Jack Shafer

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Jack Shafer (born November 14, 1957) writes about media for Politico. Prior to joining Politico, he worked for Reuters and also edited and wrote the column Press Box for Slate, an online magazine. Before his stay at Slate, Shafer edited two city weeklies, Washington City Paper and SF Weekly. Much of Shafer's writing focuses on what he sees as a lack of precision and rigor in reporting by the mainstream media, which he says "thinks its duty is to keep you cowering in fright."[1] One frequent topic is media coverage of the War on Drugs.

Monkeyfishing scandal

Shafer was an editor when Jay Forman, a reporter at Slate wrote an article titled "Monkeyfishing" about a supposed underground sport in which fruit is used to fish for monkeys on an isolated Florida Key. It was exposed as a hoax after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and bloggers picked the piece apart. According to Shafer, Forman admitted to him in February 2007 that he had concocted the entire story, that he had never visited the island, and that he was sorry for betraying Slate's trust.[2]

In an article about "journalists who got caught embellishing, exaggerating, and outright lying in print", Shafer wrote: "When Forman [...] turned in a first, flat draft about his Florida Keys adventure, I encouraged him through several rewrites to add more writerly detail to increase the piece's verisimilitude. Forman complied, inventing numerous twists to the tale [...] The lesson I learned isn't to refrain from asking writers for detail but to be skeptical about details that sound too good or that you had to push too hard to get the writer to uncover or that are suspicious simply because any writer worth his salt would have put them in his first draft. All that said, it's almost impossible for an editor to beat a good liar every time out."[3]

Commenting on other journalism scandals in the same article, Shafer wrote that many made-up stories and parts of stories seem to be perpetrated by reporters who don't have the skills to do what they're assigned.


Shafer has written supportively of libertarianism. He wrote, "Traditionally, the state censors and marginalizes voices while private businesses tend to remain tolerant."[4] In 2000, he explained his political views as follows: "I agree with the Libertarian Party platform: much smaller government, much lower taxes, an end to income redistribution, repeal of the drug laws, fewer gun laws, a dismantled welfare state, an end to corporate subsidies, First Amendment absolutism, a scaled-back warfare state. (You get the idea.)"[5]


  1. Shafer, Jack (2010-12-14) Stupid drug story of the week, Slate.com
  2. Shafer, Jack (2007-02-06). "Jay Forman Redux: Slate's author of "Monkeyfishing" now says none of his story was true". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Shafer, Jack (2003-05-08). "The Jayson Blair Project: How did he bamboozle the New York Times?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2006-09-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Shafer, Jack (2010-12-21) Whose internet is it, anyway?, Slate.com
  5. How Slatesters Voted, Slate.com (November 7, 2000)

External links