Audit Notes: God of Journalism, Pandit Panned, Wolff’s Own Medicine

The new-hire newsroom memo has long been a hotbed of puffery—a place where journalists consistently put aside their cynicism and engage in heartwarming rounds of fulsome (UPDATE: And when I say “fulsome,” I mean “a lot.” See Merrill Pearlman on the standard usage of the word) in the praise .

Nothing against Rob Hunter, believe me, but this memo from Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson introducing his new personal-finance editor hire to the newsroom may belong in the Newsroom Memo Hall of Fame (emphasis mine):

Rob joins us from Bloomberg BusinessWeek where he’s worked since 2005 and was clearly the most outstanding journalist of his generation.

— Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit blamed short sellers for his company’s collapse into the government’s arms. Really. He did that.

The Financial Times’s Alphaville astutely demolishes that piece of nonsense with a chart showing short interest spiking after Citi’s stock had already collapsed, and points out what really happened:

Maybe it would have been more accurate if you had told the Congressional Oversight Panel that the real reason you needed a whopping bailout was that your executives and risk managers stood idly by as your bankers and traders piled into subprime, recklessly handed out credit cards and fell hard for CDOs?

I was going to say the question for the press is whether Pandit is stupid or lying. But Alphaville has no doubt:

You know the shorts had nothing to do with it, Mr Pandit. Do fess up.

— I love how MacDailyNews tweaks Newser’s Michael Wolff for criticizing Apple and News Corp. for suing to protect patents and copyrights (emphasis mine):

Because Michael doesn’t understand and/or place any value on intellectual property, we’ve excerpted his entire article, so you don’t even need the referring link. As you read Michael’s “work” while our advertisers pay us, not Michael, for your eyeballs, consider our point made. Of course, in order to fully drive home our point, we’d have to claim, Google style, to have written the entire piece ourselves. Alas, Wolff will have to retain credit since we don’t want you to think that we’re completely batshit insane.

Nicely done. And by the way, the clock’s ticking on Wolff’s prediction last April that in eighteen months “80 percent of newspapers will be gone.”

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.