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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter & Author
David Cay Johnston, long one of America's top investigative reporters, engages audiences with his tales of the people who are reshaping our economy and his simple explanations of how government taps your pocketbook. Read More >
Johnston joined The New York Times in 1995 and in 2001 won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US tax code. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer three other times since 2000. His book Free Lunch reveals government policies that subtly take from the many to enrich the few, including Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, George Steinbrenner, and the Walton, Hilton, and Cabela families. Free Lunch also shows how government policy leaves college graduates drowning in debt, while lenders make triple the profits of commercial banks. Further, he exposes hidden subsidies to General Electric, Tyco, Honeywell, and other major companies that help criminals get away.
His best-selling book Perfectly Legal was chosen Book of the Year in 2004 by his peers at Investigative Reporters and Editors. Perfectly Legal is used as a text on campuses from Harvard to the University of Southern California, and Congress has enacted five laws addressing abuses exposed in Perfectly Legal. His work prompted the only major tax policy change by President Bush, who dropped a stealth plan to give a quarter trillion dollar tax cut to the richest Americans. Johnston also revealed how the very highest income Americans received a much bigger tax cut under President Clinton than from all of the Bush tax cuts combined. In 1992, Johnston wrote Temples of Chance, accurately predicting the spread of legalized gambling and how regulation would protect casino owners rather than gamblers.
His newest book is The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind, which explores how huge corporations hide stipulations in almost every contract—often with government permission.
During 12 years at The Los Angeles Times, Johnston was the first reporter to seriously examine the Los Angeles Police Department, exposing its brutality, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness. He once hunted down a murderer, winning freedom for an innocent man who was tried five times for the crime. While at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he broke the story that Donald Trump had a negative net worth.
Johnston began his journalism career at 17 in Santa Cruz, California. By age 19, he was a staff writer at The San Jose Mercury, where he covered anti-war radicals, black politics, and land development. As an investigative reporter at The Detroit Free Press, his reporting on news blackouts and manipulations resulted in government forcing out the owners of six television and radio broadcast stations.
Johnston lectures on topics such as how Enron and other large corporations got away with not paying taxes and how government policy helps the well-connected benefit at your expense. Read Less ^
The Fairness of Government Subsidies
"David is a very articulate, knowledge-filled presenter who energetically delivers his message. His ability to recall statistics without detailed notes is impressive. His honest views are based on facts and Washington realities. I found David's book, Perfectly Legal, informative and insightful. He has a terrific personality, and I enjoyed chatting with him. He's a brilliant person. Thanks again for making it possible for David to be with our Filene members."
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