PERSONAL: Born in Los Angeles, CA.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Investigative journalist. BBC Television, reporter. Has worked as investigator of corporate fraud and racketeering, as director of a government investigation into a U.S. nuclear plant builder, and as a contract negotiator for United Steelworkers Union, Chicago, IL.
AWARDS, HONORS: David Thomas Prize, Financial Times, 1997; Investigative Story of the Year, Industrial Society, 1998; Business Writer of the Year nomination, UK Press Association, 1999; Politics Story of the Year, Salon.com, 2000, for reports on U.S. elections,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-Finance Fraudsters, Pluto Press (Sterling, VA), 2002.
(With Jerrold Oppenheim and Theo MacGregor) Democracy and Regulation: How the Public Can Govern Privatized Essential Services, Pluto Press (Sterling, VA), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, Washington Post, Nation, and Salon.com. Author of column "Inside Corporate America," for London Observer.
SIDELIGHTS: Investigative journalist Greg Palast is, according to his book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-Finance Fraudsters, "despised by all the right people" in U.S. and British political circles. Palast's investigations strike close to the heart of the politics and corporate culture of America and Great Britain, as well as other countries throughout the world. Among his subjects in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy are how the World Trade Organization prevents accessible AIDS drugs from reaching sufferers in Africa; how the World Bank's loan policies impair the economies of developing countries; how the British legal system stifled legal action against Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for defective valves implanted in patient's hearts; and how Texas power companies profited from the energy shortage in California.
"Muckraking has a long, storied tradition, and Palast is evidently proud to be part of it," wrote a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, calling The Best Democracy Money Can Buy a "polemical indictment of globalization and political corruption." The topics Palast covers "are all good, important stories," the reviewer said, but since it is largely a collection of previously published newspaper stories, the book "lacks cohesiveness and the depth his subjects deserve. In addition, Palast's bombastic style and one-sided perspective do much to undermine his own credibility." Though some of his investigations take up only a page or two, others are considerably more comprehensive. Palast adds footnotes, commentaries, new arguments, updates on the cases he covered, and even "talk[s] around censored gaps still left in the text due to Britain's libel laws," Matthew Tempest observed on the Guardian Unlimited Web site.
Other critics, such as Mick Hume in New Statesman, remarked that, in addition to politicians and business leaders, Palast "manages to irritate some of us who might expect to be more sympathetic to his criticisms of the political and business elite. Perhaps it would help if Palast didn't present himself quite so self-righteously as the Lone Researcher, almost single-handedly saving the world from sleaze." Palast wonders how U.S. journalists managed to miss the vote story in Florida, calling other reporters "a flock of docile sheep." Palast also "attacks all UK journalists as yapping 'little puppies,' because we shamefully failed to follow up his 'Lobbygate' expose of new Labour," Hume said. "Perhaps some of those other lambs and puppies share my feeling that Palast's stories don't always stand up—and rarely add up to the historic exposes he claims."
Other critics focus more on the content of Palast's reporting than his opinions of other journalists. Tempest remarked that "The book's opening chapter is probably its most important, an investigation which should have Mr. Palast's name up there with Woodward and Bernstein," a detailed "dissection" of how Florida governor Jeb Bush and secretary of State Katherine Harris "disenfranchised tens of thousands of black Al Gore supporters" and, in essence, tipped the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. "Whether Jeb Bush or Ms. Harris could have known how crucial Florida would prove to the nationwide count is not addressed—presumably they didn't—but that they pulled the rug from under Mr. Gore's feet the book makes indisputable," Tempest wrote.
"There is much of value here," the Publishers Weekly reviewer noted of a book Tempest called "Probably the easiest uneasy read of the year."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ecologist, June, 2002, William Blum, review of TheBest Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-Finance Fraudsters, p. 42.
New Statesman, April 1, 2002, Mick Hume, review of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, pp. 50-51.
Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of TheBest Democracy Money Can Buy, p. 87.
Times Higher Educational Supplement, October 18, 2002, "Dirt in the Corridors of Power," p. 27.
Guardian Unlimited,http://politics.guardian.co.uk/ (May 8, 2002), Matthew Tempest, review of TheBest Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-Finance Fraudsters.
Mike Hersh.com,http://www.mikehersh.com/ (February 17, 2003).*