Friday, August 7, 2009

Econ Blogger Behind NYT Firing of Ben Stein

Because of the intensity by which Reuters blogger Felix Salmon has been scrutinizing the financial writings of Ben Stein, one suspects that, if Salmon is married, Stein is having a major league fling with Mrs. Salmon.

Whatever is behind it, Salmon's "Ben Stein Watch" has been going on for more than a year, and it has just resulted in a major body blow to Stein.

The New York Times just fired Ben Stein.

Salmon writes:
You’ll forgive me if I take some small measure of credit for this one: after something in the region of 35,000 words of the Ben Stein Watch, the world’s worst financial columnist has finally been fired from the New York Times. And I couldn’t be happier. The reason was his appearance in commercials for (and on the homepage of), a sleazy companywhich exists only to extract large sums of money from those who can least afford it.

NYT spokeswoman Catherine Mathis confirmed this, telling Gawker that “Ben Stein’s fine work for us as a columnist for Sunday Business had to end, we told him, after we learned that he had become a commercial spokesman for FreeScore, a financial services company.”

I’m thinking celebratory Champagne at the Oyster Bar this lunchtime. It is an August Friday, after all. Anybody care to join?

Update: Yes, I’m serious. Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, 1pm. I’ll be the one looking a bit like this.

Salmon's story highlighting Stein's work at is most likely what brought Stein's work at to the attention of NYT.

I wonder if this will have any impact on NYT blogger Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, and his lying ways:

...the two parties outlined a settlement that requires Mr. Levitt, who is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the best-selling book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything, to send a letter of clarification to John B. McCall, a retired economist in Texas.

Mr. [John]Lott’s lawsuit alleges that Mr. Levitt defamed him in a 2005 e-mail message to Mr. McCall....In that message, Mr. Levitt criticized Mr. Lott’s work as guest editor of a special 2001 issue of The Journal of Law and Economics that stemmed from a conference on gun issues held in 1999.

The letter of clarification, which was included in today’s filing, offers a doozy of a concession. In his 2005 message, Mr. Levitt told Mr. McCall that “it was not a peer-refereed edition of the Journal.” But in his letter of clarification, Mr. Levitt writes: “I acknowledge that the articles that were published in the conference issue were reviewed by referees engaged by the editors of the JLE. In fact, I was one of the peer referees.”

Mr. Levitt’s letter also concedes that he had been invited to present a paper at the 1999 conference. (He did not do so.) That admission undermines his e-mail message’s statement that Mr. Lott had “put in only work that supported him.”

1 comment:

  1. "a sleazy companywhich exists only to extract large sums of money from those who can least afford it."

    This is how I would define the government. Therefore, I would say anyone who shills for government is guilty of the same unethical behavior that of which Ben Stein is guilty.