Meet Lloyd Blankfein

The Wall Street Journal has disclosed that Lloyd Blankfein was present at the meetings with Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson when the decision was made to bail out AIG, which had sold credit default swaps to Goldman Sachs on which AIG was unable to make good.  Goldman’s stock had plummeted to 35, wiping out vast Read More

Etymology as Journalism

Phraseology is fundamental to today’s political battles. Lobbyists, political strategists, corporate PR reps, and even academics expend an extraordinary amount of thought and money on framing issues with just the right label. Expressions like “bridge to nowhere” simply don’t arise from ordinary discourse. Consequently, journalists have to become etymologists to cover politics adequately.  Anytime they hear Read More

Truth or Reconciliation?

They are really coming. Official investigations of the George W. Bush administration are on the way. Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have just agreed to limited testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which is looking into the seemingly politically-motivated firings of seven U.S. Attorneys. Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Patrick Leahy, his senate counterpart, Read More

It's the Culture, Stupid

Character is fate, the Romans learned, and biography is history. They’re also the essence of today’s headlines. As serious journalists tackle our Great Crash, they should begin by digging deep beneath the perfunctory clip-file profiles of the major players — from White House, Treasury and Fed to Congress to counting-house suites — to connect the dots of lives lived Read More

Railroading Good Government

The panic over government getting directly involved in running companies that can’t survive without federal support may be misguided. New York Times business reporter Louis Uchitelle makes this point, noting that As General Motors and Chrysler struggle to remain solvent, the railroad bailout of a generation ago could offer a template to the Obama administration Read More

By What Name Shall Ye Know Them?

Journalists tend to lean on simplified words and phrases to explain complex topics to a general audience.  Too often, though, they don’t consider whether their language is ideologically loaded or favors certain interests over others. Consider, for example, the ways used to describe the mortgage-backed securities at the root of the financial crisis.  The most Read More

Preventive Reporting

Because I spend most of my waking hours reporting and writing about wrongful convictions across the United States, I am acutely aware when another one becomes public knowledge. Almost every day, I learn about yet another instance of an individual convicted of a crime he or she did not commit, and an eventual exoneration. Frequently, Read More

A News Drought

USA Today reports that The first two months of 2009 are the driest start of any year since the USA began keeping records over a century ago, leading to severe drought in Texas, dipping reservoir levels in Florida and a surge in wildfires across the nation. With the risk to human survival that climate change Read More

Autocritique?

I was reading a profile in the New York Times arts pages, about the novelist Zoe Heller: The idea for the novel came from a news article about scientists who thought they had found a gene that might be responsible for people’s beliefs, Ms. Heller explained. Regardless of whether it exists, she saw “the belief Read More

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