How Dark Money is Fueling Right-wing Extremism and Undermining Democracy

Investigative journalist Jane Mayer on why “it feels like a dangerous hiatus right now”

David Goodman
14 min readApr 22, 2022


Listen to this interview here.

Jane Mayer has earned a reputation as one of the country’s top investigative reporters. As chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker, Mayer has been relentless in exposing the hidden forces shaping American politics. Her bestselling book, “ Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” documents the vast influence of the Koch brothers and was named one of the 10 best books of 2016 by the New York Times.

In the past year, Mayer has exposed the right-wing funders behind former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election. She reported how Ginni Thomas secretly supported the Jan. 6 insurrection as her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, considered cases that involved her. And this month she exposed the shadowy conservative organization that smeared Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in a failed attempt to derail her Supreme Court confirmation.

Mayer often provokes the ire of those she exposes. The Koch Brothers hired investigators to smear her, and the subject of her most recent exposé tweeted her personal contact information in an attempt to intimidate her.

Mayer worked at the Wall Street Journal before joining the New Yorker in 1995. She has won numerous awards for her reporting. Esquire called Mayer “quite simply one of the very few, utterly invaluable journalists this country has.”

Disclosure: Jane Mayer serves on the board of the Vermont Journalism Trust, the parent organization of VTDigger.

David Goodman: Readers know you for your national reporting, but they may not know that your journalism roots are in small town Vermont. Talk about how you got started.

Jane Mayer: Without Vermont, I don’t know that I would have been a reporter. It gave me my first chance to try it at the smallest weekly newspaper in the state, which was the Weathersfield Weekly (Editor’s note: The Weathersfield Weekly published from 1971 to 1986). My parents were living in Weathersfield, and I had nothing to do in…



David Goodman

NYT bestselling author. Journalist. Skier. Host, The Vermont Conversation podcast at