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"Paul Ryan nailed it again," writes Niall Ferguson for Newsweek today.  

The New Republic dumped Stephen Glass. The New York Times did the same with Jayson Blair. Wired and The New Yorker also extricated themselves from Jonah Lehrer. This American Life apologized for its reporting from Mike Daisey.

But Tina Brown doubled down. One week after Niall Ferguson embarrassed everyone at her organization with a cover story packed with falsehoods, and after he doubled  down with an equally dishonest retorts to his critics,  she offered the Newsweek platform to fabulist  once more, so he can echo Paul Ryan's claptrap.

Ferguson presumes to write about economic policy. But the world of business and finance has a word for Ferguson's tendency, which is to cherry pick facts and present them in a misleading way; it's called fraud. In other words, it's not acceptable to say: "2 + 2 = 1," and assert that this was your "opinion," without disclosing that you deleted the part of the equation that says "subtract 3."

Ferguson's "nitpicking" defense shows that he is out of his depth. After all, 98% of the financial data in Enron's financial statements was perfectly accurate, so why would anyone start nitpicking about the exclusion of a few billion in  liabilities?

When you purposefully exclude the data that totally undercuts your assertion, as Ferguson did in his Newsweek cover story, and did a second time in his retort to the universal condemnation of his mendacity, you are not expressing an opinion, you are promoting The Big Lie.

Ferguson is far more dangerous fabulist than Stephen Glass, or Blair, or Lehrer. Those guys got away with what they did because they were writing human interest stories, which do not impact government or economic policy. But Ferguson falsifies matters of grave national importance; he poisons the well of political debate.  

It might be understandable that a media outlet might want to paper over the embarrassment of printing a cover story packed with lies. Some failures are too big to be acknowledged. You might want to start fresh and aspire to do better.

But Newsweek's biggest embarrassment turned out to be one of its best selling issues. No publicity is bad publicity.

Ferguson's latest piece is not patently dishonest. It's just a slick political rant that touts certain facts and ignores others. But to those of us who believe in facts, professional integrity and the 9th Commandment, Ferguson, who showed zero contrition  for his lies, is damaged goods that taint Newsweek and Daily Beast brands.

Or as they say, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Quite awhile ago, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I watched his series about money on PBS.  While I had no idea who he was nor any notion of whether he was telling the truth about things, I've always had a kind of twitchy feeling when I see that show in the PBS list.  It just tickled something in my animal brain that sets off alarms...

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 06:23:15 PM PDT

  •  I just harassed my husband again about canceling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    his subscription to Newsweek. He is grumpily agreeing to do this.
    I am also nagging him to tell them why he's canceling!

    We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

    by Tamar on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 06:50:05 PM PDT

  •  So a speech that was derided (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, wasatch, deep

    By most (non-Fox) outlets and even by some conservatives as full of falsehoods was a "home run"?

    I know the Daily Beast likes to present itself as a place where you can get analysis from both left and right, but "analysis" shouldn't be based on falsehoods.

  •   Kneel Ferguson (0+ / 0-)

        Niall Ferguson kneels at the altar of the plutokleptocrats...
        as a friend of mine overheard at the bar, he and his  
         sycophantic ilk are in effect Koch-suckers....

  •  That's add three (0+ / 0-)

    If you included subtract three, you'd get one.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:02:45 PM PDT

  •  Newsweak (0+ / 0-)

    a soon-to-be Rupert Murdoch company.

  •  Give links to respond to Newsweek and to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, deep

    Ferguson.  Taking action is better than fuming about how bad or irresponsible they are.

    For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at


    The Daily Beast


    Niall Ferguson @nfergus

    Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.~ Howard Zinn

    by ParkRanger on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:19:22 PM PDT

  •  To some people Ferguson may be (0+ / 0-)

    attractive, just as John Edwards was attractive. That may explain why Newsweek keeps giving him a platform.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:19:11 PM PDT

  •  I heard him at U of San Francisco about 5 years (0+ / 0-)

    ago bemoaning the "end of empires"; aw poor baby. He was trying to get the US citizen riled up about protecting "our empire". It was so pitiful in that packed audience noone challenged his basic premise.

    The End of Global Empires
    Front Cover
    Niall Ferguson, Patrick Lloyd Hatcher
    0 Reviews
    Center for the Pacific Rim, University of San Francisco, 2007 - 12 pages
    What people are saying - Write a review
    We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
    Bibliographic information
    QR code for The End of Global Empires
    Title    The End of Global Empires
    Issue 45 of Pacific rim report
    Authors    Niall Ferguson, Patrick Lloyd Hatcher
    Publisher    Center for the Pacific Rim, University of San Francisco, 2007
    Length    12 pages
    Subjects    World politics

    "We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them"…Howard Zinn

    by jim d on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 08:24:05 PM PDT

  •  Niall Ferguson was, is and will forever be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yosef 52

    a huge ass.

    The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

    by Anne Elk on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:51:20 PM PDT

    •  Ah yes, Niall Ferguson (0+ / 0-)

      the William Graham Sumner of the Information Age strikes again with his Plutocratic propaganda.  A friend of mine would call Ferguson a member of the "Brown Nose Collective" of Corporate shills.

  •  I've totally enjoyed... (0+ / 0-)

    Niall Ferguson's epic meltdown the last few weeks.

    Very entertaining.

    What's less fun, however, is having to witness a once respectable news organization prostitute itself to right-wing propagandists in hopes of getting a few links on Drudge.
    Tut tut.

  •  Possible edit ? (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for pointing out Ferguson's latest and by now expected disregard for any factual information that might get in the way of his 'conclusions'.

    A question though - in the sentence  

    Ferguson is far more dangerous fabulist than Glass, or Blair, or Lehrer.
    did you mean to include (Mike) Daisy instead of  (Ira) Glass?

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