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A friend overseas asked me, so I'm asking you: what are your favorite media sources or people you'd recommend to improve your understanding of US political system in general and present context in particular?

Doesn't have to be just a progressive/liberal take, BTW. I hope some of your recommendations span the ideological spectrum or ignore it altogether.
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Ian Masters is solid journalistic interviews and deep policy discussions. He is my go to source for actual understanding. He produces his show, Background Briefing, out of KPFK in Los Angeles. I listen via podcast.
 
WaPo's Ezra Klein's been pumping out great contextual pieces on domestic policy and economy.
 
John Stewart, Steven Colbert, Bill Maher.
 
Huffington Post (the android app is one of my favorites) Also a big fan of Keith Olbermann (now on CurrentTV)
 
Blacking It Up, Rachel Maddow, Think Progress, Ezra Klein, the Nation,Thom Hartmann, Al Jazzera English and Christian Science Monitor
 
The Onion, Whitehouse newsletter, Rep. party, Dem party.
 
The Onion, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher... funny that the comedians are the only ones makings sense lately...
 
@breakingnews it doesn't provide commentary, but it keeps you up to date.
 
Al Jazeera--what CNN used to be, Democracy Now!, and Informed Comment by Juan Cole.
 
Daily show. Pokes fun at everyone, with examples.
 
love the onion +Suzanne Legault! i dont know how i feel about using the two parties to gain an understanding of our political system. especially lately it seems like they are doing a fine job muking it up if anything!
 
rachel maddow, paul krugman, keith olbermann, +West Wing Report , huffpost, npr, and of course local news for a in-town slant.
 
Al Jazeera English is probably the best reporting on america ever. i'm not even being ironic
 
It's almost impossible to find anyone to recommend that are in the "mainstream". MSNBC has been shifted to the right after the Comcast buyout and with the revelations after Cenk Ugyur left, we know their hosts aren't allowed to speak their minds. Keith Olbermann is the most accurate out there, speaking with truth using verifiable facts, but many people have no access to Current right now.

There are no solid online sources either. Even when you find quality posts, the comments are highjacked by paid conservative operatives to derail the truth and continue the spread of disinformation.

Frankly, I rely on myself- I hear a topic, and do my own research upon the matter so I know the facts. I think that's the answer: Inform yourself through the haze of the awful state of journalism, and always ignore the commentary of others, as many are there solely to give you false data or counter the truth.
 
+Suzanne Legault Very nice. I'm a little worried that you may have been the only one saying "The Onion" and meaning it as a joke though.
 
I'd have to say John Zerzan. Going the way of the dodo.
 
Stewart and Colbert are good at putting the media in context. I also learned a lot from Nate Silver about what conclusions you can actually draw from polls and how various parts of our system work.
 
For those that still love radio, Brian Lehrer on WNYC. They can call in too and be part of the conversation.
 
I have to admit, oddly, I agree about AlJazeera. I worked in info-ops (essentially) in the U.S. military, and while you'd get the periodic colonel hot under the collar about them or some grunt who hated them, the people in the military who had to deal with AlJazeera preferred them to a lot of other organizations. They have a cultural bias, like anyone does, but aside from that their primary concern seems to be, "no filters." They aren't like stupid Western journalists who think they will somehow be objective, but to get as close to it as possible, they pretty much let the cameras roll and catch what is there, and that's what they broadcast. Still, as far as getting U.S. news from them, the greatest value there is really for people in the U.S. getting a view on what the outside world sees.

For someone outside the U.S., NPR is pretty fair in their reporting. The commentary has a left slant depending what station you listen to, but I'm a libertarian and I never felt their actual reporting was slanted.

For off-the-beaten track, I actually really like http://en.wikinews.org/ . It has the obvious pitfalls, but still does pretty good, and provides an additional window if you like to self-aggregate and want to get an idea of the general big picture to start from.
 
George Carlin, God rest his soul. I wonder if he appreciates the sentiments?
 
Web wise typically I'll run by Fareed Zakaria's site, CNN International, BBC News, and Newsvine.

I listen to NPR while driving, it's a fun critical thinking exercise to try to parse fact from spin.

On the tube, the only news show I regularly try to catch is John King, USA.
 
I listen to Michel Martin's "Tell Me More" on podcast. She is usually up to date on the issues and has "experts" on who explain stuff. And usually those experts are women and/or people of color.
 
Ta-Nehisi Coates. James Fallows. Reihan Salam. Will Wilkinson.
 
I'd have to go the more traditional route: The Nation, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones. Longer-form argumentation, well researched, etc.
 
+Cenk Uygur & TYT

+Pete Dominick Standup with Pete Dominick on Sirius XM
(really the whole line up on P.O.T.U.S XM 124!... http://www.siriusxm.com/potus)

+Matthew Ygelsias

Matt Taibbi (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog)

Moxnews catalogs almost every important news story (http://www.youtube.com/user/MOXNEWSd0tCOM)

Onion and Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert help when all the other sources are too depressing.

... might as well include +Aaron Carroll who's more focused on health/economics than politics, but he does help fill in the context of some of the issues.
 
Didn't see Andrew Sullivan in the list, who's usually pretty good, and not stereotypically left or right.
 
Another one for Democracy Now! Also, Glenn Greenwald at Salon.
 
I'm sure by linking some of these guys' names here, I'll get punched for some of the comments, and maybe corrected here and there, but... These are my main reading materials

Liberal/Progressive
+Matthew Ygelsias (@mattyglesias, Think Progress):
Matt's one of my favorite bloggers, though decisively progressive in heart but very open to a wide range of ideas. He often is counterintuitive from a liberal perspective, not really falling in line with any typical liberal policy advocacy (for good reason). He blogs about everything: economics; politics and political science (there's a difference); philosophy (he is a philosophy grad, after all); intellectual property and copyright; and very often (he's even writing a book) about land use and housing planning (rural, suburban, urban), which is an underappreciated issue in economic and political discussion.

+Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) and Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS), both Washington Post:
Great for overall political, public policy, political science and economic news. Ezra Klein was especially vital for understanding the wonkish aspects of the health care debate; more far more wonkish than partisan. Greg Sargent advocates liberal policies liberally. Ezra gives more deference to the other side and explains both sides thoroughly but eventually advocates what conservatives would call a liberal sentiment.

Conservative/Republican/Libertarian

I would include Andrew Sullivan here, but I try to avoid following his blog too closely simply because I want to have time to take showers, pee and step outside. The guy is great and writes great stuff, very often kicking ass argumentatively, but I think he pushes out as many blog pieces a day as every other person in this list.

+Karl Smith and Adam Ozimek (@modeledbehavior), and Niklas Blanchard (@cheapseatsecon) from ModeledBehavior.com:
Karl Smith's a soft libertarian/conservative, Ozimek's a little less forgiving, and Blanchard doesn't like being called a libertarian because libertarians seem crazy to himb, but he's a cruelly pragmatic but not crazy libertarian. I know Blanchard pretty well from the dark recesses of an unfortunately embarrassing internet forum that shall not be named. If you've never taken an economics class but have read some of the basics, these guys are the best guys to look to in order to understand modern economics, current economic events, public and regulation policy, education reform, international trade, and sometimes politics. They're conservative but maddeningly reasonable to everyone from conservatives, centrists, liberals, and libertarians.

David Frum (@davidfrum, former GW Bush speechwriter, excommunicated AEI fellow):
Frum's a Canadian, so beware (socialisms!!!111). He brings an interesting perspective as a Republican who is freaking out over the Republican Party's right-ward lurch. He's a bit of a military hawk, but not as strongly as other Republicans. He's somewhat socially liberal but believes in fiscal responsibility (instead of absolutionist fiscal contractionism). He writes about economics, public policy, and politics, with a rare pinch of political science mixed in.

Bruce Bartlett (Historian, Reagan policy adviser, ex-Treasury official during GHW Bush, excommunicated from National Center for Policy Analysis for criticizing GW Bush, writes for several publications (NYT, WSJ, FT), best to follow his Facebook profile for all his work):
Bartlett's an old school economic conservative - the fiscal responsibility, no funny business or politics, dislikes extremist politics, for balanced budgets but has been advocating against austerity during recession, for Federal Reserve action during recession.

+Josh Barro (@jbarro, National Review, Manhattan Institute):
Barro's a finance guy. He writes a lot about public policy, regulation, libertarian and conservative policy ideas, argues against many progressive/liberal ideas and their inefficiencies, and general economics.

+Julian Sanchez (@normative, Cato Institute, Ars Technica, Reason, The Economist):
Sanchez is very vocal about intellectual property, copyright and internet rights (esp. privacy) issues. He's vocal about online speech and warrantless wiretapping. He also writes about other public policy, especially utilizing his political science background, and some economic issues.

+Reihan Salam (@reihansalam, New America Foundation, and too many publicans to mention, but mostly National Review):
He's probably the guy that took my place at Stuyvesant High School in NYC (that rat bastard). He's a very strong advocate of free-market systems, both in social and economic issues, although he's somewhat of a neocon in some ways. He often writes against divisive politics, especially from conservatives, hoping to bridge gaps between liberals and conservatives toward more reasonable public policy discussion.

+Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo, Atlantic Magazine):
Staunchly libertarian, writes mostly about economics, regulation, public policy, politics and sometimes fits some pop culture into her blog. She'll smack conservatives around for being irrationally intransigent despite mountains of evidence to counter ideological madness as often as she'll take on traditional liberal dogma.

Scott Sumner (themoneyillusion.com):
This guy exhales economic genius all day long. I'm a bloody socialist liberal who is rapidly being transmogriphied into a Milton Friedman monetarist because this guy's economic writing is as close to perfect as you can get. He's made predictions years old and has come out absolutely correct. I didn't trust him at first because it all sounded completely false but I'm sold.

Non-Affiliated Political Science Godliness That Everyone Should Defer To Upon Threat Of Perpetual Stupidity

The Monkey Cage bloggers (John Sides, Joshua Tucker, Erik Voeten, Andrew Gelman, Harry Farrel, Lee Sigelman at themonkeycage.org):

There is no site on the Internet circa 2007 to The End Times that gives you straight political science in the most understandable and profound way. Political science explains the gears behind politics - explaining both the bullshit and the scientific truths behind politics, using statistical models to beat the commonly held myths out of your head. You won't always get the most news updates from these guys but you'll learn the things that matter the most for elections, public sentiment and how bullshit meters work.

^^^ Alll of these guys are equally necessary to get a full grasp of American politics, public policy and economics.

I'm a liberal, so I try to get a better understanding of the conservative/libertarian arguments than the progressive/liberal arguments. I know the latter like the back of my hand, and the liberals/progressives I read satisfy my quench for wonderful socialist commie bastardom.
 
Dan Carlin's Common Sense podcast usually has an interesting take on US politics.
 
Watch the west wing. Some good insight into the nitty gritty of Washington in that show. 
 
Sadly, I have to agree with everyone mentioning Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart. While they are comedians, I find them more informative than most mainstream news organizations. If you don't mind a bit of insanity & flaming, the Politics tab on www.fark.com can be enlightening... though you may lose a bit of your humanity if you read through ALL the comments.
 
I watch/read a wide variety of political folks but I think Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams top my list. They're fair and consistent and not too overly aggressive about how they feel. Just point out facts as they are. Maddow recently opened my eyes to how much the republicans are against Obama than any other Democratic President in history. But not with her thoughts, with facts and charts. 
 
Democracy Now sporadically and NPR almost every day. I'll co-sign to Brian Lehrer. WNYC is always on in the car. I don't watch TV, but I'll catch clips of Stewart and Colbert on Hulu or via FB posts.
 
The Daily Show and Google News U.S. Section.
 
Nothing does it all. The Atlantic and the New Republic are worthwhile and have thoughtful takes on most things, but you wouldn't get anything like comprehensive coverage of the national situation just from a couple of monthly magazines. Slate.com is somewhat interesting, if a little less deep. I disagree on the recommendations of the Nation, for exactly the same reason I can't recommend its equal-but-opposite, National Review: it packs more unquestioned assumptions into every paragraph than a good editor would allow in an entire issue. Both are interesting from an anthropological point of view, but not as a source of consistently worthwhile commentary or journalism- there's a difference between having a strong point of view for which you argue straightforwardly and having slanted writing.

But if you really want to understand the U.S. political situation and context and the reasons behind it? People, National Enquirer, US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, with a side of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and whoever the liberals put up as their equivalent this week. Maybe Fark.com for a broader overview.
 
Those above are libertarian sources.
 
The Atlantic Blogs - Ta-nehisi Coates and Andrew Sullivan. Rachel Maddow online. NYT.
 
Politico for the boiled down late shows.
 
Glenn Greenwald, Jason Leopold, Charles Davis, Steve Hynd and one new influence right here at + and off the charts - Sean Bonner.
 
I'm pretty surprised no one here mentioned The No Agenda Show noagendashow.com with +Adam Curry and +John C Dvorak. As far as I know they are the only ones out there that do what they do. Fully user supported show with no commercial advertisements so there is "No Agenda" in the content they produce.
 
seconds for: Ezra Klein, Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman
 
this is AMAZING, and a special shout to +Edwin Perello for the most comprehensive response. I wish we could permalink to individual comments so I could tweet the hell out of yours. thanks all. I've learned a ton. I hope you have learned from each other as well. peace
 
I've been enjoying Fareed Zakaria lately.
 
Long form: the Atlantic, Mother Jones
Short form: The Week

 
Does anyone REALLY know how the sausage is made?
 
Wow, not much balance here... a lot of propaganda type sources, mostly left... and the comedians, while funny, are very often uninformative and inaccurate... I'd say read Politico. They have good news and comment with a lot of discussion on procedures and behind the scenes politics, maybe slightly left leaning... and the Drudge Report aggregates and links to almost everything worth reading. Might aim a little right, but not as much as everyone wants to believe. heck last week Drudge featured several far lefty Daily Beast articles.
 
+Eric Lawrence, Congress Matters is essential if you want to read about process. FiveThirtyEight collects lots of polling data, and uses statistical analysis to tease out generally nonpartisan conclusions.
 
The process is the shroud by which the magic is hidden.
 
+1 +Marquis Moore for the No Agenda SO! #ITM
 
I use the CBC for most American coverage... BBC is a good backup.
 
I get my regular news from NPR most often. Kind of surprised not to see it mentioned here more often. Not because it is the most in depth or unbiased, but because it's important to use news sources that are at least trying not to link news to selling products. I highly recommend NPR at times of crisis (war, terrorism, natural disaster) because you need to know what is going on, but you DO NOT need reporters and pundits sensationalizing the hell out of something that is already terrifying.

Colbert, Stewart, etc are unsurpassed at what they do, but it's a mistake to call it news and treat it as news, and especially not realize they are whores for viacom.
 
It's a testament to the community of G+ that this thread has not descended into internet comment ignorance and poo-flinging. I love you, G+. #ITM
 
Would also agree that the No Agenda Show noagendashow.com with +Adam Curry and +John C Dvorak is doing some amazing deconstruction of both US and international media (such as RT, BBC, AJE). They watch CSPAN so you don't have to and share their clips with the rest of world, -why take their word for it? I don't agree with all their conclusions but even if 33% of it is true, it's still the most frightening podcast on the planet. Frighteningly accurate.
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