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New York Times' Continuing Dealings with Sleazy Former Wall Streeter

Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor, notes the NY Times’ continuing publication of pieces by Henry Blodget, one of the Internet bubble’s most notorious characters. In “Taint by Association” Hoyt asks two key questions:

One is whether The Times properly identifies Blodget when he writes for the paper. I don’t think so. His name was big in financial news at one time, but many readers do not know him.

The bigger question is whether The Times should be publishing him at all. Like Nocera, I believe in second chances, and Blodget seems to be doing fine establishing a new career. But why would The Times give a former analyst who lied to investors a platform to write about financial markets? If he wanted to write about how investors can spot phony reports by analysts, that would be one thing. But each time the newspaper uses Blodget as it has, it is conferring greater expert status on him.

These deals work two ways. The Times’s luster may help Blodget. But some of his taint rubs off on The Times.

Hoyt has it exactly right here. The newspaper is sullying its own name by lending Blodget its columns.

(Note: I own a small amount of stock in the company.)

3 Comments on “New York Times' Continuing Dealings with Sleazy Former Wall Streeter”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on Nov 11th, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    This is the sort of stuff I point to in order to prove that it doesn’t matter if someone is a liar or a cheat – outside the in-group. All that matters is what I call “club membership”.

    Note this also applies to A-listers, who can abuse and attack anyone outside their “club”, and that doesn’t matter to insiders either.

  2. #2 Jon Garfunkel
    on Nov 11th, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    I read the article. Glad to see the “Questions For…” mess cleared up, mostly. I noted how in the last part Hoyt noted the problem of people’s dark pasts being brought to light by search engine searches — yet he failed to recognize the NYT reader who recovered the SEO rankings of the fellow in the original story. Nor did he make mention that the same reader had pointed out, amidst the celebrations of the 1.9 million articles “freed” from the 1987-2007 articles, this would mean many more old arrests come to light. (That reader is the writer of these words, btw.)

    Now onto Mr. Blodget. Assessing his rehabilitation in a 2004 piece for the Motley Fool, Bill Mann was mostly encouraged: “In fact I can’t help but note just how honest, how shockingly earnest Blodget’s writings have been since he began writing about the stock market for Slate.”

    Blodget, for his part, took on rant-man Jim Cramer earlier this year in Slate; on Silicon Alley Insider, he investigated a reader tip that Morgan Stanley star Internet analyst Mary Meeker neglected in her YouTube analysis to factor in that CPM stands for cost per 1000. (Gentle reader, please Google these, since WordPress here still punishes me for adding multiple links.)

    As for the association with the Times, it amounts to 4 articles: Two opinion pieces, a book review, and, a contribution to the business section called “Cautious Words From a Chastened Bull.”

    Let me also offer a compromise. One, the Times could give a snarky bio line like “Mr. Blodget is the publisher of Silicon Alley Insider who is barred from working in the securities industry.” That should send curious readers to quiz their favorite search engine or encyclopedia.

    Two, note that Blodget settled with the SEC without admitting or denying guilt. He has settled with the goverment; with his readers it is a different matter. He should be a little more open to his readers than what he wrote in his Slate disclosure and in the introduction to his latest book. The SEC alleges that he knowingly lied to investors. If so, can he respond to that without violating the settlement?

  3. #3 Jon Garfunkel
    on Nov 11th, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    also: “but many readers do not know him.”

    Many readers don’t know Deborah Solomon either. They can’t click on her name and see her past columns, or even a 2-line bio. One goes to Wikipedia for the latter, which is, of course, at the mercy of anyone.

    “Right of Reply” anyone? I mentioned that in my communications with Mr. Hoyt. But I’ll stay ignored…