But it’s important to remember that when the raters had to rely on actual demand by readers for its bread and butter, they did about as well as the rest of us.

For me, if S&P and Moody’s want to be treated like journalists, they should be paid like journalists. Then no one would care if they downgraded the U.S. to junk and made Libya AAA.

But that’s just my opinion.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.