Joan Walsh

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Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation,[1] Cable News Network (CNN) political contributor,[1] former editor-in-chief of Salon,[1][2] former MSNBC anchor and political correspondent[3] and author of What’s the Matter With White People? Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was.

Content of Articles

Walsh often critiques politics through the lens of race and gender.

2020 Democratic Primary

As of September 2019, Walsh has not yet endorsed a Democratic candidate, but she has written pieces on the highest polling women in the field, Kamala Harris[4] and Elizabeth Warren[5] After Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the race in August 2019, Walsh wrote an article complimenting her for being "brave enough now to admit that the time has come to return full-time to her Senate career"[6] and pointing out that "There are still plenty of people, most of them white guys, with as much support as Gillibrand, or less, and far less to contribute, who will soldier on, at least for a while, even though they also failed to make the third debate."[6]

In another article, Walsh claimed a Democratic party race with more women and people of color had a positive effect on the issues discussed, saying "It’s impossible to imagine the debate going into the depth it did– on equal pay, or women’s workplace role, or abortion– if there hadn’t been more than one woman on that debate stage... I’m on record hoping that the field narrows before the September debates, but I’m hoping it loses as few women and people of color as possible."[7] On a similar note, she said "A debate stage with three women and five people of color (out of 10) couldn’t help but produce more passionate genuine debate than the clash of 10 white people we watched Tuesday night."[7]

2016 Democratic Primary

Support for Hillary Clinton

Although The Nation endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, Walsh wrote an article in the publication claiming, "After 40 years of voting for male presidents, I’m supporting Hillary with excitement, even joy."[8] Walsh's article contained four main themes:

  • 1. Clinton's millennial support is unfairly erased.
  • 2. Sanders shouldn't have dismissed Clinton's Planned Parenthood endorsement as "establishment".
  • 3. Sanders and his supporters have a "tin-ear" on gender.
  • 4. Walsh is tired of "entitled men" criticizing Clinton's likeability and honesty.[8]

1. Talking about the generational divide between the candidates, Walsh described her distaste when a "young white man– entitled, pleased with himself, barely shaving yet– broke the news to Clinton that his generation is with Bernie Sanders", pointing out "Nonetheless, millions of millennials, including millions of young women, are supporting Hillary Clinton."[8]

2. Walsh took issue with Sanders downplaying Clinton's Planned Parenthood endorsement as "establishment", saying, "it's hard to be truly establishment when dangerous men are shooting up your clinics, and the Republican Congress is persistently voting to strip you of your funding."[8]

3. Walsh criticized Sanders on his and his supporters' treatment of gender, pointing out, "He routinely talks about 'mothers' needing family leave, and he doesn’t even seem to try to substitute the now-customary (on the left, anyway) 'he or she' or 'him or her' into his speeches."[8] On this topic, Walsh also claimed "Bernie is building a movement, we’re told (with little evidence of lasting organization, by the way), but it’s a movement whose loudest advocates are entitled young men who heap the vilest abuse on women who don’t deign to join it."[8]

4. Finally Walsh says about Clinton, "I believe she’s evolved back to be the progressive Democrat she used to be"[8] and "I’m tired of seeing her confronted by entitled men weighing in on her personal honesty and likability, treating the most admired woman in the world like a woman who’s applying to be his secretary... I’m sick of the way so many Sanders supporters, most of them men, feel absolutely no compunction to see things through female Clinton supporters’ eyes..."[8]

Clinton Memoir Debate

After Clinton released her memoir, What Happened, Walsh engaged in a mock debate about the book with The Nation's D. D. Guttenplan. Walsh largely defended Clinton's analysis of her election loss and her progressive credentials, while Guttenplan stated, "Many of us voted for Clinton not because we expected her to do much about income inequality, or the decline of American manufacturing, or climate change or racial justice or access to health care or education– and certainly not because we thought she’d pursue a just peace in the Middle East, or the rollback of America’s military empire or the abolition of nuclear weapons. But we did think she could beat Donald Trump, the most unpopular candidate in modern political history. From a candidate, and a campaign, that never stopped boasting about her competence, that seemed like the least we had a right to expect. Instead, we got catastrophe."[9]

Criticism of Sanders on Race

In other articles, Walsh criticized Sanders on his treatment of race, which she saw as contributing significantly to his lack of African-American support.

After Sanders responded to a debate question on race by saying "What we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners...", Walsh responded by saying, "I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, but Sanders essentially said that race relations will improve when black kids stop hanging out on street corners and live productive lives instead."[10] Responding to a Sanders interview, where he said, "You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing?", Walsh said "Sanders may find out the hard way that African-American voters don’t enjoy being instructed as to what they should base their politics on."[10]

In a second article, Walsh analyzed Bernie's support from white, working-class voters and Clinton's support from African-American voters. She noted how in terms of 2008 Democratic primary support demography, Clinton had become Obama and Sanders had become Clinton.

While Walsh believed "Sanders is genuinely appealing to working-class white voters—they like fighters and outsiders, and they respond to a strong populist pitch.",[11] she also posited other possible explanations for this cohort of voters leaving Clinton for Sanders: "we also have to contend with the extent to which Clinton may have been damaged by her close association with our first black president, serving as his secretary of state and eventually forging a close alliance with him. This relationship solidified Clinton’s status as “the black candidate,” while at the same time burnishing her credentials as a member of the global elite– a combination that was unimaginable eight years ago."[11] Concluding this section, Walsh stated, "We should also acknowledge the extent to which Sanders has won whites by crafting a class-based appeal that minimizes, and sometimes even diminishes, the role that racism plays in creating American social and economic inequality. He has done so for his whole political career."[11]

Walsh also criticized Sanders for calling for a primary challenge to Obama after he was not deemed progressive enough in his first term, saying "Given the horrific racism faced by the first black president, [African-American voters] weren’t going to see him primaried just because some loud-mouthed, white progressives thought he handled that intransigence, driven in part by racism, less than optimally. At some point, I had to say to myself: Shut up and listen. I am not sure Bernie Sanders ever shut up and listened."

Finally, Walsh claims Sanders distancing himself from the Democratic Party is another indicator that he favors white working-class voters over Democratic voters of color. Responding to Sanders's claim "...the Democratic Party does not represent, and has not for many years, the interests of my constituency, which is primarily working families, middle-class people and low-income people.” Walsh said, "Sanders needs to place the modifier 'white' in front of all three groups, because the vast majority of African Americans, and most Latinos and Asians too, have come to believe the Democratic Party serves their interests, albeit imperfectly."[11]


Walsh served as an anchor and correspondent at MSNBC for 12 years, beginning in 2005 and ending in 2017, before she was fired and moved to CNN. CNN claimed the flood of support for her on social media after her firing influenced its decision. Walsh released the hiring announcement only a few hours after getting the news her MSNBC contract would not be renewed. [12][3][13][14][15]



  • B.A. University of Milwaukee[12]

Contact Information

Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent at The Nation
Twitter: @joanwalsh

External Resources

Related Sourcewatch


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Nation, Joan Walsh, organizational website, accessed September 17, 2019.
  2. Salon, Joan Walsh, organizational website, accessed September 17, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Associated Press and THC Staff, Joan Walsh Joins CNN After Being Dropped by MSNBC, Hollywood Reporter, December 23, 2017, accessed September 17, 2019.
  4. Joan Walsh, "Kamala Harris Has Been Here Before", Nation, July 29, 2019, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription required after five free monthly articles).
  5. Joan Walsh, "Elizabeth Warren Has Made Her Story America’s Story", Nation, June 26, 2019, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription required after five free monthly articles).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joan Walsh, "Kirsten Gillibrand Leaves the 2020 Race With No Apologies", Nation, August 29, 2019, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription required after five free monthly articles).
  7. 7.0 7.1 Joan Walsh, "This Is What Happens When More Than One Woman Is Running for President", Nation, August 1, 2019, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription required after five free monthly articles).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Joan Walsh, "Why I'm Supporting Hillary Clinton With Joy and Without Apologies", Nation, January 27, 2016, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription needed after five free monthly articles).
  9. D. D. Guttenplan and Joan Walsh, "Debating 'What Happened'", Nation, September 18, 2017, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription needed after five free monthly articles).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Joan Walsh, "Bernie Sanders Has an Obama Problem", Nation, February 12, 2016, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription needed after five free monthly articles).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Joan Walsh, "What’s Wrong With Bernie Sanders’s Strategy", Nation, March 21, 2016, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription needed after five free monthly articles).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Just Richest, Joan Walsh - Bio, MSNBC and CNN Career, Husband and Family Facts, organizational website, accessed September 17, 2019.
  13. Cara Kelly, CNN picks up Joan Walsh after commentator was dumped by MSNBC, USA Today, December 24, 2017, accessed September 17, 2019.
  14. Cynthia Littleton, Political Analyst Joan Walsh Moves to CNN After Being Dropped by MSNBC, Variety, December 23, 2019, accessed September 17, 2019.
  15. Emma Stefansky, Fired MSNBC Contributor Joan Walsh Already Has a New Job, Vanity Fair, December 23, 2017, accessed September 17, 2019 (subscription required after three free monthly articles).