Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Question Authority: Roasting Rost

Every once in awhile I will review a member blog of the Pharma Blogosphere. I already reviewed one of my least favorite blogs -- Drug Wonks (see "Drug Wonks Are PR Wonks"). Now it's time to review one of my favorites -- Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost.

Peter -- and I think he won't mind me calling him Peter -- started out in the blogosphere under the auspices of the Huffington Post. It didn't take long for Peter and Huffington to tangle over censorship of one of his posts. This lead Peter to start his own blog (see "Rost to Roost in Blogosphere"). "Lot's of people have been writing about me," Peter told me, "so I think it's about time for me to start writing on my own."

And the rest is history, as they say. I don't have time to recount that history here, but I offer the following lists of articles and posts I have written about Peter over the past two years:

Peter Rost: Pharma's Black Knight
- Recounts how Peter reacted to Pfizer cutting off his arms and legs after his famous 60 minutes interview in which he defended drug reimportation. Of course, Peter has made a living Pfighting Pfizer. I imagine it must sometimes feel like a human confronting a polar bear: "When a male polar bear and a human are face to face, there occurs a brief kind of magic: an intense, visceral connection between man and beast whose poignancy and import cannot be expressed in mere words. Then he rips your arms off." (If you haven't read the New Yorker essay "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED BY HAVING MY ARMS RIPPED OFF BY A POLAR BEAR," I urge you to find it and read it.)

Pharma's Black Knight Confesses All!
-- You might say that Peter Rost could write a book about Pfizer. Oh yeah! He did! I thought the book could have been juicier and name more names ("There is some dirt -- such as hints about who's sleeping with whom at Pfizer. How much more interesting this would have been in a fictionalized format with characters and details of trysts in corner offices! It definitely would have offered some relief and human interest interspersed between the legal documents, maneuvers and counter-ploys that fill the pages of the book;" see "Pharma's Black Knight Parties On!"). My poor review notwithstanding, the book was obviously a commercial success. You can read my review on Amazon.com.

Rebranding is Good For You!
Recently, Peter rebranded himself as someone who questions authority. He renamed his blog "Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost" and is currently selling T-shirts and mugs to promote that brand (see "Rost Spams!" and "Rost Raises the Issue of Libel: My Apology").

This brand fits Peter better -- he now is free to go after other symbols of authority and not just focus on the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, he never focused 100% on the pharmaceutical industry. This is just the next step in his transformation that I foresaw back in May, 2006 (see "Peter Rost: Whistle Blower, Pharma Blogger, ???").

Of course, if you are the top brand questioning authority, then you yourself may be questioned. Recently, for example, a commenter on Rost's blog noticed a photo of Peter using a "Dull" (ie, Dell) computer laptop in one of the many PR photos plastered all over Peter's site. The sighting lead to this comment:

Dissapointed (sic) to see one who "questions authority" to be using a bulky old Dell. I would have thought a creative cheeky "questioning authority" type such as yourself would be using a nice smart slim Apple Powerbook such as the one I'm typing this on.

Question Authority, question Bill gates and the M!cr0$oft monopoly.

I hope you're running Linux on the Dell ;-)
I can relate to this. I started my journey with computers on a DEC PDP-11 mini-computer, but my first personal computer was an Apple II and I have been a Mac user for years. But I also have a Dull computer, which I use for business. I can tell you one thing; I will never switch to Microsoft Vista! My next business computer will be a Mac!

I think a lot of us bloggers in the Pharma Blogosphere like to question authority. It's interesting, however, that some of us are in turn becoming authorities. I've been called several times by pharmaceutical companies who want to know more about blogs and what makes bloggers tick! Even journalists look upon some of us as authorities.

What makes us bloggers different from the authorities that Peter Rost questions is that we are teddy bears and not polar bears! We couldn't possibly rip the arms off anybody! And I say that in the nicest possible way.

P.S. Peter, please lose "Danielle," your talking avatar. She's annoying and she pronounces your name "roast," which couldn't possibly be right! Or is it?

P.P.S. Everyone should take Peter's advice when reading his blog and this post: "If you have no humor or if you are a boring person you are not supposed to read this blog."

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