But that’s made even stranger by the fact that Kantrow admits that The Audit has hammered Goldman.
That could make it decidedly awkward for the site to deal with Taibbi’s takedown. It’s a tough situation. Praise Taibbi and piss off a funder; tear the story apart and look like its mouthpiece. Still, The Audit has not shied from criticizing Goldman in the past; it even got into a public spat with Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag over its take on the firm’s role in the AIG bailout and how it benefited from it.
Which we have. Here’s Audit CEO Dean Starkman zeroing in on Goldman last fall, calling the events “Goldman’s Backdoor Bailout. And more here and here. Here’s that “spat” Dean got into with Goldman last year.
Here’s one from April in which I took the press to task for not nailing Goldman on its first-quarter earnings chicanery. And for not giving more play to a massive mortgage settlement the firm paid to Massachusetts (with a follow-up).
There’s a lot more like that in the archives. Go have a look.
This is not to mention a freelance piece Dean did for The Nation that goes out of its way to debunk Goldman’s claim that it was somehow wronged by The New York Times during the turmoil of last September.
Another point I’d like to make is that I made it clear from when I joined that I didn’t want to be involved in fundraising. I’ve never been involved in it, have never attended an Audit Breakfast or any other fundraising event, and have never talked to a funder (I did have a dispute with a Goldman spokesperson over email once, but nothing that didn’t happen when I was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal).
As Dean wrote in response to questions from Kantrow (she didn’t bother to quote him):
To clarify a bit about fund raising since Ryan is kept cloistered in DC and is blissfully unaware of what goes on. I talk to funders a few times a year, give updates on progress etc., but we have a fulltime person who does that and reports up the business side to our chairman, Victor Navasky. That’s the state to our church, such as it is.
Every publication, including Kantrow’s not-exactly-hard-on-Wall Street The Deal, which has funders known as “advertisers,” has to manage conflicts, as Dean pointed out in his email to Kantrow:
Finally, it’s worth noting that we get comparable or more money from several places, including The Nation institute, a Soros-funded group, a short-selling hedge fund, Kingsford Capital, etc. It’s all over the map, which I guess is good. Is this the perfect model? No, but none of them is, including, I’m sure, and no offense intended at all, The Deal’s.
We’d like to think journalists can manage these kinds of things—after all most of us got into this business because of principles, not pecuniary reasons. Barney Kilgore, the legendary editor of my alma mater and Dean’s, The Wall Street Journal, faced with a devastating boycott from his biggest advertiser, General Motors, famously told them to stick it. We’ll do the same if we ever sense any influence-wielding.
That’s what journalists with integrity do. I don’t like having mine attacked with innuendo and poor reporting.
But what really hacks me off about this is: I hate working on weekends.