Browse Primary Sources

Subject is exactly Turkmenistan

"Is Undercover Over?" - Aaron Swartz - FAIR

"The piece on lobbyists, he and his editor insist, was not just done to investigate the particular lobbying firms, but to reawaken journalists to the power of undercover reporting. 'There was this meta level in the planning that asked, 'How will the journalism establishment react?'' Harper's editor Roger Hodge told a reporter (AJR, 10/07). "The fact that undercover journalism has fallen out of fashion seems to be a problem with the profession."

FAIR  2008-03-01

"Identity Crisis: Transcript" - Chris Bannon - On the Media

". . .After Silverstein's report appeared in the July Harper's, those firms and a few journalists criticized Silverstein's covert tactics, charging that he misrepresented himself to get a story.We reached Silverstein in his newsroom, where he said the criticism should be focused on the lobbying firms and on the many promises they made in their eagerness to revamp Turkmenistan's public image. Among those promises, carefully choreographed panel discussions. . ."

"Kurtz on Undercover Journalism: The horror!'" - Ken Silverstein - Harper's

". . .People should, of course, read the Kurtz column, read my piece, and come to their own conclusions, and as I have said before, those uncomfortable with my tactics are free to dismiss the story’s findings. Despite Kurtz’s concerns, most readers seem to understand why I went undercover. . ."

Harper's  2007-06-25

"Lobby Shops for Turkmenistan: Will Lie for Money" - Ken Silverstein - Harper's

". . .Both lobbying firms have complained that my tactics were “unethical.” Now APCO has issued a press release acknowledging that it met with the Maldon Group–the name of my fictitious energy firm–but saying that it was never actually interested in winning the contract to work for Turkmenistan. “If Silverstein had bothered to have even a second meeting or to further engage, he could have found out that he would not make the cut to become one of our clients,” the press release says. . ."

Harper's  2007-06-24

"A 'Grassroots' Anecdote" - Ken Silverstein - Harper's

". . .For now, though, let me share one story because the events in question took place long ago, and the source was not willing to provide the name of the lobbying firm involved, making it all but impossible to track down. He did, however, offer enough details that I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of his account. And the story, I think, gives some valuable insight into how lobby shops actually work. . ."

Harper's  2007-06-29

"The Beltway Press Needs a Good PR Firm" - Ken Silverstein - Harper's

". . .The response—in the form of blog posts, emails, and interview requests—was overwhelming, and almost entirely positive. A lot of people, it seems, just don’t approve of lobby shops that do image-enhancement work for dictators. But for some in the media—and especially beltway reporters—my piece prompted a moral crisis. They just couldn’t figure out whether it was worse for me to trick the lobbyists than for the lobbyists to have proposed a whitewash campaign for the Turkmen regime. . ."

Harper's  2007-07-02

"Statement on Harper's Magazine, Moyers Journal, SIlverstein's Ethics" - APCO Worldwide

". . .In violation of recognized journalistic priniciples, Silverstein neither asked us for comment nor gave us an opportunity to respond to his 'facts.' In addition, Silverstein appeared on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS and neither he, nor representatives of the program, contacted APCO for comment. Had they asked, we would have told them these facts . . ."

"Going Undercover to Get a Story" - The Carpetbagger Report

". . .In some circles, what Silverstein did was clearly unethical. In short, he misrepresented himself. “No matter how good the story,” Howard Kurtz wrote, “lying to get it raises as many questions about journalists as their subjects.” Kurtz was hardly alone; the DC media establishment has been less than shy about denouncing Silverstein’s tactics. . ."

"Journalism Ethics: A Wrap-up" - Ken Silverstein - Harper's

"Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post has faithfully parroted the talking points of the two lobbying firms I embarrassed in this month’s Harper’s, but APCO and Cassidy & Associates have had less luck with other journalists. The story exposed how the firms offered to polish the image of Stalinist Turkmenistan when I approached them, claiming to represent a shady energy firm that allegedly had a stake in that country’s natural gas sector. . ."

Harper's  2007-07-12

"Campaign Desk: Stingers from Our Past" - Joel Meares - CJR

". . . How exactly do we assess such a thing [undercover stings]? It’s not scientific. But Poynter’s Bob Steele has ventured in the past to provide a checklist of rather strict guidelines that must all be adhered to if deception is to be justified in journalism. These include: the information obtained being in the public interest; all alternative methods of obtaining the information being exhausted; the story being told fully; any harm prevented outweighing the harm caused by the deception; and all ethical and legal issues being closely considered. With those in mind, and the particulars of each case on hand, here’s our trip down an ethically murky memory lane. . . . "

Columbia Journalism Review  2011-03-10

"Stung by Harper's in a Web of Deceit" - Howard Kurtz - Washington Post

"Ken Silverstein says he lied, deceuved and fabricated to get the story. But it was worth it, he insists. Those on the receiving end don't agree. . ."

The Washington Post  2007-06-25

Poll: Bill Moyers' Journal on the Validity of Undercover Reporting

PBS  2007-06-01

"Lobbyists For Hire" – Leonard Lopate - The Leonard Lopate Show WNYC

Ken Silverstein of Harper's Magazine found out firsthand what U.S. lobbyists are willing to offer the leaders of oppressive regimes. His article in the July issue is "Their Men in Washington: Undercover with D.C.'s Lobbyists for Hire."

The Leonard Lopate Show  2009-11-05

"Undercover, Under Fire" - Ken Silverstein - Los Angeles Times

EARLIER THIS YEAR, I put on a brand-new tailored suit, picked up a sleek leather briefcase and headed to downtown Washington for meetings with some of the city's most prominent lobbyists. I had contacted their firms several weeks earlier, pretending to be the representative of a London-based energy company with business interests in Turkmenistan. I told them I wanted to hire the services of a firm to burnish that country's image.I didn't mention that Turkmenistan is run by an ugly, neo-Stalinist regime. They surely knew that, and besides, they didn't care. As I explained in this month's issue of Harper's Magazine, the lobbyists I met at Cassidy & Associates and APCO were more than eager to help out. In exchange for fees of up to $1.5 million a year, they offered to send congressional delegations to Turkmenistan and write and plant opinion pieces in newspapers under the names of academics and think-tank experts they would recruit. They even offered to set up supposedly "independent" media events in Washington that would promote Turkmenistan (the agenda and speakers would actually be determined by the lobbyists).   All this, Cassidy and APCO promised, could be done quietly and unobtrusively, because the law that regulates foreign lobbyists is so flimsy that the firms would be required to reveal little information in their public disclosure forms. Now, in a fabulous bit of irony, my article about the unethical behavior of lobbying firms has become, for some in the media, a story about my ethics in reporting the story. The lobbyists have attacked the story and me personally, saying that it was unethical of me to misrepresent myself when I went to speak to them.

Los Angeles Times  2007-06-30