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S.H.A.M.E. / August 15, 2012
By Mark Ames and Yasha Levine

In case you missed it: The New York Observer picked up the S.H.A.M.E. exposé on NPR host Adam Davidson last week, and came to the conclusion that S.H.A.M.E. “made a compelling case that Davidson is—if not complicitly, then inherently—conflicted.”

The Observer‘s Foster Kamer followed up the SHAME report on Adam Davidson’s financial ties to the same Wall Street banks he reports on: The speaking fees Davidson earns from the banking industry, and Planet Money‘s exclusive funding arrangement with Ally Bank. Formerly known as GMAC, Ally Bank is a poster child of everything wrong, predatory, and criminal about Wall Street banks today. It was one of the worst offenders in the subprime bubble and foreclosure fraud scandals, and has received some $17 billion in bailout funds from US taxpayers since it went belly up in 2008. Incredibly, taxpayer funds were then used to lobby against taxpayer interests in Congress, as Ally Bank spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against banking regulations that might prevent Ally Bank from yet another collapse.

A chunk of Ally’s taxpayer bailout money also has been used to underwrite Davidson’s show about the banking industry. This arrangement between NPR’s finance program Planet Money, and its sole sponsor Ally Bank, violates not only standard journalism ethics, but also the explicit policies of co-producer Chicago Public Media, which bars its journalists from taking money from the industry its journalists report on.

Davidson is a textbook case of why journalists should not be allowed to take money from the industry they report on, and why conflict-of-interest guidelines and policies are essential: Davidson’s Planet Money radio reports, and his New York Times columns, routinely boost for Wall Street interests on a scale that can be downright shocking. Worse, Davidson’s messages on his public radio shows have dovetailed with Ally Bank’s lobbying campaigns.

In other words, Adam Davidson is paid by the banks, and he goes on the radio promoting the banks’ interests. That makes Adam Davidson little more than a glorified Shamway Guy for Wall Street, a product spokesman for the financial industry under the guise of a credible journalist.

The Observer‘s Foster Kamer reached out to NPR and the New York Times to comment on the evidence provided by SHAME. NPR’s head of communications Dana Davis Rehm initially responded positively to Kamer’s query: “I expect we’ll give you comment on why we didn’t comment before, and perhaps on some of these issues you raise.” For a brief moment, it appeared as though NPR might correct its lapse of journalism ethics.

That was last Wednesday, August 8th. The following morning, Davis Rehm and the rest of the NPR crew circled the wagons and adopted the old mob legal strategy of taking the 5th, telling the Observer:

“Adam reviews all his speaking engagements with his editors and we’re confident that none of them run counter to our ethical guidelines. Beyond that, we don’t have any further comment.

Sadly, NPR ducked its responsibilities to its listeners, and failed to live up to its pretensions to high journalistic standards. Instead, they chose to ignore the Observer‘s requests to explain why, for example, Planet Money‘s negative coverage of the proposed Financial Financial Consumer Protection Agency in 2009 (when Davidson smeared Elizabeth Warren) dovetailed with Ally Bank’s massive lobbying efforts against the same agency at the very same time. NPR decided that this was just fine.

The New York Times likewise chose to take the 5th and issue an embarrassing official response to the Observer about our allegations over their columnist’s conflicts of interest, telling Kamer:

“We have discussed this situation with Adam and we’re confident that there has been no violation of our policies around speaking engagements and no conflict of interest.”

There you have it: The corrupt and sorry state of the US major media.

We applaud the Observer and Foster Kamer for doing their best to hold two of this country’s most powerful media institutions accountable for journalistic corruption. And we urge others to keep holding corrupt media shills and their enablers accountable. If we ever want a chance to reclaim our democracy from oligarchy power—which relies on corruption and propaganda to maintain its grip and keep the public confused, powerless and demoralized—we have to make life harder on the oligarchy’s media pawns. And that means flushing them out into the open, and SHAME-ing them.

Read the entire New York Observer article here.

And remember, we “Rogue Media Ethicists” need your support to continue our work and build on our successes, to make the oligarchy’s job a little harder, and ours more effective.




Add your own

  • 1. Lloyd C. Bankster  |  August 15th, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    So I decided to take NPR’s Adam Davidson out to Masa’s restaurant in New York. Told him it was a reward him for the excellent job he’s been doing on Planet Money.

    Told him Jamie, Bob [Rubin] and I had decided he can stay, for now at least. As long as he doesn’t get any funny ideas and step out of line. Like that Phil Donuhue anti-war nutjob once did over at MSNBC.

    Remember Phil? You’ll notice he’s not around anymore. A couple phone calls to the parent company took care of that little problem.

    Told him Masa’s owner is a friend of mine, so I’ll order for both of us.

    It will be a surprise.

    Adam responded, “Sir, yes sir. What time shall I be there?”

    So there we are sitting at Masa’s restaurant.

    For myself I ordered the usual: the fatty bluefin tuna tartare cloaked in osetra caviar, followed by a toro-and-caviar dish, then I proceeded to an elegant kaiseki-style preparation of sea trout in a shabu-shabu broth, followed by an indulgent bite of shaved summer truffles pressed onto sushi rice and I finished up with a grapefruit granité.

    To wash it down, I had a 30-litre double Nebuchadnezzar-size bottle of Armand de Brignac Midas Champagne (a special order made days in advance for the occasion and priced at $127,600). And yes, we’re talking a huge bottle here, weighing 99 pounds, it required two waiters to bring it out, however I didn’t offer a single drop of bubbly to Adam.

    Adam must have been expecting some kind of caviar dish as well, because he tried showing off his French, asking me “quel vin boire avec le caviar?” but instead I had the waiter surprise him with a Jack-in-the-Box Junior Bacon Cheeseburger along with a diet Mountain Dew.

    For desert, I had the waiter bring Adam an Oreo Milkshake, also from the Jack-in-the-box take-out menu.

    You should have seen the excited look on Adam Davidson’s face when the waiter brought out my order first, licking his chops in anticipation, followed by the crestfallen look of absolute devastation when the waiter served him his Junior Bacon Cheeseburger and Mountain Dew.

    So I told him: “Listen to me Adam. Like I said on the phone, you can stay at NPR. For now. But never forget this: you and all the others, Ezra Klein, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Roger Lowenstein, all of you, you’re nothing but cum-buckets for the 0.01 percent, you spineless piece of shit. And the funny thing about cum-buckets is how replaceable they are. Are we getting the picture here, Adam? Am I making myself clear?”

    “Now stop looking at me like that and eat your fucking burger.”

    Adam gulped, nodded that he understood, then nibbled on his cheeseburger.

    But you should’ve seen the look on his face when I told him that.

    Bootlicking, bowing, brownnosing, compliant, cowering, crawling, cringing, servile, slavish, sniveling, spineless, submissive, subservient, and sycophantic. All at the same time. In one look, he managed to express everything I like about NPR, Adam Davidson and the entire US media.


  • 2. charliebucket  |  August 15th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    ““We have discussed this situation with Adam and we’re confident that there has been no violation of our policies around speaking engagements and no conflict of interest.”

    Someone at The New York Times doesn’t understand (or, more likely, doesn’t want their readers to) that “conflict of interest” is not a matter of opinion.

  • 3. YankeeFrank  |  August 16th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Methinks a horse-sperm pie is in order for Davidson. And perhaps a nice sound thrashing in a back alley somewhere.

  • 4. Vendetta  |  August 16th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Will the Hoary buttfuck brigade on Wikipedia continue to argue that S.H.A.M.E. is illegitimate as a source because it is not addressed by mainstream media?

  • 5. Dimitri Ratz  |  August 16th, 2012 at 6:01 am

    The fact that its discussed solves it and makes it go away. This servile play was created to counter the original plan A of just ignoring it so it doesn’t exist. Once plan A expired all its potential, plan b is to give stupid, illogical excuses, because people are emotionally based cows to the research studies. Once plan B options are exhausted plan C is to start mentioning it in over exposed amount of times under the facaed that the establishment caters and cares, but instead of depth, will substitute repeating it in mass to make it as boring (non threatening) and there by repulsive, subconsciously siding the viewers with the tainted hero effect.

  • 6. Dimitri Ratz  |  August 16th, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Basically glorifying Davidson as a lone cowboy, standing his ground against the Ames boys while reflecting excess global warming heat with his bald forehead. The establishment is a system, its not a person that can be removed. It will repeat your reports in the most disfigured ways until the reader screams to stop, until readers are begging, cringing, innerly wanting Adam to fuck it to the masses for subjugating them to its repeated victiminazasion.

  • 7. Trevor  |  August 16th, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I remember back in 2004, someone on NPR was getting all flustered about Middle Americans being all backwards and medeival by supporting Bush. This was followed by some long segment on wine pedantry.

    I don’t think NPR or the New York Times actually see the problem with Davidson because they’ve so internalized their own class privilege and the systemic crookedness that maintains it. You get this distinct sense from them of, “Hey, we’re all on the same side here! You ignorant hicks just don’t know what’s good for you!”

  • 8. Zadig  |  August 16th, 2012 at 7:09 am

    @ 2, yeah, and that’s the most disgusting part of this response. I expected them to defend their boy, but by bringing up more bullshit to refute the arguments made, or something more direct. But no, their idea of handling an ethics issue is asking the accused if he thinks he did something wrong or not. Jesus.

    I think this is a larger issue with the corporate culture. Morality is based completely on how much money you bring in, which is why the very idea of an “ethics violation” must seem quaint to NPR. The only moral law is bringing in money, and Davidson seems to do that well. Anything else is peasant morality. It’s depressing that we need to use this bankrupt corporate morality to change anything at all: You have to muckrake until Davidson is enough of a pariah that he no longer makes money, and they fire his ass. This is, of course, assuming that we peasants don’t also buy into Worthington’s Law:


    “We’re confindent that…”: If there was ever a signpost that meant “bullshit ahead,” this is it. Anyone who’s ever read a bad scientific paper or Freshman lab report knows “we’re confident that” means “we are making shit up.”

  • 9. Aliothemage  |  August 16th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I’m from Norfolk, Virginia. I come from a lower middle class home which didn’t have any money to spend on my higher education so I worked and supported myself for 4 years saving up money. I went back to school working part time and earned a 4.0 GPA which earned me my place in the best school in my state which I’m now attending. I’m receiving no govt, charity, or family support and I have enough saved so that I don’t need to work even if I go on to earn my master’s degree.
    Life in the US is a piece of cake and I am thankful for the fantastic western progress that has made this possible!I don’t believe in these leftists Fairy Tails about “the capitalist oligarchy”(corporations and rich people are not oligarch,the only oligarchy here is the government BY DEFINITION)because capitalism and free market are all about voluntary market transactions that benefit BOTH involved parties, they wouldn’t occur otherwise.
    But suppose if this “oligarchy” really exist….well I would prefer the US over every other socialist shithole,so long live the oligarchy!

    PS: I forgot to mention that Paul Ryan’s confessions that his own childhood was subsidized by Social Security payments have been completely deleted from the Horatio Alger story that I tell myself, and that Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan tell me. I believe in the power of cognitive dissonance. You should try it sometime.

    PSS: Thank you for improving my lies that my PR boss here at my social media company contracted me to place on this site. It’s embarrassing, but you’ve helped me feel a little less embarrassed, O Almighty Exiled Censor!

  • 10. Mason C  |  August 16th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Grand Prize, Things I Didn’t Expect To Read at eXiled: “Now stop looking at me like that and eat your fucking burger.” Lloyd C. Bankster wins the internet.

    AEC bats cleanup with #9.

  • 11. Dimitri Ratz  |  August 16th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    @9, thank you for that. If your willing to sacrifice your life, and slave away doors will open for you to be a well groomed slave. I mean what’s 4 years for a useless peasant life? The fact that rents are too high, food prices are fixed, and utilities are running rampant doesn’t take away that once you accept your true place in life as slave cattle everything is right. Also any possibility to prevent that by friends and family is yukky, your friends should be glad to see you slave away, it builds character for peasant labor. Caring for family members makes them weak labor… Your kids will love you for subjecting them to same process by denying any education outside the Oligarchy controlled government blessed school system.

  • 12. DrunktankDan  |  August 17th, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Damn son! #1 just fuckin killed it.
    Also, the article could use a bit of a grammar edit. Just a loyal eXhole doing his duty. Amen.


    How’s that, Professor Grammar?

  • 13. Sean  |  August 17th, 2012 at 3:11 am

    The last time I listened to Planet Money, I found myself wondering whether or not Adam Davidson could survive a skull fracture.

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    And then I realized NPR’s Planet Money has an email address specifically designed to handle this type of frequently asked question, and here it is: at npr dot org

  • 14. crazy_inventor  |  August 17th, 2012 at 4:31 am

    a, recent new york observer magazine headline says,

    fill in the blank, under fire, from, rogue, media, ethicist.

    I like! that, sure beats, war cock sucking, cheap media whore, doesn’t it?

    (as aired)

  • 15. DrunktankDan  |  August 17th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Hahaha! That was a genuine accident.

  • 16. jyp  |  August 18th, 2012 at 8:34 am


    T-shirt! Bumper sticker! Button!

    I called it first.

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