Monday, October 22, 2012

In Defense of Being Outraged by Things that Everyone Already Knows:

If you understand how the American news cycle works, you know what is coming next: the (new) backlash against Greg Smith. The inevitable backlash will recast him from heroic whistleblower to self-serving hypocrite. So before that backlash is fully formed, allow us to offer a defense of Greg Smith, and others like him, who assert their moral outrage over bad situations that are ostensibly "well known" even before they raise their voices in protest.

The backlash, of course, is already well under way. The NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin said he thought Smith "might have conned" the media into paying attention to him, because his book "doesn't say anything particularly revelatory." Nathan Vardi at Forbes dismisses Smith's complaints, saying that clients distrusting their own banks is "precisely what should be happening in financial markets." The NY Daily News complains that Smith's book "failed to make his readers care" about the issues he raises. As Bloomberg View put it in its original snide dismissal of Smith's op-ed, "If you want to dedicate your life to serving humanity, do not go to work for Goldman Sachs."

What bothers most Wall Street-savvy critics about Greg Smith is this: he got a lot of attention for complaining about a situation that all of these Wall Street-savvy people already know exists.