NYT’s Public Editor – A Public Relations Tool

new-york-times-vs-eli-lilly

By Jake Crosby

How could The New York Times publish “all the news that’s fit to print” when Eli Lilly’s board of directors member Ellen Marram also sits on the board of directors for The New York Times?

As evidence of this bias, The New York Times’ current public editor, Margaret Sullivan, recently bragged on her blog that Brendan Nyhan – former health policy research scholar for Johnson & Johnson’s philanthropic arm, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – praised The New York Times for carrying on the vaccine-autism cover-up in print in the wake of Jenny McCarthy’s confirmation as co-host for “The View.” As my past investigations have shown, The New York Times does not follow its own ethics policy, and the public editor is nothing more than a public relations tool.

There is perhaps no better proof of this, however, then my below exchange with The New York Times’ Office of the Public Editor two years ago, after the newspaper’s ethically bankrupt reporter Gardiner Harris wrote an article in 2011 praising IOM‘s latest whitewash of the vaccine-autism link. The exchange ended with Sullivan’s predecessor, Arthur Brisbane, dismissing my complaint and essentially admitting The New York Times does not follow its own ethical guidelines.

Jake Crosby 9/6/11
to Public/NYT/NYT.

Dear Mr. Brisbane,

My name is Jake Crosby; I hold a BA in both history and health: science, society and policy and am also a student at the GW School of Public Health and Health Services studying for an MPH in epidemiology. I have also been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) and am a contributing editor to Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic.

I am writing to complain yet again about your reporter, Gardiner Harris, for his biased reporting in favor of the pharmaceutical industry when reporting on the vaccine-autism controversy while in possession of an undisclosed conflict of interest. Last year, I complained to your predecessor, Clark Hoyt, about the fact that Harris’ brother works for a firm that sells laboratory equipment to pharmaceutical companies. Hoyt wrote me back admitting that Harris assumed some of his brother’s clients are manufacturers of vaccines.

Yet since my complaint last year, Gardiner Harris’ name appeared in the byline of yet another story denying the vaccine-autism link that ran on August 25th; the title, “Vaccine Cleared Again As Autism Culprit,” speaks for itself.

As such, Harris is once again in violation of The New York Times “Ethics in Journalism” policy, which states:

“Similarly the journalist may be asked to affirm that to the best of his or her knowledge no household member or close relative has financial holdings that might reasonably raise doubts about the journalist’s impartiality. If such conditions arise, the staff member must alert newsroom management.”

http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html#affirming

This policy also includes brothers, as stated in the section, “Avoiding Conflicts Over Family”:

“A brother or a daughter in a high-profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor.”

http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html#B2

I was disappointed because I was left with the impression, following my first complaint to your newspaper, that Gardiner Harris was taken off the story because of his violations of The New York Times’ “Ethics in Journalism” guidelines. His name appeared in no byline of any such biased article about the vaccine-autism connection since my first complaint, until August 25th.

While Gardiner Harris is undoubtedly at ethical fault – having already been warned – I am open to the possibility that an honest fluke might have caused this article to somehow miss The New York Times’ newsroom management and make it to press, especially since The Times is undergoing a change in executive editorial leadership this month.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor
Age of Autism
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

 Joseph Burgess of the Office of the Public Editor responded the next day, asking for my exchange with Clark Hoyt and senior standards editor Greg Brock:

Mr. Crosby, thanks for writing.  This might be an unrealistic request, but do you still have your correspondence with the previous public editor or Times staffers on this issue?  That would make it easier for us to process your email with The Times.

Best,

Joseph Burgess
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times
public@nytimes.com

Note:  The public editor’s opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.

So I responded, forwarding my previous exchanges with Hoyt and Brock:

Dear Mr. Burgess,

It is my pleasure. Your request is a perfectly reasonable one; thank you for asking. Below, you will find my exchanges with both the previous public editor and Greg Brock, Senior Editor for Standards, who Clark Hoyt shared my complaint with.

Thank you for your prompt reply, and I look forward to further correspondence.

Best,

Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor
Age of Autism
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

The next day, Burgess responded again – asking where Hoyt or Brock gave the impression that Harris was removed from covering vaccines and autism (even though I noted in my initial email that Harris’ name did not appear on the byline of any such article since my initial complaint):

 Mr. Crosby, thanks for writing back and for providing the emails.  Just so that I understand, what gave you the impression that Mr. Harris was removed from  covering this angle of his beat?  It doesn’t seem from my reading of the emails that either Mr. Hoyt or Mr. Brock came to the conclusion that there was a conflict of interest for Mr. Harris due to his brother’s professional interests.  If you could point me to a specific place where they may have given you that impression that would be greatly appreciated.

Best,

Joseph Burgess
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times
public@nytimes.com

Note:  The public editor’s opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.

So I responded:

Dear Mr. Burgess,

It is – once again – my pleasure. The specific place where Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock gave me that impression was when I cited the ethical guidelines showing Gardiner Harris held an undisclosed conflict of interest in my last response to them, they did not take issue with any part of my interpretation. If they had, I think they would have said so to clarify the journalistic code of ethics for reporters at The Times. The fact that Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock did not appear to take any such issue, however, implied tacit confirmation of my points.  

That coupled with seeing Mr. Harris’ name absent from the byline of any further articles The Times ran about this controversy before August 25th left me with the impression up until then that silent action had been taken and that Mr. Harris had been effectively phased out of covering this angle of his beat, as you call it, for The New York Times.

Best,

Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor
Age of Autism
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

Then after three days of back-and-fourth exchange with Burgess, Arthur Brisbane personally responded to my email to kill my complaint altogether. His excuse? “…ethic policy at The Times is open to interpretation…”:

Mr. Crosby: Thanks for your message. I have read through the history of your correspondence with Clark Hoyt and Greg Brock and also reviewed your current complaint. It seems to me that this matter was given an thorough review in the previous case. While the ethic policy of The Times is open to interpretation, I would concur with my predecessor on this. I don’t see a problem with Mr. Harris writing on the subject.

Again, thanks for letting me know of your concern.

Art Brisbane
public editor

In other words, The New York Times’ ethical policies can be spun any way The Times’ public relations “editor” sees fit, even if his “interpretation” is directly contradicted by the policy itself. Nonetheless, I responded asking for Brisbane’s “interpretation” of that policy:

Dear Mr. Brisbane,

It is my pleasure, and thank you for both reading my correspondence with Clark Hoyt and Greg Brock along with my current complaint.

I beg to differ with you that my previous complaint was thoroughly reviewed. Your predecessor did not make any reference to the ethical policies of The Times regarding conflicts of interest. In fact, his excuse for Mr. Harris not having a conflict of interest was contradicted by The Times’ ethical policies. If your reasoning is that the ethical policies of The Times are “open to interpretation,” then I would appreciate hearing what your interpretation of those policies would be and how you think they would absolve Mr. Harris.

Best,

Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor
Age of Autism

www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

I never received any word back. I sent follow-up emails to the newspaper’s executive editor Jill Abramson and publisher Arthur Ochs-Sulzberger Jr., but never received any reply from them either. Obviously, The Times’ ethics policy was not interpreted differently; it was flouted.

Eight months after my exchange, Gardiner Harris was re-assigned to India as a foreign reporter for The Times, where he came down with travelers’ diarrhea from eating a mango that the former public health reporter failed to wash. He continues to report from there to this day. Meanwhile, The Times continues to be complicit in helping the government whitewash away the scientific fact that vaccines cause autism in media as Ellen Marram of Eli Lilly – the company that introduced the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal to the market – continues to sit on The New York Times’ board of directors.

As justification for this, The Times’ current public editor Margaret Sullivan states on her blog:

“It can be important to state both sides of an argument — but only when both sides are legitimate.”

But “legitimate” does not accurately describe the position on autism and vaccines by the IOM, which privately stated “…we are not ever going to come down that it [autism] is a true side effect…” before reviewing any evidence for or against, nor that of The New York Times which is based on such scientific misconduct.

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated and is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology.

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3 Thoughts on “NYT’s Public Editor – A Public Relations Tool

  1. Ethel Mercurious on July 21, 2013 at 8:25 am said:

    We are effectively living in a “vaccine policed state” . This is the scenario the forces of evil are trying to create . Autism rates of 1 in 25 and hardly a word about it …..what does it all mean ?

    And then the dual assault of Monsanto\Du Pont , with their glycophosphate’s ….thank god for the great resistance of some of the American and Canadian farmers to these companies sheer ruthlessness .

    Flouridated public drinking water for up to 75% of the people in 9 countries around the world .All countries with a former close association with either the US or UK .

    The Donald Rumsfeld & Searle’s little present to the world of putting the poison Aspartame into so called synthetic food stuffs , ie Cocoa Koala ….I personally know people who that has killed .

    And then we have vaccine schedule , 55 per child , is this true ? Directly injecting poisons directly into babies\infants bloodstreams ….you cant get lower than this .Autism rates of 1 in 25 …..African communities in the West are recording greater …..1 in 8 for Somalians in Minneapolis \Sweden \London
    And the unknown rate of Ugandans in North Germany…said to be the highest in the world .

    And the press \ mass media maintains a perfect balance of silence .Now that is how you effectively manage a mass poisoning of the people …. You have to hand it to them , they are good at their jobs .

    Maurice Hilleman openly admitting on a recording vaccines cause cancers ….oops ….own goal there !

  2. Pingback: Gardiner Harris Infects Forbes With Herper Virus - Autism Investigated

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