Category Archives: Media

Andrew Ross Sorkin: The Information Broker

In this week’s New York, I profile star New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, the author of the blockbuster Wall Street book Too Big to Fail. Sorkin has had a meteoric rise at the Times. He started writing for the paper at 18, and took over the hyper-competitive mergers and acquisitions beat when he was just out of college.

Sorkin is more than a reporter. He’s a brand unto himself. He runs Dealbook, the Times‘ closely-followed Wall Street blog, writes a weekly column and makes numerous appearances on CNBC and Charlie Rose. But inside the Times, Sorkin is a figure of considerable newsroom conflict. Many senior reporters question his closeness to the Wall Street mandarins who are his sources, worrying that he might be repeating the mistakes of former disgraced Times reporter Judy Miller. Critics point out that he wrote glowingly about the private equity boom, and failed to see the real-estate and credit meltdowns before it was too late. With his book, Sorkin has set out to write the definitive account of the behind-the-scenes battle to save the financial system from ruin. Inside the Times, the debate over Sorkin is really a battle to define the narrative of the meltdown. 

Despite the criticism, Sorkin has achieved something most of his Times colleagues haven’t: job security. In an uncertain time for newspapers, Sorkin’s brand is assured. 

Read the full piece HERE

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Wolffe at the Door

I have a new TNR piece out on former Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe’s book proposal to write an insider-account of the Obama White House. Wolffe, who now works at Dan Bartlett’s corporate lobbying firm Public Strategies, has been generating headlines in recent days for trying to occupy conflicting roles as both journalist and flack. On Friday, Wolffe guest-hosted “Countdown” on MSNBC, but this week the network said it should have divulged his PR affiliations. And now many are questioning the ethics of his trying to write a reported book about the Obama administration while also advising corporate clients that may benefit from policies passed by the White House.

Wolffe still desparately wants to be a writer. From the piece:

According to a person familiar with the book proposal, Wolffe’s project is titled “30 Days: A Portrait of the White House at Work.” In the proposal, Wolffe writes that he has personal relationships with Obama officials at “the highest level” who have already “expressed support informally” for the project. Wolffe envisions a fly-on-the-wall account of a month inside the White House, where he’ll be “capturing group dynamics and people in action.”
Read the full piece HERE:

Jared Kushner and the Making of a Manhattan Golden Boy

In this week’s New York, I report on the rise of Jared Kushner, the 28-year-old Observer owner and son of disgraced real-estate mogul Charles Kushner. Here’s an excerpt:

Jared Kushner exited the subway on Canal Street to find his world blown up. It was the morning of July 13, 2004, and Jared, on break from NYU Law School, was hustling to his internship at Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s office. His cell phone buzzed. He saw a text message from his younger brother, Josh, an incoming Harvard freshman who was interning at the Kushner family’s office in Florham Park, New Jersey, that summer. “Dad is not in the meeting today. Is everything okay?” Josh wrote. Jared quickly called his father’s cell phone.

“Dad, are you all right?”

“Well, not really,” Charles Kushner said. “They’re going to arrest me today.”

“For what?” Jared blurted out. “Is it because of the tape? I thought your lawyers knew about that. I thought it’s not illegal.”

“Apparently they’re saying that it is,” Charles said.

“Well, maybe now the whole story will come out,” Jared said. He hung up and tried to work for twenty minutes but couldn’t focus. He jumped in a car for New Jersey. By the time he arrived, his father had surrendered to the FBI.

——————-

The full piece is in the magazine and online HERE

Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack

Washington Post legend Bob Woodward is now quietly working on a new book about the Obama White House. In the current issue of the New Republic, I have a piece that reports on Woodward’s new book project. In early May, the White House circulated a memo that told officials not to speak with authors before clearing the interview with the press office. The Obama White House, despite vaunted claims of “transparency,” is focused on controlling information just as every previous White House has been.

Woodward told me he’s not worried about the Obama team shutting him out. “People make their individual choices about what they’re going to do, even in the White House and in the government,” he said. “Over my four decades of working on books, you find that some people will help, some people won’t help, some will help at certain stages and not at others, some people won’t help at the beginning but will help later on. That’s reporting.”

Now the parlor game begins. Who in the Obama orbit will be cooperating…

Read the full piece HERE

Radio Alert: Brian Lehrer April 24

I’m going to be on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show tomorrow morning at 11:30 discussing my New York Magazine cover story “The Wail of the 1%”. Tune in!

Matt Drudge, Underground Man

I have a New Republic piece out this week on the Howard Hughes life of Matt Drudge. In recent years, the mercurial operator of the Drudge Report has gone underground. According to one source, the only people Drudge still speaks with include Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. He’s spent a considerable time on the road, traveling to such locales as Tel Aviv, Geneva and South America.

From the piece:

Drudge owes both his stature and his accompanying fortune–sources believe he makes millions per year off his site–essentially to one thing: his appetite, during the Lewinsky era and afterward, for rummaging further into the lives of public figures than mainstream journalists were willing to go. And that’s ironic when you consider the reason that his appearance at the Clinton concession speech created such a frenzy: For the past few years, Matt Drudge has gone almost completely underground.

Read the full piece HERE

Horace Mann Revolt Update

I have a New York Magazine piece out this week that revisits my March 2008 cover story on Horace Mann. The school continues to be buffeted by a crisis of authority. Students complain the faculty, led by the upper school head David Schiller, is clamping down on their rights. Schiller, for his part, was outraged earlier this year when the current student president and vice president attacked his plans to exert more control over student assemblies.

The issue burst into public last week when Charles Stam, the former student body president who is now a freshman at Columbia, wrote a letter to the entire Horace Mann student body and faculty that was leaked to Gawker. Charles, who I gave the pseudonym “Jeffrey Robbins” in my New York piece, wrote in his letter attacking Horace Mann’s newspaper, the Record, after he was informed they wouldn’t publish it on campus. Stam also defended the current student leadership and excoriated the administration for taking more control over student affairs.

Stam told me he still feels passionately about Horace Mann and said he’s not the conservative caricature that he feels Gawker and others make him out to be. For more on Stam’s first interview since my piece ran, read the full thing HERE