Why Biden won’t drop out — from major Dem donor Dmitri Mehlhorn

Also: I’m leaving The Intercept and we’re launching Drop Site News


Dmitri Mehlhorn is among the most powerful Democratic funders and operatives working inside what can roughly be called the party’s establishment. He’s also been one of the most ardent defenders of Joe Biden as the best Democratic nominee to beat Donald Trump in November. It was even reported recently that, on a private donor call, Mehlhorn said that a dead Biden was a better candidate than a live Kamala Harris. I interviewed him this weekend for an hour to get his broader take on why he’s so committed to Biden at a moment when so many are abandoning his candidacy, and also asked him if the reporting about that Kamala quote was true. He said it was (but added that it was taken out of context). The full quote was: “Kamala Harris is more threatening to those swing voters than a dead Joe Biden or a comatose Joe Biden.” 

Mehlhorn’s interview with Drop Site News, our independent news organization that launched today, comes as Biden fends off increasingly ferocious efforts by the media and leading figures in the party to push him off the ticket. 

(For more on Drop Site—what it is, why we launched it, and so on—scroll down below or read Jeremy Scahill’s post on why we started it, and how you can help, here.)


You may have gotten a note from me early this morning announcing our new publication, but I wanted to make sure it went out to my full list, so I’m making a rare exception and sending two emails in a day. As always, if you’re tired of these emails, hit unsubscribe down at the bottom. But if you want to learn more about what we’re up to next, check Drop Site News out here.

My note from earlier today:

This is not an email I thought I’d ever be sending you. After about a decade as Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, I took that same role in 2017 at The Intercept. I genuinely thought that was the last job switch of my career, and that I’d be leaving The Intercept in a box. The job was just too perfect.

Today is another reminder that nothing is permanent and nothing is perfect. And that’s ok: I’m leaving along with my longtime colleague Jeremy Scahill, and we’re launching something new together. You’re reading it right now. It’s called Drop Site, and we’d love to have your support.

Drop Site News is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

It’s wild to think that many of you reading this email today have been subscribed to it since before I even joined The Intercept, back when I used to call it “Bad News.” (Why I didn’t go with the obvious “Grim News” remains a mystery, even to me.)

The why of why I’m leaving is a dramatic story probably much more interesting to me than anybody else, and there’ll be a time for telling that. But what’s important is that we plan to do fearless, adversarial investigative journalism at a time when it’s desperately needed.

Jeremy Scahill and I, along with other veterans of The Intercept, have a serious plan to make this work in a sustainable way, but we need your support. Please consider becoming a paying subscriber. Our reporting will always be free to the public, but your subscription makes it possible. It’ll also give you early access to podcasts, live and virtual events, AMAs, our comment section, etc. 

If a monthly commitment is too much for now, consider making a one-time contribution. Contributions to Drop Site are tax-deductible and if you’d like more information regarding a larger gift, write to majorgiving@dropsitenews.com.

My colleague Jeremy Scahill posted today about why he made the same decision I did.

We’re being joined at Drop Site by The Intercept’s former deputy editor, Nausicaa Renner — and we’ll have more announcements to come in the days ahead. Nausicaa worked closely with us on our coverage of everything from D.C. to Gaza, and she’ll be the founding editor at Drop Site. 

We’re getting the band back together, and we’re going to have a laser focus on big stories. The HuffPost era of digital media, when we had to churn out clicky hot takes, is mercifully over. That’s lucky for me: I can do the hot takes if I need to, but it’s not where my heart is. I’m most alive while chasing a lead on a potentially explosive story, preferably the kind of story the rest of the media is afraid to get too close to. Those are the investigations that make a real difference in the world. It’s expensive work but with your help we can keep doing it.

Because Jeremy and I have long focused on investigative journalism rather than pure opinion—even though we don’t hide what we think—we’re among the few journalists left whose work is taken seriously across the political spectrum. And during the last administration, we exposed some of Donald Trump’s most egregious abuses—with some articles leading to resignations and criminal prosecutions—while much of the media was focused on his bad manners and other trivia. We might not need to do that again, depending on how the election goes, but if we do, we’ll be ready.

We’ll also continue exposing the gap between what Trump tells his supporters he plans to do, and what he actually does with power—and who that benefits. At the same time, Democratic elites can’t be allowed to hide behind the specter of Trump to avoid scrutiny. Back in 2019, you might remember, I kicked off a several-days-long scandal with a story that quoted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman saying, “The greatest threat to mankind is the cowardice of the Democratic Party.” He was later fired, but the warning was prescient. Our aim is to keep them on guard and stiffen their spines. Look what just happened in France: the center collapsed, but it was the left that gave voters the hope and courage to beat back the far right.

What we’ve also learned over the years is that timed and targeted investigative journalism can have major impact abroad – and virtually nobody else is doing it, certainly not doing it the way we are. In recent years, we exposed a coup plot by a Bolivian minister of defense that led to his indictment and, after he fled, to efforts to extradite him. The Intercept Brasil’s reporting on the corrupt prosecution of Lula da Silva helped free him and return him to the presidency. In the face of furious State Department denials, we obtained documentary evidence proving the U.S. role in ousting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan from power. We published never-before-seen evidence of India’s foreign ministry plotting assassinations on U.S. soil. And we’ve been unafraid to take on the MSM lies and propaganda fueling Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinians. As Israel turns northward toward war with Lebanon, we’re positioned to be a critical source on that conflict, too.

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