The assault on Andrew Sullivan regarding his Web site's sponsorship would be amusing if it were not so destructive.
This appeal to concerns about the "appearance" of a conflict of interest represents a modern misuse of ethics laws. Normally, the response to complaints about conflicts of interest is disclosure. Sullivan disclosed everything, which is the only reason why he was even getting flak. When Time writes about AOL, they disclose their relationship, and that's generally seen as enough.
In an age in which most media outlets are owned by huge conglomerates with countless undisclosed interests, virtually no traditional media outlet could meet the standard that has been set for Sullivan. I suspect that it's the fear of competition on the part of such traditional media that has led to the assaults on Sullivan.
-- Glenn H. Reynolds
It's amazing to me that Salon is willing to pat itself on the back for exposing Andrew Sullivan's financial hypocrisy, yet bends over backward (see Joan Walsh's and Chris Rothman's apologias) to excuse his journalistic hypocrisy.
Sullivan gets caught (literally) with his pants down, practicing exactly those "irresponsible behaviors" he has railed against the gay community for indulging in for years, and Salon writers make excuses. But let him take money from the pharmaceutical industry (no surprise to anyone, he's been shilling for them for years), and that makes him a bad boy? Puhleeze! What's amazing to the rest of us is that Sullivan is still taken seriously as a journalist by anyone.
-- Ayah Setel
It's something of an art form, making a personal attack seem like an objective piece of reporting, and it's comforting to know that Salon is working hard to perfect this technique. I consider myself a liberal and a Democrat, but I am a regular reader of andrewsullivan.com because of its clarity, wit and passion. I disagree with some of Sullivan's positions, but I respect his integrity, which Salon seeks to malign.
I was particularly offended by Daryl Lindsey's characterization of Sullivan's "open bias" in favor of the drug companies. The word "bias" implies favoritism, irrationality and corruption, precluding the possibility that Sullivan's support of drug companies may arise out of reasoned deliberation. Would you also characterize Sullivan's position in favor of homosexual rights as a bias? I think not.
I'm sure that Mr. Lindsey would be offended if anyone were to suggest that his apparent opposition to Andrew Sullivan's behavior represents a bias. On the other hand, maybe that wouldn't be such an unfair accusation after all.
-- Zach Schauf
OK, let me see what Daryl Lindsey and others are apoplectic over. We have Andrew Sullivan, a columnist and talking head, biased by definition. He writes for the New Republic (longtime member of the pundit class) and the New York Times Magazine (a section of a newspaper no one seriously believes covers the news objectively). Through his Web site, where he writes pieces favorable to the drug industry, he decides to take ad money from that same industry's lobbying arm.
Note now that we are talking about an opinion-maker taking money, even if it's just to maintain his Web site, from an industry group whose beliefs dovetail with his own. Since he is a columnist and not a beat reporter, the only ethical issue at hand is whether he should alert readers to his affiliation with this group, something that would have been done by both TNR and the Times in any case. Which makes me wonder why all the hubbub. Is it because of Sullivan's ethics? Or is it his politics?
-- RiShawn Biddle
Does Daryl Lindsey or Salon really think Andrew Sullivan has spent months pimping for the pharmaceutical industry in the hopes of obtaining a whopping $7,500? Perhaps you think this princely sum will color his future thinking? I knew times were tough at Salon these days, but please, give me a break.
-- Pat Cleary
Markets should flock to andrewsullivan.com because it appears he is in the business of manufacturing more candidates for the drugs his site advertises. I mean, a place that defends the right of people to engage in risky sexual practices that transmit the very virus the drugs are built to fight seems a logical choice to me.
Why support media outlets that view transmission of HIV as a problem?
-- Mike Trovato
I do not find Lindsey's arguments persuasive. As a reader of both Salon and Andrew Sullivan, I believe Sullivan's claim that he did not solicit or know about the pharmaceutical sponsorship. He has approached the subject squarely and dealt with it in a rational manner. I do not see any change in Sullivan's style whether he has the PhRMA sponsorship or not. PhRMA has the option of withdrawing its support at any time and I do not think it would make any difference to Sullivan.
-- Alex Lukshin