Greg is the brother of Geri Palast.
Palast was born in Los Angeles. He attended John H. Francis Polytechnic High School and transferred to San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge) in 1969 before his senior year of high school. Palast said about high school: "Basically they were melting my brain, and I had to save myself. Before I finished high school, I talked my way into college. Before I finished college, I talked my way into graduate school." Palast then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Chicago, from which he graduated in 1974 with an Bachelor of Arts in economics and in 1976 with a Master's of Business Administration. Palast majored in economics at Chicago from the advice of a Weather Underground member he met at Berkeley who suggested Palast "familiarize himself with right-wing politics and learn about the 'ruling elite' from 'the inside.'"
Palast spoke at a Think Twice conference held at Cambridge University and lectured at the University of São Paulo. He lives in New York City.
Palast's investigation into the Bush family fortunes for his column in The Observer led him to uncover a connection to a company called ChoicePoint. In an October 2008 interview Palast said that before the 2000 Election ChoicePoint "was purging the voter rolls of Florida under a contract with a lady named Katherine Harris, the Secretary of State. They won a contract, a bid contract with the state, with the highest bid."
After subsequently noticing a large proportion of African-American voters were claiming their names had disappeared from voter rolls in Florida in the 2000 election, Palast launched a full-scale investigation into voter fraud, the results of which were broadcast in the UK by the BBC on their Newsnight show prior to the 2004 Election. Palast claimed to have obtained computer discs from Katherine Harris' office, which contained caging lists of "voters matched by race and tagged as felons."
Palast appeared in the 2003 documentary film, Florida Fights Back! Resisting the Stolen Election, along with Vincent Bugliosi, former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and author of The Betrayal of America. Palast also appeared in the 2004 documentary Orwell Rolls in His Grave, which focuses on the hidden mechanics of the media.
Palast alleges that Andrés Manuel López Obrador — and not Felipe Calderón — won Mexico's 2006 presidential election.
In May 2007, Palast said he'd received 500 emails that former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove exchanged through an account supplied by the Republican National Committee. Palast says the emails show a plan to target likely Democratic voters with extra scrutiny over their home addresses, and he also believes Rove's plan was a factor in the firing of U.S. Attorneys.
After Palast was invited by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to appear on his Air America talk show to discuss, among other things, election fraud, the pair teamed up to find out if democracy was in a better state in 2008. In their report, which was published in October 2008 in Rolling Stone, they concluded that the 2008 election had already been stolen. "If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls -- they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering", Palast and Kennedy summarized.
To combat the extensive acts of voter suppression that Palast and Kennedy uncovered, the duo launched a campaign called Steal Back Your Vote, which features a website and free downloadable voter guide / adult comic book.
In 1988, Palast directed a U.S. civil racketeering investigation into the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station project, under construction by Stone & Webster and Long Island Lighting Company. A jury awarded the plaintiffs US$4.8 billion; however, New York's chief federal judge(which district?)reversed the verdict. The racketeering charges stemmed from an accusation that LILCO filed false documents in order to secure rate increases. LILCO sought a dismissal of these charges on the grounds that Suffolk County lacked authority under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and that the allegations of a history of racketeering did not qualify as a continuing criminal enterprise.
Palast has also taken issue with the official story behind the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, claiming the sobriety of the Valdez's captain was not an issue in the accident. According to Palast, the main cause of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 was not human error, but an Exxon decision not to use the ship's radar in order to save money. The Raytheon Raycas radar system would not have detected Bligh Reef itself - as radar, unlike sonar, is incapable of detecting submerged objects. The radar system would have detected the radar reflector, placed on the next rock inland from Bligh Reef for the purpose of keeping vessels on course via radar.
Palast points out that the original owners of the land, the local Alaska Natives tribe, took only one dollar in payment for the land with a promise not to pollute it and spoil their fishing and seal hunting grounds.
In 1998, working as an undercover reporter for The Observer, Palast, posing as a US businessman with ties to Enron, caught on tape two Labour party insiders, Derek Draper and Jonathan Mendelsohn, boasting about how they could sell access to government ministers, obtain advance copies of sensitive reports, and create tax breaks for their clients.
Draper denied the allegations. At Prime Minister's Question Time July 8, 1998 British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that all the specific claims had been investigated and found groundless: "every allegation made in The Observer has been investigated and found to be untrue".
Starting in 2007 Palast published a series of investigations on what aid groups and investors call "vulture funds". A vulture fund is a private equity or hedge fund where companies or people buy the debt of a poor country and litigate to recover the funds, often at the expense of aid and debt relief. Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented on the practices saying "We particularly condemn the perversity where Vulture Funds purchase debt at a reduced price and make a profit from suing the debtor country to recover the full amount owed - a morally outrageous outcome".
In 2014 Palast detailed the workings of vulture funds during the crisis of the American automotive industry:
Singer, through a brilliantly complex financial manoeuvre, took control of Delphi Automotive, the sole supplier of most of the auto parts needed by General Motors and Chrysler. Both auto firms were already in bankruptcy.
Singer and co-investors demanded the US Treasury pay them billions, including $350m (£200m) in cash immediately, or – as the Singer consortium threatened – "we'll shut you down". They would cut off GM's parts. Literally.
GM and Chrysler, with no more than a couple of days' worth of parts to hand, would have shut down, permanently forced into liquidation.
Obama's negotiator, Treasury deputy Steven Rattner, called the vulture funds' demand "extortion" ... Ultimately, the US Treasury quietly paid the Singer consortium a cool $12.9bn in cash and subsidies from the US Treasury's auto bailout fund.
A multi-year investigation into Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. The program uses states voter registration lists to match potential "double voters," using their first and last names and the last four digits of their social security number. In 2014 Palast, investigated the Interstate Crosscheck for Al Jazeera America, his finding were that the program was inherently biased to remove voters of color from states voter rolls. In 2016 he followed up the investigation with the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and an article for Rolling Stone magazine.
Since 2000, Greg Palast has made more than a dozen films for the BBC programme Newsnight with the Investigations Producer Meirion Jones, which have been broadcast in the UK and worldwide. In addition to the films on US elections they have investigated oil companies, the Iraq War, the coup against Hugo Chávez, and the vulture funds which target the poorest countries.
In An Open Letter to Greg Palast on Peak Oil Richard Heinberg offers friendly criticism of Palast who conflates the "amount of oil left" with "peak (maximal) flow rates" for oil, the latter being key to Peak Oil.
After Palast wrote an article critical of Respect politician George Galloway, Galloway responded by claiming "Palast conflates meetings, truths and half-truths, statements taken out of context to produce a toxic smear which would be actionable in the country he claims to work in, my country."
In 2007, a columnist, "drational," for the Daily Kos questioned Palast's research methods in a post entitled On Why Greg Palast is Dangerous: "He often makes fantastic claims based on his 'Sam Spade' detective work", drational wrote, "and then (along with his many devotees) complains when Mainstream media in this country do not report his stories. Legitimate journalists have a responsibility not to mislead people." However, drational subsequently modified his views in an update to the same article, noting that "independent research has confirmed that Mr. Palast was generally correct that caging is biased against minorities." The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. London: Pluto Press. 2002. ISBN 0-452-28391-4.
Greg Palast; Oppenheim, Jerrold; MacGregor, Theo (2002). Democracy and Regulation. London: Pluto. ISBN 0-7453-1943-2.
Armed Madhouse. New York, NY: Dutton. 2006. ISBN 0-525-94968-2.
Vultures' Picnic. New York: Dutton. 2011. ISBN 978-0-525-95207-7.
Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. New York: Seven Stories Press. 2012. ISBN 978-1-609-80478-7.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. New York: Seven Stories Press. 2016. ISBN 978-1609807757.
Big Easy to Big Empty [Part 1], Part 2
Bush Family Fortunes
The Election Files
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
"Vulture Funds attack Liberia 2010"
"Vulture Funds attack Zambia 2007"
"Bush and the Vultures 2007"
"US Election 2008 (2008)"
"Tim Griffin (2007)"
"US Election 2004 (2004)"
"US Election 2000 (2001)"
"Bush and the Bin Ladens (2001)"
"Bush dances with Enron (2001)"
"Chevron and Ecuador (2007)"
"Secret US plans for Iraq's oil (2005)"
"Iraq - Jay Garner's story (2004)
"Chavez and Oil (2006)"
"Chavez and the Coup (2002)