Starkman Profiles Morgenson

Audit Chairman Dean Starkman has a big profile just out in The Nation of New York Times reporter and columnist Gretchen Morgenson.

He calls her “the most important financial journalist of her generation” and has some interesting new stuff in there, including that now-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner called up Morgenson and her boss Larry Ingrassia to, um, complain about her big September scoop on Goldman Sachs’s exposure to AIG.

Here’s a snippet from the piece:

Still, plutocrats and liberals expecting or hoping to find a stern ideologue in Morgenson—or, really, sweeping views from her of any kind—will be disappointed. For one thing, many will be surprised to learn she’s a moderate Republican. “I believe in capitalism,” she says. “To me it’s natural that I would go after the people who are wrecking it.”

What becomes apparent over several conversations is that Morgenson is a business reporter—no more, no less. She’s more likely to mention investors as her main concern than readers or “the public.” Her views are pragmatic, sometimes small-bore to the point that her detail-laden writing can turn off casual readers. Her fixes are meliorative and not particularly original—better regulation, more competition. Her radical idea is, basically, that regulators should regulate, rating agencies should rate according to the merits of the credit, corporate compensation committees should set executive pay at arm’s length, directors should look to the interests of shareholders first, large shareholders should act like the owners they are and mortgage lending should be something other than a game of three-card monte. That these views are seen as “antibusiness” in some circles tells us less about Morgenson than about the ethical breakdown among this generation’s corporate elites.

Check it out.

And for more from Morgenson herself read my Audit Interview with her from a few months ago.

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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.