The Caroline Werner Gannett Project 2007-08
David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, author, distinguished lecturer and partner with WXXI in a new series, How Did We Get Here?


“A Path Back to Prosperity for America”

When: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 8:00PM
Where: Ingle Auditorium (Student Alumni Union)

David Cay Johnston is an investigative journalist, author, radio and television essayist and lecturer. Until April 2008, he was the tax reporter with The New York Times. On June 23, 2008 Johnston inaugurated “Johnston’s Take,” a regular column that he writes for Tax Analysts, the nonprofit publisher of the weekly trade journal Tax Notes. On Aug. 3, 2009, he started the monthly "By the Numbers” column for The Nation. Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Syracuse University College of Law, Johnston teaches the course History of the Regulation of Trade and Business.

Johnston is the author of best-selling books on tax and economic policy, most recently Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill, about hidden subsidies, rigged markets, and corporate socialism. It follows his earlier book Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else, a New York Times bestseller on the U.S. tax system that won the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2003 Book of the Year award. Johnston's first book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business discusses corruption in the casino industry and the role of the U.S. government in that corruption.

Johnston has been critical of news media coverage of the 2008 $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. In a letter to American journalist and blogger Jim Romenesko, Johnston wrote, "In covering the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street don't repeat the failed lapdog practices that so damaged our reputations in the rush to war in Iraq and the adoption of the Patriot Act. Don't assume that Congress must act instantly, as so many news stories state as if it was an immutable fact. Don't assume there is a case just because officials say there is." Johnston has been cited favorably by Glenn Greenwald, as well as other bailout critics. On September 26, 2008 Johnston said: "If you look around, you'll notice that banks are still making ordinary loans to ordinary businesses. Your mailbox is still full of proposals to sell you credit cards and extend you debt. The Internet still has ads for these very toxic mortgages that are at the heart of this. They're being advertised all over the Internet."..." And my point is not to argue that there is or is not a crisis, but that journalists need to begin not by questioning around the edges but by going to the core question. Is this the least expensive way to do this? Are there market solutions that might be applied?"
Johnston received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting for his "penetrating and enterprising reporting that exposed loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code, which was instrumental in bringing about reforms." He was a finalist in 2003 for his “stories that displayed exquisite command of complicated U.S. tax laws and of how corporations and individuals twist them to their advantage." He was also a finalist in 2000 "for his lucid coverage of problems resulting from the reorganization of the Internal Revenue Service."

Johnston has investigated Los Angeles Police Department political spying and other abuses, Barron Hilton, misuse of charitable funds at United Way, news manipulation at WJIM-TV, and Donald Trump’s net worth. He once hunted down a killer whom the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department failed to catch, resulting in an innocent man winning acquittal at his fifth trial.

In 1968, at age 19, Johnston began his career at the San Jose Mercury News. In 1973 he left the Mercury News to study at the University of Chicago under a five-month fellowship. He then took a position as an investigative reporter at the Detroit Free Press in its Lansing bureau from 1973 to 1976, and later worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times from 1976 to 1988. Johnston then worked as a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 to 1995. He joined The New York Times in February 1995. Johnston has won praise for his writings even though he has no formal education or training in economics. Johnston studied economics at the University of Chicago graduate school and at six other colleges, earning six years of college credits but no degree because he took upper level and graduate level courses almost exclusively.

Johnston is a founder and board chairman of American Family Resort Hotels, a small lodging management company run by his oldest son.
Portions of this biography were sourced from Wikipedia.

Talk Description:
A subtle bias in orthodox economic theory explains why individuals, businesses and governments have become mired in debt, why 15 million people have no work, and why income tax cuts are making us poorer, not richer as promised. In plain English, the untold story of how neoclassical economics favors the few and how a return to classical economics would enrich us all.

Links: Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else  Free Lunch