Kenneth B. Auletta (born April 23, 1942) is an American writer, journalist, and media critic for The New Yorker.

Ken Auletta
Ken Auletta (3012259270).jpg
(CC) JD Lasica
Born (1942-04-23) April 23, 1942 (age 80)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupationwriter, journalist
Spouse(s)Amanda Urban

Early life and educationEdit

The son of an Italian American father and a Jewish American mother, Auletta grew up in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York, where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School.[1] He graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego and received his M.A. in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.[2]

Writing careerEdit

Ken Auletta, center, in conversation with Amanda Urban and Nick Denton

While in graduate school, Auletta taught and trained Peace Corps volunteers. He initially positioned himself as a New York-based Democratic Party fixer, working on then-Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign before serving as campaign manager for former Administrator of the Small Business Administration Howard J. Samuels's failed 1974 gubernatorial campaign. From 1971 to 1974, he also served as the first executive director of the now-defunct New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation under the aegis of Samuels (who was concurrently appointed as the Corporation's chairman).

Following Samuels's defeat, Auletta pivoted to journalism, becoming the chief political correspondent for the New York Post in 1974. Following that, he was a staff writer and weekly columnist for The Village Voice, and a contributing editor at New York. He started contributing to The New Yorker in 1977 and published a two-part report on New York City Mayor Ed Koch in The New Yorker in 1978. In addition to writing regularly for The New Yorker, between 1977 and 1993, he also wrote a weekly political column for the New York Daily News and was a political commentator on WCBS-TV. In 1986, he received the Gerald Loeb Award for Large Newspapers.[3] He was the guest editor of the 2002 edition of The Best Business Stories of the Year.

Auletta started writing the "Annals of Communications" profiles for The New Yorker in 1992. His 2001 profile of Ted Turner, "The Lost Tycoon", won a National Magazine Award for Profile Writing.[4] He is the author of twelve books, his first being The Streets Were Paved With Gold (1979). His other books include The Underclass (1983), Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of The House of Lehman (1986), Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way (1991), The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway (1997), and World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies (2001). His book Backstory: Inside the Business of News (2003) is a collection of his columns from The New Yorker. Five of his first 11 books were national bestsellers, including Googled: The End of the World as We Know It (2009).

In late 2014 he published a profile of Elizabeth Holmes and the company she founded, Theranos. While largely uncritical, the profile did note an absence of clinical tests and peer-reviewed studies supporting Theranos' alleged scientific innovations; it also characterized Holmes' explanation of the Theranos blood-testing process as "comically vague".[5] Former Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou has credited Auletta's profile for stimulating his initial interest in Theranos.[6]

His twelfth book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (And Everything Else), was published in 2018. It described how advertising and marketing, with worldwide spending of up to $2 trillion, and without its subsidies most media, including Google and Facebook, would perish, was today a victim of disruption.

He published his thirteenth book, Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence, a biography of former entertainment mogul and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, 2022.[7] [8]

Auletta was among the first to popularize the idea of the so-called "information superhighway" with his February 22, 1993, New Yorker profile of Barry Diller, in which he described how Diller used his Apple PowerBook to anticipate the advent of the Internet and our digital future. He has profiled the leading figures and companies of the Information Age, including Bill Gates, Reed Hastings, Sheryl Sandberg, Rupert Murdoch, John Malone, and the New York Times.

Auletta has been named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. He has won numerous journalism awards, and was selected as one of the twentieth century's top one hundred business journalists. He has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, and for four decades has been a judge of the annual national Livingston Award for young journalists. He has twice served as a board member of International PEN, and was a longtime trustee and member of the Executive Committee of The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival. Auletta is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Public Statements and AppearancesEdit

"The "Bad Blood" Podcast". Retrieved September 21, 2021. For two years, Elizabeth Holmes enjoyed the type of glowing media coverage most entrepreneurs can only dream of. But then she gave one interview too many — an interview with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta that planted the seeds of her downfall. Hosted by John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal.

"The Weinstein Effect: Breaking the Stories That Spurred a Movement". Retrieved February 16, 2020. Auletta and Ronan Farrow discuss their individual attempts to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein and how reporters ultimately stood together in confronting one of the biggest stories in recent memory. Hosted by the Wallace House at the University of Michigan.

"The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow". Retrieved January 31, 2020. While the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were finally made public in October 2017, whispers of Weinstein’s alleged abuse go back decades. And so does the reporting on it. In this episode of his Catch and Kill podcast, Ronan Farrow looks at the small but dogged community of journalists who spent years trying to break the story open, including two who got tantalizingly close, The New Yorker's Ken Auletta and The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters. Taken together, their stories represent a decades-long, cross-country hunt for the hardest truth in Hollywood.

"Trump as Click Bait, a speech to The Society of the Silurians". Retrieved November 20, 2018. The Silurians Press Club, an organization of veteran journalists, honored Ken with their Lifetime Achievement Award on November 19, 2018, and Ken made these remarks accepting the award.

"A righteous man in the best sense, [Auletta] was intent, always, on ferreting out bullsh-- and injustice," David Remnick wrote in a "tribute to Auletta" (PDF). following his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Silurians Press Club. "He was also intent on explaining the complex in lucid terms, whether it was a web of corruption in city government, a budding technology that was bound to change our lives, or a structural inequity in civic and economic life."

"The Moment, with Brian Koppelman". Retrieved June 15, 2018. On his podcast, Brian Koppelman interviewed Auletta about why curiosity saved him, and his new book, Frenemies.

"Life Lessons". Retrieved June 10, 2010. On June 10, 2010, Auletta gave this Commencement Address at the Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan.

Personal lifeEdit

As of 2021, Auletta lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife, Amanda "Binky" Urban, a literary agent.[9] As of 2013, the couple also owned a house in Bridgehampton, New York.[10] Their daughter, Kate Auletta, is an editor.

Portrayals in popular cultureEdit

He was satirized as "Ken Fellata" in The New Republic by Jacob Weisberg and future New Yorker colleague Malcolm Gladwell.[11]



Essays and reportingEdit


  1. ^ Hechinger, Fred M. "About Education; Personal Touch Helps", The New York Times, January 1, 1980. Accessed September 20, 2009. "Lincoln, an ordinary, unselective New York City high school, is proud of a galaxy of prominent alumni, who include the playwright Arthur Miller, Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, the authors Joseph Heller and Ken Auletta, the producer Mel Brooks, the singer Neil Diamond and the songwriter Neil Sedaka."
  2. ^ "Career Advice Articles | Career Tips & Job Search Help".
  3. ^ "Auletta Wins Loeb Award". The New York Times. May 9, 1986. p. D9. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Winners and Finalists Database | ASME". Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  5. ^ The New Yorker, "Blood Simpler: One Woman's Drive to Up-End Medical Testing", December 8, 2014
  6. ^ Fast Company, "The reporter who exposed Theranos tells investors how to spot another Elizabeth Holmes", May 19, 2018
  7. ^ Business Insider, "Biographer Ken Auletta, who failed to crack the Harvey Weinstein story in 2002, says he's done 100 interviews for his book on the disgraced mogul", June 9, 2019
  8. ^ "The On-Sale Calendar: July 2022".
  9. ^ "Agent Amanda Urban lists NYC pad with husband Ken Auletta". 19 October 2021.
  10. ^ Leland, John (9 August 2013). "Strong Coffee, Weak Hitters". The New York Times.
  11. ^ The Auletta-Fellata vendetta, Variety, September 4, 1995
  12. ^ Online version is titled "The red-envelope revolution".
  13. ^ Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos.

External linksEdit