Eric Alterman (born January 14, 1960) is an American historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger and educator. He is a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and the author of eleven books. From 1995 to 2020, Alterman was "The Liberal Media" columnist for ''The Nation''. He is now a contributing writer there, and at ''The American Prospect'' where he writes the "Altercation" newsletter.

Early life and education

Alterman was born to a Jewish family and earned a BA in history and government from Cornell University, an MA in international relations from Yale University, and a PhD in U.S. history from Stanford University.



Alterman began his journalism career in 1983, freelancing originally for ''The Nation'', ''The Washington Monthly'', ''The New Republic'', ''Harper's'', ''Le Monde diplomatique'' and, later, ''Vanity Fair'', ''The New York Times Magazine'', ''The New Yorker'' and ''The Atlantic Monthly'', among others, while working as a senior fellow for the World Policy Institute in New York City and Washington, DC. Not long after, he became the Washington correspondent for ''Mother Jones'' and. soon thereafter, ''Rolling Stone'', before returning to ''The Nation'' as a columnist in 1995. Alterman has also been a contributing editor or columnist for ''Elle'', ''Worth'', ''Rolling Stone'', ''Mother Jones'', ''The Guardian'', ''The Daily Beast'', ''The Forward'', ''Moment'' and ''The Sunday Express'' (London) and contributed to ''The New Yorker'', ''The Atlantic'' and ''Le Monde Diplomatique'', among other publications. In 2021, he restarted "Altercation" as a newsletter published by ''The American Prospect''.


Alterman was hired by MSNBC in 1996, appearing as a commentator on the cable channel and writing a column posted on its website. In 2002, MSNBC engaged him to create the blog daily "Altercation", one of the first blogs hosted by a mainstream media news organization. In September 2006, after a ten-year association, Alterman and MSNBC parted ways. Media Matters for America hired him as a senior fellow and agreed to host "Altercation", effective from September 18, 2006. Regular contributors to "Altercation" included the sportswriter Charlie Pierce and the historian and military officer Robert Bateman. On December 22, 2008, Alterman announced that "Altercation" would be moving to ''The Nation''s website in 2009, and would appear on a less regular basis than its previous Monday to Friday schedule. He has also worked as a history consultant for HBO Films.


Alterman's first book was ''Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy'', which won the 1992 George Orwell Award. Alterman wrote the book while studying for his doctorate in US history at Stanford University. Alterman's other books include the national best-sellers ''What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News'' (2003, 2004) and ''The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America'' (2004). Others include ''Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy'' (1998) and the second edition of ''Sound & Fury'' (2000). His ''It Ain't No Sin to be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen'' (1999, 2001) won the 1999 Stephen Crane Literary Award. In September 2004, Viking Press published ''When Presidents Lie|When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences'' - a version of his doctoral dissertation - on lies of major consequence told by presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. His seventh book, published in 2008 by Viking was called ''Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America''. Also in 2008, Alterman published a lengthy essay in ''The New Yorker'' on the decline of American newspapers and the future role of new media news sites. His eighth book, ''Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama'', was published in early 2011. It was an extension of his lengthy article published in summer 2010 by ''The Nation''. Alterman's ninth book, ''The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama'' (2012), is a history of postwar American liberalism co-authored with the historian Kevin Mattson. Three years later, in 2015, his tenth book, ''Inequality in One City: Bill de Blasio and the New York Experiment'' was published. In 2020, he published his eleventh book, ''Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie and Why Trump is Worse''.

Media criticism

Alterman's media criticism was the subject of two of his books. In contrast to conservative media commentators, Alterman argues that the press is biased against liberals rather than biased in their favor. He was called "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today" in the ''National Catholic Reporter'' and the author of "the smartest and funniest political journal out there" in ''The San Francisco Chronicle''. In 2008, Alterman became a regular columnist for the Jewish magazine. ''Moment'', where he wrote regularly about Jewish issues. From 2009 to 2012, he was also a regular contributor to ''The Daily Beast''. Alterman has taught journalism at both New York University and Columbia University. Since fall 2004, he has been a professor of English at Brooklyn College, where he teaches courses in media and media history. In 2007, he was named a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.


Alterman was and remains a critic of Ralph Nader for Nader's actions in the 2000 US presidential election, arguing that Nader is to blame for the election of George W. Bush because of vote splitting. He has called Nader "Bush's Useful Idiot", myopic, and a deluded megalomaniac. In the documentary ''An Unreasonable Man'', he is quoted as saying:
The man needs to go away. I think he needs to live in a different country. He's done enough damage to this one. Let him damage somebody else's now.
Alterman has also criticized Steve Jobs for his avarice and for failing to give any of his wealth to the poor. Jobs died with more than $8 billion in various bank accounts and with shareholdings in a tax-free fund with assets of more than $70 billion. He has also accused Apple of business practices that ultimately result in the misery of Chinese workers. He appears in the award-winning documentary film on Lee Atwater, ''Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story''. In it, Alterman said, "Race is poison, but it is poison that works for their side. People vote their fears and not their hopes, and Lee understood that." He also appears in Robert Greenwald's documentary ''Outfoxed''. ''Best of Enemies'' a documentary about Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. His critics have called him a member of the Israel lobby.What's on a man's mind
Interview with Reihan Salam. ''BloggingHeads.tv''. Recorded March 13, 2009. Posted March 16, 2009.
Alterman notes that his views on Israel are attacked by both the left for being too pro-Israel and the right, such as ''The Weekly Standard'', for not supporting Israel enough. He has announced that his next book will be a history of the Israel/Palestine debate in the United States, to be published by Basic Books in either 2021 or 2022.

Major works

* ''Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy'' (1992, 1993, 2000) * ''Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy'', (1998) * ''It Ain't No Sin to be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen'' (1999, 2001) * ''What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News'' (2003, 2004) * ''The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America'' (2004) * ''When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences'', (2004, 2005) * ''Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals'' (2008, 2009) * ''Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama'' (2011) * ''The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama'' with Kevin Mattson (2012) * ''Inequality and One City: Bill de Blasio and the New York Experiment, Year One'' (2015) * ''Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie - And Why Trump Is Worse'' (2020)

Honors and awards

During the course of his career, Alterman has been recognized for the following honors and awards: * Winner, 1993 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language for ''Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy'' * Winner, Stephen Crane Literary Award for ''It Ain't No Sin to be Glad You're Alive'', 1999 * Finalist, Mirror Awards for "Best Single Article, Traditional" and "Best Commentary, Digital", 2009 * Finalist, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary, Digital", 2010 * Winner, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary, Digital" and Finalist, "Best Commentary, Traditional", 2011 * Finalist, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary, Traditional", 2012 * Media Fellow, Hoover Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, California, June 2013 * Finalist, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary, Digital" and "Best Commentary, Traditional", 2013 * Finalist, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary, Traditional" 2014 * Finalist, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary", 2016 * Selected, Schusterman Fellow, Brandeis University, 2016 * Elected to be Fellow of the Society of American Historians, 2016 * Winner, Mirror Award for "Best Commentary", 2017


External links

Eric Alterman.com
''official website'' * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Alterman, Eric Category:1960 births Category:Living people Category:American political writers Category:American male bloggers Category:American bloggers Category:American columnists Category:American media critics Category:American political commentators Category:Place of birth missing (living people) Category:Jewish American historians Category:Jewish American writers Category:The Nation (U.S. magazine) people Category:Cornell University alumni Category:Yale University alumni Category:Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences alumni Category:Video bloggers Category:Center for American Progress people Category:Brooklyn College faculty Category:American academics of English literature Category:New York University faculty Category:Columbia University faculty Category:People from Scarsdale, New York Category:20th-century American non-fiction writers Category:21st-century American non-fiction writers Category:Scarsdale High School alumni Category:20th-century American male writers Category:21st-century American historians Category:Historians from New York (state)