Ken Silverstein

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This article is about the Harper's Magazine editor and contributor. For the business journalist, see Ken Silverstein (columnist).

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.[1] He resides in Washington, D.C.


Silverstein worked for the Los Angeles Times as an investigative reporter, for The Associated Press in Brazil, and has written for Mother Jones, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Slate, and Salon.[2]

Silverstein is a self-described "vole" in the newspaper business, and an opponent of what he considers "false 'balance'" in the news media.[2] 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.[3][4][5]

In December 2013, Silverstein was hired as senior investigative reporter by First Look Media.[6] In November 2014, Silverstein began writing for First Look's The Intercept and gained negative attention for an article on the hugely popular NPR featured podcast, Serial.[7][8] He and his writing partner, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, were widely criticized for alleged poor comprehension of the case facts, controversial editorializing and their failure to fact-check which later resulted in three corrections.[9][10][11][12] Various media outlets challenged their professionalism after they separately responded to the criticism with "defensive and, in many cases, snarky tweets".[11][13]

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 a 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."[14]



  • 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



  1. ^ "Signing Out". Harper's. Retrieved 2015-02-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Ken Silverstein". Harper's. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ "Ken Silverstein". PBS. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  4. ^ "In New Expose, Ken Silverstein Goes Undercover to Find Out What US Lobbyists Do For Dictators". Democracy Now. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  5. ^ Silverstein, Ken (2007-06-30). "Undercover, under fire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  6. ^ Hirsh, Michael (2015-02-27). "Where Journalism Goes to Die". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  7. ^ "'Serial' by This American Life (American Podcasts iTunes Chart)". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  8. ^ Lilah Raptopoulos. "This American Life's first spinoff podcast: 'I don't know where it will end' | Culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  9. ^ "Exclusive: Prosecutor in 'Serial' Case Goes on the Record". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  10. ^ "'Serial' Responds to Kevin Urick And 'The Intercept'". Hollywood Reporter. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  11. ^ a b Anna Silman (2015-01-11). "The Intercept is trolling Sarah Koenig: Why the site took such a weirdly antagonistic approach to "Serial"". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  12. ^ "'Serial' fires back at prosecutor's claims". New York Daily News. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  13. ^ Martin Austermuhle. "The Intercept's 'Serial' Trolling Is Mind-Boggling". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  14. ^ "Reporter Burns Every Bridge While Announcing He's Leaving First Look". 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2015-12-07. 

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