Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Whoa, Taibbi Calls Sorkin a Sellout

NYT reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin (HBO movie Too Big To Fail based on his book) has written a defense of Goldman Sachs relative to the Senate report that says Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein lied when he testified in front of a Senate committee and said the firm did not have a major net short position in mortgage backed securities:

Sorkin wrote:
But upon further reporting — talking with executives at Goldman, who pointed me to other documents, and with officials in Washington, and then poring through the report, following the footnotes to the original sources and then cross-referencing them against other public records — I have come to a different and perhaps unsatisfying conclusion for those readers looking for a big scalp: Mr. Blankfein wasn’t lying.

That’s not to suggest Goldman always behaved well. There are other assertions in the subcommittee’s report that detail some pretty egregious activity by certain executives.

But after comparing the report with publicly available filings and documents, there are enough questions about the accuracy of certain parts of the Senate report to raise some red flags.
I have not reviewed the documents that Sorkin has referenced, but nothing jumps out at me to suggest that Sorkin is incorrect in his analysis. It is entirely plausible that Goldman was long mortgage backed securities in another part of the firm. A long position that the short traders at Goldman may have not even been aware of. 
Matt Taibbi responded:
Now I’m bummed to see that Sorkin has written an elaborate defense of Goldman in the New York Times “Dealbook” section, arguing among other things that Lloyd Blankfein probably did not commit perjury and that the bank did not have a huge directional bet against mortgages in 2007. As evidence, Sorkin cites unsubstantiated Goldman documents and Goldman sources who claim, among other things, that the bank had $5 billion worth of long bets on MBS “in other parts of the company,” offsetting the now-notorious “Big Short.”
The Sorkin piece reads like it was written by the bank’s marketing department, which may not be an accident. In November of last year, the New York Times announced that “Dealbook” was entering into a sponsorship agreement with a variety of companies, including … Goldman, Sachs.
Unsubstantiated? Is Taibbi suggesting that Sorkin is lying? Further, he is clearly suggesting that this is a Sorkin puff piece and that Sorkin is a sellout.
Unless Sorkin is lying (highly unlikely), Taibbi is way off base. Sorkin is simply doing some solid reporting explaining a Senate report that is wrong. With speculation and no facts, Taibbi wants to back the government and tarnish Sorkin. What's the deal with this Taibbi guy? There is nothing wrong going after Goldman, there is plenty of dirt there, especially with their trades with the Fed, but you have to have your facts straight, understand the industry and knock off the slanderous accusations.


  1. Taibbi loves to ratchet up the sensationalism, truth be damned. And is he riding Michael Lewis' coattails with his "Big Short" reference?

  2. Well, whatever intellectual wrongs Taibbi is guilty of and however puerile some of his rants are, and however unsavory his bashing of alternative research on 9-11, let's give him credit for asking questions the financial media should be asking and aren't.

    It's Goldman Sachs and its friends in high places that need to do some "splaining," not Taibbi.

  3. Hahaha! You knew the discrediting of Taibbi would start--he all but called out the Obama Administration as fraudsters for letting GS get away with as much as they have.

    Sorkin IS a sellout--so is anyone else defending or spinning positive on behalf of this criminal enterprise. Nobody needs to do any "explaining" other than those who perpetuated this massive FRAUD on the American people.

  4. @Anonymous2

    I criticize Sorkin and his movie only a couple of months ago on this blog.

    I said that the movie about Zuckerberg was nothing but spin....