Planet Money has indeed covered Ally once before, in a segment derided by an Ally publicist as “false” and “inflammatory.” There is no empirical evidence that Davidson—who, in his words, has “nothing to do with the underwriting stuff”—has explicitly interacted with his sponsors in a way that would undoubtedly compromise his show’s integrity. Levine and Ames have no proof of Davidson’s pay for his speaking gigs (though there’s been no denial that he was paid).
I'm not a big Gladwell fan, but this is a repulsive smear job.
To elaborate, the problem is that they clearly set out to make the case that Gladwell is horrendous. I don't know why they hate him so much, but I doubt it's because they disagree with him about the fiscal consequences of decreasing rates of smoking. So they make all their facts conform to their contemptuous thesis. Who knows if their research turned up facts that complicated the picture? Those were clearly not going to make it into the article.
I note that this article is part of something larger called "the S.H.A.M.E. Project," in which the "S" stands for ... "Shame"! To borrow from Jerry Seinfeld's old standup routine about waiting rooms (there's no chance of not waiting — that's the name of the room!): there's no chance that they're not going to shame him — that's the name of the project.
But it's also well known that political PR firms do pay people to troll forums.
Yasha Levine is the former editor of The eXile and founding editor of The eXiled. His articles have appeared in Wired, The Nation, Slate, Penthouse, Time magazine, The New York Observer and many others. He has made several guest appearances on MSNBC. Levine went undercover to report on America's housing meltdown, and has been arrested and detained covering political protests on two continents. Levine and eXiled co-editor Mark Ames first broke the connection between the Tea Party and the billionaire Koch brothers in February 2009, and was the first to uncover the origins of the Koch family’s wealth and its connection to Stalin and the Soviet Union.
Mark Ames is the founding editor of the eXile, a Moscow-based, English-language satirical newspaper forcibly relocated to the USA, where it survives as The eXiled. He is a frequent contributor to The Nation, frequent guest on MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show, and the author of Going Postal: Rage. Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond (Soft Skull Press), which has been made into a BBC documentary. He is also the co-author, with Matt Taibbi, of the The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia (Grove Press).
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