Judd Legum / Popular Information

Although not specifically a tech reporter, progressive writer Judd Legum often tweets and writes about Big Tech and issues like fact-checking as part of his Popular Information newsletter about “politics and power.” With more than 450,000 Twitter followers and many years running ThinkProgress (he was founder and editor-in-chief), Legum has both audience and influence.

Legum has often attacked former President Donald Trump, conservatives, right-wing or libertarian donors and bashes tech companies for decisions that displease him — such as allowing conservative entities fact-checking partnerships. 

He criticized tech companies, especially Facebook for what he considered appeasement of conservatives. In 2018, he described Facebook’s fact-checking initiative as a “farce” designed to “to appease the right wing.” The proof, in his view, was that it made The Weekly Standard (a so-called conservative magazine) a fact-checking partner. 

Legum wasn’t any happier when Check Your Fact (affiliated with The Daily Caller) became a fact-checker. In March 2020, Legum tweeted its role “gives The Daily Caller the ability to label anything posted on Facebook as ‘false information’ and dramatically reduce its distribution.” He added, “It’s now using that power to boost Trump.” 

He accused Check Your Fact of helping Trump by flagging Politico’s story: “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax’” and another coronavirus “hoax” story from NBC “false information.” Mathew Ingram of Columbia Journalism Review disagreed and called Check Your Fact’s interpretation of the remarks “accurate.”

Legum left ThinkProgress to start his subscription newsletter, Popular Information, because he wanted to write and communicate directly with his audience. His mistrust of social media algorithms was one reason. “Don’t trust an algorithm with our Democracy,” says his sign-up website. 

Despite his own skepticism about Big Tech’s priorities and ability to use algorithms against content creators, Legum has dismissed conservative claims of algorithmic bias, shadowbanning and other censorship as “fictional narratives of bias.” He told Vox’s Recode Media podcast such claims of bias are meant to crowd out allegations of other topics like voter suppression.

  • After he attacked two law firms representing the Trump campaign in election disputes as an “attack” on democracy, Legum bragged on Twitter that one of them dumped Trump.
  • He has contacted Facebook multiple times over Trump campaign ads to point out they violate site policies. He accused the company of a “pattern of abuse” for failing to remove ads, and even when ads were removed he complained the company failed to catch it before he did.
  • Legum founded ThinkProgress and was editor-in-chief from 2005 to 2018, when he left to start Popular Information. ThinkProgress was shut down and folded into the Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2019 after it failed to find a new publisher. 
  • While still running ThinkProgress, Legum often targeted University of Colorado Boulder professor Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. for his inconvenient debunking of alarmist climate statistics. Legum even bragged that ClimateProgress was responsible for getting Pielke fired from writing for Nate Silver’s 538 blog.
  • Legum was research director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.
  • He joined the CAP at its founding in 2003 and left in 2005 to run its “sister” project ThinkProgress in 2005. As a left-wing think tank, the CAP has received many years of financial support from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and other liberal foundations. Legum also worked as a research director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

Contact Judd Legum: judd@popular.info, Twitter