Moral Hazard, Fed Style

Reading Time: 2 minutes How exactly did the Federal Reserve gain the emergency authority to loan more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money to the banks secretly and without oversight? The Washington Post explains today in a long investigative piece by Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin. As it turns out, Sen. Chris Dodd slipped the necessary language into an Read More

Jihad Leak Redux

Reading Time: 2 minutes Recently, I raised some questions about the impact of imprisonment at Guantánamo and how it affected those who were released. For example, I wrote: As for those who returned to jihad, one would like to know whether they were more motivated to do so as a result of their treatment at Guantánamo, or less. In Read More

Treasury’s Shadowy Bid to Bilk Taxpayers

Reading Time: 2 minutes The banks that received money under the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program also granted stock warrants so that taxpayers could capitalize on the risk of investing their money. Bloomberg reports that the Treasury is well on its way to screwing taxpayers on the deal: Banks negotiating to reclaim stock warrants they granted in return for Read More

Jihad Leak

Reading Time: 2 minutes A leaked Pentagon study claims one in seven Guantánamo detainees returned to jihad upon their release. A New York Times reporter says that the assertion could be used to argue against closing down Guantánamo. But…. -If the numbers are correct, that’s a pretty low recidivism rate. It could either argue for the effectiveness of incarceration Read More

NY Times Deals New Card

Reading Time: 2 minutes Anybody who still appreciates the arcane pleasure of reading an actual newsprint newspaper knows how important it is what makes it onto the front page. The New York Times’s prominent placement of a column by personal finance columnist Ron Lieber signals an important development: traditional news organizations’ increasing willingness to level with readers and not Read More

The Way of the Warrior: Media Coverage of Gen. McChrystal

Reading Time: 4 minutes On May 12, 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates selected Gen. Stanley McChrystal to head our “Af-Pak” military operations. Though the selection was widely praised, two unsettling issues have dogged McChrystal’s ascent to the top of the military hierarchy. First, he participated in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s mysterious “friendly-fire” death in Afghanistan. Second, as reported Read More

Has the CIA lied to Congress?

Reading Time: 1 minute Russ recently suggested that we need an investigation of the congressional briefing process. As we continue to follow the political fight between Congress and the CIA, let us not forget the story of Mary McCarthy. A senior CIA official, meeting with Senate staff in a secure room of the Capitol last June, promised repeatedly that Read More

The Ponzi-Pulitzer Scheme

Reading Time: 2 minutes Earlier in May, the New York Times ran an intriguing piece about William McMasters, the Boston publicist who had helped unmask the con artist Charles Ponzi, after whom the term “Ponzi scheme” is named. One noteworthy passage, near the end of the article, notes McMasters’s frustration at his dealings with the Boston Post, the paper Read More

Paying More to Cut Costs

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Washington Post today reviews the political push that led to the $36.5 billion in Obama’s stimulus package devoted to modernizing health records. Behind the president’s rosy predictions about the plan’s cost savings is the very industry that stands to gain a fortune from the bill’s passage. Candidate Obama promised $77.8 billion could be saved Read More

Investigative Story of the Week

Reading Time: 1 minute Covering the increasingly urgent matter of food supply safety, the New York Times’s Michael Moss delivers a classic of investigative reporting in his examination of manufacturer instructions relating to frozen entrees. The thrust of the article is that, as food manufacturers look to cut costs and increase imports of ingredients, more and more pathogens are Read More

Interrogating Congress

Reading Time: 1 minute Recently, I raised some questions about the reports that Democratic members of Congress had been aware of CIA interrogation methods. Now, members of Congress themselves are suggesting that the CIA put out the information about the briefings in order to pass the buck. There are crucial questions we should be asking about the CIA, about Read More

Insolvency

Reading Time: 2 minutes Anytime government or corporate interests allege an imminent crisis, journalists must guard themselves against manipulative terminology. Take the report the Obama administration released yesterday showing that the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are being depleted at a faster rate, thanks in part to the recession. The Medicare fund will run out of money in Read More

A Donnybrook over Holbrooke

Reading Time: 2 minutes Over at Electric Politics, former diplomat George Kenney offers a seldom-seen view of super-emissary Richard Holbrooke, once a top figure in the Clinton Administration and now President Obama’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Whether you agree or disagree, it is interesting to get something other than the almost uniformly laudatory media coverage. Kenney’s posting Read More

A Look Back: Hedge Funds

Reading Time: 2 minutes Sometimes, here at WhoWhatWhy, we find it useful to see what was said, back in the good old days, about the institutions that later became so reviled. Along these lines, we refer you to an April 2007 New York Magazine cover package, “Behind the Hedge”—a primer on hedge funds and the (almost all) men who Read More

Tortured Rationalizations

Reading Time: 2 minutes In an opinion piece, the Wall Street Journal convincingly argues that top Democrats in Congress have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths in criticizing Bush Administration policy on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), also known as torture. These days, Speaker Pelosi insists she heard and saw no evil. “We were not — I Read More

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Big Pharma Pays to Publish its own "Journals"

Reading Time: 1 minute The Scientist reports that Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of scientific and medical texts, has taken money from Merck and other pharmaceutical companies to issue official-looking journals that subtly pushed their products. Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and Read More