I read with amusement Jim Edwards account of the brouhaha over conflict of interest disclosures relating to Peter Pitts, the star blogger over at Drug Wonks. You can read it on Pharma BNet: "NPR Producer Gets Apology Over Goodwin Affair; Says Peter Pitts Not Upfront About Ties to Eli Lilly."
What I find amusing is that a "seasoned journalist, a Columbia Journalism graduate" would take at face value Pitts' PR agency's pitch, which simply states "Peter Pitts, former associate commissioner for the FDA, and co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI)."
The "seasoned journalist" in question, a producer of the NPR show that had Pitts as a guest, "swears [Pitts] did not disclose to her that he was a PR person for pharma; if he did, alarm bells certainly would have gone off..." Sure, sure.
Pitts claims he DID tell her. He said, she said...
I have to agree with Jim, a "seasoned" journalist should have known all about Pitts, pharma's pit-dog. Pitts has been outed as a shill for pharma many times in the Pharma Blogosphere (see, for example, "CMPI, aka DrugWonks, is a 'breeding ground for industry moles'").
If us lowly, non-journalist bloggers know all about Pitts' ties to the drug industry, why didn't a "seasoned journalist" know?
But, I don't mind that Pitts has ties to the pharmaceutical industry although a little more transparency on his part would help.
What I DO mind, however, is how Pitts attacked Bill Lichtenstein, the lead NPR producer who defended his co-producer quoted above. Pitts asked if Lichtenstein had given "up crow for Lent" because he wouldn't admit that Pitts revealed his drug industry ties to him.
I don't like that Pitts brings up Lent in his attack on Lictenstein. Does Pitt know something I don't know? Is Lictenstein Catholic? Is Pitts anti-Catholic?
This is the second time I've heard giving up something for Lent as part of a joke within a pharmaceutical context. I don't happen to think it's funny, not to us Catholics.
Let's leave religion out of our attacks, please.