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Newsweek and USA Today Have Bizarre Standards for Opinion Writers

Why are Newsweek and USA Today so willing to let special interests mislead their readers? Clear standards are needed for conflict-of-interest disclosures. 

Facts don’t matter in commentaries printed by Newsweek so long as the writer “seems genuine.” That’s the take-away from a troubling email exchange with Newsweek Opinion Editor Nicholas Wapshott in response to concerns and questions I raised about a recent commentary attacking the organic industry.

The organic hit piece in Newsweek carried the byline of Henry I. Miller, who lost his platform at Forbes last year after the New York Times revealed that Miller had published an article in Forbes under his own name that was actually written by Monsanto.

In his recent Newsweek article, Miller spent several paragraphs attacking Danny Hakim, the New York Times reporter who revealed that ghostwriting scandal; but Miller didn’t disclose to readers either the scandal or his collaborations with Monsanto.

Yet Monsanto’s fingerprints were all over Miller’s Newsweek article, as I reported here. Miller used pesticide industry sources to make false claims about organic farming and attacked people who were named on a target list that had been developed by Monsanto and Jay Byrne, Monsanto’s former director of corporate communications, who was quoted in Miller’s piece with no mention of the Monsanto affiliation.

None of this appears to bother Newsweek Opinion Editor Nicholas Wapshott, according to an on-the-record email exchange.

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