Jess McIntosh

Jess McIntosh On Hidden Tattoos, Hyperpartisan Media Coverage + Hillary Clinton

Who:  Jess McIntosh, Hillary Clinton Campaign Director of Communications Outreach, Cultural Interpreter Of Feminism, Lover of Lasagna

Why She’s Foxy: She’s an ass-kicking feminist with back tats who who’s devoting her life to the grass roots growth of radical democracy.

On Growing Up: “I grew up in the city and was raised by a single mom. She did an amazing job. It was just us — no siblings, but she was enough of a parent for three or four kids. We lived in just about every neighborhood in Manhattan. I’m currently living two doors down from the last place I lived with my mom in Brooklyn!"

On Discovering Politics: “I wasn’t a PolySci major. I had no idea what I wanted to do. But while I was at NYU, the 2000 elections, 9/11 and war happened. All of a sudden I was obsessed with the news. It was the rise of Fox, and the start of that hyper-partisan 24/7 media coverage. I thought maybe I’d want to be a journalist, but I had already picked a side and didn’t think it would be fair. I started to realize that I thought I could help the good guys. I went from reading poetry and fiction in the New Yorker to reading foreign policy articles and domestic politics. I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I’m a Democrat. Obviously I believe in furthering women’s rights, economic opportunity and ending gender discrimination in pay — my heart and my vote was always in the right place. I think I just wasn’t militant about it. “

On Managing A Crazy Campaign: “The president of [The Political Action Committee] Emily’s List managed the campaign of Al Franken when I was his spokesperson in Minnesota. I was twenty-six. She and I knew each other well, and when she went over to Emily’s List, I wanted to go with her. Immediately I realized how the deck is stacked against women seeking positions of power. In 2010, it was a very different world, we didn’t have microaggressions, we didn’t talk about toxic masculinity, there was no phrase for rape culture, I didn’t know the word intersectionality.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to straight electoral politics.  I learned then that I’m a feminist before I’m a democrat. I kind of consider myself a ‘Cultural Interpreter of Feminism’. I’m obsessed with how I can make politics relevant to people who hate politics. And most people do. They have perfectly good reasons for doing so, but I want to fix that.”

On The HIllary Clinton HQ:  “Gender discrimination never comes up in the workspace, which is fantastic. This is a campaign is full of very strong women, all the way down to our junior staff. I’m going to have to get used to seeing a lot of men in positions of authority again. Obviously we experience adversity a lot, and I think nobody does more than the woman we’re working for. I was always a fan of hers. I’m a New Yorker and I’m old enough to remember her as First Lady. I’ve always rooted for her, but the gratitude that I feel working here is on a level that I didn’t have before. Just the fact that she’s willing to keep putting herself out there because she believes in making the world a better place, despite the decades of adversity she has faced. I mean, I think no one has put up with more in the American political system, and she continues to want to fight for us. I just want to thank her and send her a muffin basket.”

On Leisure Time:  “There’s not much.  I have a couple of very good girlfriends who make sure that they visit me for wine on Sundays. I have a boyfriend who takes excellent care of me and makes me lunch. I don’t know what I would do without the little support systems that exist in my life.  I don’t worry that I’ll lose friends because they all know what I’m doing. I get amazing little ‘atta girl’ texts from friends. They would probably be concerned if I had time to throw a dinner party. I fully intend to go on an 'apology-I appreciate-you tour immediately after the election, cook everyone lasagna and say thank you'.”


On Tats: “I can’t even count how many I have. No one knows, though. I do a lot of TV, so I’ve always been cognizant of keeping them hidden. The tech guys know about them though. Every time I pull up my shirt when they mic me they're like, 'Wow!’”


Fave Love Book: “‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. There’s no better love story. There’s all kind of love.  Love changes as you get older, and so do you.”

On Her Fantasy Wedding: “Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. I feel like they should be married, and that would be one hell of a party. I would wear a suit, because obviously that’d be appropriate. It would be a glittery, art-deco copy in New York, with lots of cigarettes and slow dancing."