Photo By bill mccullough

Photo By bill mccullough

"Can a Democrat Ever Win in Texas?"
New York, July 10, 2018
I first met Beto O'Rourke in 2011, back when he was a young city councilman in El Paso and I was visiting the city to report a magazine feature about the politics of immigration and the border. (Here's the earlier article.) Six years later, O'Rourke launched a campaign for the Senate against Ted Cruz, and I spent a few eventful days on the road with the "vigorous, toothsome, tech-savvy, culture-straddling congressman ... who might as well have been conjured to life in a South by Southwest keynote speech." (That's me in the background of the photo, sweating as I try to keep up with him at a predawn "Run with Beto" event in Houston.) O'Rourke campaigned as a champion of the anti-Trump resistance, taking unabashedly progressive stands, and used social media to build a fervent national following. But I still had to ask: Could a Democrat run like that — and win — in America's most Republican state?

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"This is Ajit Pai, Nemesis of Net Neutrality"
Wired, June 2018
A profile of the nerdy Republican attorney who — with obvious discomfort — serves at Donald Trump's chairman of the FCC.  "The competition is stiff, but Pai may be the most reviled man on the internet. He is despised as both a bumbling rube, trying too hard to prove he gets it, and a cunning villain, out to destroy digital freedom. " But even his adversaries admit Pai is an anomaly in the Trump administration: a competent administrator, a fine legal mind, and a skillful practitioner of the Washington game. "Behind Pai’s brainy, technocratic mask, though, is an alter ego: ruthless conservative ideologue. In this sense, he is emblematic of Trump’s Washington, where all debates—even the bone-dry bureaucratic ones—have become so heated that they are fought like matters of life and death."


"Can Nikki Haley Save the World?"
New York, December 10, 2017
"Once a fierce critic of Donald Trump’s divisive policies, Haley is now ambassador to the United Nations, perhaps his most presentable emissary to the world: the diplomatic face of a profoundly undiplomatic presidency. One former adviser to George W. Bush calls her 'the most normal thing the president has done in foreign policy.' Haley doesn’t seek to reconcile these contradictions. She just breezes past them, on her way to a more important destination."


"Daniel Ellsberg is Still Thinking About the Papers He Didn't Get to Leak"
New York, November 28, 2017
When he gave the Pentagon Papers to the press, Daniel Ellsberg exposed the lies the government was telling about Vietnam, sparked a constitutional crisis, drove Richard Nixon crazy, and nearly ended up spending his life in prison. But it turns out he was still keeping another secret, an even bigger one, about the military's plans for ending the world.


"The Original Russia Connection"
New York, August 3, 2017
"Shit, I wanted to be the détente guy, why not? But was it really a conspiracy between Putin and Donald to get him elected? A little bit of a stretch.” My intriguing conversations with Felix Sater, the former money launderer, spy and business partner of Donald Trump, whom a federal prosecutor once called, in a secret proceeding, “the key to open a hundred different doors.”

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"Is Trump Inc. the President's Greatest Vulnerability?"
New York, June 12, 2017
Delving deep into the president's business, with a cast of characters that includes: Norm Eisen, Washington's happy ethics warrior, a prospective development partner who calls himself the "Turkish Trump," a band of crusading constitutional law scholars, and an anonymous ex-government official who is an expert on Russian corruption.

"The Young Trump"
New York, January 9, 2017
Until very recently, and to all outward appearances, Jared Kushner was just another socially striving young businessman with inoffensively Bloombergian political values. Then his father-in-law ran for president, and Kushner — the boyish proprietor of a family real estate firm and a Manhattan newspaper — was catapulted into a position of unimaginable power. As Kushner prepared to take on his new role as President Trump's most trusted adviser and enforcer in the West Wing, his old friends were confused, wondering whether he really shared their values and worldview — indeed, whether he had ever really belonged to their world at all. In fact, Kushner was more like his father-in-law than anyone imagined.

"Most Likely to Destroy a Governor"
New York, September 18, 2016
David Wildstein, an obscure former suburban mayor and anonymous political blogger, always worked in the shadows of New Jersey government. Then he went to work for his old high school classmate, Chris Christie. Dirty tricks and disaster ensued. A tale of boyhood ambition and a bridge too far.

"I, Snowbot"
New York, June 26, 2016
For a man accused of espionage and effectively exiled in Russia, Edward Snowden is also, strangely, free. I followed the N.S.A.'s most wanted man as he traveled America in robotic form, coordinating an impassioned campaign against surveillance — and for clemency — from a keyboard in Moscow.

"Et tu, Tribe?"
New York, July 28, 2015
Laurence Tribe, the eminent Harvard law professor, was a mentor to his student Barack Obama. But when he took on a controversial case, fighting the White House climate plan on behalf of Big Coal, he placed his relationship with the president in jeopardy, along with his reputation as one of the country's foremost constitutional scholars.


"Your New Landlord"
Bloomberg Businessweek, May 21, 2015
Adam Neumann, a long-haired Israeli entrepreneur, claimed to have invented a new kind of workplace for a new generation of itinerant freelancers. His fun-loving, beer-swilling startup, WeWork, was valued at $5 billion at the time this cover story appeared. (Later venture capital rounds increased its valuation to $16 billion.) Was the rapidly expanding company for real, or just the beneficiary of a Silicon Valley bubble? To look for the answer, I decided to go to work there.

The Pierre Omidyar Insurgency
New York, November 2, 2014
The billionaire founder of eBay was a mild-mannered Obama supporter looking for a way to spend his time and fortune. Edward Snowden’s leaks gave him a cause — and an enemy.

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Anatomy of a Campus Coup
 New York Times Magazine, September 16, 2012
When the University of Virginia’s secretive board abruptly fired the school’s president, they set off a rebellion and thrust the school into a national debate about the future of higher education. A cover article exploring the inside story behind the failed ouster.

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Life on the Line
 New York Times Magazine, July 31, 2011
A multifaceted cover story about El Paso, written at the height of the vicious drug war in Ciudad Juárez, the neighboring metropolis just across the Rio Grande. “One side is Texas; the other, Mexico. The border’s way of life — its business, legitimate and otherwise — has always relied upon the circumvention of this dividing line.”


Miss Grundy Was Fired Today
 New York, March 21, 2011
Once deified, now demonized, teachers are under assault from union-busting Republicans on the right and wealthy liberals on the left. And leading the charge is a woman most famous for losing her job: former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

"The Fall Of Intrade And The Business Of Betting On Real Life"
BuzzFeed, February 20, 2014
The website Intrade was dedicated to a radical-sounding proposition: that free markets could be used to reliably forecast elections and other world events. Over a tumultuous decade of existence, it made fervent converts out of hedge fund investors, Las Vegas gamblers, Washington journalists, and a small cadre of economists who specialized in theories of prediction. But when the offshore futures exchange's chief executive died on top of Mount Everest, the end was all too foreseeable.


A Stake in the Sand
 New York Times Magazine, March 21, 2010
Some beachfront homeowners in Destin, Florida decided they would rather see their beaches erode than share their sand with the tanning masses—and they fought their case all the way to the Supreme Court.


The Pivot
 Fast Company, July/August 2012
Entrepreneur Justin Kan had youth, ingenuity and famous technology investors on his side. But after five years, four complete shifts in business plan, and one Congressional investigation, he had one last chance to make his live video business work. The story behind Twitch, the “e-sports” website that would later sell to Amazon for nearly $1 billion.


Bulb In, Bulb Out
 New York Times Magazine, June 3, 2011
How many scientists does it take to make a better light bulb?


Nuclear Standoff
 The New Republic, March 12, 2010
Beneath Coles Hill, a historic Virginia plantation, there sits a mineral deposit that could be worth billions. There’s just one problem: the mineral is uranium.


The Octopus Conspiracy
Wired, February 4, 2011
Rachel Begley always wanted to know the truth behind the mystery of her father’s murder. Then she stumbled upon a community of internet conspiracy theorists—and discovered a suspect.


Romney’s Mustard Base: A guide to South Carolina barbeque and the Republican primary
Capital New York, January 18, 2012
The news is dated. The restaurant recommendations are not.


Seam Stress
 The Nation, September 1, 2008
What the Mitchell Report tells us about baseball’s steroid era, and what it misses.


Dry Run
 The New Yorker, October 11, 2004
A group of foreign dignitaries come to observe the 2004 election.

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Oh, Obama! Young Buck's Already Big in Kenya
 New York Observer, August 2, 2004
During the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, a Kenyan delegation attempts to meet up with a little-known Senate candidate from Illinois.