John Dickerson

John Dickerson is a CBS senior national correspondent and Chief Political Analyst. He is also a Contributing Writer to The Atlantic and is co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

  • 04/08/2023: Chat GPT and checking yourself

    When your words don’t land as you intend it can be because a) you were unclear b) the people listening misunderstood your point or c) some members of the audience are willfully misunderstanding what you say.

    I was recently asked about the Tennessee lawmakers kicked out of the body.

    So I asked Chat GPT to interpret my response:


    What conclusions should one draw from this: “JOHN DICKERSON: Well, politics needs some cartilage. It needs some give. It can’t be totally brittle. So when you have a situation in here where, okay, Republican lawmakers thought these Democrats broke decorum, stepped out of line, there are a series of steps to punish. But when you go to the maximalist, when you kick them out, that’s brittle. There’s no give. When there’s no give, the only way the other side gets to respond is by punching back. And so when you lose those interim steps, all you get is response and response and response. And that is not only — you know where that leads. Right? That leads to violence. And it takes us back to this previous conversation which is the reason this question of democracy is so important. And the reason faith in the judicial system is so important is we’re at a moment where – more on the conservative side (*)– but on both sides you have people who think the system isn’t working, we’ve got to effect change outside of the system through violence. And when you have a system like that, you have no system at all. If people take things into their own hands. So, if it’s always brittle, people think: “Well, I can’t get a result from inside the system, so I must go around it.” And that’s what essentially January 6th is.”

    The conclusion that one can draw from this statement is that in politics, there needs to be flexibility, or “cartilage,” in order for the system to function effectively. When political processes become overly rigid or “brittle,” where there is no room for compromise or intermediate steps, it can lead to escalation and a breakdown of the system. This can result in a cycle of retaliation and response, which may ultimately lead to violence or other extreme measures.

    Furthermore, the statement suggests that when people lose faith in the political system and believe that it is not working, they may resort to seeking change outside of the established system, including through violent means. This is dangerous for democracy and the functioning of a society, as it undermines the rule of law and can lead to chaos and instability.

    The statement highlights the importance of maintaining faith in the judicial system and the need for a functional and flexible political process that allows for differences to be addressed and resolved through peaceful and lawful means. It underscores the significance of upholding democratic principles and finding ways to address grievances and effect change within the established system to prevent resorting to violence or circumventing the democratic process.

    Would it be fair to say that the person who said this is calling for violence?

    No, based on the provided statement, it would not be fair to say that the person who said this is calling for violence. The statement is describing how a brittle political system, where there is no flexibility and a breakdown of established processes, can lead to a cycle of retaliation and response that may ultimately result in violence. The speaker is highlighting the risks and negative consequences of such a breakdown in the political system, and emphasizing the importance of maintaining faith in the judicial system and finding ways to address grievances through peaceful and lawful means.

    The statement is not advocating for or endorsing violence as a solution to political problems, but rather warning against the dangers of a system that lacks flexibility and leads to people seeking change outside of established democratic processes. The speaker is emphasizing the importance of upholding democratic principles and finding ways to address grievances and effect change within the established system to prevent resorting to violence or circumventing the democratic process.

    *This was sloppy. I didn’t mean “conservative,” I meant far-right. Per this CSIS study: Conservatism, too often is associated with the right and the ideology of parts of the right is not conservative in any particular way. I try awfully hard not to conflate the two, but I did it in this case.


  • More Notions

  • 06/04/2024: When a person has been convicted by a jury, what do you refer to them as?

    I asked Claude AI: After a person has been convicted by a jury in a criminal trial, they are referred to as a “convicted criminal” or simply a “convict.” More specific terms may include: Convicted felon – if the crime they were convicted of was a felony offense. Convicted misdemeanant – if the crime they […]
  • 01/08/2024: How he drinks his coffee

    A small pleasure: one of my children and I are working together at the dining room table. We’re both writing. It’s hard for both of us, but we’re typing, so we’re both on the right road. I realize after a bit that I am witness to his writing tics. I have them. Lots of them. […]
  • 01/04/2024: A piece on the personal quality of restraint from 2015 that never ran

    I wrote it for Slate and was just reminded of it. This is a very rough draft. I wish it had run: On a recent Saturday, I listened to the audiobook of The Marshmallow Test while doing chores. In the famous experiment, children were given a choice between candy they could eat immediately, and a larger reward […]
  • 12/07/2023: Is enforced loyalty a good recipe for achievement?

    You: What is the historical record of operations founded on loyalty where the person to whom everyone must show loyalty has a record of almost no reciprocal loyalty? ChatGPT: The historical record of operations or regimes founded on loyalty to a central figure who does not reciprocate that loyalty is marked by instability and often, […]
  • 12/05/2023: I asked Chat GPT to offer guidance to lawmakers offering their endorsement

    You: Pretend I am a lawmaker and I have taken an oath to defend the constitution, how should I decide whether to endorse a candidate for president who will take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. ChatGPT: In your role as a lawmaker who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, […]
  • 12/05/2023: Hello! I see you sent me a text message!

    Hello! I see you’ve sent me a text! Is it urgent? If so, please call me. If not, please send me an email, that way I won’t think that in this world of constant interruption where we must have our guard double ready against mindless incursions, that you value my time so cheaply and yours […]
  • 12/02/2023: Discovering the photography of Saul Leiter

    Social media is a scourge, obviously. But I have been trying to respond to the negative effects of social media (cortisol-driving, attention-shredding, ego poking) with long-looking. Long-looking is the practice of spending a lot longer on an idea, piece of art, song, etc. than you normally would so that it give up additional meanings. If […]
  • 11/13/2023: What good is criticism

    I like this idea of criticism. (Colors are from my note taking).  It’s from an essay by Morgan Meis that can be found here. “Criticism does not stand outside the work of art, but stands alongside, maybe even inside, the work of art, participating in the work in order to further express and tease out […]
  • 11/03/2023: Thoughts on covering Donald Trump

  • 11/03/2023: Ray Bradbury punk rock graduation.

    Ray Bradbury was so poor growing up that in order to dress up for his graduation he had to wear his uncle’s suit. His uncle had died recently. The suite was the one he wore when he died. His uncle was shot. The suit still had the bullet hole in it. I learned that from […]