OptOut's Weekend Picks (Aug. 29, 2020)

Here's what our independent media partners have been up to this week.

Hey there, OptersOut!

As journalists, we know that our industry is in crisis. A handful of corporate media giants dominate the news and inundate us with the banal and the salacious. Our forthcoming OptOut app will challenge society’s dependance on the corporate news business. We will curate news picks for you throughout the day and offer a personalized feed of content from your favorite outlets, authors, podcasts, video channels, categories, and locations.

While we build this app with the Progressive Coders Network, we’re giving you our top news and opinion selections each week, exclusively from our partner outlets.

But first, some updates!

  • The developers are hard at work on the app. The current focus is on the back end—the content ingestion—and the user experience design, which is coming along well.

  • This week we hit 100 paid subscribers through this newsletter! To each person who decided to fund our initial startup costs: THANK YOU! But we need to raise a lot more to cover long-term expenses like web hosting, marketing, and paid staff. Please consider supporting us as we move forward with OptOut. Thank you!

  • Indiegraf wrote a nice piece about OptOut and our long-term plans for the app.

  • I went on Ring of Fire Radio, which was hosted by Farron Cousins this week, to talk about our project. Listen on Fans.fm, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your casts.

  • OptOut adviser and Popula founder Maria Bustillos launched the Brick House Cooperative this week, a group of nine publications—including our partners Popula and Sludge—that are sharing their subscribers, revenues, and expenses. This is exactly the kind of independent media solidarity that we’re all about! Read Maria introduce the Brick House in Columbia Journalism Review, and please consider donating via their Kickstarter campaign.


If you enjoy the content below, please consider subscribing or donating to these excellent outlets. As independent sites, podcasts, and video channels, they depend on support from the public, not corporations or oligarchs who want some good PR. According to our survey, over half of our potential users pay for their news. Let’s get that as close to 100% as possible.

First, we’ll start with our hard news picks of the week.

The Scoops

TMI: Under Neal, a Wall Street tax break survives to keep enriching his donors

David Sirota and Andrew Perez report that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) stalled a Democratic bill that would close the carried interest loophole, which allows wealthy investors to pay a lower tax rate on their income than the rest of the American workforce—and he’s getting campaign donations from the Wall Street executives who take advantage of the loophole and their firms’ corporate PACs.

Read the article

Also on Neal:

  • Sludge details how the Neal campaign sent a cease and desist letter, obtained by TMI, to an NBC affiliate station over a Justice Democrats ad that highlights Neal’s enormous campaign haul from corporate PACs. The ad features a Sludge headline from February, “Richard Neal Is #1 in Corporate PAC Donations.”

Support TMI.

Support Sludge.


TYT Investigates: Oklahoma governor asked EPA to strip tribes of environmental authority

After a Supreme Court ruling that the eastern half of Oklahoma was still the jurisdiction of Native American tribal authority, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt pledged to work with the tribes—but privately tried to circumvent them and hand authority over to the state. “This move could destroy opportunities for tribal leaders to reduce pollution and fossil fuel dependency,” reports TYT Investigates’ Ti-Hua Chang.

Read the article


Acute Condition: Three paths forward for rural health

This week, Acute Condition’s Olivia Webb covers how the coronavirus has exacerbated existing problems in rural health and the threat that private equity poses if we do nothing to fix them.

Ultimately, the survival of rural health—and these rural communities—is about states wielding power to combat the mini-fiefdoms private equity firms are trying to construct.

Read the article


As you know, a number of our partner outlets offer commentary on current events and politics. The following are our picks for standout essays and episodes this week.

The Takes

Jacobin: With their wildcat strike, NBA players have pointed the way forward

Jacobin assistant editor Aqsa Ahmad writes that the recent NBA strike gives us an important lesson: We have to disrupt owners’ profits and engage in collective action if we have any hope of making change.

Read the piece

Subscribe to Jacobin.

Image credit: ESPN/YouTube


Passage: Chrystia Freeland must account her for Nazi collaborator grandfather

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, has a Nazi problem. She’s never publicly condemned her Ukrainian grandfather’s collaboration with the Nazis, and it’s past time for her to do so, writes Passage’s Davide Mastracci.

Read the piece

Support Passage.

Image credit: Chrystia Freeland/Twitter


Walker Bragman: Joe Biden is Our Last Hope...Holy Fuck

OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman gives his thoughts on this vital election. (These are Walker’s views, not those of OptOut.)

Read the piece

Image credit: Gage Skidmore


The Airwaves

Weekends: the NBA strike, save the Post Office, and deindustrialization in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Ana Kasparian and Nando Vila just wrapped up their weekly broadcast on Jacobin’s YouTube channel. Today they discussed the news of the week and interviewed Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.

The Antifada — The Black Radical Tradition

Welp, the Right is claiming that Joe Biden is a Trojan horse for Marxists (lol). But how about actual Marxists? The Antifada podcast put out a two-part series this week on the Black radical tradition, featuring educator and activist Kazembe Balagun. The first episode covers Harriet Tubman to the Black Panther Party, and the second delves into marxist feminists Angela Davis and Claudia Jones.

Part 1: Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Stitcher / Fans.fm

Part 2: Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Stitcher / Fans.fm

Support The Antifada on Patreon.

Image credit: Bettmann Archive


The Discourse — Gigging the economy with Marshall Steinbaum

Economist Marshall Steinbaum joins The Discourse podcast to talk Uber, Lyft, and the gig economy.

Listen: Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / Stitcher

Support The Discourse on Patreon.


Thank you for reading, and please check out our other partners’ content as well—and stay tuned for more of our top picks!