David Corn

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David Corn is the current Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine, and former Washington editor of The Nation.

Corn is a frequent commentator on television and radio, having been a guest on Hardball, The Rachel Maddow Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, as well as several NPR, BBC, and CBC radio programs.[1]

Mitch McConnell Campaign's Attack on Ashley Judd

Audio of Mitch McConnell Campaign's Meeting on Ashley Judd

On April 9th, 2013, David Corn released a recording on Mother Jones exposing a conversation between Senator Mitch McConnell and his campaign staff regarding how to address potential political challenger Ashley Judd. The recording depicts the staff discussing tactics to use Judd's history of depression and religious views against her if she were to run.[2]

Early in the recording, Senator McConnell asks his staff if they're familiar with "Whac-A-Mole," explaining, "This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign...when anybody sticks their head up, do them out." In the subsequent discussion, McConnell and his staff analyze Judd's biographical details, public appearances, personal beliefs, and history of mental illness. At one point, a McConnell aide declares, "She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it's been documented..."[2]

When asked for a statement regarding the legitimacy of using Judd's mental health or religion against her in a political campaign, Senator McConnell avoided the question, repeatedly comparing the bugging of his office to Nixon's Watergate scandal.[3]

Involvement with "47 Percent" Video

In 2012, after finding a damaging video of presidential candidate Mitt Romney online, James Carter (grandson of former President Jimmy Carter) tracked down the individual who anonymously posted the video. Carter discovered that the source of the video was Scott Prouty, a citizen journalist who recorded the "47 Percent" video which showed Romney making controversial remarks while speaking candidly at a campaign fundraiser. Carter proceeded to connect Prouty with David Corn, who became the proxy for the "47 Percent" video, re-releasing it through Mother Jones on September 17, 2012.[4] As the video went viral, Corn closely protected Prouty's identity until the day that he revealed himself on The Ed Show in March 2013.

47 Percent Video (part 1)

In the "47 Percent" video, Romney tells the $50,000 a plate crowd that 47 percent of voters would choose Obama “no matter what” because they are people "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. ... My job is not to worry about those people," Romney says. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The tape had a tremendous impact on the election as it was perceived as Romney speaking his true feelings to an elite group of funders. The "47 percent are moochers" theme struck by Romney was echoed by other candidates in the election cycle, such as VP candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI), who frequently spoke of "takers" vs. "makers."[5] In a formal GOP analysis of why the GOP lost released in March 2013 dubbed the "autopsy report," party leaders made the case that the Grand Old Party is increasingly perceived as being "scary" and "out of touch" with the majority of Americans with interests inimical to the American people. "The perception that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party and its candidates on the federal level, especially in presidential years. It is a major deficiency that must be addressed," says the autopsy (pg. 7).[6]

David Corn was awarded the 2012 George Polk Award in the category of Political Reporting for his coverage of the "47 Percent" video.[7]

The "Plame Affair"

In 2003 a Washington Post article entitled "Mission to Niger" journalist Robert Novak exposed sensitive information about Valerie Plame Wilson, an American Central Intelligence Agency operative.[8] Four days after Novak's article was published, David Corn published a response article in The Nation which harshly critiqued Novak's work. Corn was the first to report that Novak had compromised Wilson's covert status and suggested that there may be legal repercussions for compromising the identity of a covert CIA agent.[9] Other media outlets proceeded to pick up on the controversial story as details surrounding the case continued to surface.

Charges regarding this information breach were eventually filed against top government officials including Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush's Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and Cheney's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby. While the rest were acquitted, Libby was convicted on four counts related to perjury and was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, though his prison time was later commuted by President Bush.[10] Karl Rove resigned shortly after the trial.[11]


  • Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Battled the GOP to Set Up the 2012 Election (HarperCollins, 2012).
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (with Michael Isikoff) (Crown, 2006).
  • The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown, 2003).
  • Deep Background (St. Martin's Press, 2001).
  • Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades (Simon & Schuster, 1994).

External links


  1. David Corn Politics Daily, accessed April 17, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 David Corn, Full Transcript and Audio of Mitch McConnell Campaign's Meeting on Ashley Judd, Mother Jones, April 9, 2013.
  3. Sen. Mitch McConnell Responds To Leaked Ashley Judd Audio, Push Back Politics, April 9, 2013.
  4. Paige Lavender, 47 Percent Video: James Carter IV Says 'It's Nice To Be Able To Hit Back', The Huffington Post, February 23, 2013.
  5. Brett Brownell and Nick Baumann, Paul Ryan's Version of "47 Percent"—the "Takers" vs. the "Makers," Mother Jones, October 5, 2012.
  6. Growth and Opportunity Project, Recommendations, 2013.
  7. Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones' David Corn Wins George Polk Award, Mother Jones, February 17, 2013.
  8. Mission to Niger Robert Novak, The Washington Post, July 13, 2003.
  9. Nigergate Thuggery David Corn, The Nation, July 17, 2003
  10. Bush Commutes Libby's Prison Sentence MSNBC, accessed April 19, 2013.
  11. Rove to Leave White House Post, Peter Baker and Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post, August 14, 2007.