I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting with delicious anticipation to see what Fumento’s defence would be after he got fired by Scripps-Howard. Fumento does not disappoint. Why did he not disclose that Monsanto had paid him $60,000 to write a book about biotechnology? Fumento says:
I had called numerous scientists who had helped me to ask how they would like to be acknowledged and one at Monsanto said he’d prefer that both he and the company be left out.
I could have ignored his wishes. But notwithstanding that I live in the backstabbing capital of the world, I kept my knife sheathed. Monsanto had helped me where others would not. I simply referred in my acknowledgments to “others who wish to remain anonymous.” Further, acknowledgments are not full disclosure forms; they are personal. Read some.
So there you go. As long as you choose not to fill out a disclosure form you don’t have to disclose that Monsanto funded your book about biotechnology.
I also really liked Fumento’s big John Paul Jones finish:
If all this sounds insane, remember there really was a time when harmless old biddies went up in flames simply because a neighbor wanted their land or livestock. But I’m no ash heap. The environmentalist THINK they’ve shut me up. Wrong. I have not yet begun to write.
Anyway, one of Fumento’s endearing qualities is the way he unites both sides of blogspace: James Wolcott:
Michael Fumento, last seen flailing his arms and falling backwards against a rear-projection screen like Martin Balsam in Psycho, lands intact at the bottom of the stairs and, after rubbing his sore parts, makes a manly fist and vows defiance. The latest victim of the pundit-payola scandal that has chipped the fine reputations of such intellectual giants as Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Doug Bandow, Fumento rages as a righteous man unjustly accused, the victim of environmentalist foes cloaking their identities under druid robes and skulking the malevolent night.
Disgraced conservative columnist (and frequent biotech-booster) Michael Fumento — recently canned by Scripps Howard News Service after revelations that he accepted grants from Monsanto, which he never disclosed to his readers or to Scripps — says he’s the target of a “witch hunt” run by [ominous music] the greeeens.
Cathy Seipp (warning: alarming picture of Fumento):
I have no sympathy for syndicated opinion columnists Doug Bandow, formerly of the Cato Institute and Copley News Service, or Michael Fumento, as of this writing still with the Hudson Institute but no longer with Scripps Howard. Fumento has long been suspected of accepting money from corporations he so admiringly opines about in his better-living-through-chemistry pieces, and now we all know for sure.
Even Tim Blair seems to agree with me.
Update: Over at SayUncle’s Fumento has another go:
Thanks for the mention, but regarding full exclosure I have seen similar words elsewhere and it belies ignorance (I mean that literally, not as in “stupidity”) of both how think tanks work and how the rules worked prior to the new ones invented by Business Week’s Eamon Javers. Think tanks make their money by soliciting donations. They can be from the government, individuals, philanthropies, or corporations. They usually expect the fellows (the thinkers) to take an active role in this. Money comes into the think tank, part goes to overhead, part to building the endowment, and part to the fellow in the form of salary, benefits, and paperclips and note pads. This was no different. The money went to Hudson, which pays my salary. But precisely because I have been able to raise NO corporate donations in 4-5 years, Hudson has been paying me out of overhead. So in a real sense I’m drawing from grants I know not which. “Full disclosure” sounds great, like “Can’t we all get along.” But for the most part it’s inpracticable. That’s why you can read 100 columns and op-eds in a week, many from think tankers, and never see a full disclosure statement. This rule was made up on-the-spot to apply to me. I could go on about how the grant was solicited for a book in 1999 and spent by 2000 and that I didn’t even begin my column with Scripps until 2003, which does raise the point of: Just HOW LONG do you have to disclose these things. But I think the point is made.
Ah, so it was “impracticable” for Fumento to disclose in his book that Monsanto had paid for it. The book was completely full of words and it was impossible to squeeze in another sentence or to remove one to make room. Got it.