David Sirota

David Sirota
David Sirota
Born November 2, 1975 (1975-11-02) (age 36)
New Haven, Connecticut
Occupation Blogger, Columnist, Author
Nationality United States
Genres Non-fiction
Subjects Politics


David J. Sirota (born November 2, 1975) is a progressive Denver-based American political figure, radio show host and commentator.[1] He is an author,[2] book reviewer,[3] nationally syndicated newspaper columnist,[4] a Democratic political strategist,[5] political operative,[6] Democratic spokesperson,[7] and blogger.[8] He is generally considered to be a political progressive[9] as well as a critic of neoliberal economic policies.[10] He has criticized both left[11] and right[12] as well as excessive presidential power.[13]


Early life and education

Sirota was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in the Montgomery County suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[14] After being educated at the William Penn Charter School, he went to Northwestern University,[14] where he earned his bachelor's degree with honors in journalism and political science. He has lived in various cities around the country including Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Helena, and Denver.[15]

Political career

Sirota's career in political campaigns began when he became a research director for Illinois State Senator Howard Carroll's unsuccessful run for U.S. Representative in Illinois's 9th congressional district in the 1998 election; Carroll lost in the Democratic primary to J. B. Pritzker and Illinois State Representative Jan Schakowsky.[16] Sirota then became a fundraiser for Joe Hoeffel in his first successful campaign for the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district.[17]

In 1999, Sirota served as deputy campaign manager for Philadelphia mayoral candidate Dwight E. Evans, who is currently a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 203rd District (Philadelphia County). Sirota was fired after being linked to a bogus Web site apparently intended to hurt a rival candidate.[18]

Later he moved to Washington, D.C. and worked in the political department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).[19] His next job was as press aide and then spokesperson for Bernie Sanders, the independent at-large U.S. Representative from Vermont who describes himself as a "democratic socialist".[14][17][20]

Sirota worked as spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.[21][22][23] While a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy group,[24][25] he created its Progress Report.[26]

In 2003 Newsweek profiled Sirota as a "political operative" skilled at "hacking out a daily barrage of anti-Bush media clips, commentary, and snappy quotes" who made "guerrilla attacks on the Bush administration" and who was "well schooled in the art of Washington warfare."[14] According to the article, Sirota's main weapons were computer emails; Sirota was described as the "Internet child of the Clinton War Room generation."[14] Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta was quoted about Sirota: "I just saw he had an eye for critique and the instinct for the jugular."[14] Sirota unearthed an embarrassing comment which Colin Powell had made two years earlier to the effect that "Iraq posed no threat to its neighbors, and possessed no 'significant capability' in weapons of mass destruction;" Sirota spread it; reporters pounced; and it became a public relations blow to the Bush administration.[14] Sirota was credited with having spread the fact that $87 billion for Iraq could have been used to erase huge state deficits here at home, and this line was parroted by Democrats nationwide.[14]

He served as a senior strategist for Brian Schweitzer's[27] unsuccessful 2000 Senate campaign and successful 2004 gubernatorial campaign.[28][29] In September 2006, Sirota worked as a political consultant for Ned Lamont's U.S. Senate campaign.[30] Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the primary, but Lieberman ran as an independent and defeated Lamont in the November election. In 2008, Sirota was co-chair of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (now renamed the Progressive States Network).[23] He was a senior fellow at the Campaign for America's Future.[23]

Media career

In May 2005, Sirota became a contributor to The Huffington Post[31] while writing his own blog. He was a regular guest on The Al Franken Show and makes guest appearances on The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NOW, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNBC, and NPR. He is a senior editor at In These Times,[32] a regular columnist for The Nation, and a past contributor to The American Prospect. He has been published in The Washington Post,[33][34] the Los Angeles Times,[35] the Baltimore Sun,[36] and the San Francisco Chronicle.[37][38]

Sirota was a contributor to OpenLeft, a now-defunct progressive political blog. In June 2007, he replaced the late progressive columnist Molly Ivins with a column to be syndicated nationally by Creators Syndicate.[39] Sirota became a contributing writer for Salon in May 2011.[40]

As of November 2009, he hosts his own radio show daily on KKZN AM 760 in Denver.

Hostile Takeover

In May 2006, Random House's Crown Publishers released Sirota's book Hostile Takeover.[41] The first chapter of the book was published in the New York Times in July 2006.[42] Sirota read sections of his book in public.[23] In the book, Sirota argued that corporate interests are driving U.S. economic policy. The book became a New York Times bestseller on July 9, 2006, entering at #23 on the nonfiction list.[43] The paperback edition came out a year later.

Sirota's Hostile Takeover (2006) was reviewed by New York Times critic Tobin Harshaw who described Sirota as a "Montana-based blogger with a take-no-prisoners mind-set" with "an admirably organized mind". Harshaw applauded some Sirota suggestions as "admirably specific, occasionally realistic and arguably on the side of the angels" and capable of bipartisan support, such as his recommendations for "regulating malpractice insurance for doctors ... restoring state control over class-action laws ... (and) forcing chief executives to certify corporate tax returns so they face liability for fraud."[44] He felt Sirota was critical of "mainstream Democratic centrists".[44] Harshaw criticized the writing style as "cliched" and "oppressive" and too lengthy and needing an editor, but admitted Sirota presented a "creditable analysis."[44]

Sirota responded to Harshaw's review in a letter to the editor. Sirota denied his book was critical of mainstream Democrats but aimed squarely at "exposing Republican hypocrisy."[45] He described his position as a "centrist exploration of the corruption of the entire system" which "isn't the fault of just one party or another."[45]

There was controversy in 2007 about whether Sirota was a "journalist" or an "activist".[20][46] While the Washington press corps tends to see him as an "activist", at one point he was criticized for skirting the rules about access to Congress, which would on some occasions deny activists access, by getting a "temporary intern's ID"; this gave him access to the Senate chamber, but he was criticized in the Washington Post afterwards.[20] He was described as having "pulled an end-run around the press galleries."[46][47] Sirota denied he got "special access" and that such a claim was "just bizarre."[20] He added: "I think a lot of reporters on the Hill want to monopolize access to our government as a way to preserve their monopoly on news I guess."[20] There were comments that other journalists were essentially activists as well; one noted "(Weekly Standard columnist) Fred Barnes has credentials, he espouses political views."[46]

The Uprising

Sirota's book The Uprising was released in June 2008.[48][49] It was ranked 20th on the New York Times bestseller list on June 15, 2008.[50][51] The book was also listed on the New York Times Political Bestseller list for the month of July 2008.[52][53] Sirota made speeches about his book at venues such as Hofstra University.[53]

A mostly positive review of The Uprising from Publishers Weekly described the book as chronicling "how ordinary citizens on the right and the left are marshaling their frustrations with the government into uprisings across the country."[54] The reviewer cited "entertaining case studies" with a "conversational" tone and a fast paced narrative with "numerous high notes."[54] Sirota gave a "fine elucidation of continuing Democratic support for the Iraq War" and examined the "echo chamber qualities of beltway television shows like Hardball."[54] The book presents "a rousing account of the local uprisings already in effect."[54]

A Newark Star-Ledger political critic reviewing the book described Sirota as an "enterprising" reporter who used "resourceful" tactics to get entry into such venues as Capitol Hill, the Microsoft campus, an ExxonMobil stockholders' meeting, and the Mexican border.[47] In the book, Sirota attacks CNN star Lou Dobbs less for his "endless broadcasts on illegal immigration" but more for the way he "browbeats his staff and runs roughshod over the CNN management."[47] The critic felt the book's "search for a national uprising is somewhat out of focus" but was a "lively read."[47]

Political orientation

Sirota is a critic of neoliberal economic policies, and has leveled criticism at the Clinton,[55] George W. Bush,[14] and Obama[38] administrations. Sirota supported John Edwards in the 2008 Democratic party primaries.[56] He has criticized the Democratic Leadership Council and other Democrats, whom he claims have "sold out" to corporate interests, and has argued that the term "centrist" is a misnomer in that these politicians are out of touch with public opinion. Sirota's article "The Democrats' Da Vinci Code" argues that leftist politicians are more successful in so-called "red states" than the mainstream media have previously reported.[57] He is an opponent of free trade policies,[27] a supporter of fair trade, and an advocate of workers' rights[27] and organized labor.[27] His May 2007 speech at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte articulated many of his views.[27] Sirota supported Sherrod Brown over Paul Hackett for the 2006 Senate election in Ohio and criticized Hackett's claims that he was "forced out" of the race by party elders as disingenuous.[58] In 2008, Sirota stated on radio program Democracy Now! that he had cast an early vote for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama instead of for Republican John McCain.[59]

Sirota redefined and popularized the term American Czarism in January 2009[13] to warn against excessive presidential power; he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle "every patriot should be concerned about the intensifying efforts to supplant democracy with something far more authoritarian ... Call it American czarism."[13] The term has been used sporadically in the past with different meanings.[60][61]

Sirota has been a strong supporter of the economic stimulus efforts of the Obama administration.[62] However, he has criticized such efforts as insufficient and has strongly supported further stimulus efforts.[62]


  • Hostile Takeover: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, 2006[41]
  • The Uprising: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—And How We Take It Back, 2008[49]
  • Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now—Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything, 2011


  1. ^ "Political commentator references". 
  2. ^ "Author references". 
  3. ^ "Book reviewer references". 
  4. ^ "Columnist references". 
  5. ^ "Democratic strategist references". 
  6. ^ "Political operative references". 
  7. ^ "Democratic spokesperson references". 
  8. ^ "Blogger references". 
  9. ^ "Progressive references". 
  10. ^ "Criticizes neoliberals references". 
  11. ^ "Criticizes left-leaning references". 
  12. ^ "Criticized right-leaning references". 
  13. ^ a b c David Sirota (January 18, 2009). "U.S. moving toward czarism, away from democracy". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/17/INGP158S4G.DTL. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Richard Wolffe (October 27, 2003). "A Man With A Mission – He's Young, Fierce And Determined To Stop George W. Bush In 2004. Meet David Sirota, The Democrats' E-Mail Commando". NEWSWEEK. http://www.newsweek.com/id/61918. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  15. ^ David Sirota (February 2, 2009). "Denver Is Officially Awesome". Open Left. http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=11323. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  16. ^ Roll Call, 2/12/98
  17. ^ a b National Journal's "The Hotline," 11/23/99
  18. ^ Cynthia Burton, Peter Nicholas and Monica Yant, Published on 1999-02-27, Page A01, Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
  19. ^ Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair (May 5, 2006). "When Corruption is a One-Way Street – David Sirota: Despite Hostile Takeover, He's Still Not Willing to Let Go of the Democrats". counterpunch. http://www.counterpunch.org/sirota05052006.html. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Mary Ann Akers (February 12, 2007). "Sirota: Journalist or Activist?". The Washington Post. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/sleuth/2007/02/sirota_journalist_or_activist.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  21. ^ Philip shenon (April 28, 2002). "White House Seeks Savings By Changing Student Loans". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/28/us/white-house-seeks-savings-by-changing-student-loans.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  22. ^ Matthew l. wald (April 23, 2002). "A NATION CHALLENGED: NUCLEAR SECURITY; White House Cut 93% of Funds Sought to Guard Atomic Arms". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/23/us/nation-challenged-nuclear-security-white-house-cut-93-funds-sought-guard-atomic.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  23. ^ a b c d David Sirota (June 4, 2008). "Book World: 'The Uprising'". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/06/02/DI2008060202445.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  24. ^ richard w. stevenson (September 21, 2003). "A Change of Tone: Pitfalls Emerge in Iraq". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/21/politics/21MEMO.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. [dead link]
  25. ^ Rachel l. swarns (March 26, 2004). "Ex-Aide’s Book Corners Market in Capital Buzz". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/26/politics/26BOOK.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-09-23. [dead link]
  26. ^ Boston Globe, 12/12/03
  27. ^ a b c d e David Sirota (May 21, 2007). "Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying – Editor’s Note: Author and political organizer David Sirota spoke on May 18th, 2007 at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte, Montana. Here’s the transcript, reprinted in full on The Nation’s website.". The Nation. http://davidsirota.com/index.php/get-busy-living-or-get-busy-dying/. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  28. ^ Kirk Johnson (November 5, 2008). "Fertile Ground With New Voters in Growing West". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/us/politics/06west.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  29. ^ Mark sundeen (October 8, 2006). "The Big-Sky Dem". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/magazine/08governor.html?pagewanted=2. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  30. ^ Kate Zernike (February 8, 2007). "Allied With Democrats, Lieberman Easily Aligns With Republicans". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/08/us/politics/08lieberman.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  31. ^ Howard Kurtz (December 5, 2008). "Trading The Talk for The Walk? – Host's Political Hopes Put MSNBC on the Spot". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/04/AR2008120403901.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  32. ^ "Literary Calendar: May 8–14, 2006". The Washington Post. May 7, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/04/AR2006050401647.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  33. ^ David Sirota (June 11, 2006). "FIND YOUR TRUE CENTER (Don't Compromise)". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/09/AR2006060902000.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  34. ^ Sirota, David (2006-06-11). "FIND YOUR TRUE CENTER (Don't Compromise)". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/09/AR2006060902000.html. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  35. ^ Los Angeles Times, 9/6/04 http://www.davidsirota.com/index.php/late-great-middle-class/
  36. ^ Baltimore Sun, 3/30/07
  37. ^ Sirota, David (2009-02-08). "PUBLIC FINANCING / Energy taxes' Faustian bargain". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/08/INRC15MO88.DTL. 
  38. ^ a b David Sirota, Creators Syndicate (February 6, 2009). "Despite Obama's promises, rival views are scrubbed from White House". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/06/EDGO15O7A8.DTL. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  39. ^ [1][dead link]
  40. ^ Lauerman, Kelly (11-05-2011). "Even more David Sirota – in Salon". Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/about/inside_salon/2011/05/11/sirota_to_salon/index.html. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  41. ^ a b Sirota, David (May 22, 2007). Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—And How We Take It Back (Paperback). Three Rivers Press. pp. 384 pages. ISBN 978-0307237354. http://www.princeton.lib.nj.us/catelists/200609/New_Non-Fiction-_Adult_Collection/37.html. 
  42. ^ David sirota (July 23, 2006). "First Chapter – ‘Hostile Takeover’". The New York Times – First Chapters. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/books/chapters/0723-1st-siro.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  43. ^ [2][dead link]
  44. ^ a b c Tobin harshaw (July 23, 2006). "Books by David Sirota and George Lakoff – Manic Progressives". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/books/review/23harshaw.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  45. ^ a b David Sirota (September 23, 2009). "Letters to the Editor: Fighting Words". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E07E7DE123FF935A3575BC0A9609C8B63. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  46. ^ a b c Mary Ann Akers (February 13, 2007). "Sirota: Journalist or Activist, Part II". The Washington Post. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/sleuth/2007/02/sirota_journalist_or_activist_1.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  47. ^ a b c d Tom Mackin (Tom Mackin). "Seeking the malcontents". Newark Star-Ledger. http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2008/09/all_in_the_family.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  48. ^ [3][dead link]
  49. ^ a b Sirota, David (2008-04-28). The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. United States: Crown. pp. 400 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39563-4. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6554735.html. 
  50. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. 2008-06-22. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/books/bestseller/0622besthardnonfiction.html. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  51. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction – list of bestsellers". The New York Times. June 22, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/books/bestseller/0622besthardnonfiction.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  52. ^ Buddo, Orville (2008-07-04). "July's Poli-Book Best Sellers". The New York Times. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/04/julys-poli-book-best-sellers/. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  53. ^ a b "Upcoming Events – Past Events – November 12, 2008 (date of speech by David Sirota)". Hofstra University. October 15, 2008. http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/educ8/educ8_events.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  54. ^ a b c d Staff writer (2008-04-28). "Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 4/28/2008". Publishers Weekly. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6554735.html. Retrieved 2009-09-23. [dead link]
  55. ^ Anne E. Kornblut (April 30, 2006). "From Senator Clinton, a Lesson in Tactical Bipartisanship". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/nyregion/30hillary.html?pagewanted=print. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  56. ^ David Sirota (November 8, 2007). "Clinton Announces Support for NAFTA Expansion". Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/breaking-clinton-announce_b_71853.html. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  57. ^ David J. Sirota (December 8, 2004). "The Democrats' Da Vinci Code". The American Prospect. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=8917. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  58. ^ David Sirota (February 14, 2006). "My Take on Ohio". Sirotablog. http://www.davidsirota.com/2006/02/my-take-on-ohio.html. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  59. ^ Guests: David Sirota and Glen Ford (October 21, 2008). "Barack Obama Accepts Endorsement of Colin Powell Despite the Ex-General’s Role in Making the Case for Iraq War". Democracy Now!. http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/21/barack_obama_accepts_endorsement_of_colin. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  60. ^ Daniel De Leon (1907-02-10) (PDF). The Revolution in Russia. Daily People, New York. http://www.marxists.org/archive/deleon/pdf/1907/feb10_1907.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  61. ^ Rodrigues, Gustave; James Mark Baldwin (1918-01-14). The people of action: an essay on American idealism. C. Scribner's Sons. http://books.google.com/?id=KyQIAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=%22american+czarism%22+-sirota&q=%22american%20czarism%22%20-sirota. 
  62. ^ a b David Sirota: What a Second Stimulus Should – and Shouldn't – Look Like. Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-25.

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