A Conflict of Interest Lesson: The New York Observer’s Donald Trump Endorsement


Stipulated: Jared Kushner, who is married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and who owns the The New York Observer, which he purchased in 2006, was in a difficult situation regarding the New York Republican primary. (That’s Jared on the right in the photo above.)

He had a clear and unresolvable  conflict of interest. If his paper endorsed Trump, the endorsement would appear to be dictated by family loyalty rather than objective analysis, and would harm whatever credibility the paper has left (it has been falling in influence and quality for a long time). If The Observer endorsed anyone else, in addition to whatever problems it would cause Kushner behind closed doors (and they would undoubtedly be considerable), a rejection by a paper with such a strong Trump family connection would be interpreted as having special significance, and would be handing a potent weapon to Trump’s adversaries.

Kushner’s dilemma was made worse by the fact that for any newspaper to endorse Donald Trump for President without a conflict of interest that at least would explain such an idiotic position would be tantamount to an admission of collective insanity, instantly turning such a  paper into the successor of the late, lamented Weekly World News, which was prone to breaking scoops like this one:


Faced with these two mutually unacceptable alternatives, there was only one ethical, rational, responsible course that would acknowledge the conflict of interest without falling prey to it: endorse nobody, and explain why.

Nah! Continue reading

Mayor Bloomberg’s Off-shore Tax Havens: Legal, and Wrong

It has been revealed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s family foundation makes extensive use of off-shore tax havens and hedge funds in the Cayman Islands, avoiding U.S. taxes that other major foundations choose to pay. You know the Cayman Islands: that’s where the criminal law firm in John Grisham’s novel The Firm helped its Mafia clients hide their income. I’m not suggesting that Bloomberg is ripe for a takedown by Tom Cruise. I am suggesting that it looks terrible, and leaders have a duty to avoid looking terrible. Continue reading