Politico health policy writer Dan Diamond — one of the reporters who exposed the extravagant travel habits of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — spoke at the School of Medicine on Thursday night, discussing everything from White House scandals to career advice.
Since joining Politico in early 2016, Diamond has hosted a weekly podcast called Pulse Check and written a daily health care newsletter, Politico Pulse. His investigation into Price culminated in a series of stories that led to Price’s resignation, a mere 231 days after he was confirmed. Diamond spent most of his talk recounting the events leading to Price’s resignation.
“It was a simple case of a politician being hypocritical,” Diamond said. “It was not a hard story to tell; the hard part was proving it.”
In September, Diamond and fellow Politico reporter Rachana Pradhan broke the news that Price had spent over a million dollars of department money on private jet flights, despite calling for cuts to the Health and Human Services travel budget months earlier.
In order to verify Price’s potentially unethical behavior, the two reporters had to gather evidence from a less-than-cooperative White House while trying not to raise the alarm about the nature of their story. Over the course of four months, Diamond and Pradhan tracked down countless leads, but were unable to produce a single piece of concrete evidence. Then they turned to more radical tactics, staking out airports, hoping to catch Price stepping on or off a publicly funded private jet flight.
“For all the things I learned at the Advisory Board, I had not learned how to stake out a luxury terminal,” Diamond said, referring to the health care consulting company he previously worked at before joining Politico.
While Diamond did not hesitate to delve into the scandalous details of the Price story, he added that much of the value in health care reporting comes from shedding light on the less “clickbaity” stories that often fly under the radar. At Politico, reporters attempt to balance coverage of the big political battles with analysis of the policy decisions that go on behind the scenes. While these stories are not as “sexy,” he said, they affect the lives of millions of Americans.
At the outset of his career, Diamond had no plans to become a journalist. After receiving a history degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he intended to become a foreign service officer. He became interested in the topic of health care after receiving a job offer from the Advisory Board. It was there that Diamond returned to his passion for writing. His first reports focused specifically on the topic of concussions, but eventually expanded to health care at large. After spending a few years as a contributor to Forbes and Vox, Diamond received an offer to join the staff at Politico.
“His story is an important reminder that you don’t need a perfect idea of what you need to do after graduation,” said David Stevens ’19, who attended the event. “As long as you pursue what you’re interested in, you’ll find a professional niche somewhere.”
Diamond’s talk was sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism. The fellowship is an opportunity for faculty to bring in speakers in the field of journalism to Yale in order to participate in talks, symposia and other events, said Howard Forman, professor of public health and organizer of the event. Forman invited Diamond to Yale after being impressed by his active role in reporting on health care, especially his use of social media.
The talk was attended by approximately 40 people.
Maya Chandra | firstname.lastname@example.org