On this episode of Unsupervised Learning, Razib talks to journalist Lee Fang. Formerly an investigative reporter at The Intercept and a contributing writer at The Nation, Fang began his journalism career at ThinkProgress. As an undergraduate, Fang was president of the University of Maryland College Democrats, and interned for Democratic representatives Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Steny Hoyer. He was also the first intern for the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Today Fang publishes his findings on his eponymous Substack.
Razib asks Fang what it’s like to do investigative journalism without institutional support. A common assertion in relation to the decline of the mainstream media is that only organizations with deep pockets and long time horizons can fund such work, but Fang has already exposed Pierre Omidyar’s support for defunding the police while personally investing in private security companies, discovered that a major California diversity consultant was defrauding the state and found that tech companies put in mass applications for lower-paid H1-B hires after mass layoffs of mostly Americans. Fang attests to there being a surfeit of public documents there for the taking; what's needed is just the will and determination to dig.
Razib and Fang also discuss what it’s like to start out in progressive journalism, but now find yourself in an ideological space without a clear partisan valence. Though Fang clearly comes out of the Left, some of his findings, like that Pfizer funded lobbying groups who pushed vaccine mandates, are now more palatable to the Right. He is also unafraid to take on establishment progressive pundits, like Mehdi Hassan, whom Fang systematically exposed as having a history of engaging in personal attacks based on accusations of racism as well as engaging in plagiarism.