James Bennet

James Bennet
James Bennet is the former editor in chief and co-president of The Atlantic. More +
  • Ruven Afanador

    Portrait of a Presidential Mind

    Reflections on Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with President Obama and our April issue

  • About That American Idea

    Some home news—we sent the following email to our colleagues at The Atlantic today, and thought we should share it with you as well. We should probably make explicit one element of this memo that Atlantic folk implicitly understand: We’re undertaking this expansion of our coverage of politics and policy with the founding ambition of the magazine very much in mind. Back in 1857, the first editors of The Atlantic described its purpose, in part, this way: “In Politics, the Atlantic will be the organ of no party or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American idea.”


    National Journal’s decision to return to its roots in subscriber-only publishing has created an opportunity for The Atlantic to bring its ideas-focused approach to journalism more fully to bear on politics and policy. We see formidable Washington coverage as foundational to our broader ambitions; no general-interest brand can hope to have impact globally without providing its readers with a sophisticated understanding of Washington’s view of itself and the world. We think The Atlantic is uniquely positioned to advance that understanding.

    For years, The Atlantic has been read closely in Washington for the clearest thinking on the most consequential questions facing policymakers—from the future of energy to the needs of the military to the changing shape of the job market. It already has some of the most esteemed reporters and writers in their respective fields: Molly Ball on politics; Jeffrey Goldberg on foreign policy and national security; Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hanna Rosin on domestic policy; Garrett Epps on law and justice; Russell Berman on Congress; and James Fallows on all of the preceding. In Peter Beinart, David Frum, and Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic has three of the sharpest observers of American politics and policy, and its news desk is led by astute Washington reporters like David Graham, Marina Koren, and Krishnadev Calamur. Not only is The Atlantic’s chief editor a former White House correspondent—so is its chief operating officer. Matt Thompson, the site’s deputy editor, has already conceived several ambitious projects focused on the consequences for the country of decisions made here. And The Atlantic’s expertise in politics and policy is not merely broad, but deep. Yoni Appelbaum, its politics editor—and now first-ever Washington bureau chief—has a Ph.D. in American history; the editor who leads the site, John Gould, has his Ph.D. in political science.

    This scope of expertise helps explain why The Atlantic already commands a monthly audience in D.C. of 800,000 unique visitors, and why our Washington events, like the annual Washington Ideas Forum, draw hundreds of attendees.

    So now, for the first time in the magazine’s long history, The Atlantic is planning to dedicate reporters to covering the White House, Capitol Hill, the agencies, and lobbying. As we intensify our reporting on politics, we will also focus on policy as it evolves in those areas—including technology, energy, health, and national security—likely to have the greatest influence in shaping the life of the nation. We don’t plan to follow the traditional model of stationing reporters at buildings. Instead, we’ll equip each beat reporter with questions—how will the experience of privacy continue to change for Americans? What are the emerging threats to corporate and sovereign cybersecurity?—that will prompt them, and free them, to roam from K Street through the agencies to Capitol Hill and the embassies.  

  • Stephen Voss

    ‘We Need an Energy Miracle’

    Bill Gates has committed his fortune to moving the world beyond fossil fuels and mitigating climate change.

  • 'For Months and Months and Months They Were Just Beating Me'

    Theo Padnos, an American journalist, was kidnapped in Syria and held for almost two years by the al-Nusra Front. Last year he wrote hauntingly about his captivity, describing continuous beatings and torture with cattle prods and other instruments.

    But his account left, I thought, something of a mystery: Why did his captors torture him? Were they acting just out of sadism? They didn’t seem to want anything in particular—they weren’t trying to force him to covert to their apocalyptic version of Islam, nor were they constantly demanding information or false confessions from him.

    I had the chance to interview Theo yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum (my colleague Kathy wrote about that discussion here), and I asked him about this mystery. His explanation of the motives for the torture was far more chilling—more devastating, really—than I imagined.  

  • Greg Kahn

    Deviancy, Defined

    How did mass incarceration come to be a consensus political issue in America?

  • William Widmer

    A Culture of Violence

    Revisiting the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in a time of police shootings and church murders

  • Brian Snyder / Reuters

    A Distaste for the Memory of the Tale

    Across centuries and generations, Americans have been unpleasantly surprised by the failure of our attempts to forget and transcend history.

  • Davide Monteleone

    Editor’s Note: To Stay or to Go

  • Carolyn Kaster/AP

    Editor's Note: Executive Dysfunction

    President Obama has done next to nothing to build confidence in government.

  • Dylan Coulter

    “I Never Dreamed It Would Turn Out This Way”

    On the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton assesses the state of the world, and of his post-presidency.

  • Bettmann/Corbis

    The American Idea at War

    One can draw a line from September 11, 2001, straight back to the decisions made by colonial mapmakers as the fighting raged in Europe 100 years ago.

  • Flickr

    Against 'Long-Form Journalism'

    When it comes to great magazine writing, what’s in a name?

  • Associated Press

    The Man and the Myths

  • Introducing: The Atlantic Weekly

    Our new app is a lean-back weekend guide to how the world is changing.

  • The Art of Ideas

  • Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

    Life on Mars

  • Jake Chessum

    The Bloomberg Way

    The mayor of New York on his soda ban, why he doesn't worry about approval ratings, governing in the age of Twitter, and the dumbed-down media

  • New York's Mayor on Everything From Campaign Money to Circumcision

    For the November issue of the magazine, The Atlantic's editor in chief interviewed the New York mayor about some of his boldest views and decisions. Here is the full transcript of their conversation.

  • Cliff Owen/AP

    The New Price of American Politics

    Not since the Gilded Age has our politics been opened so wide to corporate contributions and donations from secret sources. And the new era of big money has just begun. Jim Bopp, its intellectual architect, believes this is a good thing—the more money, the better, he says. Reformers (and most voters) disagree. Their battle is over the most-basic ideas of our democracy; at stake—according to both sides—is either the revitalization of politics, or its final capture by the powerful.

  • The Speech You Missed That Captures the Ruthless Efficiency of the DNC

    What it looks like when even the bean counter is a brand builder