Sep 4, 2009

Burying the lede, and everything else*, **

David Folkenflik had a fascinating and highly disturbing piece today on Morning Edition about a story written by reporter Scott Anderson for GQ that was buried so deep it's been scrubbed from the Internet. The story was entitled "Vladimir Putin's Dark Rise to Power." From NPR's web story:
[Anderson's] investigative piece, published in the September American edition of GQ, challenges the official line on a series of bombings that killed hundreds of people in 1999 in Russia. It profiles a former KGB agent who spoke in great detail and on the record, at no small risk to himself. But instead of trumpeting his reporting, GQ's corporate owners went to extraordinary lengths to try to ensure no Russians will ever see it.
The corporate owners don't seem to have any concerns over the accuracy of the story or with Anderson's safety. An email from Jerry S. Birenz, a lawyer for Conde Nast, the corporate owner of GQ, indicates financial motives were at play:
[Birenz] ordered that the article could not be posted to the magazine's Web site. No copies of the American edition of the magazine could be sent to Russia or shown in any country to Russian government officials, journalists or advertisers. Additionally, the piece could not be published in other Conde Nast magazines abroad, nor publicized in any way.

It wasn't just that there was no reference to Anderson's piece on the cover of this month's GQ, which featured a picture of Michael Jackson, a reference to tennis star Andy Roddick's wife and a ranking of obnoxious colleges and top drinking cities. At this writing, I cannot find any reference to Anderson's piece on the Internet.
Listen to the Morning Edition piece here.

*Update: Gawker is working on a Russian translation of the GQ story. The site has also scanned the article from the magazine for anyone who wants to read it.

**Update II: The New York Times picks up the story.

1 comment:

Edward Barrera said...

Stupid, stupid, stupid. They would have been better off just killing the piece.