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Joe Conason (born January 25, 1954) is an American journalist, author and political commentator. He writes a column for Salon.com and has written a number of books, including Big Lies (2003), which addresses what he says are myths spread about liberals by conservatives. He currently is editor-in-chief at The National Memo, a leftwing political newsletter and website.
Conason was born in New York City. His father, Emanuel Voltaire Conason (1912–2008), co-owned Ellie Conason, a contemporary design and crafts store in White Plains, with his wife Eleanor (August 20, 1917 – January 5, 2002).
Conason graduated from White Plains High School, in White Plains, New York. In 1971, as a senior, he edited an underground newspaper distributed throughout Westchester County called the Paper Workshop. After attending community college for a year, Conason received a B.A. in history from Brandeis University in 1975. He then worked at two Boston-based newspapers, East Boston Community News and The Real Paper.
From 1978 to 1990, he worked as a columnist and staff writer at The Village Voice.
In The Free Voice of Labor, a 1980 documentary movie about the Yiddish anarchist newspaper Freie Arbeiter Stimme (or Free voice of labor), a young Conason was interviewed. His grandfather Joseph Cohen served as the paper's editor for a number of years and Conason may have been an intern for them.
From 1990 to 1992, Conason was "editor-at-large" for Details magazine. In 1992, he became a columnist for the New York Observer, a position he still holds. Also in 1992, he authored an article for Spy Magazine that accused then-President George H. W. Bush of cheating on his wife Barbara.
Conason was a regular guest and a guest host on The Al Franken Show, where he had the distinction of being the only guest with two theme songs. He made an appearances every Friday as a commentator, as well as co-judging with Franken their weekly quiz show Wait, wait, don't lie to me.
In 2000, he co-authored the book The Hunting of the President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton with Gene Lyons; the book was turned into a documentary in 2004, which Conason co-produced. The Raw Deal, his book on the Bush Administration's efforts to "end Social Security as we know it", appeared in 2005. In 2007, Conason published It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush (Thomas Dunne Books).
Conason briefly appeared in part 2. of the Adam Curtis documentary The Power Of Nightmares talking about neoconservatives' "fantasy enemy" in the Lewinsky scandal. He also appears in the Stefan Forbes documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. In the film he says, "Atwater perceived, long before anyone else in American politics did, that the biggest threat to Bush was a guy from Arkansas named Bill Clinton. The idea was to dirty up Clinton, to do enough damage to him that he would simply be too damaged to run for President. Distract and divert. Atwater started transforming politics into a series of tabloid moments in a way that was incredibly powerful for the Republicans."
He married Elizabeth Wagley, in 2002. They have two children, boy and girl twins, born in 2007.
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