By Dave Zweifel and John Nichols
At a point when journalism is under assault and newspapers struggle to survive, explore the centennial history of the radical Wisconsin newspaper whose success -- and continuing fight for justice and peace -- remains unbowed, The Capital Times. As Madison's Capital Times marks its 100th anniversary in 2017, editors Dave Zweifel and John Nichols recall the remarkable history of a newspaper that served as the tribune of Robert M. La Follette and the progressive movement, earned the praise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for its stalwart opposition to fascism, battled Joe McCarthy during the "Red Scare, championed civil rights, women's rights and LGBTQ rights, opposed the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq, and stood with Russ Feingold when he cast the only US Senate vote against the Patriot Act. The Capital Times did not do this from New York or Washington but from the middle of America, with a readership of farmers, factory workers, teachers, and shopkeepers who stood by The Capital Times when the newspaper was boycotted, investigated, and attacked for its determination.
Through it all, The Capital Times remains unbowed, still living up to the description Lord Francis Williams, the British newspaper editor, wrote 50 years ago: "The vast majority of American papers are as dull as weed-covered ditch-water; vast Saharas of cheap advertising with occasional oases of editorial matter written to bring happiness to the Chamber of Commerce and pain and irritation to none; the bland leading the bland." Just here and there are a few relics of the old fighting muckraking tradition of American journalism, like The Capital Times of Madison.