Steven Brill (journalist)

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Steven Brill in 2009

Steven Brill (born August 22, 1950)[1] is an American lawyer and journalist-entrepreneur who founded monthly magazine The American Lawyer. Brill's most recent reporting and book is concerned with healthcare costs.

Early life and education[edit]

Brill was born to a Jewish family[2] in Queens, New York. He is a graduate of Deerfield Academy, Yale College (B.A., 1972), and Yale Law School (J.D., 1975).[3]


In October 1978, Brill published his first book The Teamsters. In 1979, Brill launched The American Lawyer, a monthly magazine covering the business of law firms and lawyers across the U.S. and around the world. Among its early contributors were Jill Abramson and Jim Cramer. The magazine is well known for its surveys including the Am Law 100, an annual ranking of the top 100 U.S. law firms which it launched in 1986.[4] The magazine covered the meteoric rise and precipitous collapse of the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey in its September 1987 cover story. "Bye, Bye, Finley, Kumble" was written by Brill.[5]

In 1989, Brill founded Court TV (now TruTV) and the network launched on July 1, 1991.[6] Among its original anchors were Fred Graham, who was still at the network twenty years later, Cynthia McFadden, and Terry Moran, who later joined ABC News. The network was born out of two competing projects to launch cable channels with live courtroom proceedings, the American Trial Network from Time Warner and American Lawyer Media and In Court from Cablevision and NBC. Both projects were combined and presented at the National Cable Television Association in June 1990. Liberty Media joined the venture in 1991. Court TV featured continuous live trial coverage, with analysis by anchors. The network came into its own during the Menendez brothers' first trial and later the O.J. Simpson murder trial. In 1997, Brill resigned from the network.[7]

In June 1998, Brill launched Brill's Content, a media watchdog publication that ceased publication in fall 2001 (The Write News, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 1998)-v. 4, no. 6 (Fall 2001).[8] The magazine caused a stir in its very first issue with Brill's article titled "Pressgate" charging that independent counsel Ken Starr and his office had been the source of much of the information for reporters regarding the grand jury proceedings about the Lewinsky scandal and that as a result Starr may have violated federal law or ethical and prosecutorial guidelines.[9] The publication became less associated with Brill after its founding.[10]

In July 2000, Brill launched Contentville.[11] In 2001 Brill began teaching an advanced journalism course at Yale.[12] In November 2001 Brill signed on as a contributing editor for Newsweek.[13]

In April 2003, After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era was published. In October 2003, the America Prepared Campaign was launched. In the fall of 2003, Brill founded the company Clear, a subsidiary of Verified Identity Pass, Inc. It allowed travelers to get through airport security quickly with an annual subscription to the program and pre-screening. Brill left the company in March 2009; it went out of business at 11 p.m. PDT on June 22, 2009.[14]

In 2009, Brill, former Wall Street Journal executive Gordon Crovitz, and ex-cable television industry mogul Leo Hindery founded Journalism Online to help newspapers and magazines charge for online access.[15] The company was sold to RR Donnelley for a reported $45 million in March 2011.[16] However, Donnelley's subsequent 10-K filing reported the price at closing was $19.6 million with the possibility of an additional payment to co-CEOs Brill and Crovitz (who both stayed with the company after the sale to Donnelley) of $15.3 contingent upon meeting certain sales targets.[17] As of March 2013, more than 400 newspapers, magazines and online-only websites used JO's Press+ service to charge for digital content.[18]

In August 2011, Brill published Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools. It described the success of charter schools, using the Success Academy Charter Schools (then known as Harlem Success Academy) as an example, and profiled teacher Jessica Reid as a model of what could be done without union restrictions. He claimed that unions, particularly the United Federation of Teachers and UFT president Randi Weingarten in New York City, protected incompetent teachers, and were opposed to pay-for-performance, and obstructed necessary reforms,[19] a claim he had previously made in The New Yorker.[20] By the time Brill came to the end of the book, Reid had quit. The long hours and stress of her job, with nightly calls to parents, and constant prodding of students, were affecting her marriage.[19] Brill reversed his position on charter schools and unions. He said that after two years of researching school reform, he had a slightly better understanding of the complexities. He reversed his view of Weingarten, and proposed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoint her chancellor of the school system.[19]

In February 2013, Brill wrote Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us as a Time magazine cover story.[21][21][22] The investigation of billing practices revealed that hospitals and their executives are gaming the system to maximize revenue.[23] Brill claims patients receive bills that have little relationship to the care provided and that the free market in American medicine is a myth, with or without Obamacare.[24] The 24,000-plus word article took up the entire feature section of the magazine, the first time in the history of TIME.[25]

Time magazine's managing editor Rick Stengel wrote:

If the piece has a villain, it's something you've probably never heard of: the chargemaster, the mysterious internal price list for products and services that every hospital in the U.S. keeps. If the piece has a hero, it's an unlikely one: Medicare, the government program that by law can pay hospitals only the approximate costs of care.[22]

Brill later expanded the article into a book, America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, that came out on January 5, 2015. The book became a New York Times bestseller.[26]

Brill's latest work, "America’s Most Admired Law Breaker,"[27] is a 15-part serial documentary examining Johnson & Johnson's 20-year practice of illegally marketing a powerful drug, Risperdal, to children and the elderly, while concealing the side effects and earning billions of dollars in profit. It was published on September 15, 2015, on The Huffington Post Highline.

Personal life[edit]

Brill is married and has three children. He resides in New York City and Bedford, New York.[3]



  1. ^ "Steven Brill". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2005. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000012101 – via Fairfax County Public Library. (subscription required) Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^ Dershowitz, Alan (October 6, 2015). Abraham: The World's First (but Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer. Schocken. p. 129. ISBN 9780805242935. 
  3. ^ a b Palm eBook Store: Author: Steven Brill
  4. ^
  5. ^ {{|work=American Lawyer|author=Brill|date=1 September 1987}}
  6. ^
  7. ^ {{|url= |title=Brill Exits Court TV |author=Martin Peers |date=19 Feb 1997}}
  8. ^
  9. ^ Holmes, Steven A. (17 June 1998). "Battle Heats Up Over Article That Questioned Starr's Comments to Reporters". The New York Times. p. 28. 
  10. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (3 July 2000). "Steven Brill is keeping his hands off the content of Brill's Content". The New York Observer. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Listen Up Contentville – Authors Win Lawsuit in ForeWord
  12. ^ Template:Url= 03/l v.html
  13. ^ "Brill is born again as a Newsweek columnist". November 2001. 
  14. ^ Peter Kafka (22 June 2009). "Steve Brill's Clear Card Gets Grounded". 
  15. ^ |title: Media Executives Plan Online Service to Charge for Content|author=Richard Pérez-Peña|date=14 April 2009|url=
  16. ^ Staci D. Kramer (24 March 2011). "Price Tag For Journalism Online Could Go As High As $45 Million". 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c Nocera, Joe, Teaching With the Enemy, in The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2011.
  20. ^ Annals of Education: The Rubber Room: The battle over New York City's worst teachers. by Steven Brill, The New Yorker, August 31, 2009
  21. ^ a b Brill, Steven (2013-02-20). "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us". Time. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  22. ^ a b Stengel, Richard (2013-03-04). "The High Cost of Care". Time. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  23. ^ Trudy Lieberman (5 March 2013). "Brill's Big Breakthrough". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  24. ^ The Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart, February 21, 2013
  25. ^ Becker's Healthcare
  26. ^
  27. ^ Brill, Steven (2015). "America's Most Admired Lawbreaker". Highline. Huffington Post. 

External links[edit]