Ken Auletta

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Ken Auletta
Ken Auletta (3012259270).jpg
(CC) JD Lasica
Born (1942-04-23) April 23, 1942 (age 79)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupationwriter, journalist
Spouse(s)Amanda Urban

Kenneth B. Auletta (born April 23, 1942) is an American writer, journalist, and media critic for The New Yorker.

Early life and education[edit]

Auletta, the son of an Italian-American father and a Jewish-American mother, grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn, where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School.[1]

Auletta is a graduate of State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), and received his M.A. in political science from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.[2]

Writing career[edit]

Ken Auletta, center, in conversation with Amanda Urban and Nick Denton

While in graduate school, Auletta taught and trained Peace Corps volunteers. He worked in government and on several political campaigns, including Howard J. Samuels's two unsuccessful runs for Governor or New York, and Senator Robert Kennedy's 1968 run for President. He was also the first executive director of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation.

In 1974, Auletta became the chief political correspondent for the New York Post. Following that, he was a staff writer and weekly columnist for the Village Voice, and then a contributing editor at New York magazine. He started contributing to The New Yorker in 1977. Between 1977 and 1993, he also wrote a weekly political column for the New York Daily News and was a political commentator on WCBS-TV. In 1986, he earned the Gerald Loeb Award for Large Newspapers.[3] He was the guest editor of the 2002 edition of The Best Business Stories of the Year.

Auletta has written the "Annals of Communications" profiles for The New Yorker since 1992. His 2001 profile of Ted Turner, "The Lost Tycoon" won a National Magazine Award for Profile Writing.[4] He is the author of twelve books, his first being The Streets Were Paved With Gold (1979). His other books include The Underclass (1983), Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of The House of Lehman (1986), Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way (1991), The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway (1997), and World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies (2001). His book Backstory: Inside the Business of News (2003) is a collection of his columns from The New Yorker. Five of his first 11 books were national bestsellers, including "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It".

His twelfth book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (And Everything Else), was published in 2018. It described how advertising and marketing, with worldwide spending of up to $2 trillion, and without its subsidies most media, including Google and Facebook, would perish, was today a victim of disruption.

He is scheduled to publish his 13th book, a biography of Harvey Weinstein, early in the summer of 2022. The book will trace Weinstein's life from his childhood in Queens to prison, will explore the movies he was associated with and his talent, will give a first hand account of the jury trial that found him guilty, and will probe and try to answer why he became a sexual beast.[5]

Auletta was among the first to popularize the idea of the so-called "information superhighway" with his February 22, 1993, New Yorker profile of Barry Diller, in which he described how Diller used his Apple PowerBook to anticipate the advent of the Internet and our digital future. He has profiled the leading figures and companies of the Information Age, including Bill Gates, Reed Hastings, Sheryl Sandberg, Rupert Murdoch, John Malone, and the New York Times.

Auletta has been named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. He has won numerous journalism awards, and was selected as one of the twentieth century's top one hundred business journalists. He has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, and for four decades has been a judge of the annual national Livingston Award for young journalists. He has twice served as a board member of International PEN, and was a longtime trustee and member of the Executive Committee of The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival. Auletta is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Public Statements and Appearances[edit]

"The "Bad Blood" Podcast". Retrieved September 21, 2021. For two years, Elizabeth Holmes enjoyed the type of glowing media coverage most entrepreneurs can only dream of. But then she gave one interview too many — an interview with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta that planted the seeds of her downfall. Hosted by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal.

"The Weinstein Effect: Breaking the Stories That Spurred a Movement". Retrieved February 16, 2020. Auletta and Ronan Farrow discuss their individual attempts to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein and how reporters ultimately stood together in confronting one of the biggest stories in recent memory. Hosted by the Wallace House at the University of Michigan.

"The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow". Retrieved January 31, 2020. While the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were finally made public in October 2017, whispers of Weinstein’s alleged abuse go back decades. And so does the reporting on it. In this episode of his Catch and Kill podcast, Ronan Farrow looks at the small but dogged community of journalists who spent years trying to break the story open, including two who got tantalizingly close, The New Yorker's Ken Auletta and The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters. Taken together, their stories represent a decades-long, cross-country hunt for the hardest truth in Hollywood.

"Trump as Click Bait, a speech to The Society of the Silurians". Retrieved November 20, 2018. The Silurians Press Club, an organization of veteran journalists, honored Ken with their Lifetime Achievement Award on November 19, 2018, and Ken made these remarks accepting the award.

"A righteous man in the best sense, [Auletta] was intent, always, on ferreting out bullsh-- and injustice," David Remnick wrote in a "tribute to Auletta" (PDF). following his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Silurians Press Club. "He was also intent on explaining the complex in lucid terms, whether it was a web of corruption in city government, a budding technology that was bound to change our lives, or a structural inequity in civic and economic life."

"The Moment, with Brian Koppelman". Retrieved June 15, 2018. On his podcast, Brian Koppelman interviewed Auletta about why curiosity saved him, and his new book, Frenemies.

"Life Lessons". Retrieved June 10, 2010. On June 10, 2010, Auletta gave this Commencement Address at the Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan.

Personal life[edit]

Auletta lives in Manhattan with his wife Amanda "Binky" Urban, a literary agent. Their daughter, Kate Auletta, is an editor.

Portrayals in popular culture[edit]

He was satirized as "Ken Fellata" in The New Republic by Jacob Weisberg and future New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell.[6]



Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ Hechinger, Fred M. "About Education; Personal Touch Helps", The New York Times, January 1, 1980. Accessed September 20, 2009. "Lincoln, an ordinary, unselective New York City high school, is proud of a galaxy of prominent alumni, who include the playwright Arthur Miller, Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, the authors Joseph Heller and Ken Auletta, the producer Mel Brooks, the singer Neil Diamond and the songwriter Neil Sedaka."
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Auletta Wins Loeb Award". The New York Times. May 9, 1986. p. D9. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Winners and Finalists Database | ASME". Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  5. ^ Business Insider, "Biographer Ken Auletta, who failed to crack the Harvey Weinstein story in 2002, says he's done 100 interviews for his book on the disgraced mogul", June 9, 2019
  6. ^ The Auletta-Fellata vendetta, Variety, September 4, 1995
  7. ^ Online version is titled "The red-envelope revolution".
  8. ^ Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos.

External links[edit]