25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Nomination

Very honored to announce that my ProPublica/BuzzFeed story on HIV criminalization has been nominated for the 2014 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article.

Congratulations to my fellow nominees, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner, The Advocate, Sports Illustrated’s Loretta Hunt, and Sean Guillory for The Nation. And huge, huge thanks to my editors at ProPublica (especially Mark Schoofs), the team at BuzzFeed, Nick Rhoades, and everyone who played a role in bringing this story together.

New Cathie Black Emails

200 MB of new Cathie Black emails, fresh from the NYC Department of Education's FOIL office.

Please enjoy:

F9359-2013-12-06-resp (final).pdf
CBlack CH FOIL 12-6-2013.pdf
File 01-Nov 2010-release version.pdf
File 02-Nov 2010-release version.pdf
File 03-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 04-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 05-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 06-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 07-Jan 2011-release version.pdf
Hernandez CB release.pdf Continue reading


‘You are running it regardless’

Today in uncomfortable journo-flack relations…

A testy exchange between USA Today reporter Brad Heath and the Justice Department's chief spokesman, Brian Fallon, has been making the rounds, after copies of their emails leaked online.

Twitter has jumped on this, which appears to show Fallon, having failed to kill a story Heath was working on, turning around and stonewalling him by refusing to provide answers that would discredit his reporting: Continue reading

DOCUMENTS: N.Y.U.’s Replies to Sen. Chuck Grassley

UPDATED: This post was updated on July 15, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.

If you've been following the story over New York University's executive and faculty compensation controversy, you may have seen this story in today's New York Times, headlined "N.Y.U. Impeding Compensation Inquiry, Senator Says."

The "Senator" is Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who in March, asked the university to provide information regarding its compensation schedule. Grassley's curiosity had been piqued during U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's confirmation hearings in February, when it came out that the one-time N.Y.U. and Citigroup executive had received subsidized mortgages and a $685,000 golden parachute from the university.

On March 15, Grassley "ratcheted up his questioning of the university, saying he was doing so because of its nonprofit status, which affords it considerable income and property tax exemptions," The New York Times said.

As a business writer who covers the Treasury Department and an N.Y.U. alum, this story has been particularly interesting for me, so I've been keeping an eye on it for a while. I'd already known some of the details described in the Times story, including the restrictions N.Y.U.'s lawyers have placed on Grassley's staff. For example, only permitting in camera review of certain documents and allowing the senator's staff members to take notes, but forbidding them from making or keeping copies. Continue reading

Vin Testa of Washington waves a rainbow flag in support of gay rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Deconstructing the dissent in Hollingsworth v. Perry

My latest for The Week, on the Supremes' strange coalitions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and what it all means beyond gay marriage.

The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen has a great writeup on the subject, too, as do Mother Jones' Kevin Drum, Jordan Fraade at PolicyMic, and Governing's Dylan Scott.

TPM's Brian Beutler also has an interesting scoop on Chief Justice John Roberts' cousin, who's getting same-sex married soon, but this passage in particular caught my eye:

Podrasky says she’s just as surprised that Roberts voted to uphold DOMA, as she is that he sided with the majority in throwing out the Prop 8 case on procedural grounds, which had the effect of making gay marriage legal again in California. Roberts’ split means that despite believing the federal government should continue not to recognize same-sex marriages, he helped clear the one obstacle standing in the way of his cousin and her fiancee.

Just want to point out that if Roberts voted to grant standing in the case, he would've formed a majority with Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor, paving the way for the court to decide on the case's actual merits.

And how might that have turned out? Cohen at The Atlantic writes:

…the makeup of the dissent in Perry is telling. It may tell other people other things but it tells me that Justices Kennedy—ever true to his roots as a supporter of gay rights—and Sonia Sotomayor were willing to rule on the merits of Proposition 8 in a way that would more broadly recognize same-sex marriage rights, at least in California. And it tells me, on the contrary, that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, win or lose, were spoiling for the opportunity to endorse Proposition 8 as a lawful expression of the public's disdain (at least in 2008) for such marriages. Usually, when the Court punts like it did here, it punts without a 5-4 ruling.

Indeed, it seems likely to me that if Roberts had voted to grant standing, the Court's decision on the merits would have looked a lot like their ruling in the DOMA case, with Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan knocking down same-sex marriage bans in California and, possibly, the entire Ninth Circuit.

Browse Cathie Black’s Inbox

Adapted from Yahoo! News' clever JavaScript/AJAX app (unveiled a few weeks ago to browse the State Department/CIA Benghazi emails), you can now read the Cathie Black emails in a virtual inbox. I've hacked it somewhat to give it a more polished look. Nothing new in terms of content, but looking forward to using this more in the future: Continue reading

More Cathie Black coverage

Some more coverage on the Cathie Black emails, including Jim Dwyer's "About New York" column in yesterday's New York Times and an interview with CBC Radio's "As It Happens" with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas, in which the producer gets my last name wrong (oh well):

Cathie Black news roundup

Looks like Donald Trump thinks the city made a mistake by “skipping” Ivanka Trump. This article didn’t appear online, for some reason, but ran on page 16 of the New York Daily News’ May 4, 2013 issue.

Some other great write-ups from the past few days, including two articles (!) in The New York Times, an article and an editorial in the New York Post, an earlier piece in the Daily News, and stories by the Associated PressWNYC the Village Voice, the New York ObserverThe Daily BeastGawkerGothamistMetroNew York magazineNY1, and The Wall Street Journal.

Full list of news coverage here.

His Latest Black eye
Why Mike spent $25G to bury emailsBy Jennifer Fermino, Ben Chapman and Corrine Lestch
THE BLOOMBERG administration spent $25,000 fighting the release of innocuous emails about Cathie Black so that future job candidates wouldn’t bolt over fears their chats could go public, officials and sources said Friday.

“The concern is you’ll never get good people from the private sector to become public servants if even a quick email chat isn’t private,” said one former administration official who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity.

Because Black was a candidate to head the city's public schools in November 2010, it constituted a “business relationship,” meaning it could keep her messages secret, the city said.

“We want to encourage public service, and releasing communications between a government employer and an appointee does just the opposite,” said Susan Paulson, senior counsel for the city’s Law Department.

The awkward exchanges showed that city officials tried to enlist female power brokers who would back Black, the mayor’s widely-panned pick for schools chancellor.

In one missive, Micah Lasher, former director of state legislative affairs, said he “would skip” recruiting Ivanka Trump—originally one of Black’s requests.

At least one dissenter thinks the gaffe-prone chancellor would have benefitted from Trump’s endorsement: her pucker-mouthed father.

“Anyone Ivanka speaks for, it’s a huge enhancement to that person,” Donald Trump crowed to The News. “Had (Ivanka) spoken, she would have been a great help for Cathie Black.”