little attention until the early 1950s, when he launched a four-page political newsletter with the unadorned name I.F. Stone’s Weekly. (Born Isador Feinstein, he’d adopted the surname Stone in 1937 to evade his anti-Semitic critics.) The Weekly survived until 1972, earning “Izzy” powerful admirers and detractors, as well as less influential readers who knew they could learn something fresh from his painstaking reporting informed by a politically progressive sensibility. Unhindered by “on the one hand, on the other hand” pseudo-objectivity, the Weekly made its reputation by outing government and corporate liars, frequently relying on documents that other journalists had overlooked. Stone’s gutsy, relentless reporting played a role in ending Senator Joseph McCarthy’s reign of anticommunist terror, and information he uncovered about Richard Nixon’s paranoia helped Washington insiders and outsiders alike realize that the president’s decisions were based on something other than logic. Though Stone refined many of the techniques used by contemporary investigative reporters, it was his love of troublemaking and “hound-dog tenacity,” as Myra MacPherson puts it, that truly set him apart from his colleagues. “He simply didn’t give a damn if he was an outcast.”

MacPherson got to know Stone before his death in 1989 and received cooperation from many of his relatives and friends in writing this sweeping biography. All Governments Lie! skillfully covers not just the details of Stone’s life but also how his career fit into the evolution of alternative journalism. Its chapter about Stone’s role at the innovative but short-lived 1940s tabloid PM is especially insightful.

Stone admonished his fellow muckrakers, “If you want to know about governments, all you have to know is two words, ‘governments lie.'” Exposing official deceptions was Stone’s greatest legacy, but there was an important flip side to his skepticism. Stone, MacPherson writes, “never stopped praising the American freedoms that allowed him to speak and to think as he did. That is why he fought so hard against those who were bent on tarnishing them.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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