Heidi N. Moore, an ex-WSJ staffer and vocal defender of the business press, has been Twittering like mad to lambaste anyone who might question the MSM’s performance covering financial institutions before the great crash of ’08, which, of course, took everyone, the financial press very much included, by surprise.
Moore argues the press did its job in warning the public with an ocean of material that critics can’t be bothered to read.
Unfortunately, we are up against lazy people who don’t read biz press daily (or at all) and fall back on dumb quasi-info as result
So the offenders are mostly “journo profs”:
The only time most journo profs ever left media bubble to spare a thought for biz journalism is to attack for mythical failure.
“Dumb quasi-info” would be my “Power Problem,” a survey and analysis of the reporting by the most influential business news outlets—Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, etc.—on major lenders and their Wall Street backers between 2000 and mid-2007 (the rationale for the choice of outlets and the time period are in the story, and here is a database of some 700 stories that we deemed relevant for one reason or another.
Moore says the piece is also “nonsensical,” “useless,” and “obviously fake ‘research.’”
A debate about where the press fits into the financial crisis couldn’t come at a better time, actually, now that the narrative about the crisis is noticeably turning. At first, as things got sorted out and confusion reigned, various Wall Street-influenced ideas prevailed, namely, that the crash was some sort of natural disaster, was “everybody’s fault,” and/or is too complex to be laid at the feet of any particular institution or group of individuals.
Now, fraud is allowed as possible driver, a perspective we’ve argued for a long time the business press should explore more aggressively. Here’s our fullest statement on that from ‘08.
The new meme started, albeit faintly, when the Angelides Commission kicked off its vital work back in January, got a rocket-powered boost with the Valukas/Lehman blockbuster, and now is fully loosed upon the land with the SEC charges laid against Goldman, an example, by the way, of the business press at its best. (I said last year that Gretchen Morgenson was the most
influential important financial journalist of her generation, and, with colleague Louise Story, she keeps showing us why).
But far be it from me to stay up on the high road when the low blows are raining on people who cite “Power Problem,” correctly, as an argument that the press didn’t blow the whistle on powerful financial institutions while they were still powerful.
Here is part of Moore’s attempted Tweetbeatdown (a style note: Each paragraph is a separate message from Moore tweeted “at” Rosen. I’ve taken out the screen names to make it easier for non-Twitter users to understand, and embedded the link to each tweet in its first words):
But if you READ the business press, then it DID warn you, and thoroughly, and nationwide, and early.
And my point is, if you don’t READ the business press, then it can’t WARN you. Because we do not have telepathic powers.
And then there are these, also from Moore to Rosen:
What bothers me here is that you obviously don’t follow the business press. These are prize-winning investigations.
And MORE. http://is.gd/nkmd http://is.gd/nkne http://is.gd/6wqV
READ MORE: @moorehn: http://bit.ly/9TQ4pI And more: http://bit.ly/cK9EqE http://nyti.ms/cbEqfT http://bit.ly/cyIVgS
READ PLEASE. http://bit.ly/ayVA0e http://bit.ly/bBzhTM http://bit.ly/ba1HlX http://bit.ly/a0YvGw http://bit.ly/bajVXv
Sorry, that is lazy. 1) You’re relying on another’s work 2) I gave 15 examples of examples of award-winning subprime coverage
And yet I’m the one who has offered proof instead of calling people names. So, sorry, Jay, but you’re punking out. Weak.
It was precisely because of this kind of intellectual bully-boy stuff dished out by business-journalism pros that we (me and a couple of CJR staffers, Megan McGinley and Elinore Longobardi) spent three months reading thousands of articles to get a handle on a simple question: What was said? The top of the story quotes three practitioners in effect faulting the public for failing to read all the great work that had allegedly been done.
One thing that bothered me was that non-business-press cognoscenti were made to feel unwelcome in the debate about the crisis. All they could do was pay for it.
By all means, read our piece, and feel free to argue with its main premise that the national business press, individually and as a group, did not hold big lenders and their Wall Street backers to account when it mattered. It’s a 6,400-word piece and, so, nuanced.
But for now, I’d like to counter a few of Moore’s bogus assertions: