Edwin Black's scrutiny of the powerful is a career pattern





Investigative author and reporter Edwin Black is zero for 40 and proud of it. That’s 40 years of writing about corporate greed, genocide, academic fraud, philanthropic abuse, and other delicate topics without a single retraction, error or threat of litigation.

Google “Edwin Black errors” or “Edwin Black sued” if you don’t believe him. Go ahead … the author of a half-dozen non-fiction books and numerous articles and essays says he has nothing to hide, unlike the powerful people and corporations he writes about. Ask Black to back up an assertion from one of his books with hard evidence, and he’ll instantly retrieve a document out of an intricately organized footnote file.

Black, 59, who will be in Cleveland early next week as part of a multi-city tour (details, p. 11), has had his exhaustive research techniques tested many times. Perhaps the most well-known challenge to his work came in response to his book IBM and the Holocaust, which documents the strategic relationship between the corporation and Hitler’s Third Reich. The author asserts that IBM developed custom-made data processing programs to facilitate the identification and roundup of millions of Jews and maintained a bureau at Auschwitz. When challenged to prove this claim, he was able to produce the Auschwitz camp telephone book with IBM’s manager and number listed.

Black has taken on many other controversial topics. In Internal Combustion, he writes about a massive criminal conspiracy perpetrated by General Motors to undermine local mass transit in dozens of cities across the U.S. In his four-part investigative piece for JTA entitled “Funding Hate,” Black states that the multi-billion dollar philanthropy Ford Foundation was a leading bankroller of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate overseas. And his article “Eugenics and the Nazis” reports how The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

The author, a native of Chicago who now lives in Washington, D.C., keeps a mountain of physical evidence filed away at his 1,500 square-foot home office. Every document is subjected to a team of rigorous fact checkers. Internal Combustion contains more than 1,500 footnotes alone.
“I document defensively,” remarks Black. Only by “instantaneous rebuttal with unshakeable facts” can he defeat those who would challenge or spin his efforts, he contends.

This near-obsessive diligence extends to his personal life. Black does not have a blog; nor does he use social utilities such as Twitter or Facebook. He does not want random, unsubstantiated comments floating through cyberspace.

“I only say what I know and what I can verify,” Black explains. “My role is to uncover the truth. I find justice in an unjust world, where truth is a weapon.”

Black’s relentless method of investigative journalism is more than a professional attribute – it is a veritable lifestyle, he notes. It’s even gotten to the point where Black’s reputation precedes him...

comments powered by Disqus
History News Network