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Jason Cherkis
Jason Cherkis is a national investigative reporter for The Huffington Post. He has investigated and reported in-depth pieces on gun violence in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, and the neglect of plant workers in Kentucky. He first joined The Huffington Post as a politics reporter covering the 2012 elections. He previously worked as a crime reporter for 14 years at Washington City Paper, where he was a two time Livingston Awards for Young Journalists finalist, and received multiple awards from the Association of Alternative News Weeklies.

Entries by Jason Cherkis

Former Presidential Candidate Laughed At The Idea Of A Super PAC, Then Lost Immediately

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 4:53 PM

WASHINGTON -- When he entered the 2012 race for president, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty shot out of the gate. He was the first substantial Republican candidate for president to create an exploratory committee. He had already begun visiting the early caucus and primary states,...

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How Tim Pawlenty Blew It On The Biggest Stage Of His Career

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2016 | 8:50 AM

It seems odd to recall now, but former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was fairly well-positioned to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

He had been on the short list to be the party's vice presidential nominee in 2008. He was a Republican governor of...

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Wendy Davis Wants GOP Women To Stand Up To Donald Trump's Horrifying Sexism

(2) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 7:53 PM

One of the most consequential moments of the Republican presidential primary happened to come during the first major debate, when Fox News' Megyn Kelly pressed Donald Trump about his history of sexism.

“You’ve called women you don’t like fat...

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Obama Administration Puts Big Money Into Transforming Heroin Treatment Industry

(2) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 9:48 AM

The White House is calling for more than a billion dollars in funding to transform opioid treatment in the United States, two top administration officials announced on Tuesday.

Until recently, the heroin treatment industry has...

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Wendy Davis Opens Up On The Burden Of Running As A Feminist Icon In Texas

(2) Comments | Posted January 31, 2016 | 1:17 PM

One Tuesday in late June 2013, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis stood on her feet for just under 13 hours in an attempt to stop a draconian anti-abortion bill. While the bill would eventually pass, Davis’ filibuster turned her into a...

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Mitt Romney, Donald Trump And The Shifting Politics Of Personal Wealth

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 5:28 PM

WASHINGTON -- When he ran for president in 2012, Mitt Romney had hoped voters would see him as a chief executive who could boost the sluggish American economy. The private equity firm he had founded, Bain Capital, had done well investing in companies like Staples and...

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The Inside Story Of Why Clint Eastwood Talked To An Empty Chair At The GOP Convention

(2) Comments | Posted January 22, 2016 | 2:58 PM

As Clint Eastwood took the stage of the Tampa Bay Times Forum on the night of September 3, 2012, it became quickly apparent that his would not be a typical Republican National Convention speech.

The Oscar-winning actor/director/legend entered in dramatic fashion with the backdrop...

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Republicans Still Don't Agree On Why Mitt Romney Lost

(19) Comments | Posted January 22, 2016 | 10:02 AM

Following Mitt Romney's defeat in his run for president in 2012, his Republican party did what all parties do: It went through a mourning period. Officials dished, often anonymously, about mistakes the campaign made and began searching for a new path to victory.

The internal...

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Michele Bachmann Tells The Story Behind THAT Newsweek Cover

(3) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 11:38 AM

WASHINGTON -- In the summer of 2011, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) had improbably started to gain traction in her run for the Republican nomination for president. She’d been one of the tea party’s fiercest champions, and seemed poised to cross over into the mainstream.

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Hillary Clinton Calls For Public Health Approach To Opioid Epidemic

(1) Comments | Posted January 17, 2016 | 9:31 PM

During Sunday night's Democratic debate, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton talked about the experiences she’s had on the campaign...

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Michele Bachmann Empathizes With The Sexist Crap Hillary Clinton Has To Endure

(6) Comments | Posted January 15, 2016 | 1:20 PM

It may not be so readily apparent to the voter, but female candidates have to deal with substantially more bullshit when they run for public office than their male counterparts.  

They get called names like “abortion barbie” or are mocked for looking...

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The Day Howard Dean Came THIS Close To Leaving The Democratic Party

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2016 | 12:13 PM

WASHINGTON -- When former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean launched his bid for the presidency in 2003, he attracted a huge following by slamming the Democratic Party for giving the Bush administration a honeymoon even as the Iraq War was already turning sour.


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How Howard Dean Became The Grateful Dead Of The '04 Campaign

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 11:21 AM

WASHINGTON -- Everyone who followed the rise and fall of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign points to a single moment when it all came apart.

You know what it is.

His infamous 2004 speech on caucus night in Iowa.

The scream...

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Howard Dean Nearly Upended The Democratic Party 12 Years Ago. Then It All Fell Apart.

(4) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 9:24 AM

More than a decade before anyone felt the Bern, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean created the modern outsider candidate with Internet savvy, grassroots organizing and an unapologetic anti-Washington message. Propelled by his “Deaniacs,” the governor rose from obscurity to front-runner during the 2004 race for the Democratic...

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'Candidate Confessional': Stories Of Those Who Ran For Office... And Lost

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2016 | 3:34 PM

Roughly one year ago -- we can’t believe it’s been that long -- we began working on a podcast called "Candidate Confessional." It was a project envisioned as an antidote to our political cynicism.

We wanted in-depth interviews with politicians who would...

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More People Died Of Opioid Overdoses Last Year Than Ever Before

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2015 | 2:17 PM

WASHINGTON -- In 2014, deaths from opioid overdoses increased by 14 percent over the previous year. The spike in fatal overdoses helped mark a depressing milestone in the U.S., according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"More persons died from drug overdoses in...

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New York City Makes Overdose Reversal Drug Available Without A Prescription

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2015 | 11:32 AM

WASHINGTON --New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that naloxone, the drug that can counter the effects of a heroin overdose, will now be sold without a prescription in pharmacies across the city. The move is part of a broader effort across the country to increase...

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Jeb Bush Says He's Conflicted On The Death Penalty. His Record Tells Another Story.

(8) Comments | Posted December 3, 2015 | 1:44 PM

In December 2006, Warden Randall Bryant visited Angel Diaz at his cell in the death house. Diaz had a week to go before his execution, and Bryant needed to make sure he was ready to die. The warden had been running the Florida State Prison, about...

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Famed Historian Sees 19th-Century Solution To Current Heroin Crisis

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2015 | 12:32 PM

WASHINGTON -- David Courtwright, the nation's leading historian on drug use and drug policy, has published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that physicians must heed the lessons of the 19th and 20th centuries in order to successfully combat today's opioid epidemic.

The professor of history at the University of North Florida recounts how the medical and pharmaceutical communities had successfully worked to control the epidemic on their own by reducing the number of opiate prescriptions across the country. Doctors "had succeeded through primary prevention, creating fewer new addicts as existing addicts began quitting or died of old age," he writes.

Meanwhile, Courtwright adds, a prejudice that began more than a hundred years ago has yet to be fully defeated by modern science. As the first opioid epidemic was underway, some doctors and some municipal governments engaged in what would now be called a form of "harm reduction" -- an approach known as maintenance. Where an addiction was deemed to be unbreakable, at least at that moment, doctors would maintain the supply of narcotics so that addicts would avoid withdrawal, which can be deadly, and would not resort to crime or the black market to continue using.

As Courtwright recounts, the Progressive movement strongly condemned vice, and led the push for prohibition of the non-medical use of narcotics and alcohol. The federal government carried over that mentality, with the narrow blessing of the Supreme Court, eventually prohibiting doctors from prescribing for the purposes of maintenance. That bias against maintenance continues today within the U.S. treatment system, even as advances in science have developed effective treatments such as methadone and buprenorphine. Methadone was proven an effective long-term treatment decades ago.

"The key objectives — reducing fatal overdoses, medical and social complications, and injection-drug use and related infections — are difficult to achieve if abstinence-oriented treatment is the only option available," the historian writes. "Yet that remains the situation in many places, particularly in rural locales, where officials dismiss methadone and buprenorphine as unacceptable substitute addictions."

To help tell the contemporary history, Courtwright in his NEJM article cites a Huffington Post investigation into the treatment industry from January.

"We need more and better treatment for addicts, including medically assisted recovery, and that's where your article and mine really intersect," Courtwright told HuffPost. "I made the point that general prejudice against maintenance has spilled over and exacerbated the failure to provide adequate medically assisted recovery."

The HuffPost investigation showed how Kentucky’s scarce access to such recovery methods was exacerbating the current epidemic. In 2013, the majority of fatal overdose victims in the northern part of the state had tried an abstinence-only treatment -- which bars the use of medications like buprenorphine -- before their deaths. 

“What your article helped people to understand and what a lot of people still don't get, is there's a difference between an opioid addict who goes into treatment and somebody who's an alcoholic or a heavy cannabis user who goes into treatment, because the truth is that if that a cannabis user or that alcoholic comes out of treatment and relapses, they're probably not going to immediately kill themselves," Courtwright said. "Whereas the opioid addict comes out of treatment and because they've lost their tolerance and because they're overconfident about the size dose they can safely take, they're going to die.” 

The historian admitted that for a long time he had thought the extent of any opioid problem would be limited to those buying heroin on the black market. When he began his research in the 1970s, he did not dream that there would be another opioid epidemic -- one twice as prevalent as the one in the early 20th century. This fall, he recalled seeing an ad for a medicine that could relieve opioid-induced constipation. The ad had aired during an NFL football game.

“I fell out of my chair,” Courtwright said. “I was just astonished. It was certainly a sign of how common the condition has become in American...

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FDA Approves Nasal-Spray Version Of Overdose Drug Naloxone

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2015 | 10:36 AM

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it approved a nasal-spray version of naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The new version will make it easier to administer and less intimidating than the previously approved injectable form. Commonly sold as Narcan,...

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