The weakness of the piece is where others might find strength, its polemical nature and its hyperbole. When you call Goldman a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” you’re in a sense offering a big fat disclaimer—this piece is not to be taken literally and perhaps not even seriously. You make it easy for the Gasparinos of the world. When you say Goldman engineered various crises when you mean something perhaps more nuanced, that’s a problem. It’s not that you lose cognoscenti—that’s fine—but readers then are left to figure out where the case against Goldman ends and license begins. It doesn ‘t seem fair to them.
In the end, like the grandmother who worries whether something is “good for the Jews,” I worry about whether Taibbi-ism is good for accountability-oriented journalism in the financial space.
I think it most certainly will be. But in any case, mainstreamers dismiss him at their peril. Taibbi represents a challenge to the conventional business press’s increasingly narrow focus, its incrementalism, its concern with petty scoops at the expense of asking the big questions of the big institutions on its beat.
The lesson of Taibbi is that if conventional business journalism is unwilling or unable to step back and take in the sweep of this crisis, and the systemic distortions that underlie it, somebody else will.