Kent native returns home to talk about new book on politics

RYAN GRIM

CHESTERTOWN — Ryan Grim has made a career of bucking the establishment, and he kind of likes that about himself.

As the Washington bureau chief of The Intercept, an online news publication dedicated to what it describes as “adversarial journalism,” and before that at the Huffington Post, Grim, a Kent County native, has been unafraid to make waves.

He is doing that with publication of a second book, “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement.”

The book came out in paperback May 28.

Grim argues that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in last year’s midterm election primaries, when she ousted the 10-term incumbent in New York’s 14th Congressional District, was not an upset, but part of a movement that had been building for 30 years — since Jackson’s credible showing against Michael Dukakis for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988.

Grim will be at The Bookplate in Chestertown (112 S. Cross St.) on Friday at 6 p.m. to talk about his book. Copies of “We’ve Got People” will be available for purchase and Grim will hold a signing from 4 to 5 p.m.

This also will be an opportunity for the married father of four young children, ages 3 to 8, to reconnect with family and friends. Grim grew up in Still Pond, where his mother Cindy Quinn still lives. His aunt and uncle, Sara and David Quinn, also live in Kent County.

Grim’s book tour will take him to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City, but the stop in Chestertown “is the one I’m most excited about,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday in between innings of his daughter’s softball game in Washington.

Grim also had a chance to talk about his book last week with news anchor Brooke Baldwin of CNN.

“We’ve Got People” is Grim’s work product of about 10 years, which picked up momentum after Ocasio-Cortez’s victory last June. As he says, that’s when he “hammered it out.”

Grim was the only national reporter in the Bronx when Ocasio-Cortez defeated Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley. He said most of the mainstream media was in Utah covering Sen. Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Grim said he covered Ocasio-Cortez “relentlessly” and continues “to break news on her.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez described The Intercept's coverage of her campaign as a "game changer."

Closer to home, Grim reported on Andy Harris’ bid for re-election in Maryland’s First District congressional race of 2018. Harris, a Republican in a state with a very popular GOP governor, handily defeated his Democratic challenger, Jesse Colvin, by capturing 60 percent of the vote.

Kent and Talbot were the only two counties that Colvin carried.

Grim says part of Colvin’s overall poor showing is because of the Democrats’ inability to embrace rural populism.

“My experience growing up in Kent County, the people here, if you give people some sense that you are fighting for them, people will listen to you. The Democratic Party doesn’t do that,” he said.

Grim, who joined The Intercept in 2017 as a writer and editor, does his politicking with the proverbial pen. That’s been the case for a long time.

In 1995, as a junior at Kent County High School, he co-authored a letter to the editor of the Kent County News outlining what he believed was unfair and arbitrary punishment for the boys tennis team. The school administration forfeited a match because one of the players had forgotten to turn in his athletic physical. The loss cost Kent a conference championship.

In 2002, while working as the videographer of the Chestertown council meetings, Grim presented the council with a resolution opposing the United States’ invasion of Iraq. He said the resolution was tabled by the mayor.

Grim’s only bid for elected office didn’t go so well. He sought to be the senior class president at KCHS on what he has since acknowledged as a “pretty bizarre platform” of serving Pizza Hut pizza in the school cafeteria and legalizing marijuana.

Grim got more serious, about his studies and other things, when he headed off to college in the fall of 1996. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s College and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.

When Grim left the HuffPost after eight-plus years, the website’s editor applauded him for taking on powerful institutions and giving a voice to the voiceless.

That wasn’t his plan coming out of high school.

“I didn’t know that this was an option, but it very much fits my personality. I’ve always been eager to challenge authority,” Grim said Sunday.

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