Most of us have heard of Steven Brill, though there are those who have never heard his name, much less have any idea what he does or why he is known. Well, the most common knowledge out there tells us that he is not only a United States attorney, but he is also a ‘journalism entrepreneur’, so to speak, being the establishing individual for both a magazine and a cable television channel. Well, now you know the basics, which is pretty much what everyone else knows, but there’s more…much more. Below are twenty facts about Mr. Brill that you probably didn’t know, and many of them are the very life circumstances that made the man the success he is today. So sit back and enjoy a good read about a man you just didn’t know anything about…until now.
1. He's a Best Selling Author
Not only is Brill an attorney, journalist, and entrepreneur, he is also a best-selling author. He penned the book ‘The Teamsters’ in 1978, and in 2018 released the book ‘Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall – and Those Fighting to Reverse It’, among many others. ‘Tailspin’ hit the New York Times Bestseller List a mere six days after it was released.
2. He's a Yale Alumni
Not only is Brill a graduate of both Yale College and Yale Law School, but he is also on faculty there as a lecturer on English, Journalism, and Creative Writing. In addition to the numerous other projects he is involved in, it is easy to imagine that Mr. Brill is an extremely busy man, yet he finds time for his wife Cynthia, also a Yale graduate.
3. He's The Reason We Love Crime Shows
In 1991 Brill started Court TV for the simple reason that he knew how much the public was intrigued with true crime in current affairs. Featuring the biggest cases of the day live and in court, along with commentaries given by some of the best legal professionals of our time, Court TV was a hit. Even after some changes and merges took place over the years, it still garners the attention of the curious general public the way a horrific train wreck would.
4. He's the Co-Founder of NewsGuard
Steven Brill became the co-founder of NewsGuard, Inc. in 2018, which serves as a rating platform, judging the trustworthiness of websites that put out news and other information. The work of journalists who are also trained analysts conduct exhaustive research to make sure that web users know which sites put out genuine, true news and which ones are simply glorifying minimal facts for ratings. These analysts work all day, every day to identify potential ‘garbage’ news sites, and then they rate them using a ‘Green-Red Signal’ system. Sites that they are unsure of are exposed to users in the form of a warning, until more research can be done and a definitive conclusion can be reached regarding the site.
5. He's a Famous Writer
Journalism has turned out to be just the beginning when it came to Brill’s career as a writer. Besides the books he has written, he contributes to The New Yorker as a feature writer, and does the same for TIME and The New York Times as well. But writing for the magazines of others seems small when you consider that the man also founded Brill’s Content Magazine and American Lawyer Magazine. It seems that being an attorney alone simply wouldn’t fulfill this full-time go-getter in the slightest. His contributions to journalism and publishing alone, not even considering the fact that he has written seven books, continue to leave an ongoing mark on our world. To say the pen is mightier than the sword is an understatement.
6. He's a 7-Time Book Author
As far as his books are concerned, Brill has written seven of them. ‘The Teamsters (1978), Trial By Jury (1989), After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era (2003), Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools (2011), America’s Bitter Pill (2015), and Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall – And Those Fighting to Reverse It (2018). The best-selling author, Brill has been able to convey invaluable points about the state of the country in many aspects, point out those responsible, and identify those who are actively being part of the solution. Many feel that his works are impactful, with some even stating that he has written some of the most important books that could ever be read.
7. His Family Places Importance on Education
Born into a Jewish family in August of 1959 in Queens, New York, Brill and his family desired better for him educationally. In his younger years Brill studied at the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, where he resided as a boarder at the school. From there he attended Yale and Yale Law School, after which he used his training in both law and journalism to begin to fight the wrongs of the system through a countless variety of media resources. Today, it is obvious that many things have been influenced by the man, from legal battles and political issues, all the way to America’s education system and the profound reasons why it isn’t getting what it needs to function properly for our children. He has become nothing less than an ‘uber’ success, branching out into every possible professional field out there, short of becoming a medical doctor.
8. He Uses Interviews to Make A Point
Brill doesn’t just make ripples in the water, he creates massive waves that result in justifiable debate and prompts the public to consider the truth about where they stand and whose side they are on when it comes to the issues of this nation. He has been on several talk shows and granted countless interviews in order to put his points on the table. One such interview, with motherjones.com, consisted of Brill pointing a finger directly at the press in America and basically laying down its ethics for the sake of a well-known prosecutor; if the press would stoop this low with their content to the public, what wouldn’t they do? There are too many examples of Brill’s directness and assertive manner when it comes to right and wrong, and most of them come, if not from his books or magazines, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
9. He Wrote About the Aftermath of 9/11
Brill’s book, ‘After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era’, released in 2003, was centered around the reaction of our country directly after the attacks on 9/11. It impacted him greatly, particularly on the morning of the 12th, the day after the attacks. This prompted him to observe and consider all that the nation did to try and get things back to normal as quickly as possible. It also talks about how things, in many aspects, have taken quite an opposite direction from that which was intended. Also, the change in the American people and the level of apprehension and fear felt since then is unprecedented. He discusses all of this in an in-depth interview with Bill Moyers on April 18, 2003.
10. He's Been Reported in TIME
The first piece of reporting that Brill contributed was to TIME magazine. It consisted of 26,000 words, which was the longest story ever printed by the magazine at the time. In 2015 Brill released a longer version and published it as a book. ‘America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Health Care System’ took an up-close look at the beginnings of Healthcare.gov and the repercussions of Obamacare’s Affordable Health Care Act. Brill stated that our law did nothing to take control of the outrageous costs of healthcare and only looked at broadening coverage ranges. Brill feels that this, and the outrageous cost of medicine in America, is directly due to the issue above.
11. He Writes About Things He Knows Nothing About
In regard to being a writer, Brill has a word or two to say. He admits, in an interview with Sara Kiff and Vox.com, that when he writes it is usually on topics that he knows nothing about, but harbors deep curiosity. He believes that if you have a subject in mind that you want to learn and understand, even if you have no knowledge of it already, that it will ‘work’. He claims that curiosity is the very first thing he talks with his journalism students about when he lectures at Yale, telling them to take their initial curiosity for a subject and write about it in a manner that not only sparks the reader’s curiosity as well, but takes them on a journey of sorts, which will teach them about the topic.
12. He's Made Public Accusations
In 1998, ‘Brill’s Content’, a publication with a ‘watchdog’-type purpose, was released by Steven, but publication ended in 2001. In the first issue, Brill published an article entitled ‘Pressgate’, which made specific accusations about Kenneth Starr and others in his office. The piece caused some problems, and after the first publication, ‘Brill’s Content’ became less and less involved with its founding father.Subsequently, in November of 2001, Mr. Brill became a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine. That ended up being his first big-time gig with a major periodical news publication.
13. He's Got a Documentary
In 2015, Steven published a fifteen-part serial documentary, which was released online by The Huffington Post. It was entitled ‘America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker’, and it put Johnson & Johnson under the microscope for marketing Risperdal to children and seniors when it was a dangerous enough drug as it was. The drug has some pretty intense side effects, but according to Brill, the company kept those facts hidden from the public and managed to make millions off of its sales in the meantime.
14. He's Taken on Fake News
In March of 2018, deweybstrategic.com wrote an article on Brill and his crusade against false news being reported to the public in the media. In the article, NewsGuard, a source which not only monitors the news, but rates it by means of providing ratings on news sources along with ‘nutrition labels’ that let people better understand truth and reliability levels by given readers a green, yellow, or red flags for the piece, which were first used by attorneys on a specific case basis. Steven Brill was one of the founders of NewsGuard; his co-founder was Gordon Crovitz, who was the publisher of The Wall Street Journal at one time. NewsGuard works by employing several dozen journalists whose sole purpose is to monitor the news websites that are most popular and shared across the United States. They then apply the ratings system to the content, giving the public a heads-up regarding what they are reading.
15. He's Been A Partner
As far as his career as an attorney, Brill worked as owner and partner of Sullivan Brill LLP in New York City. Specializing in both federal and New York state cases, the firm focused on representing people who have been the victims of excessive force by police, have been falsely accused and arrested, or are or have experience malicious prosecution. The firm also represents those with personal injury and Civil Rights issues. He has not only represented countless clients on these issues, but he also writes about the legal system and America and the injustices it visits on the citizens of this country.
16. He Married A Woman in the Know
Brill is married to attorney Cynthia Brill and they reside in both Bedford, New York and New York City. The couple has three grown children, according to Wikipedia. Their daughter, Emily, is the only one formally named. As far as his family life goes, it seems that the family is close-knit, though one may wonder how this could be with his packed schedule. But for all intents and purposes, the Brill’s appear to be happily married and have been for some time. His sister, Rachel Brill, is a criminal defense attorney with a practice based in Puerto Rico. Otherwise, Steven is known for keeping his personal life out of the public eye, and has been fairly successful with this.
17. He's A Private Man
While it is obvious that Brill is highly successful in most all of his numerous endeavors, he has proven himself effective in keeping his financial status private as well. His net worth remains mostly undetermined, thanks to his efforts, and that is highly commendable. Being the private person that he is, he has managed to keep his personal and professional life extremely separate, which is the likely explanation for the success of his marriage, though integrity likely has even more to do with that point. This shows us how highly he values his family life and the personal time he gets with them.
18. He's Supported Trump
Back to the faulty health care programs and prices in America, Brill is vocal about the fact that our current president, Donald Trump, did not cause the problems that are present. In fact, thedailybeast.com writes that Brill not only eliminates any blame aimed at the president for current country issues, including our crumbling infrastructure, he also doesn’t credit Trump for being a part of, or having any solutions for the problems that will prove effective in the long term.
19. His Political Affiliation is Private
While it is unclear what political party Brill claims to belong to, if any, he has clearly stated that he likes the way things are currently going compared to the recent past, and would be happy if things remained under Republican influence. He states he is pleased with the current economy. In contrast, he does state that he would like to see a Democratic majority in the House. Brill believes that such a change would be better for the country as a whole.
20. He Left Court TV
It’s true that Brill was an integral part of the beginning of Court TV and other related projects, but in 1997, according to Variety, Brill quit the network, as well as its related publisher, American Lawyer Media. The reason for the departure was based on a failed attempt to purchase both businesses from Time Warner due to a veto from vice chairman Ted Turner. Supposedly tensions ran high for some time between Brill and the companies NBC, Time Warner, and Liberty Media, which snowballed and led to his leaving.
Well, there you have it. If you didn’t know much about Steven Brill before, or didn’t even know who he was, now you do. You have quite a bit of information, in fact, regarding his career and missions in life, which gives much insight into his character and values as a human being. Not to be confused with director Steven Brill, the attorney/journalist has made a name for himself that will stick because he has inspired scrutiny and change when it comes to the areas that are lacking in our country. To get a better idea regarding his viewpoints, feel free to check out one or more of his best-selling books. Chances are, regardless, you will not forget about this man in the future.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker