5 of the Most Awful Media People of 2013

From Thomas Friedman, to Richard Cohen to Peggy Noonan and more. Here is Alex Pareene's worst of the worst.
Salon's Alex Pareene skewers some of the most notorious media hacks and some that you don't quite expect, in his annual run down of what irked him the most. Today we give you 5.  On Sunday look for five more.
 
Hack List No. 10: Malcolm Gladwell(Credit: AP/Evan Agostini)
In the summer of 2012, the writer Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker. Lehrer, an author of books that translated complicated science into simple-to-understand life lessons, had “self-plagiarized” his own work, re-using his own sentences and quotations without attribution. He had also, more seriously, invented quotations in his book, “Imagine.”

The writer Michael Moynihan identified multiple quotes attributed to Bob Dylan in “Imagine” that did not exist in the form Lehrer had used. Some featured portions of actual Dylan quotes, stitched together to form new lines that supported Lehrer’s thesis. Some seemed to have been entirely fabricated. Moynihan also listed Lehrer’s prior documented instances of lapses of journalistic judgment, including one instance of plagiarizing another New Yorker writer, Malcolm Gladwell.

Reviewing his first book, “Proust Was a Neuroscientist,” philosopher Jonathon Keatsupbraided Lehrer for a narrative larded with examples that “arbitrarily and often inaccurately” supported his thesis. The writer Edward Champion, who cataloguedLehrer’s recent recyclings on his blog, stated baldly that Lehrer was guilty of “plagiarizing” a paragraph from fellow New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell. A New York Times reviewer catalogued the “many elementary errors” in Imagine. And the New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner, in a devastating review of “Imagine,” chided Lehrer for “borrowing (heavily)” from economist Edward Glaeser and claimed that “almost everything” in his exegesis of Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone” was “inaccurate, misleading, or simplistic.”

Lehrer’s previous employer, Wired.com, asked journalism professor Charles Seife to review Lehrer’s work for their website.

Seife reviewed 18 posts and found 14 instances in which Lehrer recycled his own work, five posts that included material directly from press releases, three posts that plagiarized from other writers, four posts with problematic quotations and four that had problematic facts.

Lehrer had plagiarized and fabricated repeatedly, for years. He had violated all of the most important modern rules of journalistic ethics. He misled his readers, stole from other authors and violated the trust of every editor, publisher and media organization that ever published him. An author like that deserves every bit of public scorn he’s received, right?

We tend to think, like Seife, that writers shouldn’t make things up. But one man, Malcolm Gladwell, says maybe we’re just overreacting.

“In the classic sense of the word, it was a hysteria,” Gladwell says of the anti-Lehrer uproar. “There was a kind of frenzy about it that was disproportionate to the crime. Jonah screwed up, and he’s the first to say he screwed up, but I’m puzzled by how much vitriol was directed at him.”

Should a writer mean what he says? We typically think yes. But sometimes writers can say what they mean while also meaning something entirely different. “He says pretty much what he means,” Gladwell recently said of another writer, David Eggers. Gladwell also said:

When Eggers says, “Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one,” he does not mean you can’t criticize a book or a movie unless you’ve made one.

A more useful question might be, should an author believe what he writes? Maybe, depending on the subject matter, and the author’s intent, a writer can advance arguments the author knows to be dubious in support of shaky, predetermined conclusions, if the author really wants to.

“When you write about sports, you’re allowed to engage in mischief,” Malcolm Gladwell says. An author, according to Gladwell, can put forth arguments he doesn’t necessarily believe, because his books, while labeled “nonfiction,” are actually meant not to inform readers of what he believes to be the truth, but rather to “start conversations.” What if he’s right? What if we took it even further?

Maybe an author can even misinterpret other people’s research, and misrepresent scientific findings, if doing so makes a book read better. Maybe saying what you mean, and believing what you say, don’t actually mean believing what you say and saying what you mean. Could it be that anyone can justify writing any bullshit at all if they feel like it will start conversations, sell books, and set up high-priced speaking gigs?

We all agree that good writers are better than bad writers, and it logically follows that good books are better than bad books. It may seem like an author’s best bet is a write a good, well-written book that respects its readers’ intelligence. After all, isn’t that true of most of the most famous and successful books throughout history? We assume that a good writer is more likely to be successful at writing professionally than a bad one. No parents would wish for their children to be bad writers.

Or would they?

What if, sometimes, being repetitive, sloppy and dishonest — and being all of those things repeatedly, as more and more people begin to publicly call you out — is more likely to lead to respect, wealth and success than trying to write honestly and carefully about big and important issues?

What if, sometimes, a bad writer is better than a good writer?

Could writing bad books be better than writing good ones?

Malcolm Gladwell was born in 1963, in England. He moved to Canada as a child, and still identifies as a Canadian author. His new book, “David and Goliath,” “is a very Canadian sort of book,” he says. The theme of his book is that underdogs — Davids — win over powerful opponents — Goliaths — more often than people think. “David and Goliath,” Gladwell says, is “Canadian in its suspicion of bigness and wealth and power.”

Gladwell’s central story concerns girls’ high school basketball. He writes of a team made up of players described as “‘little blond girls’ from Menlo Park and Redwood City” and “the daughters of computer programmers and people with graduate degrees.” Their coach is the founder of a successful Silicon Valley company whose software “powers most of the trading floors on Wall Street.” This team plays another team, “this all-black team from East San Jose,” according to the coach. We might assume the first girls, with their class and wealth advantages, would be the Goliaths. We might have taken Gladwell at his word when he said his book was suspicious of “wealth and power.” We’d be wrong. The rich white girls are the Davids, because they are bad at basketball.

When you start to think this way, new possibilities emerge. Suddenly, nearly any story at all can be used as supporting evidence for your hackneyed premise. Even David isn’t a David. Gladwell quotes a ballistics expert who says that the rock could have been propelled from his sling with power “equivalent to a fair-size modern handgun.” Goliath was out-armed. Goliath, in fact, had another disadvantage. Gladwell says “many medical experts now believe” that Goliath suffered from a “serious medical condition,” and that his abnormal size was the result of a tumor in his pituitary gland. The giant was big, yes, but he was actually a big handicapped person in a fight against a man with a gun. A man with a gun who was a soldier, and the armor-bearer for King Saul. Who represents big and powerful, again? All Davids, it seems, are secretly Goliaths. But Goliaths are also Davids.

Christopher Chabris is a psychology professor at Union College in New York. In 2013, he studied Gladwell’s newest book in order to write a review for the Wall Street Journal.Here’s what Chabris found: In Gladwell’s previous book people like attorney David Boies were said to be successful because of their environment (his parents were teachers) and because of hours of work (he debated in college). Now, Boies’ success happens for a simpler, more uplifting reason: Because he was dyslexic. Gladwell calls dyslexia a “desirable difficulty.”

But there was a problem. There wasn’t actually any rigorous evidence for the hypothesis that dyslexia is advantageous. Indeed, there seemed to actually be proof that it’s a hindrance to success. The more Chabris read, the more he found bad science used to justify unsupportable claims. One study Gladwell cites had a small sample size, and a follow-up study with a larger one didn’t replicate its results, something Gladwell doesn’t mention.

So the book is bad, right? Wrong. “In ‘David and Goliath’ readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights,” Chabris says. “This is an entertaining book.”

And Gladwell knew it would be all along. Chabris, like many of us, thought that Gladwell used shoddy research and studies with results that couldn’t be reproduced to make grand pronouncements about human nature and society because he didn’t know better. But the more Chabris looked into it, the more research he did, the more evidence he found that everything he had originally assumed about Gladwell was wrong.

“I had thought Gladwell was inadvertently misunderstanding the science he was writing about and making sincere mistakes in the service of coming up with ever more “Gladwellian” insights to serve his audience,” he says. “But according to his own account, he knows exactly what he is doing, and not only that, he thinks it is the right thing to do.”

Is Gladwell good or bad for America? The question is trickier than it sounds. His books can be used for bad purposes, like providing facile “leadership quotes” for evangelical leadership gurus. But they can also be used to open people’s minds to good ideas.

His previous hit “Outliers” had a similarly pliable central theme — success entails hard work — but he used that theme to push messages of social justice and equality. The book contained a convincing and important defense of affirmative action. It was in part a critique of the American notion of individual genius being the primary determinant of success. That idea is central to the conservative movement’s entire ethos. Gladwell had nearly become a radical, highlighting class issues and attacking structural racism. As we’ve seen, he still says that his work is “suspicious” of “wealth.” Such a writer would never receive a warm welcome from a reactionary figure like Glenn Beck, right?

Wrong. He would.

Malcolm Gladwell is a good writer. He’s written very good profiles for The New Yorker, and even some of the essays that make up his books, especially the earlier ones, are well-written, honest and compelling.

So does it take a good writer to make a successful bad book? Not necessarily — look at Colton Burpo. But it turns out that the very skills necessary to write compelling profiles and thoughtful explorations of interesting topics can also be used to connect a bunch of anecdotes to some unrelated social sciences work and claim it all proves a conclusion that is basically a truism described as an unexpected insight. And once you can do that, you can do anything — even get your book hawked to Glenn Beck’s credulous audience.

Hack List No. 9: Thomas Friedman(Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Salon)
 
Salon is running its annual Hack List this week. Also check out "winner" number 10.

A Visit to Friedman World

I was at a conference in Brussels last week and having trouble with my column. Thomas Friedman hadn’t changed as a writer or a human being for many years, and I’d written about him 100 times before. I took a walk down to Cinquantenaire Park to get some fresh air and clear my head. As I left the park, I stopped in a small cafe to order a coffee.

I happened to notice a young Palestinian man working behind the counter. When I ordered my coffee, he realized that I was American. “Ah, like Thomas Friedman,” he said. “Friedman, the great New York Times columnist who understands the needs of and challenges facing people like me, working-class Palestinians living in the European Union, because of how often he travels the world and how many brief but illuminating conversations he has with service industry employees. We are all grateful to be material for his columns and books,” he said, standing in for all people like him, by which I mean most foreign brown people.

As I wrote down what he said to use it in my column, it struck me that the world is changing. The world used to be flat. Now, everyone I talk to, everywhere I go, tells me something is bending the world into a new shape. This 4G, 401(k) world is gettingrounded. That scares a lot of people. But it doesn’t scare Thomas Friedman. Because while some old media dinosaurs are going extinct thanks to the asteroid of globalization and the giant dust plume of hyperconnectivity, Friedman is a cockroach. A cockroach made of stone. A cockroach made of stone that lives in The Cloud.

For a long time, the New York Times was vertical. It was longer top-to-bottom than side-to-side — unless you opened it up. Now, no one opens up the New York Times physically, they open it in their Web browsers. Suddenly, the New York Times is horizontal — until you scroll. That changes everything. Now the New York Times is horizontal and vertical. What does that mean for Thomas Friedman? It means fasten your seatbelt. You’re not going anywhere.

Thomas Friedman is an app. People who read Thomas Friedman, like President Obama and other rich Americans, are like teens using apps on their iPhones. Only this app doesn’t take a selfie, it takes a they-mie. See, Friedman’s a mirror, and like a mirror, he reflects. I call the people he’s reflecting “Friedman World.” In Friedman World, America is always saving Muslims from themselves by bombing them and columnists never learn any lessons from their worst mistakes. In Friedman World, the destabilization of America’s former middle class is actually an opportunity for formerly employed people to work on building their branded reputations.

I wish Thomas Friedman, House Republicans and Iran President Hassan Rouhani could all get together in a room and listen to the words of Winston Churchill, who once said, “The Hun is always at your neck or at your feet.” He was talking about Germans, but the Hun of today is runaway entitlement spending. Entitlement spending is also an unspecified number of cans. And young people are “the ones who will really get hit by all the cans we’re kicking down the road.” In Friedman World, cans that were kicked down a road somehow hit you when you reach them.

If we taught the citizens of Friedman World to code, would they create an Instagram or an Angry Birds? That’s the question that could decide the fate of the entire Middle East.

When I was in Singapore, I talked to hundreds of Asian college students, business people and diplomats, and while none of them said this to me, exactly, it’s basically my thesis andso I’m going to put it in quotation marks as a sort of “distillation” of things I probably was told by people: “Is everything going all right over there in America? How could the people who gave us Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, H.P. and Google also have so many people, many of them in positions of authority, who take a clown like Thomas Friedman seriously? Most of his columns are just nonsensical buzzwords he’s been repeating for literally 10 years and his foreign policy analysis is usually either incredibly facile or actively offensive to Arabs and Muslims. It’s actually terrifying how influential he is. Like it legitimately makes me despair of anything improving anywhere in the world for anyone but the super-rich. Also there is probably some Times rule about not putting ‘distilled’ quotes in quotation marks, right?”

When I heard that — or rather when I didn’t hear it but when I wrote it, just now — I thought “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” And that boat better have Wi-Fi. Because Friedman World may be flat, but it doesn’t have an end.

Hack List No. 8: Peggy Noonan
(Credit: NBC News)
 
Salon is running its annual Hack List this week. Also check out "winners" number 10 and 9.

Declarations

Sometimes, the old things, the things you thought gone forever, come roaring back, and you notice them again.

It is early evening in Manhattan on Flag Day, and I’m walking along on Park Avenue just north of 59th Street, a street I know well, a street I never go south of, when I see something unusual. A person. A human person, a man, short, with dark skin and hair. He is, I think, Latin American, perhaps a Mexican. He is sitting in a strange box that contains hundreds of gaudy candies, and inside the box there is even a small refrigerator containing soft drinks. Beside the candy there were magazines of all varieties, and below the magazines were these funny stacks of paper. We called them newspapers. The box, I immediately thought, was America.

In the grand American tradition, the man was selling all of these things, as all immigrants have, as we once hoped — no, knew, in our bones — they always would. Now, we’re not so certain. Now we don’t know who will sell us candy and Pepsi Maxx on 59th Street, tomorrow.

I bought a newspaper from the man. The Wall Street Journal. I opened the Wall Street Journal and I read it. There, in the middle, or at the end of the first section, was a newspaper opinion column. The column said, “Hey, read me!” So I did. It was by Peggy Noonan, who used to write words for a president. Now she writes words for everyone who buys this newspaper. Peggy Noonan had a lot of things to say, about how the president is weak and uncertain, how Chris Christie is good at playing a game, and knows it’s a game, and is a winner, and how amazing it is that Peggy Noonan can ride on an airplane and type thoughts about JFK on a computer machine. Peggy Noonan is on airplanes, and in airports, a lot, in real life and in her columns.

Peggy Noonan asks, what would Bob Taft say about Republicans today? I ask, what would he say about Peggy Noonan today. If I called Peggy Noonan a communist, I think “Mr. Republican” would say, “Keep it up, Alex.”

There is an Old America and there is a New America. Peggy Noonan is of the Old America. The New America loves newness. It sees a new person, and it says, “Hey, look at that guy.” Old America says, “I don’t care for this new person.” Is there a place in the New America for Peggy Noonan?

Was Peggy Noonan ever a new person? Logic and science say yes. I’m not so sure.

The Elders still want to know what Peggy Noonan is thinking. They look at her, and they see wisdom. An ability to connect to America, to channel America. Peggy Noonan’s problem right now is that people think she is insightful. They think she’s plugged in, aware of reality. They think she has a firm grasp on the contours of our politics, a serious take on the state of the two parties. I fear that she doesn’t.

Ms. Noonan doesn’t know how things work. She doesn’t know that signs on lawns aren’t the same thing as scientific polls. She doesn’t understand which side of the political spectrum supports deficit-funded government intervention to create jobs. She looks at Pittsburgh, at its airport, and she says, “Hey, this is a depressing place.” She doesn’t know that American cities, not Washington and New York but the shorter, more honest cities in the interior, have neighborhoods, and hotels even, that aren’t by the airport. It’s outside of her experience. She lives in words, in parenthetical clauses within sentences. She says,“America is in line at the airport.” America says, most of us only ever fly over the holidays.

Commentators like to decry low-information politicians — they don’t know about anything except raising money. I think the real problem is low-information columnists.

* * *

That’s why, I think, so many people — I include literally everyone I know, and have ever met, and many others as well — fear that Peggy Noonan is not going to go away.

Stop reading this and ask whoever’s nearby, “Do you find yourself worrying about Peggy Noonan’s continued employment and omnipresence on the Sunday morning political talk shows?” I do not think you are going to get, “No.”

* * *

There’s a woman on a porch in eastern Ohio, and she has a dog, and diabetes, and a family, and seven grandchildren. The part of Ohio she lives in is vague, like so much of America, in Peggy Noonan’s imagination. There’s a swing on the porch, and a tree also has a swing, made of a tire. Americans used to swing freely on tires, and now we cannot even keep the lights on in Detroit, once such a grand American city, full of Big-ness and New-ness. Now this woman sees the tire swing, and she’s thinking, “Is that swing a metaphor?”

She sees this Peggy Noonan on her television, on “Face the Nation,” and she thinks, “That seems like a nice woman.” But then Peggy Noonan starts describing an imaginary woman on a porch in Ohio. The woman hears Peggy Noonan praise this woman’s common sense, and faith, and modest American wisdom. She thinks, “This sounds very condescending. Peggy Noonan knows next to nothing about the interior lives of Americans outside of her rarefied social and professional spheres.”

* * *

People are angry with Peggy Noonan. They’re mad. Most of all, they’re disappointed. They’re tired. Reading Peggy Noonan, and seeing her on television every Sunday, the Lord’s Day, when Americans, young and old, rich and poor, used to go to church, with their families, now just makes Americans feel exhausted.

But they’re optimistic. Americans are always optimistic They know Peggy Noonan will eventually retire.

* * *

Here I will say something harsh, and it’s connected to the thing about words but also images, and the combination of words and moving images.

Peggy Noonan spent a lot of time living in a house — a cabin, perhaps, or maybe a modest split-level ranch, with a golden retriever tied up out back — called Ronald Reagan’s brain. And it was comfortable in that house, the furniture was lived-in and the television only played “F Troop” and every night children rang the doorbell to trick-or-treat or sing Christmas carols, and it wasn’t long before Peggy Noonan just stopped leaving that house.

Now, though, the house is cluttered, and it needs to be painted, and architecturally it no longer makes sense in the neighborhood.

Peggy Noonan thinks the house is America.

Peggy Noonan thinks everything she sees is America. She walks into a hotel and she thinks, “This hotel is America.” She buys groceries and she thinks, “That cash register is America, and so is this lettuce.” She sees a child playing a Nintendo 3DS and she thinks, “Luigi is America.”

She says, “When Reagan came into a room, people stood: America just walked in.”

Peggy Noonan’s problem now is that she is still in Ronald Reagan’s brain-house.

But America is out here. America is saying, “Hey, look at us, we aren’t in that house, and we need people who have important opinion manufacturing jobs to not live in strange fantasy Reagan brain houses.”

America is saying, “What are you even talking about, ever?”

Can she hear us?

Hack List No. 7: Henry Blodget
(Credit: CNN/Salon)
 
Salon is running its annual Hack List this week. Also check out "winners" number 109 and 8.

I Was Confused by Some Things I Read That a Millionaire Wrote for His Financial News Website

A few months ago I was browsing the Internet, reading websites, when I clicked on a link to an article on a website called Business Insider. The article was about how a man named Henry Blodget flew on an airplane. He wrote, “I got a free pillow.” And then, under that, he posted a picture of the pillow.

Most of the post was pictures, like that.

“This Blodget guy writes like a child,” I thought. “Maybe like he is writing for children.”

It turns out, though, that Henry Blodget is a grown-up, and not only that, he is a rich and successful grown-up! He used to work on Wall Street, until he did crimes and they told him he couldn’t work on Wall Street anymore, ever again.

So he started a website. The website seems like it should be about business news, because it is called “Business Insider,” and the founder of the website probably knows a lot about business stuff from back in the day when he picked stocks and stuff. But that is not what the website is about, mostly!

Henry Blodget is very proud of his website. “Last month, this readership made us the third biggest digital business news publication, behind only the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.” But is Business Insider a business news publication? Some of the articles are about business, but a lot of them aren’t! Here are some of the articles I saw on the front page of the website when I looked at it last week:

How to Unroll an Orange Instead Of Peeling It

The 5 Worst TV Shows of 2013

Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Shows California As You’ve Never Seen It

George and Martha Washington Had a Super-Strong Eggnog Recipe That We Can’t Wait to Make

12 Sayings Only People From California Will Understand

So it seems like Business Insider is a website that sometimes has business stuff on it. Mostly it seems like Business Insider is a website that is about publishing anything at all that people will hopefully click on.

(In fairness to Business Insider, they have some smart people who write things for them, like Joe Weisenthal and Josh Barro. And maybe other people, too!)

The most confusing thing about Business Insider is when Henry Blodget writes things himself that aren’t really about business. Why does he do this? Maybe he thinks the people who read his website are dumb. There is a lot of evidence for this idea. His website has stupid headlines.

One thing they do a lot is take long stories they found other places and make those stories shorter and dumber, with more pictures. But everyone on the Internet does that sometimes, or all the time. What not everyone on the Internet does is write strange faux-naif essays about getting haircuts and riding airplanes.

Everyone agreed that the airplane story was very stupid, but is Henry Blodget is as stupid as he writes like he is? Sometimes, like in the haircut story, it seems like Henry Blodget is trying to be funny. He learned important business lessons at a barbershop! That’s funny!

Other times, though, Henry Blodget does not seem like he meant to be funny. The same funny voice that is funny when you are talking about newspapers is less funny when you are talking about institutional sexism or the history of antisemitism.

Sometimes when he writes articles like that he has to change them after he is done with them because people think they are offensive. But sometimes he changes them to be worse!

A little while ago, Henry Blodget went to a restaurant to talk with Nick Denton, a man who owns some different websites that are in some ways similar to Business Insider but in other ways different. Henry Blodget went to the bathroom at the restaurant. The restaurant is very expensive, so it is mostly for rich people. This expensive fancy restaurant had an employee whose job was to stay in the bathroom for his entire shift and then help people wash and dry their hands.

This man was paid a little bit of money by the restaurant, but he mostly worked for “tips,” which is extra money customers give certain employees who aren’t paid very much by their bosses.

The man whose job it was to stand in the bathroom all day made Henry Blodget uncomfortable. He forced Henry Blodget to think about things that maybe Henry Blodget didn’t want to think about when he was just trying to eat a very expensive lunch with his friend, who, like Henry Blodget, has a lot of money.

First of all, he had to think about the awkwardness of being in such close proximity to another man, a man whose job it is to serve you, while engaged in the intimate act of urination.

Second, he had to think about the ways in which an economic and social system we call “capitalism” had made people like Henry Blodget so wealthy that there arose both the demand for workers whose jobs it is to dry the hands of people like Henry Blodget and a large number of people willing to take those jobs.

This is how Henry Blodget wrote about it: “First of all, it wastes water. Second, it makes me feel like I’m the kind of guy who dreams of being rich enough to be able to pay someone to turn on the water for me.”

Henry Blodget doesn’t even know that he is already that rich! There was already a man doing that job!

He decided it would be better if those people just went away, so that Henry Blodget didn’t have to think about those things at lunch. So he wrote an article for his website that said there shouldn’t be people who do that job anymore.

The man who owned the restaurant decided he agreed with Henry Blodget and he said he would fire all the people who did that job. This was the logical response to Henry Blodget’s article, but it meant that now instead of having jobs that were maybe “bad,” now these people didn’t have any jobs.

(Later that man realized that firing all those people was probably bad “public relations” so he promised that they would all get different jobs.)

What do you think? Is Henry Blodget stupid? Is Henry Blodget trying to make everyone stupid? I think he thinks everyone already is stupid.

WIKIPEDIA ON HENRY BLODGET

Henry Blodget
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the 19th century U.S. federal judge, see Henry Williams Blodgett.

Henry Blodget on June 26, 2012, in New York City.
Henry Blodget (born 1966) is an American former equity research analyst who was senior Internet analyst for CIBC Oppenheimer and the head of the global Internet research team at Merrill Lynch during the dot-com bubble.[1] Blodget is now the editor and CEO of The Business Insider, a business news and analysis site, and a host of Yahoo Daily Ticker, a finance show on Yahoo.
Contents [hide]
1 Early life
2 Fraud allegation and settlement
3 Writing
4 Internet broadcaster
5 Books
6 References
7 External links

Early life [edit]

Blodget was born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the son of a commercial banker. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Yale University. After college, he taught English in Japan, then moved to San Francisco to try to be a writer while supporting himself by giving tennis lessons. He was also a freelance journalist and a proofreader for Harper’s Magazine.[1]

In 1994, Blodget joined the corporate finance training program at Prudential Securities, and, two years later, moved to Oppenheimer & Co. in equity research. He became famous in October 1998,[2] when he predicted that Amazon.com, an Internet stock which had been a public company for a year then trading at $240 and which many on Wall Street were bearish on, would hit what many considered an outrageously bullish one-year price target of $400. Three weeks later Amazon zoomed past it gaining 128%.

This call received significant media attention, and, two months later, he accepted a position at Merrill Lynch, where he earned as much as $12 million a year.[2][3] In those days he became a media celebrity and frequently appeared on CNBC and other similar shows. In early 2000, days before the dot-com bubble burst, Blodget personally invested $700,000 in tech stocks, only to lose most of it in the years that followed.[4] In 2001, he accepted a buyout offer from Merrill Lynch and left the firm.[1]

Fraud allegation and settlement [edit]

In 2002, then New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer published Merrill Lynch e-mails in which Blodget gave assessments about stocks which allegedly conflicted with what was publicly published.[5] In 2003, he was charged with civil securities fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[6] He agreed to a permanent ban from the securities industry and paid a $2 million fine plus a $2 million disgorgement.[7]

Writing [edit]

He became the CEO, Co-Founder, and Editor in Chief of Silicon Alley Insider (//www.alleyinsider.com/), where he was a frequent contributor to the Seeking Alpha website. Prior to co-founding Silicon Alley Insider, Henry served as CEO of Cherry Hill Research, a research and consulting firm, and contributed to Slate, Newsweek International, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes Online, Business 2.0, Euromoney, New York, Financial Times, and other publications. As of 2012, he is the CEO/editor-in-chief of The Business Insider, a blog about Internet business trends and research. He is a frequent contributor to the magazines Slate, Newsweek and New York. He began writing for Slate in January 2004, initially covering the Martha Stewart trials. In July 2004, Blodget began writing a four-part, 13 article, series entitled “The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual” for the magazine.[8]

Blodget’s later articles for the magazine have focused on the return-limiting actions of individual investors, including listening to analysts and the financial media, and relying on active management such as mutual and hedge funds. His Slate articles about investing carry a seven-paragraph disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.[4]

He published The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual: A Consumer’s Guide to Intelligent Investing in January 2007.

He currently lives in Brooklyn.

Internet broadcaster [edit]

As of April 2011, Blodget co-hosts the The Daily-Ticker[9] broadcast with Aaron Task weekdays at Yahoo! Finance.

Books [edit]

The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual: A Consumer’s Guide to Intelligent Investing. Atlas Books, 2007. ISBN 0-9777433-2-2.

Hack List No. 6: Erick Erickson
 
(Credit: CNN/Salon)
 
Salon is running its annual Hack List this week. Also check out "winners" number 1098 and 7.

Erick Erickson has gravely betrayed conservatives everywhere.

I wish I could say that I am surprised. I prayed I wouldn’t have to write this, but here we are.

How can it be that Obamacare remains in effect despite Erickson’s so-called opposition? Did he do anything to halt its advance beyond writing ineffectual blog posts “demanding” that Republicans repeal the ACA? Did Erickson take advantage of the stunning political success that was the recent government shutdown to finally write the blog post that could have crippled the liberty-killing advance of Obamacare? No. He did not. This is, as I said, a grave betrayal, and a shocking dereliction of duty.

In fact, he and his entire band of cowards and sellouts remind me of, well, a gross word for a disgusting portion of the anatomy of ladies, who are gross. You know what I mean. A part that women have that I am deeply uncomfortable thinking about for some reason.

The establishment wants you to keep reading Erickson. They want you to close your eyes and ignore the truth and keep giving Erickson and RedState your email addresses.

I’m sick of excuses and I’m sick of sniveling equivocations. This is it.

Erickson should know that conservatives like myself will now devote themselves to doing everything in their power to remove him from his blog, unless and until he starts showing some results, or my bosses tell me to lay off of him.

This might upset the hysterical abortion rights advocates, who rely on Erickson to regularly reveal the misogyny underlying the conservative movement’s abortion position, but I don’t care. The feminist Cult of Death will have to untwist their panties and find a new personification of toxic modern conservative masculinity.

They can definitely do better. With his soft physique and his inexplicable belief that “blogger” is an appropriate job for a man who has a family to feed and protect, Erickson represents the epitome of the modern beta male. Can you imagine an alpha male in the animal kingdom “working from home”? Erickson is practically made of arugula.

While Erickson sits around collecting government benefits like the mortgage tax deduction, I work three jobs and actually contribute to society instead of leeching taxpayers dry like so many politicians. And unlike Erickson I don’t whine about what “society” or “the GOP” owe me.

So I know exactly how hard it is to make money in Erick Erickson’s America. Fortunately, there is someone who can help you invest your money who is as financially savvy and devoted to the free-market system as today’s Wall Streeters are financially illiterate and devoted to shaking down taxpayers.

His name is Mark Skousen, Ph.D., editor of the investment newsletter Forecasts & Strategies — and he just might be the smartest financial adviser working today.

Skousen, after all, launched his career by predicting, during the 1980-82 recession — and to the scornful laughter of nearly all the other so-called experts — that “Reaganomics will work.”

Boy, did he get that right. And boy, has he gotten it right ever since.

So please follow this affiliate link to sign up for Skousen’s newsletter for a low, low introductory price. And remember: Despite what the liberal media will have you believe,Ukraine has demonstrated its commitment to democracy.

Now I’ve just said a lot of vitriolic, mean-spirited things about Erickson, and obviously he deserves every one of them, but now is the part where I adopt a pious tone and talk about Christ and scripture for a paragraph. Christ teaches us to forgive our enemies, after you “joke” about the ones who were murdered by death squads.

 

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pareene
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