Adam Davidson's S.H.A.M.E. Profile

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S.H.A.M.E. PROJECT

S.H.A.M.E. just released a brand new profile. Our latest subject: Adam Davidson, host of NPR's popular business news program Planet Money and a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. Since becoming an on-air public radio personality in the early 2000s, Davidson has whitewashed the occupation of Iraq, praised sweatshop labor, attacked the idea of regulating Wall Street and argued for "squeezing the middle class"—all while taking undisclosed money from banking interests.

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Adam Davidson

HOST OF NPR'S PLANET MONEY

Adam Davidson

Adam Davidson graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in religion, and began his public radio career selling airtime and doing sponsor outreach. He then became an on-air radio personality, filing pro-Iraq War dispatches as Marketplace's Middle East correspondent, and recently transformed himself into an effective propagandist for the banking industry. Over the years, Davidson has whitewashed the occupation of Iraq, praised sweatshop labor, attacked the idea of regulating Wall Street and argued for "squeezing the middle class"—all while taking undisclosed money from banking interests. No wonder Davidson shamelessly credited Wall Street for providing "just about anything that makes you happy."

THE RECOVERED HISTORY OF ADAM DAVIDSON

  • Davidson began working in public radio in 1992, doing "underwriting sales" for Chicago Public Radio, a position described by one public radio station as "equivalent to that of a sales manager at private stations.  This person must go out into the community and establish rapport with local businesses in order to sell airtime to them. The underwriting representative is then responsible for developing a direct . . . and informational message to put on the air for the client."
  • Adam Davidson spent the early 2000s as Middle East correspondent for Public Radio International's Marketplace. In the lead up to the Iraq War, Davidson filed a number of pieces promoting the invasion of Iraq; after the invasion, Davidson moved to Baghdad and filed numerous radio items whitewashing the occupation catastrophe.
  • In December 2002, Davidson positively profiled an Israeli right-wing conspiracy theory site Debka.com in order to promote the invasion of Iraq. Despite the fact that Debka.com was long ago discredited in Israel, where"not a single Israeli official...sees the site as a reliable source"—and despite Debka.com's ties to rightwing conspiracy theory site WorldNet Daily, nevertheless Davidson presented Debka's claims that Saddam had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction—including chemical, biological and nuclear—as credible. Davidson staked his own credibility defending Debka, telling NPR listeners: "There's really no way to confirm what they're reporting right now, but I've been reading the site for years, and it's common to think they're nuts, then to wait a few weeks and see the same information in The New York Times." 
  • In 2007, Davidson boosted for the Honduran sweatshop industry, and promoted sweatshop labor in general, which he said was a great opportunity offering women upward mobility. Making socks in a sweatshop is "the only way she can improve her life," Davidson said of one Honduran young woman he profiled for NPR's "All Things Considered." He did not mention that Honduran sweatshop workers routinely develop incapacitating back and spinal injuries working 12-hour shifts with little or no breaks, face workplace abuse and intimidation, and earn about 65 cents per hour. 
  • Adam Davidson's career is currently being funded by bailed out banks. 
  • In early 2009, NPR announced that Planet Money secured Ally Bank as the show's exclusive sponsor. It was an unusual set up for NPR, as it meant that a financial institution was the sole funder of a news program about finance. At the time, Planet Money was the only NPR program underwritten by a single exclusive sponsor. Even Ad Age, the advertising industry's trade publication, was surprised by the sponsorship arrangement and the "close alignment of message and news program." (At the time of this writing, Ally is still Planet Money's exclusive sponsor.)
  • Ally Bank is a subsidiary of Ally Financial, formerly known as GMAC. The bank is one of the biggest mortgage servicers in the country, and has been one of the very worst offenders in foreclosure fraud and subprime fraud. It received more than $17 billion taxpayer bailout funds and has been investigated across the country for foreclosure fraud, robo-signing and student loan fraud. 
  • On top of Ally Bank's exclusive sponsorship of Planet Money, Davidson receives lucrative speaking fees for appearing at events funded by the same banks and financial companies he covers as a journalist. Davidson has yet to disclose his corporate clients and how much they pay him, but here is a partial list of Davidson's gigs from the last two years compiled from various publicly available sources:
 


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