The last few weeks, I’ve been following the hoo haw over Matt Taibbi’s brilliant Goldman Sachs/Wall Street screed with more than a little amusement.
The rabid pushback at Taibbi from the usually timid bunny following the golden carrots financial press has been a sight to behold.
My favorite was Charlie Gasparino at CNBC who dismisses Taibbi’s article without adequately addressing any of its substance by relating it to "half-literate bloggers."
Ouch, never heard that one before. *rolls eyes* Derivative, much?
CJR’s Dean Starkman has a takedown of the flailing, panicked pushback from financial media that is well worth a read. Especially for business press who are wondering why so many of us on the outside are disgusted with them being so in the tank on the inside.
Hint to "journalists:" healthy skepticism is a job requirement. Fawning dictation is not.
Here’s Starkman’s analysis in a nutshell:
As Taibbi (who needs no help defending himself) pointed out on his own blog, Moore addresses precisely none of the substantive criticisms that have been leveled at the bank, including big ones, like (1) buying predatory loans, (2) selling defective mortgage-backed securities while (3) shorting them at the same time, and (4) buying defective insurance from American International Group, then having those bad bets redeemed in full by government programs ratified by ex-Goldman executives. This is to say nothing of the role ex-Goldman alums played in laying the groundwork for the decade’s financial recklessness—Robert Rubin’s contribution to deconstructing financial regulation and Henry Paulson’s lobbying to loosen capital restrictions in 2004, to name just two. . . .
. . .while some in conventional business journalism may wish to dismiss Taibbi, it’s worth remembering that he is only filling a vacuum left by mainstream outlets themselves. One reason “Bubble” was so shocking, I believe, is that it looks with well-deserved skepticism (okay, red-faced, foaming outrage) on the core business practices of an individual financial institution, by name, and a powerful one at that. Conventional business-press investigations focus too often on marginal infractions, rulebreaking within the game, and too rarely on the game itself.
The amusing thing about so much of the critique of Taibbi’s work is that it boils down to the Howie Kurtz reaction to Marcy’s MSNBC "blowjob" interview. In short, Taibbi says "fuck" and “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity" *shocked, pearl-clutching gasp* so never mind that he’s documenting and revealing factual information that financial media thus failed to report or consider.
Or, even worse, that Taibbi’s showing them up by digging into important material that the public needs to know about and then having the balls to report it with names and everything.
Honestly, I learned more following along with the Q&A in our latest book salon with Taibbi and Max Wolf than I have reading or watching "news" reports.
Instead of getting defensive about the challenges to your mediahood, oh ye of little reportage, how about trying to top Taibbi’s investigative work? How about tackling the substance? How about digging in on the companies, regs, business actors and/or politicians you see as shouldering some of the responsibility for our financial mess?
You know, reporting the news in the public’s interest instead of fishing for invites to Hamptons soirees.
I. F. Stone is rolling in his grave at the state of far too much of the media these days.