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Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 01:45 pm

Should’ve linked to this earlier: Michael Fumento’s spirited response to Cathy Seipp’s column on pundit payola. He makes some sound points—should payments for a book need to be disclosed in a column written seven years later?—but I still side with Seipp, on the basis that it’s a bad look for columnists even if special interest payments are disclosed. Take a look at both pieces and decide for yourself.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/30/2006 at 09:43 AM
    1. Nice defense of himself.  I’ve never enjoyed defenestrations.  Seipp’s piece cheered Fumento’s treatment, and I’ve wondered how much truth was at the bottom of all her rhetoric.

      Unfortunately, Scripps-Howard’s firing will forever dog Fumento in anything written about him by the MSM, S-H being an unimpeachable member of the MSM itself.

      By contrast, if you get fired by the American Spectator, you’re an MSM hero.

      Posted by Rittenhouse on 2006 01 30 at 01:03 PM • permalink


    1. I dunno. It’s not as if you don’t look for motiviation in any columnist. You don’t just shut off and absorb everything they say, and take them at their word. I think I’m with Fumento here, and I wonder what Siepp has in for him.

      Posted by Tasman on 2006 01 30 at 04:27 PM • permalink


    1. I started paying attention to Fumento when he was writing critically (in the best sense) about AIDS in the ‘80s.  While I don’t always agree with him, I’ve always found him interesting.

      I think he made a mis-step by soliciting support for a book from someone he would inevitably be writing about even though he would almost undboubtedly be on their side most of the time.  On the other hand taking Enron’s filthy lucre hasn’t seemed to hurt Paul Krugman’s career.  Nor has taking Malaysian money.  Wonder why that would be.

      Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2006 01 30 at 05:19 PM • permalink


    1. Nor has taking Malaysian money.  Wonder why that would be.

      Because Paul Krugman is the columnist of peace, that’s why.

      Posted by PW on 2006 01 30 at 06:10 PM • permalink


    1. Why is a columnist taking money anyway?

      Surely the act of taking money by default will influence their particular views and opinions they are writing on; othwerwise why is the money being offered.

      The other thing is that as long as their is full and clear disclosure to the reader, the reader can then make up their own mind.

      Ps: we received no money for this comment (though cash readily accepted).

      Posted by WeekByWeek on 2006 01 30 at 06:39 PM • permalink


    1. I think the crux of Fumento’s argument “that there’s a big difference between a book grant 7 years ago and a column today” holds well.

      I think the temporal connection, i.e. when did they get money, is the most important. If a columnist gat paid by Corporation X 5 years ago I really don’t expect that it will effect terribly what they write today. If they got paid last week, well …

      Posted by jpaulg on 2006 01 30 at 06:50 PM • permalink


    1. I think this would be one of those case by case situations.  If someone takes money from, say, the pharmaceutical industry and writes columns on how modern pharmaceutical research is improving lives, it’s arguably acceptable because pharmaceutical research is improving lives.  Taking money from, say, Pfizer to write a column that says Viagra is the only way you’ll ever have a satisfying sex life again, well, that’s a little problematic.

      Sounds like a dustup between columnists to me.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 01 30 at 07:33 PM • permalink


    1. What these columnists need is a refreshing can of ice cold Coca Cola, now better value than ever.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 01 30 at 08:59 PM • permalink


    1. Tim, if you’re taking Seipp’s side, could you please explain what exactly you think Fumento should have done differently.  Should he not have solicited grants for the book he was writing?  If so, how do you think the book should have been financed?  It seems to be pretty much standard practise in the policy-book-writing industry that you get grants, because sales are never going to pay for it.  AFAIK everybody does it, and if they didn’t most policy books would never get written.  And those grants are disclosed, in the book.  But not in every column the writer ever writes thereafter.

      Posted by Milhouse on 2006 01 30 at 09:07 PM • permalink


    1. I am not in the publishing biz, so I don’t know what is ‘usual and customary’ with regards to financing a book.  On balance I’d have to say that Seipp’s charges are unfair, given that the financial arrangements for the book in question were disclosed at the time, and no one has presented evidence of ‘pay for play’ in any of his recent work.

      Still, I hate it when two people whose work I enjoy and admire get in a confrontation like this.

      Posted by mongo78 on 2006 01 30 at 11:11 PM • permalink


    1. Seipp’s snide, throw-away line has cost her credibility. She won’t be taken quite so seriously in future.  Michael Fumento’s rebuttal wins; I predict his reputation will be unscathed.

      “Why is a columnist taking money anyway?” Oh, I don’t know.  Something about putting bread on the table?

      Posted by walterplinge on 2006 01 31 at 12:35 AM • permalink


    1. Here are a pair of other links about this via junkscience.com:


      I don’t want to launch an ad hominem attack against Ms. Seipp, but isn’t her forte at NRO more humour pieces and not hard news or analysis? And I’ve read too many good things from Fumento in the past to write him off over something like this especially when, Ms. Seipp aside, attacks like this come from leftists who I know are lying to me.

      Posted by andycanuck on 2006 01 31 at 05:35 PM • permalink


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