I met journalist Mike Fumento 14 years ago in Los Angeles, when he worked at Investor’s Business Daily and I worked for the Los Angeles Daily News. We’ve been friends ever since. I’ve praised his work often, and we collaborated once on a monograph for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Mike is an iconoclastic investigative writer and thinker who has been brave, way ahead of his time, and far more often right than he has been wrong.
The Business Week article about Mike’s ties to Monsanto Corp. and Mike’s response raised good questions about how long and under what conditions journalists tied to think tanks should disclose information about their sources of funding. (Speaking of which, for the record, I neither solicited nor received nor was ever offered money from any non-media corporation, government agency or individual for anything I wrote while a one-year Warren Brookes fellow in environmental journalism at CEI in 1995. I never solicited, received, or was offered such funds for my writing before or since.)
Unfortunately, some of the subsequent attacks on Mike have been sloppy and unnecessarily petty. For the record, Mike says the money in question was given to his employer (the Hudson Institute), did not affect his salary, and had nothing to do with his Scripps Howard column. Monsanto, for its part, told Business Week “the company did not pay for the recent Fumento op-ed or any others he has written.” This directly contradicts Tim Rutten’s false claim in the LA Times that Mike “accepted payments from Monsanto for writing opinion pieces favorable to its bio-tech business.”
As longtime readers know, I have been blunt and direct in my criticism of other conservative journalists who have failed to disclose direct third-party payments for their writing–whether from the government or from corporations. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Mike’s case differs from the others in that he did not receive any direct payments from Monsanto. I still think Mike erred in failing to disclose the grant when his book was published, but there’s no defense for the ad hominem and inaccurate pile-ons on a journalist who has contributed, and continues to contribute, much to our improved health and betterment.
If the Fumento Standard is now the standard on newspaper op-ed pages, it will be interesting to watch the NY Times apply it–retroactively and across-the-board. Have its op-ed contributors who are attached to left-wing think tanks taken money directly or indirectly from unions and failed to disclose? How about open-borders pundits who have solicited, received, or been offered money from businesses who oppose immigration enforcement? Maybe the Times will assign a reporter to investigate.blog comments powered by Disqus
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