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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

Want Intelligence? Try the Media

Reading Time: 1 minute The standard justification for the continued existence of the mysterious and unaccountable $55 billion-plus juggernaut called “the intelligence community” is that it gathers important information for decision-makers, and presents it to them in hush-hush circumstances. There’s an alternative to this proposition: people could try supporting the news media. In a May 5 New York Times Read More

What is the New York Times saying?

Reading Time: 2 minutes In an article titled “Debate on Trump Project takes the Low Road,” about some troubling goings-on in the hamlet of Balmedie, Scotland, the lead paragraphs read as follows: Since refusing to let Donald Trump buy his house, inconveniently located in the middle of Mr. Trump’s planned $1.5 billion development in the countryside here, Michael Forbes Read More

The Noblest and Best

Reading Time: 1 minute The Wall Street Journal published a stunning report yesterday on how New York Federal Reserve Chairman Stephen Friedman enriched himself by purchasing Goldman Sachs stock while the Federal Reserve was propping up the investment bank: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York shaped Washington’s response to the financial crisis late last year, which buoyed Goldman Read More

What's in a name?

Reading Time: 1 minute The extent to which labels like “terrorist” and “bankruptcy reform” affect news coverage, public perceptions, and even public-policy decisions cannot be overstated. Yet we too rarely discuss this matter. The Los Angeles Times takes it on with regard to whether or not Sudan’s behavior in Darfur should be designated “genocide.”

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Derivatives and Debauchery

Reading Time: 2 minutes The UK Independent recently published fascinating reminiscences by former UBS trader Philipp Meyer about his debauched life as an investment banker. The grotesque extravagance he describes seems straight out of Petronius’s Satyricon. I put on 45 pounds in my first year at the bank, and, as you might guess, it was not from eating McDonalds. Read More

Ownership Society

Reading Time: 2 minutes Last Thursday, April 30, there was a flood of stories that the evening news and the next morning’s papers had to cover: swine flu, Souter’s retirement from the Supreme Court, and the Chrysler bankruptcy, for starters. But the story with perhaps the largest public import somehow managed to escape attention, namely the Senate’s decision to Read More

A Precursor to Revolution?

Reading Time: 1 minute Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist and tax expert David Cay Johnston recently gave a provocative interview to the Vermont independent weekly Seven Days. In it, he reveals that he once wanted to become a homicide detective for the LAPD (a dream more common among investigative journalists than you might think) and that, despite his railing against the Read More

Piling On

Reading Time: 3 minutes Last Saturday, the Washington Post ran an article on Jay Bybee, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and former assistant attorney general in the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel.  In his role as the Justice Department’s issuer of legal opinions, Bybee was responsible for the various “torture memoranda” and signed perhaps Read More

Wall Street Back on Top

Reading Time: 2 minutes On Newsweek’s website, Michael Hirsh writes under the headline “The old system refuses to change. Is Obama getting the message?” He describes a late-March meeting between six Democratic senators, President Obama and his economic advisers—a meeting that has gone essentially unreported: …while they supported Obama, they were worried. The financial reform policies the president was Read More

Leakaholics Anonymous

Reading Time: 1 minute Apparently, I am not alone in being troubled by current large-media practices in reference to leaked material and unnamed sources. You can see what I had to say previously here and here, when I focused on the New York Times. Now comes Slate’s Today’s Papers column to note some similar problems at the Washington Post Read More

The Times Profiles One of Its Own

Reading Time: 3 minutes The New York Times published a glowing profile yesterday of Steven Rattner, Obama’s lead adviser on the car-industry rescue. It’s so laudatory, in fact, that the reader is left wondering why someone of Rattner’s elite stature and stunning qualifications would accept a job that is clearly so beneath him—save perhaps his exceedingly noble commitment to Read More

Socially Unconscious

Reading Time: 2 minutes Are you one of those who tries to buy the offbeat brands, because they’re made by small, locally-owned, family businesses, and tend to use more wholesome ingredients than the giant manufacturers? As someone who makes an effort in that regard, I sometimes wonder whether the companies are indeed the delightful anachronisms they present themselves as. Read More

Did Geithner Aid and Abet Citigroup?

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Washington Post, in conjunction with ProPublica, published a long investigative piece today on Timothy Geithner’s tenure as head of the New York Federal Reserve. The article particularly focuses on his oversight of Citigroup, the largest bank under the New York Fed’s authority and the recent recipient of $45 billion in TARP money. Under the Read More

The Tycoon

Reading Time: 1 minute Here’s a passionate tirade about the damage done to journalism by media tycoon Conrad Black and other greedy, marauding owners. Black went to prison for criminal fraud in looting his properties, but, typically, is unrepentant and finding even that stint simply another chapter of a charmed life. Black, a member of the British House of Read More

Gold Rush for Lobbyists

Reading Time: 1 minute Reform may be in the air, but the Sunlight Foundation has a new report noting that nearly 1,700 new clients have signed up with lobbying firms in DC in the first quarter of 2009. Sunlight describes their initial findings as a “first pass” at scrutinizing a database of lobbying registrations. Of particular interest: Our first Read More

Leahy's Truth Commission Hits the Skids

Reading Time: 3 minutes Those of you following the prosecution trail will be interested to know that Patrick Leahy’s Truth Commission is a no-go. I was in a meeting with Leahy and 4 other Vermonters on Monday when he broke the news to us. We had asked for the meeting to learn why he supported a Truth Commission over Read More

Comforting the Comfortable

Reading Time: 1 minute Every so often, mainstream journalists indulge us with stunning self-revelatory comments about themselves and their cohort. Consider Evan Thomas’s profile of Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in the latest Newsweek. Thomas writes: If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am), reading Krugman makes you uneasy. You hope he’s wrong, Read More