Andrew Ross Sorkin: Who needs facts?


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.”

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.”
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.”

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.


  1. Bob quotes a portion of Sorkin's article that he calls, "the rhetoric which sent poor Cooperman over the edge into near-despair." I didn't read it that way. IMHO neither Cooperman's letter nor Sorkin's article tried to prove Cooperman's case. I found Cooperman's letter almost devoid of examples to support his charges (although I think the charges are valid.)

    Cooperman's letter made strong charges: "highly politicized debate", "deplorable", "you [Obama] should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray", "further inflame an already incendiary environment", etc. Although neither Cooperman's letter nor Sorkin's article contained much evidence for these charges, IMHO a diligent googler could find examples of the President's divisive rhetoric.

  2. Dripping with derision?

    More like dripping with insincerity.

    Only a sucker buys this scam. Give me a break!

    Thanks for the catch Bob. Anyone catapaulting this propaganda . . . that Obama is taking it to the fat cats and the fat cats are scared . . . is a bullshit artist. Obama and the fat cats are on the same damned team.

    It's good cop vs. bad cop.

    Sorkin is bullshit artist and he knows it. He knows that he will be nicely compensated if he toes the corporate line. He's a sellout scumbag that peddles lies. Just like every politician and media personality (not 'reporter') that peddles this crap.

  3. "...(although I think the charges are valid.)

    ... Although neither Cooperman's letter nor Sorkin's article contained much evidence for these charges,..."

    ...nor David in Cal's comment, apparently.


  4. Cooperman complains that Obama is badmouthing millionaires.
    He says he pulled himself up by his bootstraps, a true Horatio Alger.
    He did this forty years ago, and he doesn’t mention that the rules of game have changed in the last thirty years.

    Granted, most millionaires and billionaires didn’t openly demonize the poor, but many espouse sociopathic pseudo-philosophies such as social Darwinism and Objectivism.
    He fails to mention that the rules have changed because of the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands, and the deliberate, premeditated corruption of politics this concentration of wealth brought about.
    For example, the war on labor unions has no goal other than increasing profits by lowering wages. If the goal were simply to be competitive, obscenely huge salaries and bonuses would also be forfeited.

    He insists he has a social conscience by spending 25 times as much on charity as on himself.
    He doesn’t mention the tens of millions of Americans that run out of money before they have met all their family’s needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
    I’m sure Mr. Cooperman is a man of goodwill, and is genuinely miffed by being cast as a heartless Scrooge.
    But Cooperman talks only of himself, not of the other 99%. He needs to own up to his position in the 1%.

    Barack Obama has to stand up for the little guys, they need all the help they can get. That is the true meaning of social justice, like it or not. Let Congress support the 1%, they do it so well.

    Where does Cooperman place himself in Bill Moyers pithy pronouncement, “...income inequality is not a sign of freedom of opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it’s a sign that opportunity is less than equal”?

    He may be a man of goodwill, and believe in social justice, but what does he say and do about it, other than protecting his own class.

    As Forrest Gump might say, greedy is as greedy does.

    Sorkin is a first class ass-kisser. Want to bet he leaves the “Little People” behind in his meteoric rise to the top?

  5. David,

    It's not that Obama hasn't mouthed a few platitudes about fat cats and their corporate jets. It's about his sincerity.

    Obama is running this government on behalf of these very fat cats he's supposedly criticizing. He's hired them. He's stealing from the bottom 99% of the world and giving the loot to his masters. You are falling prey to, or peddling, right wing lies/delusions of your own; that Obama wants to go after the fat cats (which also happens to be the same left wing lie/delusion, without the bit about Obama being stymied by the mean Republicans).

    Obama is protecting the fat cats by pretending to go after them. You get the scam, do you not?

    It's obviously a somewhat effective scam--but I submit the public hates Congress and politicians precisely because they are on to the scam--it's just that the oligarchs have such an iron lock on our political and media process that they have been victorious in projecting their victory over the American people. They have created a fake consensus--which happens to be the Washington Consensus that only benefits a few fat cats (the ones that own the Republican and Democrat parties).

    Yet the public shows sings of hating the medias' forced consensus--as it should. The public is being force fed Washington "values" like austerity, while it gives bailouts to the banks and expands the empire and the police state, etc. The public doesn't want this but the media and politicians do an awesome job of creating a united front pretending their reality is the real reality.

    Krugman and David are both exhibiting a delusion or deceit, or both.

  6. That should be Sorkin instead of Krugman. Although Krugman is guilty if he were to be charged as well.

    Actually . . . . here's a better analogy:

    Krugman is rooting for the Washington Generals,
    David in Cal is rooting for the Harlem Globetrotters,
    Sorkin is refereeing the game,
    and I'm standing outside the stadium yelling crazily at all you foolios as you hand over your hard earned money to the hucksters that run this joke of a league.

  7. I'm sorry Gravymeister, but this merits comment:

    "Barack Obama has to stand up for the little guys, they need all the help they can get. That is the true meaning of social justice, like it or not. Let Congress support the 1%, they do it so well."

    Someone give that man a ticket to the game and sit him on the Washington Generals' side. He's brought his pom poms and painted his face.

    Barach Obama doesn't have to stand up for any little guy. In fact, he's being paid and devoting his life to the opposite of that--of crushing and killing the little guys all over the world. That conclusion is unavoidable, even though the consequences that must follow from that conclusion are severe.

    If you support, hope for, or otherwise make excuses for Barack Obama (or the Democratic party), you are supporting evil. There is no reasonable hope to the contrary.

    And Cooperman is a bogeyman. Sure, he exists and your points about him are valid. But we get it. Now it's time to do something about it rather than beating up bogeyman. Why do you support Barack Obama and the Democrats, who let Cooperman dictate policy to them, while they ignore their "true" supporters like you? Cooperman is part of the problem, but he is less of a problem because he admits openly his allegiance. Obama and the Democrats hide their allegiance and are thus much more dangerous.

  8. Walter, I almost agree with your comment that, "Obama is running this government on behalf of these very fat cats he's supposedly criticizing." I would modify to say he's running the government on behalf of SOME OF the fat cats.

    The fat cats who gave big donations and worked for Obama's election get special favors, like Solyndra and certain banks. Labor unions who supported Obama so strongly also get lots of special favors. OTOH fat cats who didn't support Obama, like Boeing and Gibson Guitar, get screwed by the Obama Administration.

  9. David,

    Yes, some fats cats fall out of favor as they jockey to be in the fat cat club.

    The Solyndra scandal is indeed bad because it shows the Obama administration giving precedence to financial firm creditors over other creditors.

    1. One wonders if the true beneficiary wasn't Solyndra but the financiers that got gov. guaranteed loans. So you may be wrong about which particular fat cats were rewarded.

    2. Obama (as well as the GOP) wants global financier pirates to hold an exalted status among creditors. He wants them to stand first among creditors (just like he wants the financiers to take first , via the IMF, in countries like Greece).

    3. Only pensions should be treated as non dischargeable debt and thus hold an exalted status among creditors. When corporations promised workers they would have a retirement they have [or should have] a duty to hold that money in trust and to adequately fund these promises. There should be personal responsibility for executives, directors, managers and owners for reneging on pension promises. The workers who gave decades of their lives are the only ones that should be super creditors.

    But of course both parties sold out on this issue decades ago and didn't properly regulate corporate pension promises.

    And really, both parties support the global financier pirates that are really benefiting from Solyndra loans. . . but you're right if you're saying that Obama has been slightly more owned by Wall Street than the Republicans . . . . hence this bullshit fake nonsense about Obama takin' on the fat cats. Give me a break.

    There may be some new winners and losers with the change of Republican or Democrat . . . . maybe, but not really. C'mon. They're on the same damn team.

  10. Walter, I'll present proof of my argument when you show PROOF of your vast conspiracy theories.
    Obama has to stand up for the little guy because that's part of his job!

    I talked on the telephone two weeks ago with Gene Sperling (On a conference call).
    I asked him how we could have confidence in Obama's financial advisors when they are the same people that were overseeing the events that got us into the mess.
    His answer was that except for a few consulting fees to Wall Street brokers, his entire career was that of a public servant.

    Obviously, he didn't answer the question of why we should trust Geithner, Bernanke, Summers, and all the usual suspects, and he took 15 minutes to not do it.

    Sperling, like Cooperman, sees himself as a pillar of society.
    I didn't beat up on Cooperman, I simply pointed out that he has tears only for himself. I didn't call him a bogeyman, you did.

    Obama may be foolish to trust his economic advisors, and follow their counsel (and I think he is), but that doesn't prove he is Fu Manchu.
    Neither does your febrile ranting.

    I have heard it all before from people that are convinced they are smarter than the rest of us yokels, but when I ask for proof, all I get are convoluted interpretations of another's motives, and ad hominem attacks.

    I know lots of Democratic politicians, and not one of them is a conniving master criminal that wants to rule the world, or a groveling Obamaphile.

    Unlike you, I don't expect Obama to rule the country the way I would like him to; he is himself, I am me.
    I don't doubt there are people that will justify everything Obama does, but I personally do not know one.
    Gays turned against Obama because he didn't make DADT his first priority, and didn't legalize same sex marriage.
    Haters of the fat cats now hate Obama because he did not drag them down into financial ruin.
    The rule is; bankers never lose. Obama didn't make the rule, but he is bound by it just as are the rest of us. If he nationalized the banks, how would that fit into your conspiracy theories?
    Obama was given a vote of no confidence in 2010 because he didn't keep everyone's ox from being gored.

    I support Obama for the simple reason that he is not a neo-con, even though his economic advisors act like thralls of the Friedman-Hayek school. I agree that he should consult economists like Dean Baker, Robert Reich, Simon Johnson, and others.

    If he acts as he does because he is secretly an Illuminati, or a Freemason, or a Nazi, or an Elder of Zion, or a Ku Klux Klansman, now is your opportunity to illuminate the truth for all to see.

    If you can read other people's minds, now is the time to prove it.

    Your unequivocal statement, "If you support, hope for, or otherwise make excuses for Barack Obama (or the Democratic party), you are supporting evil. There is no reasonable hope to the contrary" reveals nothing about Obama, but volumes about you.
    This dualistic view of the world belongs in the Dark Ages.

    "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof" - Christopher Hitchens

  11. There is a mountain of proof gravy. You just refuse to see it. You're looking for something that most likely doesn't exist--a smoking gun admission of a "conspiracy."

    Also, I prefer the Simpsons to Hitchens, where I saw Karl Sagan quoted: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

    But who's making extraordinary claims? You're the one insisting the Generals v. Globetrotters game is a sincere and legitimate sporting contest when all the circumstantial evidence proves the contrary. It seems those claiming that righteousness of representative democracy have the burden of proof, taking into consideration the myriad of facts that shows our government and political parties are owned by the top 1%.

    See Obama's scandal list at Corrente if you want a list of circumstantial evidence. On this very thread I pointed to one little area where the evidence shows Obama supporting the fat cats at the little guys expense (gov. guaranteed loans to Solyndra which are protected in bankruptcy while pensions from working people are stolen in bankruptcy and he refuses to allow people to refinance homes in bankruptcy).

    It doesn't work the way you envision--that there is a secret cabal and the players all agree to an explicit conspiracy agreement. The levers of institutional power work differently. One doesn't rise to the position Obama is in without being a dependable lackey. Same with Geithner, et al.

    The rot is systemic.

    And my view of the Democrats is not anachronistic. It is very simple and basic politics--something the Democratic base has forgotten to the detriment of us all. Why support people who are betraying me? Why should I cross the fundamental line of supporting my abusers? It's a basic and fundamental determination: the Democrats are not my friends, they are my enemies. I've simply recognized them as such and it's taken a while because, like other traitors, they have hidden their betrayals with lies. The naive belief in Democracy and neo liberalism is the truly outdated anachronistic position to hold.

  12. Walter,
    I ask for proof and you give me a list of 300 things someone else doesn't like.
    I got this list in an e-mail from a right-wing extremist last week, except it started each one with "Obama was the first President to...."
    I'm sure you've seen it, all the Obama haters have.

    Hell, it even blames Obama for Supreme Court decisions. How did he swing those?

    You say I think the game is sincere and legitimate. Can you read my mind?
    You lecture me that I believe in secret cabals. Where did I say that?
    It may surprise you that I voted as an independent until Bush, Rove, Cheney came along. Do you want them again? I almost think you do.

    What alternative do you have for President? Do you even have one?
    Republicans have a man without principle, two libertarian types, three insane people, and a hack that wants to teach 12 year old Black kids how to be happy janitors.

    We are stuck with the two party system until all states start having open primaries and runoff general elections. Quit complaining and start acting.
    The Republican Party has been highjacked by extremists. That hasn't happened to the Democrats yet. If you don't see that, then you are doomed to frustration.

    I'm sorry you were fooled for so long and now have the scales removed from your eyes, but that's what happens to true believers.
    If you had started doing your research fifty years ago, you probably wouldn't feel so betrayed today.
    This blog is not the forum for this type of debate.

  13. Gravy,

    I have done my research going back 50 years. I realize fascism has been a creeping menace for a while now.

    However, to your point, there is simply no piece of evidence I can point to to prove that Obama and the Democrats represent the top 1%--it necessarily involves complicated explanation and the list of 300 is simply to show you the evidence exists to prove this theory. There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence. The evidence just simply does not exist in the format you demand.

    Plus, when we do get glimpses of secret smoking guns, people ignore the evidence because of partisan blinkers. Simply look at the health care debacle or getting rid of the bush tax cuts. Obama promised to end the ban on drug importation and promised to "fight" for a public option--we know he betrayed his supporters early on by enacting a secret deal with the pharma industry, let the insurance industry draft the legislation and punked progressives by scrapping the public option in secret as he was pretending to fight for it. He completely punked people but it is unlikely there is evidence of Obama admitting it.

    Likewise, Obama could have done nothing to fulfill his promise to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich. He punked his base on this and is stringing them along again with the same scam this next election, apparantly; that if they vote for him this time he really will tax the rich, like Lucy kicking the football.

    My alternative for president will probably be the Green or Socialist candidate. Voting doesn't really matter anyway as the entire system is thoroughly rigged anyway.

    The first step to fixing a problem is to stop making it worse and to correctly identify the problem. Or, you need to stop digging a hole. Supporting the Democrats is just as bad, and probably worse, than supporting the Republicans.

    But, if you insist on pointing to one source that reveals all the problems in the World, I point you to this:

    This info also fits in nicely with the story about whether or not Obama has a valid birth certificate (maybe he really is an alien?). :)

  14. Anonymous is correct that I didn't give any examples of Obama's inflammatory rhetoric. Here's one:

    "It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility across the system"

  15. Walter, you are boring everyone to death. Didn't the right wing think tank that is paying you to slag Obama tell you how to sign on with another name? If you can't figure it out, how about say, two posts per Howler posting? Otherwise, go start your own blog.

  16. David, THAT's you idea of "inflammatory rhetoric?" You better get some skin creme at the 99 cent store, you are in for a long year.

  17. Actually Bob, at your urging, I created a place where people can look up facts about taxes. It is here, with links to topics I have covered.

    Ubfortunately, the rate data only goes back to 1986. It would be nice to go back to 1966, and that data may exist in SAUS or the work of Johnston and others.

    Howver, even the data from 1986 show over $2 trillion in tax cuts to the top 1% in the last 20 years, much of that in the last 5 (2002-2006) and more as the data from 2006-2011 comes in. Yet some politicians will say "the Government is broke".

  18. Greg,

    Thanks for adding your opinion to the mix. Good idea too!

    Just what the internet needs--another Democrat controlled blog where all criticism of the Dear Leader is shouted down (Criticism of Obama? Booooooring! Now look over there! Sarah Palin! That's scary interesting. I mean Michelle Bachman! Boo! I mean Herman Cain! Craaaaazy! I mean Newt Gingrich! That boy is nuuuuuts!).

    Of course you engage in the standard Democrat rat fucking as well--accusing me of being a paid right-wing shill. Ha. I didn't know the Democrats were still using that lame-ass 2010 style ad hominen attack. Do people still buy that crap outside of Daily Kos?

    Democratic partisans are so evil they would rather excise all criticism of their corrupt party rather than fix their corrupt party. They are complicit in evil.

    Plus, they aren't very good at using logic. Care to rebut my arguments on the merits Greg?

  19. Here's the aforementioned list of 300 things someone else doesn't like:

    It's really a compilation of evidence showing that Obama truly represents the top 1%. I don't know why gravymeister diminishes the evidence because one guy compiled it in list form (what's the complaint now?). It's rather an indictment of our media and the Democratic party that this information is relegated to small blogs.

    The evidence is overwhelming and the conclusion is inescapable; Obama is a willing servant to the top 1% and engages in lies and crimes to serve these fascist jerks.

    Maybe a journalist can look at that list and ask themselves if Obama's speech about being the protector of the middle class rings true.

  20. @David in Cal

    "The fat cats who gave big donations and worked for Obama's election get special favors, like Solyndra and certain banks. Labor unions who supported Obama so strongly also get lots of special favors. OTOH fat cats who didn't support Obama, like Boeing and Gibson Guitar, get screwed by the Obama Administration."

    It's hard to believe that even a dogmatic right-winger believes this nonsensical framing of the issue. Solyndra is of course a phony scandal; unless you care to take on the subject of taxpayer subsidies of corporate America, it doesn't even deserve mention.

    Glad to know, however, that "certain banks" benefit from Obama policies. I would never have guessed that the government caters to the financial sector.

    OTOH, the idea that unions have made out fine during the Obama administration is simply hilarious. You might care to ask them about it some time.

    Is there something which prevents you, David in Cal, from admitting that the same interests prevail no matter who's president, for the simple reason that they "own the place"?

  21. "Solyndra is of course a phony scandal; unless you care to take on the subject of taxpayer subsidies of corporate America, it doesn't even deserve mention."

    Not having a criminal government is evidently only a Republican issue.

    We don't know all the evidence yet . . . but it appears the decision to give subsidies to the finance industry via the Solyndra loans (although the loans benefited the executives, directors and employees of the company as well), was politically motivated.

    Furthermore, the government is putting big financial creditors ahead of all other creditors (most egregiously ahead of employees who can lose pensions and benefits and wages) by having the government gurantee these loans.

    If we are going to give money to an industry we should not do it so that the fat cats on Wall Street are the primary beneficiaries. If Bush had done the Solyndra loans the Democratic partisans and the Republican partisans on this site would be reversed. David in Cal would be defending the loans and anonymous would be criticizing Bush.

    It's wrong whether the Bush or Obama regimes engage in crony capitalism.