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Secret Sharers: The Hidden Ties Between Private Spies and Journalists

Mr. Simpson loved holding court with reporters, regaling them with war stories and presenting himself as a journalistic wise man. At a conference of investigative journalists in 2016, he said he and Mr. Fritsch had started Fusion to continue their work as reporters who righted wrongs.

“I like to call it journalism for rent,” he said.

Fusion GPS, like its competitors, belonged to a wider web of enablers — lawyers, public relations executives and “crisis management” consultants — who serve the wealthy, the powerful and the controversial. For their part, private intelligence firms take on jobs that others don’t know how to do or don’t want to get caught doing.

Information gathered by private investigators is often laundered through public relations firms, which then shop the material to journalists. Jules Kroll, who created the modern-day private intelligence industry in the 1970s, broke that mold by leaking information directly to reporters. Mr. Simpson took it a step further. He sold Fusion GPS to clients by emphasizing his connections at major media outlets and assured journalists that he was really still one of them.

“People who have never been a reporter don’t understand the challenges of printing what you know, right, because you can’t just say what you know — you have to say how you know, and you have to prove it,” Mr. Simpson remarked at the 2016 conference. “When you’re a spy, you really don’t have to get into a lot of that stuff.”

Fusion GPS also mined a field that other private intelligence firms avoided — political opposition research. And when Mr. Trump emerged in 2016 as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired Fusion to dig into ties between Mr. Trump and Russia.

In the fall of 2016, Fusion GPS invited selected reporters from The Times, The New Yorker and other news organizations to meet Mr. Steele in Washington and receive briefings on what he had uncovered about the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. As is often the case in the world of private intelligence, the meetings came with a catch: If news organizations wrote about the dossier, they had to agree not to disclose that Fusion GPS and the former British agent were the sources of the material.

Mr. Steele was described to journalists as having played a pivotal role in breaking huge cases, including the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former K.G.B. agent, and the F.B.I.’s investigation into bribery at FIFA, soccer’s governing body. And when speaking about Mr. Trump and Russia, he came across as calm, understated and confident, according to reporters who attended the meetings.

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Leslie Moonves Receives Nothing From CBS Exit Package

Leslie Moonves, who led CBS as chief executive for 15 years before he was ousted in 2018, will receive nothing from the $120 million the company had set aside in a potential severance package, according to a federal filing on Friday.

Mr. Moonves left CBS on Sept. 9, 2018, after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, allegations that appeared in two articles in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow. Mr. Moonves has denied the allegations.

That October, as part of a separation agreement, the CBS Corporation board placed $120 million in a so-called grantor trust. That money would go to Mr. Moonves if the company found that there had been no grounds to fire him under his contract.

In December 2018, the board said it had determined that Mr. Moonves was indeed fired for cause, citing “willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract” in a statement at the time. Mr. Moonves disputed that finding and started arbitration proceedings concerning the possible exit package in January 2019.

it said.

The filing came from ViacomCBS. Mr. Moonves’s previous employer merged with a sibling company, Viacom, in December 2019, after protracted negotiations. Mr. Moonves adamantly opposed the merger plan when he was at the helm of CBS.

“The disputes between Mr. Moonves and CBS have now been resolved,” ViacomCBS said in a statement on Friday. It added that the company and Mr. Moonves would have no further comment on the matter.

Mr. Moonves, 71, was one of the most prominent figures to be toppled by the #MeToo movement. Other powerful men in the media and entertainment businesses whose careers came to an end after they were accused of sexual misconduct included the Fox News chief executive Roger E. Ailes and the film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Ailes died in 2017, months after leaving the network he had helped create, and Mr. Weinstein fell from power in 2017 and was sentenced last year to 23 years in prison for sex crimes against six women.

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Ole Anthony, Scourge of Televangelists, Dies at 82

Ole (pronounced O-lee) Edward Anthony was born on Oct. 3, 1938, in Saint Peter, Minn., about 70 miles southwest of Minneapolis. He grew up in Wickenburg, Ariz., a town 60 miles northwest of Phoenix that once billed itself as the “dude ranch capital of the world.” His father, Rudolph Anthony, left his family soon after the move, and Ole and his sister, Sandra, were raised by their mother, Edna (Norell) Anthony, a nurse who ran a retirement home.

Mr. Anthony’s sister died in 2019. He had no immediate survivors.

His childhood, he said, was marked by drug abuse and crime, both petty and felonious — at one point he and a friend set fire to a 40-foot-tall wooden cross outside Wickenburg. He joined the Air Force in 1956 after being offered the choice of military service or prison.

Mr. Anthony was trained in electronics, and in 1958 he was sent to an island in the South Pacific, where he was supposed to watch a small nuclear test many miles away. But the explosion was much larger than expected, and the radiation left him with scores of knobby tumors throughout his body.

He left the military in 1959 and took a job with Teledyne, a defense contractor. In a 2004 profile in The New Yorker, he told the journalist Burkhard Bilger that he had continued his work for the Air Force, sneaking behind the iron and bamboo curtains to install long-range sensors to detect Chinese and Soviet nuclear tests, though a later investigation by The Dallas Observer, a weekly newspaper, called that claim into question.

Credit…via Trinity Foundation

Mr. Anthony moved to Dallas in 1962 and became involved in Republican politics, working on campaigns and, in 1968, narrowly losing a race for the State Legislature. He was, by his own account, living large, with a luxury high-rise apartment, a $70,000 annual salary (about $550,000 today) and a rotating series of girlfriends.

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Alber Elbaz, Beloved Fashion Designer, Is Dead at 59

Alber Elbaz, a Moroccan-born Israeli fashion designer who rejuvenated Lanvin and had recently launched his own venture, AZ Factory, died on Saturday in Paris. He was 59.

Richemont, the company backing Mr. Elbaz’s project, confirmed the death on Sunday. A spokeswoman for Richemont said the cause was Covid-19.

“Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures,” Richemont’s chairman, Johann Rupert, said in a statement. “I was always taken by his intelligence, sensitivity, generosity and unbridled creativity.”

“You made us dream, you made us think, and now you fly,” AZ Factory wrote on its website. “Love, trust and respect, always. ❤️ Alber, We Love you Forever.”

launched AZ Factory after a five-year hiatus following his abrupt firing from Lanvin, where he was fashion director from 2001 to 2015. During 14 years there, he turned Lanvin, the oldest surviving but dusty French fashion house, into a more modern and prominent brand whose creations were worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Pharell Williams, Natalie Portman and Harry Styles.

A beloved designer, Mr. Elbaz repeatedly said that for the elegance and extravagance he brought to his creations, he tried to remain simple in private. He once compared the job of a designer to a concierge’s in a fancy Manhattan hotel.

“You have to go back to nothing in order to maintain the dream,” Mr. Elbaz told The New Yorker in 2009.

Starting his new brand, he said, was like giving birth.

“My hormones are burning,” Mr. Elbaz told The New York Times in January. “I’m so itchy. I cry and laugh within seconds.”

Elizabeth Paton contributed reporting.

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More Companies Are Standing Up for Civil Rights

Andrew here. Yesterday’s guilty verdict against George Floyd’s murderer, a former Minneapolis police officer, was a symbol of something profound: a demonstrable shift in the way this country, increasingly supported by business, has strived for civil rights.

As we ponder the meaning of this decision, it is worth recalling a moment in 1965, in the middle of that era’s civil rights movement.

A Wall Street bond firm, C.F. Securities, told Alabama that it would “no longer buy or sell bonds issued by the state or any of its political subdivisions.” Gov. George C. Wallace, who objected to desegregation, had said the state shouldn’t pay for the National Guard to protect Martin Luther King Jr. and protesters in the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

The investment firm’s executive vice president, Donald E. Barnes, wrote to the governor that his failure “to protect the citizens of Alabama in their exercise of constitutional rights” amounted to “discouragements to Alabama’s economic future.” He insisted that the move was based on economic risk, but the letter made clear it was about more than that.

paid time off on Juneteenth; the N.B.A. emblazoned the words “Black Lives Matter” on courts; Netflix steered its cash into local banks that serve Black communities; Wall Street banks announced programs worth billions to support Black communities; and just last week, in perhaps the greatest demonstration of the new responsibility business is feeling, 700 companies and executives signed a letter opposing laws that make it harder for people to vote.

“The murder of George Floyd last Memorial Day felt like a turning point for our country. The solidarity and stand against racism since then have been unlike anything I’ve experienced,” Brian Cornell, the C.E.O. of Target, wrote in a note to employees of the Minneapolis-based retailer yesterday. “Like outraged people everywhere, I had an overwhelming hope that today’s verdict would provide real accountability. Anything short of that would have shaken my faith that our country had truly turned a corner.”

You know what? Justice is good for business.

The European Super League has collapsed. Plans to create a closed competition of top soccer clubs fell apart yesterday when six English teams withdrew, bowing to outrage from fans and threats by lawmakers. Shortly after, an official at the Super League said the project had been suspended, ending an effort to upend soccer’s multibillion-dollar economics.

outweigh a small risk of blood clots, but wants a warning added. U.S. regulators will decide whether to end a pause on the vaccine in the coming days.

Goldman Sachs releases worker diversity data. The Wall Street bank disclosed for the first time how many of its senior U.S. executives are Black: 49 out of more than 1,500. Banks agreed last year to publish more information about their work forces; Morgan Stanley has an even smaller share of Black executives than Goldman.

Apple’s new products raise competition concerns. The tech giant unveiled new iPads and iMacs, and a revamped podcast app. But its new AirTags, which attach to items to help find them, was criticized by the C.E.O. of Tile, which makes a similar product. Apple also said it would roll out new iOS privacy features — criticized by Facebook and other app makers — next week.

Lina Khan’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission is one of the clearest signs of progressive influence in the Biden administration. A Columbia University scholar who worked on a major congressional report about Big Tech and antitrust last year, Ms. Khan is a star in the constellation of competition law experts known as “antimonopolists.” Her confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce Committee is today.

power of internet giants, which could win her some conservative support. Having a “strong” perspective probably isn’t an obstacle to confirmation, Mr. Hoffman said.

Big Tech will be a likely focus at the hearing. But this would be a “disservice” to Ms. Khan, according to Mr. Hoffman. “At the F.T.C., a lot of the agenda is reactive,” he said. Companies file merger paperwork and regulators respond, whatever the industry. Ms. Khan has a broad perspective on competition law, Mr. Hoffman said, and today would be “a fair time” to ask what “objective standards” she’d apply.


— Ari Emanuel, the outspoken C.E.O. of the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor, speaking in a New Yorker profile about returning an investment from Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Separately, Endeavor disclosed yesterday that it hopes to be valued at more than $10 billion in an I.P.O.


Canadian National Railway yesterday offered to buy Kansas City Southern for $33.7 billion, topping a $29 billion bid last month by its rival Canadian Pacific. They’re jockeying over the chance to create the first railroad connecting major ports from Canada to Mexico. The bidding war reflects bullishness about an industry poised for growth if a post-pandemic boom ushers in this generation’s “Roaring Twenties.”

antitrust concerns made the counterbid “illusory and inferior.” Kansas City Southern said it would evaluate the new bid in accordance with its agreement with its original suitor.

mixed reception from freight shippers, who suffered in the last round of consolidation. And we haven’t yet heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who heads the antitrust subcommittee and represents key industrial interests in Minnesota.


The public listing of Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S., generated a wave of excitement that competitors aim to ride. Among them is Binance.US, the third-ranked domestic crypto exchange, which yesterday named Brian Brooks — formerly Coinbase’s chief counsel and most recently acting U.S. comptroller of the currency — as C.E.O., beginning in May. “There’s a lot of buzz about my former employer, which is well-deserved,” Mr. Brooks told DealBook about Coinbase. “But it’s in everybody’s best interest if there’s more competition.”

Mr. Brooks’ first task is building trust with regulators. He says “managing reputation” is his biggest concern. Binance has shifted its operations throughout Asia since it was founded in 2017, and some say it played fast and loose with rules. The C.F.T.C. was reportedly investigating the company for allowing U.S.-based customers to trade crypto derivatives, which is banned (the agency declined to comment). Mr. Brooks insists he did “a lot” of due diligence on his new employer and dismisses “loose talk” about the exchange flouting regulations.

Binance.US sees potential to lead in undeveloped areas of the American crypto landscape, like derivatives and lending. Mr. Brooks said the company can learn from competitors like Coinbase and Kraken — and challenge them. That is, if he can convince regulators to bless its efforts to bring crypto into the financial mainstream, a preoccupation of players across the industry.


Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase’s co-heads of investment banking, Jim Casey and Viswas Raghavan, announced policies aimed at improving working conditions amid record deal volume and banker burnout. The company has attempted similar things before. DealBook spoke with Mr. Casey about the latest plan — and whether this one will stick.

JPMorgan has recently hired 65 analysts and 22 associates, and plans to add another 100 junior bankers and support staff, Mr. Casey said. It’s targeting bankers at rival firms, as well as lawyers and accountants interested in a career switch.

similar efforts to protect junior bankers’ hours in 2016, but “it wasn’t stringently enforced,” Mr. Casey said. Why not? “Laziness.” This time, junior bankers’ hours and feedback will figure in senior manager performance evaluation and compensation.

“It’s not a money problem,” Mr. Casey said, so there won’t be one-time checks or free Pelotons after a rush. Junior bankers will get their share of the record $3 billion in fees JPMorgan earned in the first quarter.

Some things won’t change. Because banking is a client-service job, managers sometimes have limited control over workloads and hours. “You might do 100 deals a year, but that client only does one deal every three years,” Mr. Casey said.

How the bank will measure success: “Ask me what our turnover ratio has gone to and I will tell you,” Mr. Casey said. The goal, he said, is “lower.”

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Insider Journalists Form a Union

Journalists at Insider, the news site formerly called Business Insider, said on Monday that they had formed a union, joining a wave that has swept digital media companies.

A majority of more than 300 editorial workers, a group that includes reporters, editors and video journalists, voted in support, union representatives said.

Insider, which changed its name this year, was co-founded by Henry Blodget in 2007 as a business-focused publication with an emphasis on the tech industry. In recent years, it has expanded its areas of coverage.

Axel Springer, a digital publishing company based in Berlin, paid $343 million for a 97 percent stake in the company in 2015 and bought the remaining 3 percent in 2018. Mr. Blodget stayed on as chief executive. Insider, which has grown during the pandemic, bumped up the minimum annual salary for staff members to $60,000 in February.

formed a union.

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A New York Intellectual Bastion Finds a New Home

For a certain kind of intellectually inclined New Yorker, the weekly Friday lunch of the New York Institute for the Humanities has long been a coveted invitation. Held for more than four decades in a succession of sometimes cramped rooms at New York University, it’s the kind of gathering where you suddenly realize that the seriously dressed-down person who had just abruptly put down a paper plate of deli sandwiches to pose a sharp question about a talk on Nietzsche’s concept of anti-education or the legacy of the documentary “Paris Is Burning” is actually an eminent philosopher, a prizewinning novelist, or maybe a downtown musician or painter.

Now, after a period of pandemic-related uncertainty, the institute is leaving its longtime home at the university and moving uptown. Starting June 1, it will be based at the New York Public Library, which, after the pandemic lifts, will host the institute’s weekly gatherings in its flagship 42nd Street building while partnering on public events through its Center for Research in the Humanities.

Eric Banks, the institute’s director since 2013, said the move came after N.Y.U. informed him last fall that, as part of pandemic-related cuts, it would be discontinuing its support for the institution, which had a $200,000 annual budget. Under the new arrangement, the bulk of the institute’s budget will be paid for by its own fund-raising, including what Banks said was “substantial initial support” from some of the group’s fellows.

William Kelly, the library’s director of research libraries, said in a statement that the partnership was important as the city faces what is likely to be “a long and difficult recovery” from the pandemic.

two-day symposium in 2016 on Black Lives Matter; a 2018 celebration of the jazz experimentalist Cecil Taylor; and an eclectic exploration of solitary confinement in 2012 that brought criminal justice reformers together with artists and philosophers.

As the city’s intellectual scene has evolved, the institute may no longer draw the kind of gossipy coverage that followed some of its internal blowups over the years. But Banks said the partnership with the library would help shore up and even expand its place in New York’s “intellectual infrastructure.”

“It’s not just a star-studded group,” he said. “The point is really to foster connections and conversations that are really hard to make happen under other circumstances.”

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