Mayer at the 2008 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas
|Born||1955 (age 58–59)
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Journalist and author|
|Alma mater||Yale University (B.A., 1977)|
|Spouse(s)||William B. Hamilton (1992–present); 1 child|
Jane Meredith Mayer (born 1955) is an American investigative journalist who has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1995. In recent years, she has written for that publication on money in politics, government prosecution of whistleblowers, and the United States Predator drone program.
Mayer was born in New York City. Her mother, Meredith (née Nevins), was a painter, former president of the Manhattan Graphics Center, and a printer. Her father, William Mayer, was a composer. Her paternal great-great-grandfather was Emanuel Lehman, one of the founders of Lehman Brothers, and her maternal grandparents were the historian Allan Nevins and Mary Fleming (Richardson). Allan Nevins, in several books about the Rockefeller family (including the authorized biography of John D. Rockefeller), held Rockefeller and similar figures up as heroes of American capitalism.
Mayer studied at Bedales School, at one time. She is a 1973 graduate of Fieldston. A 1977 graduate of Yale University, she was a campus stringer for Time magazine. She continued her studies at Oxford University.
Mayer began her journalistic career in Vermont, writing for two small weekly papers, The Weathersfield Weekly and The Black River Tribune, before moving to the daily paper, The Rutland Herald. After moving to Washington, D.C. as a metropolitan reporter for the now-defunct Washington Star, she joined The Wall Street Journal in 1982. She worked for it for 12 years, during which time she was named the newspaper's first female White House correspondent, and subsequently senior writer and front page editor.
She served as a war correspondent and foreign correspondent for the Journal, where she reported on the bombing of the American barracks in Beirut, the Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the last days of Communism in the former Soviet Union. She was nominated twice by the Journal for the Pulitzer Prize for feature-writing. Mayer also contributes to the New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and the American Prospect.
She has co-authored two books: Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas (1994) (co-authored with Jill Abramson), a study of the nomination and appointment of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court; and Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984–1988 (1989; co-authored with Doyle McManus), an account of Ronald Reagan's second term in the White House. Strange Justice was adapted as a Showtime television movie of the same name, starring Delroy Lindo, Mandy Patinkin and Regina Taylor.
Of Landslide, New York Times Washington correspondent Steven V. Roberts said, "This is clearly a reporter's book, full of rich anecdote and telling detail.... I am impressed with the amount of inside information collected here."
Marriage and family
Mayer married to William B. Hamilton, a former editor at The Washington Post and now an editor at the Politico website, in 1992. Hamilton's father was a foreign correspondent and U.N. bureau chief for The Times, and his grandfather was the editor and publisher of The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle and a member of the Democratic National Committee; the couple has one daughter.
The Dark Side
Mayer's third and latest nonfiction book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (2008), addresses the origins, legal justifications, and possible war crimes liability of the use of enhanced interrogation techniques (commonly considered torture) on detainees and the subsequent deaths of detainees under such interrogation by the CIA and DOD. The book was a finalist for the National Book Awards.
In its review of The Dark Side, The New York Times noted that the book is "the most vivid and comprehensive account we have so far of how a government founded on checks and balances and respect for individual rights could have been turned against those ideals." The Times subsequently named The Dark Side one of its notable books of the year.
"Her achievement," wrote reviewer Andrew J. Bacevich in The Washington Post, "lies less in bringing new revelations to light than in weaving into a comprehensive narrative a story revealed elsewhere in bits and pieces." Post reporter Joby Warrick reported that Mayer's book revealed that a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst warned the Bush administration that "up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake." The administration ignored the warning and insisted that all were enemy combatants.
In a story appearing the same day in The New York Times, reporter Scott Shane revealed that Mayer's book disclosed that Red Cross officials had concluded in a secret report in 2007 that "the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes."
Mayer said of her book: "I see myself more as a reporter than as an advocate."
Mayer covered the Obama Administration's prosecution of whistleblowers with an article about former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake. Despite Obama's campaign promises of transparency, Mayer wrote, his administration "has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness." She won the Polk Award for the article, and the judges said her article helped expose "prosecutorial excess" and "helped lead to all major charges against Drake being dropped.”
In 2009, Mayer covered the Obama Administration's use of drones. "The number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President", she wrote. Her article described errors, ethical concerns, and potential unintended consequences in the increased use of drone strikes.
Money in politics
For over a decade, Mayer has written about money in politics, covering both liberals and conservatives. In 1997, she wrote an article about "dubious Democratic Party fundraising tactics leading to the 1996 election." The article described how the Clinton campaign "marketed the prestige and glamour of the Presidency as never before."
In 2004, she wrote an article on George Soros and other activist billionaires who sought "to use their fortunes to engineer the defeat of President George W. Bush in the 2004 election." The article described Soros's "extreme measures" and how his "outsized financial role in the election" has "stirred alarm".
In 2010, Mayer published an article on the Koch brothers' "war against Obama," describing their funding of nonprofit organizations that sought to block liberal policy proposals and defeat Democratic candidates. The article was a finalist for the 2011 National Magazine Awards.
In 2011, Mayer reported on Art Pope's spending in North Carolina politics. Her article won a Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, and the judges called it "the kind of journalism that strengthens democracy and shows the value of a free press." The Chronicle of Higher Education was critical of the piece, saying the article was "a tendentious, poorly-researched, and weakly argued bit of journalism" and that "Pope never gets a fair shake." Mayer supplemented her article with a blog entry pointing out that, despite Pope's claims that he was "not an heir", his "political career was launched" by more than $300,000 from his parents.
The CIA and torture
On March 29, 2010, The New Yorker published Mayer's review of “Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack” (Regnery; $29.95), by Marc A. Thiessen, who defended CIA intelligence acquired using “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Her verdict was that “Thiessen is better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts.” Thiessen replied at the American Enterprise Institute website, claiming that the review was “replete with factual errors, contradictions, and straw men.” An exchange over the review took place between the libertarian blogger Conor Friedersdorf, and Thiessen.
Awards and honors
Mayer was awarded the 2008 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism for her investigative report leading to her book The Dark Side. The Award, presented annually by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is given to reporters for "distinguished cumulative accomplishments." In presenting the award, Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Journalism school and one of the nine members of the award committee, noted that Mayer and her fellow winner, Andrew C. Revkin (science reporter for The New York Times) "set the gold standard for journalists, and we have benefited tremendously from their dedication and hard work." She has also won the Ridenhour Book Prize and the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Mayer was a finalist in the National Magazine Awards for 2007 for her nonfiction piece in The New Yorker entitled The Black Sites, which was subsequently collected in The Best American Magazine Writing 2008, published by Columbia University Press and edited by Jacob Weisberg.
In 2008, Mayer was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in connection with her work on her third book, The Dark Side. In 2009 Mayer was awarded the Hillman Prize and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for The Dark Side.
Mayer was awarded the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting in 2011 for her investigative reporting on the United States Department of Justice prosecution of NSA whistleblower, Thomas Andrews Drake. Mayer's article in The New Yorker told the story of how Drake faced up to 35 years in federal prison for communicating non-classified information about an NSA surveillance program known as "Trailblazer" to Baltimore Sun reporter Siobahn Gorman, who wrote a prize-winning article about it.
Drake was originally arrested in an investigation of who had been the source for the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2005 New York Times report on warrantless wiretapping, although Thomas Tamm, not Drake or any other NSA employee was eventually revealed to have been the source for that story. After Mayer's story was published, all ten of the felony charges in Drake's original indictment were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of violating rules regarding the retention of classified materials.
In 2012, Mayer received the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting for her coverage of North Carolina state politics.
In 2006, Mayer and her husband William Hamilton were involved in a zoning dispute over a house next to theirs. Mayer, Hamilton, and other residents in the neighborhood complained that the house violated zoning ordinances. The owners of the house were ordered by the county to demolish or move the house in April 2006. The owners indicated that they would appeal the ruling.
Mayer has appeared as a guest on the Charlie Rose Show, as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. She was also a guest on the Bill Moyers Journal show on PBS in 2008, and appeared as a guest on PBS Tavis Smiley show on August 7, 2008, to discuss her book The Dark Side, which had just made the New York Times bestseller list. She appeared as a guest on the Comedy Central's Colbert Report on August 12, 2008.
On January 26, 2009, Mayer was interviewed at Yale Law School's Law and Media lecture series by Linda Greenhouse, Distinguished Journalist in Residence, and Emily Bazelon, Truman Capote Fellow in Creative Writing. In October 2008, Mayer participated in a panel discussion of journalists at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, devoted to the media's coverage of the Iraq War. That same month Mayer participated as a panelist in a discussion of the same subject at the Newseum in Washington, D.C..
Jane Mayer bibliography
- The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (2008); ISBN 0-385-52639-3
- With Doyle McManus, Landslide: The Unmaking of the President 1984–1988 (1989); ISBN 0-395-45185-X
- With Jill Abramson, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas (1994); ISBN 0-395-63318-4
- Jane Mayer, Contributor, The New Yorker
- "WEDDINGS; Jane M. Mayer, William Hamilton". The New York Times. September 27, 1992. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Jane Mayer." The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press, 2011. Gale Biography In Context, June 10, 2011.
- Jane Mayer profile at Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale (2011).
- Jane Mayer, Texas Book Festival website
- Journalism Awards, The Journalism School, Columbia University
- Strange Justice was excerpted in The Wall Street Journal, was the subject of an hour-long edition of ABC's Turning Point, and subsequent appearances on Ted Koppel's Nightline and Larry King Live.
- Lacayo, Richard (November 14, 1994). "The Unheard Witnesses". Time Magazine
- Barron, James (November 17, 1994). "Study of Death Wins a National Book Award". The New York Times.
- All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists, pg. 2
- "Yale Journalism Initiative to Offer Seminar with New York Times Managing Editor", Yale University Office of Public Affairs, October 24, 2006.
- Roberts, Steven V. (October 9, 1988). "An Emptiness in the Oval Office". The New York Times
- Jane M. Mayer, William Hamilton, The New York Times, September 27, 1992
- National Book Foundation, 2008 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction
- Jennifer, Schuessler (July 22, 2008). "A History of Abuse in the War on Terror". The New York Times.
- "100 Notable Books of 2008", New York Times, November 26, 2008.
- Andrew J. Bacevich, "Collateral Damage", The Washington Post, July 10 2008; accessed July 13, 2008.
- Joby Warrick, "A Blind Eye to Guantanamo?", The Washington Post, July 11, 2008; accessed July 12, 2008.
- Scott Shane, "Book Cites Secret Red Cross Report of C.I.A. Torture of Qaeda Captives", The New York Times, July 11, 2008; accessed August 30, 2013.
- "Writer Talks Torture", The Yale Daily News, January 27, 2009; accessed August 30, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, "The Secret Sharer", "The New Yorker", May 23, 2011.
- James Barron, "Posthumous Polk Award for Times Correspondent", The New York Times, February 19, 2012.
- Jane Mayer, "The Predator War", "The New Yorker", October 26, 2009.
- Jane Mayer."Inside the Money Machine", "The New Yorker", February 3, 1997.
- Jane Mayer. "The Money Man", The New Yorker, October 18, 2004.
- Jane Mayer, "Covert Operations", "The New Yorker", August 30, 2010.
- National Magazine Awards, 
- Jane Mayer, "State for Sale", "The New Yorker", October 10, 2011.
- Toner Prize
- [[Mark Bauerlein ]] (October 9, 2011). "Jane Mayer’s Poor Journalism". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Jane Mayer (October 10, 2011). "Art Pope and Individualism". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- Jane Mayer, "Schmooze or Lose", "The New Yorker", August 27, 2012.
- Jane Mayer (March 29, 2010). "Counterfactual: A curious history of the CIA's secret interrogation program". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- Marc A. Theissen (April 14, 2010). "Jane Mayer's Disaster". American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- Conor Friedersdorf (April 15, 2010). "Marc Thiessen vs. Jane Mayer, Cont’d". TrueSlant.com. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Marc Thiessen (April 14, 2010). "Jane Mayer's Defenders Chime In". National Review Online. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- John Chancellor Awards for Excellence in Journalism, The Journalism School, Columbia University
- "The Ridenhour Prizes - Fostering the spirit of courage and truth". April 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-12. (see also video at this site)
- "New Yorker Correspondent Jane Mayer and British Attorney Philippe Sands on Bush Administration Torture and How Obama Should Address It". Democracy Now!. May 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-12. (see also video at this site)
- Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 13 August 2007, "The Black Sites: A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program"
- The Best American Magazine Writing 2008, Columbia University Press
- Random House, Jane Mayer, Author Spotlight, Random House, Inc.
- John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Jane Mayer, 2008 General Nonfiction
- "J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project winners". Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- "The Hillman Prize Previous Honorees". The Sidney Hillman Foundation. 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Winners of the George Polk Awards; retrieved July 3, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_George_Polk_Award_winners
- Mayer, Jane (May 23, 2011). "The Secret Sharer". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- Gorman, Siobhan (May 16, 2006). "NSA rejected system that sifted phone data legally - Dropping of privacy safeguards after 9/11, turf battles blamed". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- Zetter, Kim (July 14, 2010). "NSA Executive Leaked After Official Reporting Process Failed Him". Wired Magazine. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- James Risen; Eric Lichtblau (April 15, 2009). "Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law". New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- "United States v Thomas A Drake. Criminal Indictment of Thomas A Drake", filed April 14, 2010, US District Court, District of Maryland, Northern Division. This is a PDF of the criminal indictment itself, provided via jdsupra.com, in an upload from Justia.com' retrieved March 14, 2013
- Gerstein, Josh (June 9, 2011). "Ex-NSA official takes plea deal". Retrieved March 14, 2013.
- Williams, Chris (12 April 2006). "Demolish home or move it, couple told". Gazette.Net. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
- Associated Authors (March 16, 2010). "Couple told to raze Chevy Chase home". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Guests: Jane Mayer, Charlie Rose, charlierose.com
- Jane Mayer, Guest, David Letterman show, Youtube.com
- Jane Mayer on Torture, Bill Moyers Journal, July 25, 2008, pbs.org
- Jane Mayer, Tavis Smiley Show
- Law and Media, Yale Law School
- "The Lessons of Our Failure", Nieman Watchdog, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University
- "The Harvard Medal Project for Journalistic Independence", I. F. Stone website
- "After Words," Book TV on C-SPAN2
- "Whitewater". 1996-04-30.
- "Geronimo Pratt". 1997-06-09.
- "Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s 'Extraordinary Rendition'". 2005-02-17.
- "The Black Sites: A Rare Look Inside the C.I.A.’s Secret Interrogation Program". 2007-08-08.
- "New Yorker Correspondent Jane Mayer and British Attorney Philippe Sands on Bush Administration Torture and How Obama Should Address It". 2009-05-20.
- Jane Mayer at The New Yorker