Saturday, January 14, 2006

opinions for sale

yet another right-wing pundit is in trouble for taking corporate money, writing gushingly about the corporate sponsor, and failing to disclose the transaction to readers.

Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS) announced Friday that it severed its relationship with Michael Fumento -- a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute -- for not disclosing he had taken payments in 1999 from agribusiness giant Monsanto. The payments were revealed by BusinessWeek Online, which also broke a similar story revealing columnist Doug Bandow receiving payments. Copley News Service subsequently dropped Bandow.

In a statement released Friday, SHNS Editor and General Manager Peter Copeland said Fumento "did not tell SHNS editors, and therefore we did not tell our readers, that in 1999 Hudson received a $60,000 grant from Monsanto." Copeland added: "Our policy is that he should have disclosed that information. We apologize to our readers."

SHNS sent out an advisory to subscribers last night that read: "The Jan. 5 column by Michael Fumento about new biotechnology products from Monsanto should have included more information. We believe the column should have disclosed a $60,000 grant from Monsanto that Fumento received in 1999 for a book about biotechnology. Fumento's column will no longer be distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, but is available from Michael Fumento at fumento(at) or"

In his Jan. 5 column, Fumento wrote that the St. Louis-based Monsanto has about 30 products in the pipeline that will aid farmers "but also help us all by keeping prices down and allowing more crops to be grown on less land." He said he was only writing about Monsanto "because their annual report was plopped onto my lap while I was hunting for a column idea."

their annual report just happened to plop on my lap... with a big check attached. where do the news services keep finding all these sellout columnists? oh yeah... they find 'em at right-wing think tanks like the hudson institute. well, at least fumento sold out to a biotech giant rather than the bush administration (as far as we know, anyway). though i'm not really sure which is worse.

this is the cue for other right-wingers to try to claim this is a "bipartisan" scandal, just like they ridiculously claimed the abramoff scandal was.

what's funny is that just the other day, i read james wolcott's tremendous take-down of fumento, after fumento had tried to do the same to wolcott on pajamas media (which is perhaps the blogosphere's most famous failure), and today fumento has been fired. there's no actual cause and effect there, but the coincidental timing is funny... i've known who wolcott is for some time, but had probably never even heard of fumento before thursday.

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