Katherine Eban has a follow-up to her her big splash of last week timed to disrupt the Holder contempt vote, "The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal."
Eban's piece has been debunked by several several defenders of the Issa investigation, including Grassley staffer Jason Foster on PBS, Senator Grassley himself, Katie Pavlich and Robert VerBruggen, who did a radio show with Eban and then asked: "Did Fast and Furious Not Happen?" Teri O'Brien declared sarcastically: "Pravda Has Spoken: ATF Never Allowed Gunwalking."
Of course ATF DID allow gunwalking and Fast and Furious DID happen, but that hasn't stopped the administration mouthpieces from trumpeting the Eban piece in Fortune as proof positive that it didn't. Always in these accounts Eban is treated as a serious reporter with gravitas, which ignores her political prejudices and incidents in her past that cast doubt on her "journalistic impartiality."
Who then is Katherine Eban? Well, to begin with, for much of her career she was known as Katherine Eban Finkelstein. From her wedding announcement in the New York Times in 2002:
Katherine Eban Finkelstein, a daughter of Elinor Fuchs of Brooklyn and Michael O. Finkelstein of Manhattan, was married yesterday evening to B. Kenneth Levenson II, the son of Bruce Levenson of Truro, Mass., and the late Arline A. Levenson. Rabbi Sarah Reines officiated at the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts in Manhattan.The bride, 35, will be known as Katherine Eban. She is a staff writer for The New York Sun and until recently was a reporter for The New York Times.The bride graduated from Brown University and received a master's degree in Renaissance poetry from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She also received a master's degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The bride's father is a corporate lawyer in Manhattan. Her mother is a professor at the Yale School of Drama.Mr. Levenson, also 35, is an architect in Manhattan. He graduated from Pratt Institute. His father, who is retired, and his mother owned the former Cupola Ski Shop in West Dover, Vt.
Last year, the couple bought a 2,358-square-foot house built in 1899 located in the Park Slope Historic District of Brooklyn for $1.17 million.
My own contact with Eban began with this email back in December:
-----Original Message-----From: Katherine EbanTo: georgemason1776Sent: Mon, Dec 5, 2011 1:18 pmSubject: Fortune Magazine journalist contacting youDear Mr. Vanderboegh,I am a journalist with Fortune Magazine, hoping to speak with you for an article I am writing about ATF, and the Fast & Furious operation. I was hoping to discuss with you some details of the F&F operation, as well as to try and better understand how the whole issue came to the attention of the Congress. My understanding from reading Dennis Wagner's recent piece in the Arizona Republic is that you played a role in that.Would you have some time available in the next couple of days? I would be happy to call you, if you would provide me with a number, or you can reach me at 718-636-4672.Thanks, Katherine Eban--Katherine Ebanph: 718-636-4672cell: 917-821-9634fax: 347-382-9520www.katherineeban.comAuthor of Dangerous Doses: a true story of cops, counterfeiters and the contamination of America's drug supply
I told her I was pressed for time, since I was headed to the Congressional hearing in DC that Thursday. She proposed called me that afternoon. I agreed, with this caveat:
"Understand, I always tape my interviews to avoid disputes on misquotes or misinterpretations. Alabama is a one party state and I don't have to tell reporters that, but I always do, having had a number of negative experiences in the past. If that's a problem then let's just do it by email. That also works."
She called me later that evening, and from that long, tape-recorded interview she came up with this paragraph in her "bombshell":
It had also attracted gun-rights activists loosely organized around a blog called the Sipsey Street Irregulars, run by a former militia member, Mike Vanderboegh, who has advocated armed insurrection against the U.S. government. It was an incendiary combination: the disgruntled ATF agents wanted to punish and reform the bureau; the gun-rights activists wanted to disable it. After the item about Terry appeared, the bloggers funneled the allegations through a "desert telegraph" of sorts to Republican lawmakers, who began asking questions.
A. I have never "advocated armed insurrection against the U.S. government." Search through everything I have written and you will not find it. I believe in the resort to the righteous self-defense of "Second Amendment remedies" in response to tyranny, but if I had in fact advocated pro-active armed insurrection, I would have been arrested long ago on a sedition charge.
B. As I have written many times, absent the repeal of the gun control laws of the United States, I do not seek the abolishment -- or "disabling" -- of the ATF, nor the transfer of its functions to another agency, viewing that as a greater disaster. I have written that I prefer "the devil I know in rehab to the devil I don't know."
C. The "Desert Telegraph" was -- and is -- an email chain between the whistleblowers and those of us who sought to help them -- the Coalition of Willing Lilliputians as I dubbed them. We certainly didn't need that sort of means to communicate with the GOP senators, or later with the Committee.
So, we have one paragraph and three major errors. All these things Eban knew if she was paying attention. The paragraph is simply designed to smear the investigation with my name and notoriety. I will be happy to compare my audio tape to her notes. As it turns out, I am not the only victim of Eban's "journalistic skills," but more on that in a minute. Let us return to the original question: Who then is Katherine Eban Finkelstein?
In her own words, Eban told of her early experiences in an interview from 2007 titled How Rhodes Scholars Think. It begins:
Katherin EbanBrown University, 1989, BA; English Literature with a minor in Creative WritingUniversity of Oxford, 1990, M. Phil., English LiteratureUniversity of East Anglia, 1991, M.A., Creative WritingKatherine Eban grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She is the younger of two daughters. Her father practices and teaches law, but he is also a statistician. Her mother is a theater scholar and critic. Katherine is an investigative reporter focusing on public health and homeland security issues. Her work has appeared in the Nation, the New Republic, the New Yorker, and Vogue. In her first book, Dangerous Doses, published in 2005, she unveiled the spread of counterfeit prescription drugs in the American supply chain. Her most current piece appears in the July issue of Vanity Fair. In the article called “Rorschach and Awe”, she exposes the role of CIA-contracted psychologists in military interrogations and torture.
Here's some selections from the Q&A:
Obviously, you’re intelligent, but what drove you to do more than the average teenager?I don’t know if I did more than the average teenager. I was interested and I wanted to be involved. I had a lot of opportunities. And if we’re going to assume average teenagers do less, I think a lot of them don’t have the opportunities that I had. . .What kinds of activities did you enjoy growing up?I was in the circus. That was actually my qualification for athletic prowess [for the Rhodes Scholarship].What did you do in the circus?Trapeze, acrobatics, and clowning.How did you get into it?My mom sent me to clown camp one summer, because she had to get the floors redone and wanted us all out of the house.Which part did you enjoy the most? Clowning? The trapeze?I liked it all. There were a number of tremendous lessons to be drawn from clown camp, and my essay for the Rhodes was about clowning. The essence of clowning is that you’re always a child in a state of discovery looking at everything as new. There’s nothing familiar to a clown. Your whole world has to be learned—all the time—over and over again. So if you encounter a ladder, you act as if you’ve never seen it before, even if you just encountered it a minute ago. That was just a great approach to life. I also had training on the tightrope. We were trained on what is called a slack wire, which is a loose dangling rope. They teach you how to take a nap on it. You should learn to sleep on it, before you walk on it. You get such a sense of balance. . . The other lesson of clowning is never take yourself seriously. One thing I cannot bear about the Rhodes Scholarship is all the seriousness surrounding it. I don’t necessarily accept there is something God-givenly spectacular about us scholars. I totally reject that.Are there any aspects of the qualities the Rhodes committee looks for that you continue to value in any way?There’s one where I’m torn whether I live up to, or not — which is community service. I am not volunteering at something separate now. My work is basically exposing injustice and inequity so I’m not sitting in a corporate law firm and doing pro bono work to assuage my conscience. One might argue that my work is community service, but I always feel like should I be doing something else. It’s a little tough, because as an investigative reporter I can’t really join anything. I can’t really sign anything. I’m constantly in an odd relationship to society. I can’t be partial. So it’s a little bit of a tough one. . . I had a lot of opportunity. And frankly, I came from an upper middle class family. It is far easier for me to worry about my fellow man, if I have the financial wherewithal, than for other people [without the resources] to do that. It’s just something to think about.Did you have a strong religious background?My extended family was very religious and my great uncle was a very famous rabbi. But I don’t think I had any particular belief system. . .. . . After my first year at Oxford, I got a summer job for Ira Magaziner (a former Rhodes Scholar) doing research on health care for the elderly in Europe. It had nothing to do with what I was studying. I didn’t know a thing about it, but he wanted cheap labor so I took the job. When I got back to New York [in 1991], I was working on a novel and it was getting rejected everywhere. I was so depressed and living in a tiny apartment. It was a $250 apartment with the deal that I take care of a depressed bird named Fred — a parakeet. He had a girlfriend, I guess, who had died. He was clinically depressed. His mood was affecting me, too.I had to get a job. I was broke. So I applied for a variety of jobs and one of the people forwarded my résumé to Mark Green, the New York City Public Advocate (basically, the city’s watchdog). Because I had that one summer job on my résumé, he hired me as his health care policy analyst. While working for him, I investigated New York City hospitals. One report I wrote for him wound up with front-page coverage in the New York Times. So my reports started getting press pick-up. I had always been a writer, but I always thought I would be a fiction writer. But it turned out that I was a very good investigative reporter. Basically, one thing led to another and I ended up being a reporter focusing on health care.
Eban went on to write about health care for the New York Observer and for magazines including The New Republic, The Nation and The New York Times Magazine. Some of her work was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
In 1994, Eban, describing herself as "Katherine Eban Finkelstein worked on the New York Clinton campaign, and writes about art and politics," wrote an article for On The Issues Magazine entitled, "The Politics of the Possible: What Women Can Gain Under Clinton. Her politics in this article are plain. She writes as a supporter of Clinton and a feminist.
Under George Bush, the halls and rooms of the White House were closed to us. We were always in a defensive mode, struggling to hold on to what we had," recalls Julia Scott, Director of the National Black Women's Health Project.The 1992 elections brought the need for a defensive feminist posture to a close. Activists for women's rights, along with millions of never-before-active women, successfully changed the face of American politics. EMILY's List grew into the nation's best-financed political action committee. A historic number of women were elected to Congress. And, for the first time in history, women, voting in their own self-interest, were pivotal in electing the new President (53% of women but only 48% of men voted for Clinton).But along with the elation and hopefulness that culminated in the Clinton inaugural has come a kind of success anxiety. Being an "against-er" during the frankly anti-woman Reagan/Bush years was, at least, an easily defined position. Today, with a so-called friend in the White House, feminists are facing the insider's subtle challenge. We've earned our right to the President's ear. But reciting a litany of the problems women face is no longer a sufficient political statement. Our demands need to be made concrete and complete with strategic ideas for their accomplishment. The question now is not "What can Clinton do for us?" but "What can we do to ensure that women really make gains under the new administration?"
On The Issues Magazine describes itself as "a progressive, feminist quarterly print publication" (now succeeded by On the Issues Magazine Online) which ran from 1983 to 1999. OTI was and is published by Merle Hoffman, President and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, in Long Island City, New York. It is one of the largest and longest running abortion providers in the country. Hoffman's autobiography is entitled Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room.
That was 1994. But in August 1997, the self-identified feminist published her first big article in the arguably misogynist Playboy magazine, entitled "Deadly Morals."
Nestled in amongst photos of Playmate of the Month Kalin Olson,and a bevy of "Biker Babes" and interviews with liberal misogynist Bill Maher and Jason Alexander, Finkelstein's article was subtitled "The DEA is Busting Doctors For Prescribing Drugs -- and Patients are Dying in Pain."
Deadly Morals became a very popular article on anti-drug war websites and the drug companies didn't mind it at all either since they benefited from greater numbers of prescriptions and were looking for political arguments to help deflect greater regulation.
It is perhaps not that great of a stretch for a declared feminist to write for Playboy since, as reported by DiscovertheNetworks:
Established in 1965 by Hugh Hefner, the Playboy Foundation seeks "to foster social change by confining its grants ... to projects ... fostering open communication about, and research into, human sexuality, reproductive health and rights; protecting and fostering civil rights and civil liberties in the United States for all people, including women, people affected and impacted by HIV/AIDS, gays and lesbians, racial minorities, the poor and the disadvantaged; and eliminating censorship and protecting freedom of expression." The Foundation makes it explicitly clear that it "will not consider religious programs" as potential grantees, and its grants are generally in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Since its inception, the Playboy Foundation has awarded $20,000,000 in grants.Reasoning from the premise that women and homosexuals face severe discrimination in the workplace, the Playboy Foundation embraces agendas that seek to remedy this situation by means of expanded government intervention, new legislation, and an overhaul of traditional social norms. For example, the Foundation endorses the right to unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand for all women; calls for taxpayers to bear an ever-increasing share of the financial burden of the gay community's AIDS scourge; seeks to redefine the family by encouraging homosexual marriages, not just civil unions; and supports the rights of homosexuals to adopt children, serve openly in the U.S. military, and become Scout troop leaders.
No doubt Playboy and feminists like Merle Hoffman are united by their pro-abortion affinity, but one wonders what Hoffman thought when one of her feminist writers published in such a venue. Obviously Finkelstein's scruples didn't choke on feminist author Robin Morgan's dictum that "Pornography is the theory; rape is the practice" -- at least if it meant getting paid.
In 2005, the drug industry again considered Eban Finkelstein's book Dangerous Doses a net plus because it detailed problems the industry was having with stolen, tainted and counterfeit prescription drugs. This, too, was a subject that the drug companies were largely comfortable with. Cracking down on their criminal competitors was right up Big Pharma's alley. An excerpt appeared in Vanity Fair magazine and Finkelstein got to go on her first book tour.
Finkelstein also was invited to speak at drug industry conferences including this one at at TRAX 2005, the Institute for International Research's Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Summit.
Anti-drug activists such as Marianne Skolek, who writes at Salem-News.com and who lost a daughter to Oxycontin has had her own run-in with Eban and wrote of her suspicions last September in "'Don't blind side me': My comment to the investigative journalist writing for Fortune Magazine about Purdue Pharma -- and the deception I encountered. Is Purdue Pharma now manipulating journalists to further their criminal marketing of OxyContin?"
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - Yesterday I received a telephone call from Katherine Eban (also writes under Katherine Eban Finkelstein), an award-winning investigative reporter, who writes for Fortune Magazine -- Eban is also a Rhodes Scholar and author of a book "Dangerous Doses." She purportedly wanted to interview me about an expose on Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin which would be written focusing on the company after they pleaded guilty to criminally marketing OxyContin.Just last week, I wrote an article for Salem-News.com about clinical trials of OxyContin on children from 6 to 16 years old and I referenced questions and statements I had received from someone in the medical profession. So it seemed an odd question from an investigative reporter to be asked "Did I know anyone from within Purdue Pharma who would talk with her -- perhaps a doctor? Or maybe a previous employee?" But than I'm not a Rhodes Scholar. I replied that I was writing a book and would be referring to doctors and employees connected to Purdue Pharma in my book and did not wish to share this information. Suggested she might want to talk with Nathaniel Katz, MD -- but Katz was of no interest to Ms. Eban -- since he is a paid consultant to Purdue Pharma.Did I think that Purdue Pharma had changed their "ways" after the criminal conviction when their three CEO's Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim and Howard Udell performed the benevolent act of pleading guilty for the few sales representatives who lied about the dangers of OxyContin. I suggested to Ms. Eban that she ask Purdue Pharma to show her a copy of the internal investigation they conducted to determine who these sales representatives were who pushed OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused. After all wouldn't a multi-billion dollar, privately held pharmaceutical company want to keep a sterling reputation in the pharmaceutical industry and show government agencies their good intentions? An internal investigation was never conducted by Purdue Pharma. Ms. Eban said that she hadn't thought to ask Purdue Pharma if they had, in fact, conducted an internal investigation.I was curious -- when is this Fortune Magazine article being published? "Next week" was the reply. Still puzzled me. Why ask me if I knew of any doctor or employee within Purdue Pharma who would be willing to speak with Ms. Eban -- when the timing was so short?Puzzling.I brought up Purdue Pharma's funded pain societies who lobby to push narcotics for the "undertreatment of pain" in America -- in particular the American Pain Foundation. Another strike -- Ms. Eban said she was unfamiliar with Purdue Pharma's pain societies. But then she did a writing as Katherine Eban Finkelstein defending physicians who were charged by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with over-prescribing narcotics and her article was posted on Purdue Pharma's pain society websites. So why tell me that she was not familiar with pain societies and their financial ties to Purdue Pharma? Sorry I don't have the answer -- I'm not a Rhodes scholar.So imagine my surprise when I read the below New York Times article written by Ms. Eban and J. Aaron Graham, former head of security at Purdue Pharma just last year. Also, in Eban's book "Deadly Doses" J. Aaron Graham is referenced throughout her book. Guess she didn't think I would be interested in her connection to Graham and Purdue Pharma. The article is shown below.After reading the "New York Times" article, I sent the following email to Ms. Eban -- "I have someone for you to talk with -- Aaron Graham, former head of security with PP (Purdue Pharma).I received the following reply from Ms. Eban - "Yes, a good suggestion, thanks. What do you think his take is on the company?"I did not reply to her email. But I know why I was called yesterday and interviewed by Ms. Eban.. My "take" on Ms. Eban is "Who do you work for Fortune Magazine -- or Purdue Pharma?" Sorry I'm not a Rhodes Scholar, but something is very unethical here.
The New York Times article is found at the link above. This tracks with Ms. Eban's "journalistic ethics" in the Fast and Furious story as experienced by myself and others. She wanted, always, to know who our sources were, how did we contact them, would we share them with her? It was evident from the beginning too that Eban had an objective. We did not know then that she had been given much cherry-picked information straight from ATF files in order to buttress her preconceived exculpatory narrative. If we had, it would merely have confirmed our instincts.
Calling Eban a "journalist" is an insult to honest journalists everywhere.