Ken Silverstein is an American journalist who, in September 2010, left his position as Washington editor and blogger at Harper's Magazine, but remained a contributing editor. He resides in Washington, D.C.
He is a self-described "vole" in the newspaper business, and an opponent of what he considers "false 'balance'" in the news media. In 1993, Silverstein started CounterPunch, a political newsletter. Silverstein left this publication in 1996.
He drew attention in 2007 for a report in which he went undercover as part of an investment group with business interests in Turkmenistan, raising questions about journalistic ethics. Silverstein said that he could not have exposed the willingness of the companies to work with a Stalinist dictatorship using conventional journalism methods.
In December 2013, Silverstein was hired as senior investigative reporter by First Look Media. In November 2014, Silverstein began writing for First Look's The Intercept. There, Silverstein sparked some controversy for an article critical of the popular NPR podcast, Serial.
In 2011 Silverstein wrote an article for Salon falsely claiming that Eli Lake's reporting on Georgia was biased because pro-Georgian lobbyists had paid for his meals and drinks in the past. This report was widely derided by journalists on Twitter and rebutted by Ben Smith on Politico. Silverstein implies that Lake’s relationship with these lobbyists influenced his original report of a bomb blast near the U.S. Embassy in Tblisi. That story was confirmed by The New York Times. Both pieces come to the same conclusion that a Russian military intelligence officer was implicated by Georgian and U.S. authorities in the bombing. Lake has publicly stated he has always paid his tab whenever meeting with Georgian sources.
In February 2015, Silverstein announced his resignation from The Intercept in a series of Facebook posts calling his former employers a "pathetic joke." Expressing anger and disillusionment towards the company, Silverstein stated, "I am one of many employees who was hired under what were essentially false pretenses; we were told we would be given all the financial and other support we needed to do independent, important journalism, but instead found ourselves blocked at every step of the way by management's incompetence and bad faith."
Silverstein launched the website Washington Babylon in 2016, for which he is editor-in-chief. The site is named after his previous column at Harper's and the 1996 book he co-wrote with journalist Alexander Cockburn. Silverstein said his goal for Washington Babylon is "to cover DC politicians and journalists like Hollywood celebrities — not the way they are worshiped by our current media masters."
- Washington Babylon, Verso Books, 1996 (co-authored with Alexander Cockburn)
- Private Warriors, Verso Books, 2000
- Washington on $10 Million A Day: How Lobbyists Plunder the Nation, Common Courage Press, 2002
- The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor, Random House, 2004
- Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship, Random House, 2008
- The Secret World of Oil, Verso, 2014
- "Signing Out". Harper's. Retrieved 2015-02-15.
- "Ken Silverstein". Harper's. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Silverstein, Ken (29 September 2010). "Signing Out". Harper's. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
- "Ken Silverstein". PBS. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- "In New Expose, Ken Silverstein Goes Undercover to Find Out What US Lobbyists Do For Dictators". Democracy Now. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Silverstein, Ken (2007-06-30). "Undercover, under fire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- Hirsh, Michael (2015-02-27). "Where Journalism Goes to Die". Politico.com. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- Anna Silman (2015-01-11). "The Intercept is trolling Sarah Koenig: Why the site took such a weirdly antagonistic approach to "Serial"". Salon.com. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "'Serial' Responds to Kevin Urick And 'The Intercept'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "'Serial' fires back at prosecutor's claims". New York Daily News. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "Reporter Burns Every Bridge While Announcing He's Leaving First Look". Mediaite.com. 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "Washington Babylon (@DCBabylon1) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
- "About". Washington Babylon. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
- Washington Babylon, Ken Silverstein's website
- Washington Babylon, Ken Silverstein's former blog at Harper's Magazine
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Ken Silverstein: Arizona is Laboratory for Radical GOP Policies - video report by Democracy Now!, democracynow.org; July 15, 2010.