The Occupy Wall Street protests have grown every day since they began two weeks ago. In the past 24 hours, they have expanded to Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and other major cities as thousands have gathered to demand economic justice and an end to big bank dominated politics. But according to a top Wall Street reporter at the New York Times, the protests don’t appear to really exist — and if they do exist, perhaps only 80 people have shown up.
Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box program yesterday, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial columnist and editor of the New York Times’ Dealbook blog, a special business section devoted to covering Wall Street, condescendingly dismissed the protests:
SORKIN: Do we think about the–Not to be so America-centric, but do we think that the whole Wall Street protest is overdone, real, not real? Were there really a lot of people down there? Were there a lot? I could never tell.
COHOST: Well uh they arrested 80 people. Right?
SORKIN: Right. But I dont know if that was like all 80 of them.
For the record, thousands have demonstrated against Wall Street and the numbers are growing.
A reader of the Dealbook might reach the same conclusion as Sorkin, that the protests are close to nonexistent. A search of his website reveals a single two sentence mention of them on September 20. In sharp contrast with Sorkin’s snide coverage of the protests, the regular news section of the New York Times has much more thoughtful coverage. New York Times reporters N. R. Kleinfield and Cara Buckley have a piece in the A1 section of the newspaper today that includes interviews with the protesters and a look back on how the effort was organized.
Sorkin, the author of “Too Big To Fail,” has faced scrutiny over the years for his cozy relationship with powerful hedge fund managers and big bank executives. Media reporter Gabriel Shermancovered Sorkin’s sometimes “fawning quality” for powerful financial titans:
While he has written critically about the financial mandarins he covers, a fawning quality can ooze into his prose that some other Timespeople find unbecoming. “Over at the power table is Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, or should I call you the man who can do no wrong?” (December 30, 2007) … “Trying to defend Stephen A. Schwarzman, Wall Street’s whipping boy of the moment, seems like a lose-lose proposition … But hey, somebody has got to go to bat for Mr. Schwarzman. Might as well be me” (July 29, 2007) … Or the second time the word subprime appears in his column, two months before Bear Stearns blew up, when credit and real-estate markets had already begun their steep nosedive. “I know many of you aren’t in a party mood,” Sorkin wrote. “Things were going great until summer, when the subprime mortgage thing really took us down a notch—and ruined more than a few golf games.”
Indeed, the Dealbook has made a habit of defending the banks. The Dealbook dismissedperhaps the biggest bank scandal this year, the revelation by a whistleblower alleging that revolving door officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission had illegally deleted thousands of documents relating to financial fraud investigations, including cases probing Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs. The Dealbook also mocked the ThinkProgress scoop revealing that a Goldman Sachs lobbying official had burrowed into the House Oversight Committee and has led efforts to stop regulators from imposing new rules on big banks (including Goldman Sachs). A Dealbook reporter scoffed, writing that the story “isn’t so scandalous after all.”
According to New York Magazine, Sorkin is one of the highest paid reporters at the New York Times and “earns $250,000, including a bonus that is based, in part, on the financial performance of the various DealBook properties.” As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has reported, Sorkin’s Dealbook division at the New York Times was launched using an unorthodoxsponsorship deal with Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, Sotheby’s, and Tata Consulting Service.