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S.H.A.M.E. / June 24, 2012
By Yasha Levine


Last week, I got an email from Malcolm Gladwell. He told me he read the S.H.A.M.E. report I wrote about him a few weeks ago, and asked if I had time to answer a few of his questions:

From: Malcolm Gladwell
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 3:56 PM

I recently read your pieces about me. I have a number of questions I’d love to ask you. Do you have the time? Cheers, M.

Well, well. What an unexpected surprise! We had reached out to the New Yorker for comment on our exposé of Malcolm Gladwell, but New Yorker editor David Remnick initially refused to comment on the record . . . and then went silent altogether. That was about a month ago—before S.H.A.M.E. released Gladwell’s profile and report, which quickly caught fire, and it seems, caught Gladwell’s attention.

It was gratifying to see Gladwell belatedly deciding to drop me a line—not just personally gratifying, but I hope gratifying for everyone who’s been helping us launch S.H.A.M.E. We’re all in this together, folks, and rousting a busy “thought leader” like Gladwell is a pretty clear confirmation that we’re doing exactly what we set out to do.

More importantly, I figured that if Gladwell was going to engage me like this, I’d have a rare opportunity to learn more about his sort of media corruption, the nuts and bolts of it all, especially the murky relationship between writing about the same corporate interests that happen to pay you tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees.

From the start, it was a little odd that he signed off with the chummy “M” at the end of an oddly chummy email . . . but I had no problem with chummy, so long as I was going to learn something, so I got my best Californian chummy by way of Leningrad on, and emailed back:

On Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM, Yasha Levine <> wrote:

Good to hear from you Malcolm. I welcome any questions you might have. I have plenty of things to ask you as well for a followup S.H.A.M.E. article we’re working on. I want to ask more later, but for now here are a few questions we would like answers or comment on:

1) How much is AHIP paying you to speak at its June 22 conference in Salt Lake City?

2) How much is the Society for Human Resource Management paying you to speak at their event in Atlanta on June 25.

3) How much did Bank of America pay you for that multi-city speaking gig back in November 2011?

4) Had you taken speaking fees from any firms or associations from the finance and/or banking industry before the BofA engagement Please list names, dates and sums.

5) What is the New Yorker’s policy on journalist or editorial conflict-of-interest? What is your personal policy or view on conflict-of-interest?

I’ll follow up with more soon…

Glad you got in touch! Cheers,

PS: Congrats on the HBO pilot!

I was hoping he’d at least answer the first two questions, which referred to two brand new conflicts of interests Malcolm had on deck in his busy schedule.*

Some background: Gladwell was scheduled to talk at a conference put on by AHIP on June 22nd. Who is AHIP? Another one of those bland acronyms that conceals something sinister and awful—well, awful for everyone but a handful of health insurance plutocrats and the corporate speakers who rake in sweet fees at its events.

AHIP is the powerful health insurance industry lobby outfit fighting against universal healthcare and basically against anything that might bring America into line with the civilized world’s approach to health care—from AHIP’s self-interested perspective, it’s a great thing that the US has the most expensive health care system yielding the worst results in terms of life expectancy, compared to other Western countries that have access to free and cheap healthcare. AHIP’s role in profiting from this country’s health care debacle is less well known than, say, the role played by the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity. But to give you an idea of just how serious they are, it was recently revealed that AHIP slipped the Chamber of Commerce over $100 million to lobby against government-run health insurance during Obama’s push for healthcare reform. That’s on top of spending huge amounts of money on astroturf campaigns and public relations offensives to smear anything advocating universal healthcare, such as Michael Moore’s film Sicko.

So that’s why I asked Gladwell about AHIP.

Three days after his speaking engagement at AHIP, on June 25, Gladwell was booked to speak at a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) event in Atlanta, Georgia. SHRM is one of America’s oldest anti-labor/union-busting organizations. Recently SHRM helped lead the propaganda campaign to defeat a bill that would end wage discrimination against women. Right now, SHRM is lobbying to weaken union elections rules, stacking the decks even harder against labor, as if that was needed. (Turns out, S.H.A.M.E. member Steven Levitt has been known to speak at SHRM events as well.)

So those are the sorts of outfits that Gladwell takes checks from—ones that profit from off sickness and misery, and crush labor on behalf of corporate power.

Both gigs presented obvious conflicts of interest for Malcolm Gladwell, assuming he or the New Yorker still believe that journalists shouldn’t take money from the people they write about. The problem is this: Malcolm Gladwell has written about healthcare issues and unions on several occasions, oftentimes in ways that synced with the interests of AHIP and SHRM.

For example: a 2005 article for the New Yorker in which Gladwell wrote that the reason why the USA is the only Western country without universal health care was all the fault of labor unions, an interpretation of history that completely ignored the role played by big business, the medical lobby, and corporate industry front groups, just to name a few of the mega-interests arrayed against universal health care following World War Two. For Gladwell to airbrush corporate power out of the picture like that and instead lay all the blame square on labor unions is the type of skewed, right-wing revisionist history lesson you’d expect from Glenn Beck. Of course, Gladwell isn’t as crude as Beck in his delivery, but in substance, he’s closer than I or most people would ever have imagined. At least people don’t mistake Beck for a journalist—whereas Gladwell is ordained by the New Yorker. To top it all off, Gladwell takes tens of thousands of dollars from these outfits in speaking fees, while at the same time inserting messages friendly to their interests into his New Yorker “journalism” pieces. You tell me who’s more toxic between the two.

So that’s why I was so curious for answers to my questions about his upcoming (at the time of my email) speaking events. Instead of getting some answers, I got a rain-check and the first sign of what was bothering Gladwell:**

On Jun 14, 2012, at 2:39 PM, Malcolm Gladwell wrote:

Dear Yasha.

All in good time. It is my turn to ask questions.

Can we start with the original article in the Washington Post that apparently caught your eye? The news article on the costs of smokers?

Can you explain to me why you interpreted that article as being in the interests of the tobacco industry?

Just curious. M.

This was odd. The man was exposed in a thoroughly sourced investigation as someone who for 25 years has been consistently promoting the interests of tobacco, pharma and Wall Street, all while posing as a credible journalist— and now that he had the chance of confront his accuser and defend himself, all he wanted to know was what caught my eye about just one of the many articles I cited as evidence? Gee, I don’t know where to start. How about the headline, that caught my eye: “Not Smoking Could Be Hazardous to Pension System”?

Puzzled, I wrote back:

On Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 8:43 PM, Yasha Levine <> wrote:

Malcolm, I assume this is the paragraph you’re referring to:

The article, headlined “Not Smoking Could Be Hazardous to Pension System,” was not reporting new news, but simply recycling stale tobacco propaganda: a 1987 industry study called “The Social Security Costs of Smoking,” produced by the notorious National Bureau of Economic Research, an organization with ties to the tobacco industry and bankrolled by the biggest names in right-wing corporate propaganda funding—some of the same foundations that funneled cash to one of Gladwell’s first employers, the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

What exactly do you find wrong with it?

Are you aware that the study you used as the basis for your article was a favorite of Philip Morris as well? Could you comment on the fact that the study you used in your article was cited favorably by Philip Morris, and placed on a list of talking points that they promoted to counter the “claim” that smokers cost Medicare more than nonsmokers? You can read the talking points memo here at your leisure. It’s also positively cited in other tobacco industry documents, including this 1987 Tobacco Institute newsletter.

I hope this answers your question.

Now, it’s your turn to answer mine.


1) How much is AHIP paying you to speak at its June 22 conference in Salt Lake City?
2) How much is the Society for Human Resource Management paying you to speak at their event in Atlanta on June 25.
3) How much did Bank of America pay you for that multi-city speaking gig back in November 2011?
4) Had you taken speaking fees from any firms or associations from the finance and/or banking industry before the BofA engagement? Please list names, dates and sums.
5) What is the New Yorker’s policy on journalist or editorial conflict-of-interest? What is your personal policy or view on conflict-of-interest?

Again, I hoped to get some answers from him, something to shine a light into the murky world where A-list journalism meets corporate propaganda and somehow manages to conceal it all. Here, by the way, is a screenshot of an advertisement for Malcolm’s speaking engagement for the health insurance lobby:

You probably won’t be surprised by Gladwell’s response: He didn’t answer my questions. Instead, he continued pressing me on “what I think” about his WaPo article, zapping me with what I guess was supposed to be thought-leader voodoo or marketing-world psychology. Whatever it was, it wasn’t how I imagined a serious New Yorker journalist would address questions and evidence of media corruption:

On Fri, Jun 15, 2012, at 10:22 AM, Malcolm Gladwell wrote:

Thank you for getting back to me Yasha. Yes. I saw that part of your article. But it doesn’t answer my question. I’m interested in what you think of the study’s argument. Why do you think that someone who writes an article about how smokers die young–and as a result use less social security–is shilling for the tobacco industry? Do you think that companies, as a whole, are delighted with people who write stories about how they are killing off their customers?

Somehow he seemed convinced that the way to salvage his reputation was not by debunking S.H.A.M.E.’s evidence with counter-evidence of his own; but rather, by engaging me in a game of wordplay footsie. Perhaps this sort of thing goes over well in the National Journalism Center seminars that he trained up in, but to me, it was almost sad. Here’s one of America’s biggest selling authors and leading journalists; a guy who’s been getting away with murder for years now . . . and no one’s taken him to task for it! It’s as though a vital part of his brain had gone to flab. He doesn’t even know how to lie and deflect well—what a sorry state for a leading corporate flak to find himself in.

I was getting annoyed, so I tried dropping a direct question to get at least one answer from him before this exchange ended.

On Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 6:00 PM, Yasha Levine <> wrote:

You asked:

Do you think that companies, as a whole, are delighted with people who write stories about how they are killing off their customers?

I can’t speak for “companies as a whole” but I can say with certainty that a specific company, Philip Morris, was delighted with the specific study that you based your article on—they were so delighted, in fact, that they recommended and used it for their PR talking points. I’m providing a link to that talking points memo, once again. I hope that answers your question.

So far I’ve been answering your questions and you haven’t answered a single one of mine. Could you please answer at least this one:

Did Philip Morris pay you to speak at the company’s recruitment event in 2005? If you wish, a simple yes or no answer will suffice.


It worked! But in a kind of weird way, in terms of what it revealed. Here was Malcolm’s response:

On Sat, Jun 16, 2012, at 04:14 PM, Malcolm Gladwell wrote:

Sigh. Talking to you is a bit like talking to a brick wall. No you still haven’t answered my question..

Here is what i’m trying to get you to understand. In the early 1990’s, there was a lot of interest among anti-smoking activists in taxing cigarettes more heavily in order to pay for the health burdens caused by smoking. In order to quantify those burdens, economists began looking closely at the mortality and morbidity patterns of smokers. And what did they find? That smokers don’t cause excess health burdens because cigarettes kill them so quickly and efficiently that they die before they can burden Medicare and Social Security. In other words, in presuming to tax cigarettes more heavily, anti-smoking advocates underestimated how lethal cigarettes actually were.

Do you not see how deliciously ironic that was? And why I thought, as a reporter covering health and science, I thought that study would make for a great story? And now I learn that Philip Morris itself was touting the same study–which is doubly ironic. Here is a company that for years said they shouldn’t be regulated because smoking had no ill effects. And now all of a sudden they were saying that they shouldn’t be regulated because they were killing their customers before they reached retirement age!

Writing about that study wasn’t “shilling” for the tobacco industry. It was the opposite. It was exposing the absurdity of the tobacco industry’s position. The reason I wrote to you Yasha is that I simply wanted you to acknowledge that there is a another way to look at that study. So my question: can you acknowledge that?

In answer to your question, I have spoken once in my career at a conference sponsored by a company with an interest in the tobacco business, and I donated my fee to charity.

That last bit had me rolling on the floor, I couldn’t believe I’d read what I just read. What’s the psychology term for someone who answers a question like that? Displacement? Disassociate? Hell if I know. But I guess that’s what the brain does to deal with taking money from companies that kill millions of people around the world every year for profit. Gladwell had actually described Philip Morris as “a company with an interest in the tobacco business.” Which is pretty funny, considering that Philip Morris is the biggest tobacco company in the world, maker of Marlboro, the best-selling cigarette brand of all time.

What’s really telling is that Gladwell alleged to me that he donated his “fee”—the money Philip Morris paid to him—to “charity.” First off, it was a clear admission that Gladwell understood there’s something morally and ethically wrong for a journalist to take money from the tobacco industry for speaking engagements. It opens up a fresh new host of questions about his thoughts on journalism ethics, conflicts-of-interest, which corporate speaking engagements are ethical and which aren’t, and so on.

Another thing: Gladwell’s quick and defensive admission that he donated Philip Morris’s money to charity kind of contradicts something he told New York magazine in 2008: “I never deal with any of the money-negotiation part … It just goes into my account, so it’s like I’m not even aware.” Clearly, Gladwell is aware of the money and where it goes when he wants to be—or needs to be, in this case.

Lastly, if Gladwell is to be believed and he donated his Philip Morris “fee” to charity, that means essentially he made a choice to speak for free for Philip Morris—or put another way, of all the monies a charitable person could give to a charity organization, why give them money tainted by tobacco-death profits? It also raises the question of why, other than maybe receiving a tax write off as a result of his charitable contribution, would he donate his valuable speaking time to helping Philip Morris? That mean he’s passionate about helping Philip Morris continue reaping billions from the deaths of millions? Everything about this is wrong: Speaking to drug lords for free, donating their dirty tobacco-death money to “charity”. . .

To clarify how weird this all is, here is how Philip Morris described Gladwell’s gig in its “highly confidential” 2005 performance summery:

Value our employees: Our efforts to develop world-class leaders remain a priority. PM USA continued to enhance its leadership development efforts by introducing new sales training programs, increasing the number of employees who have facilitated and attended our leadership development programs and revamping our recruiting efforts. . . . The program was attended by members of PM USA’s senior leadership team and included an overview of PM USA, our Mission and core strategies, a tour of the factory, a lecture by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell and two evening dinner receptions. Based on formal evaluation surveys and subsequent discussions and communications with the attendees, the event was very well perceived and rated by the attendees and is having a positive impact on our ongoing recruiting efforts.

In other words: Gladwell donated his time to help Philip Morris recruit young business school talent for management positions. Gladwell, you’re like a modern-day Sonya Marmeladova, Dostoevskii’s “whore with the heart of gold”!

From: Yasha Levine <>
To: Malcolm Gladwell
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 2:25 PM

Don’t sigh Malcolm, you’re doing well.

You asked:

Do you not see how deliciously ironic that was?

To answer your question: No, I don’t see the “delicious irony” in anything the tobacco industry adopts into its PR strategy, when one considers that cigarettes kill over 400,000 people per year in the US, and millions per year worldwide. For you to try to characterize the tobacco industry’s PR strategy—the propaganda that enables the deaths of millions of people per year that you so willingly aped on the pages of the Washington Post—as “deliciously ironic” is an abdication of responsibility as a journalist, and frankly downright disturbing.

Your other question was:

Writing about that study wasn’t “shilling” for the tobacco industry. It was the opposite. It was exposing the absurdity of the tobacco industry’s position. The reason I wrote to you Yasha is that I simply wanted you to acknowledge that there is a another way to look at that study. So my question: can you acknowledge that?

No, I will not acknowledge it, because there is no evidence in the article supporting your claim. You said you were “exposing the absurdity of the tobacco industry’s position,” but you did no such thing. And for you to attempt to portray it that way now, 12 years later, is a crude attempt at revisionism.

So far I’ve been answering your questions, but you continue to focus on this one article. Could you answer at least a few of my initial questions—questions which you have repeatedly ignored:

1) How much is AHIP paying you to speak at its June 22 conference in Salt Lake City?

2) How much is the Society for Human Resource Management paying you to speak at their event in Atlanta on June 25.

3) How much did Bank of America pay you for that multi-city speaking gig back in November 2011?


And that’s where the conversation stops. It’s been four days now since my last email, and Malcolm Gladwell still hasn’t replied . . . I guess he was too busy prepping for the AHIP health insurance conference, packing his bags and rehearsing his speech. I believe that speech is called “Cowboys Versus Pit Crews: How to Build a Sustainable Health Care Delivery System.” Should be a good one.

Malcolm, if you’re reading this—please don’t run away. You’ve made plenty of money by now, why not come clean and give us some personal insight into the world you inhabit—where trusted institutions like the New Yorker are exploited for their marketing value to unwitting readers. You’ve profited long enough, and handsomely enough, from abusing the public’s trust and doing your part in degrading democracy. You’ve profited; everyone else has been degraded. You owe it us to shine some light on that sordid world—and to help us get some of our lost power back.

We’re waiting…

Read Malcolm Gladwell’s S.H.A.M.E. Report & Profile


* Gladwell spoke, as scheduled, at AHIP’s Institute 2012 conference on June 22. His talk focused on how the U.S. medical system was broken because it did not eliminate “chauffeurs”—by which he meant that the medical industry wasn’t replacing its workers with machines and automation fast enough. Read the account here.

**This was not the first time Malcolm Gladwell did a speaking gig for the health insurance industry. In his 2004 disclosure statement, which predated his New Yorker article on unions and healthcare, he admitted:

“Have I given paid speeches to companies or industries mentioned or affected by that article? Yes I have. As I stated earlier, I have given my Tipping Point talk to groups of doctors, hospitals, insurers, as well as Pharmacy Benefit Managers and groups funded by the National Institutes of Health. More specifically, I have on several occasions over the past four years given paid speeches on the Tipping Point to pharmaceutical companies.”

Yasha Levine, President of S.H.A.M.E., is an investigative journalist and a founding editor ofThe eXiled. His work has been published by Wired, The Nation, Slate, The New York Observer and many others.

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Add your own

  • 1. 2012truth  |  June 24th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    If you check discussion forums where Levine’s article was cross posted, you will find libertards making the exact same defense Gladwell does – “article says smokers die young, how could that possibly be shilling for tobacco?” Such comments predate the publication of Gladwell’s letters to Levine – there is some spooky libertard groupthink going on here for sure.

  • 2. Foppe  |  June 24th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Sounds like we’ve got another autistic person (or sociopath) on our hands.. ‘delicious irony’ sounds like he doesn’t quite get that irony can be inappropriate, depending on the situation.

  • 3. Toni M  |  June 24th, 2012 at 2:15 pm


  • 4. Mason C  |  June 24th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Running the meandering, cutesy excuses of Gladwell is a high-water mark for the eXiled. Gut ’em and skin ’em.

    There’s some news on the Wiki front: the addition of the S.H.A.M.E. report to the entry on Gladwell has been up for almost a week. Are Wiki-deans Hoary and Spanglej running up the white flag?

    @2 For a fine display of libertard autism, check out Friday’s Bill Maher show (22 June). Nick Gillespie from is on the panel. His tactics are transparent; when losing an argument, grasp at muddling the terms of debate. I half expected him to ask “What is language, and how do we know?” The sad part is no one called him on this chickenshit.

  • 5. Galtic Warrior  |  June 24th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Are you forced to buy Marlboro cigarettes?

    Mark Ames, you still have no answer for this.

    you aren’t FORCED to shop at WALMART OR MCDONALDS!

    You are, however, forced to pay out of pocket for the Bilderberg group’s new domains (war) and lazy “Milennials” that got spoiled, resulting in a sordid lack of work ethics.


  • 6. helplesscase  |  June 24th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Who on Earth writes out “sigh” and uses phrases like “deliciously ironic?” Also, how can LOLbertarians not see the obvious tobacco PR angle on early deaths & Medicare? If there’s anything “good Americans” hate more than life itself, it’s people benefitting from social programs.

  • 7. ventura highway  |  June 24th, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Gladwell is both very stupid and firmly convinced of his brilliance. That’s what it takes to make it in corporate propaganda. You should check out the ridiculous “correspondence” exchange between Gladwell and an idiotic, milquetoast sports “journalist” named Bill Simmons on a site called It’s astonishingly trivial, but it’s a good indication of what actually preoccupies $500,000 a year corporate journalists and their upper management audience. Lots of THE MEANING OF LEBRON JAMES OMG, but Iraq War, Wikileaks, robosigning, not so much. Heck, not even any Higgs Boson. These guys are just dumb. Incredible that such transparent lightweights get paid obscene money while the John Dolans of the world watch their cars being towed away during job searches.

  • 8. Anarchy Pony  |  June 24th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    God Galtic Warrior, you are so ridiculous, either admit that you are just trolling, or take your mentally deficient ass out of here.

  • 9. Adam  |  June 24th, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    A major bug has been shoved up MSM’s ass.

    Time to donate!

  • 10. Mark  |  June 24th, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I was wondering how you guys would arrive from Russia and take on A-list American scumbags. Keep up the great work!

  • 11. Destro  |  June 24th, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I call it the Judith Miller affect. They get a ‘journalist’ to make a favorable point the offending party themselves presented to the journalist directly or indirectly then reference this favorable point as if it was an independent third party who just made their point for them so there was no appearance of bias. That is how propaganda is done in the USA and it makes what the old Soviets did with Pravda look like amateur hour.

  • 12. 2012truth  |  June 24th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I just realized, Gladwell’s hair. LOL.

  • 13. COCKSON  |  June 24th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    yeah galtic warrior pls admit your trolling for us stone cold dumb idiots haha lol

    wait are you trolling

  • 14. Diablo  |  June 24th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I think, at least for me, the most frustrating thing about these folks (the ones that eat this shit up) are the ones that are getting exploited the most.

    My younger brother is the stereotype of the libertard. He has been unemployed since he got bounced out of the military for mental health issues. He can’t even function without the social services available to him that he wants the federal government to gut.

    He literally sits in my parents basement, at the age of thirty, ranting and raving over the latest youtube video featuring a carbon copy of himself, ranting about the same retarded, Ron Paul/Infowars inspired gibberish.

    It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so fucking pathetic.

  • 15. Nyerd  |  June 24th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    @2 Foppe

    Chalk me down for sociopath. I don’t think an autistic (or an Aspergers) person can do what Gladwell does, especially for as long as Gladwell.

    I think what we are seeing here is a complete PR miscalculation by Gladwell, he played as stupid as long as he could, deflected, and used really poor choice words (“deliciously ironic”) and emotional manipulation (could you see it my way?). Now that is ironic.

  • 16. Kristina  |  June 24th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Oh my gosh I’m practically jumping up and down with glee right now. Yasha, you are my hero!

    My prediction is: SHAME project becomes widespread and negates Gladwell’s worth as a corporate shill. Gladwell writes a book about his experience as a corporate shill and it becomes a best seller, perhaps starting a trend of confessional books by ethically-challenged journalists.

  • 17. Galtic Warrior  |  June 25th, 2012 at 1:38 am


    Even though I am a secret fanboy of Mark Ames but I’m afraid to admit it, why do I persist in shilling for McDonalds, Wal-Mart, or ANY BUSINESS in America? Including cigarettes?

  • 18. mookid  |  June 25th, 2012 at 5:02 am

    there seem to be a lot of “ironic coincidences” in gladwell’s life. he must be truly a lucky fellow.

  • 19. Trevor  |  June 25th, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Gladwell is one of those idiots who is convinced he’s an intellectual. It’s distrubingly common in America – just look at Ayn Rand fans or Galtic Warrior.

  • 20. makesi  |  June 25th, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I just worked all night in a kitchen cooking for boomer asshole gambling addicts, and this made my fucking day. Keep slayin’ em! More blood and mortal wounds and stench!

  • 21. Chekhov  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:35 am

    For all we know he might even partly believe that part about ‘delicious irony’. I’m sure many of these corporate whores are at least partly in denial. I mean, who really wants to be a stupid, lying whore?

    I have a feeling that SHAME will be the thing that’ll catapult Exiled into wider audience. Yasha is on fire! Props galore!

  • 22. Chekhov  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:45 am

    And yes, the Wiki profile isn’t flagged, this is the final verdict in the end:

    Another source of criticism towards Gladwell is his link to industries he wrote about, such as the tobacco industry, Big Pharma and the financial industry[48]. An internal Philip Morris document from the 1990s lists Gladwell, then at the Washington Post, as part of a “third party message development list”, and during that period he published an article named “Not Smoking Could Be Hazardous to the Pension System”.[67] In 1999, while the media was on an ongoing debate on overmedication of children, he wrote an article on the New Yorker defending the use of Ritalin[68], and in 2004, another article shifted the blame for rising drug expenditures away from the pharmaceutical industry.[69] The latter article, in particular, raised questions about conflicts of interest, as Gladwell has been paid by pharmaceutical companies on numerous occasions to give speeches[70], leading Gladwell to write a lengthy disclosure statement on his website.[71] Columbia Journalism Review also mentioned Gladwell’s conflict of interests covering Wall Street topics (including a controversial article which Gladwell himself stated as a “semi-defense of Enron”[72]) while being sponsored by Bank of America as a speaker.[73]

    Eat your heart out, Cesspoolwell!

  • 23. Biollante  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:48 am


    you know who’s bad people

    autistics are bad people

    you should tell everyone you meet about that so they know how you feel and you won’t even be greeted with anger

    because things suck

  • 24. Derp  |  June 25th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    This whiteboy’s got one badass-looking afro! Derp!

  • 25. Bryce Harper  |  June 25th, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Who is this Malecum Goodsell and why does he look like a hybrid of Sideshow Bob from that gentile show, “The Simpsons,” and that dark, scary communist professor lady from California?

    VOTE MORMON 2012

  • 26. gundar  |  June 25th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I’ve never heard gladwell speak, or read his propaganda, but his emails were a laugh riot….he must sound like c3po in person…

  • 27. Ozinator  |  June 25th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I love when fuckwits patronize or feign patience with people smarter than them. To the end, Gladwell will think he’s smart

  • 28. Galtic Warrior  |  June 25th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    If only someone would kill me. To call oneself “Galt” this late in the game…sorry mom, sorry dad!

  • 29. pearl fiddler queen  |  June 25th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    <3 <3 <3

  • 30. DeeboCools  |  June 25th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Total Win.

  • 31. Big Gay Baby  |  June 25th, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    The fact that this ass-hat took the initiative to e-mail you guys back makes me think that you really got into his dumb Afro-d head. Of course he cloaks his responses in effete passive-aggressive New Yorker-speak, but believe me, this doosher was probably sitting in the dark at his desk in NY with the blinds drawn using his tears for lube while he furiously tried–and most likely failed–to rub one out to some sick Asian cumshot compilation after reading your article. Bravo Yasha and the exiled, this is some of your best work to date. Get this shit viral and keep the heat on these clowns.

  • 32. Tyler Bass  |  June 25th, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Very good!

  • 33. In the Middle  |  June 25th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    You can win our respect if you just come out and say the truth and apologize, go rat on your old paymasters.

    It would be good for your soul too…. you do know that what you’re doing isn’t ethical…

  • 34. Cal  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    This is off topic, but I was browsing the headlines in the “What You Should Know” and wondered: Who hands over their money to go on one of those cruises that are sponsored by magazines like Reason and National Review? Being stuck on a boat with a bunch of talking head pundits and think tankers sounds like hell.

    On topic: Should I dump my two Malcolm Gladwell books, purchased in college, in protest or keep them as a warning?

  • 35. Edgar Alien Poe  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Arguably, the article isn’t shilling because it’s ostensibly anti smoking. But if you think about it, the claim that we shouldn’t sue tobacco companies because smokers as a group contribute more from dying early than they take from health care costs is still pro tobacco companies even as it disparages their product.

    Nonetheless, it’s probably the least obvious bought article. So it’s doubly sleazy for Gladwell to seize on this one to defend himself and to dodge questions in the process.

  • 36. GalticFaerie  |  June 25th, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I saw Malcolm at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) meeting in 2006 in NYC. He was the keynote speaker and was warmly received. It’s quite an honor, as thousands of PhDs attend every year.

    As far as I know, none of us had any idea of his outside influences and how he was bankrolled by some of the most despicable industries on earth.

    His star is dimming. Thank you, exiled, for pointing out what should have been obvious.

  • 37. Nyerd  |  June 25th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    @34 Cal

    I wonder if Sartre has different kinds of hell in mind when he said “Hell is other people.”

    As far as your Gladwell book problem goes, you could sell them to another college student, depriving Gladwell a potential sale. If you do sell them, write a disclaimer and provide the SHAME addr. on it. And maybe there might be some word-of-mouth thing that might happen from it.

  • 38. SHAMU'S DEAD CORPSE  |  June 25th, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    exiled has a lot of retarted middlebrow fans and …yes, I will treat eXiled’s comment section as a holy place, the Church of AEC.

  • 39. rick  |  June 25th, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Yeah I like cigarettes and Malcolm Gladwell so I have a hard time getting into this, I guess, while I myself am smoking. If I spoke at a tobacco conference, I would not donate my fee to charity, but to myself. You guys have done some amazing shit, journalistically, which is why you should be esteemed, and Gladwell probably half-knows that–but I don’t know if this bit is wholly righteous. Some nerd boss Republican thinks Gladwell is “business-friendly,” with his insights, well, wants to pay him to talk, okay, well I’m not turning down anybody who wants to pay me. Journalism pays horribly. I endorse the pornography, booze and cigarette industries, on general principle, which are made up of honest citizens trying to make a living. If they want to pay me to legitimize them, that’s my dream-job. AEC: Sorry to hear you missed your chance at a life of a bland corporate servant boy. If only you joined the College Republicans or the Young Americans for Freedom….Make sure your kids don’t make the same mistake!

  • 40. dominic  |  June 25th, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Fuck Yeah Yasha. Fuck. Yeah.

  • 41. Cavoyo  |  June 26th, 2012 at 12:18 am

    RE the side bar, I love Gladwell’s concern trolling of Occupy. He knows that Occupy is too popular to attack directly, so he has to do something with a little more finesse. And if people call him out on it he can say “I was only trying to help.”

  • 42. Jumppu  |  June 26th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    This is great journalism. You guys are the real thing.

  • 43. Lloyd Gor  |  June 26th, 2012 at 4:46 am


    don’t fucking lump porn in with that

    the anti-porn scene is a whole ‘nother scam full of conservatives and shills

    as a wise man once appropriated, anti-porn is code for anti-art

  • 44. napalm fro  |  June 26th, 2012 at 7:14 am

    PM is famously sadistic to its hirelings when they’re all used up. Now that Gladwell is a whiff of stale urine to his patrons, his ruin is going to be spectacular.

  • 45. rick  |  June 26th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Ehh–I just don’t know how much of a scoop is here–Gladwell’s clearly tailored books to morons who run businesses, like “Blink” (marketing “geniuses”!) and “Outliers” (self-“GENIUS!” and self-reflection…morons can feel smart since they spent 10,000 hours wasting time uselessly in their office gaining 17 pounds and being repulsive.)

    It is kind of funny to expose what an intellectual whore he is, sort of–all of his books feel deliberately marketed toward human mediocrities who want to feel exceptional/succeed, and his books sell on the model of idiot business-person virality. They’re also very smart in themselves, and idiot business-persons pay him, here and there, since they think it’s like “meditating” or praying or “team-building” to have a wise speaker in for the weeknend.

    But my intellectual snobbishness and elitism exposes me as the 18th century imperialist elitist Samuel Johnson literary dickwad I am, at heart. If you guys can raise a mob to put my head on a pike, I’ll be impressed.

  • 46. Davrus  |  June 26th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    @2, 4
    Seriously have either of you actually met an autistic person. Yeah, lies, emotional manipulation, and obfuscation is not there forte.

  • 47. YankeeFrank  |  June 26th, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    The “delicious irony” in this, if I can use that expression without feeling like an icky little elf, is this douche pretending that, as pathetic a defense as this is of the tobacco industry, it isn’t about the best they can do:

    “see, we’re saving taxpayers’ money by killing all these people so young!”

    To act as if that doesn’t put a pause in the discussion long enough for money-obsessed douchebags everywhere to second-guess their disgust and hatred for the nauseatingly evil, lying tobacco industry is to be half-smart, which is exactly what Gladwell is. The fact that its so easy for him to throw up their propaganda in our faces and justify it too himself as “delicious irony”, pocketing the money while walking away with a self-satisfied smirk and the addled notion that he is fighting the good fight — its win-win for Gladwell! What a monumental shit-head. Oh, and his tipping-point premise is a bunch of over-simplistic drivel… just like his whoring for the tobacco industry! What delicious irony.

  • 48. CB  |  June 27th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    It’s not ironic in the least that a tobacco company (and their paid shills) would say whatever is advantageous to them in any given situation, even if it contradicts what they would say in another.

    If the context is taxing cigarettes to pay for Medicare, they pull up a report that cigarette smokers don’t cost as much as you thought. If the context is the public health dangers of smoking, they pull out something else that says smoking isn’t as bad for you as you thought. The fact that you can’t coherently argue both points at once doesn’t matter because they never gave a shit if their stance formed a coherent logical viewpoint in the first place. They only cared if each individual initiative against them could by held off as long as possible.

    I don’t believe for a second that Gladwell is so stupid he doesn’t understand this. He’s just playing games to hold the inevitable conclusion at bay as long as possible. It’s exactly what he gets paid for.

  • 49. Ali  |  June 27th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Gladwell is a cognitive dissonance jiujitsu master.

  • 50. CB  |  June 27th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    You see the exact same kind of thing in the Global Warming “debate” today. It doesn’t matter that half their talking points contradict the other half. What matters is that the seeds of doubt are sown in enough people’s minds that nothing will be done about it.

    I wonder if Gladwell would call it “ironic” that so many people shilling for polluting industry today are the same ones, using the same tactics, as shilled for the tobacco industry.

  • 51. mars spirit rover  |  June 28th, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Yasha Levine’s characterization of Gladwell’s avoidance tactics as “thought-leader voodoo” is really funny.
    The Exiled and SHAME bring back the spirit of the much-missed, early ’00s website Media Whores Online. Media bigwigs (or big hairs) really hate being called prostitutes.

  • 52. Publius  |  June 28th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Well done, Yasha. Keep it up.

  • 53. Slocum  |  June 29th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I teach things like critical thinking, research methods, and behavioral economics at a couple of business schools on the side and Gladwell always comes up as some guru from the wannabe-CEO weenies. (The kind that try to get you to change your grade using Neuro-Linguistic Programming.) Since I actually teach stuff from Kahneman, Tversky, Gigerenzer etc. in order to get the students to appreciate how science and knowledge production works Gladwell’s very existence since Blink has made me even more of a misanthrope.

  • 54. U92  |  June 29th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Tobacco apologists used to deny that smoking kills people. Now they brag about it.

  • 55. franc black  |  July 2nd, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I wonder if he’s enjoying the new asshole you tore him. Well done.

  • 56. GrumpusRex  |  July 6th, 2012 at 11:45 am


    Bravo, to Team Exiled.

    I’ll be making a donation.

  • 57. Khan  |  July 9th, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Pravda-lite business as usual.

  • 58. Jim's Neighbor  |  July 11th, 2012 at 6:57 am

    He’s icky.

  • 59. Joe Mareeshee  |  July 11th, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Haters gonna hate.

  • 60. BabyRasputin  |  July 22nd, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Gladwell’s soul has been serrated.

  • 61. Marco Costa  |  July 23rd, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    This was a shameful piece of spin. What kind of person actually expects a journalist to answer a couple of questions about certain conflicts of interest that were exposed–namely, that Gladwell took money from Wall Street, tobacco and pharma while writing positive articles about these industries that defended them from critics. You sir, you are very disingenuous and dishonest for asking such questions and simply making the argument that Gladwell should account for his violation of basic journalism ethics. I wasted my time reading this. Because a bottom troll like me can’t really do much here except out myself as a bottom troll. But that was obvious from the beginning wasn’t it?

    Mr. Gladwell pretty much tried his best to get you off irrational-zealot mode into a rational discussion by not answering your questions and pretending like his shilling for tobacco was a matter of interpretation and opinion–not cold hard fact–of course he failed, hence the sighing and the “Cheers.” I won’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from the man. I give you this piece of advice because I care. That’s all I have to say on this matter.

  • 62. Jack  |  August 13th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    This is b(*(*dy good journalism. In life’s murky world Mark Ames and Yasha Levine have kept their ideals. They have never sold out.

    I have read the Exile since it was in Moscow and I know that they are sometimes hard up for money, it isn’t easy running a business , paying the bills and so on. How many of us have been in such difficulty and bent our rules? Not Mark or Yasha…!!

    Total respect . In time they will be respected for their work, become millionaires and wipe the backside of the Gladwells of the world. Until then ..keep up the good work guys!!

  • 63. you get what you give  |  February 5th, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Yasha, I applaud your work! It is refreshing to read about a journalist doing real journalism. I am reading “Blink” for a college class. We are required to report on a book from a long list provided by the professor. Admittedly, I chose it because I found it on Amazon for a dollar. I had never heard of Malcolm Gladsell. I was less than impressed with what I was reading. He borrowed research and ideas from others and did not offer one intelligent idea of his own! I was suspicious of him. Let’s say I ‘thin -sliced’ that he is a mediocre opportunist. My heart is glad that you put this shilling snake on the defense and uncovered his stupidity. I am glad that I didn’t buy his book new, and I like the previous poster’s idea of writing a disclaimer with the address of this site. I will then resell it through Amazon – maybe I’ll get my $1 back! – along with a good message to dissuade the next reader from falling for his ridiculous shtick. Thank you, you are very much needed!

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