1984 Today!
1984 Today!
Episode 106: Jonathan M. Katz on Substack's 'Nazi Problem', Free Speech, and Modern Journalism

Episode 106: Jonathan M. Katz on Substack's 'Nazi Problem', Free Speech, and Modern Journalism

Award-winning journalist Jonathan M. Katz discusses his now-(in)famous article in The Atlantic, seeking truth in the age of social media, and the thorny question of free speech

Substack has been in the news recently, due to accusations of and/or objections to extreme/racist/Nazi writers who have newsletters on the platform, and the refusal of Substack’s management to remove or throttle the content in question to the satisfaction of critics.

If we tried to pinpoint when exactly the presence of that content became a foreground issue, it would most likely be the publication in The Atlantic of a piece called Substack Has A Nazi Problem by Jonathan M. Katz. The article has drawn a lot of heat (and support), with notable responses from

,, , and , among others.


In Episode 104 I spoke with Elle Griffin about her work, which included an open letter in support of Substack’s ‘walled garden’ approach to content moderation. Jonathan listened to the podcast and tagged me in a post to his subscribers about it, so I invited him on to give his perspective.

Jonathan is an author and journalist who started out reporting for Associated Press on the Pentagon, the Middle East, the Dominican Republic, and the Haitian earthquake of 2010. He’s a contributor to The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, and The New Yorker, and is the winner of the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism and a National Headliners Award.

You can find and subscribe to his writing at The Racket, and his most recent book is Gangsters of Capitalism, about the life of General Smedley Butler of “War is a racket” fame.

In our conversation, Jonathan and I get into the genesis of his Atlantic piece, the resulting response and backlash, his experience and development as a journalist over the past two decades, and the issues around free speech that underpin the current debate.


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