Anyone who’s read half an Audit post would find it laughable to think that we bow down to Wall Street. But Yvette Kantrow, executive editor of a trade magazine called The Deal, isn’t laughing.
She’s written an innuendo-laden piece implying that The Audit (which would mean mostly me, since I write 90 percent of the posts) didn’t write about the recent Matt Taibbi piece on Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone because we didn’t want to offend Goldman Sachs, which is one of the dozen or so funders of The Audit.
This is bogus, of course, but what’s worse is that Kantrow knows it. We understand why The Deal doesn’t like us. Fine. The problem here is that the facts undermine the premise of Kantrow’s column.
The truth is actually somewhat more mundane. Much as I’d love to tell you that Goldman Sachs’ terrible tentacles have tried to silence The Audit (and believe me, I’d be the first to tell you—loudly—as I quit CJR), the actual reason is I hadn’t even read Taibbi’s piece till earlier this week.
Of course, questions about our funders are legitimate. We understand how it looks from the outside and how it would look to us if we didn’t know what went on. But if you’re going to raise questions, you’re not allowed to blow off the answers, which Kantrow clearly does here.
So at the expense of my Saturday, I’ll walk you through the boring details of how the sausage gets made (or sometimes doesn’t).
Best I can tell, Taibbi’s Goldman story hit newsstands on June 24, but Rolling Stone decided to not publish it online, presumably in an attempt to drive newsstand sales and give existing subscribers reason to, you know, stay subscribers. I work from CJR’s Washington, D.C., bureau (read: my couch), and don’t subscribe, so I didn’t have the magazine.
Now, yeah, I could have gone out and bought it from a newsstand, but I didn’t. It’s true that various sites scanned the magazine into PDFs and posted them online, but that’s simple theft to me. I saw a couple of those (I’m not going to link to the sites), but didn’t want to read a stolen copy and figured I’d check it out when RS got around to posting it online.
On Monday, perplexed by the magazine’s strategy, I wrote this on Twitter:
Why didn’t/doesnt Rolling Stone charge a buck or 2 to read Taibbi’s Goldman Sachs piece online? It’s unavailable unless you want to steal it
The New York Times quoted me on its website asking about it at nearly the same time Kantrow emailed me Wednesday night—something I pointed out to her.
On Monday or Tuesday, Rolling Stone finally posted the entire piece online and I read it.
As it happened, when Kantrow emailed me Wednesday afternoon, I was working on a piece on Goldman Sachs earnings coverage that day that looped in Taibbi’s Rolling Stone story. I told her that and said it would be up in an hour or two, which it was. Here’s the post, which asked whether Goldman is becoming the new AIG—poster boy for all that’s wrong with the financial system.
But that didn’t fit with her story, so she twisted that, got it wrong, and buried it in the second-to-last paragraph:
Audit writer Ryan Chittum said his site’s silence had nothing to do with Goldman but everything to do with the fact that Rolling Stone was slow to put the entire Taibbi piece online. (It was a complaint lodged by many bloggers, who apparently did not want to shell out $5.95 at the newsstand. How sad for magazines.) But he also said he would include the Taibbi story in a roundup of Goldman’s earnings coverage that would run the next day. In that post, Chittum calls the piece “a fascinating-if-hyperbolic polemic” but does not address some of the journalistic issues surrounding it, such as the value of throwing up lots of different charges to see what ultimately sticks.