Music From Big White
Our origin story: It was three years ago today that we formed a band to play
Hey, big day for us here at SpyTalk World Headquarters—which at the moment is on the move. I’m typing this at the same kitchen table of my longtime New Hampshire friend Rich Cooper, where, on August 31, 2000, I edited and published our very first story: “Inside Dupe: Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is pushing Russian disinformation just months before the 2020 election.”
Casting a squinty eye on the wacky Wisconsin Republican’s apparent affinity for Vladimir Putin, our contributing editor Peter Eisner, an award-winning former Washington Post deputy foreign news editor, nicely summed up Johnson’s political journey thusly:
“The former plastics company CEO, who also called reports of Kremlin interference in the 2016 elections ‘overblown’ after a visit to Moscow in 2018, now appears to be trying to revive a conspiracy theory tying Joe Biden to a ‘Deep State’ plot to undermine Trump — one that also happens to echo a Russian disinformation campaign to help re-elect the president.“
And off and running we were, perched at the intersection of intelligence, military operations, foreign policy and politics. Truth be told, we had no idea how SpyTalk would turn out, at least as a publishing exercise. Substack then was itself in its infancy. My friend Bill Bishop, author of the authoritative and influential Sinocism report, was one of Substack’s first and very successful writers and urged me to give it a spin. But when I and a handful of likewise long-in-the tooth journalists—all of whom had had notable careers at places like The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time and NPR—gathered around a table at my D.C. house to discuss the new venture, we had no spreadsheets or business models to chart our path. All we had was our combined experience, talents and enthusiasm. Three years and hundreds of stories later, including from intelligence agency veterans, we’re a going concern, heading toward 20,000 subscribers and a six-figure gross by the end of the year. And we have a podcast! (Doesn’t everyone?)
All of that comes from you, dear readers. Without your support, we just couldn't sustain this experiment in national security reporting, until now the province only of major media organizations.
So now you have our origin story. And so here’s a big thank you from Big White, as I’m having fun calling my friend’s farm. Next week I’ll be back in D.C, revving up for what promises to be a very interesting autumn on the intelligence front, both domestically and abroad. See you around. —Jeff Stein
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