Churls in charge: Andrew Ross Sorkin is one of the press corps’ most deferential and successful young players.
He covers Wall Street—and he defers. Consider this morning’s column.
This morning, Sorkin tells the very sad story of Leon Cooperman, a 68-year-old Wall Street billionaire. On balance, Cooperman seems to say that he is a liberal—but he’s upset with Obama’s rhetoric. In this passage, the boo-hoo-hooing reaches its sad nadir:
SORKIN (12/6/11): “I came from nothing,” he said, explaining how he grew up in the Bronx and went to P.S. 75. “I have lived the American Dream. I don’t want to be constantly attacked.”Pause here for a good solid cry. Somehow, Sorkin managed to continue with the sad tale. Eventually, he filled in some of the background. Or he pretended to do so:
SORKIN: “What pushed me over the fence was the president’s dialogue over the debt ceiling,” Mr. Cooperman said, explaining that just when it seemed like a compromise was near, President Obama went on national television and pressed harder on “millionaires and billionaires,” a phrase that has stuck in the craw of many of the elite. For example, Mr. Cooperman zeroed in on what he described as the president’s belittling remarks about taxing the wealthy: “If you are a wealthy C.E.O. or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They are lower than they have been since the 1950s. And they can afford it,” the president said back in June. “You can still ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to have to pay a little more.”In that passage, Sorkin presents the rhetoric which sent poor Cooperman over the edge into near-despair. If you are a wealthy C.E.O. or hedge fund manager, “your taxes are lower than they have ever been,” the president had cruelly said. And not only that: “You can still ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to have to pay a little more.”
The president’s tone can be debated. Some people would argue it is simply factual, others contend that it is dripping with derision.
Mr. Cooperman acknowledges that, in the debt ceiling debate this summer, it was as much the fault of Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to gain support for a compromise as it was the Democrats that a deal did not get done. And Mr. Cooperman accepts that taxes are indeed at record lows.
But he says the president could do a better job of pressing for higher taxes on the rich without “the sense that we’re bad people.”
Yes, he actually said that.
Sorkin devoted more than 1100 words to Cooperman’s anguish. It’s amazing to see how little information he felt he ought to provide. “Some people would argue [the president’s tone] is simply factual,” the churlish journalist wrote. But you’ll get very few of those facts in this poorly-lit place.
If you didn’t blink, you may have noted that fleeting concession: “Mr. Cooperman accepts that taxes are indeed at record lows.” (We’ll admit we missed it the first time through. Sorkin makes no attempt to explain the corporate jet reference.) But good lord! In a piece which runs 1100 words, wasn’t there space for some information about where tax rates stand today as compared to the past?
How much did wealthy people once pay? Trust us—very few readers could tell you. And by the way: Has the liberal world ever created a place where readers can look such facts up?
Not that we know of.
Facts play almost no role in our discourse, in our “journalistic” culture. It’s very hard to access facts—especially when scrub-faced fellows are intent on maintaining their viability within the (quite lucrative) system.