My Work

Why is FC Barcelona hooked up with this anti-semitic cleric?
The Qatar Foundation supports a muslim imam who said Hitler was right and has called for the death of all Jews.

Printing Money: Grey Group's Secret Transcripts Revealed
Finally, after six years of reporting and legal wrangling, the tale of why Grey London's CFO allegedly secretly taped his meetings with the CEO can be told.

Sunshine as Disinfectant: Court Frowns on Secrecy Over Advertising Kickback Allegations
New York State's Appellate Division ruled in my favor over a set of documents that Grey Global Group was trying to keep a secret. The decision is significant for any journalist trying to cover routine buiness litigation in the New York courts.

In the World of Pharmaceuticals, Corporate Transparency is a Murky Business
The New York Times interviewed me for a piece on efforts by Pfizer, Lilly, Merck and GSK to disclose how much they pay doctors. The story came after my ranking of drug company transparency efforts.

The Voice of Goldman Sachs Bites His Lip
The months-long run of negative publicity for Goldman Sachs has had a decided entertainment value. And for that, much of the credit goes to Lucas van Praag, the dapper and combative Goldman PR chief best known for his loquacious put-downs and seething disdain for the reporters who cover his company. But van Praag is removing himself from the spotlight, at least temporarily. As he withdraws into the shadows, so ends an interesting experiment in corporate image-shaping.

NYU Launches Course on Professional Blogging
I'm teaching it.

Carnegie/Newhouse Legal Reporting Fellowship
I am happy to announce that the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University has given me a Carnegie/Newhouse Legal Reporting Fellowship to work on an investigative project regarding conflicts within the New York State judiciary. The results will be published by Judicial Reports.

What Does the Inside of My Brain Look Like?
I took part in an interesting experiment at Columbia University School of Medicine in which I was exposed to different brands as I lay inside an fMRI machine. It turns out that I use one set of neural circuits to handle brands I like (Peroni and Liverpool FC) and another for those I hate (Bud Light and Manchester United). Download a PDF here if you want to see images of my brain.

Punk Is Not Dead, It's Just Unprofitable
This was one of the most enjoyable stories I ever worked on. The assignment: To dissect the economics of hardcore punk. I asked NoMeansNo, Minor Threat's Ian Mackaye, and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys to detail their finances for me. The results? Combat boots and three-chord riffs will not make you rich. 

The New York Times Noticed a Study I Did at Columbia
Clark Hoyt, the Gray Lady's ombudsman, devoted his June 8, 2008, column to a study of the newspaper's use of anonymous sources done by myself and a dozen or so students at Columbia's Journalism School. Despite the Times' reliance on anonymous sources for that bizarre John McCain/lobbyist story, reporters there have dramatically reduced the number of unnamed sources in the paper since 2004. Download a PDF here.

The Supreme Court Cites ... Er ... Me!
File this one under Strange But True: In his concurrence in Baze v. Rees, the Supreme Court's ruling on the use of lethal injection as a death penalty, Justice Stevens cited a story I wrote in 2002 describing the comedy of errors involved in New Jersey's attempt to develop a lethal injection method. Bizarrely, Stevens cites my story in his criticism of lethal injection protocols but concurs with the ruling nonetheless. Read the original story here.

Bad Patch
The story of why Johnson & Johnson launched the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch even though the company had been warned it had a heightened risk of fatal blood clots in those who used it. At least 23 women have died after wearing the patch. Update: The N.Y. Times reports the death count is up to 40.

Merck, HPV and the Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gardasil
My interview on NPR about how Merck launched this controversial new drug for schoolgirls. Download here.

The $100 Million Sex Pill Scandal
Steve Warshak built a massive empire at Berkeley Premium Neutraceuticals based on his little blue pill: Enzyte. Now he may be going to jail for it. Sidebar on the scale of the dietary supplement business, and how Big Pharma is getting in on it, here.)

Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia's Journalism and Business Schools
I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded a Knight-Bagehot fellowship at Columbia.

LA Confidential
Tom Rubin stole $35 million from Sears and Universal Studios. Congress helped him do it. (PDF version here.)

Bad Medicine
How Pfizer acquired a company engaged in a criminal scheme to sell human growth hormone to people who didn't need it -- even though the drug gives healthy people cancer. (PDF version here).

Shades of Grey
The story of the kickback conspiracy at Grey Global Group that took millions from clients such as Procter & Gamble and Brown & Williamson.

How Corrupt is New Jersey? The Mayors Bribe Each Other
One of my favorite stories from the Law Journal, when I uncovered the mayor of Kearny paying a kickback to the mayor of Hoboken.

Secret Detentions After Sept. 11
A story I wrote for The Nation about court hearings for terror suspects in Newark that were closed to the public.

Image Wars
After the Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima police brutality scandals in New York, authorities tried to advertise their way out of the problem. For Salon.