BusinessWeek's 'Payola' Reporter Partied With Lobbyists

The activity du jour for Business Week’s Capitol Hill correspondent Eamon Javers seems to be systematically “outing” conservative columnists as corporate shills. On January 13, BusinessWeek’s web edition ran an article by Javers deceptively titled, “A Columnist Backed By Monsanto.” The article begins, “Michael Fumento’s failure to disclose payments to him in 1999 from the agribusiness giant has now caused Scripps Howard to sever its ties to him.”

What Javers is talking about is that the Hudson Institute, the conservative organization that employs Fumento as a senior fellow, received a book grant of $60,000 from Monsanto in 1999. The “payment” was not made to Fumento. The grant was put toward Fumento’s book, BioEvolution, which was published by the Hudson Institute. For years liberal writers have had their books subsidized by corporations such as HarperCollins, Putnam and the like. Feminist Naomi Wolf, for instance, lived on the publishing house dole despite mediocre sales. Conservative writers, on the other hand, had to go to think tanks and Regnery (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company) to have their books published. Being published by the conservative divisions of the large publishing houses is still a new phenomenon. It’s also akin to being relegated to the kids’ table.

In Slander, HUMAN EVENTS Legal Correspondent Ann Coulter writes, “Imitating an Alzheimer’s joke, every successive conservative best-seller genuinely is a ‘surprise best-seller’ to publishers. By contrast, it’s hard to think of a single liberal book whose commercial appeal eluded publishing houses — even those that went on to spectacular failure. Gigantic book advances go to all sorts of authors — liberal historians, liberal feminists, liberal celebrities, liberal Clinton aides, liberal fighter pilots, liberal comedians. But you can be sure that enormous advances that turn out to be enormous mistakes will never be lavished on any of those ‘surprise best-sellers.’ Book advances are pure wealth transfers to liberal gabbers.”

Is being subsidized by Monsanto more corrupt than being subsidized by HarperCollins? Even though Monsanto’s grant to the Hudson Institute ended in 2000 and Fumento didn’t begin writing on biotechnology issues for Scripps Howard until 2003, Javers thinks he’s a corporate whistleblower. He raced to the Batphone, called Scripps Howard, and Fumento was promptly fired. Previously, he also attacked freelance writer Peter Ferrara. The New York Times and Washington Post tried to kill two birds with one groan, identifying Ferrara with the Institute for Policy Innovation in order to connect them both with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. They neglected to mention that Ferrara was not affiliated with the organization while receiving contributions from Abramoff’s clients.

To abide by Javers’ strict code of ethics, conservative columnists must disclose all corporations that gave money to any organization with which they have been affiliated in the past and present. They must also not write about those corporations in a favorable way. If these are the established rules, then let’s play fair. If anyone has acted as a corporate shill, it’s Eamon Javers himself.

At a lobbyist-sponsored golf outing in 2002, Eamon Javers (center), then-editor of Business Forward, poses with Tom Hohman (left), chief financial officer of Intersect Software, and Phil Norton, vice president of ePlus.

Javers is the former editor in chief of the now defunct Business Forward magazine. In the July/August 2002 issue, the “Snapshot” section shows photos from the magazine’s Big Hitters Golf Classic, “18 holes of networking, schmoozing and competition” at the famous Bretton Woods golf course. Among the paid sponsors listed is Patton Boggs, a large Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. In the same issue that boasted about their schmoozing with event sponsors, Javers listed “The Forty Forward,” an annual list of influential people doing business in Washington, D.C. Some of the heavy hitters who made the list include Tom Boggs of Patton Boggs, Bob Pittman, Steve Case and Ted Leonsis of AOL Time Warner, David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group and John Sidgemore of WorldCom. In another issue, Javers named John Mars of Mars Inc. the “Best Private-Company CEO” and Steve Case the “Best Public-Company CEO.” (Full disclosure: I used a connection from AOL’s 6-Month Free Trial disk to conduct my research.) lists Mars Inc., AOL, WorldCom and The Carlyle Group as clients of Patton Boggs. AOL and Mars Inc. were two of their top three clients during that time. Javers’ list of “The Forty Forward” begins with this line, “Influence is a lot like pornography — it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.” Indeed. On PBS’s “Newshour With Jim Lehrer” on January 3, Javers explained, “You get to be friends with some of these lobbyists if you’re a Hill staffer. And, lo and behold over time they start asking for favors.”

Eamon Javers (left) poses with Business Forward Publisher Kirsten Russell and CEO Jeremy Brosowsy at a lobbyist-sponsored golf outing in 2002.

Defenders will undoubtedly say that Steve Case, Ted Leonsis, John Mars and the other D.C. businessmen deserved the praise they received in his magazine. But if Javers’ mindless accusations against conservative writers and organizations become the ethical standard, it taints his views, too. When Javers criticizes conservative writers, the standard isn’t accuracy, its perceived influence. In the case of Michael Fumento, Monsanto never took him golfing.

In its Nov. 28, 2005, issue, Newsweek described Patton Boggs as a “powerhouse” that “represents a battery of foreign governments, corporations and others with interests before the government.” The article criticized White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for hiring a lawyer who is also a partner at Patton Boggs. According to Newsweek, Rove’s lawyer was simultaneously wearing his lobbyist hat for his clients.

Taking a page from Javers’ ethics handbook, I called and e-mailed his editors at Business Week to let them know that Javers has written favorably about a lobbying firm’s clients after his employer, Business Forward, received money from that firm.

After numerous calls and e-mails, I was able to get through to Business Week News Editor Ira Sager and question him about Javers’ past relationship with Patton Boggs. He angrily said, “You need to talk to the PR department.” Kim Quinn, director of communications, responded, “Eamon and all BusinessWeek reporters adhere to a code of ethics that strictly upholds the principles of journalistic integrity including the disclosure of conflicts of interest. We fully support Eamon in his reporting.”

It’s a shame that Scripps Howard didn’t show the same support for Michael Fumento. More importantly, it’s outrageous that BusinessWeek doesn’t hold its writers to one-tenth of the “journalistic integrity” it demands of conservative writers whose names it drags through the mud. Javers’ charges against Fumento and other conservative writers are completely bogus whereas the connection between Javers and Patton Boggs is a hole-in-one.